Dealing With Trauma
Trauma leaves such a mark and imprint on us, that if we don’t do something to heal the trauma, it will only wreck us! This is where I was left after having several traumatic events in my life. For myself they just started compounding on each other, and it was not good!
The first part of my life, I dealt with a lot of childhood trauma, and this definitely left emotional scars on me that I still feel to this day. At the age of 20, I joined the Navy, and this was my escape from all of my problems, or so I thought. Well to fast forward through my Navy career, I was in a natural disaster in March of 2011, where my ship had to respond to the tsunami from the Japan 9.1 Tohoku Earthquake. My ship had to go on a search and rescue mission to help the Japanese government recover boats and what not from the aftermath of the earthquake.
During Operation Tomodachi, my ship had to completely secure all ventilation and potable water for close to a week, so we didn’t get contaminated by nuclear radiation from the Dai Chi nuclear power plant that was hit with the tsunami. There were some events that took place during this time that really messed up my mental health! Following this experience, my mental health completely went down hill. Eeventually I landed on limited duty for my mental health.
My drinking had gotten to the point of no control at all! I just wanted to drown every single thing that I felt. I was in Japan at the time, and even went to inpatient rehab for drinking where I made some significant improvements. But the Navy set me up for failure and put me right back in Japan where I had just come from. They sent me right back to where I had no support, and this was where events took place that had let my mental health completely go. They sent me back to Japan to be on limited duty, and to basically finish out my time of a 6 year contract. Well, when you put someone directly back into the environment that destroyed them, it is only going to destroy them again. So the Navy started me back on Klonopin, which in the words from a Navy Psychiatrist, is “alcohol in a pill form.” So I wasn’t really set up to succeed in this situation for my sobriety. I even had my rehab Psychiatrist and Counselors highly encourage me to stay stateside for my sobriety.
To make a long story short on this topic alone, this eventually led me to the point I was blacking out again. I ended up failing a urinalysis for drugs, and I had been diagnosed with panic disorder and agoraphobia this whole time, until I messed up. Then the Navy said I had adjustment disorder, kicked me out, and I get absolutely nothing for the 6 years I was in. Even for all the health problems, they don’t give me anything for it. I went in the Navy a lot healthier than I am now, but since my mental health was so gone, and I failed a drug test, they won’t help me at all.
Now this event stuck with me and my image for years! I felt like I had made the biggest mistake of my life, when really I wasn’t being helped for a severe mental health issue. I got out of the Navy, and I went to the bottom of the barrel! I was reckless when I got out, because I didn’t care about anything anymore. I just wasted 6 years of my life, to only get a hell of a lot of health issues, and nothing more. I wasn’t too happy with this! I am very thankful to still be alive today, because I didn’t like anything about myself.
I tried to run from myself and my problems more when I got out. Rather than facing my problems, it always seemed as if I just moved it would fix everything. So this landed me in North Dakota working in the oil fields for a year. Let me tell you, it is brutally cold there, and if you enjoy trees, well forget that. North Dakota doesn’t have very many of them. I was only running from my problems there, and I got very involved in drugs again.
I eventually got out of North Dakota, but I was only running again from my mental health issues. I started a job in Seattle, which didn’t last long, because my problems came right along with me. I drank myself out of that job, and I was also very involved in drugs then as well. This eventually made me lose everything that I owned, and this was the big wake up call that I needed in life!
When I lost everything I owned, it felt like it ripped a little part of me away with it. This was what I needed to wake up, and realize what I was doing! This is when I started to make the shift towards working on my mental health.
I took a different approach than many do when dealing with drugs and alcohol. Healing is a self journey, so whatever works for you is what you should do. For myself I couldn’t do AA meetings, because my mom used to take me with her when I was a kid. So for me this is a HUGE trigger. I don’t feel comfortable being in there listening to someone tell me stories that I have all experienced. So I took a different approach to this.
My approach to sobriety was diving into a lot of self help, and how can I improve myself as a person. I also used a lot of affirmations when I would have negative thinking come up. I have had people from AA meetings tell me I am absolutely crazy for not doing AA, but healing is all a personal journey, and it isn’t linear. I am not a big fan of the mentality of people thinking like that either, because you are placing judgement on my way of healing, which works for me. So that is another reason I don’t jive much with AA meetings. I feel I have been judged by them with my approach to staying sober. If it works for you, then you should stick to it! Do whatever works for you, because this is your healing journey! Do what works for you, and I will do what works for me.
Now I am in the process of working through my traumatic memories with a therapist. We are doing EDMR, which is specifically for trauma, and working with the memories. I put off this portion of working on myself for years! I won’t say it is easy, but it is totally worth it! You have to deal with your trauma, otherwise you could be repeating exactly how I was with my addictive behaviors. Trauma isn’t something that goes away by itself either. It gets trapped within us, and it stays there causing a heap of problems! You have to work through these things, and it will lead you to a much happier life!