By Roseline Salazar
(Photo by David Garrision – Pexels) Aug 2021
It’s been twelve years since my first traumatic deployed experience and I can say, things have gotten better, but not where I would like to be. Things are never the same and will never be. Even though I can go grocery shopping with or without my family, I am still paranoid about who’s out there, who’s looking at me which spirals up to having anxieties or even panic attacks. I’d like to think I will not be this way forever but somewhere deep down inside; I believe that I am crazy, crazy for life thanks to my military traumatic experiences. Nothing will be normal or how it was. I try my best to be who I am now, if not, my best to pretend to be calm and look like everyone else who seems normal. But the there’s always that thought that something bad will happen and it takes over my mind and body. I start sweating, panicking, getting angry and start taking it out on my kids. I am aware that I am taking things out on my kids, but I can’t stop it. The more they ask me questions like, “Mommy what is wrong what did we do wrong?” I get more agitated and on edge. It’s like the anger takes over me I control it. The thought of being crazy is consuming my mind, I rush to the checkout and telling my kids to “shut up!” I am feeling bad about treating them this way, but I just want to get out of there. This has been an on-going cycle and my kids have become accustomed to my behavior. While driving home, I feel like the worst person and keep telling myself I don’t deserve to be here or have a family because I’m crazy. One thought leads to another and it’s snowballing which makes me feel worse. Once we’re home, I hug my kids and tell them how sorry I am that I always ruin what should be something fun. I tell them one day they will be able to understand why their mommy is this way at the same time, they don’t deserve this. I don’t want them to believe this is normal and I don’t want them to hate me in the long run.
The worst part of it all, was when my 9-year-old asked me why do I act crazy when we are out of the house…. That did it. That’s when I truly believed that I am crazy. I cried and explained to her that mommy had some really bad experiences while deployed to Afghanistan. She is old enough to understand some things, but yet doesn’t truly understand what the deployment did to me and of course, why would she… she’s just a child who never been deployed. My husband explained some things to her, gave her some examples that are somewhat similar to what she went through while in school. He related her bullying to my experience. After a few discussions, she came to me and apologized. What really got to me is when she said “Mommy, you are not crazy, you just act crazy…”. I felt a sigh of relief because she, my child who doesn’t deserve to be treated this way, validated my thoughts and feelings. I hugged her really tight, told her how sorry I am and how much I love her. My husband and I decided to explain what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is. We explained that she too has PTSD from her negative experiences at her previous school where she was bullied. She hated going to school back then and although she is now at a new school, she can’t help but wonder if she’ll be treated the same way. Thankfully she understood. She and I have a better relationship now, and the beauty of it all is, she and I help each other through our rough times.
This article is dedicated to those who think or was told they are crazy… Truth is, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. Don’t let the past define who you really are