posted on Jul, 5 2014 @ 03:33 PM
a reply to: HardCorps
I have non-combat related PTSD and even I have a hard time with fireworks and what generated my PTSD wasn't bombs going off around me. It's the
sudden eruption of loud noise that triggers that hypervigilance in me. I've had PTSD for a good portion of my life and it's taken me a couple
decades to actually get to the point where I can chill myself out. The first time I remember going to a fireworks show was when I was 17 (already had
PTSD). My friends were all putting their hands on my shoulders because I'd jump so severely at every boom and were laughing that they didn't even
need to see the display to know if it was a "good one" based on how high I jumped. That's how it is for somebody with non-combat related PTSD.
Hard as hell. For those veterans with combat related PTSD, I cannot even begin to imagine how bad it must get to hear the sounds that were directly
associated with the threat of death. It's hard to stay rational and know it's okay in the non-combat related sort. For some vets, I can easily
imagine that it could nearly drive them temporarily right out of their minds.
One of my neighbors had a son who was in Iraq and he joined us yesterday for the neighborhood 4th party. When the fireworks started popping off at
around 3:30, he was already on edge. Really nice guy and he was clearly trying to keep it together. He tried throwing back a bunch of beers in an
attempt to settle his nerves but then gave up on that and asked me for a soda. By 5 pm, he was so completely on edge that he commented on how early
people were setting their fireworks off and couldn't understand why they couldn't wait. That's when a few idiots at the party started teasing him
about his dislike of fireworks like he was some kind of weirdo. I know from experience that if you have a group of people teasing somebody for being
different, then the best way to curtail it is to chime in and say that you share that difference, too. So I did that immediately and said "I have
PTSD and the sound of fireworks get on my nerves". It did the trick and the teasers dropped it.
That young vet sitting next to me? It was too late really. He had spent the entire afternoon trying to have a good time and keep his agitation under
control but to actually get teased for having combat related PTSD? He started muttering under his breath about his experiences looking every bit of
angry hell and I couldn't blame him. You know what though? He said it softly enough that those dimwits didn't even hear him. Even in that moment,
he just wanted everyone (and himself) to have a good 4th of July.
After the party wrapped up and everyone went off to watch the fireworks displays, I couldn't help but think about that young veteran sitting in his
father's house and what he was going through at that point. I was praying that he had a set of really good headphones to drown out the noise
completely as my neighborhood really goes to town with the fireworks at sundown. While everybody saw it as a phenomenal display on the ground and in
the air, I thought of that young man and how he'd jump in distress at a whistling pete and realized how much it sounded like a warzone. It broke my
heart and the funny thing was he tried really, really hard to not show it one bit and put on a strong face til that minute where his facade cracked a
little under the teasing that should have never happened.
My heart goes out to all of you vets that go through this every year. I'm so sorry and I hope that some measure of peace and healing comes to you
soon. PTSD is rough. I know that from experience. It never goes away but I can also promise that it does get a little better.