A clean, well-lit place to vent
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I was so touched reading the comments about Toggle. I want to mention another resource for vets (of any war) who are living with PTSD: Project New Hope. Thank you to all of you who have sacrificed your peace of mind for the rest of us.
Does it fade? Don't know, but my uncle was a Navy corpsman with the Marines in Korea, including at Chosin Resevoir; to all appearances, no PTSD. Fifty or so years later on a tourist-trip to China he was stopped in his tracks and frozen by the early morning light on the foliage, the soft sounds of the local bird life and local farmers going about starting their day. He couldn't speak; his wife thought he was having a heart attack or stroke.
Thank you so much for creating such a fully human character in Leo. Does he have issues? Yes, abundantly. Does he have prejudices? Yes, because he has imperfect experiences. Is he trying to be the best man that he can be, for himself and the woman that he loves? Oh, yes. Here is another thing though. Toggle has had a hard enough time. I know that life is two parts tragedy, but please, please let his be reasonably sweet from here on out.
These strips should be mandatory reading for those up in the House and Senate who want to reduce already-low VA funding just to keep their interest going. This is a serious condition and not just for our Heroes who stood on the line, but also for those Heroes who combat thugs and miscreants hell bent on disrupting the lives of good clean citizens in all countries around the world. A salute to GBT for bringing this to the attention of all, and well done for creating the best character to join the DB ranks in recent times. And remember, Toggle -- we got your back, man. Congrats on the wedding too.
In the beginning, there was Bernie morphing. Then there were Duke's lizards (and rhinoceroses and Athena Duke). Now there are Toggle's flashbacks. More science, less fiction.
Re GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS, I had to google "FNGs -fangs -fins" to find out what FNG stands for, and I'm still chuckling. For what it's worth, PTSD entered my life from a trifecta of troubles I won't bore you with -- none military, although the Vet's club in junior college was kind enough to make me an honorary member. I'll simply offer that Deric is right, triggers do fade. Except when they don't. Sometimes it's a matter of accepting that triggers exist and telling yourself -- after hitting one -- "This is a trigger. That moment is not now, this feeling is not forever," then mentally locking into something concrete and neutral in the present moment. For my son, that thing is his dog. For me, it's the recollection of the place I found peace on, and know is still out there -- the very large rock in my father's yard, where I sat in the sun as a child. It was here before me, it will be here after me, and nothing short of the glacier that put it there will ever move it.
Leo, brother, it does get better. It takes awhile, but it does get better. But now that you're not only responsible for yourself but also for Alex, it's time to go get help. Go to the VA. It sounds cliched, but it's also very true that they're the number one source for help with male combat-oriented PTSD in the world. I know, because I go to my group every week. And go now before the next Congress cuts it's funding (as they will do in the next 2-4 years). I humped my ruck in Honduras (and points south) in the 80s. You can live with it, you can cope with it, and you can still be a good man even though this is an issue in your life.
Today's strip is quite tasteless and promotes racism, intolerance and xenophobia. This is not appropriate for the comics page. An apology is due.
Toggle's remark is a bit of an inside joke. The contractors who operated military dining facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan employed large numbers of Pakistanis to prepare the food.
I'm a daily bike-commuter here in the Raleigh suburbs. I recently had a really bad run-in with a guy in a pickup truck; the driver and I both eventually called the police. I saw the pickup driver again a few days later and we both apologized for our behavior. He said something that stuck with me -- and has left me feeling very guilty -- ever since. "I'm just back from Iraq," he said, "and as I drive down the road I'm literally thinking everyone's trying to kill me." I fear we will be reaping the whirlwind in the years and decades to come as all these soldiers return home.
My worst triggers were on hikes, walking out of a tree line and seeing another tree line, 200 or 300 meters away. Even though I no longer had a radio man walking behind me with his antenna marking us, my gut would tighten. The good news for you who are FNGs to the wonderful world of PTSD is that the triggers fade away after a couple of decades. The bad news is that the dreams don't -- at least for me.
To see Leo with both eyes...wow.
PTSD: Some weird trigger sends you diving for cover, face down on the blacktop of the grocery store parking lot.
As always, the story of Leo and B.D. hits home. I'm in the same boat as Justme and Dimitri. One minute I'm here, the next I'm in Kandahar. Yeah, the PTSD I can live with, the triggers suck, and they always will. Thank god my wife knows how to bring me back.
Triggers -- the wind, a smell, something you see from the corner of your eye. Geez, they ruin your day and make you want to curl up in a ball and hide under a table. Amping* is a nice idea but cannot control external factors.
*Using whatever affects you to overpower your fear or issues with it. Like if you are afraid of snakes you have to deal with your fear by looking at, touching and holding the snake. I look at it as torture to overcome your demons. I believe unless you do it all the time (like an exercise program) it becomes ineffective. It hurts. For me it triggers a lot of anxiety and panic. It ruins my entire day. I become physically ill. I hate it.
When you’re an MST (military sexual trauma) survivor triggers are 24/7 in the form of ”men behaving badly." So I just stay home with my dog and keep the TV off because it seems like most folk and script writers think “men behaving badly” is entertainment. I wonder what would happen if all we saw in movies and TV shows was combat and IEDs.
I still cringe and (slightly) swerve every time I drive past boxes or dead animals on the highway. And every time I can always count on my wife telling me there are no bombs (thankfully) on American highways.
"Go check on the gunner" indeed. Leo is a lucky guy. Every man needs a woman as cool as Alex in his life.
You mean to tell me they don't live happily ever after -- that some who get put in harm's way on false pretext get truly and irrevocably harmed? Please. To steal a march from follymonger George Will: get over it.
It happened to me almost the same way. On a quiet Sunday morning, a chopper very much like the CH-34 was lifting an air-conditioning unit to the roof of the local hospital. When I heard the engine straining, I suddenly didn't know how to drive my car. I was lucky to have had enough mind left to slow the car and take it out of gear. My wife, sitting shotgun, didn't know what was happening. I had been in two places at one time, years apart. The triggers always seem to happen when life is going fairly well, at the most inopportune times. It still happens 45 years later!
Speaking as someone who has more triggers than the Luger pistol company I have the greatest sympathy for what Toggle experienced on Monday. A panic attack can turn up out of literally nowhere. Bleeding tragic, isn't it?