PTSD: The Price You Pay For Survival

Via Daisy Luther’s Organic Prepper blog,

Something a lot of people forget when they think about survival is what happens after you’ve survived. When you get through something terrible, there’s always a price you must pay for your survival. You won’t get through it unscathed. 

Oftentimes, that price is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. This is a very real condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a horrifying event or series of events.  You can learn more about PTSD here on the VA website. Once called “shell shock” or “battle fatigue syndrome” it can affect more than just soldiers.

You can’t survive something awful and expect to live unscathed. PTSD isn’t a symptom of weakness. It’s a sign that you have a conscience and a heart. It’s a sign that you love and you care. It’s part of being a survivor, and that’s why all of us are here – we want to survive.

In this article, Selco shares his deeply personal experience with PTSD.

The Price You Pay for Survival

by Selco

I am not alone.
he’s here now.
sometimes I think he’s
gone
then he
flies back
in the morning or at
noon or in the
night.
a bird no one wants.
he’s mine.
my bird of pain.
he doesn’t sing.
that bird
swaying on the
bough.

—Charles Bukowski 

For all people out there, who carry this ugly bird on their shoulders.

Anxiety, phobias, PTSD, depression… are just words.

For the people who have not experienced it personally, those words cannot portray feelings of being lost, alone and cornered while you are fighting for air, or simply thinking that you are going to die. Or that you are not gonna make it. Or that it is not worth to make it.

I imagine it like a big black bird, ugly bird, hovering above your head in circles, then landing on your shoulders, pinching your shoulders with claws, and with its wings covering your vision. It suffocates you, blurs your judgment, pushes you to make decisions, or more often not to make decisions…

How many times you were in a situation when you felt that you are in your own private hell, while the world around you was still turning, unaware of the darkness in you?

When I am there, I do not care for anything. That ugly bird pinches my shoulders (and my shoulders hurt for real)  and blurs my vision, so I do not see reasons to push on and on.

I know that the reasons are there but I cannot see them. I just keep hoping I will be able to push on, to the moment when again I see reasons for life.

It comes, and it goes…PTSD

So this post is about all of us who carry that bird on shoulders.

Do not make a mistake: it can be anybody… war veteran, housewife, kid…father.

And do not make the mistake of telling that person “oh, it is nothing, you just imagining it” because no, it is not “nothing.” It is everything that matters for that person, and nothing else matters actually for that person.

Every one of us has our own breaking point. The important thing here is that often you will NOT recognize what and when your breaking point is.

I have been through many situations that can be described like pure horror, and I endured it without problems. (You can read more about those experiences in my PDF book or my paperback book.)

Then years later, decades later, I drive my car through the town, and I see something, like two kids playing with their mother, and I suddenly feel that black bird hovering high above my head…

And it hits me like a train, something from my violent past… maybe dead kids that I have seen 25 years ago.

I guess I broke down 25 years ago. Now it is just me “breaking down” over and over again, through repetition of memories and feelings.

I’m an expert on experiencing PTSD.

I am not really fond of the word “expert” and I do not proclaim myself to be a survival expert. But if I am an expert about anything it might be PTSD.

Long experience in that.

Often after having articles where I mentioned psychological problems and coping with them, I read comments where people call it pathetic or portray me as a weak.

It is nothing like that, and often I would love to prove that to those couch warriors by messing them… But it is pointless. It is always about people without experience talking about topics where they lack that particular experience, and acting like experts.

People who suffer PTSD are not weak. On the contrary to that, they are very strong, because it is a hell of a thing to have and carry, trust me.

Since I am writing this in one of the worst episode of it, trust me when I say some things.

You must push on and on.

There are books and programs on how to cope with it, but the only real and good start how to cope with it is to “push on and on” until that ugly bird goes away… not completely, but far and high enough so you can live something like a normal life.

My second piece of advice is: have someone close, someone that you can talk to about what you are going through, someone who will listen to you.

You need a friend.

That bird can not be killed, but it can go away for long periods, or very high above you if you ask for help.

Ask for help!

Again, this post is not about Selco the “expert.”

It is to reach out to all of you who feel the same as I do, to all of you who think it is not worth it, to all of you who are pinched by that bird claws, or who maybe had thoughts about ending everything…

I often keep my gun on the table in front of me when I feel like this, and listen to some music. I look at the gun, how nice piece of work it is, effective and definitive piece of work… and yea, it does look often like an easy solution to use it.

But you know what?

Often the easy solutions are the wrong ones.

So f*ck off that bird from your shoulders and push on and on.

Do not forget: real survival is just that -pushing on and on, day by day.

*  *  *

About Selco: Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.