My name is Thomas Skinner; I am a US Army veteran. I am battling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, every minute of every day. As I recover from PTSD, I will share with you all I have learned and the ups and downs of PTSD.
It is my mission is to use my experiences to help other veterans understand and recognize the signs, symptoms and effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, and then to help them find the resources they need to cope with its effects and live a happy, productive life.
The following video is a visual interpretation of my PTSD emotions, and below are some snippets from my journal and posts. Visuals and writing can never really capture the shear terror and panic that I feel sometimes, but putting these emotions into my art and writing helps me release some of them. Then Scrubs, my service dog, helps me with most of the rest. I hope my journey helps you with your journey.
“Some friends, family, the doctors, things I have read, have all talked about avoidance that I have had for the last 20 years. Always on the move, state to state, I have lived in NJ, PA, MA, IL, TX, OK, AZ, CA, KY, LA, IN. I think that’s all the states.”
“PTSD keeps me away from most of my friends and the things I want to go do. The waves of anxiety and the worrying about having a bad anxiety attack in public are still enough to keep me home or just riding the bike.”
“My night last night was long and sleepless. When I did sleep I would just wake up soaking wet with sweat. My service dog Scrubs was on the job last night working full time at keeping me company, and calm.”
“My PTSD is always waiting to attack me. I have such a need to do something extreme, like go for a hike across the country. I need to just get out of my safe place and walk and walk and walk. I need to get away from everything that I use to hide behind. I want to force myself to face my PTSD head on.”
“Yesterday I had something happen that I was not prepared for and it hit me really hard. First the minister who initially came out to help the family and me when I had my first bad flashback, PTSD attack was the minister this week at my church. I do not remember that day or him bit I was really embarrassed and ashamed and I tried to say I am sorry. As I was talking to him in the parking lot I could feel a lot of bad emotions from that day all come rushing back, I just stopped talking, let him talk and hoped the conversation would be over soon. I went and sat in the church and just tried to stay calm.
I was not prepared for what happened next, I had a man come up to me with tears in his eyes and say how much we have in common and thanked me for the presentation I gave last Sunday. At that moment I could see the PTSD in his eyes, I could hear it in his voice. The tears are now falling and he walks away. I was not prepared to see that sort of pain on someone else, and I never want to again. I know exactly what he was feeling as he shook my hand and it hurt bad. PTSD is one of the most painful, lonely, scary, things I have had to deal with in my life.”
“No bedroom to hide in, just Scrubs, my service dog, and me, walking and sharing our story. Would I be able to do this? Where should I hike? My PTSD feels like it is just ready to attack me if I move too fast. Well, if I am going to feel this way sitting at home tweeting, blogging, updating my three Facebook pages, then I need to feel this way while making a difference in other people’s lives. How do I do this? What is it that I really need and want to do? Do I just grab the cameras and do a local hike, or is this the way I will share my story one step at a time?”
“What comes after welcome home?” is what I will be talking about on my way across the country on my bicycle. I have not picked an exact start and finish yet but it will have something to do with my church or PTSD or, hopefully, both.”
My mission is to use my experiences to help other veterans understand and recognize the signs, symptoms and effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, and then to help them find the resources they need to cope with its effects and live a happy productive life.