How to not kill yourself after coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan

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In times of peace, children bury their parents; war disrupts the order of nature, and parents bury their children.” – Herodotus

War can disrupt the natural order of life and create a sense of meaninglessness and uncertainty.

Just because you don’t agree with the war or violence, doesn’t mean you have to turn your backs on soldiers coming home from battle.

In fact, since more and more people are doing just that, be different, reach out to a fellow vet and be a source of guidance.

A lot of Vets are suffering from PTSD.

PTSD is defined as:  “An anxiety disorder triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event. “

Basically, post traumatic stress disorder is the result of the brain trying to process an unnatural order of life.

When faced with an out-of-order experience that is life threatening, the brain compresses the traumatic experience so that you are left to deal with it after the danger is over.

Our brain means well in the short term, but putting our emotions on layaway can really mess us up later.

Since reliving past trauma produces anxiety, we tend to avoid “processing” it, and the unresolved shock eventually comes out as random panic attacks.

This is the brains final and desperate attempt to deal with and decompress the trauma.

So, what is an out of order event?

That totally depends on how you grew up and what you were PROGRAMMED to believe is right and wrong. Everything comes down to a matter of perspective.

Some people actually grow up with death and violence around them, so it’s their normal, and doesn’t rock them as much as it would someone who isn’t accustomed to it.

Facts

  • 33,000 suicides occur each year in the U.S.
  • 91 suicides occur each day.
  • 22 out of those 91 suicides are veterans.
  • 22 veterans kill themselves a day.
  • Their number one method to take their own life, drugs or poison.
  • Men take their lives at nearly four times the rate of women.
  • Veterans are at greater risk than those in the general population.

Both Soldiers and citizens can all do a lot more to reduce this risk.

The fact that illegal immigrants have an easier time getting medical help than our American born citizens who risked their lives overseas is a problem.

365 days is how long it takes for most vets to get checked on mentally and once they are checked on they aren’t being handled the best way possible.

What do I know about coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan? Not much.

I have no idea what it’s like to kill a man or be at war, but I do have friends who have, and I’ve spent a good amount of time around them.

One of them in particular just called me after getting home from his last tour and he suggested I do a post to bring some awareness to this situation. I think it’s the least I can do.

So I interviewed him and a few other of my veteran friends to find out what’s really going on.

If I left anything out or you disagree with something, just leave a comment below letting me know.

Here are 6 ways that can help yourself or someone you love avoid ending their own life.

1: Self Worth

Self Worth is extremely important. It is the value you give yourself based on your personal accomplishments and feedback from your cultural editors.

When people turn their backs on Veterans after coming home it can be a hard pill to swallow.

It can cause a lowered sense of self worthiness.

When you choose to commit suicide your self worth is nonexistent.

I’m here to tell you that you CAN get it back.

Don’t let anyone else’s views of you or the war become your reality.

You have the final say in how you feel about anything that happens in your world.

The strongest reality wins.

If you don’t think you can unlearn and re program from these problems Dr. Mario Martinez is out to prove you wrong in his book The Mind Body Code.

He’s a Neuropsychologist, author, the founder of biocognition and a public speaker.

He teaches you a way to perform self cognitive behavioral therapy.

We are a lot like computers. When computers have a virus or malware we update the software.

Well we have to do the same things with our brains. We have to update the software, unlearn old habits and replace them with new upgraded thoughts and emotions.

One of the ways is through a form of Meditation. Just like a computer goes into safe or default mode, you can too.

You can’t just speak things into existence, you have to really feel them.

You can’t tell someone the stove is hot, they have to put their hand on it.

How do you feel it? Guided meditation and breath work, breathing into parts of the body and repeating a set of commands while you’re in there.

Below I have copy and pasted an exercise from the book that helped me a lot, and I think it can help you as well.

I also posted a video of me explaining it, if videos are easier for you, then you can watch it by clicking here.

I recommend doing both.

Look at it as a mental boot camp that will make you stronger and more resilient in taking on your new battle, life in civilization.

From the book “The Mind Body Code”, By Dr. Mario Martinez:

The Method— Witnessing and Breathing

“Before you begin, here is an important reminder: the mindbody code pathways are accessed indirectly and communicated experientially . They do not operate in a linear or intellectual way. Simply reasoning out or wishing for a solution will not change the conditions that maintain dysfunctional patterns. This is a key reason why self- destructive behavior does not change as a result of fear tactics or appeals to logic.

Please read the following instructions several times until you can do the technique with your eyes closed. Do not worry about following the steps perfectly. Trust that with practice, you will develop the proficiency you need.

Please note that this experiential exercise will introduce you to all five of the
wellness portals, but you do not have to explore them all at once. You can practice working with one portal at a time for as long as you wish, or you can practice with all five portals during one sitting. The method works best when you adjust it to your personal preference and needs.

  • Sit in a quiet place, in a comfortable chair or on the floor. If you choose to sit on the floor, elevate yourself on the edge of a pillow to take any pressure off your back. Always sit with your back against a wall. (Sensing that your back is protected is the mindbody code for embodied safety.) If you choose a chair, use one with a solid back.
  • Close your eyes. Keep your back straight without straining. Tilt your head slightly forward. Relax your jaw and drop your shoulders.
  • Feel your back touching the back of the chair, or sense your back resting against the solid wall.
  • Feel your body being held by the chair or the floor. Release the belly and pelvic muscles that tighten when you’re standing. Trust that the solidness holding you in place will sustain you. (Sensing solidness holding your body is the mindbody code for embodied support .)
  • Allow yourself to feel gratitude for the consciousness of safety and support you have created. Let this emerging gratitude slowly permeate your body. (Gratitude is an exalted emotion a term we will explore more fully later in the book— that promotes receptiveness. The manifested experience of gratitude is the mindbody code for embodied acceptance and assimilation of wellness .)
  • Witness your breathing as if you were watching a film. Do not interfere with the rhythm; simply be aware of your breathing pattern.

Explore the Five Portals

THE FIRST PORTAL: BELLY TO FEET

  • Repeat in your mind the word safety while focusing attention on your belly and your legs. Every few breaths, repeat the word safety like a mantra, and begin to witness your belly and legs as a unified field.
  • Do not expect anything or try to modify any reaction you may have. Your only task is to make the mindbody connection between the word safety and the first portal.
  • If memories or emotions surface, witness them without attachment and let them pass. If tension builds in the safety portal, simply witness the sensation and breathe as if you were sending a gentle wave of fresh oxygen to the tense area.
  • Let your breathing embrace the area rather than trying to relax the muscles in the area. (This breathing- to- an- area technique is the mindbody code for embodied release .) Although you can’t literally breathe directly into an area beyond the lungs, breathing as if you can indirectly triggers the relaxation response to the tense area.
  • After a few minutes of doing these steps, change the mantra from safety to “I am safety,” and follow the same witnessing procedure for another few minutes.
  • Now engage the final mantra, “I take safety wherever I go,” for the same amount of time and with the same steps as for the other two mantras.
  • After completing the three mantras, you can choose to end the exercise by counting from one to ten, opening your eyes, and slowly reorienting yourself before getting up. Or you can move on to the next portal.

THE NEXT THREE PORTALS

  • The next three portals, love, expression, and peace, are experienced using the same procedure as for the safety portal.
  • Each time, move from the mantra expressing the specific portal (repeating its name every few breaths) to the mantra “I am [the portal],” and finally to the mantra “I take [the portal] wherever I go.”
  • Proceed from the love mantra (the solar plexus and upper chest), to the mantra “I am love,” and finally to “I take love wherever I go.”
  • Begin with the expression mantra (arms, hands, and neck to eyebrows), move to “I am expression” mantra, and then repeat “I take expression wherever I go.” Go from the peace mantra (forehead to crown), to “I am peace,” to “I take peace wherever I go.”
  • After you complete the exercise for the fourth mantra, if you choose to, you can move on to the fifth and final portal.

THE FIFTH PORTAL: SPIRIT

The procedure for this portal is different from the others because, as I mentioned before, the spiritual dimension does not have locality and does not reside in time and space; it has a nonlocal presence in an infinite realm. Thoughts, sensations, and feelings are amorphous glimpses of consciousness that take form and identity when we attempt to describe them. Spirit, however, is beyond consciousness and cannot be accessed directly. We can only experience the undulations of spirit the reflection of its presence. (I will explain the concept of undulations in the next section, Going Deeper.)

  • Before starting the spirit mantra, scan your body and witness what is going on without attempting to intervene or change anything. Just be aware of the process. Whatever thoughts, sensations, or feelings surface, notice them and allow them to move on.
  • Focus on your breathing and begin to repeat the spirit mantra at the end of each breath. Notice the gap between the end of exhaling and the beginning of inhaling. Imagine that
    while in the gap, you are in the presence of spirit.
  • Since spirit is not a physical entity, you can only experience the undulations of spirit (like a ripple effect). You are no longer accessing the mind or identifying a physical area. This is a contemplative dimension that does not respond to linear thinking.
  • Continue focusing on your breathing and repeating “Spirit” at the end of each breath. Witness the gap between breaths with a consciousness of receptivity. Do not try to control or prolong the gap; just let the process guide you.
  • When you are in the gap, experience its boundlessness. And in that boundlessness, switch from the spirit mantra to “I am spirit.”
  • Continue repeating the “I am spirit” mantra for a few minutes, and then move on to “I am spirit wherever I go.”
  • Notice that, because of the essence of spirit, I propose “I am” for the third mantra rather than “I take.” Also, if you do not believe in God or a deity, you can still use spirit to represent something more universal than yourself (for example, nature, or Buddhahood).
  • Now you are ready for the most important step. Stop reciting the mantra, and permit yourself to trust that it continues to be expressed in your implicate consciousness a dimension that is inaccessible to intellect. (I will also explain the notion of implicate consciousness in the Going Deeper section.)
  • Shift your attention from the gap between breaths to the gap between thoughts. Trust, without seeking evidence, that transcendental wisdom resides in the gap, and accept the experience as the most auspicious (best fit) in the long run. The gap experience reflects implicate wisdom rather than intelligible information. This trusting process is the mindbody code for taking a leap of faith. It is consciousness without form. Note that I am not referring to religious faith here. Instead, it is faith as a path to spiritual wisdom.
  • When you are ready to end the exercise, count from one to ten, open your eyes, and slowly reorient yourself before getting up.”

I highly recommend his book The Mind Body Code:

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2: Stay busy

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think of it. Go out and get busy.” –Dale Carnegie 

When you’re busy you don’t have time to worry about all the stuff that bothers you.

You’re so focused on the task at hand that it puts you right in that moment, directly where you want to be.

How can you stay busy?

  • Build or create something
  • Join a sports team
  • Take a form of martial arts
  • Get two jobs
  • Volunteer as a coach or teacher
  • Work out and exercise
  • Read a book
  • Start a blog

3: Don’t resort to drugs.

A lot of vets suffering from Post traumatic stress disorder resort to taking drugs to numb the pain.

Just like there’s no such thing as the fountain of youth, there is no pill you can take to erase killing someone.

There is no serum you can inject to take back seeing one of your brothers killed.

You have to go inside, relive those feelings, and replace them with new ones. That is the only way.

I know it’s easier said than done and I know it’s a quick escape, but long term, drugs will only make things worse.

It’s like putting a small band aid on a deep cut that really needs stitches.

You can’t truly love yourself if you’re abusing drugs on a regular basis.

Once you look at drugs as a weapon against your self, it’s a lot easier to stop doing them.

You wouldn’t cut yourself with a knife everyday and harm your exterior physically, so why do it with a pill that can cause harm emotionally and internally?

Once in a while marijuana can be cool if it works for you, but everyday habits that are detrimental to your mind and body are not. It is a form of self abuse, and once you look at it that way, and start honoring and loving yourself, it is a lot easier to stop the destruction.

Look at drugs as a weapon that you are using against yourself. Like a razor blade that you are using to make little cuts that add up over time.

If drugs are damaging your mind and body, why put yourself through that pain?

You are better than that and you deserve more.

Repeat those words to yourself over and over until you believe it. Because it’s true.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself or treat yourself as the enemy.

You are not the enemy you are the hero. Regardless of what may have happened.

Remember that always.

4: Get a dog

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A ‘battle buddy’ service dog is so much more than just a service dog for a disabled veteran –they not only increases the quality of their handler’s lives on a daily basis, and allow them to decrease the intake of the harmful medications. They are also a beacon of hope for so many others struggling with Post Traumatic Stress and invisible wounds– showing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that there is a way to find yourself again after combat, and create a new ending….that the best way is not necessarily through pills, but instead alongside a battle buddy, working towards a common mission.” –Battle Buddy

Coming home from war can be tough.

I wanted to have one of the points in this post be about friends, family and or a significant other. But I know not everyone has a support system like that, and humans can be pretty unreliable.

That’s all good though, because we have dogs.

Dogs are even more like us than we thought.

Dog spelled backwards is God.

We all have a need to connect with, learn from, and empathize with others. It is necessary to our survival.

With honor, commitment and loyalty comes healing.

Commitment is the cure for abandonment.

Loyalty is the cure for betrayal.

Sad thing is, those attributes can be hard to find these days.

Getting a dog can bring these healing fields into your life.

If you want to obtain a service dog, you can link to their application on their website here: http://www.tbbf.org/apps/service-dog-application

Or go to the pound and adopt a dog. Save the dog while you save yourself.

5. Help Someone

A photo posted by 22VETS (@22vets) on

Helping another person can give you a great sense of purpose.

It is now proven that doing good deeds for others raises the oxytocin in your brain naturally.

By killing yourself you are letting the enemy win. By helping others you are beating them even after the fact.

You are thriving and growing.

If you feel bad about anything you’ve done in the past, it’s never to late to start making good things happen in the present.

Give the gift of love, and you will receive it back ten fold for yourself.

6. Tapping

Watch this video:


I used tapping because I was grinding my teeth in my sleep.

I don’t know if it’s a placebo or not, but it worked really well.

I do it before bed and when I wake up.

It makes me feel good.

It’s free and it can only help you. You have nothing to lose by trying it and I’ve heard stories of Veterans using it with much success: www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4hhMm8qsCs

Here is an article on the science behind tapping and how it can help someone with PTSD: www.eomega.org/article/tap-your-way-to-healing-ptsd-with-eft

Closing thoughts

I really help this post can help you or someone you love deal with this difficult topic. I had a hard time writing this because there really is no right way to talk about dealing with death.

There is no equivalent to the worth of a human life, and there is no greater pain than parents having to bury their children.

The best way to getting back to being you is finding something you love.

First, starting with yourself.

You are not the bad guy. If you kill yourself you are making yourself the enemy.

You have to find a reason to truly love yourself and forgive yourself for what you’ve done or what you’ve seen.

Meditation or going within is a magnetic force that can bring you to a happier more peaceful place.

Getting a dog can bring back that lost sense of commitment and loyalty to your life.

Helping others can give you a sense of purpose.

Don’t expect people to be grateful and bend over backwards for you.

People are ungrateful. Not everyone is taught gratitude, and a lot of people are against the war.

Remember, it takes a special person to risk so much for people who care so little.

Never put your happiness and self worth in someone else’s hands. They’ll drop it. They’ll drop it every single time.

It’s up to you.

You can always friend me on my facebook page if you need someone to talk to.

Resources and places to get help:

saveawarrior.org

mission22.com

Woundedwarrior.org

Battle Buddy

10 Places Vets can get help

http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp