As I sit here telling you this story I’ve been awake for 66 straight hours. You can die from staying awake so long because it starts to affect your heart. Today I can feel my heart beating faster than normal. It’s working harder than it should because my body is so exhausted.
I don’t take sleep medication because I don’t want to develop a drug dependency, but I have osteoarthritis in my knee and when I come to the VA for pain treatment, the pain killer will usually put me to sleep for four or five hours at a time. I’ve already come to the VA for pain treatment eleven or twelve times this year. I’ve tried alternative therapies, including meditation, but I’ve had very little success. Nothing aside from medical intervention seems to work.
Despite all of this I got a marketing degree from The University of Maryland and a broadcast journalism degree from Rutgers. I’ve dabbled in everything from talk radio to real estate sales, but I’ve always aspired to be a writer and eventually get into TV and film. While I was on my talk radio show in California I decided to end the show and pursue my dream of writing a screenplay. Between then and now I’ve written three screenplays and also shot a film called, ‘The Mule.’ I’m also involved with shooting a television show called ‘SOHO.’
A lot of guys with PTSD have depression but I’m so passionate about my work that my body is on a natural high while I work.
I’m currently writing a film about a guy who calls the VA operator and says, “Give me a reason to live.” The main character suffers from PTSD and his family doesn’t know how to deal with him. The film was inspired by a young man I met who wanders the streets of New York suffering from PTSD. His family is scared of him because they associate PTSD with violence. They don’t want him living at home because they’re scared he’ll ‘snap’ and kill them.
But there is a lot of misinformation about PTSD – most PTSD sufferers are not violent, they’re depressed. There has to be more public outreach letting people know there is nothing to fear with PTSD veterans. The VA also needs to focus on helping the family members understand and deal with loved ones suffering from PTSD.
I want other veterans to know that there is no shame in admitting you have a problem and need help. A lot of soldiers are embarrassed by their problems. Somehow it’s not ‘manly’ to admit that you have PTSD. But the recovery process all starts with losing the shame and admitting you need help.
At the end of the day I want to be an inspiration to other veterans suffering from PTSD. I want them to realize that although there are challenges you can still have goals and ambitions. You can have some sense of normalcy. There is life after duty – the world goes on and you have to go on too.
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