PTSD Does Not Just 'Go Away' Over a Certain Period of Time

Some people think that after someone is out of the military for any period of time (no matter their discharge status) a “switch” flips over reverting their brain back to civilian mode, ready for life outside of the military. What they fail to understand is the military does not teach our men and women how to switch back and forth between “soldier” and “civilian” between deployments. Many soldiers (especially those on the front line) leave the military with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My husband (an infantry combat vet with three deployments under his belt) can tell you his PTSD is something that is not going to just “go away.” For him, every night is a nightmare.

My husband has been out of the U.S. Army since 2006… nearly a decade. Initially, he enlisted as National Guard. After four months, he went active duty as infantry. This was before the horrific events that occurred on 9/11/2001. He wasn’t deployed for his first tour to Iraq until 2003. Two more deployments followed: one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. He was on the front line, patrolling some of the danger zones in both countries.

Many vets return from deployments with varying degrees of PTSD. It’s not just modern day vets either (though PTSD was not an “official diagnosis” until the DSM-III in the 1980s). It’s vets from the Vietnam War, the Korean War, WWII, etc.. PTSD does not discriminate. The stigma attached to it has come and gone over the years, causing a lot of vets to self-medicate to avoid being labeled with a psych disorder.

There’s a lot of stigma attached to mental illness and PTSD. If you are diagnosed, then you are “crazy,” “unstable,” and “unpredictable.” In all actuality, this is not the case. These men and women are on high alert, looking for anything that may potentially threaten their safety (or the safety of others). They’re mentally preparing themselves for danger and triggers.

Our vets don’t deserve to be judged for the horrors they endured while deployed. Really, no one deserves to be judged for having PTSD. No one but them (and their families to an extent) know the hell they deal with day after day. PTSD is real, and it’s scary, and it’s awful, no matter what the cause.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Highwaystarz Photography

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

pumpkins and crushed leaves on the table

Halloween Reflections From a Girl With PTSD

I spent the majority of my time from age 10 to 15 sitting in hospital wards and doctors’ offices due to my father’s cancer, and eventual death.  I didn’t go out with friends. I didn’t join clubs. I spent a lot of time in school nurses’ offices pretending to be sick because I didn’t want [...]
a woman looks at a man standing away from her on a lonely path

What Our 'Ever After' Looks Like After My Husband Was Diagnosed With PTSD

I say, don’t listen to the songs. Don’t believe the fairytales. In the real world, nobody gets a “happily ever after.” The real world is full of real people, and real people are never perfect. Marriage is never perfect. Yet so many of us continue to idolize a happily ever after, and we even think we see [...]
Young pensive long haired scared girl standing outside alone

The Isolation of PTSD

I’m a girl, trapped in a nightmare for the last 12 years. I have bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. And my drowning in despair started when my mother passed away in 2004. The diseases were already in my brain. They just needed a push, and my mother’s death was that push. Today, [...]
digital painting of boy sitting lonely in the moonlight, watercolor on paper texture

When My Nightmares Come True on Halloween

I’ve always loved the fall season — the crisp fresh air, gorgeous colors of changing leaves, pumpkin patches, apple cider, decorating for Halloween, scary movies, celebrating Wicked Day (“Wicked” the musical celebrates “Wicked Day” on October 30 because that’s its anniversary) and my ultimate favorite part is that it’s sweatshirt weather again! In fact, I love [...]