What does PTSD mean to me?

When I think about what PTSD is or what I know about it, I keep concluding that I am unaware of how it is caused or what it does to a person. I have always been aware of it but have never been educated about PTSD. I have known that several of my friends have it but will never talk about it or admit it to themselves. Most times, I see them struggle with alcohol or some other vise they think is not related. I have always followed what they did: hiding and compartmentalizing it. Then that day came when one of my friends told me he had it and had it bad. In the following few conversations over a few days, he mentioned suicide and killing himself.

I had always thought it was best to support and let friends of mine talk about it. I kept telling myself I was not a therapist or a mental doctor skilled enough to advise. Then my friend mentioned his struggle with mental illness. He was right up front with either going back to feeling the purpose of being part of a plan by design or struggling with the pain. The pain was too great, and he told me about his finger on the trigger.

My reaction on the other side of the conversion was, what can I do? He is so far away. Once off the phone, my eyes began to water, and I remember when my brother, Curtis died several years back from a drug overdose. I know Curtis was alone, and my friend also felt alone.

Well, never again, is what I told myself.

Never again will he be alone. He may struggle, but I need him alive. He is my friend, and I am here for him.

The idea of RJ’s Mission lasted about two years until my friend needed me. I realized the greater need to reach many people with PTSD, specifically from the military and first responder communities. It starts with one. It begins with creating words into action. The day he told me he was thinking about killing himself was when the idea became a reality. I started researching and finding out more about what PTSD is. Where does it come from, how does it affect those suffering, and how can I help them?

Starting from the beginning defines what post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is. It would be a life-threatening event from his military combat, which could be violent or severe. Many people develop PTSD, so believe me when I tell you it goes beyond military action. In generic terms, PTSD can cause nightmares, flashbacks, emotional reactions, and numbness.

All these symptoms would change any person’s daily routines and life. Depression, substance abuse, cognitive issues, and health problems can haunt our daily lives. All this causes consequences in their family, social, and work-life unstable situations.

Once I understood what causes PTSD and its symptoms, I could not stop learning more about it. How long does it take after a traumatic event to be visible? What types of treatment exist for people suffering? What is the definition of PTSD, and who does it include? It includes people way beyond war, and PTSD is constantly changing as it is being studied. Then there are the statistics that made me angry and sad all at the same time. The stats depend on the military combat era, from Operations Iraqi Freedom to back until the Vietnam War. We can talk about the stats another time as it is staggering because I would believe the numbers are much higher. The reason I think this is many veterans probably never tell anyone.

This is where I wanted to learn how to help or become a resource to those who serve. RJ’s Mission is about creating relationships with organizations providing treatment or therapy for those who have PTSD. RJ’s Mission is a path towards those foundations where others like me care to serve those who serve. This mission is bigger than those suffering and the families who have sacrificed watching their loved ones hurt. PTSD is not going away; it is an invisible enemy we must face together.