In remembrance of Veterans Day, below, find what were once two separate posts. I've put them together here, next to each other, as fitting companions reflecting two of the horrific outcomes our Veterans too often face, PTSD & Death by Addiction.
Here they are, in order, in honor of the living and the dead:
PTSD (in 9 short sentences, 153 years of history tracing what we called it and how it changed us):
A soldier's heart is what they called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the U.S. Civil War (which ended in 1865, one hundred and fifty three years ago). They did not know what else to call it. It was at the core of what they felt. "He's suffering from soldier's heart," they said.
Time marches on (and did march on) and during WWI the same sick soldier would be called shell-shocked. The munitions changed and the positions changed, the diagnoses altered slightly from the soldier's heart to the shell casings of bombs dropped too near.
The concentric circles of war overlapped once again in WWII and combat stress reaction and a spray of other diagnoses erupted as the medicalization of symptoms evolved and the prescriptions changed.
Today we call it PTSD and for a second we may look upon that same soldier as if under a microscope whose magnification may bring us closer to the truth found possible through advanced scientific methodologies, yet somehow further from the man, the man an echo beneath a barrage of symptoms.
Do not forget a soldier's heart.
(Please note: When I first heard about Soldier's Heart, I was immediately reminded of PTSD and how I felt when I first hit bottom in 1996 - lost in terror.)
THE TOMB OF THE ANONYMOUS ADDICT
Sometimes walking down the street you think you hear the sound of leaves scuttling along, but these are the plans, hopes, dreams of the dead. Wind barely whispering over the green lips of empty bottles, syringes puncturing the silence in their stillness. Sentences gasping for a last breath, forever unfinished.
The Tomb of the Anonymous Addict is really many tombs in many doorways, further down anonymous valleys than any still alive have ever ventured.
No such monument truly exists. It's undedicated, the dead remains unidentified. It is truly unnamed and unguarded.
It tires me, this Tomb of the Anonymous Addict. It exists in my mind only.
And it makes me weary.
[A short note on the author: Jim Anders is also the author of the Autobiographical Fiction titled ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO ]