THIS WAS WRITTEN BY A FRIEND OF MINE, JESSE BARTON, AND SHARED WITH HIS PERMISSION.
The mind of a soldier once returned from war in a nutshell:
It took me six months after we landed back in Kansas to come to terms that my life was a reality, and I wasn’t living in a fairy tale land.I had abused alcohol on the weekends not caring what happened. I would go to bed at midnight in complete darkness only to fall asleep at 3am and be up within 2.5 hours to get to work.
I did wrong to my friends, and my family thinking of nothing but just doing. Just…wash rinse repeat.
I couldn’t wait to leave active duty and didn’t seek help. I lied to the medical staff saying I was fine, war was a joke, it didn’t bother me.
I lied to my wife, and myself more importantly.
We moved back to Minnesota, and when we got settled in to our new home in a place that was supposed to be safe, that’s what the realtor said. 2 weeks later a man was gunned down by the police a few blocks away, and the crime just kept coming.
Every waking moment I was there, I kept myself hypervigalant by locking all the doors, looking out the windows whenever I could, just making sure myself and my family was safe. I didn’t sleep well, and it was rough. I didn’t drink anymore though, I stopped that when we left Kansas, and continue to not 99% of the time.
Wherever we drove I looked for IED’s and suspicious people under bridges, on hills, at crosswalks even.
We moved finally after a year, and I could only feel a small relief because we moved to a new area I had rarely been. It was quiet, and the neighbors were great. But my head was still lost in Afghanistan.
I would go to school and be there only the amount of time I needed to. I didn’t hang out with people, and only wanted people to come to me because I felt safe that way.
Going into crowded places made my heart race, my nerves were short, and I hated staying in the same spot for more then a few minutes. Not just your normal–well she is taking forever to find a shirt — rather it was — I need to get the hell out of here. That lady looked at me, there’s a person 25 meters away, there’s a small kid running free, what’s that light out for?
We moved to a new neighborhood, bought a house, had Christmas a week or so after we moved in, but I stayed hypervigalant every day.
I had a breaking point finally after all the negativity that consumed my life. Negativity that I will not share with you Facebook world, and only a few have heard what I have been through.
The ER nurses and psychiatrist said I didn’t meet the criteria to go to a “loony bin”. So I said ” You wanna play games with me and hand me papers and phone numbers. Well I know how to work the system, I’m not stupid. This regard, I mean me, I’m going to kill myself if you don’t give me what I need.”
10 minutes later they said I would be going to a clinic for help.
Carrie was my social worker at St Joe’s. She got me back on my feet after this “retard” fell into the abyss on a piece of string that was about to break and I would no longer exist, well physically I would be 6 feet under, and mentally I would be in the minds of some. But I would have killed myself, because I couldn’t take the negativity of this world anymore.
I couldn’t handle my home life.
I couldn’t handle people trying to kill me that weren’t there.
I couldn’t handle the image of a small girl who I had to treat that changed my view on the world forever 3 weeks into my deployment.
I started therapy. I cried. I laughed. I remembered things I couldn’t when I tried before. I was able to sleep again, and dream.
Dreams, I hadn’t had dreams since mid Afghanistan, 2011. It’s 2015. Now I do a few times a week, and no matter if its good or bad, its a dream that I remember and love it.
It’s a big big world, and there’s people out there who do want to kill me, and hurt me. I’ve excepted that, because there’s people I want to hurt and kill too.
I’d rather help people though, and tell them it will be alright.
Because…. I am alright. And I am better. Not %100, and there’s things I need to work on, “kinks” as my wife said to me the other night. And I will get those kinks worked out.
I’m not living in fear anymore, thank you Jim for pushing my mind and body to be where I have gotten.
The biggest supporter of me is myself.
The best supporter is my wife, she’s been through all my ups and downs, and I can’t say I am sorry because without those, I wouldn’t be OK.
I would be stuck in Afghanistan, with Stan trying to kill me and whoever is with me.
–Fuck you Stan, fuck you!!!! You can stay in your hell hole of a country and leave me alone now. You can’t hurt me any longer. I don’t have room for you in my head, and whenever you pop up Mr. Stan, I’m gonna put you down like the 300m targets this Combat Medic can hit. I can save a life, but I can take one just as easily. You can’t hurt me anymore, you just can’t.
Get help if you need it, I almost ended my life a few times, that my wife doesn’t even know about. I’m glad I did not, and will not.
So you wanna know what the mind of a soldier is who was told there is a bounty out on your head? It’s horrible. But I feel free today. And look forward to living life again.
I won’t say I’m sorry for not being around, and declining invites from friends and family. I just couldn’t do it, but I promise myself I will do my best not to be that person anymore. And if its a bad day I will let that person know, because sadly I will always have Stan in my head.
Stan doesn’t scare me now. I will scare him if it comes down to it. Because me, I’m going home. I will always make it home.
I am deep in the bowels of a psychiatric treatment facility – probably in a straight jacket by now. This is scheduled post – if this had been an actual post you would receive instructions to shelter in place.