By Jay Kirell
Last month I received word my VA disability compensation claim had been completed. The money and health benefits I was awarded is nice, but even weeks after the decision came down, I’m still left shaking my head about something.
Namely, that I officially have PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was listed in the packet under service-connected disabilities.
It’s not that I was shocked that I have it, but rather that I was diagnosed with it.
Brain injuries and psychological trauma aren’t always easily noticeable, so I’m thankful, I guess, that got a VA doctor who knew what to look for when he examined me last year.
To try to describe what PTSD feels like to someone who doesn’t have it is painfully difficult, not only because there’s still a stigma attached to PTSD [the whole snapping and getting violent kind of stigma], but because PTSD itself makes it hard to describe anything.
The impairment of the ability to concentrate being the obvious reason why. That, and the simple task of just remembering how I used to write before I went to war are not coming easily to me anymore. Words used to flow off the page for me. I used to command them and could unleash thousands in a matter of minutes.
Now I’ll struggle for over an hour on two paragraphs. Structure, transitions, simply using the correct grammar and punctuations – stuff that any high school junior has got down pat, is degraded in me. And I was a guy who first started typing short stories on an old school ribbon typewriter before they even had computers. Try that today, kids.
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe this is just the writing equivalent of ring rust. Writing is a depreciable skill, after all.
Either way, I’d just beg patience from whoever reads this, while I try to improve the quality of my work and get back to the level I used to be at.