The one answer to PTSD

The one answer to PTSD

June 4, 2010 – If you have checked out our website at you may have landed on the “Survival” page by now. A couple of days ago, I changed the name of the page to what I consider to be a more appropriate title -“Survival and Hope”. We are all surviving something, but it’s those of us who have HOPE that make it through the storms in life.

It’s just a small word, but it has huge potential. It can be life changing, especially if you put your hope into someone or something bigger than yourself. We all use the word lightly. Try to make yourself aware of its presence in your daily vocabulary and you will quickly see that most of us don’t really tap into hope’s potential. I hope the traffic light stays green until I get through the intersection. I hope our team wins the game. I hope I pass the chemistry final. I hope it doesn’t rain today.

We rarely see the promise of a little word like hope, but I’m here to tell you that I believe that HOPE is the only answer we have right now to dealing with the enormous issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I hope (there it is!) that someday we will have the answers to treating this epidemic and invisible wound of war, but until that time, we have to figure out how to survive.

Eleven months ago I was trapped inside a hurricane of crisis trying to figure out what was wrong with my Marine. For several months we knew that he had been diagnosed with a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD, but having a label to place on the problems was of little comfort because along with the label came no instructions for what to do with the package. It was obvious that the Navy’s health care providers and the Marine Corps didn’t know what to do. In fact, they were the driving force that led to making the problem much bigger than it ever had to be. (Check out Secondary Wounding when you have a minute and check out the Felled Not News  page, specifically in the Propaganda section.)

Our family was extremely frustrated because, rather than come to the people that knew our Marine best to get facts about who he really was and how these diagnoses were affecting him, they shut us out. I will always wonder how different things would be if only they had listened, but too much water has passed under the bridge.

July 16, 2009. A day that will forever be etched in my mind as my transformation day. My Marine was in another life threatening crisis but this one seemed different, more intense, more real. I tried to do what I could do, which was very little being 600 miles away. I finally made a phone call to my son’s command. (By the way, this is the very last thing that a mom ever does….call the Marine Corps…..I broke the biggest rule ever taught to me by my son, but his life was at stake and his life was more important than their rule.) The captain didn’t take me seriously. A few minutes later, I made a second call to the captain and this time I am frantic. It’s obvious that I’m still not being taken seriously, but it’s after 5:00 pm and most likely, dinner is being interrupted. The Captain is going to check into it, he says. As it turns out, I have to make another phone call to my son’s friend before anyone comes to his aid and I found myself standing on the other end of the phone……600 miles away……with nothing, absolutely nothing……I’m praying the entire time, but I’m still worried and hopeless and waiting for the Marine Corps to show up at my door, in their Dress Blues. I’m not really trusting God in this because if I did trust Him, I wouldn’t be in such turmoil.

It was a long night and I didn’t sleep. I was afraid that if I slept, death would come to our family’s door. Early the next morning, I do hear a knock on the door. No one ever comes to our door before 9:00 am. I panic! It’s the Marines! They are here! I can’t breathe and I can’t move. I stand at the top of the stairs for what seems like an eternity and then I slowly descend the stairs. I am still not breathing, and now I’m crying, but somehow I manage to open the door. What I find is a package….believe it or not, a care package, that has been returned because the soldier is no longer deployed. I pick up the box, come back in the house and then suddenly I find myself filled with rage!

I’ve just spent the past several months trying to find my son, for the man that exists within his body is one I do not recognize. I’ve tried everything I know to do to understand what he is going through so I can help him. I’ve been stonewalled by the Marine Corps because my son is just a piece of property, owned by the USMC, and frankly, I’ve been stonewalled by my own son. He was brainwashed at boot camp, six years ago, to cut the apron strings. He’s been to war three times. He sees needing his mother as a sign of weakness.

I’ve now survived the crescendo moment of a crisis, but I have no idea when this nightmare is ever going to end and I am furious because I have absolutely NO CONTROL and NO ANSWERS, and I’m exhausted! It was at that moment that I allowed myself to trust completely in the Lord. This truth hit me like a bolt of lightning. I knew that there was only one answer and that was to “let go and let God” as they say. There is a big difference between saying you are going to let go and really doing it. You won’t ever understand the difference until you practice it for yourself. This is a concept that cannot be explained and must be experienced.

I knew making promises to God that I would read my Bible more often or that I would go to church three days a week, rather than just one or two, or even that I would be a better Christian, was simply not going to work. I already knew that I would let Him down. So I took all that I had been told about Him since the day I was big enough to hear His name and I decided to claim His promises and expectantly wait for Him to deliver. I reached in that box tucked away on my shelf, and I took God and the promises he gave me through his son, Jesus Christ right out. I blew the dust off and apologized for having left Him up there so long.

I didn’t ask Him to take away the nightmare, though I really wanted this to all go away. I just asked Him to give me two things. I said, “God what do you want me to learn from this situation and where, oh where is the blessing in this storm?” I really needed the answers to these questions so I could make sense of the purpose for living through all of this pain.

Not a day goes by since July 16, 2009, that I don’t have some sort of difficulty. In fact, I will be honest. This has been the WORST year of my life, BUT this has also been the BEST year of my life. In REALLY releasing my Marine, my family, and my life to Christ, I’ve been blessed far beyond what could ever be described in words. I spend 50% of my life in what I call “Crisis Mode” reacting to a situation involving my wounded warrior, but I get a chance to practice letting go and letting God on a regular basis.

The really amazing thing about this concept is the fact that it wouldn’t work if both sides didn’t honor their responsibilities. My job is to truly and sincerely give everything to God, and be willing to accept what happens, even and especially when the answer is going to land me in another trial. God’s job is to show me the blessing and teach me the lesson. So far we are both doing a pretty good job working together.

I have a “parting of the Red Sea” experience just about every day. In fact, sometimes the sea parts more than once between sunsets. Just ask any of my close friends and family. I’ve learned so much about myself and so much about God. I’ve got a better relationship with my children and my husband. My marriage is better than ever. The nonprofit organization I started is growing like crazy, and I no longer spend my days wringing my hands in despair. My Marine is still suffering greatly, but there is a light at the end of tunnel. It’s so small I can hardly see it. Some days I literally can’t see it, but I have HOPE that it’s there and I trust that it is beckoning me to keep stepping out in faith.

So, back to HOPE. It’s the one thing that keeps us going. It’s an instinctual response to life, but I believe the flame of hope will go out if one doesn’t take the initiative to seize its potential. I’ve come to realize that the troops, who are trapped inside the system we call the “military”, are finding themselves hopeless because they can’t exercise their initiative to grab hope’s potential. They are bound by the rules and regulations that control the “order and discipline” of the unit. They are owned and they are not free to take matters into their own hands to work towards recovery. If you keep them bound long enough, the flame of hope will be extinguished and the result will be another suicide.

How can one move forward in the midst of the storms of life? One step at a time, in faith, and HOPE. Just ask Katie Bagosy. Her world was turned upside down when her husband, Sgt. Thomas Bagosy, took his life a few weeks ago. She is still reeling from the pain. She’s still caught in the storm, but she can see the light of hope. It was Tommy who lost hope, buried in the depths of despair caused by PTSD, and saw no reason to live, but Katie can’t give up too. She’s got her entire life ahead of her and she’s got two beautiful children who need their mother. She came to a crossroads and had to choose between the road to the “Life Long Pity Party” and the “Road of Hope.”

Katie chose the Road of Hope. I know this because when she stepped onto the path, she bumped right into me. God will never send us anywhere without placing someone else there to help us along. The road is long, likely never ending, but bumping into Katie may have been a bigger blessing for me than it was for her, because where there was only one voice, now there are two.  Our family has been walking along this road for a long time, waiting for someone to join us. I wish Tommy’s death wasn’t the reason for meeting Katie, but it was and there is nothing we can do to change it.  We can, however, do our best to make sure that we don’t lose one more life to the wounds of PTSD.  If you are struggling with PTSD, or you have a family member who struggles, come join us. We’ve got hope for a solution and while we wait to find it, we’ve got hope that we will find the support we need along the way. We are gaining strength and we are going to make a difference…..because we’ve got HOPE and it comes from the most powerful source ever known to man.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Be sure to spend some time on our Survival and Hope page.  We hope to keep it updated frequently, and if you have a minute, listen to this song….. Hold Us Together by Matt Maher (Alive Again)

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