PTSD & the Crap that comes with it.

 I used to love going to concerts and festivals. I loved the atmosphere, the buzz of people going here and there. The energy and the excitement in the air. The smell of food vendors cooking the laughter of friends reliving old memories. YEA… I loved these things.

I can remember when all that change for me. I went to pain in the grass at White River Amphitheater when I had just come back from deployment. The things that I had once enjoyed had now become overwhelming and frightening. The hustle and bustle of the crowd no longer exude excitement for me, but anxiety. I had once enjoyed the business and people and the chatter as they walked by but now that was replaced with a sense terror. A sense that I had to be on high alert watching every possible person because they could be a potential threat. Their movements their hands who they were talking with what they were saying it all became overwhelming. The smell of food vendors that I had once enjoyed and now been replaced with the smell of body odor and trash. The body odor, trash and Porta-Johns had always been there. But somehow I had never noticed them before. But the smells I think we’re the worst, they triggered memories of my deployment that had been seared into my brain. The memories would come back as a rush flooding through my mind and overwhelming my senses. I would feel almost in a daze as if I wasn’t quite in reality. Like I was on some obscure edge of reality looking in, coming in and out have a Consciousness I did not understand. The uneasiness gave way to anxiety and then panic, and I can remember leaving before the headliners even took the stage.

So some Ten Years Later here I am. Standing at the threshold of what I will be my first concert experience since the amphitheater. Some very good and well-meaning friends head got me and my wife tickets to the Willie Nelson concert. I love Willie Nelson I grew up listening to his music so I was conflicted about the evening. On the one hand I was excited to see Willie Nelson perform, a man who had only heard through the radio and had listen to my entire life. But on the other hand I felt panic. Would I be able to make it through the concert, what if I have a panic attack, would I embarrass myself and my wife in front of my friends? I thought perhaps I will just graciously accept the tickets and at the last minute back out come up with some reason why I couldn’t attend and apologize profusely. You see it’s just not the panic and anxiety that I was worried about. For me and my PTSD it betrays my body. I’ve learned to manage the anxiety so that it does not lead into a panic attack. Well for the most part anyway. But I still cannot fully control the way my body malfunctions. Anytime I’m under high stress or anxiety the diarrhea kicks in. It’s almost instantaneous. I know it is coming I can feel the shortness of breath the heart palpitations and I can breathe through a those. I can calm my mind and bring myself to a place I’m calm. Well for the most part anyway. But with a panic and anxiety I know but the diarrhea is coming.

As you can see I keep my truck well stocked with various remedies for such a problem. With all the overseas travel I have done I have had many opportunities to fine-tune the medications that I take to alleviate this problem. I had I even have prescription strength medication for serious bouts. I keep them on hand and at the ready never knowing when I may need them. Tonight would be no exception. I research the tickets that my friends had bought they were good seats. It was a private section with private bar private food and private restrooms. It was off to the side away from The Fray of the crowd. Large Lounge seats and an older crowd. I couldn’t have asked for a better seat for the concert. The anxiety I once fell at the gate as we entered quickly dissipated when I assessed the seating and the venue. It was an outdoor venue surrounded only by a 6-foot fence it would be easily scalable in an emergency. Two exits to my rear and one to my right. The main body of the crowd to my left and front. If there was an emergency I would be well out of the way of the oncoming crowd. All of these things I assessed at a moment’s notice. I was able to calm my mind and put myself at ease. That is except for my digestive tract. Within just a few minutes of being inside the venue I felt the call. I made my way to the private restrooms but there was already a line 10 people deep. I was thankful for the private section and private restrooms so I could only imagine what the rest rooms look like for the main menu. I popped 2 prescription strength pills to alleviate the issue, but it was already too late, my guts are already churning. I made my way to the grey little porta john trailer, rolling blue paluka, whatever you call it. They were more upscale then your standard porta-john but still had a cramp feel and overwhelming stench one would expect. As luck would have it the door install that I selected did not have a lock. You could tell that one had once been there and since been broken off. So there I was half panicked, bubble guts, fumbling around in the crampness of the porta-john attempting to use it all the while holding the door shut praying that no one would try to open it. As I sat there all I could do was laugh. Laugh so I wouldn’t cry. Why did I let myself get to this point? Why had I not just stayed home? Why am I still here? As the pressure in my stomach subsided and I left the cramped quarters are the porta-john I did feel some relief. But there was a twinge of worry. What if the pills didnt work fast enough and I ended up running to the bathroom all night.

Well the pills did work. And I didn’t end up using the restroom again that night. The concert was actually quite enjoyable I had fun with my wife and my friends I enjoy the evening and toward the end even got close enough to the stage to where I could see the wrinkles on old Willys face. I’m glad that I just sucked it up that I pushed forward and I didn’t allow my previous failures to dictate my future

Will I attend another concert? I dont know. But I will at least consider it. I can not limit myself based on my fears.

What I have learned while living with ptsd is that I have to push forward and challenge myself daily. If I am not advancing, then I am retreating. Marines never retreat, we never surrender.

Sgt Q -Out

Beauty and the Beast

This is not a love story.
It’s about the beauty of strangers and the beast that lives inside me.

Today I decided to take my family to Disneyland. Yeah… I know… some of you are holding your breath right now, and for good reason. PTSD and crowds don’t  mix well, but I was willing to try. Things started off rough before I even got into the park.


At the gate there was a TSA style check point. They searched everyone’s bags on a long table then sent you thru. I was ok with this part, it didnt seem to intrusive and the line went quickly. Just after that there was a second stop point where they make you empty your pockets and go thru a metal detector. This secondary check point seemed a bit more through and I could feel my anxiety start to build. As I empty my pockets I seemed a little perplexed at the level of security they had for the happiest place on earth. I emptied my pockets and an officer named Tom began to question me. I had in my pocket a small multi-tool that had a knife, screwdrivers and bottle opener. As you look at the contents of my pocket sitting in the tray, the multi-tool still covered in yellow paint from the weekends build, my cell phone, extra battery pack, camera from Kevin Mugi, miscellaneous change and dollar bills, car keys, and carabiners. I must have  looked like a small Sherpa with the contents of my pocket sitting piled in the dish. Tom asked why I had brought a knife with me. I didn’t know why and stammered for an answer, my anxiety now rushing into a full panic. I tried to explain the multitool was something I always carried and had just returned from a build in Mexico. “I always carry this Kershaw multitool. I use it almost daily. What is going on here I thought” as the line of questions began to make me feel uncomfortable. Tom must have sensed my anxiety as I stammered to tell him about the Kershaw. As I stumbled over my words I began to get angry. “A pocket knife … really? This is what they are concerned about! This is a safty issue, not that they strap you into a metal cage and shoot you down a hill at 30 mph… thats safe, but the Kershaw, now thats dangerous.”

I now began to ask the questions. Pointing out the obsurdity of their rules. During this time Tom remained calm and polite. He answered all of my questions in a professional nonconfrontinal manner. He completely put me at ease because he did not challenge my opinions on the matter, but instead reminded me that they do their best to provide a safe and fun environment for all guests. That these rules about knives and selfi sticks, glass and gun shaped toys were all designed to improve the overall Disney experience. He explained in detail the dangers of each banned item and never wavired in his polite and professional demeanor.
At the end I agreed to return to my car and drop of the Kershaw. As I walked back to the car I was reminded that Disneyland is a private park open to the public. They can put what ever rules up wanted and I had the choice to either follow them or not enter into the park.

As I made my way back to the check point, I looked for Tom. He waved me thru and I again emptied my pockets. As I did I thanked Tom and explained how difficult just coming here was for me and how my anxiety skyrocketed at the check point. I also told him that it was his polite and non-confrontainal attitude that was the key to me not just giving up and leaving the park. I really didnt want to disappoint my family by not going to the park with them. I asked if I could pray with them and thanked God they had handled the situation with such grace.


I walked away feeling confident. One of the other guards had told me that if I really appreciated Tom I should go tell a “Plad” about my experience and they would recognize Tom for a job well done. A Plad is like a customer service specialist/ supervisor from what I can tell. I made my way to City Hall and told one of the Plads (her name was Sam) about Tom. I told her about my anxiety and how ORH works to help veterans struggling with ptsd lead normal lives. I also told her that Tom should be teaching others how to interact with guests, because if he could defuse me while in the beginning of a panic attack he could defuse anyone. Sam then proceded to give me a disability pass that would allow me to go on the rides without standing in line. I would still have the same wait time as everyone else, but would not have to physically stand in line. This was such a blessing. There were these little green stations throughout the park where you could sign up for a ride and they would give you a time to be there so you could get on.
It was @ this first green station that wr met Channing. She was a bubbly young gal who was more than happy to assist us and give ride recommendations. We told her about our experience so far and how well we were treated. We saw her again later in the day and she helped us find all the Starwars attractions we were looking for. We found out her Dad was a veteran and we shared ORH with her then invited them both on one of our next trips.


Over all Disneyland was a 10 out of 10. I couldn’t have asked for anything else, and if I did I am sure that they would have accommodated me.

Thank you Tom, Sam and Channing, for making this a day to remember.

-Sgt Q