I haven't blogged anything in a while and I know why. It's not an easy thing to talk about so I'm just gonna come right out and say it. I've been battling depression since I got home. I guess that's what folks would call it. It feels more like a disconnect. I couldn't really put a finger on what was causing it until I met a friend of mine, Paul Reed, for dinner when I was in Charlotte last week. Paul and I went through the glorious hell of OCS and commissioned together. Prior to commissioning, Paul did a tour in Iraq and a lot of his personal life story mirrors mine. So, basically, he knew where I was coming from.
I told him that things just don't seem right at home, that the things that I used to think were important weren't anymore. I told him that I don't have any tolerance for gossip about people and their relationships or what happened at their jobs or the seemingly significant events in their lives. Why didn't they all just understand that none of that matters? I told him that some days I can't feel the wind blow and that I can look up and not see color in the sky. It all seemed so unimportant and trivial.
Paul listened for a while, smiled and told me that it does matter and that, eventually, it will matter to me again. He asked me how many people I knew drove to work everyday scrutinizing every detail along the way looking for changes that might indicate trouble. He asked me how many people I knew had contingency plans laid out for troubles on the way to work, have rehearsed those plans, and constantly play them out in their heads as they drive along. He asked me how many people have first aid kits in their car, much less directly on their person, all day everyday. He reminded me that this boring, superficial life we lead is normal and that the amped-up, on-edge life I led for a year is not. It's not even close to normal.
Paul said it took him several months to turn the soldier off. I guess I'm still trying to flip the switch. I thought I had. I wasn't even in "contact" that many times. Paul said it didn't matter, that the potential was there every day and every day I went out the wire expecting it. That's why when it did come, I didn't feel any adrenaline. It was business as usual.
I still jump at loud noises. The other day, I was laying in bed and Luke snuck in with his Nerf gun. The darts for this Nerf gun whistle as they go through the air. He shot it over my head and it hit the wall above me, whistling as it went. It took me about a second to realize what it was, but in that one second my adrenaline and training had already kicked in and I was looking for cover. It took me a couple of minutes to get rid of the shakes.
It was good to see Paul again. It was good to talk to somebody who had "been there, done that". I'm back to work and that is a good thing. I'm letting go of a lot of stuff, junk that I've been carrying around inside my head, junk that has been weighing on my heart. I'm learning that there is excitement in this boring life we lead. I've just got to remember where I left it.