A Resolution Worth Keeping

“Doc, I’m fine. You should see my buddy.”

“This year, I promise I’ll take care of myself.”

“If you think I’m bad off, you should see the other guy.”

“Nah, I’m fine. I’m just dealing with some bullshit.”

“I promise I’ll go to the VA sometime this year.”

These statements, along with many others, are often the first phrases we’ve heard ourselves and others say as the New Year comes along. Resolutions are made and most are broken shortly thereafter.

Many veterans within our community suffering from some sort of ailment often tend to think of the other guy or gal they served with before themselves. I remember when my doc first told me I displayed several symptoms of PTSD. I denied it wholeheartedly because I knew quite a few Marines I served with that had it really bad. I dealt with some of the more typical symptoms of PTSD – anxiety, over-alertness, depression, anger, guilt, and sleeplessness. But some of the guys I knew suffered far worse. So, whenever anyone told me I should seek help, I always thought of the guys who I felt deserved it more and thought they should get help first. Thinking back, maybe it was the training we received when we served. Always take care of the guy or gal who is most critical. Those that only had a few bumps and bruises could be taken care of later.

Year after year, I was reminded that maybe this was the one to finally take care of myself. And year after year, I always said I would, but always thought someone else needed it more than me. “I’m fine,” I kept telling myself. “My buddy has it way worse than me.” So, year after year I kept pushing it off, telling myself (lying to myself) that I was fine.

Several years ago, I was listening to a radio show I frequently listened to in the morning and the host of the show asked the audience to ask themselves one question each morning when they woke up. “What lie are you telling yourself?” he said. The rest of the day I was consumed by this one simple question. What lie was I telling myself? I went through the usual things most people realize after asking themselves this question – “I eat like crap” or “I’m definitely out of shape.” But there’s one reality I always neglected, whether it be intentional or not – “I need help.” Do you know how hard that is to say? For a veteran or service member that has served in a combat zone and had dear friends pass away, do you really understand what is involved in saying those three simple words? And for those of us who have lived through what I just mentioned, do you understand what can happen if you don’t utter those three words? 22. A small number that is insignificant to most. But to those close to the 22, it means so much more. In 2015, veterans committed suicide at a rate of approximately 22 deaths per day. That’s about 8,000 deaths per year. Totally unacceptable. And all because those three words are so hard to say for so many of us – “I need help.”

This year, we ask you all to do something different. Stop lying to yourself and saying you’re going to do something to help yourself. Be selfish. Think of you for a change. Whether it be a long awaited surgery or a simple therapy session, seek help. Take care of yourself. Your buddy to your left and right would ask you to do the same. There are so many resources and support groups out there for you to take advantage of.  Do it. This needs to be your New Years Resolution. You.