My Name is Matthew, and I am a soldier. I have an interesting view that I share from time to time with the folks I encounter as I walk the road. Some of those people have encouraged me to seek out ways to help others or simply share my views or ideas with more people. I will blog on many subjects, from things that piss me off on a daily basis to more important issues such as dealing with chronic depression and the struggles that ensue as a result. I will be taking bits and pieces from emails and rants that I have verbalized as well, so if you see something we have talked about please, smile and nod...Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


The sky is falling! The sky is falling! No really, it's raining cats and dogs outside.

Thunderstorms and lightning are beautiful but they can remind us of things that we don't want to remember. Sometimes the thunder and lightning remind me of incoming rounds in the middle of the night. Sometimes I wake and reach for a rifle that isn't there.

If you know someone who jumps when something startles them, or had some kind of trauma in their lives where some things trigger a response from them, I have some ideas that may help you both.

If you are the person who is startled or jumpy from things like thunder, tell the people close to you that those things bother you. You can't expect people to understand if they don't know.

If you are someone close to someone who jumps, or startles. Either be up front and ask or let them explain when they are ready. If you ask, don't be frustrated with the response. Sometimes people don't like to share the past like that. I'm an open book but that's the way I am. Some people like to keep that stuff to themselves because whatever happened to them still has a nasty hold on their emotions.

In any and all situations, communicating is the best answer in my opinion. You can't hurt anything by explaining how you feel or why you feel that way, even if you just don't know. Simply saying "I'm not sure why, but the thunder I hear is making me very nervous". Sometimes we have to swallow some pride, I had to tell my ex Wife "Would you mind terribly if we swapped out driving for a bit, the thunder is messing me up." I felt shame and embarrassment at the time, but she was kind and gentle and switched with me without another word. When I was comfy enough, I told her why and how I felt. She was nice enough to wait for the explanation and listened to my story. She never freaked out or acted like I was some freak of nature or some twisted psychopath.

People that go through trauma are normal people that bad things happen to, that's all. They aren't broken, just scarred. Sometimes those scars heal, other times they stay around a while. Don't stare at the scars, and don't pretend that they aren't there. Be real and honest at all times. If you aren't sure, ask gently. "I saw you jump a seccond ago, did something startle you?". Or simply ask, "is everything allright?" Sooner or later, if someone who is going through that trauma trusts you, they will tell you. They won't tell you if they think you don't want to know. They won't tell you if they think you will freak out.

On the other side of the coin, I have heard some people who claim to be very very touchy about certain things who seem to have no reason at all to be that way. I have known people who claim to be trauma victims, who never were. Some people like the attention. I'm not saying it's wrong or right, I will just say that some people need more attention than others and if that's how they go about getting it, that's on them. Trauma is real, and suffering from it is real too. Reliving a past event or having a startle response from one isn't a joke, and shouldn't be taken lightly. Just understand that you can't ignore it and you can't push someone aside who needs attention. Regardless of what they are going through, if they need attention that bad, there is a reason for it.

I wish you all the best of luck

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Other people

It has been some time sense I posted last. I'm still doing all right though. I ran into a friend of mine from years and years ago just the other day. I was in a pet store getting food for my bearded dragon, and I heard a voice from the back of the store. "I know that VOICE!". It turns out it was my friend from two of my four combat tours. Joe, was working in that store, just down the road from me sense he got out four years ago.

We hit it off like old buddies, and the next thing you know, we are hanging out together during the weekends and offering to help one another with various chores. His Wife is very nice and does a wonderful job putting up with the two of us.

At one point we started talking about those rougher times when we were over seas. I asked him questions about some of the events I remembered and he asked me some of the questions he had. Together we both went through those memories and tried to put the past to rest. We tried to better understand some of the things that had happened to us back then. We even remembered some of the fun times as well, and that made it seem less upsetting. The simple fact is that we were both not sure what to do in those situations and we were doing the best we could to cope and come out with our heads on straight.

The reason I'm posting this, is that sometimes, it's okay to talk about trauma and past events with people that were there. Sometimes that helps us process those things. Sometimes that process can be made a little easier with confirmation and some sense of justification from someone who was there with us. That's why they always push group therapy for people in that environment. I think that a Doctor, who is smart and educated on various coping techniques can also recognize that he or she can't replace someone that was there with us. The Doctor can't replace someone that shared in that experience and maybe formed a bond in that process. The Doctor can't help us validate or confirm what we think we know about an event. In our minds, we still want to second guess those memories. I think that we do that because in times like that, we don't always have the best memories. I think that in moments like that, in high stress environments, we strive to stay alive and our cognitive mind steps back. So, why shouldn't we trust our memories? Why should we feel the need to validate or confirm what we think we know? I think we do that because we always want to better understand ourselves and the world around us. I think that people genuinely care about the things that happen to them and want a better understanding of the world around them. That drive to learn is inside us all and I think it's important to cultivate.

I ran into a complete stranger, and started talking to her. One thing led to another and I found myself wanting to talk about some of the events from the past. I opened up to her. Complete stranger, what could it hurt? If she judges me, all I have to do is walk away, no harm done. If the encounter leaves me feeling one way or another it will only be because I allowed myself to feel whatever way that was. We want to let this crap out, we genuinely want to spill out all the trash from our past and get rid of it. When we ingest something poison, or unhealthy our bodies try to get rid of it, any way possible. This is typically speaking, I'm not a doctor. I think that our minds want to wash the dirt away too so to speak. I think that we want to clean that stuff out of there so that we can make room for better memories, better dreams, better fantasies.

So I leave you with this thought, if you only have one good friend in the whole world, is it because of shared experiences that you are so close? Is a friendship, a REAL SOLID friendship built on trial and struggle, and hardship? How good for us is it to relive the trauma with another person who can actually identify with us? I personally believe that something like that should be done in the presence of a Doctor, who can help us make the right conclusions and steer us away from dangerous ideas that can creep up into our heads in those moments. I know it would have helped me. Whatever you do, if you feel yourself sliding into a depression, call someone for help. Don't just sit there feeling lousy. GET UP and go outside, get some fresh air and pull out your cell phone. Go to a friend's house or call a family member, call a 1800 number, call a church. Go to the hospital, or go to a stranger's house and say "I NEED HELP, I'm feeling dangerously low right now and I need to talk to someone". Most people in the world are decent enough to help out someone in need like that. Just, don't stay alone and sad with no one to talk to. Shoot me an email and I will talk to you if that's what you need. Life is precious.

I hope this helped someone, if not, it helped me to write it out. Best of luck to you all.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


       I recently told a woman in a public place that she was beautiful. I described this encounter in an earlier blog post. This is what recently happened regarding that.
       I was back at the same place, once again waiting for my number to be called. This time I was in uniform, and sometimes people say I look different out of uniform. I approached her and smiled, as I said "I'm sorry if I embarrassed you or offended you the last time we spoke". She had no idea what I was talking about. "I'm the guy who came to your window here and told you that you are beautiful. I'm sorry if I upset you".
         She smiled very big and replied "I didn't recognize you in uniform, no you didn't offend me, it was very nice of you to say that and it really made my day".
         I said "People should do that more often, say what is on their mind and be polite to others. I didn't mean to put you on the spot or anything, I just wanted you to know that I think you are very pretty".
         "Thank you"
       I finished my business with her window and left knowing that I didn't  come off like some sleezy guy trying to illicit a date or hit on someone who didn't want to be bothered while conducting business. I feel that I did make her smile and I didn't come out the wrong way. I wasn't interested in dating her or being anything more than a customer at her window. I just felt the urge to say that I thought she was pretty. She didn't misunderstand me and she was happy for the compliment.
       In all the time I have been working on my social anxiety, I think that this was probably the best interaction I have had. It was with a complete stranger, and I'm so glad for that. Be real with yourself about how you feel. Be truthful to yourself about who you are and what you feel. Then, when you feel ready to, try sharing that with those closest to you. If they truly care for you, they won't be upset or offended. If they truly care for you, they will be happy you shared. No matter how crazy you think your thoughts may be, I bet you aren't alone in thinking them. The difference is having the courage to tell people. It's outside the comfort zone for sure, but that's where the magic happens.
Thank you all and have a great weekend.