Never forget that loving yourself isn’t being selfish, it is a matter of survival. So do what you gotta do and live your best life.
Too many veterans suffer the stigmas attached to invisible wounds because those wounds are part of who they are but people can’t see them. So when those wounds effect their behavior people who don’t get it shun them like a crazy person, when what they really need is to be embraced by someone trustworthy who knows and understands.
Most of the people I know who suffer from invisible wounds say they’d rather have something visible so people would get it without having difficult conversations. This is certainly not to detract from the suffering amputees endure, I am just sharing the thoughts of some people with invisible wounds. I regularly experience anxiety about this too, but have learned how to develop my support network.
Coming out to friends, family and coworkers is a daunting task, but be brave and keep in mind that they probably can already see that you’re a wounded warrior. Most of the time, the talks end up helping more than triggering, and in fact can feel very liberating and even rebellious.
If you need motivation, just imagine how great it would feel not having to spent your entire life trying to hide who you are. Imagine being free to be yourself. Imagine having a good excuse to get negative influences out of your life. Imagine not spending your insomniac hours brainstorming how you’re gonna fake it through the day.
I know showing them your invisible wounds is easier said than done, but people can’t know you’re injured until you do so. People in your support network need to know so they can understand and assist in times when you’re hurting too bad to fake being normal. Developing a strong support network and making them see your invisible wounds is central the management of your injury.
Live in other people’s heads and you will always be their slave. Don’t be anyone’s slave. Be free.
First, you have to stop caring what they will think. They will either accept you or they won’t. If they don’t then cut the sling-load cuz this is who you are and its not gonna change without a lot of constant effort over many years.
Second, you need to be prepared for people so ignorant that they will say it’s a myth and that you need to suck it up, get some fresh air, and drive on. There are many in your life who are like that, and you need to identify and cut ties with them. I never respond the right way, so if any advice on how to best respond would be greatly appreciated. Most of them time I curse their ignorance and challenge them to live with me for a month or go fuck themselves.
Third, you need to come up with a strategy. For me, I didn’t tell a soul for five years but I suffered tremendously because of it. I finally strategized to break it to a couple best friends, then my girlfriend, now wife, and then some family members. I suffer from such bad anxiety that this process took 15 years. But in the end, I found telling people to be so therapeutic that I finally just went public with it. Anyone who can’t accept it gets cut out of my life, even if it means quitting a job.
Whatever you do, do not forget that your well-being is more important than what anyone else thinks of you. You are going to lose some people but it is for the best. You will eventually find yourself surrounded by people who are healthy for you, and that’s when you really start making progress.
Disclaimer: All of these suggestions are based on personal trial and error. I am not a medical professional so my stories are meant to be taken as a helpful shared experience and not medical or legal advice based on any doctrine. It is always recommended that you seek help from medical professionals in your recovery, but doing your research and connecting with people who’ve experienced this is also helpful and that’s why I share my stories. If you are in crisis call 1-800-273-8255.