I enjoy celebrating the 4th of July. I love the beach, barbecue and the grand finale of fireworks.
There was a time when we didn’t enjoy fireworks as my daughter lived in terror of the sounds of fireworks.
What we saw as beauty caused her to cower in fear and tears. As I was reflecting on the days when we stayed away from fireworks, my mind started thinking about individuals living with PTSD and how fireworks affect their lives and family. I wanted to share this article I found on Facebook from Military with PTSD and how the 4th of July effects their family. Well, we've finally made it to what has now become one of the most predictably dreaded weeks of the year in our home.... the week including the 4th of July. A day that we used to enjoy celebrating our country's freedom, it's independence, has ironically become a tremendous source of added mental anguish for my husband, and for many other Veterans, the very people who have fought the hardest for our freedoms.
Last year's FOUR days in a row of explosions (YES, I said four days.... and we are not referring to sparklers here my friends, but the BIG ones) in our neighborhood started my hubby on a PTSD downhill spiral that wound him up in an inpatient lockdown facility a few days later.... absolutely NOT okay!
I vowed after last year that if I had to temporarily move him to a hotel in the middle of a city where fireworks were not allowed, I would do it, because it was like torture for him. It was so hard watching him try to maintain his calm and use all his coping skills (and meds of course) and still continue to get worse and worse each day. He also re-injured himself physically twice that week, when he hit the ground "diving for cover" (automatic response).
For those of you who are struggling with this in your homes, or just looking for understanding as to why this is so bad for many Vets, I wanted to share with you what he was able to tell me on the first night of the fireworks last year (when he could still communicate a bit). I think it was profound and I really appreciated him letting me in for better understanding.
He said, "I can sit here and tell myself all night long that those explosions out there are not a danger to us and that I am NOT in Iraq right now .... I understand that intellectually.... that they are JUST fireworks.... BUT that doesn't stop this awful FEELING inside me that IF I don't go out there and try to do something about it, that people ARE going to die!"
I'm not sure that every Vet would say it the same way, but I'm guessing many might. I am really glad that this year we live in a state where fireworks (used by the general public) are mostly banned. I think a few people around me will still try to light fireworks, but we are hopeful that the activity will be less and we will make it through without the level of agony we experienced last year.
I think (or hope) it would help if the general public was better informed about how badly this affects Veterans, If the public knew, maybe they would choose different options for celebrating the 4th. Please share my message, so we can make people aware, who otherwise may not have any way to understand. ~~Michele Smith
For more information on Fireworks, Triggers, PTSD, and Veterans please go to Military with PTSD Website.
If you know of someone that is in need of the firework awareness sign, Military with PTSD provides free signs to Veterans. Please click link for the sign: Combat Veteran Lives Here