Dec. 28th, 2018
by Joe Drennen
I want to come home! These are five words I thought I would never find myself saying. It scared me to death to even admit it. Just saying those words out loud gave me a knot in the pit of my stomach. Where have I been all this time?
I have been locked up inside myself for the past 14 years. As a prisoner of PTSD I didn’t realize that I had the key to unlock the shackles that bound me all along. I was captive though not of my own choosing, but I had succumbed to the will of a power that I thought was greater then myself.
The war in Iraq dominated a huge part of my consciousness. The reality of combat was something I carried with me even as I departed the war zone. I unintentionally replaced my combat reality with one that has haunted me for all of these years.
Day after day flashbacks played in my minds eye taking me back into hell. Night after night my mind tried to reconcile the images of combat. Waking up screaming and fighting my unseen enemy. Withdrawing from everything and everyone into my own all encompassing little shell. Drink after drink. First to feel, then when the pain comes, numb it so I don’t have to feel.
Being neither here or there, just being. When I was there I wanted to be here. No that I’m here I want to be there. Existing between two realities. The Past and the now. Not fitting in anymore. No-one gets me. The angry giant roaming the quiet countryside.
The constant fear of the unknown is something I battle with every day. The specters of depression and anxiety continue to pursue me. While I may not be able to fully win those two battles I am able to choose the ground I fight on. There will be a times when I may have to fall back, regroup, and reengage the enemy but I will never accept surrender.
After years of the internal struggle of living in the past I was now able to allow myself to be free and on December 28th 2018 I finally came home! My war is over. Mission Accomplished!
I served as a medic supporting Task Force Danger in Iraq, 2004. Over the course of my deployment I survived 127 convoy missions.