“War is a drug” – Chris Hedges
These are just some of my personal experiences and I’m sure it’s different for everyone. It probably comes across like many men and woman’s experiences returning home from a deployment but in others I’m sure it isn’t; from cultural change extremes to sheer speed at which I was back in the first world, and the fact that I am going back over very soon. Before I got home, towards the end of my 15 months in Kurdistan, I was burned out but now that I’m home I can’t wait to get back. I miss the sense of fulfillment I felt after a productive day there and the incredible excitement that came with battle. To me, everyday here is a step towards returning to Kurdistan or another conflict where I can be gainfully employed.
Daily activities here at home seem dull and I constantly worry about what I should be doing next. My lack of perceived productivity motivates me to fill the gaps of downtime with physical fitness and activities that stimulate me mentally. I exercise more regularly and eat better just because I don’t want my personal standards to fall off; activities I prefer to partying and getting fucked up with old friends from before I left. The other day I rounded up all the useful gear I could think to bring back for the guys in my unit; like old uniforms, medical supplies, some boots, etc. I made a trip to my local range to ensure my firearms skills hadn’t degraded. It’s almost like I can’t get off the tempo I was on while in Kurdistan, so I fill my time with things that will be productive in being there again when my “vacation” is finished and I return.
On the flip side of being dissatisfied with first world life, I appreciate daily commodities and facets of life in America more than I ever have. I walked into my local grocery/appliance superstore the other day to purchase some beer; I was overwhelmed at the selection available. On my way out I passed the electronics section where I realized I could get anything I needed/wanted all in one place. This was all a lot to take in because a few days prior I would have had to plan an entire trip to get the things I needed from a local bazaar rather than take a 5 min drive from my house and have it all be available at the same store. The sheer convenience of life back in America is simply amazing.
PTSD has never been an issue for me, but things like restless nights where I can’t seem to sleep or when I do manage to sleep find that I wake constantly throughout the night happen more regularly here in the States. Occasionally I wake from a nightmare that I can never recall but that is an extreme and rare case. Luckily I’ve developed the ability to compartmentalize and separate my “work mode” and “home mode” so very few people notice any abnormalities. My girlfriend catches me spacing out often, but I tell her I’m just deep in thought which usually I am I guess.
I feel absolutely worthless for sitting on my ass doing nothing for lack of a better phrase, I need to get back so I can contribute something to the world and be of value again.
(I’m now back in Kurdistan and my “first world issues” are gone but I have to ask myself, “Is this healthy, or am I just geared this way?”)