Introduction to Understanding & Recovering from PTSD: A Series

Editor’s Note: The following introductions serve to begin an ongoing series of articles by 10970 Karmin McKay on the subject of post-traumatic stress disorder. The first two articles are available in today’s eVeritas and the remainder will follow over the next month. 

INTRODUCTION

by 5276 JR Digger MacDougall, CD, MEd, MPsych, CHRP

President (For Life) Ottawa Branch RMC Club of Canada

Life is full of choices. There are good ones and there are not so good ones. They transcend the fullness of life and, except at the very beginning and the very end of life where they are made for us, we can accept things as they are or accept the responsibility for changing them. Our choices affect relationships, career, family, diet, where to live, whether to lead or follow, whether to run or walk, everything we do in life and everything we choose not to do. These choices are individual and they are based on our interests, our needs, our values and how our self-esteem is enhanced.

Karmin McKay, RMC class of 76, has discovered that his greatest strength is “helping” and his greatest asset is resilience. He is helping veterans through a charity he has established; he is helping people of all ages particularly youth, young adults, seniors and veterans. He is a brother officer-at-arms, a mentor, a philanthropist, a counsellor, coach, a leader and just a great guy that I am proud to call a “friend”. Karmin is “giving back” and he is “paying it forward”.  He has written a series of personal articles that reveal his naked self with all his vulnerabilities. He describes how he fell and how he rose through life-changing adversity to become the self-aware, caring, and sharing person who continues to look for the “highs” of life including helping others find their way through darker moments and achieve their personal goals.

Karmin has discovered that when choices are good, the path is straight, narrow and directed to the fulfilment of a successful life. However, when choices are not so good, there is no straight, safe, secure and single path to the gold medal of life. Sometimes, he says, there is not even a path; just twists and turns through a labyrinth of self-doubt where all exits lead to a downward spiral.

The articles Karmin has written show that as soon as different choices are made, instant recovery starts. The light of hope brightens. Others pitch in to lighten the burden and new possibilities reveal themselves. The PTSD subgroup of articles will be published in 3 consecutive editions: #1 chasing adrenaline, and managing relationships while chasing adrenaline, # 2 Alcohol in the Military and UNMO Deployments and finally #3 Recovering from PTSD.  The first four articles build the foundation for the Recovery from PTSD article. These articles cover what, when, where, why and how Karmin and other veterans got PTSD and more importantly, for others, his long journey to recovery from PTSD. Writing the series of articles is also a portion of his recovery. The process has helped him to understand himself much better and to stop further regressions into PTSD driven incidents.  It has been a work in process for many years.


Introduction by 10970 Karmin McKay

This series of articles were written for the cadets and recent graduates of RMC that are on the adrenaline chasing race that I am still on today. The aim is to provide a “been there, seen that, done that” set of survival guidelines for our adrenaline chasing warriors now stuck in a relatively peacetime army with a limited budget and worn-out equipment. You joined the CF to soldier, sail or fly not study. Graduating helps fulfill that dream.  I had some great successes and miserable failures on my journey. I know that there are others that followed my path, others that were with me, that there were many before me and that there are cadets at RMC just starting the same journey.  There may be some guidelines reviewed which assist those that are not adrenaline chasers as well.  Hint

In order to understand the conclusion of the series, you first have to understand the character of the main actors in the movie.  That’s why there are so many articles. Each has its own lessons and together they are stronger. I have sent drafts of the series of articles for review by a few others that I respect. Their comments have caused me to write this preamble for the remaining articles.

Writing the articles has also been an important portion of my recovery from PTSD says my shrink. I agree. I learned many valuable lessons over the last few years and decided to share them with other friends I met on my PTSD recovery programs so that I may help them help themselves. I already know that I succeeded. So why not spread the word to a wider audience? They are not meant to cover motherhood statements or rules of the road taught at RMC and in the military. Most stories are Army related, the lessons learned are not. The editor of e-veritas was as well aware of the hidden agendas in the series of articles. They were going to be revealed at the end.  I have been convinced to reveal some of them sooner rather than later.

I was not a good cadet according to my assessments.  Over time, I became a good officer. I applied myself when the tasks at hand were interesting or important to myself or soldiers. I completed make work campaigns from others in the priority they deserved.  Had I worked as hard at RMC as I did in any of the last 10 years in my career, I would have been a rocket scientist. I certainly earned a PhD in adventure and chasing adrenaline. I could be a poster child for what is a baby boomer.  I lived by the words that describe baby boomers: “Forever Young”, individual that is in the pursuit “of the meaning of Life”, am always after “The next new adventure” and my work “is a meaningful adventure”. I am finally normal. Yahoo. I understand that the articles are targeted at Generation Z and others and have attempted to adjust the stories accordingly. Despite the generational gaps, I know that there are newer generations of soldiers with the heart and mind of a baby boomer underneath the Gen Z buzz words I do not really understand. See the infographic which follows that explains many key generational differences (https://www.reddit.com/r/coolguides/comments/cq8omg/generations_at_a_glance).

I am still successfully chasing adrenaline today but much safer than 20 years ago let alone when I was much younger and dumber. It keeps my PTSD in check rather than boiling over as in the past. I hope to show you incidents, their impact on others and myself and potential lessons learned which may help you avoid entering tornados like I did. Some of you were recruited because the military needs adrenaline junkies. How else does one become a jet fighter pilot? I suspect that there are many more snake eaters in CSOR than introverts.  Be who you are once you understand who you are. Many do not and try to force themselves into the round hole the military wants when you are really a square peg. The army needs those that are free spirits and nonconformists that march to their own drum as much as those that fit the traditional mold. I had a hard time adapting to long term garrison duties. I had to create the opportunities to excite me. And as a result, the dramas for others and follow-on inquisitions in the articles.

One Comment

  • 10966 Michel Maisonneuve

    October 5, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    This is an excellent series of articles; stream of consciousness stuff that could only come from someone who has felt and lived all those events and stories. Merci, Karmin for opening up in such an emotional way. We are all here to help any time you need it.