It’s the ultimate irony: We set off fireworks to celebrate our independence. But for some who have fought for our country’s freedom, the Fourth of July is a mental battlefield.
Just ask Eddie Black, a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder who battles the same demons every day. His mind and body are trained to react to explosions.
“I would even jump sometimes … five feet over … land in a crouch position,” Black said.
It’s an automatic response that he feared he would always bear.
“I was like, ‘Oh this is permanent. This must be permanent … OMG, I’m going to be this crazy guy forever,” he recalled. “And if you have a sense of hopelessness, why try? … Why put in the effort?”
Black has received degrees in psychology and philosophy and is working for the Oregon National Guard, helping soldier cope with PTSD. He has since worked toward managing PTSD himself.
This Independence Day, Black wants others to know the hidden wounds of war don’t have to persist untreated.
“I’m better now than I was before I went to Iraq. Mentally, physically, emotionally, I’m better now than I was,” he said. “It’s not permanent. PTSD is not permanent. There is help for it. You just have to do the work.”
Today, Black said fireworks don’t faze him anymore. But at his worst, he felt like a rubber band pulled tight even in his sleep.
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