In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Life

Life is a beautiful thing. It’s precious. A gift that many take for granted and just toss aside like a pair of dirty gym socks. I have always cherished life and the blessings that come along with it. Family. Friends. Music. Green grass. The smells from a cool lake breeze. I love every minute, every second of every breath of my life. I used to be adventurous, cunning and always chipper and happy. In high school, I rode bulls and most of my friends were complete opposites of me. In college, I read poetry and drank lattés as I wore my dark rimmed glasses and an out-of-style turtleneck by day; at night, I wore preppy clothes and went to fraternity parties. In my professional life, I dazzled clients with words and then tutored second graders from broken homes. In Iraq, I cared about my soldiers and every mission I was given and the cute little Iraqi kids who handed me flowers or cutely asked "mister, mister, picture, picture."

Now, I am broken. Not in a sense that I cannot walk or move my arms. Rather, my insides feel as if a large bubble surrounds them, and I can’t escape. I receive probably three or four emails a day from folks, telling me how much my writing has meant to them and wondering why I don’t post more often. Once, a reader wrote me saying she saw a soldier in Wal Mart and recognized his uneasiness because of me sharing my "readjustment" experiences.

I mainly stopped posting as frequently not because I had nothing to say, but rather I had nothing positive to share. I wish I could write you and tell you how wonderful my life is and that it’s like I never left, but I can’t. Some days I feel like I’m on top of the world and nothing can bring me down. Other days, I hit the snooze button 20 times and don’t want to move… I just want to crawl in a hole and hide. But most days, I go through the motions, trying to joke around and saying all the right things. Most people would look at me and think everything is OK. But those who know me see it. They see the difficulties I have remembering things and how I don’t have the same desires to set the world on fire. In counseling, I find myself embarrassed to share my problems and the dreams. And then when I do, I start sobbing like a little girl and I feel worse. My counselor says I’ll never be my old self; that I am forever changed.

I’ll say. I get dizzy when I’m in crowded areas. I go to Brewers games – who by the way are two games over .500 – and I see the potential for mass casualties. The drop of a plate in a restaurant scares the crap out of me. And while I try to consciously not react to sudden noises or not feel this way, it only worsens. When I’m alone in my apartment, I sit on the best leather recliner ever made and listen to CSNY or Marvin Gaye and just relax. I love those moments, because it’s just me and my thoughts. My lifetime memories and the soothing sounds of great melodies.

If only life were like a song or a movie that ends on a happy note. But it’s not. Life is filled with sad stories like the two little Illinois girls killed by a sadistic father. However, there are good memories. Like all the times, my father took me to Texas Ranger games and OSU games. And the first time I met Samir in a guard tower. He said the Iraqi soldiers were afraid of me. "They say you look mean. Let’s play a joke on them. Make me do push ups and yell at me. That will scare them real good, sergeant." Samir’s portly frame could only muster one or two push ups, but the soldiers were really afraid of me, that’s for sure. We later had a good laugh with them and shared a Miami, Iraq’s most popular smoke.

I had a good time that day. And those will be the stories I share with my kids. The stories that make you smile and feel warm inside. That’s the thing with life. You cannot choose which stories or experiences that randomly pop up in your head. They just surface. If I could, I would delete the sights of dead bodies and craters from car bombs. But my brain isn’t a hard drive. And there’s no telling what pop up window will come up next.

I now have three reoccurring dreams. The latest is of me standing in the mirror and rather than seeing my own reflection, I see my friend who was killed in November. I’ve only had it twice, but it is the hardest of all dreams. Do I feel guilty for still being alive?

I certainly do not write this for attention or to get it off my chest. Rather, I write it to inform you. To let you know that if you have a soldier or you know a soldier who just returned, that there are days he or she would probably want to lay in bed and do absolutely nothing. I wish it were different, but it’s not. Soldiers are strong, determined people, but also very human.

I am trying and doing everything I can to regain my old ways and routines, but my life has changed and I have a lot of experiences that will never go away. However, my perspectives on life have not and will never change. I love baseball more now than ever and laughing feels better than before. And most of all, life will always be a beautiful thing. Except now, I have to work a little harder at realizing that.

57 Comments:

At 5:56 PM, Blogger Always Question said...

Smink, you're my hero, Man... because you are willing to face the issues and to talk about them.
You don't come back from a combat zone and go back to your old life. That ship has sailed. What you do is face your demons as you're doing, and build the life you want to live from now on. I think you're going to be alright, if only because you talk about what you want to share with your children someday.

 
At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Smink,
Your councellor is right. You will never be the same because we are all the products of each day's additional experiences.
A terrible thing happened to me many years ago. I thought I handled it very well. However, a year later I started to have the experiences that you are feeling. They are all a result of too much adrenalin on a chronic level.
I found a great book which really helped me. It is called, Hope and Help for your Nerves, by Clair Weekes. It costs next to nothing second hand on Amazon.
I am a scientist and it helped me to understand what was chemically happening in my body.
You WILL get better you will be an even more compassionate , whole person because of this.
I admit I still wish that I had been spared the pain, but it is part of the human experience and who am I to be exempt.It took a little while, but I kept getting better and better, you will too, trust me. Remember: "If you are going through hell don't stop". You are going through this experience not coming up against it.
Warmest Regards,
Ang

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

Smink, it will get better... it will get better... When I have been overwhelmed by the inner stresses, and my head reels and life seemed more than I could do right then, I made myself stop looking at the BIG picture... and told myself...

Today I will do what I can do today.

The task at hand, one after the other. Not tomorrow's stuff, not last week's, not next... just today. It gives you and your head time to heal and "catch up" with the other. Suddenly, you have strung together 10 days, then 30... say it aloud. It really works, Smink.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

 
At 12:12 AM, Blogger strykeraunt said...

Thank you for sharing your feeling with everyone. This is exactly what we need to know. One thing that bothered me...when your counselor said you would never be the same, I felt you saw that as all negative. You will never be the same as a result of your experience but it does not have to be bad. My suspicions are that you will become a better person (if that is possible:-)I agree with other's here who suggest that what you going through is a necessary evil in order to feel happy and healthy in the future. It also appears that you have not completed the mourning process. It feels absolutely horrible to lose someone who is so close to the heart. It hurts for quite a while and then one day you will notice that the hurt has subsided and what is left is the warm memories of their life. Hang in there and take each day at a time. Don't worry about us right now, instead take care of yourself.

 
At 4:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very wise words quoted by commenter Ang:

"If you're going through hell - keep going!"
~ Churchill

To which some wit (don't remember who) once added,

" ...at least that way your feet won't catch on fire."

 
At 4:55 AM, Blogger Mom said...

Smink, You know The Lord will only give you what you can handle. With that being said. You are going through a terriable moment. You seem to be trying to tackle it head on. It is a process you will have to go through. You may not ever be the same but you know going through what you did you made life easier for the children.
The future looks brighter. You going through what you did was a necessary EVIL. I pray you find your spot soon. It hurts knowing it is hurting you. I have had terriable things happen to me yet I know I would not beable to deal with what you did. Thats why I wasn't able to joing the Army when I wanted to. Looking back now I know there was a reason I was not able to join. You can obviously deal with it. So do not worry about this time. Keep trying to remember the future and the part you played in it.

 
At 5:23 AM, Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

Thanks for posting that.

 
At 5:25 AM, Blogger Mom said...

Smink, I also wanted to add:
Thank you, with you going there doing that, there is a better possibility my sons will not have too. And as their Mom I am thankful to you for that. God Bless and stay strong.

 
At 5:47 AM, Blogger devildog6771 said...

When you experience trauma, the brain gets overloaded. The traumatic experiences are not stored wholy but are stored in fragments. Add to that the constant high level adrenaline rush. A rush that can become addictive.

These events affect the normal brain chemistry. Depression usualy sets in and after a time the brain chemistry changes.

Depression is normal in trauma. It doesn't just occur after trauma. We all experience depression at various degrees throughout our life. You know, today I have the blahs, but by after a short couple hours it's gone.

So you have what seems to you like an overwhelming vicious cycle. The guilt of surviving while your friend died only adds to your anguish.

Talking to the councilor will help. So will crying. This is not about weakness. It is about your courage to continue to do your duty in extreme situations.

Now you are processing all that pain and horror. It will seem like it is happening now at times. Tell yourelf, THIS ISN'T HAPPENING NOW!" At first it doesn't seem to work, but it is a gradual process.

As the depression leaves you may experience a time of having no feelings, being empty, not wanting to get up or work or do things.

Avoid alcohol and caffiene they make it worse. Get at least "8" hours sleep a night whenever possible. Get a tape recorder or pen and tablet and write down your dreams when you wake up. Every day for "15" minutes only, at the same time write in your journal. Don't edit or correct what you write. Don't worry about grammar or anything except writng your thoughts.

Don't read what you write. Take it in to your therapists when you can and then the two of you discuss it together.

Get something like a coin, a prayer card, whatever works for you, and carry it with you all the time and when you feel threatened or like you're losing it, get it out and read it or hold it in your hand. It will help you re-center yourself.

I never sit with my back to a door. I sit in the back in a corner with an alternate exit. On elevators, I put my hand in my pocket and hold my coin. I keep my journal religiously. I also do pastels when I am upset. I can't express my emotions yet, but I can draw them.

I got a cheap box of pentel oil pastels and a drawing pad and I take them everywhere I go. If you think this might help you make sure you have lots of black, red, and purple or whatever two to three colors you find most often show up in your drawings.

Start off doing kiddie stuff. If it helps you'll go off from there on your own to more detailed drawings.

Set up a network of friends to talk to so you don't tire anyone out or feel like you were tiring them out. Someone who will listen, someone to kick you in the butt when you need it, someone to hug you when you need a hug.

When you feel bad, don't wallow in it, but don't beat yourself up either. When you feel good don't gloat just enjoy it. Both feelings are temporary. Your goal is to slowly get to where the good days come more and more frequent and last longer and the bad days come less frequent and last shorter periods of time. You have reached the bottom. You can only go up now. You will never be this miserable again, no matter what happens to you.

You could have become a drunk or an addict. You could have gone nuts. Instead, because you are a strong, caring person, you handled what was thrown at you the best way you could so you could do your job.

You will get better, if you want to get better. You must now use your strength to face the demons war didn't allow you to handle outright. You have experienced something noone should ever have to go through. But you can do this. Meanwhile don't make any major life decisions without careful consideration and the aide of your therapist , significant other, etc.
Do not shut out your wife. Let her help you.

Cry on her shoulders. Let he tell you how hard it was for her and cry on your shoulders. Make yourselves take one night a week for yourseleves, even if you only walk around the block, or go for a hot dog at 7-11. The key here is sharing between you two something not stressful.

I hope you don't mind that I put all this here. I have PTSD. But I also have another serious complication to deal with too. I was sexually abused by a family member by marriage from infancy to about preteens. So mine isn't war related. But the effects, fear, terror, sweats, isolation, depression, anxiety/panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, emptiness, shame, guilt, hope, lack of hope, I have them all. That's why I know you can do this! In my case my other complications leave me with a different outcome, but I am so greatful now for the good days I do have.

One more bit of advice and I'll leave you alone, avoid assholes that make you feel worse or bad because they can't understand what's wrong with you. That is their problem, not yours. Don't let them dump on you for their lack of compassion or courage. God bless you and you family. Thank you for all you and your family have so willingly sacrificed.

 
At 7:04 AM, Blogger liz said...

*big hugs*

its hard, i know. we've been there too.

email me anytime if you'd like to talk. about anything. or nothing at all.

~liz

 
At 6:48 PM, Blogger Brian H said...

Gutsy post.

When/if you have "processed" the experiences and reactions, meaning they are accessible to you but not demanding and dominating, you will be BIGGER.

While bigger is not necessarily better, it does open up new perspectives and possibilities.

I'd also suggest not turning your back on the goals and purposes of your "stint" in Iraq; as the gains there build up (and they will), say "I helped do that."

Don't overdo the faking good humour and cheeriness. It's a hellova strain on you, and doesn't really do much for those you're pretending for.

ESPECIALLY, "don't shut out your wife." Women understand far better than men the need to just express and share. Their brains have heavy-duty crossover wiring between words and feelings which men tend to have to keep separate for fear of burnout.

Get bigger and better!

 
At 9:18 PM, Blogger Kat said...

(((((((((HUGS))))))))))) Thank you, dear soldier, for your posts. I just now discovered your blog ~ I wish I'd known of it sooner! Anyway, I wanted to let you know that you are VERY much in our prayers, every day, many times a day, from here on out. ((hugs)) Don't worry about whether or not you have anything "positive" to say or not ~ just write WHATEVER you want, WHENEVER you want ~ I'm definately speaking for myself, and many, many, many others when I say that WE ARE HERE FOR YOU as you go through your journey back into "civilization."

THank you so much for your posts. We have a very dear family friend who is also having a rough time re-adjusting... your openness and honesty will help us to be better friends to him, as well.

With much love and many prayers,

Kat in GA
www.adoptaplatoon.org

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing again - I know a few guys coming back, and any insight into what they may go through is very welcome.

Take care of yourself and give yourself time. I've got to believe the people who say it gets better. It's got to, right?!?!!

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger JUST A MOM said...

Smink, as a "mom" it hurt to read your heart felt words. I still think of you daily and pray for your joy to return. The only thing that always comes to my mind is "TIME". Thank you for sharing, it is good to hear your words.

 
At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Sammy said...

I recently decided not to go back to Iraq--at least, not this next round. I figured I can catch OIF 6 or OIF 7. Because I'm sure we'll still be there for those and beyond.

I even have an opportunity to return to Mosul. I thought about it for a minute. But the minute passed.

I was thinking that if I left now, I would miss my daughter's graduation. It would be the second one of my three kids I would miss.

I also have a new girlfriend and have serious intentions with her. I didn't want to link up with her and then have to say, "Gee, I'm sorry, but I'm going to be going to SW Asia again". I didn't want to do that this soon after returning from my first time, anyway.

Like many, I've had my own problems readjusting. The way I view the constant blithering about American Idol and similiar tripe that is so prevalent in our society anymore is much more disdainful than it was before I deployed. And it was pretty bad then.

And while I'm not big on sending young soldiers to combat zones, I wonder about the flag wavers from right after 11 September, 2001, who wanted so badly for the U.S. to do well and cheer the troops on who were going to an uncertain immediate future overseas, whether it was Afghanistan or Iraq.

That's until the sons or daughters of those flag wavers either were going to be deployed in support of the Global War On Terror (or GWOT) or they wanted to join the military and do what they felt was their part but the flag wavers were doing everything they could to discourage them from wanting to serve.

Flag waving is great...until you come to realize in a situation like this, as there is in any war, there's sacrifice.

One thing I'll be definitely taking a note of this Memorial Day, seeing as how this will be my first one back since being home, is how the holiday is viewed.

Will there be twice or three or four times as many people taking a few minutes out of their busy beer fest to do something like attend a memorial service for those who have paid the supreme sacrifice? Or is that beer fest going to be the focal point of the entire weekend?

I know where I will be. In uniform and doing what EVERY American should be doing that day. Taking time to honestly, sincerely, pay tribute.

It's something I've always felt strongly about, and now, that I've been where our people get shot at or IED'd or mortared and putting themselves in harm's way every day, it's a much, much stronger feeling.

Going to a cemetary on Memorial Day and rendering a salute at "Taps" as thoughts about what soldiers like SSG T, SGT Mitts, SGT Rubacalva and so many others before and since gave up in service to the country, pass through my mind.

That's one way I try, and I do try, to re-adjust to "civilian" life.


SSG J

 
At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I hope you have lots of support at home to help you through it, even it's just to hold your hand or take you to the movies to laugh. If I knew you I'd bring you my 6 month old son and let you laugh with him. You could hold him up over your head and listen to his giggles as his eyes twinkled at you. Maybe some day he'll go off to serve, and I'll have to help him through a time like this. I'll be thinking about you.

-jackie-

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger remoteman said...

Smink, thanks for the post and letting us know how you are doing. My own experience after losing my brother is somewhat similar, but, of course, a lot more tame than what you are going through. Know that we support you and respect your service to our country. Pain does have a way of wicking away over time, especially if you are proactive in dealing with it. Patience and faith are key to making it through. Thanks again for helping us understand your feelings. You help every OIF veteran whom we might meet with your words.

 
At 6:29 PM, Blogger FbL said...

Smink, please don't hesitate to write just because you "don't have anything good" to say. This blog can be a geat forum for to get all the "stuff" out. We're not gonna leave just because you are having a hard time.

You're in my thoughts and prayers.

 
At 6:43 AM, Blogger FVK said...

Keep the faith. You'll make.

You're in my thoughts and prayers.

 
At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smink,
Right now the tears are streaming down my face and I can't stop them.

All I can do is pray for you and that I will continue to do as I have since I started reading your blog.

Your struggling right now.. but you'll win the struggle.. Im glad your seeking therapy and my heart is with you.
-Kellie, NYC

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Sminklemeyer....

Yeah, I could have had so much fun with that name.

I don't care how depressed, or how bipolar you are. Your Brewers suck anyways. It must really suck being you.

You write about a war in which you carried a camera? Whatever. Hopefully those words didn't hurt anyone.

I don't care if you are a military man or not. You just tell me where and when. I promise I will be the biggest bad ass you have ever seen.

You call me a liberal and think I have the answer to everything. Well, I'm about to pull a George Bush and be proactive.

You don't even know what liberal is. If you think I'm scared of an Army boy, guess again.

You are a coward. If you think I am some little skinny liberal geek reading theory all day, you are dead wrong. You don't know anything about me, and I never once, not once, said anything about you.

In fact, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the military and the job that they do. For me to be able to sit here and tell you what I think has nothing to do with my education, or the fact that I could kick your ass in two seconds, but everything to do with the American military and their defense of my freedom. I am the last person you need to call out.

But, you Sminky have crossed a line. I was going to respond with a little class, but it's obvious you have none.

You are a sick coward.

 
At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Belinda, the Good Witch of the North said...

*makes dismissive gesture with magic wand*

Oh MJ, be gone! You have no power here!

 
At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MJ, you don't know anything about Sminky and what he's done and seen in Iraq......so shut the fuck up.

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger Chris said...

And vice versa with him.

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, maybe if you'd been to Iraq you could say that......but I don't think that's the case.

 
At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat puzzled.. what exactly did Smink do to you MJ?

"Yeah, I could have had so much fun with that name." - Typical bully talking here.

To make fun of one's name only implies weakness of the mind and heart.

"You write about a war in which you carried a camera? Whatever." - At least he served. Can you say the same. I doubt it.

"I don't care if you are a military man or not. You just tell me where and when. I promise I will be the biggest bad ass you have ever seen." - Talk is Cheap

"You are a coward." Ummmm... who went and served over in Iraq? Oh, that's right, not you.

 
At 2:29 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I don't care if Sminky went to Iraq or not. It was his job to go.

Me not going to Iraq means nothing. That makes me less of an American how? That makes me less of a man how?

I have never, ever, said anything negative about the military or anyone serving. For Sminky to come out and question my patriotism, and flat out manliness is a complete joke.

Talk is cheap, I agree. Sminky is the one who ran his mouth.

If people want to rant on me because I didn't go to Iraq, that's fine. There are a few hundred million Americans just like me. So pick up your camera Smink and start taking pictures now, it's going to take you a while.

I can take a lot of things, especially when I deserve them, but I did nothing to Sminky boy.

If you don't like me because you disagree with me that's fine. But to ridicule me personally because I disagree with current events goes against the very freedom of what so many have served to protect, including Sminky.

Say whatever y'all like. Just know one thing: if you are going to call me out, then be ready. I'm as proactive as the next soldier boy.

 
At 12:44 AM, Anonymous jay in san diego said...

mj said:
Just know one thing: if you are going to call me out, then be ready. I'm as proactive as the next soldier boy.

maybe you could explain exactly what you mean by 'proactive', mj? i've called you out, and i'm ready. define what you mean by proactive.

 
At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care if Sminky went to Iraq or not. It was his job to go. - I love that statement. Typical dismissal.

Me not going to Iraq means nothing. That makes me less of an American how? That makes me less of a man how?

- Never said it made you less of an American nor less of a man. You called him a coward. I don't exactly hear you volunteering for the military or to go to Iraq.

Talk is cheap, I agree. Sminky is the one who ran his mouth. - And you are the one running his mouth now.

>> So pick up your camera Smink and start taking pictures now, it's going to take you a while.
- What does this have to do with anything? Are you trying to say that taking pictures in a combat zone is something less then being a regular Grunt? If anything, it is more dangerous. I think Ernie Pyle, (WWII KIA on Ie Shima) Robert Capa (WWII D-Day Photographer. KIA Vietnam 1954) and many others would disagree.

>> Say whatever y'all like. Just know one thing: if you are going to call me out, then be ready. I'm as proactive as the next soldier boy.
- What does being a soldier have to do with being proactive? Are we projecting something here?

 
At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, life is wonderful and it's full of miracles. Go to anovelidea58@blogspot.com if you know of someone who's experienced a miracle and share the story.

 
At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Sammy said...

I'm chuckling at the sheer stupidity of everything the MJ character posted on this blog.

I'm a "soldier boy" and I served in a combat zone but I didn't come back here thinking I was gonna kick some moron's ass for not being there.

Well, unless it's a complete idiot. Like MJ.

Jesus, what an inferiority complex. Hell, MJ, relax. And don't diss on my bud too much.

Regardless of what you think you're reading into his blog, he didn't come back thinking he could kick anybody's ass just because he was there, either.

I've known him for over three years now, one of those with him in Mosul. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I'm not saying it was any better or any worse than anything other "soldier boys" have gone through before or since.

Like any truly aspiring writer, he just thought he could share some of those experiences.

You don't have to read 'em. Matter of fact, it would be better if you didn't. Apparently, it gets you pretty riled to know that for whatever reason, you're jealous as hell of us "soldier boys".



SSG J

 
At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate it,but I think what Smink is describing is some of the eternal price Smink pays for being OUR protector.

Hopefully over time the affects of all the challenges,fears,boredom and adrenalin rushes in combat zones will recede.

Smink,I admire you. Don't know you,but I can tell you your sacrifices for us all are worthy of the highest respect.

 
At 9:01 PM, Blogger Rhodent said...

I have to believe that things will gradually get better for you because you are talking about what is going on inside you. Please be patient with yourself. Crying can be cleansing so don't hold it back. You have so many readers because of what you share... what you are doing is very important! I have learned a lot from you and from some of the blogs that you have recommended.

 
At 11:04 PM, Blogger strykeraunt said...

MJ, WOW!! You are definitely WAY WAY out there!! you really need to get off those drugs you are taking...they are making you over the edge paranoid!! Smink didn't say anything in his post that should be offensive to anyone in general or specifically.

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger Kayla said...

Smink...if i were you, I would delete MJ's comments. There is no need for all this drama. You did nothing to start this. MJ shouldn't have posted onto your site if he had something negative to say. You are our hero. I know sorda what you are going through. Mine and my husbands best friend, SGT Kenneth Levi Ridgley, was killed on March 30, 2005, while my husband was home on r and r. My husband blames himself for not being there. He thinks that he could have saved Levi's life. I told him that God had him home for a reason that day. But that doesn't help any when it's your best friend. You will always wonder, "what if". I can't get over it. I still dream about him all the time and so does my husband. I believe that some dreams are God's way of speaking to you. Maybe trying to let that person tell you goodbye. I believe that Levi came to me in my dream and wanted my husband and I to know that he loves us, he is happy, and to take care of his family. My husband is back in Iraq without Levi. I didn't know SGT Mitts and SSGT T very well but they were some more of my husbands close friends. That tore him up inside. I know that it will be hard for him to re-adjust to the civilian world like it is you. Don't be afraid to cry. I was in the store today and just started crying...missing Levi and terrified for my husband and all the other soldiers still over there. You will get through this! You have all of us! Just delete MJ's messages without reading them. You don't need more stress and drama added to your life right now. We all got your back. :-) Thank you for serving over in Iraq. Thank you for protecting us. You are a brave man and MJ is just jealous! Remember that! Remember that we all love you here and will stand beside you through anything. Even though most of us have never met you...we all feel as if we have known you for years. I wish you would post some pictures of yourself on here! So we can put a face with a name. God Bless you and give you peace. Calm down and take one day at a time. Try not to forget your friend. Try to celebrate that great life he had and how he changed your life by knowing him. He is still with you forever and you will meet up with him again someday. Just remember that he will always be your guardian angel!!! I have faith that Levi is watching over my husband and protecting him. And protecting me as well. Have a great weekend hun!

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger Mom said...

Smink, Happy Armed Forces Day. I wanted to say Thank you for everything you are doing.

 
At 8:03 PM, Blogger AFSister said...

Hi Smink-
Tragic and emotional events always change us. Sometimes for the worse...sometimes for the better. Sometimes- both.

It's nice to know you feel comfortable enough to share your experiences and emotions with us through your blog. It really helps us understand how war can affect our men and women.

Thank you for all you've done for our country- and thanks for sharing with us.

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger Solomon2 said...

Perhaps you've realized that you can't necessarily change the world by yourself, that some opportunities are gone forever, and you haven't fulfilled your expectations of yourself.

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Rhodiola Rosea, also known as Golden Root, is a native plant of arctic Siberia. For centuries it has been used by eastern European and Asian cultures for physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, resistance to high altitude sickness, and to treat fatigue, depression, anemia, impotence, gastrointestinal ailments, infections, and nervous system disorders.

The first recorded medicinal applications of rodia riza (renamed Rhodiola Rosea) was made by the Greek physician, Dioscorides, in 77 C.E. in 'De Materia Medica'. Rhodiola Rosea has been included in official Russian medicine since 1969.

Despite its long history, the Western world has only recently become aware of the health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea. It has come to the attention of many natural health practitioners because of studies which tested its affects on combating anxiety and stress.

Rhodiola Rosea is considered an adaptogen. This means it has an overall stabilizing effect on the body without disrupting other functions. Its ability to normalize hormones may be effective for treating depression and anxiety.

Studies of Rhodiola Rosea show that it stimulates neurotransmitters and enhances their effects on the brain. This includes the ability for the brain to process serotonin which helps the body to adapt to stress.

Since adaptogens improve the body's overall ability to handle stress, it has been studied to identify it's effects on biological, chemical and physical stress.

A study was performed to test the effects of Rhodiola Rosea when stress or stress article is caused by intense mental work (such as final exams). Such tests concluded that using Rhodiola Rosea improved the amount and quality of work, increasing mental clarity and reducing the effects of fatigue.

The effects of Rhodiola Rosea have also been tested on stress and anxiety from both physical and emotional sources. A report by the American Botanical Council states that "Most users find that it improves their mood, energy level, and mental clarity." They also report on a study that indicated Rhodiola Rosea could increase stress tolerance while at the same time protecting the brain and heart from the physical affects of stress.

This report included details of studies which highlight the overall health benefits of Rhodiola Rosea.

The generally recommended dose is 200-600mg/day. The active properties should be a minimum 0.8 percent salidroside and 3 percent rosavin.

It is important for consumers to know that Rhodiola may be sold using other species that do not share the properties of Rhodiola Rosea, stress article, or at ineffective strengths for treatment. Anyone with depression or anxiety should also check with a health professional when treating these symptoms.

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