I’m a Veteran With PTSD. The Medication I Take Makes Dating Difficult.

She was a cat lover with cotton-candy-colored hair and obnoxious tastes in music but similar politics to mine. While texting on Tinder, she suggested I might get to play with her kitty. We agreed that we would take her cat out to the park some time but that we would start with dinner and a drink. There were no other hints to me that anything thrilling might happen beyond my riding my motorcycle from Denver to Boulder for the meeting.

Sitting together at an Italian restaurant, we got past the cat conversation and progressed to politics and music, jokes and laughter. We were communicating freely and enjoying each other’s company — pretty much everything I wanted out of a first date.

As the waitress picked up the check, my date invited me back to her place. I went. I still didn’t think anything was going to happen until we were going to settle in to watch a movie and she changed her clothes right in front of me.

She asked to see my tattoos — I’ve got a lot of ink, even for a Marine — so that happened too. But not everything happened, and probably not as much as she expected. I explained about the injuries, the PTSD, the medication. She was nice about it. We eagerly agreed on a second date. “We should do this again, and finish what we started,” she said. “If we don’t, it’ll bug me. Like I’m not hot enough for you, or something.” I told her she was gorgeous and that next time would be better.  more

What It’s Like to Have Bipolar Disorder in the NFL

“At one point I went five nights without sleeping.”

Keith O’Neil wasn’t born on a football field, but he might as well have been. He was a scrapper—six feet tall and 240 pounds. He had speed and hit like a train. He also had pedigree: His dad, Ed O’Neil, was an NFL linebacker from 1974 to 1980, primarily for Detroit.

Still, as physically gifted as he was, O’Neil never quite felt right as a kid. “I had a lot of anxiety,” he says. “I first started feeling things when I was nine, but I was too young to know I shouldn’t be feeling them.” He had no idea what was brewing in him. He pushed through it all with football—high school, college, and eventually the NFL. He played for five years as a part-time linebacker and special teams player for the Cowboys, Colts—winning a Super Bowl ring in 2007—and briefly with the Giants (he retired later in 2007).  more

What A Psychiatric Ward Is Really Like Behind Closed Doors

You know the feeling when you walk through a doorway and you’ve forgotten why you’re there? That’s how it felt to walk through the hospital door and enter the psychiatric ward for the first time. A little bit surreal.

The first time I entered those doors was 14 years ago—I was just 16 and hiding under a very thin white blanket while seated in a wheelchair. My parents escorted through the doors. Now, you may be wondering why I was under a blanket. In the frame of mind I was in, it was hard to tell, but I’ve since learned that I was exhibiting the symptom of paranoia that many people with bipolar disorder experience. I was frightened out of my mind, and rightfully so. Only a few nights earlier I had heard demons chanting the name of my savior in my head: “Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!”  more

Methamphetamine and Psychosis

Psychosis

Perhaps the most infamous effect of meth on long-term users, though severely understudied, is psychosis. Often called “tweaking,” there are many aspects of psychosis—a severe mental disorder in which people lose contact with reality, very similar to acute paranoid schzophrenia.

A psychosis is generally characterized by:

Strong delusions

  • strange beliefs about things that aren’t plausible
  • grandiosity
  • insects crawling under the skin

Extreme paranoia

  • feeling overly suspicious of people
  • feeling like other people are ‘out to get you’

Hallucinations

  • hearing voices
  • seeing things that aren’t there
  • talking to people who aren’t real

Obsessive-compulsive behavior

  • cleaning
  • peeking out the window
  • taking things apart and putting them back together

Often, the paranoia a user experiences becomes debilitating. Paranoia is a self-reinforcing loop of beliefs that escalates in a fearful emotional state. Meth can distort reality, altering belief systems, and lessens the ability to control emotions, making fear and anxiety prevalent.  more