A common issue with combat vets is that we are all adrenaline junkies.
Imagine yourself on a patrol or a convoy, or even just pulling a watch detail overlooking the wire. For your entire mission you are on edge. You expect, and plan for, something to happen at any moment. You role play in your head, what would you do if x,y, or z happened? You have to have a plan. For 12 hours or even multiple days, you don’t get to relax at all. This is a major reason as to why most combat vets drink, smoke or other drugs just to relax. They need something artificial.
Also, we do stupid stuff. We buy fast cars, motorcycles, go mountain biking, rock climbing or continue playing with guns. We need the adrenaline rush because we are so used to being so amped up that we don’t know how to feel without it.
And when we come down, we come hard. We get PTSD, we get divorces, we leave our families, we commit suicide.
There are a thousand programs out there to help combat vets with all of these issues. Thousands, because no veteran is like any other veteran and what may work for one, may trigger another.
For the last few days, I’ve been on an adrenaline high. Winding roads, high speeds and mountain passes all add up to a high heart rate. I’ve been euphoric and the more I think about it, the more I think it was an artificial high.
Here’s where I crashed (not literally). Today I rode on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s an idyllic, beautiful, meandering road. The speed is never higher than 45mph. Add to that gray, overcast skies and drizzling rain and you have a formula for a depressed state of mind. I had a lot of time to think and to lose focus, all at the same time. Nothing I was doing required my full attention. I realized I was in a slump and so I called my wife just to chat. Worst cell phone coverage ever. The whole way. We’d get talking and then the call would drop. I’d go hours between attempts to call her back and the same thing would happen. I was all alone.
Today I am struggling. I got a hotel room for the night because I’m tired of getting rained on and I just can’t handle what’s in the forecast. I need to start tomorrow not feeling miserable. I can’t do much more of the BRP. It’s making me blue. I need a break.
To add insult to injury, the washing machine at the hotel is broken. I have a big pile of humidity induced nasty laundry and so now I’m sitting in a random laundromat on a hard chair, writing about my miserable day.
That doesn’t seem fair now that I write it. Was it really miserable? No. It was a nice road. Maybe if I was with someone else. Maybe if there were blue skies. Maybe if I just could have talked with Megan more.
It sure made me realize how fickle my head is. How one minute I can be on cloud nine and the next, I’m wishing this trip were over.
I’m not ready to quit.
I’ll sleep in a bed tonight in my cheap hotel, put on some clean clothes in the morning and I’ll head deep into West Virginia towards the banjo music.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel better.