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Connect with my comrade, Linda Miller, Retired US Air Force

Updated: Jul 11

My PTSD (Positive. Thriving. Strong. Dog-Mom.) Story

You open your eyes and begin to pull yourself up from the cold ground. You remember falling, yet don’t know where you are. It’s dark. You’re alone. Scared and confused. You look up to see a hole above you and people walking by. You yell, “Help! I’m trapped down here, please help me!” A man throws down a piece of paper with unhelpful advice and continues on his way. Frustrated you try again. “Help! Someone please, help me!” This time, a woman throws down a ladder that’s too short and missing many rungs. Quickly, your anger turns into numbness, and you think about lying down and giving up. But something inside you fights back and you try one last time. “Help me! Down here, I need help!” Suddenly, a friend walks by and jumps into the hole. You say, “Why did you do that? Now we’re both stuck down here!” The friend looks at you and says, “Yeah, But I’ve been here before, and I know the way out!

Hi. connect with my comrade, Linda Miller, Retired Air Force Combat Veteran, survivor, and fellow amazing human trying to navigate living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other traumas, like so many of us. Symptoms similar to the ones mentioned in the story above accelerate my daily roller coaster ride through various ranges on the vertical spectrum, to include some occasional loops. Fortunately for me, when my range was at its lowest, and I was “stuck”, I had some “friends” who helped show me the way out. Allow me to introduce you to art, golf, and my favorite creatures.

My “friend” art found me at a time when I was pacing back and forth in my kitchen, feeling the boiling blood racing through my veins. I swear if I tried hard enough, I could shoot it out my fingers like the Marvel’s X-Men mutant Storm, when she eliminates enemies with her electromagnetic energy blasts. I didn’t understand the chaotic meteor shower of triggers taking place inside me. I was feeling every emotion possible in full throttle, and I needed help. It was during a counseling session not long after that moment, when my therapist challenged me to make a vision board. That’s when my creative spark re-ignited, and my art outlet opened up.

I quickly discovered that art allows me to communicate through visual crafts that give me a voice when I feel numb, and the avoidance and isolation duo encroach my space. Words, like those in “This Trauma Is Mine”, can be said loud and powerful, despite my feeling humbled by them or without me uttering an audible sound.

Art allows my self-expression to capture my emotions in a given moment. For example, the opportunity to explode creatively and let frustration, anger, and anxiety out onto an inanimate object instead of someone’s face, provides a welcomed satisfaction and bonus, keeps me out of jail. Win, win! Relate to (art with Warhammer).

My art also invites me into moments of honesty, vulnerability, and compassion, which pours anti-invisibility elixir onto those feelings I want to keep buried. Although it sucks to face them, this art has helped me understand my traumas and grow through them. This creative journey over the last few years has given me the ability to recognize that although I have battle scars and open wounds in various stages, I am a strong, proud woman warrior like my amazing piece called “Pride”! I can look at this eagle and not only see, but feel, my strength, curiosity, and honor. It reminds me of my life story, how resilient I am, and how to keep taking life one day at a time. While I experience exceptional therapy from art, I experience the best therapy outside of four walls and chocolate through the maddening, yet leisurely game called golf.

My “friend” golf was introduced to me a few years ago through the Veterans Affairs (VA) adaptive golf program. As a mere tenderfoot to this “funstrating” game of unplanned adventures, I continue to persevere because of everything this game has and continues to give to back to me.

Golf has been the unexpected outlet to a world I didn’t know I needed. First and foremost, golf has been my isolation and avoidance blocker. It is a great reason to get off the couch and get out the door. I have wasted so many hours alienating myself from the outside world due to external and internal judgements and emotions surrounding my traumas that I didn’t realize I was sinking more into depression, loneliness, and looking for reasons not to give up. I realized at one point I even used my art as a way to justify isolating myself at home. However, upon embracing golf I stumbled across true joy.

Golf brings me happiness to be out bonding with nature while taking drives down the fairway, spending time at the beach or even while admiring local scenery from other various perspectives on the course. I am somehow able to ignore the outside world for the moment

and stay present. Present to see, hear, and appreciate where I am. It is in this state of being

present that my anxiety drops, positivity stays high, and I can breathe. I can laugh. I feel like I have a shield around me, body slamming hard charging trauma symptoms to the ground, telling them to leave me alone. I feel free! Free and in a safe environment thanks to those who accept this crazy outdoor adventure with me, my comrades!

Being around this amazing tribe of Veterans who get me and have similar scars has made all

the difference in my golf experience. We can talk, laugh, cry, and show up for each other. Words need not be exchanged at times and hugs are required in others. I feel safe, accepted, and valued. I mean, where else can a girl flap her arms and melodiously bellow out the cry of feathered fowls and not be judged as a bit cuckoo. Only in this community of peeps. We are battles! We are friends! We are family!

Speaking of battles, friends, and family, it’s time to shout out those creatures of my inner circle, who, most of them don’t pick up a golf club. They are the “friends” I have known longer than both art and golf combined, and I am beyond blessed and grateful to have them all as the best support system throughout my journey. They listen, are as understanding as they can be, and are always on standby anytime I have said, “help” even though they couldn’t hear it, or I didn’t know I was saying it. I credit this group of humans, especially all the strong, influential, and positive women, with instilling faith within my soul.

It is this faith that drives me to want to get up every day and try my best to be a good human

to others. It is what gives me hope and tells me not to sweat the small stuff, whether the small stuff is bordering a panic attack due to sitting in a 30-minute traffic jam surrounded by cars that my brain tells me is a mob of people, or simply missing a 2-inch putt for birdie. Faith keeps me from giving up during this wild roller coaster ride of life and is the reason, along with my BFF, that I now have the best battle buddy in the coaster car right there beside me. Selfless, fierce, phenomenal, and caring are just the tip of the adjective iceberg when describing my BFF, Buffy. She’s my rock, my encourager, and my co-original “Battle”, along with my sister! Long story short, it’s because of Buffy’s love for me, that I have my amazing Service Dog, Lance. Over the last year, Lance has given me so much unconditional love, confidence, and freedom. He’s my comforter through my “stuck” moments and my trusted friend always. He keeps me more present than I have been over the years and has squashed most of my “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality and projection. I forever love and value him and cannot imagine my world without him.

In closing, I want to say the biggest and sincerest “THANK YOU”! to all of you for helping me

throughout my journey. Friends, family, therapists, coaches, and those I share the golf course with. You have each been there at some point to keep me on my feet and moving forward, even if its baby steps after giant leaps backwards. For those of you who feel trapped and alone like in the opening scenario, just know you’re not! You might feel the darkness around you and the path to the light is too steep to climb, but it’s not! You are a fighter just like me. You have a voice and are valued just like me. And if you are reading this, you are in my community, of my friends, my Comrades! So please don’t give up, regardless of the traumas, their symptoms, or whatever seems impossible. Because we have all been where you are. Some of us are on our journeys up out of the hole now. Just have a little courage, a little hope, and a little trust. Then reach out a hand or ask for “help” and we will show you the way out!

Author: Linda Miller

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