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Overcoming Adversity: The Emotional Demons That Almost Killed Me

Source | LinkedIn : By Florent Groberg

It was 3 AM, as I laid in my bed in Room 401 at Walter Reed all I could do was stare at the clock. My left leg was wrapped up with bandages; it had tubes sticking out sucking the blood out of my wound vac. My right leg had a sleeve to keep my blood flowing. I had my PCA full of Dilaudid near me; multiple IVs were pulsing fluids and pain killers into my blood stream. Every 15 minutes on the dot I pushed a button for a shot of Dilaudid to calm the pain. It was 3:15 AM, and as I lay in my bed, all I could think about was why did I survive? I replayed 8 August over and over in my head. I tried to understand this reality. How did a man blow himself up at my feet and not kill me but kill four others further away? What could of I have done better? This was my fault, and now I was paying for it by being alive. It’s 3:30 AM, beeping sound in the hallway, eerily quiet, I can’t sleep, and I can’t stop thinking about my friends. I hear it in the back of my head,
You failed them, you failed your team, you failed at your job.”
The demons are strong tonight; they feed off my emotional pain, and they get stronger every time the medicine enters my body. It was 3:45 AM and I finally fall asleep, drugged and discouraged at myself, I pray that tomorrow gets better. It was 4:00 AM, the lights turn on and the first year resident doctors come in to check on me and ask me if I am sleeping. I scream at them to the get the “hell” out of my room. I hadn’t slept in 22 hours…and they woke me up to ask me if I was sleeping. It’s 4:15 AM, I hate this hospital, I hate this fate. Why am I here? How did this happen so fast? One day I am leading a patrol and the next I am a prisoner in this bed. Victim to doctors who seem not to care about my sleep and well-being. I am angry, and I am sad. I am a wounded warrior, and this is my reality.
For the first 60 days, I didn’t sleep more than 3 hours a night at a time. Every 4 hours I had my vitals checked. I wasn’t fun to be around; I was destroyed emotionally, and I didn’t know how to find myself again. But that all changed with a man named Travis Mills. He walked in my room missing all four limbs. In 15 minutes he changed my life, he made me realize how lucky I was to be alive. He told me that I had a responsibility to earn the right to be here and honor my brothers. Here it was, my reality check, a man with four prosthetics was telling me to stop being a cry baby and get back to my roots of an American Soldier.

Back to Reality

The challenge that I faced revolved around rediscovering back my inner warrior. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and identify a positive in the negative. The conversation with Travis brought me back to reality. Here, a man that went through so much pain spoke about appreciation and commitment as a soldier. It was my duty to be a professional, and though I didn’t want to be in this position, I needed to deal with it as a soldier. So, internally, I had a new mission: ‘recover emotionally and physically (more about that in month’s article). Next, I set goals – both big and small. A) I had to accept myself as I was now and no longer feel sorry for my physical wound, b) I needed to find a way to challenge myself daily in becoming a better person. C) I was no longer going to take my friendships for granted and D) I had not been grateful for the opportunities that I had received in life, and that needed to change. In short, I need to become a better person overall, professionally and personally. By keeping it simple, identifying my weaknesses with pure honesty, devising a mission to fix myself, and setting up realistic goals to accomplish the necessary tasks, I would be able to find a positive in any negative situation. This method can be used with anything. Solving a problem at work, resolving an issue with a loved-one, even planning a meeting. As a soldier, this was my new job. I volunteered for this job, and I loved this job, no matter how many times they asked to take my vitals. Life is full of adversity, some worse than others, but what is truly important to remember, each situation is unique, and each provides a chance to learn more about ourselves.

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