Depression. It’s bad for your digestion. I make no jest concerning this silent killer. Pardon me, my thoughts are insidious at the moment. In the quiet moments, when the darkness in my heart overwhelms me, nothing frightens me more than myself.
For you see, I’m a trained killer. A soldier. As with many of my fellow veterans, I struggle with what I have seen and done. The silence in the motorpool is killed by shouting. It figures. Shouting would adequately describe the state of my life.
The door swings open and sunlight bursts into the dark room. Shielding my eyes, I struggle to refrain from shouting. Perhaps, I forgot to mention that I suffer from migraine and tension headaches. The sudden breach of sunlight hits my eyes, and I feel like my skull is cracking open like fissures in the earth.
My soldiers enter the building and the door swings shut behind them. They file in and take seats around where I am sitting. They chatter about life and crack jokes at each others expense. While they make small talk, I self-medicate.
“Alright, what did I say the afternoon class would be?”
“Combat medicine, Sergeant.”
“Right. When do we apply a tourniquet?”
My soldiers lean on each others knowledge and answer the question. Normally, I would be proud of my warriors, but recently I found out I wouldn’t be deploying with them. It would be my third deployment, and due to the stress in my life, said stress triggered seizures. Thus, my days in the Army are limited.
“What are the two types of fractures?”
Again, my soldiers perform flawlessly. War-fighting soldiers have an edge. With each day of training, repetition and rehearsal, I watch as my soldiers edge sharpens. I’m so proud of them, I could burst.
“I wish you were going with us, Sergeant.”
“Me too, troop.”
I have done the best I can, when it comes to training my guys concerning the rigors of combat. The rest of my life lies in ruins, but at least my soldiers have a fighting chance.
Of course, my pride has led to the ruination of my personal life. All too often, my obligations to my family were given second place. My career took precedence, and now I am reaping the fruit of my choices.
“They won’t let you join us late if the doc can control your epilepsy with medication?”
“No. My career is over. Remember, all you have over there is each other. The bonds that bind us are stronger than blood.”
We walk out of the motorpool and head to the company headquarters for formation. It has been the greatest honor of my life to be a soldier. I watch as my soldiers slap each other on the back and crack jokes about the upcoming deployment. There is no small part of me that doesn’t wish I was going with them. Instead, I will be home hoping the darkness doesn’t smother what is left of my sanity.
God help us all.