April 1, 2003, I returned from Afghanistan very different from when I left in 2002. I had nightmares every night, and every morning when I woke up, I did not know if I was back in the United States or still on deployment. I remember watching my 5-year-old daughter playing and feeling as though I was watching a movie. Nothing seemed real. I knew something was not right yet I did not realize what was wrong or what to do. I contacted my unit to express something was not quite right, but things fell through the cracks. I did not want to be here. While I did not want to die, I did not want to live. I used to love the sun and sunny days, and I remember one particularly sunny day feeling so blue!
It was on Labor Day Weekend in 2003 that I searched for the gun we kept in the house to end it all. I Thank God for Tre who knew things were not right and removed the handgun from my home. I wanted it to end. My mom, dad and sister surrounded me and so began the journey to labor no more. The anxiety, stress, depression, anger, resentment, hurt, and the pain was labor-some. It wore on me internally with pain in every join, every organ, and debilitating headaches. It wore on me externally with rashes, dry patches of skin, breaks in my skin, and even my hair coming out, it wore on me emotionally with constant crying and breakdowns, and it wore on me socially with the dissolution and many lifelong friends. I wanted to labor no more. I thank God for MSgt. Wiley who worked to ensure I got the resources I needed to find my way home.
This Labor Day marks the 15th anniversary of my journey from the imprisonment from the labor of PTSD. So while this phase of my life requires intensive work; it is labor no more; because as time goes by, there is gradually more peace, more reasons to enjoy life, and more desire to live. Now I celebrate the labor of living. After six years of not being able to celebrate my best friend's birthday. We did this year.