Hello dear readers. It’s been a few days since I’ve last chatted with y’all. I’ve been busy reading (interesting stuff out there), chatting (should really do less of), and trying to plug away on my sequel (whenever inspiration hits *sigh). Anyway, I’m taking a mini break from all of that this morning because I want y’all to meet a pretty cool guy who’s on an important mission. His name is Sean Schultz.
Sean is one of the nicest people I’ve met on social media. He popped up in my Twitter feed one day due to an indie author Q&A I did with his father, K.G., who’s also pretty cool (you can check out his Q&A here). Over time, I’ve found out that Sean has eclectic taste in music (awesome!), four tattoos (dope!), and he likes to bring a smile to someone’s face with his twisted sense of humor (again, awesome!). While chatting with him one day, he shared with me that he is a Marine veteran suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Naturally, I had a few questions about his Marine background. Graciously, he was kind enough to answer them:
Question 1: When did you join the Corps?
Answer 1: I joined the Corps in August of 2001 right before the attacks on September 11th, which definitely changed the pace of training once that happened. We knew then that the majority of our brothers and sisters we graduated boot camp with would be deployed at some point to a combat zone. For me, that was Iraq in 2003 with 1st Marine Division 11th Marines Regiment during the initial march to Baghdad.
Q2: When did you first begin experiencing PTSD symptoms?
A2: The fight with PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression is a daily struggle I am still dealing with. I believe I started having symptoms when I was still in the Corps and for the longest time I was using marijuana as my solution for masking my illness, which in itself does have some incredible benefits in treating my symptoms. However, it is a depressant, just like alcohol, and it got to a point that I became addicted to it. Like alcohol, or a lot of the psychological pharmaceuticals that are out there, I was using it to mask the pain. It wasn’t until my most recent suicide attempt, after I stopped smoking that I realized I had a problem that I needed to face. I finally reached out and got the support from my family and friends. I have also started hormone supplement therapy through a doctor here in San Diego in conjunction with my antidepressants and antianxiety medication, which we hope to wean me off of at some point.
Q3: What has personally helped you combat PTSD?
A3: A large help for me personally was moving to San Diego with my parents, who have been a huge support system for me. The change in scenery and the amount of resources available to me out here versus back in southern Indiana are extremely different. It also helps that there is a more positive and artistic vibe to the Normal Heights area in which I currently reside and am a member of the community association.
In addition to the change of scenery, my incredibly talented mother, who outside of her day job, is a phenomenal painter and I don’t just say that because I am her son. She got me addicted to yoga, which is where the majority of the healing began. I am very thankful for that and to the instructors at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga here in Normal Heights as well as the studio in North Park. The practice of yoga is incredibly spiritual and allows you to connect, and for me, start to love myself again.
Another huge help for me has been the starting of this movement [see below], which has forced me to get out of my shell and be motivated. I spend most of my day online talking with fellow veterans, researching, and trying to network with similar organizations to create a unified front and decrease the dramatic statistic of 22 veterans that take their own lives everyday. I have also started to network within the community and begun sharing my story with whoever will listen in order to raise awareness and break the notion that “you are fine, suck it up.” Mental health awareness, in general, is on the rise because we are finally starting to see the side effects of this “war” we have been involved with for over a decade. It has taken a terrible toll not just on the veterans themselves, but their loved ones as well.
As previously mentioned, Sean started a movement to spread awareness of PTSD along with the alarming rates of suicides among veterans. Please read more about his movement below:
The #InvisibleWounds movement was started thanks to a woman I have never met, whose life dramatically changed due to an unfortunate event. Because of her, I have made it my life’s mission to help spread awareness of PTSD and suicide that plagues veterans, like myself, because the VA [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] doesn’t do their job in a timely manner. We [veterans] feel as though it is a sign of weakness, and suffer rather than seek the help we need. We feel as though life would be easier, not for us, but for our loved ones, if we just removed ourselves from the picture and decreased the burden.
I know first hand how crippling this can be. No matter how badly you would like to get up off of the couch and just do something to participate in life, you feel you can’t. You wonder why you are the way you are and how you got so broken. The worst part is you do your best to hide it from those you love. If they knew and understood what was really going on with you, they would be willing to drop everything to help you in a heartbeat because they love you.
Not to get too deep into my story, because this isn’t about me. If you want to read my story I invite you to go to my page. Because of Stephanie Mason Lembo’s video, I have been able to let go of all my built-up self-hate and have begun to love myself again. I have seen the light and that life is worth living since my attempts on my life resulted in my best friend and fellow Marine convincing me to seek help. His name is Alan Kissinger, and he discovered me in the middle of one of these attempts; he literally saved my life.
But that’s enough about me. This post is simply to spread the awareness. Hopefully it will reach those that are struggling and afraid to seek help, to let them know that there are options and programs outside the VA that can help them get better, and participate in this glorious thing we call life again. My hope is that this post will inspire someone else like it did me, to tell their story, face the demons they are hiding, and finally close those old wounds that no one can see. I can tell you first hand it is a terrible feeling to have to constantly wear a false smile for those you love, or go to work to support your family (if you are fortunate enough to have one) while you are completely falling apart and screaming on the inside for change and help. You feel as though there is nowhere to turn except toward the barrel of a gun or, in my case, a noose around the neck, a knife to an artery, or even a bag over your head.
That being said, this movement’s first mission is to spread awareness of the terrible tragedy that has befallen our nation. On average, there are 22 Veterans that take their lives every day. That statistic does not sit well with me. We at Invisible Wounds are no longer going to stand by and do nothing. The time is now to spread awareness. As this movement grows, we will collaborate with similar organizations to create a unified front and bring down those numbers.
We thank you in advance for any support you are willing to offer to help our cause, and salute you for your efforts. If you have any questions on how you can be of assistance, we invite you to send us a message. We are very responsive and open to any help and suggestions we receive.
Sean C. Schultz
Q4: What support has Invisible Wounds garnered so far?
A4: I am currently manning the ship solo, but am picking up resources as I go along, like Byron Rogers (USMC Vet, Motivational Speaker, and founder of Meaning After Military), Katie Kyle (brainchild behind Kome Together, which focuses on general mental health awareness), and Mark Zambon, the San Diego County Veteran Representative for Congresswoman Susan Davis. I’m trying to gain support from the local, state and national VFWs [Veterans of Foreign Wars USA] as well.
Thank you for your service and for sharing your story, Sean. I’m sure Invisible Wounds will help save many lives. If you want to learn more about #InvisibleWounds, please contact Sean from one of the links below:
Website (coming soon): www.InvisibleWoundsLLC.com