Since I’ve separated from the Navy I’ve withdrawn more and more from the social scene to the point where I’m almost anti social. There are a number of reasons for this, I now have a family so I’ve focused more on responsibility and family time rather than spending time with others. There’s also my decision to give the grog a break. A lot of my social time revolved around having a drink so the reduction here is understandable. In fact once I stopped drinking and my socialising reduced I started wondering if I drank to be social or socialised to drink. Any way that’s a question for another Blog.
I think the greatest reason for my decline in social interaction is my separation from the military. The values and shared experiences within the military over half my life are different to those we socialise with now. I often found myself battling to enter conversations at social events as the things I enjoy talking about don’t fit in with the experiences of others. My sense of humour is very dry, different to that of others and when you get down to it doesn’t readily fit in with what is acceptably funny these days.
No longer a social animal I spend. Lot of time engrossed in my own world and thoughts. Funnily the time spent alone isn’t as quite s you would expect with Stae of mind spinning like a hamster wheel. Be it through lack of socialisation or concern on the reactions others may have to my opinions the noise in my head can be quiet loud. I find myself having conversations with myself that I should have with others but don’t seem to be able to cross that bridge. These discussions ebb and flow depending what I’m doing and rarely stop. These discussions can be frustrating and often impact my moods.
Examples of topics I’ve found difficult to raise and discuss is the segregation of illegal immigrants and the rush to convert to renewable energy. While people are generally well intentioned in these topics I find them to be poorly informed when you look at the repercussions poor management will have on national security and population safety. These are dangerous times where other nations seek to undermine our laws and take advantage of the well intentioned. We need to be careful on our approaches but conversations on this are often met with ignorance and hostility. Anyway, once again I digress and so back to the topic.
Until recently the only successful outlet for turning down the internal volume has been this blog. It’s provided a forum in which I can write about the things that impact me as a veteran without judgement (so far, fingers crossed). Some of my blogs have lead to conversations with others who have similar experiences and opinions. The overall result for me is that when I express myself through the blog I find a needed sense of relief and semi peace for a period.
A couple of weeks ago I motivated myself and went on an overnight solo hike in the southern scenic rim. I enjoy walking and needed to test myself to see if I was capable of going doing a pack hike, understand my weight and distance limits as well as the ability to stay alone in the bush overnight. The hike was a success with me finding out everything I needed to. I also found something I wasn’t anticipating SOLITUDE
When I set out on the hike I plugged in my music list to help pass the time and provide some background noise. The music combined with the various rainforest sounds took me to a place I haven’t been in forever. Wandering through the rainforest, looking at the different scenery, the incredible views and a lack of people drove all the noise out of my head. I found myself appreciating my surrounds and not having internal conversations. I had achieved solitude with the resulting peace and quiet relaxing to a point where nothing but my immediate surrounds impacted on me.
For me the hike achieved so much more than I thought it would. It’s provided me a medium through which I can find peace for a period. It’s also made me realise that often there are solutions we don’t realise or are yet to find in the management of mental health. For me the chance to quiet the voices was truly restful and relaxing. That said it doesn’t mean the solitude I’ve found in solo hiking will work for everyone. What I think it does mean for Veterans dealing with PTSD and other mental issues is that solitude does exist, its about finding and accepting it.
Veteran suicide has been topical for the last couple of years. So topical that a royal commission has been launched to help deal with it. For those that haven’t experienced PTSD and mental health issues it will be difficult to understand how important internal solitude is. The ability to quieter the noise is essential to the health of those that suffer. Many people are confused when they here someone close has committed suicide. They will say that the person looked happy and settled in life. And this is the trick, how suffered project an external peace while their mind runs out of control is incredibly stressful and tiring. My thoughts are that once maintaining the the external persona becomes too much this is when the sufferer makes their choice.
Solitude is about finding an internal level of peace. For the Veterans reading this there is light at the end of the tunnel. Find what works and embrace it.
For Veterans families and friends embrace how they find their solitude. Be understanding and allow them the time and space to relish in their peace.