PTSD Signs and Symptoms: An Interview with SSgt. Christopher Casillas
PTSD is a crippling mental illness that affects over 8 million Americans every year. PTSD is developed from trauma such as physical abuse, sexual assault, loss of a loved one, or combat. GreeningLaw was given a special opportunity to interview retired SSgt. Christopher Casillas, (USAF) on his personal battle with PTSD, and how victims and their families can come together to seek help.
1. When were you diagnosed with PTSD and is there a specific trauma that caused it?
“I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2016. In 2006 I was deployed to Balad, Iraq performing TCN duty. I escorted Third Country Nationals while they performed maintenance and construction on base. While performing this duty I was subjected to frequent mortar attacks, being shot at, breaking up laborers fighting each other, and constant racial harassment from coworkers. I was not authorized to leave the base nor return fire from the civilians firing from off base which led me to feeling like a sitting duck and have been battling with PTSD since.”
2. What symptoms served as a red flag that you may have this condition?
“The worst symptom to manifest after my deployment is viewing everyone as the enemy. Hyper-vigilance, depression, self-hate, and even confusion as to why life is not going back to normal were also a few red flags.”
3. Who did you seek help from?
“I have sought out help from praying to God, reading the bible and going to my family for help. I have also used the mental health team on base while I was active duty. I now have the veteran’s affairs VA as a back-up if ever needed.”
4. What would you say to other individuals who suffer from this same condition but haven’t sought help yet?
“You have to be truthful with yourself and also know that only you are the one to accept the help to be guided on altering how you think. Just as life moves forward, there is no undo button.”
5. How can family and loved ones best help and serve an individual with this condition? What is the best way for them to go about helping?
“Be patient and don’t be offended or forceful if your help does not help. You may need to harden your skin but don’t harden your heart towards your loved one that is suffering. Sometimes the best way to help is to observe and periodically let the individual know you are there for help.”
GreeningLaw understands the importance of mental health awareness. If you are experiencing symptoms similar to SSgt. Casillas please speak to a health provider. The scariest part is always taking that first step, but it can be done!