I would rather be in Afghanistan

How I am learning to challenge negative thoughts. Battling the PTSD symptom of avoidance.

Some days are definitely harder then others. Today has been a rollercoaster. Have you ever heard a veteran say “I would rather be back in “insert foreign place?”

That’s me today, and many days in the past. “I would rather be back in Afghanistan.” There’s a lot of reasons we say these things. There’s stress, but it’s a different kind. You worry about your friends and yourself. Occasionally worry about what’s going on at home. What your significant other is doing.

It was easy to deal with things there, your bills were being taken care of. I saved a ton of money, 1. I was getting paid more, and 2. I wasn’t spending anything for months and 3. It was tax free money! So money wasn’t a worry.

Of course we worried about dying , but it wasn’t that difficult to push it to the back of your mind, and keep rolling on with whatever task you are doing.

This saying is an avoidance. I say it to avoid thinking about what I should be. The stresses that pop up, that I don’t want to confront. So I look for other things to think about. Afghanistan has a strong presence on my mind.

Avoidance is a symptom of PTSD. We avoid things in many ways. We avoid people, places, and things that remind us of a traumatic event or something that puts stress on us. This is a very unhealthy coping mechanism.

I am learning to confront my demons in therapy. Work through the thoughts and come up with a plan of action to take on whatever it is I am worried about. This is he only way to defeat your demons. Avoiding them and letting them build up lead you down a road of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Which can all lead to me physical illnesses.

Thank you for reading! I hope I can impact your life in a healthy, meaningful way! Please comment, I would love to hear from you! Also, please share this! It may help someone! Most of us hide our mental problems, this could help them if they are struggling.




Just a side note! I am working on getting a professional URL, and many other features to come!

Dust Storm on the horizon

The sun was low in the sky, we had been in country for over five months. This was probably my fourth haircut. Sitting just outside of the back door to our Alaskan Shelter. I was sitting on a box of MRE’s (Meals ready to eat). Diaz was cutting my hair. I liked it short and usually kept it about a quarter of an inch tall on top. I liked a high fade, and barely any hair on the sides and back of my head. We called this, getting a barracks cut, because they weren’t professional. In fact they usually looked like a blind cat cut your hair.

It was mid-July, and it had been a scorcher. Over 115 degrees. We didn’t do anything today, sat around and watched movies in our air conditioned tent. I usually would spend two to three hours in the gym late at night when it was fairly cool. We were all making jokes about how bad our hair looked, and wondering what the First SGT or SGT MAJ would say about them. They were always on our asses about Proper this and Proper that. It was their job though, so I understand.

The sun was fading by the time Diaz finished cutting my hair. It actually wasn’t to bad this time. I walked around the alaskan shelter, shirtless, and I brushed the hair off of my body as I went. I looked up and there was a wall of sand coming towards us. It hadn’t blocked out the sun yet, but was about too. i had never seen anything like it. It was out of the movie The Scorpion King. When that cloud is chasing the airplane. All I could do was watch it. I ran into the tent excited, and worried at the same time. I yelled for the guys to get out here. Marine after Marine stumbled out of the tent. Asking dumb questions, but when they saw it then stood wide mouthed.

Like idiots we stood there watching it come closer. As fast as a freight train. Laughing that this was it. We were done for. It hit like a tornado. Sandblasting everything. It got dark and hard to breathe. We all fought to get into the Alaskan shelter without the door being ripped off. I finally got through and into the tent. There was dust floating in the air inside! I coughed hard for a few seconds. My body hurt, and was red as a tomato. I had been standing out there without a shirt! Everyone looked like they had been showered in fine yellow/ brown dirt.

It lasted through the night. I woke up and looked around stretching. There was a inch of dirt on everything and everyone inside the shelter. Sighing I got up, and picked up my laptop off the make shift table I had build out of MRE boxes, and a piece of wood. Dumping the dirt into the floor. Brett looked up at me, “Dude, do that outside.” I just turned and started dumping the dirt from the rest of my stuff into the floor. it took us a full day to clean the tent. It was a fun experience!

Combat Trauma’s Effect on the Brain

There are many different kinds of trauma, and most of us experience one, or multiple traumatic events in our live. Trauma in combat can come from hyper vigilance for extended periods of time, or a combat experience. Seeing someone die, mass casualties, mass devastation, ad so much more. There have been numerous studies on the subject, and in recent years it has been a hot topic. Not only in the military, but in sports. The NFL changing its contact policy’s, followed by numerous other organizations.

The brain acts in two basic modes (I understand its very complex), a Learning Brain, and a Survival Brain. A normal learning brain, is learning from the environment and experiences. It tells the body that everything is ok. The brain starts building neurological pathways. These pathways effect everything the body does, and the way the mind thinks. If you grow up in a stable, mainly stress free environment. You are probably able to deal with stresses better then someone who has been dealing it with it constantly. Your pathways try to figure out why you are stressed and work through the problem.

The other mode is survival mode. This is your fight, flight freeze mode. You are constantly stressed because your pathways haven’t been built to deal with stress. They are built to live with it. Your body is always tense, and you push stressful thoughts to the back of your brain. When in this state your body is constantly pushing adrenaline on your brain. With time these things will cause physical ailments. High blood pressure, Anxiety, Depression, ,and a ton more.

Have you ever gotten a massage, and the person performing the work tells you that you are tense, and that you have knots? That’s a sign of stress. Your muscles are constantly flexing. You most likely don’t notice, but they are. That fight, flight, freeze, controls your reactions to events. You can become aggressive, when confronted. Lashing out, or even fighting. Or the brain may tell you to flee. Ever been in a uncomfortable conversation and all you want to do is get out of there? Or in that conversation, your mind just goes blank, and you don’t know what to do? That’s the survival part of the brain working.

You can change the way your brain thinks, believe it or not. You begin by challenging the ideas that are making you stress. If you start feeling stressed stop. Take a breath, and think. Why am I stressed? Or what is bothering me? Are you in a crowded area? Is the area noisy? Is someone reminding you of someone that annoys you? Identify exactly what it is that is stressing you. Then challenge it. Why do I not like crowds? If the answer is something like, I don’t like crowds because it was bad news in a combat zone. Then ask yourself are you still in the combat zone? Are these people dangerous? Maybe. But not as dangerous as the people outside the wire. I most likely have nothing to worry about.

By working through problems in this way, your brain will start to retire those survival pathways. Eventually that switch will flip, and your brain will work in a normal, learning way. What makes humans different from animals? Reason, and emotion. We experience emotion, but you can learn to control those emotions. Start challenging your negative thoughts, when you are stressed, anxious, or any other time you don’t feel normal, and you will start to feel better. More level. If this article was helpful, please leave a like, comment, and don’t forget to follow!


Twitter- @okieschaos

E-mail- WillCornell2007@gmail.com

How you can learn to beat Anxiety

Anxiety attacks come so unexpectedly that, for the longest time, I was in fear of when one might take me down the rabbits hole. I live day to day with some level of anxiety. Some days are better then others, and recently had more good then bad. That comes with knowing my illness and learning ways to channel, and understand where the anxiety is coming from.

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One of the worst attacks I can recall happened three years ago. I had just started school again, and was taking a full twelve hours. All of my classes were going well. Better then I expected. The last time I was enrolled in school was 6 years prior. You forget a lot in six years time. At least I did! I was taking a remedial math class, but most of the stuff came back fairly easily. I did have to relearn the order of operations and things like that.

One cloudy day, I was on my way to class. I had been staying with my cousin, out in the country. About 20 minutes from the school. I made it onto campus and pulled into a parking lot. It was almost full, but I found a space and parked. I was half an hour early and decided to listen to music and play on my phone for a few minutes. It started raining slightly, and I began to get nervous. Not intense at first. I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did. The rain got harder and harder, and my anxiety got higher and higher. Time for class was approaching and kids were parking. Then running through the rain to the building. A few kids ran between my truck and the one beside me. For some reason, people running past me like that freaked me out. With the noise of the pounding rain and foggy windows, it was a perfect storm in my head.

I gripped the steering wheel so hard, im surprised I didn’t bend it. Have you ever gripped anything that hard? Where you think you are going to break the bones in your hands? That’s how I felt. My mind was moving from one scenario to the next. A thousand miles an hour. I must have sat there for half an hour. My breathing was intense. I sat there, staring out of the front glass. Gripping the steering wheel, like my life depended on it. My heart was beating so hard, it could have popped out of my chest!

Don’t let Anxiety control you anymore!

Finally I decided that I needed to get out of there. I hauled butt! Away from that place. The farther I got away, the more relaxed I was. I don’t know if it was the combination of events that triggered me, or something else. But it wasn’t working for me, so I stopped going to class. I started making up excuses instead of going to class. They eventually dropped me. That is the definition of “Avoidance.”I needed help, but it would be another 3 years before I would seek it. I’ve had several of these attacks over the past few years. Each one just as bad as the last. I began seeing a few private practice doctors. Each one would prescribe Xanax and anti-depressants. They never prescribed therapy. I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and Anxiety by the VA. They gave me a disability rating and started sending me a check, but I was never informed of the help that was available. Therapy has done done wonders for me, what no drug could. It freed me, we began discussing my life, and identified traumatic events. Then started to work through and identify, why I was holding onto them and getting stuck.

I encourage any of you who are having any of these issues. Even mild depression, Anxiety, or any other PTSD related symptoms, to seek help. It wont hurt you, and you have nothing to lose. Only to gain freedom of mind, and the tools to deal with your problems. I have learned breathing exercises, that are extremely helpful for me. Not all will work, but there are many to try.

I am learning to identify my stuck points. When I think about something that makes me anxious, I ask myself. Is this helpful? Or does this set me up for failure? I work the problem in my own mind, and push past the stuck point. Talking about my traumatic events helps too. I feel the weight lift off of my shoulders after every session.

Resting in Afghanistan. 2010

I hope you found my story helpful. I encourage anyone having issues to seek help. For veterans, the VA has come a long way in the last few years. They will tailor a treatment plan to fit your specific needs. They saved my life. The VA has a crisis hotline, I will post the number below. Someone is always there to help, and it is completely confidential.

Please leave a Comment, Like and share! Let me know what you think or if you need help finding help! I am glad to point you in the right direction!



Veteran Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-8255 -or text- 838255

To share, or not to share?

As I sat in the waiting room today, I wondered what we would talk about. Therapy is so personal, and I never really know what to expect. I have been to about 6 sessions so far, and they were all an hour each. Talking to a person for an hour is also foreign so me. Just talking… about my life, and how all of the events I have experienced culminate into who I am today. For better or worse.

My therapist came out of his office and waved at me with a smile. The uneasy feeling in my gut started to get more intense. We had talked about so many things from my past, that I hadn’t revealed to anyone… ever. We sat down and he asked me what I would like to talk about today. I looked into space for a moment and shrugged, I never know where to start. After a moment it came to me. I hadn’t told him that I was going to write a blog. He knew I was starting to write a book and had mixed feelings. On one hand it is very therapeutic to write out specific details from traumatic events. On the other it can be a disastrous thing to do.

I told him I had started a blog and posted two stories. The second story I posted didn’t bother me to write or share. It is an exciting story about combat. I was comfortable writing about that specific day. Other combat stories I have had trouble with and haven’t wrote about them yet. The story I was having trouble about was the first one I posted on this blog. “Why I started this page.” You can find it on the home page. It details events from my childhood that my family wouldn’t understand.

I am in no way trying to upset my parents or make them defend themselves. I understand that I was their first child. We all have difficulty with our first. We haven’t had the experiences to teach and relay to the child. Parents are busy, especially at that time in their lives. We work to make money for our children, and don’t spend much time at home. We are tired when we get home and don’t want to deal with another problem. I used to get home and shower after welding on a drilling rig for hours. Im sure my fiancé at the time would have loved for me to want, to curl up on the couch and tell her about my day. I usually would ask her a few questions about her day, then sit down on the couch and watch some t.v. Before I went and crashed out.

I truly do understand. When I got into high school, and would do something wrong. I didn’t want to tell my parents anything. My mother would usually blow up and yell at me. Even if I didn’t do anything wrong, she usually nagged and was negative towards me. So what did I do? I would go hide in my room. I would leave my room to get food, and then turn around and head right back into my room. It got to where I would only see my family when I was coming or going. This followed me into adult hood.

If my fiancé and I, would start arguing I would shut down and close up. It was like my mind wouldn’t think about anything. It was blank and I couldn’t find the words. So I would try to separate myself from that situation. It was nothing against her. I loved her. I just didn’t know how to communicate in that way. It really hurt her if I stepped away from the conversation. I hated doing that, I hate running away. That was all my brain knew how to do.

This translates to my friends. I don’t want some of them to know I have been struggling with addiction. The few friends I still have mean so much to me. I don’t want to lose them. By telling them, it might make our relationship that much better. I am no longer getting high and have been sober for 30 days. But that weakness might make them push away. Its understandable, this person has a major problem, and I don’t need that in my life. I have done it to people myself. I am trying to better myself though, and to do that means I need too be honest with everyone in my life.

My therapist and I discussed this over an hours time. We talked about why I acted in these ways. It culminates into the way I was raised. The way I perceive emotion. He didn’t talk very much, just asked a few questions. I did most of the talking. I showed him the blog post in question. He understood my concerns with sharing what I had wrote. I came to the conclusion that I was still not ready to share these thoughts with them. I am going to wait until both them and myself are more comfortable. I hurt them at the end of my addiction. What I did still makes me mad, at myself. Im not that person. That’s not me.

Its very relieving, having someone I can tell everything too, and be truly honest with. I am growing, and more importantly, learning how to show emotion in a healthy way. I was mentally exhausted at the end of our session. Now I am going to work towards telling them individually. Easing into it, and genuinely tell them what I had been doing, how I am fixing it, and genuinely apologize to them, for the things I did. I did things that I would never do before the drugs entered my life, or now. I found myself feeding my addiction at all costs. It hurt the people around me. I am truly sorry for what I did. Guilt had taken over my emotions the last few months I was using. I hated who I had become.

I have taken steps to fix my problem but they will always follow me, and try to drag me back into the darkness. All I can do is resist, and be the best person I can. I genuinely want to make a difference in this world, and choose to do the right thing, when wrong is tugging at me… That’s how I will concur my demons. Thank you for reading, If you are having any issues yourself and want to talk about it. Please reach out, even if it means hurting your pride. You will feel 1000 times better having some of that weight off of your conscious. I would be happy to talk to anyone about their demons. You can reach me here by leaving a comment, or on twitter! Remember to Like, Share, and comment!

Excerpt from the chapter “First Contact” of the book I am writing

This is an excerpt from the book I am currently writing. It details My experiences with Marines from 3/6 in operation Moshtarak in the 2010 troop surge. We were dropped into the city of Marjah in the early morning hours. Marjah is a large city in the southern Helmand province of Afganistan.

First Contact

The sun was coming up and it was quiet, only the sound of Marines moving around. We were sitting and waiting for what the day would bring. A few hours earlier we had moved a couple of compounds down the road, closer to our objective.

It was a tall walled compound that was inhabited by a small family. It looked like something from a medieval story. Tall walls made of mud and plaster. The color of our desert camouflage, but darker. The walls all had buildings attached to them, almost all the way around the inner perimeter. It hosted a steel gate as its main entrance, and a small wooden door on an adjacent wall. Just off center, in the middle of the scene was a small outbuilding with a thatch roof. It was the donkeys home.

We hadn’t been shot at yet, but could hear other units trading rounds with the Taliban within ear shot. There were Marines on the roofs of the buildings, leaning against the walls, facing out toward the city of Marjah. The Marines on the opposite side were facing endless poppy fields. The same fields we had landed in the night before. Watching and waiting. It must have been about 2 hours after moving from our last pause. (A pause is the last location we were stopped at with security.)

That’s when I heard it for the first time. The “CRACK” of an AK round as it passes by your head. The hair stood up on my neck and arms. My brain went blank for a moment, and I froze. Then it becomes clear, I was being shot at. Anxiety and excitement filled me, and I got the first shot of real adrenaline. Imagine the most amped up you have ever been.. Then increase it by about 1000. It’s a high, and I have craved it ever since.

A Marine on the wall starts yelling a direction and distance, before he squeezed the trigger. The squad leader on the ground jumped into action. Yelling orders, and directing Marines and their fire.

The radio cracked to life, reporting that there was a group of military aged males with weapons heading our way. The squad in an adjacent building was sent out to close with and destroy the enemy fighters. The intensity of incoming fire started picking up. “Crack, Crack, Crack” every few seconds.

A machine gunner on the wall with his SAW (Squad automatic weapon) started engaging, laying down a wall of hate in controlled bursts. The designated marksman were placing accurate shots on target at the same time.

The squad that was sent out called back by radio requesting the mortar team that was in our compound to get in the fight. They had been sitting with us engineers, waiting to do our thing. The excitement shown on their faces is almost indescribable. They lit up and were yelling “get some” and “oohhraaww” and other things us Marines say.

A RPG (Rocket propelled grenade) went over the compound, leaving a white streak. A split second later a second followed it “whooosshhh”, both crashing in a field behind the compound. The mortar team set up their tube. Just the tube, baseplate, and sight. With a marine acting as the bipod.

They dropped a round down the tube, and “bang”. You could watch the round fly upward for what seemed 100s of feet before it disappeared into the sky. Several seconds go by before the boom. The Marines in the field radio back congratulating the mortarman, and told them to fire for affect.

The confidence of the mortar team was obvious to me. Not using a bipod on the first mission of the deployment, and to hit the target was a long stretch. They shouted more “oohhraaahs” and “Semper Gumby’s”, before dropping three more rounds on the Taliban’s heads.

If you enjoyed this piece of my book please let me know! I would love to hear your comments and constructive criticisms. Also please feel free to share with your friends or anyone who would enjoy my writing. My stories are from a very prominent time in my life and it’s therapeutic for me to put them into words. Though it is very hard at times, I really enjoy discussing the things I have been through. So, again. Please Like, Comment, and Share!

Why I decided to start this page

Overcoming, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

I started this blog to share my experiences. All my life I have had trouble expressing feelings, and emotions. I didn’t learn in my youth that it was ok to feel things other then anger. If i got in trouble I would instantly bottle it up and shove it into that dark corner in my brain. What I have run into in my mid-20s, is that there is only so much space in that storage room in the back of the brain.

When it gets full it all tries to come up at once, and that’s when I get in trouble. As I mentioned. I didn’t know (and am still learning) how to process emotions like fear, sadness, and remorse. You see in my family we didn’t sit down at a dinner table. My siblings were all 10 years younger then me. I was the experiment kid. If I wasn’t doing well in school, I got punished. But with my siblings, my parents would sit down and work the problem out with them. If they did something bad, they would be told why it was bad. I would usually just get yelled at, and grounded. It has really stuck with me through the years. The Marine Corp just built on that same principle. You weren’t aloud to show fear or weakness. There was no room for it. If you were weak you would die.

All these things have culminated into my inability to process emotion like a normal person. As a result I experience Anxiety, depression and PTSD. I am currently at a VA hospital attending a Intensive outpatient program for PTSD and prescription drug abuse. I am learning to cope with my issues and combat their symptoms in a healthy way.

In this blog I will be sharing helpful advice for people like me. War stories and excerpts from my book. I will ask for critics, and your opinions. I am very excited about this whole thing and starting a new chapter of my life, while being able to share it here!

Marjah, Afganistan. We built a custom blackjack table. 2010