I’ve known my buddy Scott for years. “Forever” as I like to say when I am singing his praises to friends and family.
Scott is a great guy. Tough yet kind, smart, ambitious, hardworking and an amazing daddy and husband. As his friend, I (to this day) admire the crap outta him, but I also knew he was a proud guy who wasn’t good at asking for help (his words, not mine ;). Outwardly, it appeared that this young Army vet had it all and was in a good place in his life.
Then in December of 2017, it became clear to all of us that he had been struggling with an unseen demon for years and this demon was on the verge of winning; PTSD. It was a few months shy of the 14-year milestone of leaving his tour of duty in Afghanistan that Scott asked for help and the journey that followed was not an easy one, but all of us are so proud he did take that first step to get help.
I’m even proud that he’s been so open about sharing his story, especially since June is PTSD Awareness Month. You see, I believe that though some of the stuff we endure in life that is horrible and hard, God knows we need to go “through the sh*t” so we can heal, be better humans and share a story that can help others. That’s why I am honored to be able to share Scott Hall’s story.
Scott’s Story | In his own Words
So many of you know that, at one time, I was very silent about PTSD and depression and anxiety. But now I want everyone who reads this to help raise the awareness about it and make it be OK to talk about mental health and PTSD.
When asked what it (PTSD) “feels like,” the best example I can give folks is this:
So you’re in your car, it is summer time. it’s a nice day out and you have your windows down. You’re at a stop light and a big truck pulls up and you hear the rattle of a diesel engine and then you smell that sweet smell of diesel smoke. But your brain instantly propels you back to the front Gates of a base in Afghanistan and all the fear, apprehension, trauma, and worry comes right along with it. At that moment you have to fight to bring your brain back to the realization that you are not in a war zone, you’re at a stop light in your hometown in Minnesota. It became a daily battle that I was getting exhausted in fighting.
In December of 2017, I admitted I needed help and with the support, love, and blessing of my amazing wife, Tessa, and baby girl, Maren, I entered the Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program for PTSD in St. Cloud, MN for their 45-day recovery program. It was a hard decision to leave my family right around the holidays, but I knew I needed help and I needed it ASAP. It couldn’t wait.
Once there, the biggest thing that I learned was, to experience change, you have to be willing to risk it all put all your thoughts feelings and emotions on the line. You have to be willing and ready to face those inner demons and thoughts about you as a person.
I learned how to challenge those military-related thoughts and shift them to seeing the good all around me. It is so easy to get so focused on your past and what you could have done differently. Acknowledging that you can’t change the past and all you can do is to look at your every day and live each day like it is your last is vital to keeping the PTSD beast in check.
The biggest thing that I did during my recovery time was to make the CHOICE to RISK IT ALL for a life of change and new beginnings. Until you reach this point of being honest with yourself and the world around you, things will not CHANGE and you will continue to be stuck in life.
A New Beginning
I graduated this program exactly 14 years from when I left for Afghanistan. I graduated with the determination that I am not going to let my mind and actions control the next 14 years in the negative way these last 14 have been. I hope that I can be that change for just one person to take a risk and get the help they may need. Let’s not make Mental Health such a bad thing in life.
I have my good days and bad days, but I can say that for the first time in a long time that hand is not right in front of my face almost grabbing my throat. It is off to the side and I just acknowledge that PTSD is there and that I am OK. I want to take a moment and thank my best friend and wife Tessa Domeier-Hall for all the love and support she has given me since that fateful day in December. I am not going to give up and I am going to fight we are going to fight this together and learn to deal with this in our life.
So for today, please take a moment to thank a veteran and all that have sacrificed because just because they don’t have visible scars doesn’t mean they aren’t injured. I hope that my story and my life can be an inspiration to someone else to confront PTSD head-on and not let it rule your life.