I have found references to Soldiers Heart going back to the American Civil War. Often it is used to describe what is now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], or what I call Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [CRPTSD].
While there are many definitions of Soldier's Heart, I define it as a very powerful inner strength over which a veteran can see no acceptable means or channels to express. To have merely survived in the field of combat, and to continue to survive in their day-to-day life, denotes an awesome inner strength, a powerful, powerful source of energy. But, when energy can not be effectively stored, when it has no positive means of expression, it will explode.
This is the most effective treatment of CRPTSD, giving veterans the ability to recognize the power of their Soldiers Heart, to know that they have the ability to control and contain it, and then utilize it constructively and safely.
It has been said that 80% of Viet Nam Veterans will have experienced symptoms of CRPTSD at some point in their life. But not all are debilitated for their whole lives, the symptoms may come and go. It might be beneficial to determine why. We all have physical and emotional ups and downs in our lives. Does an emotional or even a physical down weaken us and allow the symptoms of CRPTSD to come to the forefront? Is this why, when I am tired or stressed out, I get irritated more easily, short tempered, much less willing to listen to, much less hear others? Assuming this is true, giving a veteran the ability to recognize their symptoms, tap into the internal power of their Soldiers Heart, and call on external resources might be the way to enable them to deal with a permanent, life long condition.
That all sounds so easy, so glib! Just because I know I'm starting to loose it, and the ability work through it, and know I have a strong, understanding support system, doesn't always mean I can handle it. But, what it does, is help me step away, remove myself from the situation when I can, or hunker down and tough it out when I can. But damn, even that is frustrating, hard, and tiring. And I've been learning and practicing and living it for 45 years. Of course, the alternative to living is not currently acceptable.
So, as I always say; Onward, into the fog
(Original blog post may be found here