Treating an Invisible Wound
Some injuries do not bleed and cannot be seen, but they are injuries nevertheless.
Estimates say that one in five Americans experienced mental illness this past year.
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One is a 28-year-old Marine who, after three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, came to Mental Health America of Greater Tarrant County’s Warrior Support Program seeking help for himself and his family.
We’ll call him “Kris.”
“My wife had been telling me that I was different, but I couldn’t see it. I thought I was fine and pretty much everyone else was the problem,” he said. “Then one day my beautiful 2-year-old daughter ran toward me with her arms open and smiling … and I felt absolutely nothing. I knew what I was supposed to feel at that moment, but I was numb. And at that point, I realized I wasn’t OK.”
Kris was deployed to Iraq for the first time shortly after he and his spouse married. Over the next several years, he deployed two more times. The young family grew quickly with twin sons in 2006 and a daughter who arrived in 2009 while he was on his final deployment.
After his discharge, Kris had a difficult time adjusting to many aspects of the civilian world, including work, family and social activities. He struggled with anger and feelings of detachment and emotional numbing.
“Unfortunately, these symptoms are all too common with returning veterans and when left untreated, can have devastating effects on not only the veteran, but also on the family members and other loved ones,” said Teresa Linn, M.S. LPC, Mental Health America of Greater Tarrant County’s Warrior Support Program Manager.
Kris was suffering from severe Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an injury that is often described as wounds that can’t be seen, Linn said.
“The Warrior Support Program reaches out to our service members and their families, providing support and quality mental health care treatment to address symptom reduction and healthy reintegration back to family and community,” she said.
Kris is in outpatient counseling with a program psychologist who specializes in the treatment of PTSD and other trauma-related issues.
“Additionally, Kris and his wife will soon begin couples’ counseling sessions to strengthen their marriage and help them make the transition to the ‘new normal,’ ” says Linn.
This is only one of many success stories that exemplifies the mission, says Dr. Lee LeGrice, executive director of Mental Health America of Greater Tarrant County. LeGrice has worked in the mental health field since 1991, and she understands mental health both from a professional perspective and personal one. Her father, who raised her, had an untreated mental health and substance abuse condition.
“His lack of treatment contributed to his homelessness,” she said. “Unfortunately, he passed away due to alcohol poisoning. I have seen many people who have received treatment and who have changed their lives for the better.”
“What we know is that mental health conditions come from a genetic standpoint and also an environmental aspect and how well we are able to cope with the stressors we all face. Part of our challenge is when someone is dealing with depression or anxiety or bi-polar disorder, they need support. That might look like medication, a support group, a private practitioner, a therapist, a counselor, so we serve that role in our community,” LeGrice said.
On Oct. 16, the organization will hold its 5th Annual Party on the Patio at Joe T. Garcia’s Restaurant and Fiesta Gardens. “Peppers and Piñatas” will begin at 6 p.m.
Mental Health America of Greater Tarrant County
The mission is to enhance the mental health of the community and improve the lives of those impacted by mental illness.
3136 W. 4th St.
Fort Worth, Texas 76107