“In 2004 I was in the Marine Corps infantry where I served a tour of combat duty in Iraq. My unit was stationed in the Sunni Triangle; we were sent to the front lines of some of the most hostile areas in Iraq. Our unit was attacked nearly every day. During this period I had IED’s go off next to the unarmored Humvee truck I rode in, I was in face-to-face firefights that lasted for hours, I lost brothers, and I killed children. These experiences just scratch the surface of the life I lived.
Three months into my tour I began noticing profound psychological changes. I started having out of body experiences, I couldn’t sleep, and kept having reoccurring nightmares of my capture and execution. After coming back home, I hoped to move forward, but the symptoms didn’t go away. The hostility I experienced changed me. I couldn’t return to being the peaceful and loving person my family and friends knew and loved. The only way I could deal with it was to isolate myself.
In 2005 I was honorably discharged. Over time, things got worse. It wasn’t until 6 years later that I was diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. After my diagnosis I started therapy at the VA hospital. The pharmaceuticals they prescribed me were making things worse, and I couldn’t let my defenses down enough for talk therapy to be useful. I was lost.
Randomly, I heard about research being conducted for MDMA therapy to treat PTSD. I was desperate for help, so I applied. Months later I was accepted and eventually went through the treatment. It completely changed my life. I found my peace again. I was able to detach from my combat experiences. Finally, after all this time, I was able to move on.
I want to use my personal story as a way to bridge the gap between this life-saving medical treatment and the victims of trauma. I don’t want my healing to be a selfish experience. So many people can benefit from this drug, but it’s illegal. This treatment should be made available to everybody who needs it. For many of us, it’s our only hope.”