Daniel Jarvis is a retired Army SFC and Deputy Sheriff. Following a heartbreaking deployment and the loss of his mother he found himself struggling with suicidal ideations and substance abuse. He would find himself contemplating suicide but stopped due the pitter patter of tiny feet of the children in the apartment above him. He would look away from the rifle in the corner of his apartment and pick back up the bottle to continue drinking until he passed out. Following one of these nights he received a call that one of his former soldiers had taken his life. When trying to process the why and how, Dan noticed that he too had all the signs of someone that was at high risk of suicide. His life all started to turn around after he met his wife and she encouraged him to seek help. He was diagnosed with PTSD and started prolonged therapy treatment. He found the process to be just as traumatizing as the events themselves. It wasn’t until he tried an alternative treatment, a variation of Neuron-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that he found a process that allowed him to disconnect from the emotions of his trauma so he could process it and find peace. He is now compelled to help others find the same relief from traumatic memories and founded 22 Zero.
Listening to Dan discuss his experience with the VA is a too familiar story. It’s one that I have a lot of relatability with myself. When he mentioned the effort it took just for the first event and then looking at the list of events and breaking down how long traditional prolonged exposure (PE) therapy would take, it was an overwhelming thought. I remember thinking that I would likely be in therapy for the rest of my life if I processed one at a time. I anticipate meeting with my therapist often to check up but that is different from spoon feeding yourself trauma for the rest of your life. I’m sure it would become easier and easier with each event but I really struggled with PE. I hated it more than anything to go to those sessions. It wasn’t so much for addressing those dark moments in my life, it was more out of fear that I would become numb again. I spent the majority of my 20s emotionless. I would only feel extreme happiness and anger but the rest of the time I was blah. Nothing in the world mattered. I went to funerals of loved ones and didn’t shed tears, I would end relationships and it meant nothing, I would shit all over family and friends because nothing had weight or value. I notice when I have tried PE recently all those emotions that I have worked to get back started fading again. In my mind it’s like all my stuff is behind a closed door. I do not seem to be able to open the door and grab just one event to process it. I open the door and everything in that room comes out. Then I’m overloaded and just shut down emotionally. I believe it has a lot to do with how we were forced to hide our issues, it wasn’t acceptable to discuss an event or even a deployment. So now I have several deployments with hundreds of events all connected to one another. The last time I tried to grab just one event, I was completely numb and emotionless in 8 days. It took me about 2 weeks of a positive routine to get back to my normal. This doesn’t mean I’m against PE. While in this program I learned a ton of things that helped me disconnect and recenter. I could see how eventually you would be able to recenter quicker and quicker until there is an emotional callus for that event. I honestly would rather have this pain I carry around and be able to see the beauty in the world, than for everything to be gray and numb. I’m confident there is a path to a better quality of life and anything we set our minds to, we can and will achieve.