PDA

View Full Version : Reefing has saved my life... Am I the only one?


mcozad829
12/13/2015, 12:15 AM
Long story short, I am a disabled vet, former light infantry and purple heart recipient. I was medically discharged in 2012 and have had a hard time with PTSD, adjustment disorder, and depression. There have been very dark days in my life since I have been out, I won't go into specifics but I can say there were times when I felt like ending it all, normally these times correlate to times when my disabilities flare up and I am in bad pain. It sucks being 27 years old and having to spend 1/2 the day in bed and the other half dragging my legs around as I walk with my cane :sad1:. Depression has pushed me to the edge a few times and I have honestly thought at times "if I end it, who will take care of my tank?". In my life it often seems that things are completely out of control and that is when I focus on my tank because it gives me a sense of purpose and control. I just wanted to see if I am alone in this? Does anyone else use their tanks as a life saving therapy?

wij
12/13/2015, 01:45 AM
Mate I don't know you and what it sounds you have been through some serious s#$t. 27 is a young age you still have you're whole life in front of you, this hobby will help you out a lot it eases the mind and is very enjoyable, just wanted to say hang on in there pal think positive and stay strong a fellow reefer. Paul.

mcozad829
12/13/2015, 02:15 AM
Mate I don't know you and what it sounds you have been through some serious s#$t. 27 is a young age you still have you're whole life in front of you, this hobby will help you out a lot it eases the mind and is very enjoyable, just wanted to say hang on in there pal think positive and stay strong a fellow reefer. Paul.

I appreciate that Paul.

Just to clarify my post, I am not suicidal I was just reflecting on the past and how this hobby helped me keep my mind in a good place. I have many good things in my life like my kids and wife that have also helped me make it through tough times. However reef keeping played a major role in helping me cope with my issues and I was wondering if this was common among vets.

mattsreefadise
12/13/2015, 06:35 AM
I can agree completely bud.
After 5 years in the infantry, and a purple recipient myself, I had a difficult time recovering from from two deployments and an IED strike. Thankfully, I had just mild injuries and was able to overcome them pretty easily. But during my recovery time, I saw myself getting depressed because my unit was off doing better things, while I was stuck with Wounded Warrior Battalion. I became angry, and incredibly disgruntled and could no longer stand being at home or work.
I came home one day to my wife crying, saying that I wasn't here anymore, and it was true. Even after that discussion that night, I still couldn't help but distance myself from everybody. One day, a friend showed me a picture of his Koi pond, of all things, and it seemed so nice.
So, that weekend, my wife and I started construction on a pond. We dug and dug and dug with shovels! It felt so good to work on something together and when we were finished, it was a gorgeous pond. Long story short, that peaked our interest in fishkeeping, and soon enough we had a saltwater. I've noticed bad thoughts, and angry feelings disappear, and my wife and I are closer than ever.
I wouldn't go as far as "it saved my life" but it definitely has changed it.
Semper Fi

joshbrookkate
12/13/2015, 07:26 AM
These are awesome stories! Thanks for sharing them.
Michelle

mcozad829
12/13/2015, 07:41 AM
I can agree completely bud.
After 5 years in the infantry, and a purple recipient myself, I had a difficult time recovering from from two deployments and an IED strike. Thankfully, I had just mild injuries and was able to overcome them pretty easily. But during my recovery time, I saw myself getting depressed because my unit was off doing better things, while I was stuck with Wounded Warrior Battalion. I became angry, and incredibly disgruntled and could no longer stand being at home or work.
I came home one day to my wife crying, saying that I wasn't here anymore, and it was true. Even after that discussion that night, I still couldn't help but distance myself from everybody. One day, a friend showed me a picture of his Koi pond, of all things, and it seemed so nice.
So, that weekend, my wife and I started construction on a pond. We dug and dug and dug with shovels! It felt so good to work on something together and when we were finished, it was a gorgeous pond. Long story short, that peaked our interest in fishkeeping, and soon enough we had a saltwater. I've noticed bad thoughts, and angry feelings disappear, and my wife and I are closer than ever.
I wouldn't go as far as "it saved my life" but it definitely has changed it.
Semper Fi

Very cool thanks for sharing brother

odj22sailor
12/31/2015, 01:06 PM
Very touching, as I sit and read all of your stories with my 5 yr old daughter she asked me why and how they got hurt. The only answer I will give her they fought for our freedom and way of life so we can have the beautiful reef tank.
Gentleman from the very bottom of my heart I thank you for your service, your dedication and most of all the sacrifices you have made for our country.
God speed to you all I am just a pm away if you need to chat!

Dave
A greatful citizen.....

braaap
01/08/2016, 10:46 AM
I'd say mine drastically changed my life. After getting medically discharged due to a pretty sever shoulder injury I was pretty depressed. Wasn't getting to continue my service. Wasn't strong anymore. Was becoming out of shape because I couldn't hardly move my arm without immense amounts of pain. Couldn't sleep because if I laid down with any pressure I'd feel like someone was ripping off my arm. Became addicted to pain killers which then led to antidepressants. They were the only thing that made the pain go away. Then one day I stumbled into my local LFS again. I had been out of the hobby for over 5 years and forgot how great it was. That day my entire view on life changed. I've become so much more peaceful. Look for the positive in almost everything(I still hate work :D) and just really cherish every moment of life. I even have way more motivation to go to the gym and try and rehab. I'm not back in my physical shape like I was when I was in the service but I'm close and I'm extremely happy with that. I don't think it saved my life(never thought about suicide) but it definitely straightened me out and changed my life big time.

I still can't lay on my back or on my shoulder without horrible amounts of pain. You kinda get used to it though. Haven't taken a pain killer in over a year. Not even motrin. :D

adam.sandor88
01/12/2016, 08:08 AM
Same here man! Just got out in September. Infantry SSG
Iraq 12/08- -7/09
Afg 1/2010 - 3/2011
Afg 3/2013 - 12/2013
I had a really rough time adjusting to being out. went through a lot of adjustment and have been battling the demons. I just started this hobby 6 months ago and seriously it has saved me. From nights drinking alone with a glock on the table staring at me to me becoming a service officer. Reefing is my escape from it all.

If you ever need anything im here. If anyone needs help im here
I also help woth the VA as well ;)

matt_97055
01/12/2016, 08:29 AM
Very touching, as I sit and read all of your stories with my 5 yr old daughter she asked me why and how they got hurt. The only answer I will give her they fought for our freedom and way of life so we can have the beautiful reef tank.
Gentleman from the very bottom of my heart I thank you for your service, your dedication and most of all the sacrifices you have made for our country.
God speed to you all I am just a pm away if you need to chat!

Dave
A greatful citizen.....
I couldn't have said it any better!!!! Thank you for fighting for what this country was built on and stands for!!!

tobys_girl2003
01/13/2016, 09:55 AM
My husband did two tours in Iraq - and this hobby has been his therapy. He is also a disabled vet with all kinds of issues from service. This has been a saving grace

kyle.nagel13
01/18/2016, 10:35 AM
After 5 years in the 82nd with 3 deployments to Iraq, I left the Army an angry angry man. I left on my own with only minor injuries and a good amount of wear and tear, so I can't really relate to those of you who sustained serious injury. I couldn't handle normal day to day interactions though. I never went to seek any mental help or anything, I just kind of folded in on myself because I genuinely couldn't handle civilians, not even my family. Thankfully, I wasn't married or have any kids. I trudged along for a while, then I got a wild hair that I wanted a fish tank. Started with fake fresh, then went planted, now I'm building my first salt tank. The hobbie relaxes me, and gives me the control I needed over one specific thing. I went back to school, got my degree, a job, and then got married. We are talking about kids now.

While it didn't probably save my life in the physical sense, I will say that it saved my life from an existence that wasn't worth living.

DaTuRk84
01/20/2016, 05:56 PM
Hi brother I am in the same boat as you and i know how you feel. I was discharged for PTSD and TBI too. Believe me I have the same thought but know that there is so much to live for. I felt like ending my life too after I was discharged in 2013 but thanks to my other battles I saw that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. If you ever need someone to talk to you got me as a fellow soldier. Keep your head up bro it aint worth it.

mcozad829
02/15/2016, 01:01 PM
Im glad I wasn't the only one who had a tough time transitioning to civilian life, thank you all for your responses

Immortal4419
03/07/2016, 10:40 AM
Long story short, I am a disabled vet, former light infantry and purple heart recipient. I was medically discharged in 2012 and have had a hard time with PTSD, adjustment disorder, and depression. There have been very dark days in my life since I have been out, I won't go into specifics but I can say there were times when I felt like ending it all, normally these times correlate to times when my disabilities flare up and I am in bad pain. It sucks being 27 years old and having to spend 1/2 the day in bed and the other half dragging my legs around as I walk with my cane :sad1:. Depression has pushed me to the edge a few times and I have honestly thought at times "if I end it, who will take care of my tank?". In my life it often seems that things are completely out of control and that is when I focus on my tank because it gives me a sense of purpose and control. I just wanted to see if I am alone in this? Does anyone else use their tanks as a life saving therapy?

I agree. I love to just sit on the couch and watch my tank after a bad day. Its calming and soothing. You definitely are not alone with this thought process.

tjsailosullivan
03/10/2016, 07:20 PM
Another purple heart recipient here. Basra Iraq March 2008/100lb EFP. 21+ years and more deployments than I can count. It is definitely been my best form of therapy. You are definitely not alone brother

Lilbitreefer
03/11/2016, 04:39 PM
adam.sandor88, you were coming to Iraq as I was leaving it. Setting up my fish tanks and getting them running has definitely helped me.

jjrocksandreefs
03/16/2016, 08:21 PM
Not Infantry or Marine, but not your typical stint as an Air Force Firefighter either, Pakistan 2002, Northern Iraq, 2003. Reefing has been part of my life since separation and continued fire service career, just relaxing and calming great way to unwind.

ryan_
03/25/2016, 01:29 PM
Just found this sub-forum and this thread. I got into reefing before I deployed. However, if it weren't for reefing and bow hunting, I probably would have lost my head. My tanks give me something to focus on when I can't be out in the woods. It's absolutely a kind of therapy. Infantry here as well.

bescher
04/04/2016, 08:54 PM
Hi All
I am a Army vet of Vietnam, Grenada and Panama. Was essentially kicked out after18 years. Disabled have PTSD, bad back, bad neck and other things. Keeping fish has definitely helped out, keeps me busy and I learned from my father how relaxing they are. Can be expensive but well worth my sanity

j_mazzy
05/02/2016, 09:50 PM
Reefing helped me when I was retired in '05. it was something for my mond to stay busy.

vgardner
05/05/2016, 09:25 PM
Hey folks- I'm the wife of a Purple Heart recipient so forgive me if I'm intruding here ☺️ But I wanted to say that, for my husband, anything that requires precise order and maintenance seems to help calm him down. We absolutely adore 'our baby' as we call 'my' tank. (Our children don't really appreciate that name but oh well!) I pick most everything that goes into it but he does a lot of the maintenance and placing things around where I want them (our tank is taller than my arms are long). I think maybe keeping order within the tank and other projects helps to keep order in his mind maybe? But that's just my outsiders take on it. I'm very very glad that every single one of y'all has found reefing/ fish keeping and that it has helped y'all!


Thank you to every one of you for what you've done and sacrificed for us!

kurtymac
05/15/2016, 11:06 AM
Hey Mcozad, I understand completely how you feel. I was just medically retired in February because of a spinal tumor/cancer found in my spine. Its an ependymoma and it has turned my life upside down. Severe pain, problems walking, keep up the good fight. I hope the VA is taking care of you but I probably know the answers to that.

darmar7812
05/15/2016, 11:50 PM
Hello everyone, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone of you for you service. The bravery and courageous selfless duty you gentlemen preformed for all of us here in America is greatly appreciated by me. So once again I would like to say thank you all!

vikinglord13
05/21/2016, 02:07 AM
Thank you all for your service. I'm glad to hear this hobby has helped you guys get a handle on things.

I've always valued the therapeutic, relaxing sensations one gets from a fish tank. I'm thinking if anybody ever writes an article on the positive effects a tank has on mental/spiritual health, referring to your guys' stories would really emphasize how valuable these tanks can be.

mcozad829
06/28/2016, 11:08 AM
Nice to see so many replies to this thread both from other vets, and those sharing their support. Glad to see that this military reefers sub forum is being used!

Paul B
06/28/2016, 01:33 PM
I never thought of it as therapy but maybe that is the reason I started my reef as soon as I returned from Nam. I was also blown up on an LZ where we lost about 50 of us out of about 150.
I came home in one piece but my tank has always been a comfort to me even though I never equated it to Viet Nam.
Thanks for reminding me of why I love this hobby so much.

lifeoffaith
06/28/2016, 02:05 PM
Thank you all. Those of us who sit in luxury (even the poorest of us have it better than most of the world) owe it all to you all.

My experience doesn't equate even close to yours, but I used to suffer from mild forms of depression in the winter especially. Winters here in Michigan are pretty unforgiving. In the summers I had my koi pond (now we've moved so I only have small outdoor tanks that are more like cow troughs) and before my accident I had motorcycles. In the winter I tended to get bored easily and depressed. My wife and I have both noticed that I'm in a better mood in the winters because I can focus on my tanks. This past winter was a bit rough because I was downsizing to move, but this winter I hope to build my 90 gallon coral tank and in future years I hope to be building a 300 gallon FOWLR plywood tank. All that to say that this hobby has been greatly therapeutic for me, and I'm glad to hear that you all are getting some therapeutic help from it as well.

May we never forget the lives given and the sacrifice of those who have served in all of the military forces. God bless you all!

itz frank
07/12/2016, 07:48 AM
Long story short, I am a disabled vet, former light infantry and purple heart recipient. I was medically discharged in 2012 and have had a hard time with PTSD, adjustment disorder, and depression. There have been very dark days in my life since I have been out, I won't go into specifics but I can say there were times when I felt like ending it all, normally these times correlate to times when my disabilities flare up and I am in bad pain. It sucks being 27 years old and having to spend 1/2 the day in bed and the other half dragging my legs around as I walk with my cane :sad1:. Depression has pushed me to the edge a few times and I have honestly thought at times "if I end it, who will take care of my tank?". In my life it often seems that things are completely out of control and that is when I focus on my tank because it gives me a sense of purpose and control. I just wanted to see if I am alone in this? Does anyone else use their tanks as a life saving therapy?


Thank you to you and everyone else here that has a bigger set of balls than I. I can't imagine what you've been through and what you're still going through.

I'm sitting at work and this thread brought a tear to my eye. I'm 30 myself. I've never been in combat. I've never enlisted. I've never even considered it.

But I want to thank you for doing something that the majority of us wouldn't even consider. Thank you for putting your life on the line so that I and others could sleep and have all the freedoms that we take for granted on a daily basis.


How about some photos of this tank and others?

Salty150
07/12/2016, 07:49 PM
Wow... talk about putting things in perspective.

Excellent thread...

Majestic Corals
07/15/2016, 04:02 PM
I couldn't agree with you more. I am also a DV with PTSD and this hobby has kept me from taking the easy way out. Something about being able to keep a piece of the ocean thriving in your living room is something else. I would take a sps frag over some pill the VA wants to shove down my throat any day.

vikinglord13
11/12/2016, 05:07 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXInvF4Wqa4

I thought you guys might appreciate this video by Wayne Scott about how aquariums helped his transition from military life.
Happy [belated] Veterans Day!

jmcdaniel0
11/30/2016, 11:53 AM
Brothers,

I am new to this forum, and I stumbled across this thread. I can relate to so much of what you all are saying. I was in the 101st Airborne, and I pulled four tourrs of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. I broke my neck on the last tour and I was medically discharged in 2012. I had a very rough time when I first came out. Thankfully, I had a strong wife, that kept me from doing anything stupid. I never thought about my reefing as a stress reliever or coping mechanism, but I certainly see why it could be. I took a break from reefing when we were moving from our apartment to the new house we bought. Then my jobs switched, and things just wouldnt seem to settle down. Now I am putting up a small tank I have had for a bit now. It will be good to get back into the hobby.

Psyops
11/30/2016, 02:41 PM
I have been reading your posts since the Military Reefers group started but was not comfortable, for some reason, to post.

Have had a reef tank for about 15 yrs now. Recommended from another vet that was helping me with my issues. There was a time that if it wasn't for my cat and reef tank I probably would not have made it. Basically I did not want to leave them on there own.

PS. I have a pretty kick *** wife also.

Joe0813
12/03/2016, 02:22 PM
Would just like to say thank you for you guys and girls service and sacrifice for us and this country

victor_c3
03/13/2017, 08:17 AM
I can't say that reefing has saved my life, but it adds a tremendous amount of enjoyment to mine.

Before I stopped working, I earned a degree in chemistry and worked for the government for a few years as a chemist. The technical aspects and research aspects of reefing are very interesting to me. I've read numerous books and countless science joiurnal articles and pouring myself over details such as optimal flow rates for sponges in benthic habitats and trying to recreate that in a portion of my reef system is pure joy to me.

I too was an Infantryman, but I was mechanized and served in Iraq in 2004. In hindite, I'm soooo relieved that I wasn't Light Infantry. True, our vehicles made for great targets, but they could take a pounding. A section of tanks was assigned to my platoon and, in their infinite wisdom, haji would fire everything he had at a tank and ignore the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The tank could take RPG hits all day while the Bradley couldn't. Fortunately, haji never figured that out.

I got back from Iraq in 2005 and got out of the army in 2007. My PTSD issues didn't really start to appear until 2008, but they didn't get out of hand until 2014. In the last two years I went down hard and fast. I've had numerous suicide attempts, spent about 1/3 of that time locked up in psych hospitals, lost two great jobs, and now I'm 100% P&T for PTSD.

Reefing to me is about having something go right in my life. Looking back at things since Iraq it's hard for me to find examples if things I'm good at or do right. I was in a leadership position (I actually was an Infantry Platoon Leader) and I take everything my platoon did or didn't do to heart. I was in charge when we were out in sector and if someone was hurt, it was fault. If a kid got killed, it was because I didn't control my troops well enough (Soldiers are good at killing things - even when not ordered to) or if someone got hurt it was because I dindn't make the right decision. I lost 5 guys under my command and it absolutely tears me apart more than 12 years later. I can't keep a job, I've foreclosed on a house, and simple things like making my kids lunch in the morning and getting them ready for school overwhelms me.

As a guy who has a history of messing stuff up, getting something right - even as small as not killing a coral - gives me something to hang on to in life.

Salty150
03/13/2017, 11:29 AM
I can't say that reefing has saved my life, but it adds a tremendous amount of enjoyment to mine.

Before I stopped working, I earned a degree in chemistry and worked for the government for a few years as a chemist. The technical aspects and research aspects of reefing are very interesting to me. I've read numerous books and countless science joiurnal articles and pouring myself over details such as optimal flow rates for sponges in benthic habitats and trying to recreate that in a portion of my reef system is pure joy to me.

I too was an Infantryman, but I was mechanized and served in Iraq in 2004. In hindite, I'm soooo relieved that I wasn't Light Infantry. True, our vehicles made for great targets, but they could take a pounding. A section of tanks was assigned to my platoon and, in their infinite wisdom, haji would fire everything he had at a tank and ignore the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The tank could take RPG hits all day while the Bradley couldn't. Fortunately, haji never figured that out.

I got back from Iraq in 2005 and got out of the army in 2007. My PTSD issues didn't really start to appear until 2008, but they didn't get out of hand until 2014. In the last two years I went down hard and fast. I've had numerous suicide attempts, spent about 1/3 of that time locked up in psych hospitals, lost two great jobs, and now I'm 100% P&T for PTSD.

Reefing to me is about having something go right in my life. Looking back at things since Iraq it's hard for me to find examples if things I'm good at or do right. I was in a leadership position (I actually was an Infantry Platoon Leader) and I take everything my platoon did or didn't do to heart. I was in charge when we were out in sector and if someone was hurt, it was fault. If a kid got killed, it was because I didn't control my troops well enough (Soldiers are good at killing things - even when not ordered to) or if someone got hurt it was because I dindn't make the right decision. I lost 5 guys under my command and it absolutely tears me apart more than 12 years later. I can't keep a job, I've foreclosed on a house, and simple things like making my kids lunch in the morning and getting them ready for school overwhelms me.

As a guy who has a history of messing stuff up, getting something right - even as small as not killing a coral - gives me something to hang on to in life.

Thank you, for a lot of things, and for sharing your story.

I, and everyone else here I am sure, am glad that you found reefing!