How “America’s Combat Nurse” Cherissa Jackson Won The Battle Against PTSD
Captain Cherissa Jackson, also known as “America’s Combat Nurse,” serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After completing four grueling tours in Iraq and Afghanistan on the front line of death and destruction — in addition to managing the struggles of single parenthood – the retired Air Force nurse had to come to grips with her new reality. She was living with a serious and potentially debilitating condition.
“I actually discovered I had PTSD in 2012,” she tells BlackDoctor.org. “I kind of self-diagnosed. As a nurse, I had been in combat three times during four deployments. So, I had seen soldiers with PTSD and knew the symptoms like the back of my hand. So, when I started exhibiting those symptoms myself, it began to sink in that I may be struggling with PTSD,” Jackson added.
“However, it didn’t really become apparent, until I dropped my daughters – I’m a single mom of twin daughters – off at college in August 2012 (Towson University). Once I got back home my life was simple. I didn’t have to worry about them or getting stuff prepared for college – all I had to worry about was me,” Jackson continued.
“That’s when all my emotions came to a head. The flashbacks came at me fast, like someone was throwing rocks at me and I knew I was in trouble — as I hid in the darkness in a corner of my home after waking up from an episode on the couch, basically in survival mode.”
“I didn’t tell anyone then. I suffered in silence for months,” Jackson said of hiding her diagnosis before making the decision to seek out a psychiatrist.
Meanwhile, Jackson shared she suffered from insomnia, hyper vigilance, depression and anxiety in large crowds, all classic symptoms of PTSD. “I was basically a zombie every day, going to work, coming home, walking my dog and being secluded in my condo,” she said. Adding that she went through a season of “excessive spending” to fill a void created by the memories she was experiencing.
Now, a survivor of the disorder, onset by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event, the mother of two prides herself an advocate – helping sufferers and their families better manage their lives.