PTSD And Trucking

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HeavyHauler's Comment
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Today we drove a total of 350 miles for school. We have an instructor in training learning how to efficiently train CDL students. He has this habit of pointing in the general direction he wants you to proceed while you are completing a backing maneuver. I'm to busy paying attention to my surroundings to be looking at his hand. I instructed him to tell me what direction to proceed, i.e. go forward, turn right, slight left. Stuff like that.

I got frustrated because he did this to me 4x today and once it put in a position of almost hitting someone head on a 2 lane side street and damn near taking out a stop sign because of this. He then told me to start waving at the motorist to tell him thank you while my trailer was still in the middle of a turn trying to avoid this stop sign. I told him I would wave, but I'm a little busy right now. He then told me that I need to start showing respect for 4 wheelers (which I always do, because I am bigger than they are) and that I need to control my anger and frustration.

I have PTSD, and sometimes its hard to control it, especially if I keep asking you to do the same thing over and over and your not. I told him this to try to give him an idea why I get frustrated so easy. He told me that that isn't and excuse and that its a bunch of bull****. ****ed me off to no-end. I was told that with me getting frustrated with him that no company will keep me on because they trainers will not put up with it. I understand that aspect. But I am pretty sure that a lot of these companies are aware of the PTSD issue's with veterans and hiring them. I'm not looking to ask any particular question, just to vent I suppose. Do any of you fine people out there in the TruckingTruth know any veterans or drivers with PTSD? Or have you seen it affect the trucking industry negatively.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Starcar's Comment
member avatar

Dewey, I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2001...from my job working for the state of OR, Dept of Justice. I know how you feel. But you aren't going to be able to change HIM....so you will need to change how YOU react to him. If you can SAFELY do what he asks you, then do it. If you can't do it safely, then don't do it. Tell him you don't feel safe doing that...period. That should end the discussion. If it doesn't, politely tell him that you and he can take the discussion up with whoever the boss is at the training facility when you get back. Since he knows you have PTSD, he will now try to push your buttons. Take that ability out of his hands by not responding to his prods...Ignore him if you have to, and ask for a different instructor, if you have to. But in no way, allow him to bring you down to his low life level...you are better than that...

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Deweykid, he's gonna be on you like The Plague from now on, now that he knows this.

Listen, I'm not going to pretend I know what you're going through with PTSD. So I can't offer any advice from the perspective of someone with your condition. But what I can do is tell you exactly what your trainers, the CDL examiners, and the safety coordinators are going to think and how they'll handle this.

Quite honestly their first and foremost concern is making sure they don't put someone behind the wheel that is dangerous. Nobody wants that. And everyone I mentioned has "preventing dangerous people from being behind the wheel of a big rig" as their #1 job description. Unfortunately, now they suspect you're dangerous and they have to set out to make you prove you're not dangerous before they'll let you continue further with this career.

Nothing is more dangerous than not being able to control your emotions behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound rig surrounded by tiny vehicles full of children. It doesn't matter why you can't control them. Could be any of 1000 different conditions. All that matters to the industry is that they recognize people who aren't going to be safe drivers and keep them from piloting a big rig. And for now you're on the list of people to pay close attention to.

You're going to have to decide for yourself whether or not you feel you can handle the nearly constant stress and aggravation of driving a big rig for a living. And believe me - you haven't seen 1% of the stress and frustration you're going to see out there doing it for real. If you feel you can handle it then you absolutely have to make it happen - no excuses. If you can't do it then walk away and nobody would ever question you. But if you're going to stick with this career then everyone is going to question you. They're all going to test you. And they have every right to do so. In fact, it's their duty to do so. You're going to be held to the same standards as everyone else and nobody is going to make any exceptions.

Naturally I'm pulling for ya, as is everyone here on the site. That's why we're here - to help people get their career off to a great start. But at the same time there's no leniency for anyone that's sitting behind the wheel. If you make the decision to climb up in that truck then you're consciously taking the lives of a lot of people into your hands every single day. Not just the good weather days or the easy schedule days or the light traffic days. That includes the days with snowstorms, traffic jams, crabby dock workers, impatient dispatchers, tight schedules, and aggressive drivers. One moment of inattention can be a world-changer out there. If you can handle it then go for it! We'll be cheering you on the whole way. But if you need time to get some counseling or wind down for a while then you should do that and we'll still cheer you on the whole way.

I most certainly hope this didn't come across as callous, because I'm anything but. I care very much about people being happy and successful out there and I appreciate the fact that you're dealing with something very difficult right now. But once you get behind that wheel the expectations are very high. Make that decision with thoughtfulness. Once you get behind the wheel it's not about people being considerate of your condition. It's about you being considerate of your life or death responsibilities as a professional driver.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
HeavyHauler's Comment
member avatar

I forgot to mentioned that this is my last week and Thursday is my "graduation" day. I haven't had one single incident. This instructor just started this week and is learning how to train new CDL students. Yesterday was his first time, and on top of this, he was never a driver trainer for the company he worked for. So he is new to the whole training thing.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Mistelle's Comment
member avatar

I have ptsd among other problems. The frustration that turns to anger ire the hardest part. I've yelled, cried, and beat the heck out of the wheel. I'm only a couple a months in but it can be done. Try to just stop moving the truck for a moment. Take a deep breath and make yourself smile. Fake it if you have to. I'm sure my trainer thought i was crazy. I forced myself to laugh whenever i was at the end of my rope. But it worked. You just need to find your particular way of doing it.

Starcar's Comment
member avatar

If you have PTSD, you HAVE to learn 2 things.....what your "anger buttons" are....and what you are going to do when they are pushed. For me...I just get this evil kinda smile on my face..wtf-2.gif .and keep it there...coming from a woman..and a redhead at that...It usually nuetralizes the situation..not sure how.embarrassed.gif ..it just does...and it works for me quite well. I then go home and get out my hocus pocus stuff and put a hex on 'em !!!shocked.png

HeavyHauler's Comment
member avatar

Brett; your anything but callous. Your extremely informative and helpful. I was just having a bad day and he seems to be one of those guys that seems to have a lack of social etiquette on certain things. I absolutely love climbing behind the wheel of a rig. (even if it is a volvo) smile.gif The feel of the open road, the solitude of a two-lane country road, the stupid crap four wheelers pull off in front of you.

The bottom line is: I was having a bad day and after spending 11 hrs in a rig with 4 other guys, I was ready to get out of there. The last thing I want to do is destroy a family. But it did bring my PTSD to light and showed me somethings I need to work on still. I am going to meet up with my counselor this week to set up a game plan for me to follow while on the road. Thank you all for the support.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
HeavyHauler's Comment
member avatar

If you have PTSD, you HAVE to learn 2 things.....what your "anger buttons" are....and what you are going to do when they are pushed. For me...I just get this evil kinda smile on my face..wtf-2.gif .and keep it there...coming from a woman..and a redhead at that...It usually nuetralizes the situation..not sure how.embarrassed.gif ..it just does...and it works for me quite well. I then go home and get out my hocus pocus stuff and put a hex on 'em !!!shocked.png

Starcar your awesome

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
I am going to meet up with my counselor this week to set up a game plan for me to follow while on the road.

Awesome!!! Glad to hear it. You might also consider doing some reading that you find relaxing and enjoyable. Doesn't really matter what it is - just something to take your mind off everyday life and help you relax. An enjoyable book is like a "reset". It flushes the garbage out of your mind and helps you get back to being yourself. It's a great way to start and end the day.

Personally I've done a ton of reading over the years and Buddhism is a fascinating approach to life. People classify it as a religion, but it's not. It's a philosophy. There's nothing religious about it whatsoever. What it does is it teaches you how to control your mind and look at life in such a way as to keep your mind calm, clear, and relaxed in spite of the circumstances around you.

Exercise is a huge help also. Getting some exercise will help release any built-up frustrations in a big way.

But hopefully you'll be able to come to terms with this and get past it completely. I've said for many years "To the extent you control your mind you control your life" and that's 100% true. Every emotion, every spoken word, and every action you take all began as a thought. If you can't control your stream of thoughts you can't control anything about yourself or your life. You can't handle your own internal challenges and you can't process and react properly to the outside world around you. So the more you work on controlling your stream of thoughts and preventing any that you would deem "unhelpful" the better things will go for you in every aspect of your life.

In our society you hear a lot of advertising and talk that revolves around treating the symptoms in your life - advice on building relationships, improving your career, getting yourself to diet and exercise - all kinds of stuff. But nobody seems to get to the true root of the issue - controlling the mind. That's where everything in your life stems from.

The "filter" I use for my own thought stream is the word "helpful". If I find myself getting frustrated or generally reacting poorly to something I start monitoring my thoughts and ask myself "Is that thought really helpful to me?" Every time you find yourself getting frustrated with the world around you you'll find that you've had a series of unhelpful thoughts that lead you there. Things like:

Why can't people just help each other out more?

Why does it have to rain today of all days?

Why is my luck always so lousy?

Why can't people just relax and drive home without risking their lives every 5 seconds?

Those kind of thoughts just stir up the wrong emotions and do nothing to help you handle challenging people and situations with a calm, clear mind. Basically, we aggravate ourselves, or as they say in Buddhism "We cause our own suffering."

If we can learn to control our thought stream we can learn to control our emotions, our speech, and our actions. And that process never ends. I'm as happy and pleasant a person as you'll ever meet. I have fantastic control over my emotions. I rarely get frustrated and haven't lost my temper in years. In fact, I've hardly had a bad hour, let alone a bad day. But even after a lifetime of practicing this stuff my thought stream is embarrassingly poor at times. It's shocking how quickly we can let one bad thought lead to a stream of others right behind it and before you know it you're aggravated and annoyed over nothing. We all do it. We're all equally human in that regard. The sooner you can catch unhelpful thoughts the easier it is to reign them in. The more you practice it the better you get at it.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
HeavyHauler's Comment
member avatar

Brett, you are one surprising man. I have been dealing with this going on 7 years. I use to fly off the handle with extreme ease and ferocity. I have learned to adapt and over come the extreme challenges associated with PTSD. It has taken me years to get to the point of finally recognizing when I am beyond my limits, and when I am about to explode. I am still learning how to cope with stresses and relaxation techniques. This is now apart of me, and I can only get better from here on out. Its just that there are some people who deserve to be punched in their throats. But I refrain from doing that though. wtf.gif Thank you Brett for your wisdom and advise. Its greatly useful sir.

Sincerely,

Chris a.k.a. Deweykid

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