As a combat veteran returning from multiple tours of duty in Iraq, I struggled with PTSD when I returned home. I was depressed, unhappy, unable to find excitement in life, and I didn't feel alive. I struggled to find a suitable coping mechanism for my symptoms, turning to many different treatments and therapies. However, motorcycle riding truly helped me overcome many aspect of my struggle with PTSD. I found that motorcycle riding allowed me to experience similar activities to what I did in combat while being in safe, friendly and non-combat environment. I was able to dissociate the negative emotions and reactions from those activities while feeling safe, relaxed, engaged, and alive.
As an attendee of Aaron Stevenson's Countersteer Veteran Experience, I noticed that being a new dirt bike rider (experienced street rider) participating in the Countersteer program and certain aspects of combat stress were remarkedly similar. Riding the 100cc dirtbike and doing the drills at Countersteer challenges and pushes you beyond your limit. Having never experienced a dirt track or dirt bike, focus and attention to detail were critical to my success in staying upright. With the track conditions constantly changing from freshly wetted to just right to dusty and slick, my inexperience with limited traction led to a chaotic experience of repeated and unexpected wrecks into the dirt, often face first. That thud of my body hitting the ground, and dust in my mouth wasn't from an IED, it was from wrecking during in a corner face first right into the dirt because that corner wasn't so dusty last time around. Again, through riding a motorcycle or dirt bike in this case, I was able to dissociate specific feelings and emotions from the experiences of combat.