After two tours of duty in Iraq, U.S. Marine Allan Davisson returned to his native Florida. Unfortunately, he was haunted by some of the trauma he experienced while in combat and Davisson was ultimately diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Physicians from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) prescribed medication to help Davisson manage his moods, but Davisson did not like the way it made him feel.
“I felt like a zombie. Just this blob on the couch, popping pills,” he says.
Davisson soon realized that if he wanted to get his life back, he would have to reduce the dosage of the medication he was on. That was enough to take the edge off his moods, but he still felt he needed something else to occupy his time and his mind to prevent him from dwelling on the trauma of his past.
About a year ago, Davisson decided that fishing for bass fit the bill.
Davisson remembers fishing his whole life. When he was a kid, he would go on walleye fishing trips to Canada with his grandfather. Later, he’d take advantage of the saltwater reeling opportunities that his home just east of Tampa affords him.
“I realized that I’ve never been mad fishing,” he says.
As a stay at home father of two young kids, though, Davisson’s time to get out on the water is pretty limited. So, he started exploring the some of the small lakes and ponds near the Tampa suburb of Brandon – close to his hometown of Thonotosassa – where he found largemouth bass and crappie.
The bodies of water are small enough that he feels comfortable taking his jon boat on them, even with his five year old son, Conner.
These days, Davisson tries to get out on the water three or four times a week, ideally at daybreak or just before the sun sets, when the fish are most active – and hungry. He usually stays out at least an hour, and “maybe three or four if the kids are in school.”
Between fishing and parenting, he’s got plenty of things to keep his mind focused forward and not looking back on past trauma.
Davisson says that the bass in his part of the world will hit “just about anything” in the spring or summer months. He likes to throw wacky Senko rigs in watermelon or pumpkinseed patterns to trick his local bass into biting.
And for Davisson, that’s what’s therapeutic.
“It’s the anticipation of the bite. It keeps my mind occupied,” he says. “I keep focusing on the next cast and not on past trauma.”
It’s become important for Davisson to get his message out to others who suffer from PTSD. To that end, he started an Instagram account with his son, Conner: @fishing_for_ptsd.
“Whether it’s fishing or running, or anything that can keep your mind occupied, you’ve got to find something that you can look forward to that keeps your mind off the past, so you can get off the couch and off the pills,” he says.
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