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13 June 2014 @ 02:14 pm
National PTSD Awareness Month, June 2014  
I have been posting all month on PTSD at my other blog http://patiencemason.blogspot.com/. You can read them all there or on my facebook book page, Recovering from The War.
Here is the first post:

PTSD Awareness month; days 1 & 2

Just posted this on Patience H C Mason, my author page and Recovering From the War, my book page:
Since I just found out that June is PTSD Awareness Month, I think I will try to publish something each day here and on my Recovering from the War page. Don't ask me why I have two pages on Recovering. It seemed like a good Idea at the time.
I find the professional literature on PTSD lacks insight into human nature.
When I was writing this book, I kept asking myself why would a person have this reaction? What is its purpose?
To my way of thinking, the symptoms of PTSD arise out of survival skills built into all our brains: not into the thinking, speaking parts, but in the more primitive parts which react before thought.
PTSD symptoms are grouped in clusters, but the order of the clusters in the official diagnostic criteria make them look random and weird.
My order is arousal first, then rapid adaptation and avoidance, and then re-experiencing, which can't happen till AFTER, after all...
When someone attacks, your body reacts instantly, shutting down or fighting back or running (freeze, fight or flee). It's instinctive. We don't have conscious access to this ability. Sometimes a highly trained soldier will find himself unable to get up and attack because this part of him knows he won't survive. It is not cowardice.
The most common response is to flee. That is why soldiers have to be trained to fight.
So I start with the brain's built in ability to pay attention to threats. Wave your hand in front of a snake or bat at a kitten to see this in action.
We, too, react that fast. There is no thought involved. People who don't understand danger call this an "exaggerated startle response," instead of an "effective startle response," which kept you alive.
Threat creates an emotional response. Emotions are designed to keep you alive. Threat creates anger. Irritability and outbursts of anger are a pretty natural response to people trying to kill you, or otherwise traumatize you. More tomorrow.

So I got as far as "irritability and outbursts of anger" yesterday, a part of the cluster of symptoms which arise out of the brain's natural ability to pay attention to threats, to act instantly in reaction, and then to become constantly wary, checking for more threats. Normal brains do this, become hypervigilant, especially if the threats are constant, or intermittent and prolonged, both of which are a good description of many war experiences (and violent families). Anger can keep you alive and help you endure the privations of war or other traumatic events. "Inability to fall or stay asleep," is the next symptom in this section of the diagnostic criteria. This will also make you irritable as well as being the most effective form of torture, too. People do not sleep soundly in wars. It can prove fatal. The last symptom in this category is the "inability to concentrate," which is another misstatement. The veteran is not concentrating on normal everyday stuff. He or she is concentrating on who has a weapon, how will I get out of this room, is that an IED on the road ahead, etc. Concentrating on survival leaves very little room for listening to your spouse or a new therapist or some clerk at the VA.
When you look at these symptoms the way I do, you see them as an effective set of responses to war and other traumas. They are not weird or weak or abnormal. As a matter of fact I see PTSD as a solution to the problem of war. You lived! Tomorrow numbing and avoidance.

Here is the latest:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Detach with love, Day 13 of PTSD Awareness Month

With all the additional information on PTSD ( although none of it is presented the way I see it) it is hard not to get annoyed when people will not go for help. Why is that? And what can a spouse do about it?
People are human and American, and human Americans do not like to think they need help. They are fine (F*ked up, insecure, neurotic and egotistical, but they don't know it) and you are somewhere between nag and nut case to think they are not.
Detach with love.
Let him be where he is at. Let her be where she is at. Our society tells us we can change people. If this were true, there would not be a new self help book out every week. The only person I can change is me, and that is slow and hard and I have not lived through a war and had the symptoms of PTSD hammered into me by traumatic events, over and over.
So if change is hard for me as a civilian, it is going to be harder for a veteran. He will have to face pain, devastation, horrible memories of blood and guts and fear and despair and anger and vengeance and destruction. It is easy to think he should man up and just do it.
We start out as rescuers: Oh, honey, you should go get help, or read this book, or do that. We do not know what healing from war involves. We have no way to know. I had a lot of advice for Bob, none of which he took, so when I was writing the book, I realized that not taking my advice was evidence too.

In combat, things are out of the person's control. Wishes will not stop bullets or explosions or someone bleeding out. Those are just words to us. As Bob once said to me when we came out of the movie Platoon, "It's worse when it's real."
Not following directions is evidence that following directions put them in danger.
It is evidence that they need to regain a sense of control in their lives and if they do what you say they lose that.
So even if what you are saying is the right thing, saying it may be the wrong thing.
More tomorrow.
Current Mood: contentcontent
Carlton Max: baz goatc_maxx on June 13th, 2014 11:25 pm (UTC)
That's it, we can't fix people, or organize them, but we can love them!

Best witches!

As to the IP, sometimes stay late to take adv of the fiber optic VHS...
Carlton Max: baz goatc_maxx on June 14th, 2014 12:56 am (UTC)
Reading this is a tough time for vets with the news in Iraq.

Probably even bringing up old feelings from the previous period. Most, or at least a lot of, the vets I knew in the late 70s had been trying to do what was right when in VN, so there must have been a lot of feelings of helplessness over the Communist takeover there.
patty1943patty1943 on June 15th, 2014 09:10 pm (UTC)
Yes. I watched my husband watch them throw Hueys off the aircraft carriers. That is what he flew. He loved them. He was devastated.
These new vets, my heart really goes out to them.
Carlton Max: baz goatc_maxx on June 17th, 2014 03:32 pm (UTC)
I'll bet! His description of learning to fly a heli was unforgettable. The whole book was, for that matter.

Yes, the new vets, with multiple mandatory deplyments, have really had a tough career.

I worked with two pilots helicopter spraying one year. They could make those machines swoop around the NW forest topography like swallows! Like spray painting a car, but in four dimensions while flying, to boot.

One was a VN pilot, he performed an autorotation for me- I didn't know enough to be alarmed- "oh, look how fast the ground is coming up!" I think he thought to see how good my nerves were and I was like, "Hmm.."

Your husband might enjoy this story- our other pilot had traded his Cessna for a helicopter, and had never had any helicopter lessons, so when he taught himself to fly it, before he learned to hover, the only way he could get on and off the ground, was to use the runway for running takeoffs and landings. It must have been highly entertaining to watch, not to mention hair-raising once he finally got in the air!

Edited at 2014-06-17 03:35 pm (UTC)