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Extremely thought provoking blog post by the writer Myke Cole about what PTSD is, at least for him.

http://mykecole.com/blog/2013/03/what-ptsd-is

It is interesting from my perspective not because Rich had PTSD, although I am sure he did in some degree. Anyone who takes part in a traumatic job is almost guaranteed to have some PTSD, but the thing here in Myke's post moves away from calling it a 'disease', which seemed, lately, to be the thing to do. It is a condition not a disease, even if it does affect part of your brain.
But the phrase which got me most was this one : Because PTSD isn’t a dis­ease, it’s a world view.
And that strikes me on so many levels. The part where I will paraphrase, you can read his actual words - but that sensation of thinking you are safe and then after some 'event' realizing that you will never be safe again. That is what changes you. That relatively simple realization. And I realized, too that in some ways this applies to losing a child. Because it does change your world view.
Someone wrote a tweet earlier asking this - after a person dies someone always says "it really reminds you of what's truly  important" before returning to their same old senseless ways.
And I wrote back and said - it depends on the person. Because Richard's death did change my world view. It changed many people's world view in the realisation that life is bloody short. And the trauma is constantly thinking that it will happen to someone else you love.
This is what so often incapacitates those who truly suffer from PTSD, that constant fear, and to blot out the fear that flashes in your mind you try to come up with alternatives.
Of course there is no 'cure' for PTSD, there never will be, but that isn't to say you can't move past it or perhaps, learn to live with it. While the mind wants to forget; while the most vivid memories might fade, they will always be there. And part of the problem, as I see it, is that society, as usual, wants to give it a label and a box to place it in. And there isn't one.
I tried to address this somewhat in "Games of Adversaries". Society tries to makes us feel guilty when we shouldn't, because some smart alec in a path coat says we shouldn't be this or that. But the point is, while we can follow a set of morals to a certain degree, how we handle that is as individual as we are. You can't put us in a single box and label us.
So the 'cure' for PTSD can never be labelled. Those flashes of memory are a reminder that life is a scary reality and that sometimes we have to do things we'd never contemplate on a bright sunny day in the park, because at its essence, it is survival. The mind's way of saying whoa!
Grief is like that in many ways. Those flashes of what-if. The guilt of, what if I had done or said so and so. The anger of the helplessness of not being able to stop a death. You wake up and think, what if I'd called him that day and said don't go? What if I'd done more for him. What if, what if, what if. A constant litany of what if I could change the world or take his place, bring him back. And like the PTSD of, I wish I hadn't had to do that, but I did, what if I hadn't seen that, you can't change it. All you can do is accept it, and that hurts. It changes your life, your world view and that of those around you.
The thing is, it isn't wrong to feel like that. It only becomes wrong when other people try to foist their own ideals upon you. It is you who has to accept the truth.
People were so kind after Richard died but they kept saying to us - he's at peace now and all I wanted to say back was - how the fuck do you know that? I never did, of course because they only meant well.

 


Comments

03/21/2013 4:48pm

I think you've nailed it. There isn't anything to cure, and to focus on that is to put the accent on the wrong syllable. The "treatment," so to speak, is to reinvent yourself, construct a new life that operates in the new world you find yourself in.

The hard part is that not everyone you interact with lives in that same world, so it's isolating.

I assume Rich was your son. I am sorry for your loss, and his. He must have been an amazing young man, having been raised by you.

Keep going.

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Susan
03/21/2013 5:07pm

Thanks. Yes, Rich was my son. He and his team blew up 72 IEDs in Afghanistan but he died in an accident back here in Canada. But I knew many of his mates and knew how many of them had PTSD in some shape or form. I agree, about the isolation and also that to reinvent yourself is often the answer to some degree. There has to be, in my mind, a new purpose beyond that of being a soldier or, whatever profession it is that has caused the trauma. I found solace through my writing, as you have done. I 'went for it' as I'd never dared to do before, because I realized that life really is too short to sit back and wonder if I ever could have done it.

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amrita maat
06/28/2013 7:07am

This morning I am reading the words of Myke Cole and yourself as I too struggle with the effects of PTSD. I sat in isolation, in silence, in my home for so long that my salvation became my journal. In my journal, my words became my story and my understanding to why I too now share this diagnosis.

Although my diagnosis is not a result of military service, it did evolve from a childhood that left me with no coping skills to protect myself as an adult. I am a nurse. A healer. A woman that devoted herself to helping others, but couldn't help herself. Counterintuitive to me.

I am sincerely sorry to hear of your loss. I am a mother. I appreciate your words that I read today that supported Myke's view and validate me.

Sincerely,
Amrita Maat
maskcallednormal.com

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