Saturday, April 20, 2019

Will you fight for me this time?

When PTSD is your not fight it alone

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 20, 2019

I fight everyday for veterans because all of you matter, and so do your families. The only thing I want out of decades of work, is to not be needed anymore. After 37 years, it would be nice to know that you are getting all the help you need and no one needs me anymore. 

I give everything I have away for free most of the time. Sometimes I cannot afford the expense, so I ask for help. I asked when I started to give away the PTSD Patrol T-shirts but only a few people helped me. The goal was to change the conversation from heartache to empowerment.

Then I see all the new groups popping up getting press coverage and shared on social media a zillion times, raking in millions of dollars, yet there are more veterans than ever being failed and left to fight alone.

PTSD is my battle and I cannot fight this alone, nor should I be expected to still do it alone!

There are so many things I never get credit for doing. Coming up with the "new normal" living with PTSD back in 2010 is one of them.

Surviving something that could have, or should have, killed us, leaves the old normal behind and we get to adapt to a "new normal" of the way things evolved afterwards...AS SURVIVORS.

I do not know what combat is like. I survived 10 times during my life. All of them have been known to cause PTSD. While I did go through the stress reactions that become side effects of PTSD, it was not able to take hold. The nightmares, for the most part, were gone, along with flashbacks, mood swings, anger, paranoia and constant questioning as to why I was still alive evaporated.

That is why I understand what combat did to veterans. I got into an argument with a veteran many years ago, who decided to challenge me. He said "What do you know? You were never in combat!" So I ran down the list of things I survived and then challenged him to be able to tell me he understood what all of them did to me. 

Once we agreed to be two human survivors, he started to listen to what I had to say so that he could rejoice as a survivor too and heal.

I came up with "suffering in silence" because that was exactly what my then-future-husband and his buddies were doing in 1984. After two years of researching PTSD, I wrote about it so that others could learn about it.

I tried over and over again, until a therapy session in 1999, with a psychologist, started what would become, the book FOR THE LOVE OF JACK, HIS WAR/MY BATTLE.

I did not want fame back then, especially when I was writing about a very personal subject during a time when few others were willing to do so. I still do not want fame, but after 37 years, it is now a time to shout from the roof that we will be celebrating our 35th anniversary and my husband is still my hero!

Everything I have done on PTSD is because of him. The more I learned about PTSD, the more I loved him.

After 16 years since the book was published I am grieved more than ever. While I sit here thinking that maybe I should have just settled for our happy ending with this battle won, and returned to what most view as "normal life" the tug at my heart makes it impossible to do it now.

I reviewed a lot of the posts I put up about this book, along with many emails and I am even more convinced that had it not been for the way the publisher dealt with my work, more could have been helped.

Help is one thing that I have not been on the receiving end of very often. Yesterday I posted on this on Facebook.

This was after sharing an extremely embarrassing situation that I needed help to recover from. I needed help to take back control of my book. Less than ten responded with help. It made me wonder if I matter at all after all these years.

Then I reviewed reasons why I should still fight for this book to be shared with as many people as possible. It came from emails I received over the years when I actually knew it mattered!

July 20, 2005

Dear Kathie,

Thank you for sharing your life and wisdom in For The Love of Jack. I must also thank you for sharing it through the internet.

I admit to you that I had not initially sought out this information. It was forwarded to me yesterday by my good friend Edward XXXXXX. I started the book last night, didn't sleep very well, too many thoughts on the matter at hand, woke up this morning, made a lighter and quicker breakfast fare than usual only so that I could get back to your story.

Being forty-eight years of age I do share most of your pre-Jack memories of Vietnam, especially the news reports at dinner time, it was a pretty horrific time in our lives. I'm ashamed to admit that Vietnam was a memory that I had set aside.

I had heard some talk of PTSD, it only came to light with 9/11. I had also heard of "shell shock" but again, it seemed like a distant memory of something that happened to people back in WWII. In my ignorance I thought that it was caused by a physical manifestation - like shrapnel or a head injury having been it's cause.

Your book enlightened me in more ways than you can imagine. I wish these living angels could sprout wings so that we would know them when we see them, so that we could revere and thank them and treat them with the fullest respect and dignity that they so deserve.

Then again, you should have sprouted a set of wings, too!

With love and continued healing and blessings to you and yours,
August 4, 2005

Hello Kathy - I was just about to contact you. Late Tuesday afternoon, Bobby XXXX, our PTSD Unit Case Manager completed his review of the book (I've inserted his comment below) We just wanted to allow our internal case managers an opportunity to review before placing online. Now, in terms of formatting, how would you like the book to be placed on the website? In Adobe or some other format? We are now in the process of revising our website and over the next two weeks will have a lot of new information going online, at that time, we will also place your book online. Do we need to have any formal agreements from you in order to do this? Anything else you want to let me know about? Just let me know. Thanks again Kathy.

Here is Bob XXXX comment

Hi Stephen, I put a little more into Kathie's book.It'll be especially helpful to significant others or those affected by secondary ptsd, up close or from distances. She makes it easy for the readers who need to grasp closure as well as those who quietly need to know.

December 20, 2005
Dear Mrs., Costos

I came across a Web-site and I enjoyed what you had written there. I am a Veteran Vietnam 1967-69. I know what it is like to be married to a Vietnam Veteran. I have two ex.-wife's neither of whom can say I ever abused them. I think the work normal is something Vets don't have. My last two wife's still love me either can sleep in the same bed with me. So they now sleep in the bed of someone else. I have a knew wife of a year and she has moved to the couch.

She I think she is afraid, I might died during the night. I do love her very, very much so I respect her need to sleep on the couch. I have got the works, heart problems, Sugar, PTSD a whole list. I go out and work everyday I can to take care of her and would not have it any other way. My problem I just don't no how mush longer I can hang in there.

I have been fighting with the Veterans Administration since 2001 to get help. Last Dec. I manage finally to get some help. I was homeless for three years after 2001. I would work and could only make enough money to eat and buy my smokes. I was refused care by four Veterans Hospitals during that time. So, I know what you have been through. I know in your heart your a good person. You not only tried, but you kept tiring. Most women just take the money and run!

Thank you Kathie for hanging in there with yourVet, heaven has a place for you waiting.

Thank you again, To be kind is ever so wise!
Your Friend,
The Rose

So, I read more emails, more on how this book helped them, as well as helped them help someone else.

I asked publishers to take this on and they said no. I asked marketing people who claimed they were willing to help, but they did nothing. I asked law firms, and they did nothing. It would be easier for me to just forget all about this, but not easier on the families needing to find it!

Now, I am begging for someone to help me! I cannot afford to get this book printed by myself and there is no way in hell I want to profit from it after all these years being tortured by the publisher. I have paid too high of a price already for trying to do the right thing for the right reasons.

If you can donate, any amount will help. If you cannot donate, then please pass on this on to someone who can. Keep in mind that it will not be tax deductible since this money is going to me so that I can have total control over purchasing and shipping the books out. I wrote this long before I was a part of any group other than families suffering in silence! 

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