Showing posts with label Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Show all posts

Sunday, December 18, 2022

if you can't find a miracle for yourself, give one to someone else

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 18, 2022

Yesterday I intended to put up a post I had been working on for a couple of days. Usually, before I post, I like to take a break in between finishing it and publishing it. I love to share funny posts, especially about cats, dogs, and other animals. I also love to share uplifting stories. I went on Facebook to check my feed and saw a post that made me cry.
On Today Show. Santa came a few weeks early for a daughter who shared her Christmas wish for her mother on social media.

Taco-Bout-Joy's located in Glenview, Illinois, owned by sisters Joy Milan and Kack Keomanivong.
“It breaks my heart to see my mom watching the door every day, waiting for a customer to walk in,” reads the TikTok's on-screen caption. “I wish I could give her customers for Christmas.”

As of this writing, the TikTok has garnered over 38.5 million views, six million likes and more than 69,000 comments from those sharing their empathy about the situation and saying how much they want to try the restaurant’s offerings.

I cried so hard after I shared it, that I closed down the computer and walked away. I was crying for a reason I didn't expect. I cried for myself. 

I was thinking that the miracle that happened for this woman, is something I have never known. For 4 decades I tried to make a difference to help others heal #PTSD. I watched as all the work I did was pushed out of the way for younger people, and accepted it, but I didn't let it stop me from doing what I could. I kept reaching out for help for myself, but it never came. I just kept doing what I could. I figured if I couldn't find a miracle for myself, then at least I could be a small part of making one for someone else.

I wish God granting a miracle was as easy as Him snapping His fingers. But it isn't.

Unlike Samantha on Bewitched, able to wiggly her nose or snap her fingers to change something, He has to have a human willing to participate in the delivering of the miracle.

The way I figure it is, I need to be responsible for myself and what I do. Everyone else is responsible for what they choose to do, or not do. I have a choice to think that all my prayers are just going into the air, or that God isn't interested in someone like me, or believe He's trying to help but the people who are supposed to help, won't.

When I know someone needs help, I do what I can, and what I can't do, I'll pray for them because I'm listening to my soul. I know the feeling I get inside having made a difference for someone else. Reading the story about the daughter helping her Mom, I knew how the daughter felt witnessing a miracle she hoped for happen because she tried out of love to help.

People like me, have a choice to make all the time. Do we stop helping because no one is helping us, or do we keep trying to make a difference because we not only know what it feels like to need miracles that don't come, but we know what it is like to be a part of someone else's miracle happening and keep doing what we can?

I won't tell you that it is always an easy thing to do. There will be times when it tears you apart. You will help someone and they will not be grateful at all. They may walk away from you, refuse to help you when you need it, or worst of all, betray you. When that happens, grieve for a while, then realize it happens to God all the time. It also happened to Jesus. They didn't give up and neither should we.

Hang onto the times you knew you made a difference in someone else's life and keep doing what you can because you know you should. Then remember that feeling because the people that will not help you, will never know what that feels like. That is what I've hung onto all these years. It is a priceless gift I did for someone else, and ended up giving even more to myself.

Remember what it was like when you discovered you had PTSD, feeling all alone, confused, and trying to figure things out for yourself. Then you found information because someone else shared it. You found hope because someone else offered it. You found hope because someone else shared how they healed. They were strangers, but they helped you without knowing anything about you. Chances are, you never thanked them or returned their kindness unless you passed on what you learned from them.

In the end, if you can't find a miracle for yourself, give one to someone else.




Tuesday, December 13, 2022

A decade after Sandy Hook, grief remains but hope grows

Raised with trauma, Sandy Hook survivors send hope to Uvalde “I think what happened changed my entire life.”

Associated Press
By DAVE COLLINS and PAT EATON-ROBB
September 7, 2022

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — The survivors who were able to walk out of Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly a decade ago want to share a message of hope with the children of Uvalde, Texas: You will learn how to live with your trauma, pain and grief. And it will get better.

They know what’s ahead. There’s shock, followed by numbness. There are struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety. Survivor’s guilt. Anger that these shootings continue to happen in America. Reliving their trauma every time there’s another mass shooting.

They know it will be hard to say they are from Uvalde. That well-meaning adults will sometimes make the wrong decisions to protect you. That grief can be unpredictable, and different for everyone.
Children who survived the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have grown up reliving their trauma with each new mass shooting in the U.S. Emotions well up especially when the shooting involves another elementary school like in Uvalde, Texas. (Sept. 7) (AP Video: Joseph B. Frederick, Julia Nikhinson)

read more here

But it wasn't just what happened at Sandy Hook that day. It was what came afterward that added to the agony.

Alex Jones trial: Sandy Hook parents have PTSD, live in terror, psychiatrist testifies

Austin American Statesman
Chuck Lindell
August 1, 2022

Criticized by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and confronted by some of his followers, the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis have developed post-traumatic stress disorder and live in constant anxiety and terror, a psychiatrist testified Monday.

Forensic psychiatrist Roy Lubit, a specialist in emotional trauma, said the parents' troubles were not caused by their son's violent death in the 2012 school shooting but by Jones' repeated portrayals of the attack as staged or faked on his InfoWars program.

"It's more than just interfering with healing, it has pushed them back ... into some of their earlier pain," Lubit said in a downtown Austin courtroom.

Later this week, a jury will be asked to determine how much Jones should pay to Jesse's parents, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, for defamation and emotional distress after repeatedly portraying the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 students and six educators, as a hoax meant to justify a government crackdown on gun rights,

Heslin has had bullets fired at his home and car, and people who deny that the Sandy Hook attack took place have made threatening phone calls and sent harassing emails to both parents, Lubit testified.
read more here


But they will not let that defeat the hope that they will heal enough to make a difference in this world to others. That as they still grieve, they do something to make sure others do not grieve alone.

A decade after Sandy Hook, grief remains but hope grows

Associated Press
By DAVE COLLINS
December 13, 2022

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — They would have been 16 or 17 this year. High school juniors.

The children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012 should have spent this year thinking about college, taking their SATs and getting their driver’s licenses. Maybe attending their first prom.

Instead, the families of the 20 students and six educators slain in the mass shooting will mark a decade without them Wednesday.

December is a difficult month for many in Newtown, the Connecticut suburb where holiday season joy is tempered by heartbreak around the anniversary of the nation’s worst grade school shooting.

For former Sandy Hook students who survived the massacre, guilt and anxiety can intensify. For the parents, it can mean renewed grief, even as they continue to fight on their lost children’s behalf.

In February, Sandy Hook families reached a $73 million settlement with the gunmaker Remington, which made the shooter’s rifle. Juries in Connecticut and Texas ordered the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $1.4 billion for promoting lies that the massacre was a hoax.
read more here

Monday, December 12, 2022

PTSD in Salem "It’s hard to make that diagnosis 300 years in the past."

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 12, 2022

If you listen to people talking about PTSD, you'll often hear the word "demon" used. It is almost as if the person has been invaded by something evil and what is good within them is battling it on a daily basis.
an evil spirit or devil, especially one thought to possess a person or act as a tormentor in hell.
a cruel, evil, or destructive person or thing.
reckless mischief; devilry.
a forceful, fierce, or skillful performer of a specified activity. (Oxford)
Since trauma has existed since the beginning of time, while the term PTSD is relatively new, what survivors dealt with afterward, is far from new. Considering what the people survived in the time of witchcraft trials, here, as well as in other parts of the world, it is easier to understand how they would not be able to grasp psychological reasoning, and jumped straight into possession and Satan,
A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience (Pivotal Moments in American History)
Historians have speculated on a web of possible causes for the witchcraft that stated in Salem and spread across the region-religious crisis, ergot poisoning, an encephalitis outbreak, frontier war hysteria--but most agree that there was no single factor. Rather, as Emerson Baker illustrates in this seminal new work, Salem was "a perfect storm": a unique convergence of conditions and events that produced something extraordinary throughout New England in 1692 and the following years, and which has haunted us ever since.

 

The theory that may explain what was tormenting the afflicted in Salem’s witch trials
Boston.com
Baker says it’s possible that a few of the accusers were purposefully faking their symptoms. However, he says that his ultimate conclusion after years of studying the events is that they were actually suffering from psychological ailments.

Foremost among them is something called mass conversion disorder, a psychogenic disorder that — ironically — made a suspected return to the Salem area more than 300 years later.

“People are in such mental anguish, for a variety of reasons, that literally their minds convert their anxieties to physical symptoms,” Baker told Boston.com.

“They’re not faking it,” he said. “They don’t know what’s going on. If it happens to people, they’re terrified that it’s even happening.”

From there, the “step from affliction to accusation was a short one,” Baker writes in his book about the trials, A Storm of Witchcraft. While societal scapegoats have evolved over time, he writes that “in 1692 the omnipresent threat was witchcraft.” And those identified in Salem were either marginalized members of the community or enemies of the powerful families leading the witch hunt.

Baker acknowledged that the conversion disorder — a term introduced by Sigmund Freud and otherwise known as mass hysteria — is “still kind of a controversial diagnosis today.”


“It’s hard to make that diagnosis 300 years in the past without the person right in front of you,” he said, adding that it’s possible that a combination of psychological elements played into the girls’ odd behavior.

When you think about what life was like back then, it is easy to think that the Puritans would have little knowledge of what trauma did to them, or what they were doing to others.

PTSD in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Historic Ipswich
by Gordon Harris
From the founding of the colony, the Puritans were highly selective of who they allowed to live with them. In the first year of its settlement, the Freemen of the Ipswich established “for our own peace and comfort” the exclusive right to determine the privileges of citizenship in the new community, and gave formal notice that “no stranger coming among us” could have place or standing without their permission. Beginning in 1656, laws forbade any captain to land Quakers, and any individual of that sect was to be severely whipped on his or her entrance, and none were allowed to speak with them. Newcomers who were unable to support themselves and their families were “warned out.”
Think about what the survivors were dealing with.
In Salem Village in February 1692, two prepubescent girls Betty Parris (age nine) and her cousin Abigail Williams (age 11) began to have fits, complained of being pricked with pins and accused their neighbors of witchcraft. Some of the afflicted girls had been traumatized after losing one or both parents in King William’s War. The afflicted girls routinely described the Devil as a “dark man.”George Burroughs, the unpopular predecessor to Rev. Parris in Salem Village, had come from Maine, and returned there when the parish refused to pay him. Only five weeks before the accusations began, Indians had burned York Maine, 80 miles north of Salem, killing 48 people and taking 73 captives. When one of the accused confessed that the Devil had tempted her in Maine, Reverend Burroughs was arrested, charged with witchcraft and encouraging the Indians, and was hanged on Gallows Hill.
Think about what Reverend Burroughs went through. The arrest warrant was issued ten years after he left Salem Village and was in Maine. He lost everything, including his first wife, whom he couldn't afford to bury and had to borrow money. The villagers refused to pay his salary and he had to leave for the sake of his family. The hatred from the people of Salem Village was so powerful, they were out to get him no matter how long it took to do it.
The Witchcraft Trial of Reverend George Burroughs
History of Massachusetts
Burroughs encountered the same problems as his predecessor as well as hostility from Bayley’s friends and supporters, according to the book Salem Witchcraft by Charles W. Upham:
“Immediately upon calling to the village to reside, he encountered the hostility of those persons who, as the special friends of Mr. Bayley, allowed their prejudices to be concentrated upon his innocent successor. The unhappy animosities arising from this source entirely demoralized the Society, and, besides making it otherwise very uncomfortable to a minister, led to a neglect and derangement of all financial affairs. In September, 1681, Mr. Burrough’s wife died, and he had to run in debt for her funeral expenses. Rates were not collected, and his salary was in arrears.”

By now I hope you see that PTSD is not new. People accused others because they did not know what was causing everything they were dealing with.  Over the years, I've learned that those who claim PTSD is not real, have never survived something, or are under some delusion that they may also have it. I remember one veteran many years ago, attacking me for posting on PTSD and claiming that it was not real. It took him a while before I received an email apologizing and he admitted he had it but fought for years to bury what it was doing to him, instead of trying to recover and heal.

We cannot do anything to educate those who do not want to learn. We cannot do anything more than learn what we can so we can be happier in our own lives and then reach out to others fighting their own demons.

We live in a time when we know there are psychological as well as spiritual aspects to what makes us, us. No human is designed to endure trauma over and over again without paying some kind of price. We also know that the price does not have to take over our lives. It does not have to destroy us after we survived what caused it. We are survivors! Say that to yourself over and over again until you finally realize that and then, be empowered to heal so you can rejoice as one. 

Kathie Costos author of Ministers Of The Mystery Series.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Wake Up Call For Reporters With PTSD

They report on what causes PTSD in the rest of us. For us, all it takes to set off PTSD is the "one" time that was too many. Sometimes, that one time comes with the only time we survived. There is a growing number of reporters experiencing their "one too many" times and it is easy for us to understand that what they go through over and over again, can have a lasting impact. Stephanie Foo, Marcella Raymond, Colin Butler, Chris Cramer, and David Morris are just some joining the club no one wants to belong to.

I've talked to several reporters over the years and a few shared what they were going through. Now, they are not just reporting on the events that cause PTSD in the rest of us. They are talking about their own.

Alarming levels of stress among journalists a 'wake-up call'
Workers who keep Canadians up to date on the latest news of the day are suffering disturbingly high levels of work-related stress and injury.

Nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) of journalists and media workers are suffering from anxiety and 46 percent go through depression, according to the “Taking Care: a report on mental health, well-being, and trauma among Canadian media workers” report.

Another 15 percent have post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the report based on the survey of 1,251 news executives, desk editors, frontline reporters, and video journalists.
The Madness by Fergal Keane review – the BBC correspondent on conflict, fear, and PTSD
The Guardian
Emma Graham-Harrison
17 Nov 2022
For Keane, many of these memories are of Rwanda. Going to testify at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which he saw as a moral duty, triggered another breakdown: “I dreamed vividly of the dead, horrible images that caused me to wake sweating, sometimes fighting in my sleep with arms flailing, knocking over my bedside lamp. I had experienced such symptoms immediately after the genocide but now they were accompanied by crippling anxiety. Panic attacks kept me in bed for days.”
Fergal Keane at the Ukrainian army frontline at Peski in Donbas, 2016. Photograph: Unknown/BBC/Fergal Keane A brutally honest exploration of the ethics and motivations of war reporters, and of Keane’s own demons
Journalists are unpopular, as a profession, but war correspondents get a rare pass. In films, books and the wider culture there is a dark glamour, a reckless heroism that attaches to people (mostly men) who head with laptop and camera towards battles that other civilians are fleeing.

Fergal Keane, one of the most celebrated faces of BBC news, embodied that myth. His new book The Madness, part memoir, part meditation, picks it apart. He explores with brutal honesty why he and many colleagues travel to conflict zones in the first place (it is different, of course, for journalists who have war break out on their doorstep), and keep going back when their mental health is fraying.

“Nobody forced me” begins his account of multiple journeys to see first hand the cruel things humans do to each other, from missile strikes to terror attacks and genocide by machete and club. He knew he was risking his mind amid the violence, as well as his life, but couldn’t stay away. That mixture of fear, vanity, inadequacy, driving ambition: this is as familiar to anyone who has spent time with a press pack in a war or at its margins as explosions, checkpoints and guns.

read more here


Thursday, December 8, 2022

What helped you heal?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 8, 2022 

Every day is hard for people with #PTSD. This time of year is usually harder. If you've healed, you remember what it was like to see people "celebrating" when you had a hard time just getting out of bed. It's hard to think of anything beyond living day to day as hope slips away that the next day will be any better. So what happened to you? What helped you heal? Was it a friend helping you find your way? Was it a family member taking the time to listen to you? Was it a stranger there to help you when you finally reached the point when you decided to seek help? Was it something someone wrote, or a video they put up to help you understand you weren't alone?


Being part of a miracle happening is saying "yes" to God. Standing in the way of it is saying "yes" to the darkness the miracle was supposed to defeat. It is that simple.

Christmas is coming and we're supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus. Set aside the debate as to when He was actually born and how all the celebrating we do was tied to the winter solstice. I focus on the life He lived, what He achieved, and the simple fact that He was not forced to do it. He had the chance to refuse to do what He was sent to do.

Mary had the chance to refuse to become His mother.  Joseph had the chance to refuse to take her as his wife and protect the mother and son. Mary and Joseph could have refused to travel to Egypt to save His life.

When He was grown and went to John the Baptist to be baptized, John had the choice to not believe what his soul was telling him about the man standing in front of him.

When Jesus was fasting for 40 days, He had the choice to allow Satan to corrupt Him.

When He returned to the villages, He asked fishermen to help Him. Each one of them could have refused to do it. The people they asked for help could have refused to help them, as well as refused to listen to what He had to say.

Imagine what would have happened if none of what happened, was able to happen because people said no to becoming part of a miracle.

How many times have you had the chance to be part of a miracle but refused to do it? 

How many times have you received a miracle but refused to acknowledge it?

If you live your life only caring about yourself, then you are saying "no" to God. If you live your life doing something for someone else, you are saying "yes" to God. Which way do you think will make you happier?

This Christmas, instead of debating what December 25th means, think about what His life was supposed to mean and do something for someone else. It doesn't have to cost you a dime but may cost you a little time you spend listening to someone, praying for them, or even giving someone clearly having a bad day a smile.



Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Witchcraft trials, Charles Dickens and PTSD?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 6, 2022

What do the Salem Witchcraft Trials have to do with PTSD? Oddly enough, a lot! When you consider the people at the time who thought they were fighting against evil, they must have also thought the people doing the accusing were on the side of what was good. They had no clue that those making the false accusations had other motives for doing so. Call me Polly Anna but, I have to believe there were good people who got caught up in the conspiracy must have been sick to their stomachs they believed the lies, and innocent people died.

Consider how long it took them to come to their senses and then try to give some justice to those they attacked.

This is when Wilmont Redd was hung,
On Thursday, September 22, 1692, Wilmot Redd was brought to the execution site at Proctor’s Ledge in Salem, along with Mary Easty, Martha Corey, Ann Pudeator, Margaret Scott, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, and Samuel Wardwell.
And this is when people tried to clear her name along with others.
In September of 1710, a committee was sent to Salem to look into how to make restitution to the victims of the trials after a number of the surviving accused had filed petitions with the court asking that their names be cleared. For reasons unknown, none of Wilmot Redd’s relatives filed a petition with the committee.
And this is when it finally happened.
On October 31, 2001, the Massachusetts legislature amended the 1957 bill and officially exonerated five victims not named in either the 1711 bill or in the 1957 bill: Wilmot Redd, Bridget Bishop, Alice Parker, Susannah Martin, and Margaret Scott.

On the 300th anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials in 1992, the Salem Witch Trials Memorial was built in Salem, Mass and a marker was established for Wilmot Redd.

In 1998, the town of Marblehead placed a cenotaph for Wilmot Redd next to her husband’s grave at Old Burial Hill.

After the site of the Salem Witch Trials, executions was discovered in 2016, the Proctor’s Ledge Memorial was built there the following year and a marker was established for Wilmot Redd.

People with PTSD were falsely accused too when no one knew what it was.


It is thought that many of the accusers during the witchcraft trials suffered from PTSD after they survived attacks from Native Americans.

Then, by the Civil War, the lingering ailments were finally seriously researched. This is from the National Center For PTSD.
Early Attempts at a Medical Diagnosis Accounts of psychological symptoms following military trauma date back to ancient times. The American Civil War (1861-1865) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) mark the start of formal medical attempts to address the problems of military Veterans exposed to combat. European descriptions of the psychological impact of railroad accidents also added to early understanding of trauma-related conditions.

Nostalgia, Soldier's Heart, and Railway Spine

Prior to U.S. military efforts, Austrian physician Josef Leopold (1761) wrote about "nostalgia" among soldiers. Among those who were exposed to military trauma, some reported missing home, feeling sad, sleep problems, and anxiety. This description of PTSD-like symptoms was a model of psychological injury that existed into the Civil War.

A second model of this condition suggested a physical injury as the cause of symptoms. "Soldier's heart" or "irritable heart" was marked by a rapid pulse, anxiety, and trouble breathing. U.S. doctor Jacob Mendez Da Costa studied Civil War soldiers with these "cardiac" symptoms and described it as overstimulation of the heart's nervous system, or "Da Costa's Syndrome." Soldiers were often returned to battle after receiving drugs to control symptoms.
And this, they also knew about non-veterans.
The thought that physical injury led to PTSD-like symptoms was supported by European reports of "railway spine." As rail travel became more common, so did railway accidents. Injured passengers who died had autopsies that suggested injury to the central nervous system. Of note, Charles Dickens was involved in a rail accident in 1865 and wrote about symptoms of sleeplessness and anxiety as a result of the trauma.

You can read more about Charles Dickens here. When you think about everything Dickens wrote, it isn't hard to see some of yourself in the characters created by parts of his own inner struggles. Now, imagine being around him and what he must have been acting like. It would have been very easy to make assumptions about him because no one had a clue back then.

Now, we know better, or, at least, are supposed to know better. The fact the general public has no clue what it is like is not so much a reflection of ambivalence, but more, due to the fact reporters won't look beyond what they see at the moment they see it. Events centered around veterans with PTSD bombard them and they go to cover those events. They remain blind to the fact most of the people involved in the events they cover otherwise, do not always "move on" from the story they focus on just long enough to write the article.

I asked a few reporters over the years why they don't cover what happens to the rest of us and they said no one is interested in it. Feeble excuse but it is what it is. It makes me think back to the witchcraft trials and how good people didn't give up on getting some sort of justice. We shouldn't either.

For us, be aware that while you know what PTSD is, too many do not. Try to open their eyes so they see what struggles they have are not new. After researching this article, I'm going to watch A Christmas Carol in a totally different way, because I never made that connection before.

This is the version I like best.


Saturday, December 3, 2022

‘Scars for the rest of my life’

‘Scars for the rest of my life’ victim suffering from PTSD after BK subway attack

PIX11 News
by: Magee Hickey
Posted: Dec 2, 2022
“I don’t think I’ll ever be fully OK. This was a traumatic experience,” the victim told PIX11 News. “I have a few signs of PTSD. So mentally and physically, there’ll be scars on my face for the rest of my life.”
PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDENS, Brooklyn (PIX11) — A woman who suffered burns to her face after someone threw a chemical substance at her in a Brooklyn subway station spoke out about the attack Friday night, telling PIX11 News she will be scarred for the rest of her life.

“She was aggressive with her words and with her body language,” the 21-year-old victim told PIX11 News.

The victim wants to remain anonymous to protect her safety, but she shared pictures of the severe burns to her face. Police said it happened early Friday morning. The victim was heading to her job at Kings County Hospital. In a video taken by the victim, the suspect splashed an unknown chemical substance on the victim’s face.
read more here

When you consider that and understand that PTSD hits survivors, it seems an injustice when you read this headline,
Fewer Patients with PTSD Survive COVID
UCSF-VA Study Shows Psychiatric Disorders Increase Risks for Deaths, Hospitalizations

The first paragraph was fine,
Patients with COVID-19, who also had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), were more likely to die or be hospitalized than those without a psychiatric disorder. And for patients with other mental illnesses, the risks were substantially higher.
Yet in the second paragraph, you discover the only patients they considered were veterans.
Researchers from UC San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Health Care System found that veterans with PTSD had an 8 percent increased risk of death if they had COVID and a 9 percent increased risk of hospitalization, compared with patients with the virus and without a psychiatric diagnosis, adjusting for age, sex, race and co-occurring medical conditions.

In other words, this university does not consider the rest of us. Maybe they should read the National Institute of Mental Health?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.

There was a time, a long time ago, when I focused on just veterans with PTSD. At first, it was because all the reports I read were always about veterans dealing with what they lived through. I survived over ten events just as a civilian, and I had no clue the term applied to me too. 

I had no clue what I was dealing with was a "rare form" of PTSD because, for me, the first time, I was only five, and then it was one event after another. The thing that gets me now is, with all that has been learned over the last 40 years or so, how is it that a college still fails to learn that survivors of the events we live through and the need to know we matter too are just as real? Our scars are carried for the rest of our lives too and with help, those scars heal but we won't search for hope if we don't know how many more of us there are.

All of this is also a disservice to veterans because if they understand we get hit by PTSD too from just one event, they will understand just how human they are too!


Monday, November 28, 2022

PTSD: Photography and filming became "like a lifeline."

If you have PTSD, no matter what caused it, it helps to know the differnt things that have helped others. What may work for someone you know, may not work for you. The only thing to take from that is, if it helped them, there is always something out there that can help you too!

Mental health therapy is for everyone. Some people need medication. Others don't. Some need different medications, so there are so many different ones.

Everyone also needs to take care of their "other parts" and yet again, there are many different things for you. Yoga, martial arts, walking, running, hiking, swimming, art, music, and yes, even photography. For me, it is writing.

I found this article from the BBC inspiring. I hope you do too.

PTSD: Photography helps police officer manage condition

BBC
By Helen Burchell
November 28, 2022
Photography and filming became "like a lifeline."

On Christmas Day 2017, a traffic police officer's life began slowly to unravel after he was injured during a pursuit. Two years later he underwent surgery and was told he could no longer do the job he loved. His mental health took a nosedive but he found solace in his long-time hobby - photography.

"As a traffic officer I saw things no-one should see," Det Sgt Colin Shead says.

"Now I see things I want everyone to see."

Here, he speaks candidly about his mental health, and shares some of the images that have helped him cope.

The 51-year-old officer has clocked up more than 30 years on the force, joining Essex Police's roads policing unit (RPU) in 2010.

"I'd always wanted to do traffic work, because I wanted to protect people from harm on the roads," he says. "When you start, there's the great thrill and excitement of flying around all over the place - then you get the serious side - and the fatalities.

"You're the first at the scene when someone's been killed - you see that first-hand and it takes its toll."
read more here

OK, confession, I found filming and photography healing too!


Monday, November 21, 2022

Twisted history lesson of Salem Witchcraft Trials and PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 21, 2022

If you have PTSD, then you know what it's like to have something terrible happen. If you're like me, you also know what it's like to wonder where God was when it did. I mean, it's really easy to wonder what He was doing when something horrible happened to you. It's not easy getting an answer from Him.

This series is a twisted history lesson since history is often twisted between what is perceived as "known" with the simple fact that what we think we know, is not all that is known by others.

I went beyond wondering why it happened, and full swing into wondering why the hell did I survive it? We all do that but not all of us end up like the people in the new series I wrote called The Ministers Of The Mystery.

Don't look for the book yet on Amazon. I'm not releasing it until the end of November, (hopefully, if I have the other two ready)

If you read the Lost Son series, I apologize. Instead of writing them the way I intended, I tried to conform to what other people thought. Big mistake. In a way, I'm really glad only a few people read them. These books are different because I went beyond what we perceive as all there is to know and fill in what could have happened.

Start with the Salem Witchcraft Trials. When I read about a minister being hung as a witch, a child went up my spine. Maybe I knew that when I was young and grew up near Salem, going there often, along with loving New England history. If I knew it back then, I forgot all of it.

His name was George Burroughs.
Burroughs graduated from Harvard University in 1670 and, in 1673, married his first wife Hannah Fisher.

In 1674, Burroughs moved to Falmouth, Maine where he served as the pastor at the Falmouth Congregational Church. He continued to serve as the pastor until the town was attacked and destroyed during a Wabanaki raid on August 11, 1676.

A lot has been said about what was behind the accusations against the townspeople of Salem. One of the factors behind it was that the accusers were suffering from PTSD tied to the attack Burroughs and others survived. This link goes to one of those claims along with a history lesson. I'm pointing that out because while Burroughs survived, he did not arrive in Salem Village until 1680 and served as their minister. He was only there for two years before he left after the villagers decided to not pay him.

Long story short, but even after he left, resentment held tempers strong and in 1692, they ordered his arrest to stand trial as an accused witch. What is even more telling about their determination to put an end to his life was the fact they had to go all the way up to Wells Maine to get him. Guess it didn't matter to them that he had been gone for ten years.

The more I researched what happened to him, the more questions popped into my mind. I started with the fact that this guy survived a lot of things, including losing three wives, on top of the slaughter of the people in Falmouth. Then, still holding onto his faith, he was sent to Salem as a spiritual leader trying to bring peace to people who seemed to enjoy fighting with one another. That was an easy assumption to make considering what they did to Burroughs was only part of it. They accused 200 others of witchcraft, hung 19, and crushed one to death. They got away with it simply by saying "they believed" something and never had to prove a single word of it.

The following is from SALEM WITCH TRIALS CHRONOLOGY
August 19- George Jacobs, Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Proctor, and John Willard are hanged. Although George Burroughs recites the Lord’s Prayer perfectly on the gallows (task witches were allegedly unable to complete without error), Cotton Mather insisted that “…the Devil has often been transformed into an Angel of Light.”
October 29- With public opinion turning against the trials, Governor Phips dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer
October 3- Boston minister Increase Mather, the father of Cotton Mather, addresses a meeting of ministers in Cambridge to warn against reliance on spectral evidence. Mather writes, “It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned…”

It all got me thinking about what if God called him to become a minister, saved him in Falmouth, and brought him to Salem Village to prevent the witchcraft trials? What if the people with power, position, means, and ability to help him in 1680 did it instead of turning against him?

That all fit with the story of Chris Papadopoulos in Salem on September 13th, 2019. He was a reporter covering the War On Terror. There was a bomb blast that he survived but ended up suffering for it. His body was scared and he had to have help to recover, but his wife regretted he came back home. She hated him. He survived her trying to kill him. He survived 7 years of agony and decided to end it all his way because he lost all hope. The thing is, God had other ideas. 

Now, no matter what God wanted him to do with his life, he wouldn't have been able to do a damn thing if the people sent to help him refused to do it. The long list of characters in these books includes Master Ministers of the Mystery with the ability to use their gifts far above what is "normal" and were, at one time, called witches. Everyone sent to help Chris was ready, willing, and able. The only thing they had to do was convince Chris to do it!

The other thing they have in common is, they all have PTSD! No one understands what you're going through better than someone else struggling to make sense of it too, no matter what it is. While we know we're all different, those of our kind, are the only ones that know what it is like to live with the heartache of unanswerable questions, or what it is like to rejoice when we discover a fuller life than we thought we could have.

I found comfort over the last 40 years, by reading about others like me and being inspired by them. Whatever we know today, was written by authors and reporters. Chris was a reporter, turned author, created as a scribe to translate the messages from God to help heal the world.

This series is a twisted history lesson since history is often twisted between what is perceived as "known" with the simple fact that what we think we know, is not all that is known by others. It is the same when we live with the reality of surviving the cause of PTSD. What we know is not what the general public knows. To them, PTSD only hits veterans, because that is all the reporters focus on. They ignore the rest of us. What chance do we have to open our eyes if no one is talking about us?

It was so bad for me, that after 40 years of helping people heal PTSD, I had no clue I had it. I never read anything about someone like me. Getting help for myself was impossible because I couldn't explain it enough that anyone would understand. I finally found a therapist that did get what I was saying.

She's helping me heal after losing one of my best friends and it was a grief I couldn't just get over. He died at the beginning of the year. I was writing these books, feeling more connected to the dark parts of the story than I did to the hopeful parts. After a while, she got me to see that I did need to connect to the darkness so that I'd feel the hopeful parts more. She was right!

If people see our pain, and struggles and understand how much power they have to help us, this world will become a better place for all of us!


Series Description:
Whenever something terrible happens, we all wonder why God let it happen. Have you ever wondered why God allowed the Salem Witchcraft trials? What if someone had been sent to prevent them from happening? What if the one sent, didn't get the help he was supposed to have waiting for him?

It was a time when people claimed to be Christians but proved they did not follow the values faithfully. They made false accusations against over 200 people and rejoiced when 20 were put to death because Puritans decided to hate them. It wasn't a new phenomenon. The Puritans may have given up the persecution of so-called witches but their use of the power of lies was a lesson far too many learned. The people with gifts beyond nature were forced into hiding knowing a time would come when they too would be vindicated.

In modern-day Salem, The Master Ministers were preparing for when the most powerful one of all would take his place as the 13th Minister. All they had to do was convince Chris to do it.

The Scribe of Salem is book one. The Visionary of Salem is book two. 13th Minister of Salem is book three.

Coming next week!


Monday, October 10, 2022

Don Bolduc, less like the Centurion and more like a Pharisee!

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 10, 2022

In 2018 I wrote about suffering in silence
When it comes to PTSD, the tough talk about it. It takes a lot of courage to talk about something very few understand but it helps when you are talking to others that do. There comes a time in your life when you say that you donĂ­t care what other people say. You know where you were and you know what you lived thru. You finally understand that not many others can claim the same.
Four days later, I was happy to put up a post about a General that showed great courage in talking about his own battle with PTSD.
How many Medal of Honor recipients have to talk about their own battles with PTSD, before they understand there is nothing to be ashamed of? How many Generals have to talk about their battles, after a lifetime of battles in uniform, before you understand what courage looks like?

Ever wonder why they come forward and talk openly about something they never have to say a word about? Do they need publicity? Do they want to play "victim" and get people to feel sorry for them? Hell no! THEY DO IT TO SAVE THE LIVES OF THOSE THEY WOULD HAVE DIED FOR!
The title was Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc not suffering PTSD in silence

So how did that man with the courage to speak out on what too many were still believing they had something to be ashamed of become less like the Centurion to more like lying like a Pharisee?
Don Bolduc, a retired Army general, celebrates winning the New Hampshire primary in a tight race against state senator, Chuck Morse, on Tuesday evening, September 13, 2022, in Hampton, New Hampshire. He faces incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in the general election. JOHN TULLY
From the start, Democrats and his fellow Republicans painted Bolduc as an extremist who took up radical positions in addition to his belief in a stolen election, including advocating for the investigation and possible elimination of the FBI after the raid on Mar-a-Lago and accusing Bill Gates of wanting to use Covid vaccines to implant microchips in Americans.
That was from a new Rolling Stone article written by a reporter that has covered Bolduc for far too long to not be shocked by the change he sees. Kevin Maurer tried to report the truth against what Bolduc appears to be.
In a recent TV commercial and in his official bio, Bolduc’s campaign alludes to, or flat-out claims, him leading “allied soldiers on horseback to kill terrorists.” The story of the Special Forces team that fought with the Northern Alliance on horseback in northern Afghanistan led to a statue in New York and the 2018 movie 12 Strong. But Bolduc didn’t serve with that team. The Washington Post gave a 2020 version of the ad two Pinocchios.

New Hampshire has been my home for the last three years but for most of my life, I lived in New England. This area of the country has never been about putting politics and what was easy above all else. We are made of strong stock and sturdy foundations. Sure, we get political but it was never like I've seen over the last few years. I wish this were a normal political year when I would consider voting for a Republican. As an Independent voter, I vote for one person over the political side they choose. Apparently, Bolduc has chosen power over our country and has caused great sadness in my soul.

I have watched true heroes succumb to the father of lies for pure power and wonder if it was worth surrendering their souls to do it.

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
John 8:44

How could anyone so faithful to this country betray the foundation it was built on? The rule of law requires evidence, not simple claims of what some believe because they do not like the results. Yet Bolduc supported the wild claims made and set aside loyalty to the country and true moral values? 

The Constitution and Bill of Rights built the foundation of this country to provide the people the ability to use their voices to determine the direction this country takes. Yet this party and people like Bolduc want to take that voice away from us, and subvert our votes because they don't like how we vote if it wasn't for them? Did we ever hear someone on that side claim their own election was stolen when they were on the same ballot but won their election? No, it is only when they lose, they make wild claims with absolutely no proof it was.

We are all supposed to have equal rights to believe and worship as we choose, yet that party has decided they should create laws that only support a fraction of the country on "moral grounds" and then turn around selecting what is suddenly acceptable to them? Seriously? They don't even have the morals to defend the truth anymore!

He served with honor but turned around and lied about something he did not do?

What else is he willing to lie about? What else is he willing to sacrifice for the power he hungers for in place of doing the right thing with the power he has now? Speaking out on his own battle with PTSD was the right thing to do. Refusing to speak out on the truth when Liz Cheney and so many others dared to do, is the selfish thing and wrong thing to do.

Of all the people I once thanked God for, showing such courage to speak the truth about the suffering of so many others when PTSD is ripping them apart, Bolduc was one of the last people I thought would sacrifice it all for the sake of the power of pride.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

I hugged myself today!


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 4, 2022

Last month I wrote about how I realized that I couldn't hug myself. I still had compassion for other people but didn't have any for myself. It showed in the book I was editing. The 13th Minister Of The Mystery is part three in The Lost Son Series. After going back into therapy to heal from grief, it started to work enough that I found the courage to submit it to publishers and agents. Huge for me! The last time I tried that was back in 2000 when I wrote For The Love Of Jack. An author, who was brilliant, talented, and a genius when it came to PTSD, even tried to help me find a publisher. No luck. I ended up self-publishing it and have been self-publishing ever since.

If you don't know what authors go through trying to find a publisher or agent, it is an arduous process, to say the least. Each one wants things done differently. Sometimes I think was easier to write three books in a year. This last one is over 115,000 words. Then you wait for rejections. It's like waiting for a broken bone to heal. As bad as that is, more publishers and agents won't even bother to respond. So far, it's been more silence than rejections, but at least the rejections end the torment.

There was one of them that I had great hopes in and, to tell the truth, I was hopeful to check my email every day until the rejection came. At least they wished me luck as I cried. Because of the therapy, I was able to finally, mercifully, hug myself when I read it. It may not seem like such a big deal to reach the point when I had compassion for myself, but it was something I couldn't do all year. I also had a huge glass of wine with dinner.

Maybe that's the best message I can give right now. I am still healing but not having the ability to have compassion for myself was in the way of my healing. When you have PTSD, that can happen to you too. After you survive, you go through a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows. I remember one second I felt lucky to have survived and in the next moment I felt like a large because it happened to me. The "why me" question worked both ways. Why did I survive and why did it happen to me at all followed did God save me or did He do it to me in the first place? When I stopped asking why it happened, the most important question of all had to be, "what do I do about it now?"

I answered that one by learning all I could until I understood what came with the trauma and what came afterward with surviving it. To know how much power I had to define the rest of my life as a survivor, I think was the most empowering thing of all. Even more, comfort came when I learned that trauma and PTSD do not just happen to people that fight wars, but end up fighting the war within themselves. One part of your head tells you that you deserve to suffer, and that comes when you think God did it to you. The other side is telling you that you survived for a reason and that comes when you think God saved you. For me, in the ten times I survived, it was a battle between the two forces topped off with expecting people to understand that surviving changes all of us, no matter to what degree we go through.

That's what I put into these books. Admittedly, I did change the ending of the 13th Minister Of The Mystery as I began to heal. The main character is male but is a lot like me fighting the same battles I did. Ok, all of the characters are either chunks of me or me I wish I could be. Once I was able to hug myself, Chris started to be able to do the same thing and accept the changes he had been through for a greater purpose than he ever dreamt of.

All of us can too! Oh, btw, that isn't the book cover since I'm still waiting to hear from some more agents and publishers, but I wanted to play around in Photoshop.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

I understood what it was like to discover I wasn't alone


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 26, 2022

I had a therapy appointment this morning and was talking about the research on random acts of kindness. This part of the article is the one that I am dealing with the most.
“People tend to think that what they are giving is kind of little, maybe it’s relatively inconsequential,” Dr. Kumar said. “But recipients are less likely to think along those lines. They consider the gesture to be significantly more meaningful because they are also thinking about the fact that someone did something nice for them.”
It was very easy for me to help other people. It was devastating to discover that other people had a hard time wanting to help me. I am grieving the loss of one of my best friends, my rock and biggest supporter. Gunny passed away in January. The months following got harder and harder and I knew I needed help again. I lost someone that did a lot of nice things for me. 

During my appointment, I talked about how I feel grateful for people in my life but the thing is, they can't understand what I do helping people with PTSD. They can't understand the books I'm writing and most of them don't even want to read them because they aren't interested in anything tied to mental health, even works of fiction. Gunny not only understood all of it, but he also read everything I wrote. He even corrected my typos and let me bounce things off of him when I wasn't sure if I was on the right track or off the rails.

Anyway, back to the article so you can understand the rest of what I want to say better.
The Unexpected Power of Random Acts of Kindness
New York Times
By Catherine Pears
on Sept. 2, 2022

In late August, Erin Alexander, 57, sat in the parking lot of a Target store in Fairfield, Calif., and wept. Her sister-in-law had recently died, and Ms. Alexander was having a hard day.

A barista working at the Starbucks inside the Target was too. The espresso machine had broken down and she was clearly stressed. Ms. Alexander — who’d stopped crying and gone inside for some caffeine — smiled, ordered an iced green tea, and told her to hang in there. After picking up her order, she noticed a message on the cup: “Erin,” the barista had scrawled next to a heart, “your soul is golden.”

“I’m not sure I even necessarily know what ‘your soul is golden’ means,” said Ms. Alexander, who laughed and cried while recalling the incident.

But the warmth of that small and unexpected gesture, from a stranger who had no inkling of what she was going through, moved her deeply. read more here

For 40 years, I helped people because I knew what darkness was like. I knew everything surviving could do to them and why it did it. Above all else, I understood what it was like to discover I wasn't alone, to read what experts discovered long before I even heard the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In other words, I knew what it was like to come out of the darkness of it and into the light of healing from it.

When I helped other people, it helped me heal myself. I felt a sense of being worth something in this world.  Writing the third part of The Lost Son Series, I felt more connected to the darkness of the story than to the light in it. Words of suffering stung and words of comfort began to feel like empty words people use to make themselves feel more comfortable discussing uncomfortable topics. Part one, The Lost Son Alive Again, and part two, Stranger Angels Among Us were leading up to the part I'm working on now and were supposed to be the most empowering of all of them. It got so bad for me that I knew I needed to go back into therapy again to help me heal from losing Gunny.

So far, I am starting to feel more connected to the circumstances of hope and empowerment than to the suffering and heartache. I told my therapist that all I can do for people is help them understand what PTSD is, help them spiritually so they don't think God did it to them, and then, send them to experts in mental health trained to help them. I'd love to be able to wave a magic wand and take away all their heartaches but I can't. All I can do is help clear the way for they can begin to find what they need.

I also told my therapist a couple of weeks ago that I dreaded getting an email or phone call from someone looking for help from me because I was so drained, I had nothing left to give. Over the weekend, someone needed my help and I was able to give it. So, not only is my therapist helping me, she helped me get to a place where I could help someone else again. I'm not healed enough yet to be posting all the time online again, but I'm getting there!

Next time you have a chance to do something for someone else, no matter how small you think it is, remember my story and know that while you may think what you do isn't such a big deal, it may be the thing someone else needs at the time you do it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Lies they told you about PTSD


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 2, 2022

Get over it! It's all in your head! You're mentally weak! No one wants to hear about it! You should be ashamed of yourself if you let it get to you! It's time to move on! Don't be such a baby! You can't have PTSD because you're not a veteran! 

How many times have you heard a boat load of crap after you survived something that could have killed you, coming out of the mouths of people when their worst problem is someone got their order wrong at McDonald's? Don't expect them to understand and don't expect the media to tell you the truth. It's gotten to the point where I'm impressed when a report actually covers #PTSD in non-veterans. That's pretty sad.

As a fellow survivor, researcher, and advocate, I've heard all the stuff for four decades and I'm sick and tired of it because it keeps getting repeated. What doesn't get repeated often enough is the truth. The only way to get the truth into the minds of those needing to hear it is to expose the lies.

Let's start with the biggest lie of all. 

You can't have PTSD because you're not a veteran! 

The truth is, the rest of us know that surviving traumatic events produces residual effects because Vietnam veterans returned from combat and forced the government to research it and add it to the disabilities they compensate for. It never goes away but because of research, we know that it does not have to retain power over the rest of our lives as survivors.

Other jobs cause PTSD because of traumatic events piling onto what the jobs caused while living as a citizen. Civilians get PTSD from every traumatic event responders respond to but the responders cannot see that fact.

What are the jobs other than combat? Law enforcement, firefighters, first responders, non-deployed members of the National Guards and Reservists, doctors, nurses, members of the clergy, and yes even reporters

The truth is, no matter what caused it, survivors of trauma can end up in the PTSD club no one wants to join, even from just one event. It isn't how many events we escape. It is the one that caused the demon of PTSD to penetrate.

Non-survivors don't get it, because the only way to enter into the world of PTSD is as a survivor. When they tell you what they think, it is based on their usual lives. Survivors live with the unusualness of seeing their sense of life as they knew it becomes a foreign land of unknowns.

They want to "fix" you by saying what they think you need to hear about what they think you need to do. They don't know common sense no longer applies because what you're living with, what hitched a ride in your life, is far from common.

When you hear there is no cure for PTSD, which is true, if you settle for that, then there is no hope of a better life. Yet, when they tell you you do have power over the rest of your life, that clues you in on the simple, basic facts, that life can become a lot better and happier than it is at your worst moments.

Common sense then becomes empowerment because you are aware of all the treatments, therapies, and support groups that came into existence did so because more people were not willing to settle for suffering as survivors instead of enjoying as such. When you realize the power within you began after your power was taken away by the event or the people that caused you harm, were defeated, you feel like a survivor. No apology is ever warranted because you lived through something others did not.

When I started writing The Lost Son Alive Again series, I was angered by what I was reading being passed off as something worth reading. I kept wondering where were the facts. Where were reports that managed to inspire empowerment? So I wrote them in the lives of the characters' real survivors inspired.

Last night while working on the third part of the series, I wrote about one of the main characters. Her name is Grace and she survived the Pulse massacre, not as an attendee, but as a police officer responding to it. She was healed enough to live a productive life as a retired officer, turned Chaplain, and leader of a group dedicated to helping others heal.

She was being haunted by her memories and something that was trapped within them and talking to a therapist, who was also her friend.


Grace was on the Zoom call with Dariana. She was wiping her eyes, “But I don’t understand. I thought when you read the records from my other therapist, I wouldn’t have to talk about all of it again.”

“That’s right but this is something she never got you to talk about. If you’re willing, we may be able to figure out what still has a hold on your mind. Are you willing?”

“Yes. I know I have to.”

“Do you want to?”

“No. I don’t want to go through this but I know it’s the only way of putting the past in the past.”

“Ok. Close your eyes or get up and walk around so that I can hear you. You don’t have to be looking at me if you get uncomfortable.”

“Ok. I’ll start and then go with what takes some pressure off. I forgot about where we left off the night of the blizzard.”

“You’re Mom heard gunshots, called the police, and told you to put your snowsuit on. What happened after that?”

“She got her coat and boots on, got the flashlight, and was looking for a key. She was frantically searching for it and found it. It must have been to our neighbor’s house. She picked me up and put me on her back because the snow was too deep. She tripped a couple of times but made it up the stairs. She knocked and called out Sarah but no one answered the door. She used the key, opened the door, and told me to sit on the floor facing the door and she didn’t want me to move. Right after that, the power came back on.”

“Did you listen to her or did you follow her?”

“I listened to her until she called me to go to her.” She started to cry, got up, and walked around.

“Where was she?”

“She was in the kitchen on the floor with Kevin.” Grace stopped walking, “Oh my God! Sarah was dead! I had to walk by her! There was blood all over the floor and I slipped.” Grace put her arms around her waist and hunched her back. 

Dariana waited, watching Grace, giving her time, and then called out her name. "Grace. What did you see?”

“My Mom was down on the floor with Kevin. She was trying to help him. She needed to call the police again but she had to stay with him. She told me to get the phone as close to her as I could and call them for her. She shouted at them and told them that if they didn’t get there soon Kevin was going to die.”

“Did they come?”

“After a while, yes. They had to park way down the next street because our street hadn’t been plowed yet. Kevin looked at one of the officers and said his Mom shot him. And then, he died.”

“What happened after that?”

“They did what they could. Two other officers came and took over. They walked me and my Mom back to our house. One of them carried me.”

“Do you remember anything else?”

“No.”

“Ok, you said you didn’t have your boots on. What was on your feet?”

“I don’t know. I had on heavy socks because it was so cold in the house. Why?”

“Grace, what did you look at when the officer was carrying you out the door?”

“Nothing.”

Dariana let her think about it. “Are you sure? You didn’t see anything in their house? Did you see Sarah?”

“Oh my God! Yes. And then I saw my bloody footprints!”

“Ok. Let’s get you back in your house. What happened after that?”

“My Mom had me up on the counter, took off my socks, and threw them away. She washed my feet and told me to forget all about what I saw that night.”

“Did your Dad come home soon after that?”

“The next day. He was yelling at my Mom. I never heard him yell at her before. She told him that he knew what she was like when they got married and as a nurse, she had to do something or wouldn’t be able to forgive herself for not trying. He understood and hugged her afterward.”

“What about Kevin’s Dad?”

“He moved out a couple of days later and never came back. My parents never talked about it after that.”

“And now you found the key. That was all still buried in your mind. When Pulse happened, I remember you said that there was so much blood, your boots were soaked and even your socks were covered with blood. That’s a lot to take without ever having therapy or being able to talk to someone about any of it. I’m amazed you were as together as you were all that time.”

“So this is why it all came back? You’re right. I never really got past any of it because of how it all started. I guess seeing Chris shot and blood on my shoes was more than I could take.”

“Yes and now you can take power away from it. Back when it happened, most people didn’t know what traumatic events like that did, especially to little children. Did your Mom change at all after that?”

“Once in a while, I’d see her looking out the window at their house and she cried a little. Mostly when it snowed. I heard her talking to my Dad and she said something about everything she saw as a nurse in the Air Force, that was the hardest one of all to get through.”

“How long did you live there after that?”

“My Dad got transferred to Florida the next year and we moved there. He said it never snowed in Florida and we could have a fresh start.”

“How did you end up in Salem and meeting Chris?”

“He was a Colonel by then and was back at Hanscom. When he retired he had a great job in Boston and we didn’t have to move anymore. That was when I met Chris and he cared so much about me that I found my best friend and my first love.”

“And the rest I know. I also know that if you got through all that, on top of when you were taking care of Pam and Rose, you are a very strong woman and have a very rare soul. It also proves that you know when to ask for help when you need it and you’ll be a lot happier now without all that weighing on your memories.”

“You know, I think you’re right. It all fits now. Thank you!” She laughed. “You know, when Chris said you were a genius at getting people to remember what they didn’t want to, he was right. You are.”

“That’s my job, plus I know a little bit about how you were feeling. I was the one that found my Dad after he committed suicide. I was older, but still, I was only sixteen. My Mom and he separated and I went to clean his apartment for him. He had been dead for two days and it always haunted me that he would choose death over talking to someone. I have to keep reminding myself that back then, no one was talking about what they were going through because they couldn’t understand it either.”

“So now you give them a safe place to talk and can read them enough to know what they’re trying to hide.”

“It’s not so much what you or they are trying to hide, it is more a matter of something that is hiding in their memories and trying to get out. Are you ok now or do you want to talk some more?”

“I’m ok and thank you.”

“You’re welcome and we should still catch up tomorrow a the same time and then you can decide if you need me more or not.”

“That’ll be good. Thank you so much! Have a good night.”


And that's how the main character healed. He was a reporter, yet veterans helped him heal. He had a wonderful childhood with loving parents, yet survivors of child abuse helped him heal. He was a survivor of domestic abuse and violence as a husband inflicted by his first wife, yet a woman that survived what her husband did to her, helped him heal. He was not gay, but a gay female ex-wrestler helped him learn how to fight to take back power over his life. He was not a police officer, but one helped him heal and opened his heart again. He walked away from God, yet an ex-priest helped him heal and find God again.

None of them knew what it was like to be Chris, but they all understood what surviving did to him as much as they knew what he needed to heal his life.

I didn't serve yet worked with veterans and their families because I understood what it did to them. One day, I had a veteran challenge me saying I didn't know what I was talking about because I wasn't a veteran.  He turned it into a contest. So, I listed everything I survived. I asked him if he survived any of them. He said he didn't. Then I asked him if he could understand what all that did to me. He said he did. That got him to open his eyes to the simple fact that survivors may not have lived through the same event, but we are all living with the results of surviving. The cool thing is, that most of us are more than willing to share the recovery so others can pass it on too!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

PTSD: children have been living in the shadows of gun violence

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 24, 2022

Before you read this, I have to ask a question. Why is it that when people have any type of illness, they have no problem seeking help to recover, but when they have a mental illness, they do? What will it take for you, or anyone else to figure that one out?
John Woodrow Cox author of Children Under Fire was interviewed by NPR after the Uvalde school massacre. The title of the article was about as powerful as it can be.

The trauma of gun violence affects all children, not just the ones who were there

Tuesday was a hard day. You know, it - I felt nauseated. I really did in those early minutes. I think for me, the weight of everything that I've written about, all the stories that I've done, the kids I've interviewed through all these years comes back. And time after time after time, you realize that the scope of this epidemic is so much broader than we think because we do only think of the children who die, the children who are maimed. But the reality is that there are hundreds of thousands, even millions of children who are directly impacted by gun violence in this country. And their lives are fundamentally changed because of it.
He also talked about Columbine.
And, you know, I know survivors from Columbine who are still - in their 40s - and they're still dealing with enormous amounts of trauma and PTSD. And again, none of these people were physically harmed. So we just have not grasped how far this extends in this country.

It is highly recommended that you read the rest of this article, along with the book if you want to understand exactly what it is we need to be paying more attention to.

NPR's Sacha Pfeiffer has done a lot of interviews and that is what makes what she said all the more powerful because most people are not aware of this.
Well, you're making me realize, I mean, it's certainly devastating for adults even to read or hear about it. But when you're a child and this happens, you're at a more formative stage of life.

The other thing is, that Cox is no stranger to reporting on events that we know cause PTSD. He is a reporter with the Washington Post. Cox has received numerous awards including, "He was also part of the team of Post journalists awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for public service for coverage of the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol."

And back to the NPR interview, another thing too many people are not aware of.

PFEIFFER: John, at the Washington Post, where you work, there's a database you've created that tracks gun violence. And I believe the current tally is that since the shooting at Columbine in 1999, more than 300,000 students have experienced school shootings at school during the school day. That gives us a sense of how exponential the impact is because those 300,000 may have siblings, family, parents, and all of those people are affected.
and then there is this,
PFEIFFER: We often hear people say children are resilient; they will ultimately be OK. Is that your experience?

COX: You know, that is a phrase that I've come to despise, that children are resilient, because I think it's a way for adults to be dismissive of what children have gone through. And it's also because children have a hard time articulating their struggle. If a kid is suddenly having outbursts, they can't link that to the fact that they just survived a school shooting. They struggle to say, here's why I'm feeling what I'm feeling. "" What I like to say is that children can be resilient, but it is incumbent on the adults in their lives to make that possible - to provide therapy, to provide help, to provide support, to be patient. Because it can take children years to work through events like these.
Now you have a better idea of how children have been living in the shadows of gun violence. Thanks to reporters like John Woodrow Cox, people will begin to look where trauma lives on long after reporters walk away from the story.

I came across this story doing research for part three of The Lost Son Alive Again Series part three because Chris decided to focus on gun violence in his new book. It was the one cause of trauma he didn't spend time on because no one he knew had it caused by that. 

None of them talked about gun violence. Bill, David, and all the other veterans in his life didn't talk about it, even though all of them faced gun battles in wars. After Chris was shot, that began to haunt Grace because while she thought she had put the Pulse Nightclub shooting behind her, there was something else she didn't confront about her past.

Trauma hits survivors of every age and the thing is if we fail to help kids heal early on they carry it on their backs for the rest of their lives.