Showing posts with label grieving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grieving. Show all posts

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.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Still healing

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 19, 2022

It is still hard to think about being able to offer hope to anyone trying to heal, but I think that is what is needed right now. The political divide is like a thorn in my soul because of all the people I once called friends. I love a good debate, but I love the truth more. I have always been more like a sheep in Matthew 25, than a goat.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Some of the people I thought were my friends turned out to be more like goats. My real friends are still there for me. I feel blessed to have them in my life. I am trying hard to focus on them and less on the goats. I still miss having Gunny in my life. That is the loss I am trying to heal from. He was the only one that understood what I do, and why I do it, as well as why I've done it for four decades. He was able to put politics aside, and so was I, because we valued everything else about one another. 

My therapist suggested I focus on the fact that how people treated me, says more about them than it does me. I hate having something I tell everyone else said to me, but I have to face it, sometimes that is exactly what we need to hear, even though we may not want to hear it. At the end of the day, we realize that we only have power over what we do and not what as done to us.

I am working on that and asking myself a lot of questions. I am looking back and asking what did someone do to me when I needed help before, as much as asking what they did for me before. It's a safe bet I won't be turning to those that hurt me before. Turning to them won't help fill the empty part Gunny left behind. Expecting my husband to do it won't get me anything but aggravated since he tries to listen but ends up trying to fix me instead. He does hug me when I cry about Gunny because he knew how close of a friend he was, plus he liked him too. (Ok, well he thought it was strange for a woman to have a close male friend until it dawned on him that the majority of my friends were male since I used to work with mostly men.)

Anyway, so far I managed to get through editing more of my new book and beginning to feel more connected to the hopeful parts of the story than just the dark parts. I am hoping this one will be more positive than the one I wrote after Gunny died. I went back and read the other one and it was more hopeful but it was also done when Gunny was still here.

So, if you are struggling and feeling as if the goats in your life hold more power over you than the sheep do, maybe it is time to take another look at them and see what they really are inside. Let that be your guide to a happier you. Don't expect them to change. If they treated you like crap before, they will probably do it again. If they cared about you before, they'll probably do it again too!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Instead of dismissing your own emotions, honor what you are feeling

Break Pads

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 14, 2019

When you are grieving, sometimes you need to apply the that you can #BreakTheSilence of what you are going through. 

Most of the time people do not know what to expect from themselves. You may judge yourself, or expect more from your core.

Instead of dismissing your own emotions, honor what you are feeling so you can being the healing.

If you are angry, then honor it. I yelled at my Dad at the cemetery a few days after his funeral. I chewed out my brother at the funeral home before everyone else got there. I was angry because I wanted them to still be here.

If you are sad, then honor that. They were a part of your life and they still can be in your memories of them. There comes a time when those memories will stop being painful reminders they are gone. The memories become fond ones of times when they were here.

Do not judge yourself or let anyone else judge you for not grieving enough or too much, or taking too long to "get over it" because they did it another way.
read more here

Friday, March 22, 2019

Fort Hood Soldiers Mentor at Good Grief Camp

Soldiers supporting child survivors

Fort Hood Sentinel
By Ariana-Jasmine Castrellon, Sentinel Staff
March 21, 2019
“I just found so much joy in being able to be present for somebody who’s grieving,” Wright said.

During the Good Grief Camp, March 15-17, 131 service members and veterans from around the Fort Hood area volunteered to mentor 123 child survivors at Duncan Elementary School. Each child was given his or her own mentor during the camp.

Training for volunteers was held on Friday, prior to the Good Grief Camp kick off Saturday morning, where child survivors were greeted by their mentors and broken up into seven different groups depending on their age.

The camp, hosted by Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors with support from the Fort Hood Survivor Outreach Services, offered classes and activities for adult and child survivors.

Sgt. Sarah Vanterpool, attached to Golf Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, shared that although she is married and does not have kids, she volunteered as a mentor as a way to give back to children in the community.

“At the end of the day, they just get to have their voices heard,” Vanterpool said.

Vanterpool said that although she was “voluntold” her first year to be a Good Grief Camp mentor, she came back for the second time this year on her own.

“It was the best experience ever,” Vanterpool said. “It makes me feel great – like amazing.”

TAPS has been a private non-profit organization since 1994. TAPS’ mission is to provide assistance, programs and resources to Family members, children, spouses, friends and fiancĂ©s after the loss of a loved one who died as a result of his, or her service. TAPS provides support 24/7.
For more information on visit TAPS
read more here

Sunday, November 18, 2018

PTSD Patrol Switching Gears

Motion requires different gears

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
November 18, 2018

The wheels turn, turn, turn and we move forward. Sometimes the road is smooth. Other times, it is a bumpy road we must travel on to get where we want to go.

There are times when we are alone on the road, but the passengers in our minds keep us company.

Sometimes the sun is shining and we can enjoy the drive. Sometimes it is snowing. The roads are dangerous to be on.

Sometimes we are the only ones on the road. Other times we are stuck in traffic.

What all of us must deal with, is, there are no guarantees any trip will be an easy one to take. 
To everything, there is a gear, that makes your wheels turn, turn, turn 
And a time to every purpose, under your hood 
A time to be move forward, a time to park 
A time to stay, a time to travel 
A time to reverse, a time for neutral 
A time to joy ride, a time to stop 
To everything, there is a gear. that makes your wheels turn, turn, turn.
There is a time to grieve, remember what is lost and then a time to remember with fondness. A time to cry and release the pain you feel. That makes room for a time to feel joy again.
read more here

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Trauma planned the trip but I bought the ticket

Which Train Are You On?
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 27, 2017

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is doing the work to get to the point where our lives are lived as well as possible. Actually, make that as "good" as possible.

After something happens, we hop aboard the grief train. How long it takes you to get to healing, depends on which train you managed to get on.

Sometimes it is a slow ride, making lots of stops along the way. You are stuck until the train gets moving again. The only mistake you can make on this trip, is getting off without getting back on. 

For me, the train was like the Acela, "fastest trip with fewer stops."

"Superior Comfort, Upscale Amenities, Polished Professional Service, at Speeds up to 150 mph."

Reminder: I am not a veteran but faced life altering events far too many times to be able to reasonably explain inner happiness afterwards without pointing out how human all of us are. I do not have PTSD because of how it was dealt with. Even if you have PTSD, you can live a life where you get to decide your own trip.

Trauma planned the trip but I bought the ticket. I had to pay for what the event did to me as a victim but in the next second I went into survivorship. It didn't get me first time and I did whatever I had to do to make sure it didn't control the rest of my life. It didn't get to plan what I did with my life. It just hitched a ride popping up every now and then to remind me it was there.

Generations of veterans have been dealing with the same struggle as other simple humans but their fellow riders have scattered onto different trains. It can be a very lonely, long trip, if you are surrounded by people who have no clue what caused you to get onboard.

Civilianize yourself again to a point where you can get them to understand it as a human. Unless you surround yourself with other veterans, few will understand what you went through but everyone who survived trauma can understand what it did to you.

Maybe you can learn from this Mom who lost her son because someone else did something wrong. I copied the part that you really need to read first. Please go to the link and read the rest.

'Meeting the man who caused my son's death helped me learn to live and smile again'

Mirror UK
Rachel Toal
August 27, 2017
"Meanwhile, I was left to deal with my bereavement. The sadness I was never able to physically express due to my chest bruising had stayed inside me. Slowly, it was coming out. Counselling and EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) therapy helped to retrain my brain and replace traumatic images with positive memories."
"I discovered a life-changing programme called the Grief Recovery Method, which transformed my relationship with Flynn. Instead of being stuck with painful memories, I was able to remember him with happiness." read more here

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Presidential Medal of Freedom for Big Miracle TAPS Founder

Alaska military advocate to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
Alaska Dispatch News
Erica Martinson
November 16, 2015
The military quickly adopted the program, and it has since been replicated across the globe, in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Israel and Germany, among others, Carroll said.
In this Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, known as TAPS, poses in her office in Washington. Carroll is being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, as part of her advocacy on behalf of grieving military families. Jacquelyn Martin
WASHINGTON -- The White House announced plans Monday to grant a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bonnie Carroll, founder of an organization that provides support to grieving military families -- and the star of a true Alaska love story.

Carroll was working in the White House in 1988 when three California gray whales trapped in Arctic ice garnered international attention. President Ronald Reagan’s interest in the plight led the West Wing staffer to meet her future husband, Alaska Army National Guard Col.Tom Carroll. Their love story was later featured in the 2012 film “Big Miracle.”

In 1992, after he and Bonnie were married, then-commander of the Alaska Army National Guard and lifelong Alaskan Tom Carroll died in an Army C-12 plane crash in the Chilkat Mountains -- along with seven other top Guard leaders -- en route to Juneau. Tom Carroll's father, Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Carroll, had died 28 years earlier in a plane crash at Valdez while providing relief work after the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, Bonnie Carroll said.

Carroll channeled her grief into action, and following her husband's burial at Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Anchorage, she founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which provides support for those impacted by the death of a member of the U.S. military.

Bonnie Carroll will be honored with the nation's highest civilian honor next week for her work after her husband's death.
read more here

Thursday, August 13, 2015

PTSD: Do Memories Matter?

Do Memories Matter?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 13, 2015

Saturday was a great day, at least it started that way. I went to the VFW to film veterans, especially female veterans, because they never get enough attention.  Any after uploading the video and the pictures, my Mac decided it had enough. After 5 years of constant use and memory nearly used up, despite having external hard rives, I got the wheel of death.  That's when the loading wheel spins until it is ready.  It decided it was just going to spin a last dance.

I took it to the Geeks at Best Buy to see what they could do with it and bought a HP Laptop, figuring if they could fix my Mac, I'd give the laptop to my husband after I got my Mac back.  Now I finally fully understand when people say "Once you go Mac, you don't go back.

Yesterday I found out that it locked up during diagnostics, meaning the problem is most likely in the hard drive. I had to buy another one simply because waiting a couple of weeks to see if it can be fixed, was not an option.

After years of having to replace PC after PC, the constant-long updates and resets, I bought my Mac while taking Digital Media classes and everything was done on Macs.  All this time and never had a problem with it until Saturday.  Great record and it was a loyal friend.

I filled it with two books, thousands of pictures, music and over 200 videos.  It worked hard for me and will be missed but now I have a new one with no memories in it.  Sure, most of the ones I needed are on the external hard drive but the others are trapped in the Mac. One day I'll be able to afford getting the files out but for now, it is sitting on the floor.

This got me thinking about some researchers talking about blocking memories for PTSD veterans. I never thought it was a good idea especially when they are using rodents for research on what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder does. Memories in humans are tied to emotions.  No one can look at a picture of someone they loved and not get a warm, tingling feeling triggering memories of them.

How does a rat feel about family and friends? Do they feel guilt? Do they feel remorse? Do they feel lost or hopeless? Do they risk their lives for another rat or pray to God, Higher Power or the universe for help or grieve when help does not come in time?  Do they ever wonder why they were born? Do they keep memories of their youth beyond what food smells like?  Do their memories become intertwined with emotions at all?

No one seems to know yet researchers have studied rats to better understand PTSD. Some came a conclusion that blocking or erasing memories is the best way to treat PTSD but they are never able to explain what else folks will lose.

Yesterday I posted how a researcher, Dr. Eric R. Kandel, wrote about PTSD and the emotional connection.

PTSD Involuntary Intrusions Vivid, Highly Emotional

The involuntary intrusions are vivid, highly emotional, and involve a sense of reliving the original trauma. In contrast, the voluntarily recalled trauma narratives do not share this same intensity, but their content is notable for being significantly disorganized. Such disorganization can be found very soon after the traumatic event and hence is not attributable to poor recall, but to the very nature of these traumatic memories themselves.

It sounded good until I reached this part,
More recently, Dr. Kandel and his colleagues identified a molecule, a prion protein called CPEB, (cytoplasmic polyadenylation element-binding protein 3) that plays a key role in the maintenance of long-term memories in the sea slug Aplysia and in mice. In a 2015 study, Kandel and his colleagues trained mice to memorize a way to navigate through a maze, then the researchers knocked out the mouse homolog of the CPEB gene called CPEB3 and this knocked out the maintenance of long-term memories and caused the mice to forget how to navigate the maze.

They were researching Alzheimer's disease as well leaving out the simple fact that PTSD comes into the person after a traumatic event. It is caused by trauma, not genetics but researchers are still trying to figure out why it occurs to 1 out of 3 exposed to trauma. (Ok, some researchers are using 1 out of 5 but for decades it has been 1 out of 3)

As long as they keep using rats it will end up as if they used a typewriter instead of a computer able to store memories tied to emotions of the user. And yes, I am still worried the work in the other Mac maybe lost.

I cannot access the files stored in my other Mac but there are still there and most of them are still in my mind. Thousands of pictures collected over 5 years are tied to my heart like this one,
U.S. Troops In Afghanistan Celebrate Thanksgiving Do rats pray? Do they give thanks?
Despite fears of Afghan collapse, U.S. may pull all troops by 2014 Do rats risk their own lives to protect one of their own?

The best researchers are like the experts able to fix computers and the worst ones are still trying to figure out what the hell defragging a hard drive is. The best have understood there is a difference between what happens after trauma to rats and what happens to humans.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Reports on families of crime victims reflection of veterans' families

In each of these articles what comes after violent events for families are told.

Collateral Damage: Advocates Aim To Save Children From Impact Of Violence
Collateral Damage: Families Struggle To Care For Victims Of Violence
Lloyd Fox • Baltimore Sun-TNS / Alice Oaks holds the Christmas ornament that will be hung on the tree at the Survivors Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) holiday gathering in remembrance of her two sons that were both killed. SAVE holds an annual event for those that are impacted by the loss of a family member or friends from violence.
Collateral Damage: Relatives Of Murder Victims Struggle With Grief
All of what they are going through is what families of veterans go through when they face the outcomes of inept attempts to avert them.

Families struggle with health issues after homicide,
Scientists at Johns Hopkins and other institutions have found that grief can cause biological changes.

The immediate grief after a death can weaken the heart and increase the risk of heart attacks. The lingering anger associated with this grief can also cause heart problems, a Harvard University study found. Other research connects intense grief to high levels of stress hormones, a weakened immune system and trouble sleeping.

Relatives interviewed in Jeanna M. Mastrocinque’s York College study attributed illnesses such as cancer, heart attacks and death to their grief. Many complained of feeling physically sick, and some lost so much weight that they dropped three or four clothes sizes. One described it this way: “I think this has changed me on a molecular level.”

Mastrocinque’s study recommended that primary care physicians pay more attention to the health status of the relatives of the murdered, given all the problems they reported.

“Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for many age groups,” said Mastrocinque, an assistant professor of criminal justice. “I don’t think people think about how much homicide ripples through communities.”

Michelle Randolph considered herself fairly healthy before her only child, Wesley Lewis, 19, was found murdered in August 2010. After his death, the Baltimore woman couldn’t control her blood pressure and suffered from panic attacks and depression.

They also suffer after family members come home from combat where they risked their lives to save others yet fell so hard that they ended up being killed by police officers.

The next time you read about a veteran and police officers facing off, remember, after the headline comes the reality of the event for the families and the officers. Remember, as with the above reports, families often suffer in silence and people walk away from them when they need support the most.

The next time you read about a veteran, remember one more key detail in all of this. They were willing to die for the sake of someone else and shouldn't have died because we managed to pay more attention to the "crime" in the headline instead of the people assuring us they were doing everything possible to help them come home.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Oklahoma City bombing parent reaches out to Boston

“It wasn’t your fault”
APR 19, 2013

I know the unfathomable grief that Martin Richard's parents must be feeling. I lost my daughter to a bomb, too

I haven’t been able to watch footage of Boston. When it comes on TV, I can watch a little bit, but then I have to walk away. The picture of Martin Richard, the little boy who died, brings tears to my eyes, because I know what his parents are going through. I lost my 4-year-old daughter, Ashley, in the Oklahoma City bombings, along with my husband’s parents, LaRue and Luther. Eighteen years later, I’m still living with the trauma. The trauma never goes away.

I was at work when the bomb went off. Everything on my desk shifted. In my naivetĂ©, I wondered: Did one of the silos blow up? We turned on the news, and saw the chaos, the building torn away. I thought, “Thank God no one I love is in that building.”

My husband’s parents were taking care of Ashley that day. My husband’s father had an appointment at the Social Security Building at 9 o’clock, which I didn’t realize was in the federal building. When it finally sunk in what was happening, I collapsed in on myself. It’s a very hopeless feeling, not knowing.

We spent days looking for her, sitting in hospitals and churches, watching and waiting. I kept thinking, she’s just lost. She’s a little girl. Someone has her, and they don’t know where to take her. But eventually we realized there was no hope of finding her. It was inevitable that she was gone. That they were all gone. It was Wednesday when they finally called us to say they had her body. A few months later, I received a call after she was buried that they had found her hand. We put it in a little urn, and we buried it with her.
read more here

Monday, August 10, 2009

British Captain gives account from Afghanistan few others ever hear

I never get tired of reading pieces like this. I get upset over them but I know its healing for them to write. Once in a while someone comes along with the soul of a poet pulling us in to what he's writing to the point where we cannot be a distant observer.

You can question the military campaign in Afghanistan, the same way most questioned it for Iraq. You can question the lack of care when they get back home and need help because of their wounds, physical ones as well as TBI and PTSD, question the lack of planning and supplies as well as the lack of change of plans that actually work. You can question all you want but what most of us agree on is the men and women with their lives on the line deserve a hell of a lot more attention than any nation has given them. Please read this and then say a prayer both occupations have peaceful solutions soon so they all go back to their homes and families and then pray we finally get our act together to take care of what they need us for.

One Young Captain Offers Brutally Honest Account Of Dealing With Life, And Death, In Afghanistan
The Independent

In the first ever unauthorised dispatch from an officer on the frontline, one young Captain offers a brutally honest account of life in Afghanistan, revealing the pain of losing comrades, the frustration at the lack of equipment, and the sense that the conflict seems unending and, at times, unwinnable.

The author's name has been withheld.

My motivation is simple. Writing this helps vent off some of the frustration at what is happening out here in Afghanistan to those serving in the British Army, where death and serious injury are sickeningly common occurrences.

Before coming here, I had done two tours in Iraq which saw fierce fighting against the enemy. But, sometimes out here I feel I might as well be on my first tour, as a novice second lieutenant instead of a so-called senior captain with over eight years experience in the Army, due to a shocking rate of attrition that I have never encountered before.

Commentators keep citing previous figures for casualty rates in the Falkland's conflict, as well as the years in Northern Ireland, suggesting that, spread over the time we have been in Afghanistan, the figures here are not that bad.

How reassuring. For a moment I thought the rates might be quite bad; but thank goodness I have been shown that what we are experiencing is in fact a tolerable "medium" number of casualties.

Can we really only analyse the death and injury rate, or view it as a cause for concern, once we get past a certain benchmark or once the average number outstrips a previous average? I had hoped that human progression was a bit more advanced than that, and that there might be more to the situation than a comparison of statistics.
read more here
One Young Captain Offers Brutally Honest Account