Showing posts with label peer support. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peer support. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2024

Courage to ask, compassion to listen

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 17, 2024
How many times have you greeted someone with, "Hi, how are you?" Do you say it without thinking about the door you just opened? Most of us don't think about hearing anything more than saying they are good. We don't expect to hear the real answer as we walk away.

On Mother's Day, one of my neighbors came into my yard while I was outside with Charlie on the deck. I asked her how it was going and was prepared for the answer. Judging by the sadness she was clearly showing, it was obvious, she needed to talk. We've had many conversations about her husband's illness because she listened to mine about my husband's. We have a lot in common but it dawned on me that the support we give to one another would not be possible had we not been courageous enough to ask and compassionate enough to listen to the answer.

The greatest gift we can give is our time and the willingness to listen to them.

When I was training to become a Chaplain, that point was made clear when the instructor asked us what we would need when we were going through emotional turmoil. All of us knew it would be to have someone to talk to. It isn't as easy to find as you may think, especially when we tend to hide our pain. It is even harder for us to find someone who will understand what we're trying to say because we fear being judged by them.

They open the door for us when they dare to ask us and tell us about their struggles. We become assured they will understand what we hide because they did too. 

Time is such an enormous gift, because most of the time, others want to speak more than they are willing to listen. When they do listen, they want to shut down the conversation with words to "fix" them. Sometimes those words and be more damaging than not being willing to listen at all. 

Too many times I've heard responses such as, "God only gives us what we can handle." The person in pain was just told that God did it to them. How can anyone be expected to ask God for help if they were just informed He did it to them? They can't. They were also told that the person they were trying to share their pain with, just judged them as worthy of God's punishment. They hear from others, "Get over it," as if the expiration date has come and they should move on. It doesn't help if they don't know how to begin to do the one thing they want most. 

Talking is often too hard to do when you are in emotional/spiritual pain. I know I hide a lot because of history and the way some people responded to times when I shared with them, taught me I shouldn't. That's why I have a therapist trained to listen without judgment and offer advice as to how I may heal. I am writing again because of her. It is hard to do however, I am remembering why I do what I do and who I am again.

I am healing and happier although the problems are sadly not going away. At least I have enough hope that each day brings the possibility the surgeon we need will be found and my husband gets the operation he needs. We've been waiting for a year. My neighbor has it worse because she doesn't have all the support I do to help her get through it. All I can do is be there to listen and set my problems aside long enough to give her a hug.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Stranger Things of PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 13, 2023

"It's OK to not be OK" is the line from Stranger Things that got to me. What isn't Ok is when you are afraid to talk about it. Sure, it may make sense since a lot of people don't understand what you're going through and say a lot of stupid stuff topped off with judging you. It happens no matter what the circumstances are. You do have to be selective about whom you decide to open up to. A close friend, a professional, or people in your family, usually can be trusted. Above listening to you, they can offer you support, and a lot of the time, they will seek ways to help you find a way out of the darkness you're in.

Strangers and people you aren't really close to, tend to not listen very well and offer very little help for you. Trying to open up to them, will tend to leave you shutting down with the ones in your life that have your back.

Max in Stranger Things and most of the main characters were trying to get through their lives with #PTSD. The outsiders didn't understand what dealing with the monster Vecna did to them until they had to deal with him as well.

That is the best lesson of all. No one will understand what you're going through unless you tell them and no one will understand it as much as those that went through it, or something like it too.

Now a confession: I'm going through something right now health-wise with my husband and have been trapped at home most of the time. I ran out of things to watch. I read something about Stranger Things and decided to try it. I binge-watched the series twice and got so hooked I may watch it again. It may be a trigger for you because of all the violence, but if you have someone in your life needing to understand that surviving often leaves scars, it may help them. Also good to notice who is surrounding those suffering and needing someone to listen to them, needed someone too.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Hope responds there is no room for that demon in your life

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 22, 2022

PTSD demon tells you that there is no hope for you.

Hope responds there is no room for that demon in your life. You have healing to do.

PTSD demon tells you that you were meant to suffer.

Hope responds that you survived because you were not meant to die.

PTSD demon tells you that you should be ashamed of the voices in your head.

Hope responds that the only voice in your head that doesn't belong there is the demon!

Think about the person or event that caused you harm, and it is still trying to destroy you. Think about the fact that you survived it, and that makes you a survivor, no longer a victim of "it" and it doesn't get to determine the rest of your life.

From The Scribe Of Salem
David Mac Donald strolled into the bar. He was tall, and muscular, with fiery red flowing hair with a scraggly beard. He looked more like an ancient Scottish warrior than he did when he was in the Army with cropped hair. David’s family moved from Scotland when he was starting high school and he joined the Army as soon as he graduated. When he walked over to the group, they all got up out of their chairs and hugged, then he saw Chris. “Oh my God! Nanos!” He walked over to him. As soon as he got a closer look at his eyes, he could see an all too familiar pain the fake smile couldn’t cover up. He gave him a bear hug and whispered in his Scottish accent, “Your demon is in control for now. Time to take back your life as we did.”
David recognized the demon in Chris, because for a long time, he one too. It was clear on the darkest night of Chris's life, the conspiracy was working.

One of the conversations Chris had later was with Ed, his bartender and, as far as Chris knew, the only friend he had for the last three years, showed the plans were starting to work.
“I know I don’t want to live like this anymore. You just gave me a gift I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay.”

“Then pay it forward to someone else you come into contact with and use your gift as a writer to help them heal too. There are millions of people in this country right now suffering instead of healing because they don’t know what to do to defeat the demons they face. You can help them with that after you heal and get stronger.”

“Do you think that’s what He wants me to do? Why me? People are gonna know what a screwup I am. What qualifies me to write about all these, saintly people doing good all over the place?”
“Because the saints in the Bible were all screw-ups too. We all are. Every single one of them messed up. People forget that part instead of seeing that if God could use people like them to make miracles happen, He could do it with anyone. You have the choice to turn to what is dark in you sent by Satan, or hang on to what is light in you from God, just like they did.”

“So you’re saying people turn to darkness by choice?”

“Yes, but mostly because they think that’s the only road they can take. They can’t pray to God for themselves at the same time they turn away from Him. That’s when other people pray for them because they can’t. Isn’t that what He just laid out in front of you?”

Isn't that what was just laid in front of you too?

Sunday, July 17, 2022

what the churchless need to find to heal #PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 17, 2022

If you found what you're looking for spiritually in a church, my latest books are not what you're looking for. They are not what you need to find. They are for those who feel they are not "good" enough to even enter a church, or be around the people that do attend church services. They are what the churchless need to find.

Some people seem to think that COVID is the reason for the drop in church attendance, but it isn't.

As you can see, there has been a decline for a long time. For 40 years, I helped people with PTSD and it was obvious most people seeking help, were turned off or turned away from churches. Like most people in this country, they do not attend any kind of religious service. That is a huge problem when researchers have found spiritual help is vital to the healing process for survivors.

Meaning-Making and Grief Spiritual and religious beliefs can either help or hinder trauma survivors in their attempts to create a healthy understanding of traumatic events and ultimately make meaning from the events. If trauma survivors believe that their Higher Power failed them, or that the traumatic events were punishment for past sins, these beliefs could result in anger toward their Higher Power and disconnection from spiritual or religious support. If trauma survivors view their Higher Power as a source of support and comfort, they may be able to understand the traumatic experience as a challenge set before them that can be overcome. They may then explore what has been gained from the traumatic experience; have an increased connection with their Higher Power through the healing process; rely on their spiritual or religious support; and feel stronger for having lived through the traumatic event.

Crystal Park and colleagues have theorized about how meaning develops during exposure to traumatic and loss events, and how religion and spirituality can provide a framework that may aid the development of meaning. They suggest that two levels of meaning are involved in coping with trauma.

If you don't fit in a church, for whatever reason, the first thing you need to know is that the word "church" is not what you may think it means.

This is from Stranger Angels Among Us, Part 2 of The Lost Son Alive Again

Greer shrugged her shoulders and smiled, “I don’t know but when I listened to my Dad, I had all kinds of images coming into my head. There’s a lot that isn’t written down. My Dad said we can only imagine what is not known by knowing what is known.”

They all noticed her face changed and her back stiffened up. David took her hand, “What just happened? What’s going on with you?”

“I just remembered what else Stephen said. God! I wish I remembered it when Chris was being accused of wanting to take down the church!”

“What else did he say?”

“He said that God doesn’t live in houses built by human hands. That He created everything.” She turned to Chris, “I’m sorry that I didn’t remember that. He was saying what others said before him and that God didn’t want buildings and when Jesus said that Peter was the rock He wasn’t talking about a stone one but a living one. He told the people to pray to His Father directly. People use the word church without understanding what Jesus was talking about. Ekklesia means ‘the called out ones’ and was about God’s people, not a building. That is exactly what you’ve been saying.”

Chris covered his mouth while he started at Greer. David looked at him, “She’s right. I didn’t remember that either but somehow I knew you were on the right track with what you’ve been saying all along. I mean, if a fire burns down a church, people can still pray on their own. How many churches have had to close and ended up being sold, turned into a house, or office space because people stopped going to them? Safe bet people didn’t think that God died just because their church did. They’re all just places and not some kind of super-connector to God.”

Bill added, “Just like my Dad and Mandy. They prayed directly to God and didn’t need a church building to do it for them.”

“You’re all right.” He turned to Greer, “That helped and in a way, I’m glad you didn’t remember it before because that would have reinforced the things I’ve been accused of doing. Now that I know that, I’ll know what to say the next time.”

Now you know that you don't have to go into a building to reach God. The next thing that is important to know is that you don't have to be perfect either. The characters in The Lost Son Alive Again, do not go to church. Each one of them felt pushed out and pushed away from God until someone helped them find their way back to Him again. 

None of the people in these books escaped PTSD unchanged, but they discovered they can change again with help.

When people hear PTSD, they immediately think it applies to only veterans, but the truth is, it strikes survivors of all other events too. While there are some veterans in these books, there are also survivors of almost every other thing you survived. They helped one another heal because while they did not experience the same events, they understood what surviving did to them, as much as they knew what healing did for them.

There is drinking, Ok, a lot of drinking because the main character self-medicated. There is some adult language because let's face it, people swear, especially when they are angry. These people shared their struggles and torments, doubts, and fears and also shared what it was like to heal. They gave hope back to the one who was lost so he could give hope to everyone else struggling.

It is magical realism because there are supernatural aspects throughout, which Christians are supposed to believe, and all other faiths believe happened, but for some reason, think they stopped happening. The fact you survived whatever could have killed you was a miracle, so it should be easy for you to know they do still happen.

Don't be afraid to read these books because another thing they are not is, sad. Sure they start out that way but so does PTSD. There is a process to healing it and you'll see that in these pages. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Can you become part of a miracle?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 25, 2022
Have you ever wanted to help someone but didn't think you could? If you're thinking that you are only one person and there isn't much you can do, think about it. A lot of people felt the same way, until they remembered how one person, just like them, helped them. Lives are being changed because people are using the power they do have to deliver miracles.

The Lost Son series are fictional, but there are survivors doing whatever they can to give hope to others that they can heal too. There are actual people all over the country doing the same thing because someone helped them along the way.

Read this from Alive Again and see if you can see yourself in any of this.

Greer from Alive Again, The Lost Son Part Two
“Good morning. We’re all here because we know miracles still happen. We know that because of Chris’s books, they were happening all around us, all along, but the world is a less lonely place now that we know they are. I’m sure you’ve heard on the news, even up to yesterday, that they also come when we least expect them, and least expect we’re going to need another one. Miracles happened to all the people behind me, and they happened to me too. The people behind me helped Chris heal in just thirteen days. That’s all it took for him going from wanting to end his life, to beginning to write about the miracles, and how all of us could become ingredients of miracles.” She looked at the crowd and the cameras.

“Many of you are doing video testimonies with the people from Netflix, so others will hear your stories and find hope. Our hope is you receive the same reward all of us did. Since the books came out, we discovered how much of an impact they had on people. They said it was priceless learning that what they did spread out to many others. They spread it even further, changing the world one person at a time, or in Chris’s case, millions.” She started to walk around.

“This is the reason we are asking you to open your hearts and wallets to donate to wherever your soul is leading you to. If you are touched by the homeless, find a shelter to donate to. If you are touched by hunger, donate to a food bank. If it is for animals, donate to a rescue shelter for them. Whatever it is, give what you can because you can. If you cannot donate money, but have some time, donate your time. If you don’t have money or time, then donate prayers because all of us know how prayers are still heard and are still answered. If you have a neighbor in need, help. If you are in a store and a clerk is having a rough day, smile or joke with them so you change their day. If you see someone acting out of anger, pray for courage to correct them.” She stood near Chris.

“Because of what happened yesterday, we understand that this event is being covered by reporters from across the country and internationally by the BBC. We are asking all of you to remember, ‘For God so love the world, He gave his only begotten Son’ and remember those in other parts of His world and care for all His children, no matter where they live.”

She smiled, “When you are feeling this world is too dark, remember that there are still more people walking in the light and join them. Realize the power you have to make a difference in this world and become a part of a miracle others are praying for. Thank you all for being a part of ours.” Greer turned around and David hugged her.

That is how you become part of a miracle. Doing what you can for the sake of others because you know how it feels to have little or nothing. If you know what it felt like to have someone help you heal PTSD, pass it on. Even if you only help one person, that help does not end with them. Whoever helped you, was helped by someone else, and they were helped before that. That miracle of hope spread person to person and lives were changed.

Over the last 40 years, I helped people because God guided me to search for answers and I was helped to find experts willing to teach me, even though I am no one special. I had no money, no connections to powerful people, but what I had was a strong desire to help anyone I could. Each and everyone of the people I helped, passed it on, for no other reason than they wanted to help someone else find their way out of the darkness of PTSD they had been living with. That's how miracles happen.

Chris with his therapist in Stranger Angels, The Lost Son Part Three
Chris looked down at the floor. “I don’t know how to say it. I’ve never told another person. I didn't even tell Mandy.”

Dariana leaned forward in her chair. “Whatever it is, it may be what is missing in your healing. Just close your eyes and tell me.”

Chris leaned back, closed his eyes and the memory came to life. “When I was young I wanted to become a Priest. That part I was able to talk about. It was a reoccurring dream that I never talked about before. I was in the sanctuary wearing vestments and carrying an empty challis, walking down the aisle, like the Holy procession but there was no one else inside. All the pews were empty. Instead of going up another aisle, I carried the challis out the front door. When I got outside, I was wearing a flannel shirt, T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, like I wore to school. I stood on the top step, looked down at the challis and it was full. I looked up and saw hundreds of people there. I gave Communion to all of them, and then preached on the the Parable of the Good Samaritan.”
Luke 10:30-37
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’"

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
You don't have to be Christian to do likewise. You don't have to believe in God or Jesus to do likewise. All you need to do is care about others and be willing to do what you can for the sake of others.

Like with all other books out there, these books are intended for a specific audience. Most people who do not go to church are not intended to get your body into one. They are not anti-church but are anti-hypocritical. The goal of these books is to empower survivors living with PTSD and fill them with the same things that filled me, nourished me and gave me peace with the past so that events no longer controlled me and people who hurt me, no longer had power over my life.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

It is time for the other survivors to find comfort too

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 8, 2021

If you have PTSD, it can be very hard to believe in miracles. Surviving the cause of it, didn't feel like a miracle, especially if you are suffering afterwards. The thing is, it won't change as long as you only focus on the event and misery that came with it.

Having survived over 10 of them, I can tell you that I felt lucky to still be alive at first. Then came the unanswerable questions filling up my mind. Some were caused by strangers. Some were caused by people I knew. Some were caused by doctors. Some were caused by my own body. Each and every time, there were miracles following the horror shows.

If you learn nothing else from me, learn how to see things in a different way.

The first miracle was, I survived. 

Once I stopped asking why it happened to me, I started to wonder why strangers would show up to help me. That was the second miracle I needed to see. All the people dropping what they were doing and helping me, in whatever way they could, helped me heal.

The third miracle was when I started to cry and released all the bad emotions that came with the event. That allowed good emotions to be fed and hope returned to my soul.

The forth miracle was when I used what I learned to help others along the way. I think that is the best miracle of all because it did not stop with me. It spread out. People I helped, helped others. They helped even more and it just kept going.

Survivors are proof that miracles do still happen. The thing you need to decide is, do you want to have your life defined by what tried to kill you, or do you want it defined by the miracles you pass on? Each time I helped someone, I was strengthened. There are no limits on what you can do, just as there are no limits on what God still does.

I hope you find what you're looking for in THE LOST SON because that is what it is all about. Each character in the book survived, regretted it and then, miracles walked into their lives. They became the answer to the miracles others were praying for.

While there are veterans in it, there are other main characters from other events as well. It is time for the other survivors to find comfort too, because there are 15 million Americans fighting PTSD every year and joining this group seeking happiness.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

If PTSD had an anthem, it should be HELP!

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 12, 2021

(This is from my other site for everyone with PTSD. I thought it was important to share it here too!)

Most people start singing a song whenever they hear it. They can't help it. It makes them happy to sing it. It is as infectious as it was when it was released in 1965! The song, naturally is the Beatles HELP! It was so popular, they even had a movie with that title. So why is it so much easier for everyone to sing that song, than it is to do it?

If PTSD had an anthem, it should be HELP! How much clearer does it have to be? Why the hell should anyone have a problem asking for help when they need it but have no problem, if they can carry a tune or not, to sing this song loud and clear? Has that ever dawned on anyone?

"And now my life has changed in oh so many ways"
Isn't that what having PTSD is like? Your life does change in so many ways. The thing is, getting help can change your life for the better. Wouldn't it make more sense to actually ask for help to be happier, than it is to settle for being happy singing this song for a few minutes? 

Common sense needs to come back into the conversation we've been having about PTSD because we're all tied of hearing the doom and gloom. All that has done is tell us that we should never expect to be happy again. Where is the hope in that? Someone said that asking for help is a sign of weakness but all that meant was the hope the had was weak and they wanted everyone else to be miserable too!

Isn't it time to stop singing the same tune and start asking someone for help in real life? Someone who can actually help you? Asking for help is normal. It is human. Won't you please, please, ask for help when you need it?

Remember, it is your life...get in and drive it!
#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife from #PTSD

The Beatles

I need somebody
(Help!) not just anybody
(Help!) you know I need someone
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured (but now these days are gone)
(And now I find) Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors
Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?
And now my life has changed in oh so many ways (and now my life has changed)
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure (I know that I)
I know that I just need you like I've never done before
Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured (but now these days are gone)
(And now I find) now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors
Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, ooh

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Help! lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing

and the movie HELP

Friday, May 22, 2020

"...but you will not look for what you do not know is there."

Do not sit in despair, heal instead

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 22, 2020

When you are suffering, you feel as if the earth is crushing you. Hope has been eroded away by the constant tide of pain returning instead of the relief you searched for.

Take comfort in knowing, it is not as if you do not deserve help. You have just been looking in the wrong places.

4 I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away, my heart heavy, like lead.
5 I remembered the old days, went over all you've done, pondered the ways you've worked,
6 Stretched out my hands to you, as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain.
7 Hurry with your answer, God! I'm nearly at the end of my rope. Don't turn away; don't ignore me! That would be certain death.
8 If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice, I'll go to sleep each night trusting in you. Point out the road I must travel; I'm all ears, all eyes before you.
9 Save me from my enemies, God - you're my only hope!
10 Teach me how to live to please you, because you're my God. Lead me by your blessed Spirit into cleared and level pastureland.
11 Keep up your reputation, God - give me life! In your justice, get me out of this trouble!
Psalm 143:4-11

You may find what you are looking for,
Look and you will find it - what is unsought will go undetected.

but you will not look for what you do not know is there.

You know you do not want to suffer anymore. If the only thing you are looking for is a way to end it, that is all you will find. Yet if you look for a way to live a better life, you will find it and be encouraged to find the next thing that will help you achieve all you hope to be.

Last night I called a veteran Marine I had worked with for a long time. The conversation started out with how repulsive suicide awareness is. As usual, I was sick to my stomach about what has been accepted as worthy of support because that is all people know. What they do not know, is much like how the rest of our conversation went.

He told me about how he has passed on all that he learned from me and saved lives. They turned around and passed it on to others, and save lives. That is how it is supposed to work!

My friend sought my help when he was ready. I had to have patience until he was ready. Although many times I wanted to smack him on the back of the head to make him listen, I had to wait. I let him know I was there simply by showing up.

His best friend was also suffering. I did not have a chance to help him and to this day I wish he had given me a chance to help him. He took his own life, which devastated my Marine friend. It took a while for him to trust me enough to talk, even longer for him to listen to me but he did.

I restored hope for him, cleared the crap he thought out of his mind and educated him on PTSD basics that he had never heard before. No one had ever told him that he had the power to heal already within him.

Well, a lot of work later, he did everything he could do for himself, invested the time, spent the energy, and took back his power from PTSD. Then he passed on the message to others.

He also rediscovered what Faith is supposed to be like. That God did not do it to him as some sort of punishment. He forgave himself for what he felt he did wrong. Forgave others for wrong they did to him. And then he accepted the healing power God had already given him within the same soul that caused him to be able to risk his life in the Marines.

Saving lives, doing whatever veterans could, came with the package, and so did the power to heal from what that would do to them.

If you are looking for a way out of despair, time to start looking in different places, beginning with what is already inside of you...your soul.
Sunday morning empowerment zone features Marine veteran filmed yesterday at the Orlando Nam Knights bikeweek party. His simple message is empowerment! Take control of your life from this moment on. It's up to you where you go from here!

Friday, April 10, 2020

PTSD: If the leaders have not managed to take care of their it yourself!

Stop waiting for someone else to do it!

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 10, 2020

Over and over again we read about responders not getting the mental health help they desperately need. After over 4 decades of research into what PTSD does, if the leaders have not managed to take care of their it yourself!

Stop waiting for someone else to begin taking care of you and the people you risk your life with. If they are still so ignorant they have not managed to provide you with the proper support, do it for each other. After all, peer support is what works best. It can only work if you learn all you can to be able to respond with facts, as well as encouragement.

The longer you wait, the more will die by their own hands because of what their jobs did to them!

You already their trust, because they trust you with their lives, as you trust them with yours.

Open your mouth if you think someone you know is struggling instead of fearing how they will judge you. If you still fear talking about PTSD, then that is your problem and you need to overcome it. Learn what it is and why you have it and then you will see that it is a price you are paying for surviving what you lived through.

Start helping each other heal! Contact me if you have questions 407-754-7526

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sharing pain is often healing for us and gives comfort to others

When you know your work is not worthless

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 25, 2020

During this time of isolation, it has been really hard to fight depression, especially when my life has been about helping veterans and their families. My husband and I are both over 60 and have health problems. Being out with people is dangerous for me, but more so for him. It is also dangerous for all others. Knowing that isolation is very hard on veterans, especially when they have PTSD, rips at my soul!
I just put up a video for the leaders in Point Man International Ministries, knowing that if I am going through all of this, they must be too. Sharing pain is often healing for us and gives comfort to others going through the same thing. Knowing you are not alone is empowering!
read it here

Sunday, March 1, 2020

If it was your job to help others, what is wrong with admitting you need help too?

Nothing wrong with needing help now

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
February 29, 2020

"Lean On Me"
Bill Withers Lyrics
Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow.
But if we are wise,
we know that there's always tomorrow.

All of you who serve, putting your lives on the line for the sake of someone else, are all still just human. You have the same emotions as everyone else.

What makes you different, is you willingly subject yourself to things others run away from. While you have more courage than most people, you also have more compassion than others, or you would not have taken on the job you did.

You spent everyday trying to make a difference. Sometimes you felt as if you failed when things went wrong. The thing you missed is that you did make a difference because if you were not there, it could have been a lot worse.
Lean on me when you're not strong
I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on.
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Monday, February 17, 2020

"What I took away was that we are never alone when we are at our darkest."

National Prayer Breakfast — Warriors should seek help during dark times

Fort Carson
By Norman Shifflett
Garrison Public Affairs Office
February 16, 2020
“What I took away was that we are never alone when we are at our darkest,” said Spc. Alexis Garwood, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div, who was attending her first prayer breakfast.
FORT CARSON, Colo. — During the National Prayer Breakfast, Soldiers eat breakfast at the William “Bill” Reed Special Events Center Feb. 6, 2020. (Photo by Norman Shifflett)
FORT CARSON, Colo. — The National Day of Prayer provides an opportunity for people from various faiths and backgrounds to come together and unite for a prayer for the nation.

About 500 Soldiers, Family members and guests from the local community attended the annual Fort Carson National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 6, 2020, at the William “Bill” Reed Special Events Center.

“The most important part of this breakfast is that it shows the people of America we can come together as different races, colors and creeds and pray for the safety of our nation and hope for the greatness to continue,” said Col. Robert Glazener, senior mission command chaplain, 4th Infantry Division.
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Thursday, January 23, 2020

"When you see it on television, that is difficult. It is a lot tougher when you are there."

Connecticut State Police Create Program to Help First Responders Manage PTSD

NBC Connecticut
By Siobhan McGirl
January 22, 2020
Dillon said he will never forget responding to the scene of the school shooting in Sandy Hook in December of 2012. Twenty students and six adults were killed. Dillon spent one week processing evidence on the scene, but he struggled to process the event on a personal level.

The state is taking new measures to help first responders who may be struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"When you see it on television, that is difficult. It is a lot tougher when you are there," said Sgt. Troy Anderson.

Anderson retired from the Connecticut State Police after more than 20 years of service, but he is coming out of retirement. Anderson is filling a newly created position, heading up a wellness and resiliency program. The veteran law enforcement officer will be tasked with creating programs and finding resources to meet the wellness needs of all six divisions of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
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Friday, January 17, 2020

Female Veteran “There wasn’t anything out there to help me. I had to figure it out all on my own.”

Female veterans face separate struggles than their male counterparts

Denver 7 News
By: Alicia Nieves
January 17, 2020
“There wasn’t anything out there to help me. I had to figure it out all on my own,” said Del Gaudio.

Women typically have less support in the veteran space and struggle to transition at disproportionately higher rates than their male counterparts.
NEW YORK, N.Y. – A board game created by graduate students at the School of Visual Arts in New York City is providing insight into the veteran life experience, particularly the female veteran experience.

The game is called “Military Game of Life.” Jiani Lin, Teng Yu, William Crum, Kevin Cook, Antriksh Nangia and Alexia Cohen were the students behind the game. They were able to get insight needed by teaming up with the Manhattan VA Medical Center and interviewing veterans there.

In the “Military Game of Life,” when you are a character and you roll the dice, you eventually land on an “XP" space. “XP” allows you to pick up an experience card, relative to the gender of your character. You learn, through the cards, some experiences are the same for male and female service members, but some are not.
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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Sheriff John Mina sets example of “It’s OK to not be OK"

‘It’s OK to not be OK’: Orange County Sheriff shares experiences with PTSD after rise in law-enforcement suicides

WFTV 9 News
By: Lauren Seabrook and Adam Poulisse
Updated: January 8, 2020
On Monday, Mina uploaded a video on the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page called “It’s OK to not be OK." In it, he shares his own story of dealing with depression and urges fellow law-enforcement officers to seek mental help if they need it. It has already been viewed more than a million times.

On Monday, Mina uploaded a video on the Orange County Sheriff?s Office Facebook page called ?It?s OK to not be OK."

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — One case has stuck with Sheriff John Mina.

“I remember one case that I went to, where an 11-year-old actually pointed me to the closet where her dead mother was,” Mina recalled. “An awful case.”

Dead children. Dead infants. Having to use his firearm to take someone’s life in the line of duty -- “those things will affect you,” Mina said.
Last year, more than 224 officers committed suicide nationwide. In response to the rising numbers, Mina is sharing his own experiences of post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Saturday, December 21, 2019

“Veterans’ Treatment Court in Catawba County will restore health to veterans, their families..."

Treatment court for military veterans is on the horizon in Catawba County

Observer News Enterprise
December 20, 2019

A treatment court for military veterans is on the horizon in Catawba County.

The new treatment court will begin in January 2021 and provide assistance to veterans who have contact with the court system in Catawba County when a 10th judge is added for the judicial district.

Tammy West, a legal assistant with the 36th Prosecutorial District Attorney’s Office in Catawba County, has been among those spearheading the effort to bring a treatment court for veterans to the county.

“Veterans have done so much for us as a nation,” West said. “We have no idea what they go through for us. What they see and do can be very bad, but they do it because they believe in a greater cause. This is a small way we can give back to them in their time of need.”

West and District Attorney Scott Reilly both had sons who served in the military, so they know first-hand some of the issues veterans deal with on a daily basis.

“We have a heart for veterans. We want to give back because we know what their (veterans’) sacrifice causes,” West said.

Reilly added, “We depend on our brave men and women to answer the call to defend our freedom. We must also be there to support them by providing resources to address their needs and issues by doing our best to get them well again. This Veterans’ Treatment Court is designed to meet the particular needs of veterans involved in the criminal justice system.”

Dennis Bennett, a retired U.S. Army veteran, has been an advocate of the treatment court to assist veterans for several years. He is glad to see that a vision has become a reality.

“Veterans’ Treatment Court in Catawba County will restore health to veterans, their families, work places and the community as a whole. It will save lives, period,” Bennett said. “I’m truly grateful for the vision of justice that District Attorney Scott Reilly brings to our community. He is dedicated to the wellness of our community as a DA in promoting justice and welfare."
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Monday, December 9, 2019

Operation Combat Bikesaver mending veterans of all generations

Hot rod therapy: Vets tout positive influence of motorcycle building workshop; ‘It’s really amazing what getting your knuckles dirty and bloody can do’

Chicago Tribune
DEC 08, 2019

Participants are from different branches of the service and different wars and conflicts including Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. What they find on those Sundays is the camaraderie they had while serving and a place to work through their feelings physically by working on projects or their own bike.
U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Indiana), right, visits the headquarters of Operation Combat Bikesaver in Center Township near Crown Point on Friday, December 6, 2019. At left is organization CEO, president and founder, Jason Zaideman. (Michael Gard/Post-Tribune) (Michael Gard / Post-Tribune)

Marine veteran Dan Riordan explained to U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., how the motorcycle he is building at Operation Combat Bikesaver Inc. will look when the project is done.

The bike will be Marine Corps dress blue with the red stripe. There will be a Gold Star in front with the names of the members of his battalion “Mad Ghosts 224” killed in action listed, Riordan said. The battalion logo will be on the sides.

“It’s gonna be looking good and sounding even better,” Riordan, of Griffith, said.

Young was in Crown Point to tour the Operation Combat Bikesaver facility and learn more about the work done there to help veterans struggling with issues including depression and PTSD find their footing.
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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Florida creates more special pod for military veterans

Florida jail opens section just for military veterans

Tiffini Theisen
AUG 21, 2019
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., has championed the Tampa unit. "I'm very excited to see the commitment from all stakeholders as we work to improve how we identify and treat Veterans who are in need mental health services," he posted on his Facebook page in late July.
A jail in Florida this week became the latest to offer a special pod for military veterans.

"Veteran pods" are becoming an increasingly common part of jails nationwide as the criminal justice system focuses more on helping troubled former service members, who are more likely to have reported mental health issues, particularly PTSD. (Wikimedia Commons) A new housing unit is opening at the Falkenburg Road Jail near Tampa, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced Tuesday

"They'll get treatment for mental health issues and drug addictions, lessons on how to gain employment and group sessions with fellow #vets who can relate to their concerns," the sheriff's office posted on its Facebook page. "The goal is to restore their pride and give them the tools to NOT end up back in jail."

Statewide, the Florida Veterans Support Line at 1-844-MyFLVet (693-5838) allows veterans and their loved ones to talk confidentially with someone trained to provide emotional support and connections to community resources.

In Orlando, the Orange County Corrections Department Armed Forces Dormitory opened in 2012. Its dorm employs guards who are also veterans or reservists. The program provides counseling, treatment and re-entry support for veterans. Those with violent or serious charges are not eligible.
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Sunday, June 30, 2019

PTSD Awareness is watching them fall

Raising PTSD Awareness, hardly working

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 30, 2019

While it seems as if there are more people "raising awareness" on PTSD and suicides, than ever before, we need to recognize that it is hardly working. Once we accept that fact, then maybe we can change the outcome. Until we stop settling for something that is not working, nothing will change.

Back in 2008, I was at an event with the VA. I talked with a couple of mental health professionals, I once admired, until I asked them what they thought of "Battlemind." 

It was a program the DOD was using to get servicemembers to "train their brain" to become mentally tough. The results we astonishingly abysmal.

When they gave me the usual talking points as to why they were spreading the program out as much as possible following the DOD as a guide, I pointed out the results.

The reply from the "professionals" was "it is better than nothing."

Thirty-seven years ago, that answer may have been acceptable, since few knew what was going on with researchers working very hard on finding the best treatments. 

I know because I read their books with a dictionary at the local library month after month with as much free time as I could spend there. It was 1982 and we did not even have computers in our homes.

Now we have cellphones, putting the world in the palms of our hands, but as oblivious as most were back then, it seems to be accepted as trendy now.

I read stuff being shared all over social media and wonder if anyone has really given any of it any thought at all. Do they ever wonder how large the chain of domino knockdown is?

Sure, it is cool to watch stunts like this, but the result is, something that stood up...fell down.
This article sums it all up very well.

Statistics on PTSD in Veterans

U.S. News and World Report
By Elaine K. Howley, Contributor 
June 28, 2019

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources including Freda C. Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA; Janina Scarlet, PhD; Rand McClain, DO; Ken Yeager, PhD, LISW

AS GENERAL WILLIAM Tecumseh Sherman famously noted during the Civil War, “War is hell.” It’s hell for civilians caught in the cross-fire and can be hell for the political powers that petition for it. But most especially war can become an exceptionally cruel and lasting hell for the soldiers tasked with waging it.

Once called shell-shock, then Vietnam Veteran’s Disorder, a condition now referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder is common among military personnel who have served, and it, too, is considered a hellish condition by many people who have it. Though PTSD occurs at higher rates among military personnel than the general population, we now understand that it can develop in anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.

How Common Is PTSD Among Veterans?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder among veteran varies depending on which conflict a service member was involved with.

About 11 to 20 out of every 100 veterans (or between 11 and 20%) who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year.

About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year.

About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam veterans (15%) were currently diagnosed with PTSD when the most recent study of them (the National Vietnam Veteran Readjustment Study) was conducted in the late 1980s. It’s believed that 30% of Vietnam veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
The article also had this.
These troubling statistics point to another complication of life after war for veterans – a lack of support and connection to others, Yeager says. “The whole idea of the band of brothers is a very real neurophysiological situation. You never feel more alive or more connected with people than you do when you’re in that combat field and I think for many vets combing back who’ve had their neurotransmitters firing at a very high rate, they struggle with ‘how do I find this again? Where can I get this kind of feeling alive?’”
Should you wonder if it is worth it the next time you see something you want to share? Yes! Share what works. Share what is offering hope to those who have lost theirs. Share facts. Share real support. Then maybe we can run the knockdown of dominos in reverse and watch them all stand up. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Be encouraged by what you imagine to be possible with PTSD

You can break through to the other side of PTSD

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
June 2, 2019

It seems as if the stigma of PTSD is still being passed on to the point where veterans still do not understand it.

You are limited by what you imagine to be true instead of encouraged by what you imagine to be possible.

Imagine having a happier life! That is possible.

Imagine being able to overcome all the negative thoughts you have and replace them with achievable goals. 

It takes work but that work will only begin when you understand what PTSD is.

Post means after.

Trauma means wound.

Stress comes after surviving the shock of what happened.

Disorder comes when your mind and body are trying to adjust afterwards.

Any shame in surviving something that could have killed you?

No one walks away from that kind of trauma unchanged. The secret is, that you can change again. YEP! You are only stuck where you are because no one told you that you are in control over where you go. 

Just like getting into the vehicle you drive, (or getting on if you have a motorcycle) you control where you go from this point on.

You chose the destination and how you get there.

#BreakTheSilence comes when you are able to finally figure out that there is nothing within you that caused PTSD. IT HIT YOU! Any shame in being hit by a bullet? Any shame in getting blown up by a bomb? NOPE!

Time to stop finding all the excuses for using your right to remain silent because all that does is keep you suffering instead of healing.

Let's put it this way. Would I still be doing this after 37 years if I was ashamed of any of you?
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