The “Ghosts” in my Darkness

This is not an easy blog for me to write, but I’m feeling called to expose my secret for the sake of those who may be suffering in silence.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that has been linked to my career as a Correctional Officer. Think of me as you will, I am no longer concerned with stigmas and shaming. Believe me, this condition is as real as any physical disorder and just as devastating.

No, I’m not looking for sympathy. I want to reach out to those who are ‘there’ and feel that they have nowhere to turn. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m yelling the words below, however, these are from personal experience and cannot be stressed enough.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

YOU ARE NOT WEAK.

YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN TO YOUR FAMILY OR ANYONE ELSE.

PLEASE TALK TO SOMEONE AND GET HELP.

IF YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE FOOLING THOSE WHO KNOW YOU BEST INTO BELIEVING NOTHING IS WRONG, YOU ARE ONLY FOOLING YOURSELF. THEY NOTICE, TRUST ME.

YOUR LOVED ONES MAY NOT ‘GET YOU’ BUT THEY WANT TO HELP.

YOUR FAMILY MAY NEED TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP AS WELL, BECAUSE PTSD IS TRAUMATIZING TO THOSE WHO LOVE YOU. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT THAT YOU HAVE PTSD, BUT IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO SEEK HELP AND WORK AT RECOVERING.

SUICIDE OR NUMBING WITH DRUGS, ALCOHOL, OR WHATEVER POISONOUS “COPING” MECHANISM YOU MAY CHOOSE, IS NOT THE ANSWER.

My pride got in the way and I waited too long. In fact, if you want to talk, I am available at markbierman3@gmail.com. I promise confidentiality and lay no claim to being a professional counsellor, but I will do my best to give support and listen. I want you to know that you are not being intrusive if you email me to talk. I have friends who are dealing with PTSD and it is therapeutic to share with others who ‘get it’.

I’ll spare you the gruesome details of how I came to this point, that’s not what this blog is about. I’m currently off on disability for my condition and receiving professional help. I will say one fact that came as a surprise to me. In spite of all the violence, death, and life-threatening situations that I have endured, the biggest contributor was the feeling of betrayal at the hands of those who were supposed to protect me and my coworkers. They were negligent. There is a geographical and bureaucratic detachment, combined with ignorance of the realities of our job. In addition, there is also, what seems to me, an apparent lack of concern because we are deemed unimportant. I will stop there, because I become angry just thinking about it.

PTSD can be caused by a single traumatic event, or, in my case, cumulative events. It is not just an issue for first responders, anyone can be afflicted.

No one has the right to tell you to, “Suck it up, it’s all in your head.

That’s complete bulls**t!

I’ve lost six coworkers to suicide over the years and there are more that I did not know personally. I have also seen too many drink themselves to death, all to numb the pain. If that is what “sucking it” up means, count me out!

If you need immediate help because of suicidal thoughts, please contact a help line or the police. You can get better, there is hope and help in the darkness.

Here is a poem I wrote sometime ago that sheds a bit of light on what living with this issue can feel like. I composed this at my worst. I am glad to say that I no longer feel this way most of the time.

What Haunts Me.

Morning light through window shines, but I wish for darkness to remain,

For with the light, come the demands of life, far too much

“Take your meds!” they preach. “They will help to reduce the pain.”

I swallow them down to banish the ghosts, yet never escape their clutch

What happened to the man I used to be? Full of life and no dark stain,

He’s but gone, a phantom from another time, never to return again.

We are all different, and I know we have different values, beliefs and situations, but here are a few things that have helped me on the road to recovery.

My belief in God.

My wonderful and supportive friends and family.

Prescribed and monitored medication.

Professional counselling.

Leaving the situation (work).

An attitude of gratitude, yes, concentrating and giving thanks for the blessings in my life.

Regular physical exercise.

Volunteering as much as I can in these strange days of COVID.

Good nutrition and sleep (not always easy but it will come with time).

Being outdoors, especially enjoying nature.

Pets.

Avoiding the news and social media, at times.

Your thoughts control your emotions, so I’ve been taught to practice a technique called CATCH, CHECK, CHANGE: If you have a bad thought capture it, check the rationale behind it, change it to something positive. This one takes some work.

This list is not exhaustive, and you will discover your own path to healing.

Just one more thing before I close. I want you to know, especially the wonderful friends I’ve made at Rave Reviews Book Club , that if I don’t respond to comments in a proper time frame, participate in supportive activities, blog, or retweet, I’m probably having a rough day and cannot focus. It’s nothing personal. It’s taking me forever to write my second book because of this.

I’m on the mend and fighting back, and someday I’ll finish that book. 🙂

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. You deserve a great life and there is always hope.

Here We Celebrated.

I can say with great confidence that we’re all weary of COVID and the toll it has taken on so many areas of life.

Yesterday, in spite of everything, in spite of a young girl’s fear that the celebration of her eleventh birthday would be confined to the virtual world, a small family gathering took place at our home. Social distancing was respected, and my beautiful daughter had a chance to safely bask in the love of her three-dimensional family. However, physical touch outside of immediate family was a no-go.

I composed a short poem to reflect on what has been the experiences of so many.

lonechair

 

They came! Pure joy, bright smile, Grandma! Grandpa!

Air hug, squeeze tight, baby girl, please stay safe!

Can they play? I miss the swing, push me high!

Too close, I know, will my heart ache forever?

Daddy, I am glad, but sad, it hurts so bad.

Please play with me. We’ll catch a butterfly.

Leave the net, and step away, so they can see.

Daddy, you are holding me! I’m not a bug.

Who wants a bug when there’s an angel to hug?

Welcome to Day 12 of the 2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! #RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp

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This post is shared from the blog of Author, PTL Perrin.  It was written by Author Nonnie Jules, and speaks volumes about the struggles that some are going through in relation to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

nonnie-jules

by Nonnie Jules

By Friday, I doubted that I would even be part of this event.  I’m sure many of you noticed that I kept moving others ahead of me and ahead of me, until I ran out of members to move – as I struggled with finding the time in my schedule to write something.  As of this morning, I had finally decided that I just wasn’t going to be able to participate, as again, I saw no opening in my schedule that would allow it.

Then, I got a phone call at 7:37 this evening from a friend, sharing that her relative had just attempted suicide due to his personal struggles since the arrival of COVID19.  He had lost his job, had received an eviction notice, and saw no clear path to anything remotely close to “better” while the Coronavirus lingered.  That conversation forced me to sit down at my desk just as soon as I hung up the phone.  What you will find below may not be that great, but it’s what my heart rolled out in the final hour.


And So, I Believed

We are living through what is possibly the most trying time in many of our lives.  We are a world on lock-down, and though there are those of us who are living a bit more comfortably than others during this pandemic, many in the world are suffering.

Some of us are not concerned with how our mortgages and car notes will get paid.  Some of us aren’t concerned with where our next meal will come from, or, if we’ll have to suffer through another night filled with tears streaming down the faces of our hungry children, along with our own tears of helplessness.

For those who suffer with mental illness, their situations are creating a new wave of crisis, as many who see no way out, are, out of fear and desperation, turning to suicide.

My heart breaks for these innocents in this war.


It’s quiet.
I’m afraid​. ​
I’ve been locked up inside for so long, I don’t know my nights from my days.

It’s lonely.
I’m scared.
There’s no place to hide, ​and ​no other place to go​, ​because it’s everywhere.

I need to make a run
​…​just out to the store
…but, I’m not even sure
…it’s safe to open my door.

It’s in the air ​we breathe​
​…​on everything that we touch
I never realized ​until now​
​…​I needed people so much​. ​

I’ve no medical insurance
…so, I mustn’t get sick​. ​
My stomach is growling​​​
​…​but, it will soon quit​. ​

I’ll just stay inside for now.

I do need my meds
…to kill the voices in my head.
They’ve never been this loud before.
A little knock at the door
…would really help right now.

It’s ​too ​quiet.
I’m ​so ​afraid.
I open my wallet and remember…
I haven’t even gotten paid.

What will I do?
​How will I survive?
I don’t even know if it’s worth staying alive.
And, what will I eat?
What about the heat?

I know that it’s summer
…and it’s supposed to be hot
…but​, ​this thing has me terrified
…all tied up in knots.
​So, I strangely shiver as if it is cold.
While parts of the world move, my life is on hold. ​

Under the covers
…the only place I feel safe.
Oh, how I wish
…to feel the sun on my face.

How will I ​cover​
…the rent that is due?
My landlord’s expecting
…to be paid at two.

Some understand
…but others not
My luck ran out
…with the landlord I got.

“I’ve got a family to feed – you’ve only got you.”
He does not ​see​ that only me has to eat, too.

I don’t have the rent, dear Lord.
What will I do?
Where will I go?
I need a sign
…because I just don’t know.

How long will this crisis last?
No one knows for sure.
I’m afraid​ of my thoughts​.
How much more can I endure?

I just don’t know.

My mind is racing
…it just won’t stop.
Please slow it down, Lord
…these thoughts are just not – to your liking.

I cover my mouth
A cough escapes.
​I d​rift over to the window
…and pull back the drapes.
Unlocking the locks
…one by one
I can hear the calling ​
​…​not a voice​, ​but a gun.

​No, too noisy, I think.

And what if I miss?
I’m already afraid to even consider this.

Now, it’s a voice – louder – more clear
Almost a shout – deep in my ear.
“Come closer to me.
Look, I’m down here.” 

Five stories below me
Cars rush​ing​ by
​I hear the voice again​
“​C’mon, you can fly.”

I look back over my shoulder
As my landlord knocks
Then I glance at the wall
…it’s straight two o’clock.

“Why are you hesitant? There’s only pain here for you.
There’s nobody to help, so, what will you do?
The world is on lockdown, but you can be free.
Do not wait another second; come and join me!
You see, I am free – down here.
And don’t forget, you can fly.”

And so, I believed.


To everyone reading this who might be struggling with thoughts in their head, that under normal circumstances wouldn’t make sense, yet, they seem to make sense in the moment, what you should always remember is that the devil is alive and well, and sometimes looks and sounds just like you and me. {And of course, he wants you to join him…in hell.}

Fight those voices that encourage you to harm yourself and others.

If you were not born a bird or created in the likeness of some type of aircraft, listen to ME – you cannot fly.

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  Please leave a comment on the main RWISA“RISE-UP”Blog Tour page!  Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well.  Thank you, and good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Haircut Too Far!

Okay, so let’s find a large cardboard box to climb into and imagine it’s the DeLorean from Back To The Future. Those of you with artistic tendencies may opt for detailing the exterior to mimic the real thing. That’s fine with me.

Now, we’ll set the dial for the not-so-distant date of yesterday! Twenty-four hours ago, my COVID19 hairstyle resembled a shave brush. Yes, it grows straight up and out.

Enough was enough and on a recent trip to town, I had Tanya pick up hair clippers.

About an hour later, seated on a lawn chair on the back deck, with pedestal mirror in hand, I commenced my first-ever self-propelled haircut. Now, this skull rug is no stranger to the clippers, but they’re usually handled by a professional.

I shrugged off the clipper guides and went bare blade. Who cares in this new reality? It could be two moons before my next shearing.

I dug in deep and soon clumps of hair, with far too much gray, tumble weeded across the deck, entangling any unfortunate insect that crossed its path.

Our youngest daughter came out to observe and uttered the words every father “wants” to hear. “Dad, you look creepy!”

A courageous youngster, she pushed her disgust aside and offered to help, which I took gratefully. She worked the back, but eventually proclaimed it hopeless and suggested Tanya finish the job.

I must say the pruning was most liberating! I swear I’ve developed a sixth sense; I mean, I can feel everything! The last time I was this bald, my behind was wrapped in diapers.

My head is now an organic weather satellite, at one with the jet streams. I’m certain that no butterfly can pass above without my detection.

Proud of the newly acquired ability, I went to peacock my new look to our oldest. If I’d entered her room with my nose cut off, her face would have betrayed less horror.

Humbled, I exited quickly, but not before I heard her whisper these words to her classmates on Zoom. “My Dad just cut his hair and it’s frightening!”

Oh well, hair grows back and I’m saving on shampoo.

In the meantime, I’m grateful to the professional folks at North Shore Construction for gifting me with the perfect shame saver.

baldy

Creepy!

Northshorelid

The remedy!

Six-Word Story

callofnature

John answers the call of nature!