EASIEST PATH, FRAUGHT WITH HIDDEN DANGER!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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.
Happy Sunday! Here is my take on talented Author Suzanne Burkes’ weekly Fiction In a Flash Challenge. Authors are invited to write a short story about the photo shown. Please click on the above link to go to her blog site. Thank you so much, Suzanne for hosting this regular challenge!
“Grandma, are you sure you want to go up there? They’re in bad shape, and your hip.”
“Oh, pish posh,” Rosemary waved dismissively. “Should have done this years ago and those were built when quality counted.”
“That was seventy-seven years ago. This place has been abandoned for—”
“Twenty years, other than some vandalism, the bones are solid.”
“Maybe, but yours aren’t. Please, just let me have a look. The third floorboard from the back wall of the closet, right?”
Rosemary patted Emily’s hand. “I need to do this myself, with a bit of help from you.”
Emily wiped a tear and hugged her grandmother. “I understand. You were eight and you’ve waited this long. It was your only hope. All these years . . . ” Her grief soaked the purple shawl.
“Shh . . . I’ve made my peace. This must be done before I see him again. I pray God will allow it in Heaven. Father has the other half, that’s why they never found it on him.”
Rosemary’s eyes stung but she must show restraint, be the brave girl that her father had said she was just before he left for the Great War. “Let’s continue, shall we?”
“Yes, I’m sorry.” Emily broke her embrace and took the tissue from Rosemary.
“But you must let me check each tread before you step on it and let me guide you. Those are my rules, I’m sorry. I love you too much to lose you.”
Rosemary nodded. “Agreed.”
They moved ahead, arm in arm, with Emily sweeping away the debris with her foot to clear a path. At the base of the stairs, she tested the railing and was satisfied.
“You see, built to last. The stairs will be the same, though the third step might creak. I learned to avoid that one when I’d sneak downstairs after bedtime to grab an extra cookie.” She pointed to the room they’d just left. “My parents would be sitting in their chairs, Mother with her nose in a book, while Father would be asleep. I never got caught, but sometimes I think Mother knew.” Rosemary smiled.
The stairs proved to be every bit as resilient as promised, but every tread protested the disturbance.
The hideous orange and white floral-patterned linoleum flooring installed by the last tenants had chunks missing and revealed the hardwood underneath. Decay wasn’t always bad.
Emily gingerly walked her grandmother across the tripping hazard to the first room on the left. Time had left only a thick layer of dust, cobwebs, and a musty smell in the barren room.
“Hmmm . . . used to be a lot bigger,” Rosemary said. She blamed her watering eyes on the dust and mold. “I loved this room, but after Father was gone, well, we had to move.”
She sighed deeply and shuffled towards the tiny closet. Emily’s hand went to grab her arm, but she brushed it off. “I’m good for now, but I’ll need you to help me kneel.”
The old woman reached the closet and Emily helped her to her knees.
Rosemary struggled to remove the floorboard and Emily offered to help.
“No! I must do this!” Her face softened and her tears splattered into the floor dust. “I’m sorry, dear, I didn’t mean to snap. This arthritis is making it hard. Did they nail it down?”
After what seemed an eternity, the board yielded, and was hoisted with a collectively held breath. Would it still be there?
Emily handed over the flashlight. The small beam illuminated only cobwebs and dirt. Rosemary dug frantically to clear them, and the light reflected off a silver object lying in between the floor joists.
Rosemary picked up the necklace with shaky hands. Emily gasped, for there it was, the legendary object that she’d heard about since early childhood.
A heart, with one half missing, the other half perhaps lay on a faraway battlefield.
Rosemary clutched the jewelry to her heart, and then wept loudly. Emily rushed to her side and tried to console her grandmother through her own tears.
It took several moments to recover, and Rosemary showed her the inscription in the heart. Because of the shape and the missing piece, it read, ALW TOGE . . . Always Together.
“Oh Grandma, is that true? Do you really believe that?”
“Yes, Emily, all of my life I knew he was there, and soon I will get to see him again and this heart will be whole.”
Hello, I’m back from a much-needed hiatus from writing. I return with fingers eagerly pecking away at the old magic portal that lets me send my work to the world without buying a plane ticket and risking COVID.
I apologize for any late responses to my last posts, and I will be reading your new ones soon.
While away, I did partake in some reading, and today I’m going to give you my review of Keith Edgar Channing’s Making Merry An Alien Adventure.
It would be best to start with the blurb:
Commander Meredith Winstanley and Lieutenant Commander Tarquin Stuart-Lane, generally regarded as the poshest of those who had purchased commissions in the Royal Space Regiment, had been selected by a ballot of their peers for a special mission to the moon. Their brief was to find out for how long two people could survive on that dead world, in an artificial habitat that they were to construct themselves, in situ, from materials they had with them. To allow them to take as much food and equipment as possible, with a view to extending their stay, their craft carried only enough fuel for a one-way journey. That, according to the brief, was also necessary because their craft would form an essential part of the habitat they were to construct. When they reached the point in the mission where their return was indicated, the higher-ups said they might send someone to collect them. What happens next no-one was prepared for.
Follow our hapless pair as they encounter or are encountered by incredibly tall and thin aliens, short and stout aliens, a striking young mathematician who turns out not to be what he seems to be and technologies you couldn’t make up.
This was a wonderful tongue-in-cheek, one of a kind, space adventure tale that I thoroughly enjoyed. Commander Meredith Winstanley and Lieutenant Commander Tarquin Stuart-Lane are assigned to a one-way trip to the moon under the guise of discovering a way to survive on the moon. It seems like an important trip for the selected pair, even the name of their ship Waist of Space fails to alert them to possibility that the Royal Space Regiment may actually be casting them off like refuse.
The moon proves far more interesting, and comical, than either had ever expected. While Commander Meredith proves herself invaluable, the bumbling Lieutenant Commander Tarquin provides plenty of laughs. His off-color-remarks, simpleton view of life, literal translation of everything he’s told, and the constant diet of his foot, kept me chuckling. Keith brings his great sense of humor and throws a smattering of scientific facts into the mix.
I did find the book a bit lengthy. However, the cast of characters provided enough entertainment to keep my interest.
This book would appeal to those who enjoy a humorous trip into Sci-Fi. There is some adult oriented material, so perhaps it’s not the best choice for a younger reader.
I am giving this book Four Stars!
As a writer of fiction, I make up and write lies for the sheer pleasure of doing it. These lies generally end up on my blog, as do a few of the photographs I take from time to time.
With my wife Clare and our two dogs, I have recently relocated to South Yorkshire after living for thirteen years in a rural location in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France.
Oh yes, INTJ-T.
Purchase a copy of this book or one of many others by Keith:
Connect with Keith:
I wrote this in response to Sue Vincent’s write photo prompt. If you would like to join in the fun, please visit her wonderful blog and have a look around: Sue Vincent
Please suspend your disbelief and picture a convoy of leaf cutter ants crawling across the fourth step from the top, on your right. The ants in this story are all female because worker ants tend to be this gender. The males exist to breed only, surprised? Let’s have a peek into the lives of our six-legged cast, shall we?
“Company halt! Major Amelia, do you have any idea where we are? Why are we crawling into a valley? And a better question is, what are those really tall things sticking up from the ground? They almost reach the sky!”
“Well uh, you see Commander Ava, I, um, was not really, well, you can see, the wind keeps blowing the leaf I’m carrying into my eyes. It’s huge, you know, I am very efficient, as some of us are. The most fungus for the leaf, as they say, or something like that. Hey, you know who might know, because she can’t handle the big stuff? Captain Abigail, of course! Oh, and she’s right here! She’ll know the answer.”
“Very well, Major Amelia, and I’d appreciate a proper antennae salute, or I’ll have you busted down to trash duty? You hear me?”
“Ouch! Yes Commander! Loud and clear. Oh, by the way, did you notice that omeone-say lse-eay idn’t-day altute-say?”
“Enough of that and stop pointing your antennae at the Captain. But yes, you owe me a salute, too, Abigail. And by the way, Major, someone in your position ought to have mastered a simple salute without poking herself in the eye. If your daddy hadn’t taken off after mating with the Queen, I’d swear that he bought your rank for you.”
“But Commander Ava, I don’t even know who my daddy is. None of us do. There’s just too many daddies!”
“Silence! Major Amelia, I’m well aware of how it all works. Now, we have a big problem here and of course, the best way to solve it is first to find out who is to blame.
“Those giants of the Sky Colony that walk up and down these mountains in just eight steps, well, I’ve learned their language. I hear them talk, and that’s what they do.
“We all know that might makes right, and since they are mightier, that means they must be rightier. Isn’t that right?
“No, you imbeciles! What are you, a bunch of dung beetles? Everyone stay in formation! I’m not talking about a direction, just about being right about might. Ah, never mind!
“Captain Abigail, as the lowest rank among the three of us, you are automatically guilty. If you wish to save your precious exoskeleton, you can start by explaining how you created this mess.”
“Me? I mean, Commander Ava, I was third in line, following Major Amelia. I’ve walked in lockstep the entire trip.”
“Hope you like the smell of garbage, because you’ll never forage again.”
“I will take it from here, thank you, Major.”
“Oh, sorry, Commander. But can I just say one thing?”
“Sure, but that’s it.”
“Captain Abigail is lazy. She only carries forty-nine times her bodyweight. She spends most of her time gawking around and smelling the pharaoh moans.”
“And you’re so dumb you can’t even pronounce pheromones.”
“Don’t clack your mandibles at me, Captain. I outrank you, remember?”
“Girls! Can we have order here, please! Now Captain, you’re still guilty and will be punished, but when you mentioned that phero-thingy, I came up with a brilliant idea, yet again. You see, the Captain has allowed our route to be sabotaged by the drones of the Sky Colony.”
“No disrespect, Commander, but what are you talking about?”
“Oh, sweet Captain, you have much to learn . . . explains your lowly rank, I suppose. I have personally seen one myself. It was days ago, and it flew over me, on its way up these very mountains. It had black and yellow stripes and made a horrendous buzzing sound.”
“Do not interrupt me, Captain! Now, as I was saying, the beast flew up these mountains towards that big blue, Sky Portal that the Sky Colony comes from.”
“Um, again, no disrespect, but I don’t think that’s the sky. You see, it’s vertical and the actual sky is— ouch!”
“If the Commander says that it’s the sky, that’s what it is. Now stop rubbing your eye and do not speak until you’re told to.”
“Thank you, Major. I’m ordering everyone to do a smell check. That way we can be sure that no enemy is among us. Look for yellow and black stripes, as well as anyone who buzzes like the gossip mill back at the Hill.
“That’s right! Get those antennae working. Major, get away from me! Ouch! You bit me! That’s it, Captain Abigail is now on permanent trash duty!”
“Me? But that was the Major’s fault.”
“You see me not listening? Yes, that’s what it’s like, but no one cares what you have to say. Alright, halt! It is clear that we have no enemies among us. Now we can resume the blame game. Captain, turn in your badge.”
“But we don’t have badges.”
“That’s it! You’re, hey, what just hit me?”
“Commander! It’s starting to rain! We need to seek shelter before we’re washed down these mountains!”
“Don’t tell me when it is raining, Captain. I’ll tell you, that’s how it works!”
“Um right . . . everyone, we need to get out of here! Move, now!”
“They won’t unless I command it. I say it might be rain, but if it is, then it is only a light rain. It will pass and we shall proceed in determining a new punishment for your insubordination.”
“Everyone, this is your captain speaking! Follow the chain of command but start with me. We’ll pretend the upper ranks do not exist. The rain is getting worse and we’ve no time to reach shelter, get to the base of this mountain and use your leaves to shield yourselves! Yes, that’s it, now hold on. Here comes the downpour!”
“Hey, Not-Captain-Abigail! You are way out of line . . . Major, take that leaf off your head and stand beside me at the edge of this cliff.”
“That’s a good girl, now listen to meee….!”
“They’re gone! I’m glad we listened to you, Captain.”
“All in the chain of command, Sergeant. Now hold steady!”