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Thursday, October 30 2014 @ 05:12 AM PDT

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Beautiful silence

The PTSD DiariesThe Power of Silence

If you have PTSD or know someone who might, this is well worth your time. I especially liked, "...our souls can often heal through nothing more than being allowed to speak freely in the light of day."

YES.

This came into sharp focus with the incident a week ago. In years past I would have internalized the guilt, letting it fester until it became part of me. Instead, I wrote about it. I talked about it. And I hashed it out with God immediately instead of trying to deny that it mattered. I'm so grateful to those friends who said what needed to be said and no more. They cleaned the wound and then let it scab over and heal. No emotional steri-strips or sutures required.

Just friendship, crashing waves, and acceptance. Now silence is something to embrace, not fear.

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Building a Safety Net

The PTSD DiariesThe Most Important Step in Caring for Those with PTSD, Especially Our Veterans

Silouan Green has been a trusted resource for a while now, and the latter part of his article demonstrates why. (Some people have quibbled about the number of programs available but that's not the point of the article.) This isn't about funding more programs; it's about bringing PTSD awareness and outreach to an accessible point for all of us. It's recognizing who is at risk in our existing community and building them a safety net.

I've written before about intentional friendship, and this is yet another reason why I believe it's important. Building one more friendship may save a life.

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Heartbreaking Sheepdog Suicide

The PTSD DiariesVet Who Saved Many in Iraq Couldn't Escape His Own Demons
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Real

The PTSD DiariesThe phrase "keep it real" has been overused into meaninglessness, but I'm not sure of how else to describe these past few days. Some things have almost been too good. I'm afraid of having it this good, because I can't imagine it lasting.

Amongst other events, I got to see a friend who was just back from Afghanistan. Words didn't cut it; I just grabbed her in the tightest hug you could imagine. I don't remember anything I said other than my explanation of how I had to leave immediately, but I'll never forget that moment. "Good to have her home" doesn't do it justice. It's easier to face life with courage now that she's in town.

Then there have been wonderful words of affirmation from family, golden moments with my amazing son, tender and painful interactions with friends. God whispers and I'm privileged to overhear.

Meanwhile it seems like the world has run hopelessly amok. It's a hazard of our instant news, but I'm feeling the cumulative effect of exposure to worldwide tragedy and stupidity. Anyone else feel like things are going off the deep end?

How do we balance blessings and abominations?

We can numb ourselves and try to pretend that none of it matters. Or we can accept that life hurts and thereby experience the wonder along with the pain.

I dare you to feel it all.

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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

The PTSD Diaries"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." -Jesus (Matthew 5:4)

Every once in a while truth sneaks up on you and hits you over the head.

The vast majority of us have heard the "blessed are those who mourn" statement at least once before, and for most, it's still difficult to understand. Okay, being comforted is good, but I'm not sure it really makes up for having a reason to cry in the first place.

But today I did a double-take as I realized what it actually said. It's not "blessed are those who lost a loved one" or "blessed are those whose relationship ended" or any other terrible event.

The blessing is for those who engage with the event. Something terrible has happened and they mourn. They are honest about the pain. They give their pain time and attention for a season.

Sometimes we have no choice but to push through a loss. I've done it before and I know that most of you have done it too. But when the crisis is past, it is time to mourn. It is time to engage with the wound so that it can be healed.
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Grateful Hands

The PTSD DiariesThe Therapy That Calms the Heart

I share the article above not so much as a cure-all as a statement of what we all need sometimes. Gratitude will get us through a lot, but sometimes we just need that other person to hold on to us and speak the words we don't have the strength to voice. I remember a time last year when I'd been pushed to my breaking point, and a friend who had been online-only until that point decided to pick up the phone and call because he heard the desperation in the written words. And then there's last night, when my husband took the last 2 hours of my responsibility for me so that I could get some desperately-needed sleep. We need those partners, those teams, to get us through the black moments.

I realize that I've been doing far more personal reflection than commentary these days. I look forward to bringing that into better balance, but I also believe that our analysis relies upon our inner balance. I see this problem in friends who are Obama supporters because he speaks to "their" issues. To be blunt, the world has screwed them over in one way or another, and they want someone to fix it. Problem is that they're hurting so bad that they can't see the bigger picture or how proposed solutions really aren't a good idea in the long run. Their pain is legitimate, but it clouds their thinking. And so often they lack gratitude for what they do have.

It's too easy to get caught up in the difficulties of our own situations. Even our hindsight, our regrets, can use a dose of gratitude. If life worked out the way we planned, we would miss so much, including the people who hold us through the trials. My road is difficult, but I have blessings that other friends can only dream about. But open, grateful hands are the only ones that can pull us all through.

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"Damaged Goods"

The PTSD DiariesI'd wanted to write a post on this issue before I'd even heard about this episode of "Dr. Phil" but now find it absolutely imperative to speak out.

Dr. Phil: Veterans With PTSD Are "Damaged Goods," "Monsters"

Yes, there have been veterans who have gone off the deep end, and the people who live with them need some special consideration. But this characterization is irresponsible, doing irreparable damage to those who struggle with PTSD and to their families. Also, as the article I linked discusses, there are plenty of civilians with PTSD, and the percentages of the total population between military and civilian are not radically different.

I've been blindsided by the stigma a few times. I've talked to people who I assumed would have an accurate understanding of the issues, and at times I've been very candid in order to help them understand better. On occasion, though, I've discovered that my candor has turned into fodder for the stigma. Even as I write this, I'm considering who may read it, and spinning the story accordingly.

But the bottom line is that while the Dr. Phil broadcast might help a very small percentage of those who are already into deep water, it does terrible harm to the majority of veterans and civilians with PTSD. If we believe we'll be seen as "damaged" or "monsters," we'll try to swallow the pain, which is how many got here in the first place. We're strong but we need an outlet. At the point when we break, we need to see hope rather than fear in the eyes of our loved ones. Well-chosen professional help is good, but I believe that ultimately we need to see that our revelations don't damage the way people see us. Unfortunately the world seems to be kinder to almost all disorders except PTSD. People are afraid. I suspect some of it has to do with the sheep/sheepdog analogy, i.e. when the sheep see the sheepdog is wounded, their concern is more for themselves. They don't understand how many sheepdogs live with the wounds, never harming anyone.

Yes, things just got tougher for everyone with PTSD. I ask everyone to take a few minutes to write to the Dr. Phil show to share their concern:
http://www.facebook.com/drphilshow
https://twitter.com/DRPHIL
http://drphil.com/plugger/respond/?plugID=9164

Dr. Phil Show
5482 Wilshire Boulevard #1902
Los Angeles, CA 90036

We have to be courageous. We have to dig deep and protect our brothers and sisters who do not yet have the strength to speak up. The life of someone who hides their pain too well might be depending upon it.

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excuse?

The PTSD DiariesCop in Child Porn Case Gets 10 Years After Claiming PTSD

What do you think, is this a legitimate PTSD claim?

I'm having trouble seeing it. I know the utter havoc that PTSD can cause, but I just don't know if it should alter sentencing in this case.

If anything, lack of oversight for his investigation was a bigger issue. Investigating child pornography is a little like going undercover in a drug ring; it involves exposure to addictive behavior and it's all too easy for the cop to get sucked in if he doesn't have proper support and oversight. Investigating via an office computer doesn't protect him when the criminality is internet-based. So yes, he's fully responsible for his actions, but more corrective action is needed.

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Surviving Christmas

The PTSD DiariesFor Those Who Grieve At Christmas

The article is written for grief, but it's equally applicable for anyone who can't erase horrific images from their mind. The first Christmas after I came back from the Middle East was a struggle, and this echoes what pulled me through. About 90% of our expectations of a "merry Christmas" are just... expectations. They're not the real meaning of the day, and we break our own hearts when we try to fulfill those expectations despite the realities of our world.

I remember my family asking if I just wanted to cancel all of the celebrations. That wasn't the solution. Like any treasure, we have to work, to hunt for the deep meaning of Christmas. I promise you, it's there.

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Reckless

The PTSD DiariesOn the drive to my current location we came near to one of the larger military bases in the area. While on the highway I noticed a particular car, an unusual European model. I tried to figure out what it was but gave up as it got too far out of range. A few minutes later, we passed it again and I noticed the driver had almost draped himself over the wheel. I had a bad gut feeling as I saw that, but he was awake and driving fairly normally at that time, so it didn't merit a phone call.

And then about a minute later he went roaring past us, tailgating, challenging an armored truck for a lane and generally doing every erratic driving move under the sun.

Looking for suicide by cop? Substance abuse or PTSD? There's no way I can be sure. But it was a reminder of how much our veterans need every lifeline we can offer.