Fireworks and PTSD

Today is the beginning of a long 4th of July weekend! The holiday lands on a Tuesday this year, so for many, the holiday will begin on Friday and continue for four days.

I understand the fun and enjoyment some people may have from setting off fireworks. Although there are many legal fireworks here, there is a never-ending supply of both legal and illegal varieties lying in wait for the excited revelers to buy just across state-lines. There you can purchase the big ones, the percussion of which shakes the houses in the neighborhood. For those who are buying them and bringing them back to their quiet neighborhood streets, it’s a dream come true.

Unfortunately for some of our combat veterans, it can also be a nightmare come true. For those vets with post-traumatic stress disorder, that string of firecrackers sounds like automatic weapons fire, and the big explosions sound like the IEDs that threatened so many of their lives.

Flashbacks are a horrible reliving of past traumatic events. When you are setting off these illegal fireworks, chances are there is someone hearing them who are struggling with their combat-related trauma.  If you are unable to resist the urge to set-off those huge explosions, then please consider driving out somewhere that is less populated.

For many dogs, the sounds reverberating off the other houses can often make them disoriented.  Their stress level becomes unbearable with some of our animals running away or getting lost. There are numerous stories right now from shelters talking about how many dogs come to them during the 4th of July weekend, who aren’t tagged and are traumatized by the noise of the fireworks.

Try talking to your neighbors who are setting off the big ones, or write them a letter. Many people don’t know that they are harming some of our vets, scaring our little children, or making our animals shake with fear.

People who suffer from PTSD, (whether it is combat-induced or other trauma related) will try to do what they can to take care of themselves over the weekend. I’m trekking off the boundary waters canoe area for four days with my dog who is also deeply affected by firecrackers exploding.  In many neighborhoods where I live, the 4th of July has gone from, the ooh and ahh of fireworks displays at the local parks, too many houses on almost every street having their own sunup to sundown fireworks/firecrackers celebrations.

Please be courteous when setting off your fireworks and firecrackers at your home next weekend. Be thoughtful not only of our veterans but also the small children, elderly, pets, and others who may suffer from illness and startle easily.

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

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The Story We Tell Ourselves

Am I enough? Am I worthy? Do I contribute to some greater good?   What impossibly high standard do I still hold myself compared to what I would think reasonable of another person?

What story am I telling myself? 

Will people like me if they really know me? Would they run away? Am I too opinionated or am I not judgmental enough? Am I engaged or is it okay to rest, retreat and just be? 

What kind of please others, what will they think of me kind of expectations do I have of myself? 

Am I aging gracefully, or do my forehead wrinkles and sagging parts make me unattractive? Am I keeping healthy enough or still feeding into the impossible societal standards of weight, exercise, and beauty? 

What kind of pressure am I still putting on myself? 

Am I letting myself rest? Am I finding contentment in my everyday lived life, Am I acknowledging the love I have and the love I give? 

The answer is Yes…

So then what kind of story am I still telling myself? What kind of story are you telling yourself? 

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

 

 

 

 

Resting In My Thinking Place

I have found myself deep inside that thinking place of mine.  I don’t dwell here very often. I believe it’s because for the past eight years I have been in a constant a constant battle with my PTSD, setting a goal, or “doing” growth and change.  I haven’t allowed myself to just sit and think for a while. When I write, I will let the words or ideas simmer, rest, then make changes, but even that seems active and doing on my part.

Resting in my thinking place I have been pondering change. Change is a fact of life. Our bodies change, as do our cognitive abilities. Our circumstances change, the weather changes and so do the seasons. We change our minds, our clothes and our cell phones. Sometimes we embrace change, but sometimes change can be frightening. The fear of the unknown and the anticipation of what could be, can be paralyzing; the feeling of vulnerability can prevent us from moving forward.

But change is inevitable. There are unforeseen events that occur daily. Some may feel insignificant or be a nuisance such as a flat tire. Some are as life-altering as the diagnosis of cancer. Even then, we have the ability to choose how we handle the challenges in our lives. We can use the momentum of change to keep growing as a person.

Since I was diagnosed with PTSD, I have had to change almost everything about my life. I had to learn how to cope with this debilitating illness, adjust to the dramatic change in my financial situation, deal with horrific and terrifying memories that were quickly filling in the blanks of my past, and accept that my ability to be self-sufficient in most aspects of my everyday life was severely limited.

I realize that nothing stays constant and there is always change. In the context of what I am writing about,  I believe there are two kinds of change. One is the inevitable events that occur on a daily basis. The other kind of change is mindful and purposeful. It takes courage to work through both. It is a courageous person who is willing to work through their past and knit it together with who they are now.

I no longer wanted my past to dictate my present day life. The effects of my trauma sometimes dictate my everyday life, but I can tease apart the difference. I made a conscious effort to understand the past, feel for myself with the same kind of compassion I would have for others and integrate who I was, with who I am now, and who I am striving to become. I take full responsibility for my life, and that brings a sense of freedom and empowerment. With that freedom brings a calmness to understanding that all things change, it’s inevitable and that is part of living a very lived life.

As I think about all the change I have been through the past eight years, and acknowledge how huge this undertaking has been, allowing myself to feel tired, introspective, and content, I can rest in my thinking place. I’m not sure what happens next…I’ll have to think about that.

image source: pixabay

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

Ready for the Pitch

After ten months of research, phone calls, and email exchanges with producers, meetings with screenwriters, taking classes, writing, rewriting, and rewriting again, my collaborating partner and I have completed our project. It has been read, and given a thumbs up from our beta-readers, and is currently being edited.  We will be ready with a final version by the end of this month.

I’m experiencing a myriad of emotions, running the gamut between elation and fear. I’m  proud of our work and feel ready to release it to the world. At the same time, releasing your creative works out into the world is an extremely vulnerable experience.

I have tried and been fairly successful with staying in a beginners mind when it came to writing, publishing, and marketing my books. Especially with Untangled. Not only because it’s my memoir, but because I understood the gratitude I would feel each time someone purchased the book and read it.

That same beginner’s mind is the attitude we are taking for our next step; The Pitch. My partner and I have an attitude of openness, eagerness, staying full of curiosity and wonder as we continue to make contacts and set up meetings. Will it be a lot of work? I hope so! This passionate project has already been a lot of work. We are committed to sharing the message that no matter what happens to a person (a real-life person), even if they live with sometimes debilitating PTSD, they can not only survive but with help can thrive.  There is no sugar coating in our movie, but there is a resiliency and stubborn hopefulness that leaves the audience feeling resolved after a wild and thrilling ride.

We will continue to try to stay in our beginner’s mind as we pitch this project. We have wrapped up the writing a treatment phase, and now it’s the just the beginning!

Look for it on a screen near you…it’s going to happen…why not?

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image source: Pexels

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph