I thought I would start posting stuff here about my ideas for a new book on PTSD, a sort of handbook where you can look up a symptom or a treatment and see what is known about it.
I just finished a book called After Action by Dan Sheehan. I highly recommend it and his second book, Continuing Actions. He was a Marine Cobra pilot in the invasion of Iraq, but for me the importance of the book is that he noticed he was affected, tried not to be, and eventually realized that if he did not deal with what he was trying not to feel, it would affect his kids.
This is an insightful man!
He was also much older than, for example, my husband who went into combat at 22, or the 18 year old grunts in most wars...
My favorite line in the book: "But I wasn't interested in being honest–I wanted to be fine."
I have never met a veteran who didn't want to be fine.
So this got me thinking about the use of fine as an acronym, which Bob claims I only like because it has the word fuck in it. (Probably true!)
The acronym: fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional, according to some AA people I know.
I go for fucked up. A lot of vets feel that war fucked them up even though they don't want to admit it.
Insecure works for me, too. Most vets are super aware of danger and may even read danger into many things.
Neurotic means nothing to me, so I would substitute numb for that, since being numb keeps you able to do your job in the midst of danger and chaos. Finally I think emotional is a good thing when you are not in combat, so I put egotistical in it's place.
So the page in my new book would read something like this:
Many people are actually happy, productive, relaxed and aware when they say they are fine.
Some people say they are fine to deflect attention from how they do feel because they were taught that this was the only acceptable answer. Anything else makes you a wuss, a whiner, a loser.
Reality is that most people who come back from war, or survive another trauma, are not fine, so if that might fit you, here are some questions to think about:
How or why might you be fucked up? Are you saying or thinking if you'd been through what I've been through, you'd be fucked up too? If you had my wife, husband, boss, kids, etc.
How are you insecure? Are you sleeping with a gun? Driving like a maniac? Not trusting anyone?
How are you numb? Do you have to be in danger to feel alive? Can you feel sad? Can you feel love?
How are you egotistical? Do you want everything your way? Is there flexibility in your relationships? Do you yell if things are not done 'right'?
Think about these questions and see if you are actually fine or not.
So that would be one page in the book, and I would like feedback on the idea. Please post it here on the blog.