Yesterday, when I was reviewing a book , I was reminded that this particular book is seeking to promote PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) awareness. Technically speaking, there is a wide variety of days, weeks, and months devoted to PTSD awareness, but it is not something about which much of the world appears aware in any profound degree. Although I have referred to PTSD in passing quite a few times in the course of my writing, it has almost never been the main subject material in my writing over the course of my life. There is one notable exception, and that is a play I wrote in my mid-20’s about an idealistic young man who seeks to help others who struggle with a difficult childhood even as he deals with the stress of letting his own girlfriend know about his life and personal history. In light of the book’s urge to remember those who have PTSD, I would like to devote this particular entry to the strange mix of remembering and forgetting that comes with PTSD.
I was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of four after showing some age-inappropriate knowledge about sexuality. From the best that I can determine from family stories, it occurred with a family friend who was about my age. Of course, having survived early childhood rape and incest from a close male relative, it was probably inevitable at some point for something to come out. After that, I had frequent play therapy for a couple of years at a local psychiatric hospital (which has since closed down), where my mother got her first employment in the area. Although my own experience is pretty harrowing, it is not necessarily unusual. After all, there are at least a couple of traumatic experiences that will pretty regularly induce PTSD. One of those is sexual abuse, and the other is military service.
It is not surprising, I suppose, that military service has attracted most of the attention about PTSD. To be sure, the people in the military volunteered for their service, but combat is tough for anyone, whether they chose it or not. Given the widespread recent scandals about the quality of health care given to our veterans at the VA Hospitals, it is not a surprise that mental health issues (like PTSD) would lag far behind even the standard of health care given to physical health. And if the health care for Veterans, who have sacrificed for our country, is at an unacceptable level, how poorly do you think the care is for ordinary citizens? And if the care is for women who benefit from our society’s political correctness and the desire to blame men for the difficulties that women face, how difficult is it for men to receive the care and encouragement we need?
There are a lot of similarities between military service, though, and surviving abuse, if one looks closely at matters. Surviving abuse, after all, is a particularly ferocious form of spiritual warfare. Unlike the all-volunteer United States military, though, those who survive abuse did not choose it, but rather had it forced on them. It gives a lot of insight (much of it unwanted, to be sure) about the darkness that lies within the hearts of humanity, and about the depths that people can sink to in moral degradation. It represents a struggle against the darkness seeking to rob people of the ability to properly trust, develop intimacy, or set boundaries, a struggle to find happiness among the anxiety and stress of life. No one desires such a thing for oneself or anyone else, and we all have to wrestle mightily with what life gives us, whether we have chosen to put ourselves in harm’s way or not.
So, for all of those who have something to remember, namely the encouragement and support of friends and loved ones, and the memory of resilience and assistance, let us remember those things. For all of us who have things to forget, of panic attacks in awkward situations (I have a few such stories myself), or of the memory of difficulties that have overwhelmed us, let us forget the shame of our youth  and let us rise on to face what life has to offer, and to seek the deepest longings of our hearts, regardless of the obstacles we have to face along the way. Let us hope that life can provide better memories in the future to put the past into a better context. Sometimes, that is the best we can hope for.
 See, for example:
 See, for example:
 See, for example: