The book I am currently writing follows a group of people picking up the pieces after a bloody war. One of those people suffers Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of experiences she won’t (or can’t) talk about.
Instead of relying on antiseptic details and descriptions of PTSD (you can do that here), I like to interview people who can color in the spaces for me. My father did a tour in Vietnam during the late sixties. A friend of mine, who we’ll call “John,” was sexually assaulted. Another friend, “Andrew,” was molested by a family member.
Three different people, with different lives and traumas, but united by a common thread.
For my dad, both his physical and mental health have been affected. He spoke with regret about his personal relationships, and the damage his condition might have caused to them without his knowledge.
John talked about living in limbo, wanting to move on in one way, but tethered to the past for its comforts in another. He described his attack with detail. But it left him with a dependence on medication for temporary peace. No one understands, he says, even as he tries his hardest to relate it. That frustrates him.
Andrew and the relative who assaulted him cannot be in the same room together without Andrew feeling discomfort. His parents feel regret for exposing him to this person and not being able to protect him. His relationships are scattered, and the one girl who helped him feel normal left him for another guy. Still single, he has catatonic episodes and moments where he cannot cope.
The stories gave a new depth to my character, but gave me a greater understanding and compassion for victims of this disorder. It’s a real problem, particularly for war veterans. It cannot be medicated away, cured, or erased. John said he does not want it to be erased, but merely hopes for resolution, whatever that may be.
I know they don’t speak for all trauma victims, but each of them said this: you cannot cure PTSD. After your diagnosis, it’s about managing your life and decisions in a way that makes life worth living again. I understand that now. Hopefully, you do too.
Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of acclaimed Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.