Friday, May 29, 2015

Courtesy of Northern Exposures
Hello there! If this is your first time visiting my blog welcome! Get a drink and pull up a chair, let the madness draw you in. I'm Ann Shannon, the Manic writer. I blog about PTSD, encouragement and I write book reviews and romantic fiction. My passion is the military, soldiers, and veterans, especially those with PTSD. I loved that you stopped by, leave me a comment or find me on social media. I'd love to meet you too and get to know you!

It's been a busy 2 weeks since my last journal update. I spent a lovely week in our capitol, Washington DC visiting as many places as we could. I've been to DC many times so some of what I saw was a repeat, but there is always more. I visited the Ford Theater for the first time and had a blast. I highly recommend it for your next trip. I also saw the Korean War memorial and the World War Two memorial for the first time, they are breathtaking.

So very true!

I walked a total of 57K steps in 3 days! Now if only I could manage that with my writing. 57K words in three days would put me in a coma I think. 50K is my total goal for the month of June, I can't imagine that in three days!

JunoWriMo begins on Monday! I will have a late start with it because I am chaperoning a writers conference that my daughter is attending this weekend and we return Monday morning. It'll be fine, I hope.

I'm a JunoWriMo newbie and not sure what to expect as the only WriMo I've participated in so far was April camp. I love the encouragement to get people writing and intend to participate whenever I can from now on. If you love writing why not join us too?



What have you been up to? Are you a writer, an artist? What do you do that makes you smile? Tell me about it, I'm always interested in what brings others joy.

It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week and I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.

When I'm not blogging about PTSD or trying to encourage those of you living with it. I'm an author. I write romance. I just finished my first book and I am revising and editing it. With any luck, it will be published later this year, in the meantime you can get a sample of my work on the web. Original work can be found here, and fanfiction can be found here. Let me know what you think, and tell me how you found me!



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Attitude


Courtesy of Northern Exposures
Hi there and welcome to another moment of the mania! I'm Ann Shannon, the Manic Writer. I blog about PTSD, encouragement and write book reviews and romantic fiction. I love that you stopped by, grab a drink and make yourself at home. Leave a comment or find me on social media, I'd love to meet you and get to know you.
A positive attitude is the filter that shapes how we interpret and respond to people and circumstances. Attitudes are habits, and since we become our habits it's important to choose them wisely.

A positive attitude can change everything. When I was in my 20's I was a single mom and I worked very hard to make ends meet which meant that I often drove a car on the verge of a breakdown. This trained me to have a positive attitude. Once upon starting up from a very long red light my car chose to make a sound that would have rivaled the coming of the apocalypse rather than move forward. The grinding, grating and other offensive noises coming from underneath my feet told me I was staying put for the moment. Where I could have cried I chose positivity instead, I climbed out of my car and cheerfully exclaimed “At least it's not raining!” That's when the volunteer fire alarm rang out for all to hear and I realized I had broken down directly in front of their driveway.

Ah well, positivity will get us part of the way. I made it through that day because I chose to be positive regardless of how dark the circumstances looked.

I know that a car breakdown is nothing in comparison to the challenges we face when we are dealing with mental illness and I do not want to belittle or disparage the pain that we feel when we have PTSD.

I do think there are valuable lessons in my story though. I had several ticks against me that day. I was broke, during that time in my life I rarely had two dimes to rub together. I was alone, I had no one to share the burden of a broken down car with me. I was miles from home, where I broke down I still had a 30 minute drive on back roads before I got home and with a broken car I had to figure out how to do that with a 6 yr old in tow. Finally, I was one step away from a crisis, with no car I had no way to get to work which would have started an avalanche that would have ended with me jobless.

These are all moments that we experience everywhere. If you suffer from PTSD, or love someone who does, then they are all points that, with attitude, you can adjust.

Are you broke? Struggling with PTSD can lead to employment problems but there are resources out there. If you don't have the strength to find them find an advocate who can help you. Be brave and ask for help. I know it's hard but in the end it's worth it.

Are you alone? You may feel very alone but look up and look around. I may not have had a partner at the time, but I had family and when I reached out they were very supportive and helped me while my car was repaired.

Are you miles from home? I've been there. That day I was a mere 20 miles from my home but I've been farther and I know how it feels. And you might just feel lonely in a room of people who love you. Be brave, reach out. I got a ride home and you can too.

Are you one step away from a crisis? Granted me being jobless and potentially homeless is different from the crisis you may be approaching if you have PTSD and again, I recognize that there is no comparison here, just life situations that crop up everywhere. If you feel a crisis coming on, or are in one please, please, please get help. Talk to a family member, a trusted friend, a doctor or call the crisis line. Don't let the trolls win this one.

All this to say that when we look on the positive side we often find a lot more going for us than we originally thought there was. Step back and ask yourself what's good about this situation. Is the sun shining, enjoy it! Do you have a full belly, revel in the feel! Are you surrounded by loved ones who care? Give them a hug and thank them.

courtesy of Flickr
Stay positive my friends.

Please remember that I am a writer and researcher, my key role is to filter through the mountains of information available and bring the best of it to you. I do not and can not offer medical advice if you suspect that you or a loved one is dealing with PTSD please seek professional help immediately. If you are considering suicide, or you believe a loved one is considering it, please call for help now. As I've said before, we can't let the trolls win this battle and 1 suicide is 1 too many.

It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week and I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.

When I'm not blogging about PTSD or trying to encourage those of you living with it I'm an author. I write romance. I just finished my first book and I am revising and editing it. With any luck, it will be published later this year, in the meantime you can get a sample of my work on the web. Original work can be found here, and fanfiction can be found here. Let me know what you think, and tell me how you found me!


Monday, May 25, 2015

PTSD Help- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Courtesy of SIShannon
PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It affects as much as 8% of the general population and 17% of the military population (reference). Last week I discussed a few self-help strategies for dealing with PTSD this week I'd like to talk about the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. It is often the first intervention that will be offered as it's easy and non-invasive and has been found to be effective for many who struggle with PTSD(reference).

Please remember that I am an author and researcher, my key role is to filter through the mountains of information available and bring the best of it to you. I do not and can not offer medical advice. If you suspect that you or a loved one is dealing with PTSD please seek professional help immediately. If you are considering suicide, or you believe a loved one is considering it, please call for help now. As I've said before, we can't let the trolls win this battle and 1 suicide is 1 too many. #22soldiers a day

What is it?
courtesy of Flickr
CBT is a type of psychotherapy that involves talking to a trained professional, not a banana, who will guide you to uncover unhealthy attitudes, thought patterns and feelings(reference). These attitudes, thoughts and feelings are likely making your PTSD worse by encouraging the negative feelings that the PTSD brings on. It is possible that they aren't even related to the cause of your PTSD, they are simply feeding it with negative behaviors and emotions. By dealing with them, you are taking a step towards balance and healing.

For instance, if you suffer from low self-esteem and you have PTSD, CBT can help you understand and correct the wrong thought patterns that lead to your low self-esteem. The correction of the thought patterns that led to your low self-esteem will help you be more self-aware which can help you find healing for your PTSD. It doesn't matter if your low self-esteem didn't come from the same thing that caused your PTSD, correcting those wrong thought patterns can still help you because you are an interrelated whole made up of many interconnected parts.

How does it work?

When you engage in CBT with a professional counselor, they'll guide you to identify any false or negative patterns in your thoughts and attitudes and work with you to help you see the truth(reference). Your counselor will then work with you to correct them by helping you to craft new positive and true thoughts and feelings. Often, your counselor will assign you homework to do between sessions that involve reflection and journaling to help you further. There is an excellent article here(reference) that goes in more depth than I can.

courtesy of Flickr


To build on my previous example of low self-esteem. If you believe that your work has no value your counselor will work with you to find the value in your work. Your counselor will then help you to replace your negative thoughts about your work with more positive ones and may assign you homework of reflecting on the value of what you do, and, possibly, how you can make it more valuable in your own eyes.

CBT is not meant to be ongoing(reference). You and your counselor will set goals and work towards them. Periodically you will both reassess those goals and decide together when you have met them. The counselor's goal is to teach you to do this for yourself and when you both feel you have reached that goal you can choose to end treatment or continue it if you feel you still need it.

Is it effective?

CBT has been used in the treatment of PTSD with success for a long time with good results. It has been found to lower PTSD scores effectively even when the person receiving treatment suffers from an additional mental illness. It is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as medication and other types of therapy such as hypnosis and supportive therapy. Success also depends on the involvement of the person receiving therapy, an involved patient who is actively seeking healing is more likely to find relief and stay with their counselor until they both agree they are done(3).

How do I find help?

courtesy of Flickr
Finding help for PTSD can feel overwhelming. If you are a veteran you can call the helpline and get started. If you are not a veteran there are still many options available to you. Your health insurance likely offers some mental health care, Mental Health America has resources listed for finding help, and National Institute of Mental Health has some as well. If you don't have health insurance don't panic! Many providers understand and will work with you, either charging on a sliding scale or by putting you in contact with one who does. Mental Health America, linked above, has some resources and Emedicine offers some arguments about why you should get help regardless.

I urge you to get help today if you are struggling with PTSD.

It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week and I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.

When I'm not blogging about PTSD or trying to encourage those of you living with it I'm an author. I write romance. I just finished my first book and I am revising and editing it. With any luck, it will be published later this year, in the meantime you can get a sample of my work on the web. Original work can be found here, and fanfiction can be found here. Let me know what you think, and tell me how you found me!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: PTSD: Overcome the Pain, Start Living Again




Today I will be reviewing PTSD:Overcome the Pain, Start Living Again by John Mackey (2015). Mackey wrote this in response to his own battle with PTSD and I applaud him for being willing to discuss and share his experiences in order to help others. It isn't easy to share that you have PTSD publicly. It is, as Mackey points out, a misunderstood illness that is difficult for people to talk about However, cancer also used to be misinterpreted and misunderstood and it was education that changed that. We need to follow in Mackey's example and expose the lies and misconceptions about PTSD so that we may support and love those who deal with its realities everyday of their lives.

I found Mackey's book to be an easy read. It is a pleasant basic primer on the illness that will not overwhelm someone who is just starting on their journey of discovery. Mackey starts off by sharing the experiences that caused him to develop his PTSD, he explains the illness, and finishes up by discussing some treatments and coping techniques. Overall Mackey does an excellent job of introducing any newcomer to the realities of PTSD and some of the techniques that can be employed to cope with it.

In his introduction Mackey tells the story of how he came to have PTSD. He does an excellent job of relating the two incidents. He shares some very personal information without going overboard and making his reader uncomfortable. I appreciated understanding his circumstances as it helped me understand where he was coming from and lent validity to his work. He does offer a disclaimer stating that it is not necessary to read his story to understand the book and that the reader shouldn't read it if they feel it will upset them too much. An excellent offer in light of the fact that there are probably many readers with PTSD who may be triggered by his experiences.

Mackey uses the first two chapters to explain PTSD by defining it and some of the reasons PTSD occurs. His explanation is simple and easy to follow using bullet lists for simplicity and ease of explanation. He addresses the symptoms by breaking them down into categories and further explaining them and urges anyone who is suffering severe symptoms to call for help immediately.

He addresses the causes and risk factors. Again his simple and straightforward bullet lists make his explanation easy to follow and understand to the inexperienced first timer seeking information and help whether they suffer from PTSD themselves or have a loved one that they suspect does. He also delves into some of the traumatic events that can lead to PTSD with the important disclaimer that it is not an exhaustive list.

Mackey devotes the final three chapters of his book to explaining treatment methods, coping techniques and strategies for living with PTSD. He makes an excellent contribution in discussing the need for consistent treatment and regular application of coping strategies. He touches on both therapeutic and medication based treatments touching on how both help the person dealing with PTSD to recover and return to living.

The coping techniques and strategies he offers are equally valuable, discussing the realities not only for the person who has PTSD but for those who have loved one living with it because the reality that no one has PTSD in a vacuum. Family and friends are always part of the equation. There is only one statement he makes in his book that I would disagree with. He says “living with PTSD can be a daily struggle,” going on to say later that as family we can help “sufferers cope and live happy productive lives.” His wording would lead the reader to believe that there is no healing, an idea I disagree with heartily. Will we be the same? Of course not! But I do believe that there is always room for healing.


Overall Mackey's book surprised me with his honest and upfront story of his own PTSD, it's simple and easy to read format of bulleted lists, and his excellent explanation of the strategies that can be used to treat and hopefully heal PTSD for those who suffer from it. I'd highly recommend PTSD: Overcome thePain, Start Living Again for anyone who is new to the realm of PTSD. It makes an excellent primer that will prepare you for the more in-depth works out there preparing you for the clinical and technical jargon so many books are full of.

John Mackey's book is a Kindle exclusive. Any links I offer to here are Amazon affiliate links that will earn me a small commission for the work I put into this review, it will not change the price you pay. This review is also available on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Reflections- Enthusiasm

Courtesy of Northern Exposures
Enthusiasm is contagious, so surround yourself with others who are passionate about their life's work. Enthusiastic friends motivate and encourage us to continue on our chosen path, even in the midst of daily challenges (Credit).


Enthusiasm is the starting point for self-help, even if we don't always feel very enthusiastic. More importantly, if we are the caregiver for a loved one with PTSD is is our enthusiasm that will encourage them to remain positive because it is a positive attitude that will encourage your enthusiasm.

It can be difficult to maintain your enthusiasm when you are struggling with PTSD or mental illness which is why it's vital you surround yourself with others who also cultivate an attitude of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious and since this week's blog post is about self-help, enthusiasm is a fantastic idea to reflect on today.

Courtesy of Kael Schindler

What can you do today to cultivate enthusiasm in your attitude? Can you choose one task and get excited about it? Can you choose one hobby you love and immerse yourself in it for an hour? Can you call one friend who is guaranteed to cheer you on and ignite your enthusiasm with their own?

Courtesy of Flickr
I find my enthusiasm burns brighter when I am encouraging others, that's why I work on this blog. I also love to write love stories. Is that cliché? Maybe, but it inspires me to keep going and write more and more each day. If writing romance is my ticket to an enthusiastic attitude then that's the path I'll take.


Courtesy of Flickr

My hubby has discovered that he loves to garden. He finds it calming to plan, dig and plant and then watch the beauty of his work blossom as the seasons change.

Courtesy of Flickr
What's your path to an enthusiastic attitude? Do you garden? Do woodworking? Draw or sew? I challenge you to find a way to kindle your enthusiasm today and make time for it.


It is my goal to end the stigma and suffering that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week and I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.

When I'm not blogging about PTSD or trying to encourage those of you living with it, I'm an author. I write romance. I just finished my first book and I am revising and editing it. With any luck, it will be published later this year, in the meantime you can get a sample of my work on the web. Original work can be found here, and fanfiction can be found here. Let me know what you think, and tell me how you found me!

Monday, May 18, 2015

PTSD- Self-help


Courtesy of SIShannon
I've defined PTSD. I've told you why the troll appears and helped you to recognize it when it does. Today let's talk about getting help because the help is the next step when you admit to yourself that there is a troll called PTSD hiding under the table. Getting help is the first step to pulling that troll out and using him to your own advantage.

Please remember that I am a writer and researcher, my key role is to filter through the mountains of information available and bring the best of it to you. I do not and can not offer medical advice, if you suspect that you or a loved one is dealing with PTSD please seek professional help immediately. If you are considering suicide, or you believe a loved one is considering it, please call for help now. As I've said before, we can't let the trolls win this battle and 1 suicide is 1 too many.

courtesy of Flickr
There are a number of treatment options available to anyone who has PTSD ranging from self-help to residential programs. I'd like to list a few, tell you about the ones we've personally experienced and talk about how they might work together. There is a lot to say on each so today I'll cover self-help therapy. In the next two weeks, I'll talk about cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication therapy. They are all therapies we've used in our battle to pull the troll out and the ones I am most familiar with. There are many other therapies that are being used to great advantage and I don't want to dismiss them but as I don't know much about them I will research them and blog about them at a later date.

Self-help is sort of self-explanatory, pardon the redundancy. It can involve many methods as you learn to live with the realities of PTSD. You may even be engaging in self-help therapy without realizing it. What you may not realize it there are positive self-help strategies and negative ones. You're role as your self-help therapist is to identify which ones are helping you and which ones are not.

Positive self-help therapies include those steps you have made to make your life a better place. Sleep management, anger management, and stress management strategies all fall under this category. We employed a few of these in our lives to help my hubby deal with his own PTSD.


courtesy of Flickr
For instance, sleep management was one of the first self-help therapies we used. My hubby had a lot of trouble sleeping because of his PTSD. This was coupled with the fact that for ten years after he separated from the military he worked a second shift position and his sleep habits were terrible, causing him a lot of stress. To help him we installed blackout shades in our room and purchased a sleep mask for him. He also aggressively searched for a first shift position and finally found one. It's made a world of difference for him.
courtesy of Flickr

Anger management is a little trickier because it's harder to draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate anger outbursts. Only you can decide what this looks like for you. Hubby and I have tried to keep up a running conversation about this and talk about how his outbursts affect us. Regular therapy and appropriate medication has also helped him feel more in control of his life and reduced his outbursts a lot. The American Psychological Association offers some information about anger management here where you can learn more about it and how to regain control. And the VA has a link to an online anger management course here called AIMS. As far as I can tell you don't have to be a veteran to use it.
courtesy of Flickr
Finally, I want to talk about stress management. Stress management is important to everyone's health but for the individual living with PTSD it is vital. Stress can have many negative effects on our health and is one of the complications of PTSD, affecting the rest of your health as well. Good stress management includes building coping skills for when you are triggered, managing your life in such a way that you minimize stress, and maintaining healthy self-care routines. There are some great stress management techniques here and I will talk more about this in a future post because it is, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of living with PTSD.

Negative self-help therapies are those we resort to in order to dull the pain of PTSD and other mental illness. They are a crutch not a path to healing and they need to be pushed out of our lives. If you are to find healing and strength as you live with PTSD then negative therapies have no place in your life. They include substance abuse, avoidance, and dangerous behavior. A full list and explanation of these will follow in a future blog post because there is so much to be said about them and the negativity they pull into our lives and attitudes but you can read more about them here today if you need to.

There is help for PTSD, you don't have to suffer. If you are a veteran, thank you for your service. I know the VA has gotten a bad rap in the news lately, but they do want to help you. Contact your local VA for help and if they don't respond keep calling! They also have a website where you can find help. Don't delay, every day you wait is a day you could spend healing! If you aren't a veteran some of those links can still be useful to you and there are still many resources available to you. Please reach out to someone and ask for help, the first step is always the hardest but it's worth the work.

It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week and I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.

When I'm not blogging about PTSD or trying to encourage those of you living with it I'm an author. I write romance. I just finished my first book and I am revising and editing it. With any luck, it will be published later this year, in the meantime you can get a sample of my work on the web. Original work can be found here, and fanfiction can be found here. Let me know what you think, and tell me how you found me!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Manic Moments and Quiet Moments



Hi there and welcome to another moment of the mania! I'm Ann Shannon, the manic writer. I blog about PTSD, encouragement and write book reviews and romantic fiction. I love that you stopped by, grab a drink and make yourself at home. Leave a comment or find me on social media, I'd love to meet you and get to know you.

I usually blog about PTSD and if you come here for that don't be discouraged by the different topic, this is what I do when I'm not talking about the subject that fills every corner of my life. I will be continuing to blog even while I write. It helps, a lot, to have something that I love to do and for me that's writing love stories! Even my husband gets in on the action, discussing books ideas, plots, and characters with me for hours. My work is available for free right now, just check out my links to the right. And make sure you make time for fun too!

Halfway through May today and I've been typing my little fingers away as I prepare for JunoWriMo. I am coming up on a very busy week and I wanted to be well prepared for a week off. This Sunday I will attend a local event here called CloverCon with my family. Three of us will be leaving from there for a field trip to Washington DC and returning later in the week. All that to say that I will be taking an enforced week off of writing as I don't own a laptop and I think I'd find it difficult to write away from home effectively.

We are looking forward to CloverCon. The girls went last year and had a blast. This year they will be cosplaying, both as characters from Naruto Shippuden. I will probably tweet pics of them so follow me on twitter and Instagram to see them.
Courtesy of Flickr

Then we will leave with friends of ours directly from the convention and head down to DC for a homeschool field trip. My husband will be home taking care of the dog and working, poor him. We are looking forward to our trip, but I think I will find it hard to not work.

One aspect of my writing mania is that I am compelled to write. I see a lot out there about making yourself make a habit of writing, and writing every day. Writing for me is like breathing, I can't not do it and taking almost a full week off will be challenging for me. As it is I take the weekends off and feel guilty despite working almost an 8 hr day Monday through Friday, all writing or writing related.

In the meantime, I've been preparing blog posts, editing my WIP and pre-writing my JunoWriMo project as when I return from DC I will have slightly more than a week before it begins. And another trip to prepare for before it.


Courtesy of Flickr

Ahh, the life of a writer! So romantic! Don't I wish?!

It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week and I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why is Dad So Mad?
Book Review

Why is Dad so Mad is a children's book written by Seth Kastle, a veteran and former First Sergeant who served in the Army Reserve for 16 years. He was deployed to Iraq for over a year and now lives with the reality of PTSD in his daily life. Kastle wrote this book to help explain his PTSD to his own children as well as other military families who are learning to live with PTSD .




It is illustrated by Karissa Gonzalez-Othon.

I want to start off by saying how much I love this book! It is illustrated with simple easy to look at drawings. The characters in the book are depicted as a lion family which is appealing to children and adults alike. It explains the way PTSD changes an individual gently and carefully maintaining the focus on the parent/child relationship and focusing on the love a parent feels for their child no matter the challenges they are facing personally. I think it is an excellent addition to the library of any military family and public libraries also.

The characters in Why is Dad So Mad are portrayed as a lion family. I think this was an excellent choice for several reasons. Firstly, it cuts across race unequivocally allowing this book to be an ideal resource for any military family whose dad has PTSD. (Mom's don't feel left out, Kastle is working on his companion volume Why is Mom So Mad.) Army families come in all sizes and colors and using lions as their characters allows his readers to read the book rather than worry about why they don't look the same.

Additionally the use of the lion characters adds to the visual interest and gives the person reading it more to discuss with the child they are reading to. Questions such as “Have you ever seen Daddy get so angry he grew a mane, open up conversation that will help the child work through the complex emotions they are learning to deal with.

Finally the lion characters are appealing to the reader because it makes it easy to see dad cast as the angry lion and the loving protector at the same time. The illustrations about getting angry really quickly and the final one of the whole family in a group hug are some of my favorites in the book.

Kastle uses simple childlike language in relating the struggles someone who has PTSD faces on a daily basis, explaining that Dad had to do “really hard, dangerous work” and that because of that sometimes he has a hard time now. He has trouble relaxing, being patient, and controlling his anger and these are just a few of the symptoms that Kastle touches on so artfully before showing his reader how he deals with those symptoms.

Kastle closes his excellent book with positive family images in which Dad is expressing his love to his family and smiling. He promises that no matter what he will always love them “more than anything.” This is, in my opinion, an excellent way to close a difficult topic with a child. To use Kastle's own words, a child needs to know “more than anything” where he or she stands with the parent who is dealing with PTSD and that they still matter to them.

My own children who are 14 and 18 read this book and adored it. My older daughter, who works at our local library in the children's room shared it with the children's librarian who also purchased a copy for her shelves because she enjoyed it so much.

It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week and I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reflections: Attitude

Courtesy of Northern Exposure


Attitude is a manner of thinking, feeling, or behaving that reflects a state of mind. Attitude influences the behavior of the individuals. (credit)

Courtesy of Flickr

Attitude, in life, is everything

Courtesy of Flickr
It is how we approach the world, filter it as we absorb it, and allow it to form us. Attitude has three components, affective, behavioral, and cognitive. They involve the way we feel about something, the way we react to it and what we believe about it. By choosing and encouraging a positive attitude we are choosing to heal rather than hurt. 

There are negative stigma's associated with having PTSD we can educate ourselves and those around us thereby encouraging a more positive attitude about it and in ourselves. Choose to grow through your pain, refuse the stigma and negative attitude and work to change them. You will feel better for it I promise. I know because I've been there.

I will be writing more about how to do this, so subscribe, like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter for updates and posts.
Courtesy of Flickr

It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.

When I'm not blogging about PTSD or trying to encourage those of you living with it I'm an author. I write romance. I just finished my first book and I am revising and editing it. With any luck it will be published later this year, in the meantime you can get a sample of my work on the web. Original work can be found here, and fanfiction can be found here. Let me know what you think, and tell me how you found me!

Monday, May 11, 2015

PTSD- Symptoms


courtesy of SIShannon

For the past few weeks I've been talking about PTSD, some of the myths that surround it, what it is and some of the reasons the trolls pick us to haunt. Today I'd like to haul those trolls out from hiding and show you what they might look like. The fact of PTSD is that it is rampant in our military members returning from overseas. Yes, others get it also, it has many causes as I have discussed in my previous post but my focus is primarily on the military members. We are losing 22 soldiers a day to suicide, many of which can be prevented with proper recognition and treatment of their PTSD. Even 1 suicide is too many.

Today I will look at the symptoms of PTSD. At the end of this post, there will be a link to self-assessment tools that you can use or refer a loved one to for reference. Please remember that I am a writer and researcher, my key role is to filter through the mountains of information available and bring the best of it to you. I do not and can not offer medical advice if you suspect that you or a loved one is dealing with PTSD please seek professional help immediately. If you are considering suicide, or you believe a loved one is considering it, please call for help now. As I've said before, we can't let the trolls win this battle and 1 suicide is 1 too many.

Just as the causes of PTSD are as individual as the people dealing with it so are the symptoms. They can vary from relatively quiet ones such as withdrawal, avoidance, and anxiety to very loud ones such as outbursts of anger, being easily startled, and self-destructive behavior. WebMD separates the symptoms into five categories as follows, Reliving the event, Avoidance, Numbness, Feeling keyed up, and Other. Let's take a closer at each of these symptoms, what they mean and what they might look like when your boots hit the ground.

Reliving the Event
courtesy of Flickr

Reliving the event can occur in a few different ways. Many of us are familiar with the images of a vet barricaded behind the couch, but the reality is that it is rarely so cut and dry or obvious. PTSD can be relived in a variety of ways including flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and anxiety attacks. When these occur they have the ability to transport the person experiencing them back to the events and cause them to recall the fear and stress they felt at the time. Sometimes these flashbacks are caused by triggers and sometimes they just happen as the individual tries to work through the pain they are experiencing.


Triggers for flashbacks can be almost anything that brings the individual back to the event or series of events that was traumatic and are very unique. Don't let anyone tell you that your triggers aren't real or valid, if it triggers you then it is a trigger. One of my husbands triggers is fireworks which sound like artillery to him. We go to great lengths to avoid fireworks at all times, but he has found ways to deal with them when they are unavoidable because truthfully you will not always be able to avoid every trigger you have.

Avoidance

courtesy of Flickr


Avoidance is another common symptom of PTSD. The person who is suffering will avoid activities, places and thoughts that remind them of the trauma (Helpguide). They will forget the details of their trauma or avoid talking about it and they will avoid media, such as television, movies, and books, that deal with it. Avoidance is a coping skill that allows the sufferer to bypass both situations that may have triggers for them and rehash the trauma itself. If they don't think or talk about the event then they don't have to admit to themselves that something is wrong.

Numbness

courtesy of Flickr


Numbness is a byproduct of PTSD and the previous two symptoms. It can result from withdrawal, and avoidance because those both lead to isolation and feelings of abandonment. Sufferers can feel detached from events that are occurring around them, they can feel as if they have no future, and they may lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed. All these complications can lead them to feeling disconnected from those around them and result in indifference.

Anxiety

courtesy of Flickr


It should come as no surprise that anxiety is a symptom of PTSD. The individual suffering from PTSD will have anxiety simply from fear of more trauma and the symptoms I have listed here so far, but there is more. Someone suffering from PTSD may have trouble with sleeping, concentration and relaxation. This may or may not be separate from the anxiety brought on by the other symptoms. They may also struggle with inappropriate outbursts, hyper-vigilance, and be easily startled.

Other


Courtesy of Northern Exposures


Finally, there are the symptoms that don't fit neatly into one category, aren't there always? Someone suffering with PTSD can have physical complaints that don't make any sense such as body aches and pains. Many sufferers have depression, feelings of guilt and shame because of the stigma that they believe comes with PTSD. Self-medication is a common way of covering up the symptoms and substance abuse is common amongst those dealing with PTSD.

The symptoms of PTSD are many and vary from one individual to the next. The type and severity of symptoms do not indicate the level of suffering someone is going through, it simply tells us they are suffering. If there is one symptom or all of them they still need treatment because there is help out there. If you or a loved one is trying to cope with this on your own please reach out to get help, you don't have to pull the trolls out alone. The sooner you get treatment the sooner you can begin healing. PTSD changes everyone who deals with it, the individual who has it, their family and their friends and it can cause other health problems as well. I will touch on these aspects in a future post but for now hear the message, you are not alone.

This is a link to a self-assessment tool, another one here, that can help you decide if you or a loved one are suffering. My journey began with a self-assessment that not only suggested my husband was dealing with it but also opened my eyes to the fact that my Mother was also. I suggested it to her and she immediately began getting help. Knowledge is power and when it comes to PTSD knowledge is the weapon that will burn those trolls up.


As I've said previously, I am not a medical professional, if you think you have PTSD please reach out to someone who can help you. If you are considering suicide, or you think a loved one is please call for help immediately. You can call the Suicide hotline or the Samaritans crisis hotline. Both numbers will help you find the help you need and are free and confidential.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

JunoWriMo



So, CampNaNoWriMo is hardly over. The campfires are just cooling down and our sleeping bags need to be washed, but it's time for the next challenge because when you're a writer there is no such thing as downtime or vacation. My mind is always working on a story, or a character, or a PTSD blog post. I can't help it, it's how the madness manifests in me. As an author/writer/creator, I'm always working on something. So JuNoWriMo here I come!




CampNaNoWriMo was a huge success for me. I wrote 90K words! JuNoWriMo is a little different than camp though. The goal is preset, 50K words and I have a plan already!

I usually blog about PTSD and if you come here for that don't be discouraged by the different topic, this is what I do when I'm not talking about the subject that fills every corner of my life. I will be continuing to blog even while I write. It helps, a lot, to have something that I love to do and for me that's writing love stories! Even my husband gets in on the action, discussing books ideas, plots, and characters with me for hours. My work is available for free right now, just check out my links to the right. And make sure you make time for fun too!

One of the goals I have for JuNoWriMo is to write an anthology of short stories, four or five of them, and offer it up on Amazon for free. I think it's a great way for new readers to get a sample of my writing style and see if they like it. I have a series planned that I will begin sometime next year and I've decided that each of my short stories will be about one or two characters from the series.

Interested yet? The first story in the anthology is the most developed so far. It's called "The Table of Misfit Donors." I'll include the synopsis in a future update post.

Each story will cover a bit of their backstory or an unrelated story, so reading the short stories won't ruin anything for you in the series, it will just familiarize you with the characters a bit. I have three stories laid out, and characters for two of them outlined and I will be working on the rest of that this month in addition to editing and revising other works which can be found here on my blog.




I'm really looking forward to JuNoWriMo. It will give me a chance to work on a project I'd be too likely to put on the back burner. And, if I get myself in gear, it will free me up to re-read the novels I have in revision as I prepare for a second revision. You see, I am new to this fiction writing and it's going to be slow for me while I learn how to not bore you to death with my fumblings.

Subscribe to my blog, follow me on twitter or like me on Facebook so you too can follow my progress as I stumble along.

I usually blog about PTSD and if you come here for that don't be discouraged by the different topic, this is what I do when I'm not talking about the subject that fills every corner of my life. I will be continuing to blog even while I write. It helps, a lot, to have something that I love to do and for me that's writing love stories! Even my husband gets in on the action, discussing books ideas, plots, and characters with me for hours. My work is available for free right now, just check out my links to the right. And make sure you make time for fun too!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Reflections: Trolls

Photo courtesy of Northern Exposures


In my recent posts I've been describing PTSD as a troll that hides in the shadows and frightens us. I'd like to take a moment to reflect on that metaphor.


photo courtesy of Flickr

Trolls have gotten a bad rap but I don't think they're all bad. There are the trolls that appear in the Hobbit, they're bad, they want to eat you. There are the trolls that appear on Facebook, they're bad too, and I think they might also want to eat you. But then there are the trolls like PTSD, and mental illness, the little things in our lives that hide in the shadows and tell us to be afraid of them. In reality we don't need to be afraid of them, we just need to make friends with them because these trolls, when properly understood won't eat us, they'll help us grow. They'll help us to be more self-aware, mature, and independent and those things are all so good for us.

Welcome those trolls, embrace them because they are what make you unique and let them help you grow to be stronger. Step on the other ones.


It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week. And I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.

When I'm not blogging about PTSD or trying to encourage those of you living with it I'm an author. I write romance. I just finished my first book and I am revising and editing it. With any luck it will be published later this year, in the meantime you can get a sample of my work on the web for free. Original work can be found here, and fanfiction can be found here. Let me know what you think, and tell me how you found me!

Monday, May 4, 2015

PTSD: Causes and Effects



Picture courtesy of SISHannon

Over the last few weeks we've been discussing PTSD, defining it and calling it out because the things that frighten us the most are those that we don't understand. They hide in the corner, like trolls, where we sneak peeks at them and then dart our eyes away as soon as they look back, afraid that we will be seen. When we step up and drag that troll out of the shadow that it's been hiding in we're able to see that it's not the monster we've created but simply another of life’s curve balls that, when properly dealt with, can give us an opportunity to grow. Like a seasoned batter when we see that curve ball coming we need to throw our hip out and take advantage of it. Today I want to discuss what science thinks they know about PTSD, how and why it happens.

The brain is a complex organ that we don't fully understand and as a result the causes and effects of PTSD are not well understood yet. What we do know is that some people will get it and some will not, there is no one cause for PTSD, and, finally, the time between the event causing it and the onset of symptoms can vary greatly amongst individuals. Lets look at what we do know more closely.

PTSD is a response to trauma, be it war, violence, natural disaster or some other traumatic event but some people who experience those circumstances will walk away unscathed. Only an estimated 7% of the population will ever deal with it, that's 5.2 million people but certainly not everyone. Why? Why will some of us walk away without scars? The truth of the matter is that no one knows for sure why some do and some don't. What we do know for sure is that PTSD is a sign of strength not weakness, those that have it are survivors not cowards.

Photo courtesy of flickr-
Don't let the troll lie to you.

There are theories on the complex set of circumstances that cause one person to get PTSD and another to skip it. What it comes down to is that we are individuals, with individual reactions to stress, don't beat yourself up for being you. It is the very thing that makes you an individual that may cause your PTSD, embrace who you are and begin to heal.

So lets talk about the possible individuality's that make us vulnerable. Although we aren't sure what they are there are common threads that can be seen running amongst us. A history of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can be a factor in how we react to stress and trauma. The life experiences that led us to the moment we developed it can also be a contributor. The intensity of the trauma and temperament of the individual are known to relate directly to the likelihood of PTSD developing. It is my opinion that these two work in tandem with each other. In the end PTSD develops when we feel that we've lost control of our destiny. Will everyone who experiences that loss of control get PTSD? No. But PTSD is more likely in those circumstances.

It makes sense that our life experiences contribute to our risk for PTSD, a life full of stress will overflow at some point. It's our life that makes us who we are. The reality that we must remember in this is that we are not helpless bystanders after the event we can choose to pursue healing and wholeness. We can choose to embrace the trolls that are trying to scare us and use them to grow.

The final point I'd like to address here is the variety between the event that will ultimately cause PTSD and the onset of PTSD itself. Like my previous points, this is individual and not well understood by the medical community. For some PTSD will never occur, for others it will occur immediately and there is broad diversity in between those two extremes. Where ever you fall in that continuum the important thing is that you admit to yourself that you need help dealing with the nightmare that introduced you to your troll and begin to banish it from your life.

Anyway we look at it PTSD is a troll. If you experience a traumatic event you may develop it or not, you may have the risk factors that lead to it and the trolls may take over, temporarily. Those trolls may show themselves immediately or lay in wait for years. What we do know for sure is that we don't have to be victims, we can pull them out and burn them in the light of day and the love of our family and friends and call them what they are, lies that we no longer have to believe.


There is help and recovery from PTSD, it doesn't have to be a life sentence. The brain may be a complex organ that we don't fully understand but researchers are doing what they do best and looking for answers. If you suspect you or a loved one has PTSD then reach out for help. Don't let the trolls win, and, please, don't hurt yourself. You are precious, even if you don't believe it today. Don't listen to the trolls.

Twice a month I review books about PTSD to help you find the resources that will help you the best. Check out my other posts and see what you can find! I also write romance because we can all use a little love in our lives. Peruse my writings and see if you find something you love, then share it with your friends! I write to make others smile, let me know how I did!

Friday, May 1, 2015



Camp NaNoWriMo is done! I completed my goals with a final word count of 90,417 words. In actuality I wrote much more than that this month because I also worked on some PTSD blog posts and other projects. My primary work this month was Catch a Falling Star. I also worked on organizing my blog and building a plan for a regular PTSD column. Finally I continued working on my social media platform, reading, and I built a PTSD Pinterest board to add to my collection. I will be taking May off of writing challenges but I will be participating in JunoWriMo which has a preset goal of 50K words. My plan is to write an anthology of 4-5 short stories that I can publish and offer for free as a sample of my writing style.



I usually blog about PTSD and if you come here for that don't be discouraged by the different topic, this is what I do when I'm not talking about the subject that fills every corner of my life. It helps, a lot, to have something that I love to do and for me that's writing love stories! Even my husband gets in on the action, discussing books ideas, plots, and characters with me for hours. My work is available for free right now, just check out my links above. And make sure you make time for fun too!



Catcha Falling Star has been wrapped up with a bow and the first draft is sitting on my kindle waiting for me to read it through. I have a planned field trip to Washington DC this month with my daughters and I will read it while I am there, taking notes on what I need to change. Once I've done that I will begin the second revision, maybe in July.

The Compromise is done as well. It is a shorter book only hitting 40K words. I've had so much fun writing it. I've migrated the first two books into Scrivnener and I am revising and outlining them to prepare them for publication. Also, as I mentioned in my last update, these three books fall into the category of adult romance and I had to decide how to advertise them. I have made a page for my blog that has an adult warning when you enter it. It's called The Manic Writer:After Dark and will house any of my adult romance, and adult romance reviews.


That's my final update for CampNaNoWriMo! I've had a lot of fun challenging myself with Camp in April and I am looking forward to June! If you like what you see here then please subscribe to me or add me to your feed and watch me grow. I can also be found on Twitter and Facebook and I am trying to learn how to use Instagram!