PTSD Spirituality: PTSD, Elite and Joe Normal

The stalking horse of PTSD made several guest appearances over the last several days.  In the grey land that encourages one to despair of ever seeing hope on the horizon, this last weekend has been a blessing and a curse.  The curse was provided from several angles that ranged from the benign, to the aggravating, to the horrific.  Yet, I chose life.

A Noisy Military Air Show in Milwaukee

Here we experienced the “gift” in which low flying jets terrorized my pets and aggravated my PTSD.  The jets thundering noise shakes the house and your body rattle as the planes scream overhead.  In a time of national fiscal debt, this seems a terrible waste of money – not to mention the needless trauma to people and their pets.

Create PTSD and Waste Valuable Resources Simultaneously

In a time where our troops need an Air Force that helps and offers aid, why are the fuel, planes, pilots, and ground crews wasting away here in the USA to only supply some cheap thrills, further horrify veterans and pets?  Why does the Pentagon refuse to allow these military units to do some good by saving American lives in Afghanistan?  An air show is terribly expensive – there are cheaper ways to traumatize people.  It is as if we had a blood drive and when it was finished they just threw the collected blood on the ground instead of sending it to surgical patients in need.

Over Thirty Dead in the Helicopter Downing.

The media is again fixated on Navy Seals and/or Army Rangers.  The media seem to forget that every American life (and for that matter the lives of Afghanis, too!) is valuable, every lost life leaves a torn wound in the families and friends who survive the dead – and dying did not help the health of those who were actually killed.

Small Points Matter Because Every Life Matters: While to some readers this may seem like a small point, for me it looms large.  Why?

Because the devaluing of human life activates portions of my PTSD-Identity. 

I remain appalled at the media and those Americans who can only report or mourn the deaths of those who belonged to the so-called “elite units.”  This is a leftover of the Rumsfeld era where regular troops did not count and you sent parents out pre-written soldier death notice that was cranked out by a machine.  What a “rummy” way to treat a grieving family.  This one still hurts too much to write much more on.

Hot Weather Triggers.

While my soldier and veteran friends tell me that it is not near as hot in Milwaukee as it was/is in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the elevated heat of this summer (no such thing as global warning?  Heh, right) can be a PTSD trigger.  At times I walk out of the buildings at school and hit a wave of new heat.

My body is in Wisconsin, my memories are of being overseas, too hot, sopped with sweat, and then later on, the dried salt rings on my clothing. 

The heat, and especially transitioning from my “smart classroom” (it has high-tech computers, screens, etc., and is even air-conditioned so the machines don’t overheat…ah…to be part of the Machine! [Old folks quiz…what was that last line a reference to from music in the age of vinyl?]).  My aging memories and body aside:

Temperatures can be a PTSD trigger just like smells, sounds, and sights can be triggers.

Still Dealing with Norway.

Relatives were not directly harmed.  But still grappling with what the killer has done and the philosophy that got him there.  Still too painful to dwell on outloud.

America’s Dysfunctional Government.

We narrowly avert the self-inflicted debt crisis, and then watch a certain political party take credit for causing the crisis, and then we see the nation’s debt downgraded by a company that made a two trillion dollar error in its calculations.

Were Times Ever Simpler?

I remember when the USA could manage to govern itself and even manage stark political disagreements.  We usually got things done and did not worship the dollar and act as if it were the Risen Christ.  We usually did not blame the poor for our troubles (now we blame police officers and teachers for negotiating contracts that would allow them to have a pension and health care when they retire – when did teachers, police and firefighters suddenly become the enemy?).

Murdoch’s Cel Phone Hacking.

Rupert Murdoch should give the Tea Party a billion dollars for creating the American debt crisis.  The latest financial crisis created headlines that finally got Murdoch’s face off the front pages for the harm his companies have cause trauma survivors.  As you know, his news organizations tapped the cel phone of a murdered girl and led the parents to think she was still alive (and it was not an isolated incident of profiting from the dead and making the living suffer by this organization).  Now, it appears that Murdoch’s Pox News may have done similar things in the USA (If you watch Pox News in the USA, then you indirectly support this practice).

Hacking Causes More PTSD

Besides just being an abhorrent action to begin with: the worship of news ratings, advertising money, and self-promotion, the actions of Murdoch’s companies cause deeper trauma for those who survived it.  Some media people seem to vampirically thrive not only on the pre-existing agony of those who suffer, but also seem to be committed to creating even more suffering.  Oddly enough, when I see someone willingly cause another person to suffer just for kicks, grins, and profits, then that too, is a PTSD trigger.

Our PTSD can be triggered by events that seem unrelated to the initial trauma.  Some PTSD survivors become hyper-sensitized to the suffering of others.

There were some other events as well, but by now, you get the picture.  I’ve been mired in diverse PTSD triggers that seek to activate my PTSD-Identity and wants me to destroy myself.

This all worries me at times because, in theory, I am one of the more successful PTSD survivors.  I am not the most handsome PTSD survivor, but I am usually pretty successful at surviving.

So here I am, Mr. PTSD Survivor, and I still get kicked around by PTSD triggers…what Gives?

This reminds of something one of my older – and less handsome – brothers said once a while back.  It went something like this: “I am 40 years old and I still get pimples, when does this stuff ever stop?!”  Well, he still washes his face and I must realize that I will be susceptible to PTSD triggers all of my life.  Only in the resurrection will I be full, 100% cured of PTSD.

If I am never 100% cured of the PTSD Soul Wound in this life, then what can I do?  Can I hope for any relief?

Yes.  There is always hope.  As one of our readers (Thank You, Lily!)  wisely pointed out: Dwelling on worst case scenarios is unhealthy and spirit-destroying.  She pointed out Philippians 4:6-8.  And when I read that passage of scripture I notice that God does not promise there to solve all of my problems, but there is an assurance of peace.  One can have peace and still suffer.  Too often we equate our spiritual well-being by how much or little we suffer, not by the sheer amazement that God made us in his image and likeness and seeks our sanctification.

God does not cause our suffering, we have Pox News for that.  But how I choose to cope with my suffering, by what lenses I view it and live out its ramifications, that is up to me.  I can choose the way of life or the way of death.  I can choose the view that all life is sacred, created by God, and is meaningful, Or, I can choose the way of death, exploitation and mindless profit, that is, I can choose to deny compassion to the suffering and blame them and then make money from) their particular tragic losses.

We cannot make an amputated limb grow back and we cannot turn back time to erase the events that gave us trauma.  Yet, we can start on a path that values life and in this path even avoid our deaths.  We sometimes will stumble, but that does not mean we can’t re-enter that path.

PTSD Trigger Triage and the Getting On With It.

The military jets have gone away to terrorize some other hapless community – and then charge them higher taxes for the fuel expended.  We will always be stuck with Pox News and I remain careful how much of the news I expose myself to when journalist are more concerned only with “elite” lives, and not that of every person who has suffered.  Other problems, like my poor health and chronic pain will continue.  But I can reaffirm life.

No matter how much we hurt and suffer, we can always choose life.  If PTSD trips us up, we can re-affirm Life, yet again.

Part of being the PTSD Success Story is that I keep learning that PTSD triggers are out there and I have to be vigilant.  Last weekend I avoided alcohol even when the jets made my ribs rattle.

The alcohol would have been a false god that promised relief and then make everything worse. 

I avoided some of my other negative PTSD coping behaviors.  I talked with my wife.  I comforted my frightened pets.

And, comforting them also ended up in my being comforted by them. 

I did not take on more responsibilities than I had to absolutely engage in.  Why?  So as not to be pushed to the edge voluntarily.  I spent time in prayer and I played a lot of video games to distract myself from the worship of death and misfortune which is plaguing this country.

A Stronger and More Hopeful New Week

  • I start the new week stronger and more hopeful than I left the previous week. 
  • I helped my pets through the unnecessary trauma that the Defense Department gifted us with. 
  • I limited how much trauma the news media would stuff in my face while they lied about how terrible they all feel about it. 
  • I continue to talk with my wife about what I experience in terms of not only my sorrows but also my joys and success. 
  • As in Philippians 4:6-8, I can’t allow myself the corrosiveness of an always downcast attitude. 
  • None of my coping skills and prayers will make the physical pain go away.  But, they can make physical and spiritual pain easier to bear. 

Yes, the PTSD coping skills and my prayers can help diminish the severity of the spiritual pain as I ponder all of those lives damaged and all those souls feeling as if they suffer alone and without meaning.  In our suffering and in our choice of Life over Death, we witness to the value of all life, the value of your life, and even the value of my life.

Don’t give up.  Your life matters.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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