“PTSD Secrets”

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“PTSD Secrets for Survival”

 

by Ken Smith

 

I must confess right upfront that this posting is a little self promotion.  Well, kind of.  Three months ago, a dear friend of mine that I have known for over 25-years contacted me with an urgent request concerning his son who had recently returned from Afghanistan.  It was an appeal by a desperate father for help and as I thought about what he was asking me to do, I had an idea. This friend’s email went something like this:

“Ken, Can you help me out?” he said. “For the past two weeks our son Tony has been staying in the basement , sleeping all day, watching animal programs on TV most of the night, missing meals, drinking too much and today he lashed out screaming at my wife who was just trying to pick up his laundry.   So, I’m worried. I know when you came back from the Vietnam War you told me that you had PTSD with nightmares and flashbacks; do you think that’s what’s wrong with my son?”

It got me to thinking about the solutions I had figured on my own over the years to deal with PTSD, without anyone telling me what to do. After Vietnam, there were no veteran outreach centers or PTSD groups who were talking about nightmares, and if you came right out and said you were having flashbacks, well, you risked getting tossed into the cracker bin.

My friend’s request  prompted me to write down the different tactics and tricks I had used to deal with my own PTSD over the years and soon I had a small e-book that outlined the strategies.

I called it “PTSD Secrets for Survival”

I sent my friend this e-book in an email and two weeks later I started to get a dozen to twenty email requests a day asking me to send along my e-book book on PTSD.  When I asked the emailers where they had heard about this PTSD e-book, I was usually told, it was a friend of a friend of another friend and they then repeated, could you please just email the PTSD book of secrets.

I then set about developing a website for this e-book to make it easier for others to download it for free

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www.PTSDsecrets.com

“I wasn’t prepared for what happened next”

 Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of downloads later; this e-book has started an avalanche of emails back to me.  Mostly positive emails from grateful parents or vets, but also some emails that I just can’t put to print here, filled with vitriol, hatred and conspiracy theories about how I am making money off a free book.  I received emails from moms, wives, kids, vets, family friends of vets, and even emails from people with PTSD that weren’t vets.  Most emails are saying “thank you” but some are telling me I was the loser for going to Vietnam.  Some desperately are asking if I could intervene on their behalf with a rather difficult family PTSD situation.  I am overloaded now, and spend at least an hour or two a day, answering each email in the order that they arrived.  I am about 15,000 or so emails behind. Little did I know the raw nerve endings that this little e-book would touch.  It was almost like I had stepped onto the “Third Rail” of the American Veteran Psyche.

Just so you know, there are some interesting insights in this e-book for its readers, you included,  and it has value, but it was intended only for my friend’s son, and yet, now, I feel I am helping other sons and daughters of other friends I have yet to meet.

For those of us who suffer with PTSD the core issues are those of loneliness, betrayal and anger.  There are no words to describe how “Very Alone” PTSD can make you feel.  One minute your living your life to its fullest and enjoying kids, family, ball games, cold beer and then “”BLAM”” you are all alone.  That feeling is very scary.  It reminds me of the movie where the actor wakes up in the big city one morning and there are no more humans, he is the very last man on earth.

Even today, forty years after the war, I can smell the rotting plants of the jungle some days.  Old “Huey’s” flown by the Air Guard can make me look up and wonder about CA’s I took part in.  Sometimes I can hear the sounds of the jungle animals at night in my dreams, and in my nightmares, I still get chills when all of a sudden the sounds of the jungle STOP, and all is quiet, because you knew  in the Nam that you were about to be attacked or ambushed when all the animal sounds of the jungle stopped, everything went quiet, as someone was walking around in the dark out in front of you.  Someone looking to kill you.

If you know someone who has PTSD, this is one small step for them and one giant leap for me.  It will hopefully put them on the road to getting compensation as a goal, and that my friends, “That’s a good thing.”


 


 

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