“Why is Dad so Mad?”
PTSD is no joke. And it strikes without a conscience. We are all susceptible to its talons. I was diagnosed with it shortly after my husband died. I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing him in a coffin. I felt like I was having a heart attack at least once a day. Night sweats ran like rain and I put many a gazelle to shame with the height I’d jump when the slightest thing startled me. I couldn’t focus long enough to read a newspaper article or hold a conversation. Rage emanated from me. My youngest son started to cry if someone put him in my arms. And so on.
It took hours of counseling, indescribable support from family and friends, and the double-edged sword of time to heal, but I am still prone to ambush symptoms and I’m not convinced that will ever end. If the death of my husband and the trauma of the 3 ½ year capital court martial could so obliterate my mental health, I cannot imagine what months or years of combat exposure could do to even the strongest psyche.
The trajectory of my life has brought me into close contacts with a large veteran community. Today, my professional work as a Veterans Specialist brings me into the paths of more veterans each day. I am well accustomed to the inner battle so many of them wage, valiantly attempting to reclaim their lives. It breaks my heart and fills me with profound gratitude knowing what these men, women, and families endure to preserve this country.
It’s only fairly recently that this nation has learned to recognize PTSD as a bona-fide combat related disability. Its stigma, though undeniably still present, has begun to recede enough that veterans are cautiously trickling in to treatment. It’s a slow start, but at least a start. And then there are veterans like Retired Army 1st Sgt. Seth Kastle.
I’ve never met this man but I would sure love to shake his hand. According to one of the articles I found about him (specifically, the article at http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/why-dad-so-mad-father-writes-book-explain-his-ptsd-n334271 ), this Army Reserve soldier served for 16 years, with deployments to Qatar, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Upon his last return home, his PTSD threatened his relationship with his family. But instead of giving in to its grip, of suffering in silence and dragging his family down in flames, he turned the tables on stigma, fear, and defeat by first writing a book for his daughters and then raising more than twice the funds he needed to turn his work tangible. His book, “Why is Dad so Mad?” not only helped his own family heal, but is also available for others.
Check out the link above to read about Sgt. Kastle, his book, and his family. I dare you not to be inspired by his strength. And maybe you will use that inspiration to fuel your own fire against whatever battle you are waging.
Bravo, Sgt. Kastle. Thank you for your service.