Tuesday, January 23, 2018

PTSD? Need a tow?

PTSD: Sometimes you need a tow truck
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
January 23, 2018

When you breakdown on the road, you try to figure out what went wrong. Out of gas? Overheated? Dead battery? Flat tires?If you can't fix it yourself, you make a phone call to get help. If you don't, then you will be stuck there until someone comes along to try to help you get out of where you are.

What if the person coming doesn't know anything more than you do? Your still stuck where you are.

So, you make the call to someone you know will fix your problem, or at least give you a tow. They may tell you that you'll have to wait a while, but you know they'll show up.

When they come, a sense of relief takes place of dread. You hope they find something simple and can fix it right away. The longer it takes them to figure it out, the more you get worried about what they'll find.

You smile when you find out it wasn't as bad as you thought. A battery cable was not making the right connection. Put back on tightly, you are good to go again. You get back into your car, start it up and your help leaves. No problem since you think you don't need help anymore. 

To get out of the breakdown lane, you need to proceed with caution. You can't just take off and fly down the road. What is behind you? What is on the side of you? What is ahead of you? Is it safe to move forward? What speed should you be in?

Strange how that works the same way with PTSD. Something went wrong. It was the one too many times you were in a place where something terrible happened. After about 30 days, if what you've been going through hasn't weakened, or even better, left you almost the same as you were, then you need to get help.

It means the event was too much for your engine (mind) to handle. When you breakdown, trying to figure out what to do next, can lead to a lot more problems.

You'll try anything to stop feeling the pain and having bad thoughts pop in and out between your regular thoughts. Sometimes you just want to stop feeling the pain, so you get numb with drugs, alcohol, playing games online, or doing other things that would be out of character for you.

The stuff you used to enjoy, you have no interest in doing at all. People may say that you are acting like a jerk or "not yourself" lately, and they are more right than they know.

Sometimes, you are really not "yourself" because surviving something that could have killed you, changes you. No one really escapes the "IT" the same way they were before.

You end up stuck on the side of the road while everyone else is passing you.  

So, do you pick up the phone and ask for help or just sit there waiting for it to suddenly show up? How long do you wait? Do you keep waiting until it gets dark and no one can see you?

Is it OK to ask for help when your car is broken? Then why isn't it OK to ask for help when you breakdown? Sometimes all you need is a quick fix, or a jump start. Sometimes you need a tow and taken to where they can give you tests to figure out what you need to get back on the road.

One way or another, it is always better to ask for help than take your chances on the side of the road.

It doesn't matter how tough or how big you are, there is always a way to get you to where you need to go.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Be the hope they need to see that suffering is not all there is with PTSD

Not just a face in a crowd
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 16, 2018

How can you help a veteran with PTSD? The same way they were wounded in the first place. Whenever you see pictures of a wounded service member, you do not see massive crowds surrounding them. You see a few of the members of their own unit coming to help help. 

And that is how it needs to be done when the wound is cut deeply into their soul.

That is what Point Man International Ministries figured out over 3 decades ago. Treat them like a member of your family unit, know them like a brother or sister and then help them by standing by their side. Then they'll know they really matter.

A sailor of the USS North Dakota took a rifle and shot himself in the chest, but survived after crew members spent seven hours doing everything possible to save the unidentified sailor's life. The sailor may have been wondering if his/her life was worth living and they just proved beyond a doubt, it was.

The thing that keeps getting missed when discussing military suicides is, they valued the lives of others, they were willing to die to save someone else. The question is, why, after all these years, do they not see their own life is worth saving to others as well?

They show great courage above and beyond what most civilians are prepared to do. Yet when they are suffering because of what they had to face, they are not courageous enough to ask for help from the very people they trust with their lives.

We keep hearing about how the military and veterans communities have been working on getting the stigma attached to PTSD out of their heads, but that hasn't worked. Why haven't they tried plain, simple logic to explain what PTSD is and why they have it?

Why aren't service members and veterans leading groups after they overcame their own struggles with silence?

It isn't good enough to say you understand what they are going through if you do not have a story to tell of your own. You need to be able to share your own struggles with the veteran you are trying to help. In a large group, it seems that everyone is competing to tell their tales as if it is a contest to win as the most miserable.

In small groups, it is more about sharing and caring on a personal level. You can share what caused your heartache and then share with them how you ended up feeling better about your life.

You can be an example of not giving up on yourself as much as you prove you will not give up on them as long as they do everything possible to heal themselves.

You can make sure you stay in contact with them, encourage them to take the steps they need to get where they need to be. 

The only reason someone gives up is when they believe there is no hope of better days. Be the hope they need to see that suffering is not all there is to the rest of their lives!

If you are a veteran and want to offer this hope contact Point Man and start leading the way out of the lonely darkness and into a family of healing.

If you are a family member, then you can do the same for other families who have not been treated as if they are on the front lines of all of this.

Hotline: 1-800-877-VETS (8387)
Point Man Intl. Ministries
Po Box 267
Spring Brook, NY 14140
E -mail: dana@pmim.org
HQ Phone:1-716-675-5552
Point Man Intl. Ministries is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stop suicide awareness and help them stay alive!

Ready to fight for their lives?
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
January 14, 2018

Exactly what do you think you know about PTSD and suicide? If you're an average user of social media, the chances are you really don't know very much. If you watch the news, then you really don't know much more than they do, and that is pretty close to zilch since reporters never seem to ask any questions. 

I fight with them all the time so they get some kind of understanding beyond what they think they need to know. They keep pushing the "easy to remember number" of 22 or 20 a day, without ever understanding what they should have known before they decided to cover the subject.

You can read all the facts on my other site, Combat PTSD Wounded Times, but keeping this a positive page, I'll leave that out. We can't change the outcome without changing what we do and learning a hell of lot more than what we learned the easy way. To catch up look below for some links.

PTSD and suicides are complicated subjects. They are also depressing as hell to spend time on. Maybe that is part of the problem. Veterans surviving combat then killing themselves is heartbreaking. Everyone wants to do something, but few know what to do.

If you are a veteran or family member, here is what you need to know.

There is a battle going on right now between what you hear and think you know, against what is really known about the battles veterans fight everyday.

They are fighting to stay alive. They hold onto the hope that day will come, change their lives again, so they can feel better about surviving war.
These guys are the reason I do what I do and have done for the last 35 years. Vietnam veterans did not just teach me about PTSD, but they taught me what love really is. It cannot be measured by what most civilians limit it to. Beyond that, it is measured by what they were willing to do for each other.

I grew up surrounded by veterans, but I was blind to how uncommon they were until it dawned on me most of my friends did not have anyone who served in the military. I did not know anything about Vietnam veterans, other than what I heard, until I met and fell in love with one of them. They became my obsession.

The first thing to understand is that there are different causes. There is what civilians face, but then the additional threats of life come with the jobs of far too many. Here at home, we have first responders. They are members of law enforcement, fire departments, emergency crews and members of the National Guards/Reservists. 

They face the same things we do, but for them, the crisis they have to deal with is everyday for them. Often multiple times a day and when it isn't happening, they know it can happen at every moment. When they are not on duty, they are worrying about the others on duty. On duty, they worry about their families back at home, especially when they are on duty during a natural disaster. Forest fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, demand their attention but they know their own family could be in danger while they take care of the rest of their communities.

For deployed military service members, it is the same fear but topped off with the additional stressful occupation that keeps them on edge facing bombs and bullets. They also have to endure the environmental conditions, endless hours, lack of sleep, little rest and the constant threat to their lives.

Veterans of all these occupations do their best to leave it behind them, but it all comes with them. They manage to stay busy until they retire and then it all hits them. Veterans over the age of 50 are 65% of the suicides because of isolation, lack of obligations on their time and what makes it worse for them is they never expected it would hit them. They didn't know it was there all along. 

You may be wondering what you can do to make a difference. First, if you come across any link with "suicide awareness" and a number of "22" or "20" referring to the number of veterans they think are committing suicide, leave a very simple comment. "Why didn't you even bother to read the report?"

Leave them the link to the first VA suicide report with "22 a day" if that is what they claim to be the true number. That report came out with limited data from just 21 states. It also had the highest percentage of veterans committing suicide were over the age of 50. Maybe they need to answer why they did not bother to address the group with the highest suicides?

If they use "20 a day" then leave them this link with the same questions.

Then if you want to, ask them exactly how they expect to help veterans if they did not even bother to read the reports they are raising money to raise awareness for? Then share their answer so that everyone following them or supporting them on their Facebook site learns what they are really all about.

That is a step toward getting the BS out of all this.

The next step if you have a veteran in your own family with PTSD. Normalize it for them. PTSD is what is left over from facing death for 1 out of 3 Vietnam veterans and 1 out of 5 OEF and OIF veterans. One more indication as to why the older veterans are the majority of the suicides. More of them with a higher rate of PTSD.

Spend the time to learn all you can, then get your own emotions out of the way when dealing with theirs. It may be hard for you but it is harder for them to have it.

Understand they can heal and life can be a lot better, but that not only requires you to learn the road ahead, you have to learn what got them to where they are now.

You do not need to know the details of what caused PTSD, so don't ask them to tell you. Plus, if you are not a professional, you may not be prepared for the answer or know how to respond. I've worked with them for over 30 years. Many times I wish they had not shared what they did, but I was trained to handle it without getting too upset or letting my own emotions take over. I just try to process it after I get off the phone or close the email.

No you own limits. Don't try to do something if you don't understand what comes next. PTSD and suicide are complex subjects. If you learn the basics, then you have a better way of knowing if you need to take action beyond what you are capable of. Know what to do next before you start anything.

Also, remember, no matter how much you know, you will not be able to save all of them. I couldn't save my husband's nephew no matter how much I knew. I just never figured out how to get him to listen before it was too late. Something that caused me to take these suicides personally.

Remind them that civilians also get hit by PTSD. It hit them when they survived something terrible, and it only took one time to do it. For occupations, these men and women had, it happened a lot more than once, or twice, but over the years they were on the job.

If it is an older veteran, isolation is a big issue for them. Encourage them to get involved with other veterans groups so they not only find common ground, they gain support. Trust me, they are comfortable with other veterans a lot more than they are comfortable in crowds with strangers.

If they change after retirement, get them to see a doctor instead of a divorce lawyer. They changed for a reason. Listen to them but also pay attention to the way they are acting.

Mood swings, overblown reactions to situations, looking for arguments, drinking more than what had been usual for them, dropping things they used to enjoy, nightmares waking them up or being obsessive about security, paranoia and zoning out, are warning signs they need help.

Understand that you have little to do with causing any of this but you have a lot to do with getting them help. While you cannot force them, unless they are suicidal, you can encourage them to get the help they need, but far too many do not think they deserve it.

None of this is new and most of it is not in the news because too many are willing to settle for what they are hearing, instead of learning what can make a difference.

These folks valued life so much, they were willing to lay down their own lives for the sake of others. To lose them because they no longer value their own lives, is something that should be acceptable to no one!

Remember, they lived for love and need to live for love now too.

This video was done in 2012, 

Kathie Costos DiCesare
Uploaded time:
January 2, 2012 at 9:33 PM
Raw file:


long before it was headline news. The video ends with "18 veterans committed suicide" and back then, that is what the number was being reported as.

Veterans face off with law enforcement almost every week across the country.

Too many veterans were kicked out of the military instead of being helped.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Stop being a "Vietnum Veteran"

Tired of being numb?
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
January 11, 2018

I was working on a video earlier today when I typed "Vietnum veteran" instead of Vietnam veteran. Before I went to edit the text, I kept looking at it. Then it dawned on me that actually works. Oh, sure you spell numb with the B, but actually "be" has been part of your problem all along. Being willing to settle for just being half alive is not really living. It is existing.
For more than 40 years, you've been focused on what you had to do instead of what you needed to do for yourself...and your family.

You went to work, often doing jobs that were almost as dangerous as being in Vietnam. You raised a family, and in a lot of cases, more than one...and then came the time when you didn't have to go to work anymore. Kids moved out, probably have kids of their own who grew up already. If you managed to stay married, your wife is probably retired too.

My husband had to retire before the age of 50.  Sixteen years later, I'm still working and have another decade to go before I can retire.

Oh, the years that are supposed to be time for you to finally relax turned out to not be so relaxing.

It used to be easy to stay busy, and a hell of a lot easier than getting slammed in the middle of the night by a full force nightmare much stronger than any of the others you had.

Yep, you spent all those years avoiding what you thought you left behind and it caught up with you. What did you think would happen when you did not move forward and heal? Did you think that "some day" would come when you would finally "just get over it" the way your Dad told you that you would? Did he? Safe bet he didn't.

If you have been paying attention to what you brought home with you from Vietnam, then you probably made sure you got into treatment and did everything the experts said you needed to do. Great! My hubby did too, but neither of us expected anything "normal" out of our lives together. Well, not normal to the rest of the population, but certainly normal to the veterans we know. Life isn't all that bad and we learned how to take control over the rest of our years. 

If you haven't been paying attention, then odds are, you have been hit with a sledgehammer! PTSD woke up just when you thought you could relax.

For all the numbers you hear about veterans committing suicide, none of them bothered to read the reports they scooped the number out of, or they would have seen the part where it says that 65% of the veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50! Yep, you guys and if they saw that part, but still ignored you, then it shows all they care about is not changing the outcome for veterans. It is more about what they can get out of it.

Now, here is the other thing they don't want you, or anyone else to notice. Talking about veterans giving up, only enforces the fact giving up was the option for them. How was that supposed to work? Wouldn't it have been a lot better enforcing the fact that you can heal and give you some hope that life can be better for you?


Now you have time to think but it doesn't have to be all bad thoughts. Invest the extra time you have in your days on healing.

Yes, you can heal and life can get a lot better all the way around.

Are you afraid to move forward? Has it gotten comfortable to be numb? Getting numb to pain makes sense, when it is your body. Still, even if your body is felling pain, the first thing you do is go to the doctor to find out what the cause is. Once they find out that the pain is not dangerous, they help you stop hurting. If it is your mind, then same story pretty much. 

They figure out if you have PTSD or not. Then they give you medicine so you stop hurting. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't.  The thing that it is supposed to do is make you stop feeling pain but that doesn't mean the cause of it is gone.

Getting numb, numbs all the stuff that is supposed to make living worth it. You know. Things like feeling love and happiness instead of being isolated and angry.

Safe bet there is some fear there too. You may keep waiting for the day that you wake up and "you're over it" but PTSD gets stronger and you end up terrified that there is no hope.

There is plenty to hope for. Did you know that 148,000 Vietnam veterans sought help for the first time in 2007? They finally got the message that ya, life gets better.

Consider this,
Over a Quarter-Million Vietnam War Veterans Still Have PTSDForty years after the war’s end, twice as many vets with combat-related PTSD are getting worse as those who are improving
“Fast forward to age 60-something when they may retire, their social supports may erode, their health gradually declines and they begin to face their own mortality. They don’t have the same kinds of structures and responsibilities. More time to reminisce may not be helpful in this situation and may lead to an intensification or reactivation of trauma-related experiences in memory.”

Yes, I know, I'm a PTSD geek! If you are involved with a group of veterans, instead of being isolated, then you'll be doing partial work on healing. If you are in therapy, then there is more work being done on healing. If you're doing what experts say works best, then you'll be living a better quality of life.

What works best? Taking care of ALL of you instead of part of you. Mind, body and spirit.

Do you want to spend your retirement years on the couch with the remote control or do you want to enjoy time to act like a kid again?

What are you waiting for? Take back control of your life!

"Can you imagine how I feel today?"

PTSD Patrol Kathie Costos June 15, 2021 "Can you imagine how I feel today?" is a question no one would have to ask if they talk...

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It is your life, get in and drive it