Sunday, March 25, 2018

No one can replace your engine but you can repair it!

PTSD: What is wrong does not mean you are not strong!
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 25, 2018

My buddy Murray is one hell of a strong dog. He is as tough as they come and not much bothers him. (Well, aside from a couple of TV commercials making him freak out, or anyone near our house.) He loves people (as long as he is outside with them.)

We have a routine when I get home from work. I dump my purse and shoes just inside of the bedroom doorway and jumps on the sofa for his petting. First behind the ears and then he'll roll over for a belly rub. Wednesday when I rubbed behind his ears, he winced. Trying to figure out what was wrong, I did it again, and that time he almost cried.

I took him to the Vets and sure enough, he has a massive double ear infection. It must have been there for a while as his body was trying to fight it off.  

The fact he has an infection, does not mean he is any less strong, or brave. It means something hit him and tried to defeat him. With the right medicine and treatment, he'll be fine soon.

So will you! PTSD hit you! It does not mean you are not brave, or strong, or any less resilient than before. It means all the stuff you went through, your whole body was trying to fight off. There comes a time when it just can't fight anymore without help.

If you do nothing, it gets worse. As time goes on, the infection spreads out and claims more of your life. It hits every part of you and then spreads out to anyone who cares about you.

If you don't let them know something is wrong, then they have no way of knowing you need help. They end up thinking whatever pops into their own minds while trying to make sense of the change in you.

Stop wincing and start talking. Let them know you are fighting something off and then get the right help to heal.

Your car has a warning light when there is something wrong. Well, your warning light has been flashing for a long time. If you want to be able to go further instead of getting stuck, PAY ATTENTION TO IT! No one can replace your engine but you can repair it!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Don't take your life, take it back

This is from 4 years ago today!

Don't take your life, take it back
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 22, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs puts it this way
After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Sometimes you may feel like a victim but you just didn't notice that you are a survivor. You are not weak. You were so strong that you were willing to risk your life for your friends and that came from the strength within you.

PTSD means you survived an event that was so traumatic your life was on the line. Anyone can change after that. When it is caused by combat, it means it wasn't just your life on the line but the lives of your friends as well.

While the events changed you, that does not mean you cannot change again. It doesn't mean you are stuck feeling lousy inside. You are not condemned to suffer, feeling sad, angry, bitter or hopeless. Help is out there the same way you were there to help your buddies survive combat.

Don't even think about taking your own life now when you can take your life back!

Every part of a warfighter went. Your body was conditioned to react to stressful situations. Your mind was trained to react in a new way. Your spirit was pushed and often crushed by what you had to see and do. Every part of you changed because of combat.

Life is full of challenges and changes because of them. Challenge yourself to discover that you have the ability to change again. Your buddies watched over you just as you watched over them when someone was trying to kill you. There is still an enemy to fight back home trying to claim victory over you and them. You used weapons in war and you need weapons now to fight PTSD. You were not alone in combat and you are not alone now.

Seek help for your mind even if that means medication. If the medication doesn't work or you are having problems with it, talk to your doctors so that they can change them until they find the right ones for you.

Seek help to teach your body how to live calmly again. It had to be trained to push on and now it needs to be trained to relax again.

Seek help to heal your spirit. After all you went through it is often hard to feel the good emotions because the bad ones are so strong. All that was good inside of you before is still in there.

PTSD can be defeated and you can take your life back.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

PTSD Service Stuff Stop Sign

Stop stuffing what your service does to you
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 20, 2018

If you made it your job to serve others, time to deal with it instead of stuffing it.

The only way to prevent PTSD is to stop all wars, crimes, fires, natural disasters and accidents. Think about that for a second. 

Now think about how you decided to make it your job...willingly putting your life on the line because all those things happen to people you don't even know.

Sure, you can understand when one of us has just been through something horrible and dealing with a lot. Why can't you understand when one of your own, or you, has to deal with a lot more because you face more of those times that could kill you?

While it may be difficult for the survivors, it is a lot hard for those we count on to help us become a survivor instead of victims.

Service members (including National Guard and Reservists) law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders, face the same things the rest of us deal with but piled on top of that "everything else" are all the times you put your lives on the line. Even when you are not in an active situation, you are waiting for the next time. After all, that is what you get paid to do. Isn't it?

What you cannot forget, you stuff it to be able to just get on with your time off the job. The problem is, there is really no time you are totally off the job. You know when you are not on duty, someone else is.

It is what you decided to do with your life. It is what you trained to do. Did they tell you that you would no longer be human? Did they tell you that you were supposed to stop feeling?

Screw that! If you didn't feel anymore, then you wouldn't care anymore and you wouldn't want to do the job that could very well cost you your life!

You had to care deeply about life, or you wouldn't risk yours. That leaves a huge question. Then why don't you care enough about your own life to ask for help when you need it?

PTSD hit 1-out-of-3 Vietnam veterans. Hit 1-out-of-5 OEF and OIF veterans.

Police officers, according to Psychology Today article
There are approximately 900,000 sworn officers in the United States. According to some studies –19% of them may have PTSD. Other studies suggest that approximately 34% suffer symptoms associated with PTSD but do not meet the standards for the full diagnosis.
USA Today did a great report on combat veterans joining the police force afterwards.

  • Veterans who work as police are more vulnerable to self-destructive behavior  — alcohol abuse, drug use and, like Thomas, attempted suicide.
  • Hiring preferences for former service members that tend to benefit whites disproportionately make it harder to build police forces that reflect and understand diverse communities, some police leaders say.
  • Most  law enforcement agencies, because of factors including a culture of machismo and a number of legal restraints, do little or no mental health screening for officers who have returned from military deployment, and they provide little in the way of treatment.
Ok, so now you understand that most of you stuff things instead of actively dealing with them and taking back lives. Now maybe you understand if you happen to be one of them, or one who never went to war, but put your life on the line all the same.

The truth is, suicide is hitting more veterans, police officers, firefighters and emergency responders. There comes a time when you start to see the signs that you should stop trying to stuff it and start doing something beyond getting numb or doing whatever it is that "takes you mind" off what is going on with you. Maybe it is time to fight back?

Maybe instead of accepting the fact you are willing to risk your life for strangers, you accept the fact that you need to start trusting the same people you risked your life with and let them know you need some help.

They would die for you, just as you would die for them. Do you really think they won't take the time to listen to you?

One more thing to consider is, there is nothing weak about someone like you. Actually, it requires you to have a deeper-stronger emotional core than the average citizen. It is also why you got hit harder than others did.

Ready to stop stuffing and start healing?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

PTSD Patrol Empowerment Zone: Hope is contagious

"What is behind you, is not as strong as who is beside you."
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 18, 2018

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day.

"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain and was reunited with his family. (from
Many do not understand that the day they say everyone becomes Irish, is a celebration of a victory. Patrick defeated doubt. He escaped his captors and went on to greatness.

You can escape PTSD holding you as a prisoner by defeating doubt too. Stop telling yourself that this life you are living is all you get. Stop telling yourself that getting numb is coping with PTSD. 

You defeated the thing that sent PTSD into you. Why let it win now?

I love this memorial because it shows two soldier side-by-side, walking forward, ready to face the enemy.

That is the way you fight PTSD. Side-by-side. It is one of the biggest things discovered in the done to defeat this. Peer-support works better than anything else. 

If you refuse the other help available, at least do this. Go and spend time with other veterans. Sooner or later you'll discover how much you do have in common with them.

Make your healing even better by going to the VA for mental health help. Considering that everything learned about what trauma does, started by researching Vietnam veterans, they know the difference between trauma and other illnesses. 

The only way to get PTSD is being a survivor of something that happened to you. Yes, it hits you!

You can still make a difference in this world by doing whatever you have to do to fight PTSD. Then you can go stand by the side of another veteran who needs to be shown the way. Think of it this way, healing is a something that doesn't stop, because as you help others, you heal even more!

Hope is contagious!
If I look different in these videos it is because I went off my meds for my back. Every once in a while, I try to give my body a break and stop them for a while. So, yes, I was in a lot of pain and it shows. 

Physical pain shows and so does the pain you feel everyday with PTSD. No matter how many smiles you show to the world, take a look at your eyes in the mirror. You can see it. The good news is, you can put back the sparkle you used to have when you stop letting PTSD win.

PTSD Patrol Sunday Empowerment Zone
Yesterday I went out to the Vietnam veteran memorial across from Lake Baldwin VA. I love it out there. There is a memorial with two soldiers, side by side, with weapons raised as they walk forward. That image is exactly what I've been trying to say. You don't fight in combat alone and you can't fight to heal alone.

PTSD Patrol Take Life Back

PTSD Patrol Making a Difference

Saturday, March 17, 2018

PTSD Patrol: Get in and drive your life

Change what drives you
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos 
March 17, 2018

When I was explaining what PTSD Patrol was about to a co-worker, it dawned on me that I never really explained it here.

You may be wondering why it is all related to vehicles. Simply really, everyone understands it no matter what form of transportation it is.

Sometimes we are a passenger. That is what our childhood is like. Our parents are the drivers. They are in control. They decide where we go and how fast we get there.

Then we grow up, learn how to be in control of the wheel, speed and direction we go in. We get a little older and we own the thing, which is our lives. We own what we do with the lives our parents brought into the world.

The engine is our mind. The body of the vehicle is like ours. Everyone can understand you need to take care of your engine and the body of the vehicle. 

Each person picks a vehicle based on many choices. What they can afford and what they like. Sure, some invest the time in learning about the thing before they decide. Some will look for the best deal. No one usually buys it without taking it for a test drive first.

No matter what you get, how powerful it is, the thing won't do anything other than sit there without feeding it gas. 

So look at your life like a vehicle your soul is in. In this case, the gas you put in your tank, feeds your soul. Without hope, you run out of gas.

We are the ones who determine where we go from one moment to the next. Sure, we can get trapped in a traffic jam, sitting there, waiting for others to get out of our way. 

We can get lost trying to get where we want to go. 

We can get behind a driver moving too slowly or have to move out of the way of someone driving way too fast.

We have little control over what others do, but we do control what we do. Same thing with life.

It gets draining just hearing about the bad stuff. I know what that's like since I track all the news stories across the country and my frickin head explodes when I read about someone doing something talking about a number, but never seems to mention what that "something" is or why they didn't even bother to read the report.

So, that is why PTSD Patrol was started. It is about getting in and driving your own life away from the past. No, not forgetting it, but making peace with it. It is about empowerment and fueling your tank without getting too preachy.

Remember, while I am a Chaplain, I am far from the type you may be used to.

Oh, almost forgot. The picture I use is from a trip out to Nevada for a wedding and my daughter is driving. Go figure! She got to drive and I was in the back seat!

On Sunday mornings there are videos going up about what is hopeful and telling you things someone should have mentioned a very long time ago. You can heal and your life can get a hell of a lot better. 

No more excuses. Stop being comfortably numb!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

PTSD Patrol, Get Out Of Neutral

PTSD Patrol Sunday Empowerment Zone
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 11, 2018 

Why is it the simplest message can also be the most powerful? Think about some commercials you see on TV and how some will just stick in your head. Now think of all the veterans needing to heal, but only hearing about the worst possible outcome. 

Isn't it a lot better, a lot more powerful, for them to know that from this moment in, they are in control and can choose to take their lives back, instead of taking them?

Yesterday, my buddy Jonnie Rodriguez had something he wanted to share. His simple, powerful message of healing. When he thinks about what his life was like when he had no hope of getting out of the hell he was in, and what his life is like now, he gets angry. Angry that others are settling for being defined by PTSD instead of taking control as a survivor.

The road ahead is yours! Stay in neutral, getting numb, feeling sorry for yourself, or get on the road paved by others who have gone before you.

It is a lot of work, but hey, training was hard work too. Your job is/was hard work. But as with any road trip, you can get help to get to where you want to go.

Think about every road has been laid out by someone looking at a forest and figured out how to connect one place to another. Same thing with healing PTSD. It took someone seeking a better way to get through what was keeping them out of where they wanted to go.

You can do the same thing.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

PTSD Patrol Empowerment Zone-Healing

Don't be defined by what is wrong with you!
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
March 4, 2018

Yesterday I went to an event for this fantastic veteran!
Kelly Smith will not let anything stop her. You can see the video from the event on Combat PTSD Wounded Times later today.

For now, we need to talk about some of the conversations going on at the event. It was more about a veteran worried about another veteran, than anyone talking about themselves. AND THAT IS THE POINT MOST OF YOU MISS!

No one is in this after combat alone! The same people you would have died for, the same ones who would have died for you, still care! What the hell makes you think they wouldn't listen to you if you need them? What stops you from talking to them if you think they need help?

This video also introduces Murray! It is a glorious morning here in Florida and he wanted to get some fresh air. 
Don't settle for the way thing are today! TAKE YOUR LIFE BACK!

"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...

PTSD Patrol

PTSD Patrol
It is your life, get in and drive it