Tag Archives: ptsd

For Veteran’s Day, Help Veterans

This Veteran’s Day, I’d like to let you know about the DV Farm. It will be run by vets for vets – providing practical rehabilitation for homeless veterans through a combined program of housing & meals, animal care, a structured work schedule and the camaraderie of fellow vets working together to reintegrate back into civilian life.

These guys have been putting on comedy podcasts for the last two years, and built a community of vets who take care of each other when the system fails them. Click the picture below to go to their GoFundMe, and please consider donating.

dv farm

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How to Research for a Story

Sometimes accuracy matters, sometimes it really doesn’t. Ultimately you need to serve the needs of your story before, say, physics.

That said, as the world gets smaller and information becomes easer to access, writers find their work under more scrutiny than ever before. Poking holes in fiction is a common pastime not only for trolls but for professionals in that field, and people who are genuinely interested in the topic. It’s easy to reach for a TV show, a documentary, or a quick fact in isolation from a textbook; but in doing so there’s a good chance that you’ll miss some important details and context, thus alienating those with whom this experience could resonate the most.

For example, you can’t hit someone with a Taser while touching them, or you’ll feel the effects yourself. I’m looking at you, directors of The Machine. So if you can’t go for documentaries, and you can’t rely on the veracity of blogs, academic articles are another great resource. The story I’m working on right now is a secondary world in which a talented and accomplished healer, Hrisa, quits working to save people and instead transitions to post-mortem cleanup. It’s been interesting to consider medicine in terms of a battlefield. No matter how good a healer you are, no matter the technology and access one has; the battle with death is always a losing one. You can save someone for a while, but eventually you will both lose. I wanted to see if this premise holds up to real nurses’ experience. Here are some of the articles I found. Post-traumatic stress disorder in military nurses who served in Vietnam during the war years 1965–1973, by Elizabeth M. Norman Results indicate that the number of nurses suffering from this disorder has decreased since the initial postwar years. Two variables (the intensity of the wartime experience and supportive social networks after the war) influenced the level of PTSD.

The prevalence and impact of post traumatic stress disorder and burnout syndrome in nurses, by Meredith Mealer et al This paper discusses whether post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and burnout syndrome (BOS) are common in nurses, and whether the co-existence of PTSD and BOS is associated with altered perceptions of work and nonwork-related activities.

Increased Prevalence of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Critical Care Nurses, by Meredith L. Mealer, Et Al Intensive care unit (ICU) nurses work in a demanding environment where they are repetitively exposed to traumatic situations and stressful events. The aim of this research is to determine whether there is an increased prevalence of psychological symptoms in ICU nurses when compared with general nurses. Another option, if I’m looking for something more specific or esoteric, is to seek out the paper’s author. Meredith L. Mealer’s coming up frequently, so in this case she’d be a good choice. Be prepared to hear ‘no,’ though. It’s a jungle out there long before you hit submission time.

“Most of the Island Trauma team’s work involves the bereaved or people going through emotional upheaval, which is the most difficult part of the job, explains Baruchin. “Some people will be in shock, some will break down, some people will get in there with you and clean because it was somebody they knew. That’s probably the hardest thing, but if we’ve done it right, it’s a hug-fest by the end of the job.”  — Saira Kahn, “Smelling Death: On the Job With New York’s Crime-Scene Cleaners”

death

Medicine Vs. Death: Department of Health & Wellness in Fulton County, Georgia

Dead Weight Blog Tour with M. Todd Gallowglas

For our very first Blog Tour Hosting Extravaganza, I’d like to welcome talented author and storyteller M. Todd Gallowglas.  His newest story, Dead Weight, grabbed my attention because it put artists on the front lines of a war against magical forces that bend men’s minds to breaking. For military folk all across history, war and insanity have gone hand in hand.  I asked our guest what his thoughts were on the subject, and how they related to his story. Please enjoy.

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First, for those of you following the blog tour, let me apologize for the hiccup/speed bump. The winter death crud descended on the Gallowglas household something fierce. When setting up this blog tour, Setsu offered to host me for a day and asked me to write about something very different than everyone else. She asked about how I went about researching the Military aspects of story. She noticed some parallels between PTSD and fae madness experienced by some of the characters.

When I was in high school, I spent several years in the Marine Corp Junior ROTC program at my school. I think I made it to cadet Gunnery Sargent. Every year I was in the program, I spent my spring break down at Marine Corp Air Station El Toro with the rest of my company. I fired M-16s, M-60s, threw grenades (smoke, not frags) marched around, road in trucks, ate in the mess hall, ran PT, and got a vague sense of what it was like to live as a Marine Corp grunt. During the rest of the year, I learned about military chain of command, history, tactics, went on a bunch of other field trips, and received training as a cadet drill instructor. The foundation of my writing about the military is based on my experiences in JROTC. Aside from my days in JROTC, I have a handful of friends in the military, several who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have been invaluable, and I’ve also been reading a lot of memoirs of soldiers from Viet Nam to the present. Ultimately, I’m not going for factual accuracy in my depiction of the military, rather, like the rest of DEAD WEIGHT, I’m going for the feeling of a military experiencing a completely surreal conflict like The Faerie War.

As for the “fae” madness that the bards suffer from being similar to PTSD… well… that’s completely coincidental. In DEAD WEIGHT bards get a condition they call the TYS, or thousand year stare. Yeah, I took it from a common phrase that I think came out of Viet Nam, the thousand yard stare. It was a term to describe someone who had been “in the bush” too long and saw threats and danger everywhere. In DEAD WEIGHT bards use artistic creation to learn secret truths of the universe, in doing so, they usually learn secret truths about themselves, and in learning too many truths about the universe and themselves, their minds start to fray at the edges to compensate. Really, I was thinking of a Lovecraftian sort of madness thing going here, not any correlation to PTSD. I was also drawing from old legends like “Thomas the Rhymer,” poems such as “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti, and even to an extent, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the old tales, dealing with the fair folk usually does not go well for human beings. I imagine channeling faerie energies through the mind in to learn secret truths of the universe is going to have some unpleasant side effects.

So, yeah, it all boils down to telling a modern faerie tale, as opposed to a fairy tale. Only, it’s an epic modern faerie tale, because I got my hands on it, and my brain just works in terms of epic. That’s why DEAD WEIGHT is disjointed and confusing, the magic isn’t really defined well, if at all, and not everything is going to make sense.

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Soldiers are issued armour for their flesh and bones, but they must fashion their own for their souls. Piece by piece.”
― Steven Erikson

It seemed a waste of time to try to explain that sometimes, on the front lines, there are no great options, jut bad ones and worse ones, so you do what you can with the knowledge that you’re dealing life and death no matter which way the decision swings. Then you live with the results and shut up about the rest.”
―Donovan Campbell

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M Todd Gallowglas is a professional storyteller (like on a stage with a show in front of real people) and the bestselling author of the Tears of Rage and Halloween Jack series. He wrote his first fantasy story for a creative writing assignment in the third grade. Ever since, he’s loved spinning tales that take the reader off to the far future or away mystical worlds. Todd received a BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Throughout his time in at SFSU, several teachers tried to steer him away from writing that nasty “genre” stuff. However, they underestimated just how much Todd’s brain is hard-wired for telling tales of the magical and fantastic, and their efforts to turn him to literary fiction came to nothing. He is currently corrupting his children by raising them with a rich education of geek culture. Shiny! Find out more about M Todd Gallowglas, his books, and to read some of his rants, head over to his official website: http://www.mtoddgallowglas.com