Tag Archive | PTSD

Spatzle Speaks: Snow Angels (Book Review)

snow-angels-coverIt’s not too early for a Christmas story, is it? I don’t think so, especially when mom snuggles up to me to read it. Snow Angels is Cathe Swanson’s debut novel.

Lisa is a widow still locked inside a prison of grief and self-recrimination. Pete is not who he initially appears to be. She thinks he’s homeless but has potential. Pete thinks Lisa is bossy and treats him with disrespect. Never mind that he was kind of mean to her when they first met at Thanksgiving at the Community Center, or that his beard was raggedy and his clothes and smell were more like a hobo than the director he really was.

Misconceptions abound as Lisa works through her grief and finds new purpose that snowballs far beyond her original plans to help one man. She gives him a job that employs many more and he allows it because, in spite of her bossiness, she’s doing great work.

Going outside her comfort zone puts her face to face with someone else who struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and who chooses to stay stuck. The mirror reflects Lisa’s own reality and as she struggles to come to grips with her past, she’s also forced to acknowledge a growing attraction to the shabbily-dressed man she’s tried to help.

As truths come to light, both Pete and Lisa have to come clean. Without using the Scripture, Cathe Swanson illustrates the concept that God washes us white as snow. It’s not always an easy process but the relationships we build on the way make the journey worthwhile.

This book is a novella -but a long one which means I got extra snuggles as she read it. It is well worth the read for a glimpse into our own misconceptions about the homeless and downtrodden as well as moving past our mistakes into a “new normal.” I applaud Ms. Swanson’s debut effort! It’s a Christmas story that goes deep to the heart of what really matters. I give it five bones, because I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

5 bones for blog

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

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Beast of Stratton (Book Review)

BeastofStratton_eBookRenee Blare has written a novella of Beauty and the Beast with a modern twist in her debut offering, Best of Stratton. Miles is struggling with intense physical and emotional pain as a result of injuries suffered in the war. He’s let his hair grow, making him look like the “beast of Stratton” everyone thinks he is. He was seeking treatment when an emergency called him back to his very successful business. Once there he encounters the daughter of his best friend. But is Aimee a spy like many suspect her father is, or can she be trusted to help ferret out the truth? Who has sold out his company? And can Miles overcome enough of the pain of his past to ditch his monster façade and the kind of man Aimee needs?

This  novella is a wild ride. Author Renee Blare writes in a cryptic manner, not giving all the clues away to the mystery and fills the story with compassion and suspense. A delightful read.

Rant on Mental Illness

I was talking to a friend today and she said, “The fact that you have a degree in Counseling Psych and have worked in the field of mental health, is pretty funny.” Sure is. Irony must be my middle name.

This past week there as another shooting at Fort Hood and I was angry when the media started to bill the shooter as someone with mental illness, possibly PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). So? That kind of diagnosis doesn’t make someone a murderer. It doesn’t even mean that individual will hurt someone. What the media has done though is send those with mental illness back into a shadow of shame.

Mental illness does not deserve censure. It deserves compassion. As much as someone with diabetes or an autoimmune disease or perhaps suffering with recurring migraines. We have compassion for those people, even if we can’t “see” their illness. It’s not like a broken bone that can heal. The mind of some people (not all) with mental illness is fast paced and can resemble a runaway train. The only problem is the engineer can’t put on the brakes. sherlock - whats it like in your funny little brains

The brilliance of the show, Sherlock (BBC), is that they show to a certain degree the workings of this genius’ mind. He calls himself a high functioning sociopath. In reality this is a subcategory of the Anti-social personality disorder. In many ways, this self-diagnosis is correct and he makes good use of his almost savant capabilities. In essence, Sherlock Holmes is mentally ill. Not all people have minds like Sherlock’s, but many have thoughts that race, or emotions that flux out of control. Unless one has experienced this first-hand, it’s hard to understand or grasp.

The point I’m trying to make though is that we need to be less judgemental and more compassionate towards those that struggle with any kind of mental illness. Having said that, we also need to understand that some can be highly annoying and without the grace of God, socially devastating in a person’s ability to function in the world of work and relationships.

Sherlock lives for the excitement of the chase because he mind is racing all the time. He has pent-up energy thrumming through is body. I doubt that ASPD is his only diagnosis if we were honest. He has found a way to make use of his skills, but as Inspector Lastraud says in Season 1, Epsiode 1, when asked why he puts up with Sherlock: “Because I think he’s a great man and someday, he might even be a good one.” The show is not so much about saving lives and solving murders, but is more about his growth as a human being as he interacts with Dr. John Watson who becomes, over time, his one and only friend.

On a side note: Dr. John Watson is apparently a PTSD sufferer. Fascinating that his therapist encourages him to blog about what happens his life as part of his recovery. I loved his pre-Sherlock response to that. “Nothing every happens to me.” Ha!

So you have two mentally ill people saving London . . . and perhapse the world. Maybe we’re not all so bad anyway? Maybe we are even useful?

So please, let’s just realize we all have something wrong with us. It’s called sin. And sin causes people to put labels on others and judge them without truly understanding. Sin leads to blanket assumptions, like the one about PTSD. And please, for the sake of the men and women who have served, let’s give them the honor and grace to heal without bearing the shame of mental illness too. They would have died for you and your right to be free in this country. They volunteered for that when they joined. They have seen things God never intended for man to have to experience.

Honor. Duty. Respect. It’s a hard world out there for all of us and we all face a battle every day, some of use face it inside, some face it on the outside and for some the two feed off each other.

And for the rest of us, those who struggle in battles unseen, I pray we have compassion and grace for ourselves. Peace, friends.