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PURPLE MIND – TEN TIPS 07/20/2012

Posted by landfallprods in Purple Mind.
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With the constant stream of articles in publications big and small across the U.S. about soldiers dealing with PTSD, I’m hopeful that more people will wake up to the fact that PTSD is something that affects not just returning soldiers, but all of those around them as well.  How does that work, you ask?  Consider two recent stories.

A recent article in the LA Times described Ruth Moore, once a “vivacious” 18-year-old serving in the Navy who was raped by a superior outside a club in Europe.  The result of the rape was that Ruth attempted suicide and was discharged, diagnosed by the Navy with borderline personality disorder, an ailment she says she did not have.

Moore applied for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs but was denied multiple times — despite submitting witness testimony that she had been raped. Finally, after decades, Moore won 70% compensation for the post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, and depression that had made her unemployable.  The process took Moore 23 years to resolve and she counts herself as one of the “fortunate ones.”

Another recent article in the LA Times describes the real life nightmare of Staff Sgt. Joshua Eisenhauer, who woke early one morning to shouts and footsteps in the darkness, then a banging on his door.  As Eisenhauer rose from the mattress on the floor of his apartment in Fayetteville, N.C., he reached under the bedding for his Glock 19 pistol and fired into the darkness.

What Eisenhauer didn’t know was that the noises weren’t insurgents storming his position in Afghanistan, but firefighters responding to a minor fire on Jan. 13. Eisenhauer, a veteran of two Afghanistan combat tours diagnosed with severepost-traumatic stress disorder, suddenly became the target of an ensuing gun battle with police.  Eisenhauer was shot in the face, chest and thigh, finally passing out from blood loss. When he was first able to speak in a hospital two days later, according to his lawyer, he asked a nurse: “Who’s got the roof?”

Now Eisenhauer is inmate No. 1304704 in Raleigh’s Central Prison. He faces 17 counts of attempted murder of firefighters and police officers, nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and other charges. No firefighters or police were hit.

Just two examples of ex-military dealing with PTSD in a country filled with communities and families living with 500,000 veterans also dealing with PTSD.  As Sgt. Eisenhauer’s case demonstrates, it is becoming increasingly important that we all become aware of the potential of everyday situations with the potential to trigger flashbacks in someone wrestling with symptoms.

We originally made our independent feature film,  “Purple Mind,” to encourage veterans dealing with PTSD to seek help, but it has also become clear that our film might also benefit others as well.  We are all closer than we might think to a possible encounter with someone experiencing a flashback.

With the VA able only to treat a fraction of those suffering from PTSD, the Wounded Warriors Project has published a list of ten tips to help those dealing with PTSD and to help others understand that PTSD can be treated and is a normal human reaction to abnormally stressful situations.

TEN TIPS FOR HELPING SOMEONE WITH PTSD

1. Let the veteran determine what they are comfortable talking about and don’t push.

2. Deep breathing exercises or getting to a quiet place can help them cope when stress seems overwhelming.

3. Writing about experiences can help the veteran clarify what is bothering them and help them think of solutions.

4. Alcohol and drugs may seem to help in the short run, but make things worse in the long run.

5. Crowds, trash on the side of the road, fireworks and certain smells can be difficult for veterans coping with PTSD.

6. Be a good listener and don’t say things like, “I know how you felt,” or, “That’s just like when I…” Even if you also served in a combat zone. Everyone’s feelings are unique.

7. http://www.restorewarriors.org is a website where warriors and their families can find tools on how to work through combat stress and PTSD issues. Learn about more mental health support resources that ease symptoms of combat stress.

8. Remind warriors they are not alone and many others have personal stories they can share about their readjustment. Talking to other warriors can help them cope.

9. Allow and encourage warriors and their family members to express their feelings and thoughts to those who care about them.

10. Let them know that acknowledging they may have PTSD says they’re strong, not weak.

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