"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Monday, January 3, 2011

PTSD: Craig Latham

This email comes from our friend, Craig Latham, a talented writer and regular contributor here at Memoirs.  This is what he had to say about Post Traumatic Stress:

Hi Cathy,

I guess I'm doing ok.  Don't care too much for the holidays, but I get through them.

I was diagnosed with PTSD back in the 80's. I drank constantly (and it cost me 2 marriages). I drank to forget, but you can't forget.  I wasn't violent but I had trouble getting along with people (possibly cost me 2 more). I haven't had anything to drink since 1990 (not a drop). Do I miss it? The answer is yes. At least I miss the taste. I don't miss the binge drinking or the hangovers. But I never let it interfere with my work.

I read the article about sleeping and, for the most part, I agree. For me, my ideal place to live would be at the end of an airport runway. You see, noise doesn't hurt. It is the lack of noise that gets to me. If you were in the jungle and it got quiet, something was going to happen. So noise is my friend. 

I sleep (when I can) with a radio talk show on at night and a fan running. Cool rooms are better than hot rooms for sleeping. I've always told wives, kids or roommates not to worry about making noise if I am sleeping. If I wake up, I will go back to sleep. But don't tip-toe around.  Then I'll be up in a "New York Minute".

I've tried to sleep with no radio, fan or noise and it just doesn't work for me. I go through spells of night sweats, hear the helicopter demons, or wake up thinking there is someone in the room. It's even more so now that I'm alone again. But I manage. I'm sure I'm not as bad off as many others. But we each have it in our own way.

Cathy, I believe you can have it also for what you've had to go through. I don't think it is something we can overcome, but it is something that can be managed.

Always your friend,
Craig Latham

34th PID
101st Airborne Div. (Ambl)
Phu Bai, S. Vietnam

Hello Craig,  
Thank you so much for writing about your experience.  From what I've learned so far, his Post Traumatic Stress thing is really something.  You did a great job explaining how it affects you, and I'm so sorry you've had to live that way -- and for so many years, too.  I think when we last spoke of it, I told you sometimes I'm up all night, too.  Some nights, I toss and turn so bad that I feel like I've run a marathon and in the morning my muscles and joints hurt all over.  

Bob bought me one of those table top water fountains so I could hear gentle water dribbling all night. It sounds just like a trickling stream.  It does help.  What also helps (along with the fountain) is a CD player in the room with meditation music playing softly.  It sounds very ethereal and wispy, like you're floating up in the cosmos somewhere.  Then we burn incense, too.  Sounds like a lot to do just to get some sleep, but hey, if they told me to put a metal bar across the room near the ceiling and hang upside down in a zebra suit and a purple hat because it would let me sleep, I'd probably do that, too.   At any rate, I have to agree with you that background noise is definitely needed.

As to whether or not I have it, all I can say is, this blog and the community that has grown from it has been the biggest blessing for me.  Writing truly is cathartic, and reading what others write and contribute is equally as healing.  I hope it's that way for many others.  Thank you, Craig, for being a part of Memoirs from the very beginning.
Your friend always,
Cathy (CJ)

p.s. I hope you don't mind, but I'm putting your article on the blog.  As always, you nail the subject down perfectly with your wit, writing talent, experience, and most of all, heart.  Thanks again.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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1 comment:

  1. I've got a church meeting tonight, Craig. But what with you sharing your PTSD issue I will come home and share some of my PTSD history. I have followed you in many things...why change now, huh? Sort of a joke there my friend. I will get home about 10pm,est...look for this before midnight.
    We shared a lot; been in each other's shoes so to speak. "See" ya later!!!!
    Michael Van Strien
    101st Airborne Division


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