Yesterday, NPR aired a poignant and important story about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and young people. PTSD Not Just War Wound, Young People Suffer, Too.
Bravo. It’s a topic that needs to be discussed more, because the conventional attitude has always been “get over it.” But mental health professionals and scientists have recognized that PTSD can cause irreparable damage to the brain and change a person’s behavior — not for the better.
The NPR piece was done by Eyama Harris, whose mother was murdered was when Eyama was 15. She found that she “didn’t feel like my normal self anymore, not only mentally, but physically. I was losing weight, and my hair was falling out.”
Eyama also reported that in a lab at Stanford University, scientists are using a technology called Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or fMRI, to study the emotional reactions of patients with PTSD. Dr. Amit Etkin, the project’s lead researcher, said that when people suffering from PTSD are “faced with a reminder of their trauma, they don’t activate the circuitry normally associated with emotional regulation, the ability to be resilient in an automatic effortless fashion.”
I’ve had similar experiences over the years, since my parents, Loren and Joanne “Jody” Edwards, were killed aboard their sailboat Spellbound. It’s gratifying to see the increased interest and research into the effects of PTSD on survivors of violent loss. It leads to a greater understanding of what we go through and improved counseling techniques for treating this disorder.
I address this subject in my forthcoming book, Dare I Call It Murder? — A Memoir of Violent Loss, Grief and Clarity. By sharing my experience, I believe others will benefit.
Survivors of violent loss often put on a polite or even smiling public face while grief and anger gnaw away at their guts. Thus, I want my book to serve a broader purpose than simply laying out the untold story of my parents’ deaths and refuting the errors and misrepresentations in previously published material.
Survivors benefit from knowing they are not alone, that others have endured the same traumatic grief, intense anger, sense of injustice, and guilt that can accompany such a loss. They benefit from knowing that others understand their pain. I believe this book can help them, strengthen their innate resilience to persevere and find joy in their lives. I also believe my story will be beneficial to a survivor’s extended family, friends and associates, providing insight into the emotional aftermath of violent loss.
A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of my book will be donated to the Survivors of Violent Loss Program or organizations serving a similar purpose.
Learn more about the book at: Dare I Call It Murder?