Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Traumatic Stress in the Sixties

We know today that posttraumatic stress disorder is plaguing veterans. It took a long time for to admit that those who live with the constant threat of death are never the same. I remember when my husband returned from Vietnam. He was confused, angry, and finally, dangerous for me and my child to be around. I tried to get help from the Army and from the Veterans hospital, but no one knew then what we do now.
And I think also about growing up during the sixties, with the Cold war, the "duck and tuck" drills, the bomb shelters, and TV tests. I wonder sometimes if we all don't have just a shred of PTSD. That sense of fight or flight that leaves us jumpy, that lead us on the rebellious path that is the legacy of the sixties.
If we can dive into ourselves, and remember, we can help with the universal acceptance that man, in terms of both male and female, have difficulty taking lives in the exploding environment that is war, and then not expect these veterans to return to normality with the descent from the plane.
Acclamation into normality needs some time.
And, in the US today, what is normal? Don't we all share in the towers, in the fear? Of course, we live each day, we laugh, we go on, because that is the nature of man, to survive. But we can acknowledge, and have mercy.
I have lived with this sense of an impending threat since I was small, since I watched the TV, listened to adults talk about the bomb, about nuclear threats, and did the drills in school.
When I was 10, I wrote this poem:

I'd hate to be in a war
Even if I didn't get hurt.
To have some strange man come and say " I won you,"
I didn't know I was a prize.
Surprise!