survivor syndrome

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This is Istvan, he started out life as a product of the random vault dweller generating algorithm in Fallout Shelter and after raising him from a level 1 baby doing nothing but bottling Nuka Cola to a level 50 wasteland badass I have become attached enough to him to award him the honor of being my new survival run character.

This is the first OC I’ve decided not to try and bend to fit the forced “pre-war parent chasing lost son” story, instead he’s a vault dweller from a small vault just outside the Commonwealth that has had no contact with the outside world for the last 210 years. Supplies are finally running out and he’s left the vault to see if other vaults in the Commonwealth still exist. In exploring Vault 111 he discovers Nate in the cryo room about to die from complications from the cryogenic malfunction, and with his last breaths Nate explains what happened and asks Istvan to avenge his wife and find his son. Istvan can’t say no to the dying man, so he promises, takes their wedding rings, and steps into the Commonwealth with noooo idea how to find a lost child and very little experience outside a vault.

So far he’s done way better than my first survival playthrough (I didn’t even make it past the deathclaw) even though he keeps dying trying to get through the Corvega factory. HE’LL GET TO DIAMOND CITY EVENTUALLY

anonymous asked:

While we're on the subject... Why do you like Garrosh so much? Sometimes your HC seem so spot on that it seems like you wrote him instead of Blizzard (and you should have tbh)

omfg anon listen… omfg…. omg dude…. omg….. how could you do this to me… omfg….

okay like… i’m assuming HC means “headcanon” here? I don’t really know how explicit I’ve been about any possible headcanons i have about garrosh on here except for mostly Jokes, but the headcanons that i do have are mostly extrapolating from the lore:
1. Mentally ill (depression at the very least, perhaps possible trauma, issues with avoidance and abandonment, imposter [fuck off spellcheck i prefer the -er] syndrome, survivor’s guilt, etc.)
2. A past/childhood of chronic illness (red pox)
3. Poor emotional intelligence and altogether emotionally distant (obvious)

uhhhh anything beyond that gets ummm really selfish and personal for me i guess lol uhhhh

also THANK YOU, I wish I had written Garrosh too lol. I think a lot of us wish we had written him instead of watching him and his unique character and perspective get thrown under the bus for the sake of a loot pinata and roundabout story progression. I want to say I understand why Blizzard did what they did, but I really don’t. It seems like his character—either what he represented, or the team working on him, or his ever-shifting design, or his attempt to bridge the canon of Warcraft 3 and WoW, or something deeper or more elusive or more subtle than that—was a point of contention among devs. Like, if Thrall is understood as a mirror representation of Chris Metzen (his growth, his ascension, his turmoil, his wedding, his retirement), it makes me wonder, for all the energy put into him, what Garrosh is. 

The truth is I’m not truly sure what it is specifically that draws me to Garrosh, and I have spent literally years trying to work it out. Ultimately I really relate to him, which is a vexing conclusion to make, to say the least. 

Sometimes people in WoW or on tumblr have said like “Garrosh is your son/boyfriend/husband” and I would say “NO!!!” (Rexxar is my husband.) and people would cite all of the overwhelming evidence that I clearly have some sort of affinity for the guy. Yet I felt in the dark about my own actions and had to keep asking myself what it stemmed from and how I related to him; after all, at this point I’ve racked my brain about it so hard that Garrosh has even been making recurring enigmatic appearances in my dreams.

UGH DUDE this could potentially be SUCH a long post, it’s practically my entire blog hhhhhhhh i could talk about Garrosh for pages and pages and pages. I could FILIBUSTER about Garrosh until there was no more spit in my mouth because of all of the Feelings I have. I just dunno what kind of answer you want lmao so im not gonna open the floodgate just yet.

A Spoonie poem about perseverance and family

Dear mom,

I’m sorry it has to be like this. I wish you were able to get a good night’s sleep instead of dozing on a hospital chair all night, and having to go to work the next day.

I wish you were able to pursue that amazing job you wanted, but you have to stay at your current job because of the health insurance.

I wish we were able to go on vacations instead of saving up every spare penny we have to pay for medical bills.

I wish I could take away all of the tears I hear coming from your shower when I get a new diagnosis.

I wish it all went away, because I can’t stand seeing your life and your happiness being put on the back burner for someone as pathetic as me. I know I’m never going to be able to live up to be like other able bodied daughters in this world but dammit mom, I’m going to try my hardest to make you proud of me. I’m going to push myself as hard as I can because I want to see you smile the way you were always meant to, the smile you would have had if I never would have been born. I’m sorry you never got to live the life you wanted.

But I will succeed. I will survive this journey because I know you are right next to me. Thank you for always believing in me, for saying that I am just as capable of being someone as great as anyone else in this world. Thank you for never letting my health get the best of me, and telling me that there will be an end to this suffering someday, there will be a moment of peace where you can look back and say “she made it.”

And until then, I will appreciate every moment with you, the beautiful woman I strive to be. The woman who doesn’t complain about that hospital chair, the dusty career, or the showers that always seem to run cold. Because without you, I wouldn’t be forcing myself to get out of bed in the morning and appreciate the beautiful world I am lucky enough to be in today. I love you.

Love,
Your warrior

(Written by Alena @pots-support)

youtube

Uh….you were wounded by an abortion because your mother had an abortion?  “I gained a lost a brother I never knew I had”  

And she named him. 

“I learned how deeply my mothers abortion had wounded me and that many of my struggles  could be attributed to something called ‘post abortion survivors syndrome’.  Symptoms include depression and anxiety, mistrust of parents, fear of abandonment, an unhealthy need to please our parents, irrational fears, aimlessness, adictions, attractions to the paranormal, anger, a tendency to self-harm, repeat abortions, poor self image, and survivors guilt because we are alive and our sibilngs are not “ 

Yeah, you read that right.  She is using her mother’s abortion to blame for bad things that happened in her own life.  This is the biggest pile of crap I have heard in a while. 

LOOK AT THOSE SYMPTOMS. 

Anti-choice people will reach to any depths.  

Post abortion survivors syndrome is bullshit. 

The psychology of Tifa Lockhart

I made one for Cloud that can be read here. 

Let’s dive into Tifa’s twisted mind. To start off with, Tifa suffered from a bit of amnesia during the game. Some of her memories surrounding her hometown were fuzzy and she couldn’t remember it clearly. Now, when most people hear amnesia I can guess they imagine someone forgetting everything about themselves. Well that isn’t really true. There’s forgetfulness, then there is memory loss, and then there is amnesia. 

Tifa’s amnesia was triggered as a coping mechanism. In a time when she was under intense emotional distress, many details about the event remain a mystery. It is a big factor since she is almost as confused as Cloud is about the past. 

But what Tifa suffers from in Case of Tifa is survivor’s guilt. Survivor’s guilt is basically PTSD in a sense, though Tifa’s trauma fits more under survivor’s guilt than it does under the broad term of PTSD like Cloud. 

First off…

What is survivor’s guilt?

Survivor guilt (or survivor’s guilt; also called survivor syndrome or survivor’s syndrome) is a mental condition that occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not.

Tifa exhibits many of the symptoms of survivor’s guilt. Included in this post will be scenes and quotes. 

QUESTIONS AND THOUGHTS ASSOCIATED WITH SURVIVOR GUILT

  • Why did others have to die while I live? 
  • What could I or others have done to prevent this? 
  • Why do bad things happen to good people? 
  • Why couldn’t it have been me instead? 
  • How could God let this happen? 
  • Did they suffer during the disaster? 
  • Why couldn’t we all survive? 
  • Why am I lucky to be here when so many others are not? 

Let’s look at some examples of Tifa in Case of Tifa.

It seemed a new friendship was blooming, but as if there was a price to pay, Aerith’ life was taken away.

Even so, the journey was not over. Tifa felt that she could leave everything behind her as she experienced the victories and losses in battles during her journey.

It all started when she was a young girl. There had been some trouble in the Mako reactor which was built near her hometown of Nibelheim that threatened the town’s safety.

Sephiroth was dispatched by Shinra to resolve this problem. He also killed her father. I couldn’t bear the hatred I had for Shinra and Sephiroth. That was why I joined AVALANCHE. Yes. It was the beginning of my own personal hatred. The slogans AVALANCHE used showing how they were anti-Shinra and anti-Mako were just what I needed to hide my true motive. But the many lives lost as sacrifices in saving the planet were too much. If all that was just for my own revenge, then…

The sin held a role deep in my heart. I wondered if I could live on with these feelings. As Tifa looked away from the sky towards the ground, she was fearful of the future.

Tifa went to see Aerith together with her companions. Aerith, who was now at the bottom of the Forgotten City’s spring. The planet she saved in exchange for her life would surely be all right now. That’s what they were told. Tifa heard a voice asking if she was all right. She didn’t know if it was Aerith’s voice or her own. She wept. Right after Sephiroth took Aerith’ life, she hadn’t grieved at all. She had been sad, but she channeled her sadness into anger and hatred for the enemy. But the pain she felt when she visited the place tore her heart apart. While enduring the pain, she thought to herself how she was made this way by being part of a large group of people and an AVALANCHE member. She overflowed with tears again.“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.

They also visited Nibelheim. Tifa and Cloud’s hometown. They didn’t feel any nostalgia. They were only reminded of the incident that took place in the town.“I shouldn’t have come, ” said Cloud. “It draws me back to the past.”Cloud’s words spoke for the way Tifa felt too.

Through all of this Tifa can only think about how it’s her fault. She feels she basically killed them by her own hand. What was all of this for? Aerith lost her life, and many innocent people were caught in the crossfire. Tifa felt relieved after meteor fall, but also great terror. She can’t think about the future, she doesn’t want to, she’s too caught up in all the lives that were lost. 

One fated day. The day when Meteor came flying down from outer space and the Lifestream flowed out from the planet, gathering together and destroying it. Tifa had watched the scene from the sky, together with her companions. I thought it’d be fine if everything just washed away. Wash away my past. She could feel the obscure terror that came with the relief that the battle was over. 

Seeing this made Tifa blame herself again. When she looked at Midgar from the sky she had thought that it was fine if everything just got washed away. She didn’t know there were still so many lives here. Tifa couldn’t forgive herself for being so selfish. She told Cloud and Barret what she was thinking when they were on the airship.

I honestly believe Tifa was on the verge of suicidal thoughts. Maybe a part of her wanted meteor to succeed so she could die too, have everything washed away. Though Tifa wanted to live, she just didn’t know how she could after all that happened. 

There were no signs how they accepted what had happened, but Tifa, Cloud, and Barret apologized for not being able to save Aerith.

“You all did what you could. There’s no need for you to apologize,” said Elmyra.

Tifa and the others couldn’t say anything in reply. Did we really do all we could?

“Maybe something will happen that can never unhappen, that scares you doesn’t it?!”- Tifa to Cloud.

The significance of the last quote is that Tifa understands how Cloud feels. Tifa felt the same. The fear of not being able to stop something terrible from happening. She’s questioned herself already. Case of Tifa we get to really see Tifa’s trauma. Her mind had been left damaged from such a traumatic event. 

Tifa: I wonder what Aerith felt… when she was on that altar…?

Cloud: I’m sure she wanted to give her life for the planet…

Tifa: Really? I wonder? I don’t think that’s it at all.
I think she didn’t think she would die at all, but that she planned on coming back all along.
She always used to talk about the ‘Next time’.
She talked about the future more than any of us…

Tifa doesn’t show her emotional pain very often, and she tries to hide it, but there are times it shows through. With Case of Tifa which is written from Tifa’s point of view we really get a good look at her mindset and trauma.

She keeps using the term  “wash away” and thinks maybe it’d be okay if meteor happened. Upon seeing all the lives ruined from the ordeal that thought is always in the back of her mind. However, she was in a very weird space because she would have told someone in her position to move on and keep living. Tifa is aware that’s what she needs to do, but finds it incredibly difficult to do so. 

Looking at her I also believe she has Monophobia. 

Monophobia: Monophobia is an acute fear of being alone and having to cope without a specific person, or perhaps any person, in close proximity.

Throughout Tifa’s life she has always been surrounded by people. Think about this, she’s always been around people. She had a large group of friends, and received lots of attention from her overprotective father. 

Then, her friends start to move away. She gets a job as a tour guide which is very people oriented. I imagine Nibelheim had tourists because of the mountain and the well, and of course the other wonders in the village. There was probably significant activity due to the mako reactor there. So Tifa is surrounded by people once again from all over the place. She gets to speak and interact with new faces in light of her friends no longer being in the village. Even while they were gone she still received letters.

Tifa’s personality is a very people-oriented one, which is why she makes a kickass bartender, another social job. This contrasts Cloud’s personality who isn’t good at socializing. Tifa is damn good at it. When her village burns and her father dies, Tifa is taken to a large city with lots of people to interact with. While she doesn’t know anyone their that would really be a problem for someone like Tifa who makes friends easily and has no problem talking to people. 

She begins working in a bar, a job where she needs to talk and interact with people, and then joined AVALANCHE so even when not working in a bar she still dealt with people. Her entire life has been centered around her being people-oriented. 

In Case of Tifa we see many instances Tifa fears being alone. 

Tifa walked the last customer out of her store before returning inside to clean up in the galley. The room was dimly lit, with minimal but adequate lighting. No one else was there besides Tifa. Just days ago, she was working so much that all her bitterness disappeared as she watched families come and go. But now, the water was cold and she wasn’t getting anywhere with all the dirty tableware. Tifa tried turning on all the lights that illuminated the store to try and change the atmosphere. For a brief moment, the store lit up, but due to the instability of the electricity supply, it became dimly lit again. A surge of uneasiness came over her. She wondered if she was all alone in the house. As the thought crossed her mind, she couldn’t stand it, and she called out a girl’s name.

“Marlene!”

Before long, soft footsteps could be heard from the children’s room deep inside the store, and Marlene appeared.

“Ssssh.” She put her finger to her lips and frowned. Tifa apologized but was relieved.

This is the very beginning of Case of Tifa. Tifa is alone in the store and no coincidence this happens right after she walks the last person out. There is no logical reason why Tifa would be alone. Denzel can’t really go to far, and Marlene is only 6 and would need to walk downstairs to leave anyway. 

Tifa starts to have anxiety at the idea of being all alone in the bar which causes her to call for Marlene. She didn’t need Marlene for anything, she just wanted reassurance someone was their with her. 

As we read on, we see more of Tifa’s monophobia cropping up. 

“No. You’re much more cheerful and strong. If you’ve forgotten the way you were then, I’ll be there to remind you.”

You really will?”

“Probably,” Cloud said blushing.

This is a bittersweet scene for me, since it’s sweet what Cloud says and that he blushes but the painful part is Tifa asking “You really will?” After he says he’ll be there to remind her. It’s the idea that Cloud will be by her side that brings her comfort, that “he’ll be there” that she won’t be alone. 

Cloud appeared to be very adorable to go out everyday without an objection or complaint. At the same time, Tifa also thought, he is pushing himself too hard for me. Will he leave one day once the bar gets on the right track? Tifa shook her head trying to drive that doubt away.

No matter what thing is happening around her, there is always that fear that someone will leave her. She is worried that one day Cloud may leave as well. For her, Cloud holds a special place in her heart. Even when she wasn’t aware of it, he was ALWAYS there for her. Despite the promise and where they are now, she still has that fear of him ending up alone. In fact, in the beginning of Case of Tifa she worries he may have died but is reassured by the fact she heard customers say they had seen him around Midgar. 

“I wanna go on a journey to settle my past.”

Tifa was disturbed at Barret’s words. Cloud nodded calmly as if he had heard about this before.

“Settle your past…? But I want to do that too.”

”Tifa, you can do it here. Don’t just take. Show that you can give too.”

After saying this, Barret said he still had to get ready and walked out of the bar.

“You knew about this?” (Tifa)

“Yeah..” (Cloud)

Did you stop him?” (Tifa)

“Nah, I didn’t because he would just say this is Tifa’s place.” (Cloud)

“…I see. If that’s so, it can’t be helped then.” (Tifa)

Does Cloud also think this? Actually, I wanted to ask him about that.

Now Barret is leaving, and it seems Tifa is a bit upset about it, asking Cloud is he had stopped Barret. Upon hearing “This is Tifa’s place” She begins to worry if Cloud also thinks that and will one day leave too just as Barret is. Tifa didn’t want Barret to leave, and is disturbed by his words, she then worries if Cloud thinks the same thing but she never got around to asking. 

Friends were a necessity to me so that I could live on without being supressed by the sins in my consciousness. Even if they were fellow companions that had the same wounds. Even if they were fellow companions who were burdened with the same sins. We couldn’t live without comforting each other and encouraging each other.

Maybe you could call that family. We just had to keep the family together and do our best. Tifa thought she could get over anything while being with friends that she could call her family.

Like we haven’t already discovered Tifa needs people. Tifa believes she can accomplish anything as long as people are with her, her friends, her family, just like in the game when she says if Cloud is at her side she can accomplish anything and when she wants to hear from someone it’ll be alright. As such, in Dissidia Duodecim when her HP is low she will say “Someone tell me it’ll be alright!”

She can’t handle being disconnected from people. It’s why working at the bar makes her smile, it’s why working with people is necessary for her.

There’s also other instances of Tifa’s fear, but for me, a great instance of her fear showing through is the scene in the movie where she finally goes off. 

You hate being alone so let people in!”

Another reason this is significant is because in the movie we are seeing Cloud as Tifa was in CoT. Cloud is going through the same thing she was going through. All of her speech is personal, because she’s been there, done that. She sees Cloud isn’t happy, and just like her…he hates being alone. Being alone is something neither of them like, and Tifa is trying to say that if he lets people in he will no longer be alone. 

Tifa doesn’t like being alone, and did anyone notice the smiles EVERYONE in AVALANCHE got from her when they appeared in the movie. She’s smiling while watching them in the distance at seeing her friends there to help fight a crisis. She knows she’ll never be alone, yet still she has this fear, and I believe it is this fear that makes Tifa so devoted to the children. She showers the children in love and affection, and is especially gentle with Denzel in the end. We see him hiding behind Tifa.

In all of the family photos Tifa is seen standing very close with the children and smiling. Being around people is something she needs. Like everyone in AVALANCHE, Tifa has lost people. She’s seen death, and people have disapeared right before her eyes.

Throughout the compilation Tifa has been shown to consistently lose her composure and calm when someone close to her dies. She goes into a blind whirlwind of emotions. 

Her mother dies, so she risks her own life by going up the mountain in hopes of meeting her again. No one can talk her out of it, she just wanted to see her mother one more time. When her father dies, she goes into a rage and attempts to murder Sephiroth out of revenge. Logically she knows she stands no chance, but she didn’t care, Sephiroth took her fathers life and she wanted to attack him for it. When Aerith dies, Tifa loses her composure and runs off. She turns her sadness into anger and her resolve becomes stronger that this MUST stop. She cries her eyes out at Aerith’s grave and is so disoriented she didn’t know if she asked herself if she was alright or if it was Aerith talking to her. This is how distraught she is. 

These are people who have been ripped from Tifa’s life, which is why she’s all about unity and being people-oriented. Being alone is not something she likes, and having people taken from her is something she likes even less. 

Tifa’s theme is “togetherness” as she says “We’ll fight it together!” and very much believes in the power of friends and family. 

She has been through some very traumatic shit, and can’t stand to lose anymore people close to her. Shortly after Cloud arrives and asks her who hurt her, she shoots up, her first thoughts being of Marlene. When the children go missing, she frantically asks Reno and Rude if they found them. 

When Bahamut SIN attacks, Tifa refuses to leave Denzel and would sooner allow herself to be killed instead of Denzel. No matter what happens she’s not going to leave him there alone. 

In the end of FF7, Tifa doesn’t leave Cloud and it almost costs her her life. She just would not leave Cloud to die all alone. 

In Mideel she refuses to leave Cloud’s side, and again almost dies because of her reluctance to save herself over someone else. 

It is even Tifa who suggests that Aerith didn’t want to die, that she was planning to come back, and it is Tifa who urges Cloud to go with them to save her. 

Tifa is a young 20 year old woman who had to cope with the loss of her father and her village at the age of 15. She had to fight against some crazy half-alien who killed her friend and tried to destroy the world, and then at the end of it have to reintegrate back into normal life at the age of 20. She is then left taking care of a child and then later a sick and dying child. But Tifa finds joy in the children, and finds strength in Marlene’s cheerfulness and Denzel’s reluctance to die and form close bonds with other people. 

Okay…this is the psychology of Tifa, which I find her story to be particularly inspiring given all the shit she had to go through but was able to find the strength to take care of herself, children, and be Cloud’s emotional support. 

(I’m inserting pictured similar to our-final-heaven to break up the large blocks of texts and make it more visually appealing)

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SOLDIER STORIES: A soldier’s struggle.

Blackburn, as a Lieutenant, in Mosul, Iraq, December 2007; and with his wife Bethany in 2013.

(Photos and article by Captain Thomas Blackburn, Wyoming National Guard, 14 JUL 2014.)

My first nightmare occurred right before I came home from Iraq for my mid-tour leave. As I slept, my dream sent me out on to the streets of Mosul, Iraq, a place I was very familiar with after seven months of patrolling there.

In this inaugural terror, I was doing my job, leading my platoon on a combat patrol through a neighborhood. After passing a checkpoint manned by the Iraqi Army, I stopped my truck, and got out to talk to one of the soldiers. As I exited my vehicle, a man approached me, lifted his hand to shake mine, smiled, and blew up.

I jolted awake in my bed back on Forward Operating Base Marez, sweating, shaking, and terrified.

That was the beginning of a non-stop, multi-round boxing match with my sleep. I returned home in January 2009, and still suffer through what many other comrades share: restless sleep, anger, heightened awareness, and incredible discomfort in crowds, to name a few.

It’s called combat stress, shell shock, battle fatigue, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Whatever the names, it’s all the same in relation to its effect on a combat vet. And it’s common.

In my family alone, I have two people who suffer from the disorder. My father, who was present when I got home from Iraq, told me that he still had nightmares from his one year tour in Vietnam in 1969. That was 40 years before my deployment! Even more shocking, he told me he had a nightmare not more than three days before I got back home.

I also had a brother who participated in the initial Thunder Run to Baghdad in 2003. He suffers from several symptoms of PTSD, and we shared war stories over lunch countless times while I was stationed in Indianapolis, our hometown. Some of his strongest nightmares that grip him relate to the United Nations bombing, where his unit was one of the first on the scene after the explosion.

As for me, I spent 15 months in a city that had become labeled by media as the “Last Stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.”

In 2008, Baghdad was becoming safer, so many enemy elements focused on Mosul, and it was a battle. Within a month of my company’s initial combat operations, I had hit three improvised explosive devices, one directly, been mortared, ordered my platoon to fire seven main gun rounds from our tanks, and been the target of numerous rocket attacks and small arms fire. This was against an enemy force that refused to stand still and fight for more than moments at a time.

Others had much more intense deployments than me. My brother was in firefights almost every day when he was there in 2003. My experience was concentrated on reopening routes the enemy had littered with IED’s and work with Iraqi security forces to retake their city. The enemy wanted to hide and attack my platoon at their choosing. They were ghosts. Therefore, every day, I stressed and wondered, where was the next ghost strike going to be?

Luckily, I made it through the rest of the deployment. In fact, my whole platoon returned back to their families safe. However, my war was not over. Within a week of lying in my own bed, with my wife, and sheets that smelled Downy fresh, I suffered two nightmares. My honeymoon phase lasted through my first two months until after my return to work from block leave. Immediately, I became impatient, quick to anger, and completely emotionless, especially to my family members. This was the complete opposite of my personality before I left.

My wife Bethany was pregnant with our first child, but I felt little excitement or joy. I didn’t care about my son’s birth. All I wanted to do was be by myself, alone. Television shows I loved prior to my deployment no longer interested me, I quit planning or doing dates with my wife, and I grew very defensive in discussions. I had little joy for life, so Bethany worried. My family back home worried. My dad knew the road I was on and called to check up on me constantly.

However, prior to me leaving Iraq, before talking to my dad three days after my return, I had already made a commitment. Not knowing how I was going to be when I returned, I already had a premonition that I was going to have trouble adjusting and therefore sought counseling immediately.

Others in my unit waved off the idea of seeing a counselor because they thought they didn’t need it, that there would be an image of weakness, or that they could handle their personal business on their own. At in-processing at Fort Hood, when asked if I wanted counseling help, I blurted yes before the nurse finished reading her script. That week I was in front of a social worker. My appointments quickly became twice a week visits.

As a leader, I wanted to prove that seeking help was not a weakness and so I told everyone what I was doing. My platoon. My chain of command. Veterans I talked to at restaurants or at the mall. Everyone. I admitted I wasn’t myself and my family suffered. But I was seeking as much help as possible.

I have not met an active military person in my whole career who acknowledged that they were seeking help. I don’t know if they fear others knowing, but I refused to stay quiet about my troubles. What my leaders and peers thought of my mental fortitude mattered little to me; I only cared about sharing my journey. The fact that my father, who had several troubled marriages and an emotional exterior like a bulldozer, never sought his own treatment, made me realize that his past had a lot to do with who he had become as an older man. That wasn’t going to be me.

Looking back on that first year I was back from Iraq, I can honestly say two things kept me moving in a positive direction. My wife, who survived my deployment to only go through a tumultuous time during my adjustment, stood by me, willing me to help myself. She refused to let me sink into a dark hole. Then there was my son. It was imperative for me to maintain my marriage, and therefore heal myself mentally, so that he wouldn’t be raised in a divorced household. I went through that and didn’t want to do it to him.

But the healing process wasn’t quick, it’s one that can go on for years.

While I was initially going to my social worker, I grew frustrated with my work environment. I was given the opportunity and time to seek my counseling, but, I quickly felt like no one cared. In fact, during a 10-month assignment to a staff position in 2009, my supervisors knew of my struggles, but not one person asked how I was doing until the day I conducted my exit counseling.

That bothered me, not so much for me, because I didn’t need their assurances that I was doing well, but it made me worry about the soldiers out there who had problems and didn’t feel like they could address them. I made it my mission to ask every soldier I knew how they were doing, especially if they had returned from the deployment with me. If they did say things weren’t going well, I then offered myself to help them. I drove soldiers to counseling sessions, I took texts from those seeking advice, and I provided phone numbers of those who could talk a person down from a bad night.

Now, I’m five years removed from Iraq and I’ve improved. I still don’t allow my son to have balloons at home in case they pop, or remain uneasy when popcorn pops (sounds like an AK weapon). I still battle my remorseless attitude, but I feel more tuned to my family’s needs. The time it takes me to get frustrated is still quick, but Bethany and I work together to keep me calm and relaxed through talking and awareness.

Even with my time home, I still face challenges. But, I continue to seek mental healing, even this far out from my traumatic events. In total, I have seen five counselors in multiple session settings since 2009. I will continue to seek more counseling if I feel that times get tough for me in the future. Hiding behind a false bravado or afraid to come forward won’t work well in the long run. Look at my dad. He lived the majority of his life with his demons. I might do the same, but I have the knowledge and awareness going forward to overcome it.

Now, when my nightmares come, I wake up, remind myself it’s not real, and roll back over and go back to bed.

PrettySickArt #100: Fairy GodMother

Name: Kris
Age: 62
Has: Seasonal Affective Disorder, Childhood Polio Survivor, Post-Polio Syndrome
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If you ever find yourself scrolling through PSA, thanking your lucky stars (or even me) that it exists… there’s someone else you should be thanking too.  She’s our 100th illustration, and someone near and dear to me.  Kris is, in fact, my godmother.  She was a close friend of my adoptive parents before I was even born, and has known me my whole life. 

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In 2007, as I faced unemployment (yet again) she invited me to come live with her and it was easily one of the best decisions either of us have ever made.  Aside from sharing the same strange sense of humor, Kris is easily one of the most kind and generous people i’ve known in my life.  

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Without her constant and unfailing support, PSA wouldn’t even exist.  I know she never planned to spend her retirement years being caretaker to her 32 year old goddaughter, but she does it with endless grace and love and she is constantly surprising me with her patience.

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Kris had polio as a child, during the first big vaccination rollout, and as a result has had several surgeries, skin grafts, and complications with her left foot.  She has never once let any of that keep her down.  Constantly putting others before herself, Kris is a blessing to any and all who are lucky enough to be her friends, and she is a veritable St. Francis when it comes to animal rescue and care.  

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Our house is filled with cats and dogs and laughter and positivity- but also honesty and safety and the freedom to be realistic and open about our individual challenges.

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She asked, several weeks ago, if she could be my 100th illustration, but in truth- she will always really be #1.  Without her none of this would be possible and I am thankful every day that I have a godmother who has chosen to take her title so seriously.  There’s a reason I call her Big Mama or even better:  My Fairy Godmother.

SOLDIER STORIES: In the silence I find fear.

[Survivor Syndrome]

Separated from my squad,
A tree without a forest.

No familiar sounds bring ease
But in the silence I find fear;
Indiscernible enemy
who works the battlefield of my mind.

It’s out there, it’s in here;
It shatters the glass I hold my dreams in
And tears at those loved ones
Who cannot hear my cry of pain
For these wounds do not bleed blood
And the scars hide deep beneath the surface.

Life’s journey has altered its path
But there is a map to return me to 
Those places where peace was my companion
And war was a distant island.

-by John Breska, 44th Scout Dog Platoon, 25th Division, Viet Nam 69-70