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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Window of Misbehavior

Today is post traumatic stress disorder day, and June has been post traumatic stress disorder month. The most dramatic kind of PTSD that we often see portrayed is the kind of someone who has lived through great trauma having a flashback of the event. There’s much more to PTSD than that. If you follow the link down the internet rabbit hole, you’ll see the two kinds of PTSD that affect my life the most.

Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.

I continually try to avoid putting myself at risk. This is a natural reaction. There have even been times in my life when I have had emotional outbursts or engaged in inappropriate behavior to drive people who made me feel uncomfortable out of my life. Not that I was really doing this consciously, but it was what I did in hindsight. This was the reason I cut my family out of my life, and could explain a couple of events of inconsistent behavior from a relatively nice person.

Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.

I used to have more trouble with this one, but I’ve been very lucky in my friends. I have gone from suspicion and fear and numbness to occasional feelings of isolation with the very occasional outburst based in suspicion and fear, which relates to the first problem, trying to make sure you are bullet proof in terms of being hurt again. Impossible, I know, but PTSD doesn’t think so.

***

I don’t know what to say, really, about PTSD, except that, like any other kind of illness, there are symptoms. The responsibility is still on me for the way I act under its influence, but it is one of those things you have to consider in your interactions with others. Why does anyone act the way they act? I think we understand aspects of people better than we used to, such as autism, Asperger’s, anxiety, depression, or alcoholism. Of course, a person’s make up can make it harder to be around them.

That said, I would like to offer up a challenge. When interacting with someone, if their behavior seems atypical to what you’re used to, or what other people’s interaction is, you should probably figure there is something going on. There is a quote that says, “When someone tells you who they are, believe them.” But guess what? In this case, we are NOT showing you who we are. We are showing you we’re afraid.

And here’s a thoughtful quote.

It’s hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but it’s important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behavior. Your loved one’s nervous system is “stuck” in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one can’t simply choose to turn off. With the right support from friends and family, though, your loved one’s nervous system can become “unstuck” and he or she can finally move on from the traumatic event.

As a person with PTSD, sometimes I need to be reminded when I need to step back and take a look at what I’m doing, and maybe what I’m doing is not about you, although it might seem like it. It’s really about me and my protective mechanisms. You might need to give me some time to understand that you are not going to slam my fingers in the door, once I decide I am going to get to know you, once I get beyond that pleasant front of acquaintance, once I decide to risk sinking roots. I am not a good friend for people who don’t have patience with skittish horses, shy dogs, or cats going to the vet. 😀 I am a hard person to get to know, but my friends tell me I am worth the effort. I’ll go with it.

The world is rough because I am trust challenged. Because I am running scared. Because I am reminded of what has gone before. It is not your fault I am these things. PTSD doesn’t come with a label that flashes warnings at you. I am risky business.

You need to know I am doing the best I can. We all are. I recognize you also bring your own baggage to any interaction. My experience helps me think about that, which is a hidden blessing. I want to encourage you to do the same.

The Year of Living Authorly Post 14: Press Kit

This week, I made my press kit. Hey, maybe it’s never too soon to make a press kit, so you know, when you go to a convention and someone asks you to fill out a bio about yourself, you have something ready. Or, you know, the book store calls you up about your release party, something like that.

You’ll notice a wide variety of photos to choose from, and blurbs of three lengths for whatever purposes necessary. Of course, I plan to stay on top of updating this as publications change, and my look changes too. I modeled what I did heavily on Sarah Gailey‘s and Ken Liu‘s kits. Most author sites have pretty good kits you can model yours after.

You could even model yours after mine. Now.

The Year of Living Authorly Post 13: Swag Plans

It’s always good to have a small giveaway at cons so people might consider looking up your book. As always, I am lucky in my friends when it comes to designing items. For example, my wonderful friends who make jewelry at S.R.S. Mythic Designs came up with a plan to make bookmarks/bracelets. We will be taking a ribbon, attacking a clasp, and also attaching an Eye of Ra charm. There will then be a small card attached with the cover and a reminder to get the book.

Please remember that swag will cost a little, but you don’t want to break the bank. How much money are you willing to spend per unit of swag? So far I will have 5 components: ribbons, charms, clasps, cards, and manpower. I’ll be posting a budget accordingly. So far, everything has been easy to find with simple online searching. The charms are coming from ebay, and the ribbons from ribbons galore.

This does bring up a small point: budgeting. I’ll be making swag, having a launch party, and doing some touring. It will be a bit of a cash expenditure. As I investigate swag, there’s some remarkably inexpensive stuff out there. And your tour can be all electronic, as can your book tour. The trick is to try to do what fits around your budget.

I will be happy to post pictures once we have created the swag. Meanwhile, please enjoy linking to the S.R.S. Mythic Design website and enjoy the jewelry.

Wiscon 41

You know I’ll be there. I always am.

Thanks to Catrina Horsfield for the awesome flier.

In addition to this reading, I will be on a Gothic Fiction panel Saturday at 1 pm. Looking forward to seeing folks and meeting people.

This entry was posted on 5/22/2017, in General.

That Crazy Legacy

My next year of living writerly post is going to be called the future, because the future came knocking this week, and you might like to hear about how one might manage the future, but I thought this week I would talk about a personal topic, and try to be thoughtful.

Yeah. Like that.

As you may or may not be aware, my last parent passed away, quite unexpectedly, in January. You might also be aware of how my background wasn’t the best. I’ve been coming to grips with a lot of energy that is now floating ambient throughout the universe. All that energy that used to be against is now just energy. I have begun to take a good solid look at who I am and what my background has made me, and where I’ve gone and some of the choices I’ve made.

One of the things I’ve discovered is fear, although I don’t think I knew it was fear. So much of my life has been designed to screen and shelter. I have a deflective sense of humor, I have built image and entitlement around myself through my profession, and I reveal my true self to very few people. I go through life playing a variety of roles. Well, there are some positives here, and I am really quite funny and adaptable, but when you think about going through life vulnerable, well, I made a decision to give up my address in Vulnerable a long time ago.

If the screens didn’t work, if the deflections didn’t work, there is always the crazy. I’ve always painted myself as someone who stands up for the honor of others, or tries to protect people from harm, but I’m pretty sure what I’ve been doing is protecting myself from things that make me uncomfortable by pretending to protect other people. Because when all else fails, judgmental craziness has been known to work, right? Mistakes have been made. Lies have been told to myself about myself.

Lest this sounds too severe, I know we all do something like this. I know we all have foibles, flaws, and regrets. I’m actually quite lucky inasmuch as I am a pretty self-aware crazy person. My biggest issue with myself isn’t that I’ve been fearful. It’s that I’ve lashed out when I’ve been afraid and pretended it’s been for a good cause. The good news is I understand better what I’m doing now, and will be doing my best to not do this. Habits are hard to break, but I will become a better person for breaking this one.

Don’t read this as regret about leaving my family. There’s chasing people away, and there’s understanding when to walk away, or, as Kenny Rogers says, knowing when to run. However, if your first reaction is to justify chasing someone away by pretending virtue or protection, when you could just not do anything, smile and move on, or you could avoid the situation, well, there you go. You need to do some work. You aren’t going to like everyone or everything, but you don’t have to make a lie of it because you’re afraid.

That said, I’ve broken a few vases and I can’t see how those can be fixed, and therein lies regret. I think the best you can do in those situations is apologize if it comes up, and move on with new behavior. That’s not only the best you can do, but it is all you can do. Sorry to get heavy.

One more thing for me to note to myself. I am an introvert. It is okay to be quiet. It is okay to be awkward. It is allowed. And you know, maybe people do make you uncomfortable. So be more cautious, not judgmental.

Okay. Nice talk. 😀

The Year of Living Authorly: Post 11 Juggling Many Balls

I have to say at this point I’m feeling it.

It started when I was working on The Pawn of Isis and The Vessel of Ra came back for edits. My editor was very fast, and I turned the edits around very fast, both times. What I was not used to was the idea of writing two projects at one time. Toss!

I was recently, happily, asked to participate in an anthology for which I must produce a themed short story. Yes! Toss!

I am diligently speeding through and enjoying writing The Pawn of Isis for the 4th time. My 3rd revision didn’t do what I wanted, and I know how to write it better now. I wish I’d known that before, but hey, growth as a writer! Toss!

Oh, hey! My book comes out September 12th. I’m going to conventions, and I’m needing to get some book tours and events set up. I need to change my email server because the friend who’s been supporting me is filling up. Toss!

Here’s an organized list of things I still think I need to do to get ready for book support:

1. Find out about ARCs.
2. Send ARCs out to advanced readers for blurbs and reviews.
3. Arrange merchandising.
4. Arrange freebies.
5. Arrange book launches.
6. Arrange appearances.
7. Keep going to conventions
8. Keep track of all of this for accounting purposes.

Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! Toss! and Toss!

And finally, online support. This blog, those podcasts, and that other blog. And maybe a blog tour? I dunno, maybe. And a newsletter. And….

I want all these complications, make no mistake. But it might be a good idea to make a note for you as you look over these to realize, yes, these are things that you might encounter as a debut author. Just thinking about that.

Next up: I start work on my list of advanced readers.