Back in November 2011 I started working on a novel tentatively titled Ghost Hand. The story is about Marine sniper who returns to Los Angeles to recover from severe injuries only to find that the war for him has just started, and there’s more to the world than he knew.
Part of his story is dealing with his PTSD. As he starts to work out his issues he discovers a whole class of people worse off than he is: The homeless.
After several starts at the novel I had to set it aside. I just was not happy with the story. I needed to sit on it more. But in the process I did write a whole of lot fun pieces in the voice of the protagonist. Several of them were designed to be chapter headers, to show up at the beginning of every third chapter or so. These ones are all about mental illness, and are presented from the point of view of someone who has gone through it, and made it out the other side.
I’m going to put them up once a week, for five weeks. This is number three of five.
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Different types of mental illness
If you have PTSD someone might say to you something like, “You have the some of the same symptoms of a crazy person, but that doesn’t mean you’re stone cold crazy. See, you can get better. A crazy person cannot.”
Well, that’s not quite true either. A crazy person can get better to, but it’s a different kind of better.
See having PTSD is like being obese. Sure you’re overweight, but you have this certain knowledge that if you just put some effort into changing your diet and exercising more, you can be thin again. Most crazy people have never been thin. They don’t have that certain knowledge. They don’t have that hope. Healing for them is like learning to walk by crossing a tightrope high above a stage. Not only they do not know of a single person who has successfully crossed before, they don’t really know how to walk. They understand the concept of putting one foot in front of another, but its just a concept to them, they’ve never really done it before. And their sense of balance is crap. The one thing they do know, the one thing they have any certainly about, is how to fall. They been falling all of their lives.
So if you ever meet a person recovering from mental illness, salute them. I’ve been in a lot of hairy situations with bullets flying and friends falling right and left, but the bravest people I have ever met were those few who were attempting to recover from their own insanity.