Portraits of Soldiers Before and After War. We are the not dead.

This article was “where it all began”. Not only you can see how trauma transformed their faces, but also, their rite passage from Young men to men; from hell and back.

Photographer Lalage Snow, who is currently based in Kabul, Afghanistan, embarked on an 8-month-long project titled We Are The Not Dead featuring portraits of British soldiers before, during, and after their deployment in Afghanistan. Similar to Claire Felicie’s series of monochromatic triptychs, Snow captures the innocent expressions of these men transformed into gaunt, sullen faces in less than a year. The three-panel juxtaposition allows the viewer to observe the physical changes a stationed soldier in a war zone goes through. Time is sped up for these men under the beating sun, amidst combat. Regardless of age, the boys that went in came back as men with experiences beyond their years. As weathered and worn as their skin or sunken in faces may appear, it’s their dilated eyes that are the most telling.

Additionally, Snow’s series accompanies each triptych with quotes from each of the servicemen that gives a great deal of insight into their mental and emotional state at each given time. Sergeant Alexander McBroom’s first portrait, before deployment, features him bravely saying, “I am not worried about going out – it is my job after all.” Three months later, he is quoted as saying, “It has been an eye opener.” And, finally, another four months after, he says, “It is always that fear, that apprehension, what is going to happen if I get blown up?” Having gone through life-altering trials and warfare, it is no surprise that fear is no longer a foreign feeling to these courageous men.

Snow’s intention with the series is to not only honor their bravery by featuring them, but to also draw attention to every soldiers’ psychological transformation. She says, “It was a very personal project and stemmed from having embedded with the military on and off for 4 years in Iraq and Afghanistan and bearing witness to how many young men return as shadows of their former selves and, in many cases, with deep, psychological scars. As the body count of British servicemen killed or wounded rose and the political ramifications of the British army’s presence in Afghanistan became increasingly convoluted, more and more soldiers felt like they didn’t have a voice, or at least, weren’t being listened to. We Are The Not Dead is an attempt at giving the brave young men and women the chance to explain how it really is.”

Beware to trigger.

With courtey of https://mymodernmet.com/lalage-snow-we-are-the-not-dead/

Back for good.

Hi Crew.

** It’s reunion time here.** 

Did you have a good year? or did you feel abandoned?

This come back sounds pretty good to me, since I have a new Restart.

First, I want you to **congratulate** with me:)

If you read through my storytelling :

  • in 2015 went through these Paris attacks ( aftermath of a long term stress disorder )
  • panic attacks and anxiety manifestation ( 6 months later my fucking fake alert )
  • declared unfit to previous job ( hotel assistant )
  • had to retrain for a different service
  • got validation – after 3 years – for the present job ( admin )

Lost :

  • all meaningful relationships
  • my team/community
  • long term job security
  • sense of confidence
  • sense of safety
  • physical and mental health
  • key project for my future job career
  • lots of time in toxic relationships, plus some sort of addictions like shopping on the internet to compensate my frustration, too much coffee, rosé wine, and cigarettes yock

What I was planning before that I got my present job validation:

  • quitting any hope for a better future ( shall I feel that way forever? will I get a handicap card? and stigma? )
  • going back home ( what for? oups, no idea )
  • depression and more anxiety

What helped me to hold on and keep it up:

  • a few, true friends
  • a Second Book on the way

Not bad for a restart, right ?

 

_20190810_084007.JPG
Dragon Fly is a symbol for Transformation.

What I am planning to do now :

  • reorganise the good job done on this website (a bit naïve, but honest and original)
  • improve my language skills (**it’s on your mind**)
  • add some podcast (use my voice, so you’ll get my nice accent and poetry reading)
  • start a mindfulness program on a 8 weeks bases **for free**

Oh well, my look is quite changed, as much as my inner transformation and will put a few photos which will shock you, hopefully, in a good way:)

Give away as much more stuff as I can, and I hope, that you will enjoy.

I won’t be perhaps that regular that you (and google ads) will expect, but I am still busy on writing, and this book will deserve my priority quality time ( days off work ).

When I have started this blogging, I was under construction and each day was a challenge… will I do it ? Will I ever take my long term job back? Will I return to home at mum and dad in Italy ? Doing what ? ( same small life that I was eager to quit before ? where people are scared cos now I’ve got a cosmopolitan background? )

This 2019 took my cherished Aunt away after lungs cancer; and few more losses among friends ( very bad incident and leucemia ).

I thought : « Life hasn’t finished with me » and I am here to reply « Then, I haven’t finish with life ». Right ?

This work is re-open on 13th November 20194 years later the **Parisian apocalypse**. Despite, I am not here for promoting kind of pity for terrorist victims, and please, don’t get me wrong, I have cried rivers in those days, and as a survivor, all my life went through a huge, long dark night through everyday ordeals, until Now.

Though, I am not here to say : “poor me, poor you”. We don’t need that. Right?

All time I’m spending with you, sharing what made a difference in my journey, is a **present** to any of you who really want to restart and live again – with dignity – after any sort of trauma.

** attention, please **

This is not any suicidal help line. I am not qualified as a pro caregiver would be.

***

But I can be the one who inspires and give a new sparkle to whom went through same exhaustion which is technically named « burn out », « break down » … or in my own words, « holy shit ».

V sign for Victory

V Sign for Victory.

My last books authors include mystics turned into psychologists and psychiatrists renowned for elite sport mind management; anger, fear and such topic as death will be put on the table.

It took me 45 years to feel any sort of self CONFIDENCE, self WORTH or self ESTEEM. But stop it, you can’t be so DUMB all life long. Life is calling, …. or you grow, NOW, or you stagn and die. That’s like anything in nature does on this Earth.

** publishing soon? fingers crossed **

When I first choose to write this website in English, I did it because it helps me to put a distance, and I am quite happy about this decision. I will also do some poetry reading, humbled, yet, thrilled cos I found this poet, in Great Britain, who’s been on a long journey and I will share his story with you, by his agreement. He’s been a 35 years long Army Aircops pilot, medically retired due to PTSD and today he is blessing his audience with outstanding words to share his feelings.

My first book was self published, as a memoir, in my first language. Thou its value is really personal. That journaling was incredibly my banister to hold me tight, when nothing else did. Since then, I hopefully did some progress with my writing skills; and, for sure, I will put all the references for the magic books I found and read, or half read, on the Path. So that you can get more information on Mental health, and eventually improve your Mind management.

Dunno what is your job, or where you were born and live today, if you come from Ego, Insecurity and Emotion you are more than Welcome into my World.

This has been my wasted land until recently, so I wish you all **Good luck, heros**

Keep as hard as a rock;)

Yours truely, Parisian Sparkle x

 

Message to Veterans from Dan Nevins.

Yesterday, it was my birthday, and while in southern France we lost another Iraq vet, Arnaud Beltrame, in a sort of pointless attack to a supermarket, who swapped with a lady, in order to do his job, and then lost his life after injuries, I sent a message to Dan Nevins. And I mentioned that it’s my honour to promote his mission as warrior to help other human beings to heal.

Here is his reply: “Hi Anto! You’re welcome to include my story 🙂 Thank you! 🙂

He called me like friends usually do. Shall I tell you more about how I feel? It is a honour for me to spread out his message. Not only to vets, but whoever is suffering from PTSD.

My unique experience with a french Afghanistan vet wasn’t lucky. He was 29, a nice guy with spanish origins, who was very much likely to feel shell shock. We met just once, and then chatting almost during two years, and never met again.  He lived in Paris, and I felt like we were living overseas from each other. His early pictures were quite different from his last pics, after he spent 4 years in the army, as helicopter sniper.

We crossed our path during 2015 attacks, and I thought he would be my hero, but he definetely couldn’t. Nobody’s fault. Self-growth is not suitable to anybody.

Never mind, this post is really meant to focus on who still give a damn to humbly seek for help and want to rehabilitate back from any war missions. And that’s all I want to say about it.

What’s PTSD?

images (3)

If you agree, we – as human beings – were born to be a wholebalanced, and strongindividuals. Greek philosophers, and physicians, say that the natural state of things is calm and, sophrology – the science that studies the Consciousness – promotes body, mind and spirit harmony (SOS = free from diseases, balances. PHREN = diaphragm, emotional heart and by extension, spirit, conscience. LOGOS = Science, study, speech).

So, naturally, PTSD occur as a consequence of a lack of it. The fact is that you don’t realize at which cost, until your life becomes a mess, when you finally admit that something has broken, and you need help to fix it. It can be a physical wound, or invisible, when it concerns heart and soul, or if you are blessed enough, as brits would say, both.

DAN-NEVINS.4

Before 2015, I used to practice Yoga, once a week, basically to keep healthy, in a good shape and mood, it was relaxing, and I could fully stretch my body, especially my neck, happily turning 40.

After the 2015 events (january and november), I got completely unbalanced, both emotionally, and physically, put on weight, panic attacks, anger outbursts, no way to do my job anymore, like dealing with typical visitors problem solving (e.g. lost baggages, fully booked restaurants,..), or simply baring mood swings of my bipolar colleague. As soon as someone started crying or yelling for any reason, my self defense felt in danger (“that freeze, fly or fight thing”).

In february 2016,  I was diagnosed obviously inadequate to my position, until today.

For the short storytime, I knew panic and fear on a terrorist attack at workplace and PTSD soon started with insomnia, poor emotional intelligence like Hulk’s syndrome,  inability to put words on my own feelings, anxiety and fear of going crazy, exhaustion and chronique fatigue disease, after sleep burn out, tremors (mouth, legs, hands), tachycardia, and memory loss, just to mention a few. Others symptoms you can’t just describe, like a sort of electrochemical pinching in your veins, especially in legs, or warmth flames in the back, which give you the right sense of burning inside.

“A short circuit of your soul.” 

It goes without saying, my health was severely damaged, as you know stress is quite dangerous for neurons, once they are gone, they don’t regenerate, so you start aging earlier, that’s also why, today, it’s not so rare to see stress effects in people who suffer Alzheimer’s syndrom much younger than 60, or stroke and heartattack victims.

By the way, I lost three colleagues between 27 and 43, in 5 months, does it count for stress disorders statistiques? Of course, it doesn’t, except if you can prove it. And you can’t. Occupational joke between Medicine and Managament states that it’s confidential.

During my journey, back from burn out, I have been told several times that this is the illness of the strong. And this is one of the main reasons why I feel a proud trauma survivor, today. Of course, you have to consider a deep cleaning of your personal life, as well as a full transformation of your jobcareer and lifestyle. 

You can’t figure out coping with PTSD and holding on the same life schedule than before trauma. It involves stop overthinking, letting go, and modulating negative emotional responses compared with the healthy controls.

“You need some yoga in your life.”  

Yoga practice really made a difference for me. It brought “justice” to my body and mind, especially since I am doing it regularly, almost everyday.

Check out Ted Nevins’s story “a soldier’s surprising journey to becoming a yogi” on the following: Warrior Spirit Retreat

phonyop

Thanks to a welsh penpal, and army brit, nicknamed Salad Dodger, my attention was caught by an association for Combat Stress, and reading an article I was quite shocked, because some of my burn out symptoms were perfectly matching with war vets PTSDafter battlefield.

This study led me to another article written from the american journalist, Sebastian Junger, published by Vanity Fair, who experienced PTSD on his way back from Afghanistan, where he spent 15 months on a mission with a Battle Company.

“Sometimes, we ask ourselves if we can save the vets, I think the real question is if we can save ourselves.”

To resume up, PTSD symptoms can be:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociation
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability and outbursts of anger
  • Suicidal thoughts and suicide
  • Alcohol misuse and dependence
  • Sexual problems and confusion about sexuality

Other effects:

  • Eating disorders
  • Self-injury and self-harming behaviour
  • Transient psychotic episodes
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder
  • Somatisation – Emotional distress experienced as physical pain
  • Increased rates of physical conditions like heart disease and cancer
  • Homelessness Re-victimisation Prostitution
  • Criminal behaviour (including, for a small minority, sexual offences)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of confidence
  • Sleep problems
  • Parenting problems
  • Relationship problems
  • Trust issues

 

 

via What’s PTSD?

Brokenhearted, Afghan refugee. Not ‘frenchy’, enough.

refugees(2)

Today, I had my lunch at the work canteen, with my friend, Samir. We have been working at the luggage service, during 5 months, once back from my sick leave. One of the most kind-at-hearted person I have ever met. A real dude. Not only he shared his personal story with me and our colleagues, when he early arrived at the service. But he sudden became one of my best friends, although 15 years younger than me (28 – 43).

We haven’t met since a while, and before meeting him, I wondered if I could interview him, like Sebastian Junger would. In order to put his story on this blog and give another point of vew, the “afghan refugee”. We take our meal, on a table, among french and many other nationalities, around us. “So, what’s up, anto?” He asks me. And I start telling him about my last books, Tribe, War in Afghanistan and so on. Before I can tell him about the concept behind my last hero’s mind, he shows me the picture of an Italian girl he’s been hanging on during the past year. Ok, I see. Forget the long way from Kabul through Turkey and Greece. Samir needs a couple of open ears.

What’s wrong with me? I gave her all the attention and also made a Christmas present, and she hasn’t been honest with me. She had a boyfriend. And now she is with another guy, a technicien. I was such a gentleman.

And I know, he really means it.

 

C

 

Before we continue in our conversation, I try to savour my gnocchi with italian mascarpone gorgonzola cheese mixed with swiss gruyere. Yes, yum.

The girl in the picture reminds me of pretty girls who know how to get favours from good guys like him. The kind of girls I hated when younger. Cutie, smiling pretty faces with long brown hair, with trendy sunglasses. She comes from Sicily. She shocks my friend by saying that he is not french enough. That she prefers dating frogs.

“Stop being kind.” I cry at him, calm but firmly. “You knoe, between gangster and gentleman there is a balance. Got it? Next time, Sam, I will shut at you like marines trainers, if you don’t catch it.”

Samir is proud, he gets his own car, they are 7 in the family, I once met his little sister, she is a clever, smart little girl. We went to the amusement park and had fun, together, like a family.  We have a small talk, and I wonder if he’s still thinking to leave for US. “It’s a misery, anywhere, now.”

Sadly, but truely.

Before I let him go, he drops me at the bus stop, and tells me he’s going to Iran for holidays, part of his family is still there. And Dubai, Turkey. “Do you feel safe there?” “You know, anto, I respect the law wherever I go. If you don’t act stupid, there is no issue. No matter the Country. Don’t you think?”

Deep, and wise, Samir: respect is the key.

Both traveling, and flirting.

A good day to all

ab xx

 

 

 

 

 

Soldier’s woundwort, if Achille suffered from PTSD, anyone can do.

56381571

Greek Mythology never end to amaze me. Not only because it’s psychology in disguise, but further more because it’s so modern, that you could use it to explain today’s society to your children (like Fulvio Terzani, Tiziano’s son, says in his conference about Ultra Marathon).

To say it all, this article was supposed to start with a gengitivis, yes, I wanted to put an example of trauma in our body. The last time I have been at the dentist, he told me that my gums were not infected, but they kept the memory of an ancient gum disease. Oh my gosh, I admit that teeth brushing wasn’t my fave sport until quite late, and that I have been neglecting this must-have habit for too long.

So, how can I send the message to my gums that it’s okay, war is over… or is it? No, it is not. My self defense system is prepared to striking news, at any moment of the day. Consider that, on 13th november, Paris terror attack I was watching Star Wars on streaming. The day after I went to work, as I usually do, by train, and I was taught about the situation (8 attacks, 13 kamikaze, hundred wounded and dead, doctors called back from strike to help with rescue operations) only once over there. Yes, terrorists won their cause, with my brain cells. For me, the real fight starts now, with goals like regaining confidence, trusting other people, and building hope for the future by taking actions (and moving forward from freezing).

Before I go to the topic “14th november” (the awake after attacks), in another article, I would like to finish what I started. Gum disease, I said. Ok, let’s go.

Yarrow-cultivar

Yarrow is commonly called nosebleed or soldier’s woundwort because the juice of its leaves and stem can stop bleeding. Many North American tribes chew the leaves as a remedy for a toothache as well as a number of other ailments. The anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic, effects of yarrow can help with receding gums at any stage.

Sorry, if I skip the part where you are suggested to chew on the leaves and stems or gargling. If you don’t want to mess with the herb, you can use the essential oil of yarrow. This blue-colored oil is very potent, so mix in a few drops of coconut oil or another carrier oil before using it as a gum paint.

If you don’t know where to buy essentiel oils, please, contact me, and I will be happy to give you some ideas, for free.

Yarrow’s latin name, like a thunder lighting, sounded too familiar. Achillea Millefolium… go away. No kidding. Because I am already used to another powerful plant, which helped me with bipolar disease, mood swings, St. Johns Wort, Hypericum perforatum, I am very eager to test this plant on my gums.

Hypericum is worth a full other article, but if you have any questions, don’t miss and go to contact, or leave a comment. Hypericum leaves have got deep wound-healing potential, as anti-depressant, especially in seasonal change.

My Spirit-Self is a being of pure Light.
A shield of radiant light protects me as I travel in Starry worlds.
I learn to trust my own inner Light.
The Sun is shining in my Soul.

crociato-ferito

Now, back to our greek warriors, and PTSD

“Beyond the universal soldier: combat trauma in classical antiquity”, have now retrospectively diagnosed ancient Greek fighters as “traumatised by their experiences of war”.

142270_v1

American infantrymen grew up in a society based on “Christianised norms and values, stressing peace, mercy and the sanctity of human life”. They largely “served in military units comprised of complete strangers” and often had to fight round the clock for extended periods. They could do little more than “seek safety in cover and concealment” on battlefields “traversed by red-hot, razor-sharp shrapnel and high-velocity gunfire”. Sleep deprivation, lack of social support, enforced passivity in the face of lethal danger and a sense of going against their underlying values all combined to make war deeply traumatic.

None of this, Dr Crowley’s paper goes on, applied to Athenian hoplites. They lived in a “profoundly pugnacious” society that “venerated war”, and where “battlefield bravery” was “considered an unqualified social good”. Soldiers “mobilised, deployed and fought alongside” those from their local communities in “a close-order formation predicated on mutual protection and tactical interdependency”. “Largely protected against progressive exhaustion and sleep deprivation”, they faced a limited range of threats from “warriors armed with muscle-powered weapons”.

All these factors, Dr Crowley’s paper concludes, protected ancient soldiers against the dangers of PTSD. The whole idea of feeling bad after harming an enemy is totally alien to Greek culture,” says Dr Crowley. “Grave markers include tallies of the numbers a soldier has killed, something very hard to imagine today.”

With courtesy of Battle scars: Did Achille suffered from PTSD?