Shell Shock: Break Down in WWI. Now they are free.

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An increasingly large number of men seemed to have simply lost the will to fight.

Well, before facing this topic I have been meditating and taking time for breathing, alone, in the woods. This is one of the most sensitive subject I am still willing to write about. For the side story, I am one of those who experienced panic attacks and tremors, neurosthenia, physical and mental break down, which led to occupational burn out, as a consequence of « Paris Terror », in january and november 2015. Still dealing with the aftermath. But I am confident, and I will sort it out or bust.

By the way, I lived a « fake alert », while terrorists were around the parisian region ; trauma is like you face your death, and I was still on duty when november’s attacks stroke. The hall of the hotel, where I was serving, was full of thousands of guests and some of them had lost a friend in concert hall « Bataclan ». Too much to handle for a little creature of the Universe, like me.

Our duty, my team leader told me, was to take care of the guests and their needs were priority. My hands were shacking and couldn’t make a sense of what was happening, so that I called my mother to say « It’s alright, Mum, I am okay ». In those morning hours I felt like I was experiencing a hospital battle camp. A lady firefighter told me about the girl who lost her friend, and a few minutes beside that, a guest, a spanish lady, breaks down to tears because her vacation was fucked up. How can you not go insane?

« Life is simple » a doctor of Occupational Medicine told me once, while signing for a sick leave between two temporary missions in the administration. « Something has broken ». He was refering to me and my Management. In fact, although my Manager in duty was pushing me to get back to my service at front desk, in order to boost my reaction, in a positive way, a part of me was struggling to avoid to go back, as Self preservation.

Back to 1918.

One century ago, in his office, Sigmund Freud meets the soldiers back from the war front, and he detects war neurosis or shell shock due to no-stop artillery bombing in the trenches. Men loose control of their senses, from speech to blindness, they can’t explain what they are experiencing, or want to see that hell anymore. They also develop paraplegia. Personally, I was in shock by seeing old pictures, in black and white, with soldiers hands on the ground. The Italian cinema shows a scene in the movie « The Great War » by Monicelli which shows comedien Alberto Sordi getting scared from seeing a « lost hand » in the trench. « What is that ? » he says. Italians showed to the world how to treat delicate stuff with humour, but still great poetry and humanity. Think about Roberto Benigni and « Life is beautiful » which won the Oscar touching such a topic with great bravery though respect. Humour in this case is meant to put a distance between our mind and horrific reality, as a shield or a filter of what would make you getting mad.

But WWI wasn’t just an Italian affair, of course, and we can see Germans against French on the western front in the movie « All quiet on the western front » from original book « Im Western nichts Neues » by Erich Maria Remarque, 1930. And eastern front, between Russia and Poland, when Austria – Hungary invades this territory. Personally, I have been in Mount Sabotino trenches, and mountains on the Carso, in Northern Italy where Ernest Hemingway has served and was wounded by a german artillery shell. 

In his own words, “There was one of those big noises you sometimes hear at the front. I died then. I felt my soul or something coming right out of my body, like you’d pull a silk handkerchief out of a pocket by one corner. It flew all around and then came back and went in again and I wasn’t dead any more.”

Hemingway’s wounding along the Piave River in Italy and his subsequent recovery at a hospital in Milan, including the relationship with his nurse Agnes von Kurowsky, all inspired his great novel A Farewell To Arm. His story “Soldier’s Home” conveys his feelings of frustration and shame upon returning home to a town and to parents who still had a romantic notion of war and who didn’t understand the psychological impact the war had had on their son.

 

 

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Shame and guilt.

In 1914, the contemporary scientists and medicine men are involved in the War, and ethically challenged. The therapy has the target to get soldiers back to combat and not to rehabilitate them. Psychoterapy is at the starting blocks and Freud, with his collaborators, mark a milestone in the human psyche’s understanding. Mental health starts to be recognised as apart from physical health.

First, what leads to modern PTSD, it’s recognising that an external event, like a shock, can damage the man’s mind, though brave, courageous and rational human being. Finally, sensitive officers can break down, after sending their men one by one to die under enemy fire to gain an uncovered lookout point. The risk to be seen as weak or wimpy was limited to a manlike system which still perdured in the military discipline. Big boys don’t cry, right ?

Second, not only there’s an enemy out there, but according to the german Psychologist, the real enemy is inside. There are the Peace Self and the Warrior Self, and second is one to watch out, the one who wants you to sacrifice and takes pleasure from it. Soldiers finally realize that they are going to loose their lives and it doesn’t make any sense any more. Their Peace Self wants to live and go home to their families. Many officers are just « boys ».

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Shot at dawn.

During WWI, shell shock is also a way to escape from the frontline battles. Sometimes, at the cost of your own life. The officers in charge of their command are often so greedy and vanish to execute their soldiers who couldn’t or wouldn’t face the bombing anymore. The sentence states cowardice. The case of Harry Farr and Jimmy Smith, to mention just a couple of these young heroes, speaks out loud. After Somme, Gallipoli and other bloody battles, they just couldn’t take it anymore. In case, shell shock victims were supposed to be commuted by the martial court. Not in that instance. They were put a blindfold to cover their eyes, cognac from the evening before, and a round of paper on their heart to mark the target. « What a way to get leave. » Wait, Private Farr, refused the blindfold, actually. And I spare other details in deep respect of those who left, and also the ones who « gained the leave » for shooting to their camerades. Pardon was given in 2006 by British Governement, to those who deserted and were executed at dawn. Will the others ever forgive them selves ?

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Inner Self.

Isn’t that a sort of « karma » ? Well, I mean, shell shock today is haunting our minds as cultural heritage and stigma makes it hard for anyone to take a sick leave, at work, just to have a rest, saying no to team leaders or managers when the task is simply too tough and we are running out of time and co-staff. The Peace Self says it clearly that we can’t take it no more, but the War Self forces us to sacrifice for the good cause. We fear to loose our job and the boss confidence, while in the meantime nobody is taking care of your healthy conditions at workplace. Sometimes we live again that nightmare of those who left their heart in a foreign trench. « Who is the real enemy ? » Listen to the inner voice, the Wise Men say, and you will get it.

With courtesy of Ryan Williams from CURE UP.ORG

Article published on 27th june 2018

 

Repression of War Experience. A poem by Siegfried Sasson.

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Now light the candles; one; two; there’s a moth;
What silly beggars they are to blunder in
And scorch their wings with glory, liquid flame—
No, no, not that,—it’s bad to think of war,
When thoughts you’ve gagged all day come back to scare you;
And it’s been proved that soldiers don’t go mad
Unless they lose control of ugly thoughts
That drive them out to jabber among the trees.
Now light your pipe; look, what a steady hand.
Draw a deep breath; stop thinking; count fifteen,
And you’re as right as rain …
                                                       Why won’t it rain? …
I wish there’d be a thunder-storm to-night,
With bucketsful of water to sluice the dark,
And make the roses hang their dripping heads.
Books; what a jolly company they are,
Standing so quiet and patient on their shelves,
Dressed in dim brown, and black, and white, and green,
And every kind of colour. Which will you read?
Come on; O do read something; they’re so wise.
I tell you all the wisdom of the world
Is waiting for you on those shelves; and yet
You sit and gnaw your nails, and let your pipe out,
And listen to the silence: on the ceiling
There’s one big, dizzy moth that bumps and flutters;
And in the breathless air outside the house
The garden waits for something that delays.
There must be crowds of ghosts among the trees,—
Not people killed in battle,—they’re in France,—
But horrible shapes in shrouds–old men who died
Slow, natural deaths,—old men with ugly souls,
Who wore their bodies out with nasty sins.
                         *          *          *
You’re quiet and peaceful, summering safe at home;
You’d never think there was a bloody war on! …
O yes, you would … why, you can hear the guns.
Hark! Thud, thud, thud,—quite soft … they never cease—
Those whispering guns—O Christ, I want to go out
And screech at them to stop—I’m going crazy;
I’m going stark, staring mad because of the guns.

 

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Shell Shock? Not sure. But I would hug all of them, right now.

Next Mission: PTSD at home. Veterans breaking the Silence.

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Actually, I am living this situation at work. Yes, I am the weak link.  And yes, I was the first and only one to break the silence. So, what?

Do you know the story of someone who is sitting on the edge of the river waiting for his dead enemy’s body passing by?

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Seriously, it took me 1 month and a half to take an appointment with a psychologist after my burn out. Sometimes it’s life or death.

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“ah, post traumatic stress disorders, what a wimp, the weak link and then, you are not promoted anymore, you are not going on the next tour ….”

“So, how do you save your self?”

First step, you come forward and admit you have a problem;

second step, finding the right people to listen to your concern and be able to point out the right direction to get the help you need;

step three, finding the right therapy; either a pills prescription or whatever.

“Delay, deny and die.”

8 Keys to Build Up Your Resilience. Coping with PTSD. Author: Me :)

Hi, I am the author of my new baby born book titled « PTSD Beautiful Trauma », a memoir of my journey coping with PTSD, after Paris attacks (2015-2016). My workplace was involved in both attacks, January and November. After Charlie Hebdo’s board office’s attack and the printing house’s owner held hostage my hotel was the theater …

Source: 8 Keys to Build Up Your Resilience

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Don McLean about Vincent: “I had to argue he wasn’t crazy.” Mental Health Awareness Month.

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In the autumn of 1970 I had a job singing in the school system, playing my guitar in classrooms,” he says.

“I was sitting on the veranda one morning, reading a biography of Van Gogh, and suddenly I knew I had to write a song arguing that he wasn’t crazy.

He had an illness and so did his brother Theo. This makes it different, in my mind, to the garden variety of ‘crazy’ – because he was rejected by a woman [as was commonly thought].

So I sat down with a print of Starry Night and wrote the lyrics out on a paper bag.”

With its bittersweet palette of major and minor chords, Vincent’s soothing melody is one of high emotion recollected in tranquillity.

The lyrical list of colours – the “swirling clouds in violet haze”, the eyes of “China blue” the “snowy linen land” – evoke a mental slide show of the artist’s work.

Don McLean

with courtesy of The Telegraph

Starry, Starry  Night
“And now I understand what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen
They did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now.”
Don McLean
This painting has got great meaning for me, it is the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, near Arles, South France. Van Gogh was a beautiful march Aries just like me, and he is depicting the constellation of aries in the shape of a scalene triangle. Great empathy. I wish I would have met this great revolutionary Maestro of art painting in my life.

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Canadian Army Vet’s Story: Ron and Ryan Anderson’s PTSD treatment and homecoming.

This article may hurt the Sensibility of someone; mine, for sure, but this is my duty here.

So, I let you check details of the painful homecoming of this two brothers, back from their last tours in combat zone ( Afghanistan, the last ) and no more capable to deal with a normal family life.

My deeper Compassion and higher Respect go to the whole Family of these guys like they were my own brothers.

By the way, my work here is not a campaign against pills, right?, I won’t take the risk to go against any Big Pharma here, ok? Fuck them, that’s a fact. New York Times staff knows what they do and denounce, but I am Nobody, and I am really not interested in doing any fights against nobody.

What I can do, here, is merely reporting facts and stories, to take example from as well as mine, of course. Many of WP readers just throw up words from nowhere, sorry, because they feel relief with doing it. That’s ok. Do it. The fact I put on my beautiful face, here, it means that I am taking the Responsability of my Words and Actions. And that I am ready to talk about all this mess, and shit, in a public domain like internet or anywhere else, anytime.

Pills took a part of my life and memory, when I was in my 20s. But Nineties are gone, now. Remember how Depression was treated in 50s like Ernest Hemingway. Lobotomia was practiced as cure and therapy. Electroshock, … yes, indeed.

We have turned the century, so, there is no more reason to treat Mental Health with chemicals, guys ! Sure, I know it’s tough, cos I’ve been there, but you are not alone. And I can just suppose that pressure in a military family is very high as well as feelings like Shame and Guilty. Forget the sense of Honour; you did your best, that’s fine, now focus on your Life after combat and your Wellbeing. You do deserve it. Paragraph.

What you can do with your silver cross medals, now?

The first step, really, the hardest one to do is taking this fuc*** First Step and Talk about it and ask for help to someone who is not JUDGEMENTAL. YOU CHOOSE WHO and WHICH PHONE NUMBER. I did it. And things went better and better.

Gotta say that. Done.

***

Ok, I’ll leave you with the link to the full article right here. And bless you, both, Ron and Ryan’s spirits. I wish that if there are other guys like you, they will take the chance to talk about their anger outbursts, lack of control, depressive thoughts and negative stuff with the right person, Right Now.

You won’t do it for YOU? Ok, do it for your Mother, or your Dog. Do it for next Sunset, or Sunrise, that you will enjoy, within your Heart.

Do it for your Self, not your Ego.

The Anderson’s expect that something is done by the governements or the system for preventing suicide. Don’t wait until anything is done from The Outside, darling, pray that something is done from The Inside.

“Knock that door.”

Luv

xx

 

Magazine Article (french): Resilience.

This is a number one topic on PTSD and trauma recover. As soon as I can, I’ll find the way to translate the 8 keys to build up your Strenght. I am actually quite busy on my last editing of my paperback to put on Amazon for my Italian camerades.

The pictures of this article are smashing. Btw during this path to recover I have often felt like underwater ; overwhelmed gives you the right emotional feeling that you can’t breath properly and some dark force is pushing you down to the abyss.

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Until you become a neptunian and begin to swim like a beautiful, strong yet graceful Mermaid.

For the side story, I bought this one in Bologna Airport, on my last trip back home to visit my family. Shells come from Adriatic Sea. Except the ammonite, which I found on the deep waters of the internet lol.

It goes without saying that Neptune is the king of the Subconscious (Mind) World. Did you guess?

Shells as christian symbolism stay for “listen”, listen to your Inner Voice.

L'immagine può contenere: cibo e spazio al chiuso

PTSD Books: The Burnout Society.

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And this is the book that I was offered from my doctor. Actually, he wanted it back. Lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our competitive, service-oriented societies are taking a toll on the late-modern individual. Rather than improving life, multitasking, “user-friendly” technology, and the culture of convenience are producing disorders that range from depression to attention deficit disorder to borderline personality disorder. Byung-Chul Han interprets the spreading malaise as an inability to manage negative experiences in an age characterized by excessive positivity and the universal availability of people and goods. Stress and exhaustion are not just personal experiences, but social and historical phenomena as well. Denouncing a world in which every against-the-grain response can lead to further disempowerment, he draws on literature, philosophy, and the social and natural sciences to explore the stakes of sacrificing intermittent intellectual reflection for constant neural connection.

 

About the authors

Korean-born German philosopher Byung-Chul Han teaches philosophy and cultural studies at Berlin’s University of the Arts (UdK). In the past few years, his provocative essays have been translated into numerous languages, and he has become one of the most widely read philosophers in Europe and beyond. His work is presented here in English for the first time.

 

Check also this article about Philosophy:

In Orwell’s “1984” society knew that was being dominated. Not today.