Tag Archives: Reconciliation: A Son’s Story by Steve Sparks

Prevent Domestic Violence in Life After War…Kids Become Collateral Damage…

 

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survivethriveptsd.com A work in progress, anticipated publish date September 2016.

 

Treatment Interventions for Veterans with PTSD  by Mike Willbur, M.S., LMHC and Susanne Ruiz Rodriguez, Esq, M.S.

“If there is violence and/or abuse in the home, recognize it for what it really is – violence and abuse. Violence and/or abuse are present in a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary. Does everyone under the roof where you live feel safe? Does your partner feel self-empowered? Is there mutual respect in the home? When you feel irritable, are you able to talk about it with your partner? These are just a few questions that should be asked and if not answered appropriately, then it’s time to seek help.”

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When loved ones return home following deployment in hard combat, the risk of domestic violence resulting from post-trauma stress is much higher without proactive treatment.  The stigma of mental health challenges takes a toll on the entire family, especially children, because those who suffer from the horrific memories of war are often in denial  for many reasons and refuse treatment.  I know this to be true as a post WWII child who carries the emotional baggage of domestic violence to this day. My research shows evidence of an epidemic of generational post-trauma stress in literally thousands of families who live with emotional pain and toxic family relationships from one generation to the next.  How can we break the cycle of abuse and emotional pain that seems to stick like bad genes in families who must learn to love all over again?

I so wish and pray that healing from post-traumatic stress (PTS) could be as simple and easy as treating a case of the measles or the flu, or even taking clear steps to avoid or cure more serious physical health challenges.  But in treating PTS,  it is clearly very complicated and often a life long process or journey of healing…

We know so much more and have a high level of awareness of post-traumatic stress circumstances in the 21st Century.  It is up to families to break the cycle of pain by seeking pre-deployment preparation and education as a first step.  Do not wait! Build a proactive plan as a family.  There are excellent resources at your fingertips just by doing a search with the words “post-trauma stress.”  My website includes archives of over 800 posts, articles and links, books to purchase and download to your ebook reader.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text to order books and other stuff…from Amazon…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

 

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“I Worry About the Kids” A new post-trauma growth project! by Steve Sparks

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Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues,

“I Worry About the Kids!”  is my new creative non-fiction publishing project!  Please click on the highlighted text to review my project proposal, and the personal video clip of a previous talk on behalf of the Chinook WindsCelebration of Honor at the Lincoln City Cultural Center.  Please support this important work and project on behalf of Children and Families in Life After Trauma.  A big shout out and thank you to all my family members, friends, and colleagues who have supported my work over the years.  I’m very grateful for your compassion, sensitivity, and support!

Following is an excerpt from, I Worry About the Kids, Chapter 1, Introduction… 

“Although children are resilient and adapt to their immediate surroundings and their broader environment—good, bad, indifferent, and ugly as it might be—kids inhale the pain of loved ones, especially parents they look to for love, support, and security. Parents don’t always see or even think that toxic behaviors in the home, school, and neighborhood will have long-term implications on the healthy growth of their children. Parents who suffer from severe post trauma stress are fully engaged in their own world of emotional pain, a private agony that can strike at any moment by haunting triggers from the past. Outbursts of anger, panic attacks, and irrational behaviors represent a trauma-affected adult who is expressing grieving emotions from past traumatic events. When these scary events occur in the home, kids become frightened for their safety. Children are often silent and try to stay clear of threatening violent behaviors, but they never forget. They live and cope with whatever happens around them just like adults. I’m often asked why I worry so much about babies and young children when thinking and writing about post-traumatic stress and the toxic circumstances that surround a family when a parent suffers from it. I worry because even unborn babies can be damaged from post-trauma family dynamics. And I worry about the kids because the longer the delay in paying attention to them, the more permanent the damage. Where do I find these children? The terrible answer is I find them in every social strata, every economic level, in every neighborhood, everywhere. Children exhibiting the signs of post-traumatic stress often live in military families that include a parent who served in hard combat but came home fueled by anxiety, depression, and anger. They are children of 1st responders whose work places them in the midst of terrible violence and chaos, and they can’t help but bring some of their despair back home. They are homeless kids sleeping wherever they can lay their head for the night. Sometimes their parents are with them, sometimes not. They are the children of alcoholics and drug users. They are kids living among convicted criminals who need supervision of their own. They are the children of chronically depressed parents. They are undernourished kids living in poverty. They are kids with limited access to education—for whatever reason. They are children who have witnessed a murder, or a gun accident, or pulled the trigger themselves—you read about these stories in the newspapers way too often. They are children who found a parent dead of suicide. Or who was in the room when their mother was raped. They are foster children taken from parents who abused or neglected them, only to end up in another abusive situation. They are kids whose father or mother skipped out one day, never to return. They are children living with their grandparents because their own parents are dysfunctional or violent. They are children at the mercy of adults—stepfathers, pastors, relatives, neighbors—with sexually deviant personalities. Our society is experiencing an epidemic of children suffering from post-traumatic stress right this minute.” 

Can’t we do more?  We must do better!

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

SteveSunriver

Trauma Resiliency…Why Are Some People More Resilient to Trauma Than Others?

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Children suffer the most in a home struggling severely with PTSD!

Trauma Resiliency…  May 21, 2015 • By Sunda Friedman TeBockhorst, PhD, Posttraumatic Stress / Trauma Topic Expert Contributor…quote from this article…

Why is that?

The answer to this appears to be largely the same as the answer to so many other quandaries in the field of psychology: the unique combination of genetic constitution and set of life experiences for any given individual. It’s the old “nature vs. nurture” question, and, as is typically the case, the answer seems to be “yes, both influence outcome significantly.”

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Trauma resiliency is an area of research PTSD survivors can appreciate.  Most of us on the severe side of trauma exposure constantly wonder, with some shame and guilt to boot, why some move forward in life after trauma in pretty good shape in terms of emotional baggage.  I fall into the category of long exposure to traumatic experiences as a child and young adult, including living with an entire family suffering from post-trauma stress, especially my post WWII and Korean War father.  Without a strong dose of nurturing from parents and family members, it is near impossible to recover as a child or young adult.  We head into adult life with a heavy emotional load that must be reconciled eventually.  If not, we live a life of constant pain from the symptoms of post-trauma stress.  You see, parents and siblings suffering from PTSD do not have the capacity to nurture.  A toxic home culture is ruled by fear, isolation, denial, stigma, emotional numbness, and self serving behaviors.  Sound painful?  Yes, it is painful indeed.  Can’t we do more?  We must do better…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, please!

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

“Nightmare of Child Abuse!” Kids need trusted teachers & mentors in school and after-school…

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Dr. Wills Neighborhood Podcast click here…

Thanks to psychotherapist, author, speaker and all-around terrific dude Dr. Will Miller, BeAKidsHero now is available as a podcast!

dr-wills-neighborhood-logo-w-convDr. Will has put together an online community of podcasts as part of his Dr. Will’s Neighborhood, where folks can join “the best conversation in town”… and he’s invited BeAKidsHero to move into ‘the hood’! 😉

An impressive lineup of expert guests will join me in discussing ways to protect children from sexual abuse and other types of maltreatment, as well as a host of issues related to child abuse. Parents, teachers and other caring adults will gain greater insight into child protection and exploitation issues that can impact kids of all ages from infancy through their teenage years.  Expert guests will offer insight, advice and tips that can help each of us make a difference and truly improve the world one child at a time.

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Ginger Kadlec, “BeAKidsHero,” is one of my early collaborative friends in our work on behalf of Children and Families in Life after Trauma.  I’m grateful for her support and caring friendship.  Ginger encouraged me to keep writing in my blog, speaking, and authoring books.  Our best collaboration is “The War Within: PTSD” by Ginger Kadlec, published by Project Eve. My years of heartfelt work with www.neighborsforkids.org and the children we serve has been at the center of my own personal growth and healing as well.

Dr. Will talks about “Refrigerator Rights” with those trusted friends, neighbors and mentors outside of the home as a powerful social interaction benefit to help children who become isolated as a result of child abuse and maltreatment.  I certainly recall the loneliness of my childhood back in the 1950’s when our home was scary.  It was even worse trying to talk about it, so we lied to our teachers, coaches, friends and mentors.  We siblings hung on to hope that our toxic life at home was normal and we were tough.  We had very few close friends as we moved so often as a post WWII and Korean War US Navy military family.

Please listen to the podcast, Dr. Will’s Neighborhood with Ginger Kadlec.  This is honest straight talk for parents, teachers, and mentors.  The conversation touched my heart and soul!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2…click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, please!

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Mitigating PTSD Trauma Informed Care…Children & Families in Life After Trauma…

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Trauma Informed Care…

Dear Kindred Spirits:

As an author, blogger, and child advocate, my great passion in life during my retirement years is to help stop the stigma connected with mental health, especially as it relates to the painful tragedy of children growing up in toxic homes where parents suffer with post traumatic stress. Kids inhale the pain of parents and often suffer in silence while exposed to anger, depression, and anxiety over extended periods of time. Children make adjustments and are resilient, but eventually leave home carrying all the emotional baggage with them. Parents, mentors, and teachers can make a huge difference in mitigating the toxic circumstances and longer term emotional damage to children, by becoming sensitive to how youngsters are affected at very early ages. Family members often take on the same symptoms of post traumatic stress if exposed daily to a life of toxic behaviors from adults.

I write in my most recent book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2, how children can be saved from the emotional damage of growing up in a toxic home. I also write in my blog, 
www.survivethriveptsd.com about the same topic along with a focus on K-12 education. I served on the board of www.neighborsforkids.org, an after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon. I also have had the honor to serve the citizens of Depoe Bay, Oregon as City Councilor.

I advocate for children because my childhood was consumed by the challenges of growing up with parents who suffered severe emotional damage following WWII and Korean War. My awareness of the symptoms of PTSD was very limited for most of my adult life until deciding to confront my own demons when researching and writing my first book Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. We live in in world where generations of wars have torn apart families, leaving them ignorant of the long term damage of PTSD on children who carry forward the emotional pain and symptoms that can linger for a lifetime without treatment. It is never too late to break the cycle of pain and to begin the journey of healing. I waited until age 64, and now live with an high level of awareness, providing a peace of mind never before achieved. But treating the symptoms of PTSD and keeping the pain at a safe distance is a work in progress. For this reason, I continue to push forward making a difference for others by writing and speaking about post trauma stress, including the toxic circumstances and painful outcomes, which can be mitigated with open and honest communications. Stopping the stigma and denial of this painful and life threatening disease is the first step in healing. We now have the awareness and tools to provide “trauma informed care” and delivered at a local level to more quickly recognize mental health symptoms and identify alternative treatment strategies for those who suffer.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions and conversation. You can use my blog, author page, and purchase my books to learn more. My only disclaimer is that my background and experience is that of a trauma survivor who thrives…and not a mental health professional. 

With best wishes for your good health and happiness…

Steve Sparks

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

 

“Higher risk PTSD gay, lesbian, bisexual, ‘mostly heterosexual’ youth” HARVARDgazette

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Dream, Hope, Love…

Higher Risk of PTSD for LGBT Community, especially younger kids and adults…  News from Harvard schools, offices, and affiliates

“We looked at a group of people who are at the cusp of adulthood and found much higher levels of PTSD in sexual orientation minorities compared with heterosexuals. We found that differences in PTSD by sexual orientation already exist by age 22. This is a critical point at which young adults are trying to finish college, establish careers, get jobs, maintain relationships, and establish a family,” said lead author Andrea Roberts, research associate in HSPH’sDepartment of Society, Human Development, and Health. Previous studies by Roberts and her colleagues identified more PTSD symptoms in a group of sexual minorities aged 40-60. Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, “mostly heterosexuals,” and heterosexuals who have ever had a same-sex sex partner were found to be one-and-a-half to two times as likely to experience violent events, especially in childhood, than the general population and have double the risk of experiencing PTSD as a consequence. (See 2010 HSPH press release.)

The research appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

“Traumatic events like active combat, child maltreatment, interpersonal violence, or unexpected death of a loved one can lead to PTSD, a mental illness which is characterized by distressing memories of the traumatic event, avoidance of objects, places, or people associated with the event, emotional numbing and an increased sense of vigilance. PTSD in turn can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and difficulties with relationships and employment if it goes untreated. The lifetime risk of PTSD in the general population is about 4% for men and 10% for women. Among sexual minority adults, the risk of PTSD is doubled – over 9% for men and 20% for women.”

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I have great empathy and compassion for the often emotional challenges connected with the gay community.  One of my closest life-long dear friends is a gay man, who survived the tragic early circumstances of HIV in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  My friend, Jon, has lived through more painful and tragic trauma for decades than most.  The worst part of his traumatic experience is to watch the slow and painful death of so many loved ones in his life.  I have been through most of this with him as a loving and devoted battle buddy at work and as close friends.  When there are tough times, I listen mostly with a loving and caring heart.  In good times there is so much joy and fun times with Jon, who also worked with me as an outstanding colleague during my career.  He has a heart as large as the moon, a work ethic that sets an example for the best of us,  Jon models the best in all of us along with unmatched resilience to overcome the worst of emotional challenges.  I love Jon as my brother, best friend, and colleague who has always been there for me and my family as we journey through life together.

I will address the LGBT community post-trauma stress topic in a most healing and loving way in my new workbook project, “I Worry About the Kids” to be published during the summer of 2016.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click on the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, etc.

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Positive Thinking? – Try This to Curb Teen Anxiety

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Forget Positive Thinking – Try This to Curb Teen Anxiety  Psych Center with Renee Jain MAPP

Going from Distorted Thinking to Accurate Thinking

Once teens understand why they fall into thought holes and that several common ones exist, they are ready to start filling them in by trying a method we developed in the GoZen! anxiety relief program called the 3Cs:

  • Check for common thought holes
  • Collect evidence to paint an accurate picture
  • Challenge the original thoughts

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The research underway for my new workbook project for parents, teachers, and mentors, requires activities and exercises at the end of each chapter. “I Worry About the Kids” will offer the reader and workshop attendees to think about their own circumstances and needs at home or school, and develop a plan of action.  I like this idea of looking at “distorted thinking” and actively translating to “accurate thinking.”  My goal is to find examples of actions and exercises that will help parents and teachers help kids deal with anxiety and depression in constructive and well received ways that make sense to children.  Lecturing platitudes and making judgements that create negative energy and knock kids down, never worked from my experience as a child and as a parent.  Take a look at this “accurate thinking” idea and tell me what you think.  Other ideas are most welcome as we build the workbook product.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page and order books…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate