Book Review of ‘The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma’

My book review of The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is now posted on Amazon.com. It seems fitting to publish it during PTSD Awareness Month, now with the perspective of someone with first-hand experience in dealing with this problem in a loved one. In my free time, I’ve spent the past few months educating myself and exploring every valid treatment option.

While some of the case studies Dr. van der Kolk includes in the book are difficult to read (horrible child abuse in every possible form), they also prove that with the right approach, even the worst experiences can be overcome. He also offers an understandable description/distinction between traumatic memory and normal memory — helpful in recognizing why it’s not possible for people with PTSD to simply “get over it” without the proper treatment (which usually means a combination of therapies).

In their justifiable reaction to helicopter parenting, coddling, and the “everybody wins a trophy” nonsense, I find that some (not all) conservatives seem to dismiss the real problem of PTSD caused by early childhood trauma and the fact that actual child abuse does exist. Now I cringe when I see memes about how being beaten with a belt as a child helped someone grow into a responsible adult.

When I reunited with my guy after two decades, I had no idea that his background included horrific abuse from both parents (physical beatings, emotional torture, and ZERO affection), compounded by subsequent combat experience in the Navy. I met him right after his service in 1992 and after reading this book, I understand why those memories were suppressed 26 years ago.

After multiple emotional conversations with him, I find myself thanking God even more for my upbringing in a loving, stable home. At first, I even felt a twinge of guilt for being blessed with two good parents and four siblings. Home was a haven for me — not a place I feared to return to after school. But his entire childhood and adolescence was rooted in fear.

Sure, my parents disciplined and raised my brothers, sister, and me to be responsible, productive people. But it didn’t involve prolonged beatings with objects like bats and belts. That’s something I wish more conservatives and people in general would acknowledge.

Read my Amazon review here.

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Thank you Don Prince and The 11th Hour Trauma Retreat

In early 2016, I agreed to ghostwrite a book for a retired fire lieutenant, which became a Writestream Publishing LLC release on May 31, 2016. Entitled, To Guard My Every Neighbor: Inside the Fire by Lieutenant Keith Schneider, part of the book’s purpose was to call attention to the problem of PTSD in first responders. Working closely with Keith and gaining a full understanding of the life of a firefighter (along with police, paramedics and 911 call center employees) opened my eyes. Although I knew about PTSD in military veterans, I had no idea that those who serve their local communities in uniform also suffered from it.

Through my efforts to promote the book, I made a contact with a man named Don Prince, via the HOW Foundation of South Florida, with whom one of my best friends, Theresa Bonnie, had a close contact: Executive Director Sarah Crane. Sarah connected me with Don, whose information I passed along to Keith as a resource and possible partner in book promotion.

As much as I love what I do, which offers me the convenience of working from home, at times it feels as if I’m in a vacuum — social media, Skype and other methods of communication aside. I know I am on purpose and never doubt that I’m on the right path, but it’s always nice to receive what we call in Tasha Chen’s community, “evidence.”

Yesterday, I received the best possible evidence when Don Prince contacted me “out of the blue” with this welcome message:

I wanted to share with you that because of your introduction to Keith he referred my name and number to a firefighter who was struggling and needed help up in his area. We were able to get him into a trauma retreat a few weeks ago and he had an amazing transformation and experience in those five days… You never know how you are able to someone just by a simple introduction.

I replied:

Don, thank you for letting me know! I believe seemingly small gestures can lead to amazing outcomes, and this is another wonderful example of that. I am so happy for the firefighter and grateful to you for your dedication in assisting him and others who need it!

To which he responded with an answer that made my day:

It is an amazing feeling… to be honest because of all this you probably saved his life in the big picture. I don’t think he was going to hold on much longer.

We never know what a seemingly small action can lead to. In this case, I followed a lead with the intention to promote a book and raise awareness about a critical issue for first responders…and received the best possible feedback on my work.

The man in question who needed help is now creating magnificent photos like this one to help with his healing.

Here’s a bit about Don Prince from his bio on the 11th Hour Retreat website:

Don is a person in long term recovery from many years of an alcohol addiction. He is an International Master of Addiction Coaching (IMAC) and a Nationally Certified Advanced Clinical Intervention Professional (NCACIP). He is the father of two amazing children, a husband and has an unparalleled passion for helping others to achieve their dreams and goals in order to excel in life and prosper.

He has been instrumental in opening a select few recovery related businesses and organizations, most recently co-founding the 11th Hour Retreat, in addition to co-founding a first responder specific addiction treatment facility that was exclusive to public safety professionals, opened a hair salon in Delray Beach, Florida which hired stylists in recovery and gave them a new start in a safe working environment and started a recovery coaching and intervention practice that has grown to reach those in need from coast to coast.

And the mission of The 11th Hour Trauma Retreat:

The 11th Hour Trauma Retreat is an intensive PTSD/Trauma resolution therapy program specifically designed to help first responders, veterans and their families who have been affected by trauma.

The 11th Hour program was developed to jumpstart the healing process so that those suffering from trauma can reclaim their lives, continue in their careers, and most importantly, reconnect with families and loved ones without feeling isolation or shame. Feel free to browse around the site and explore the therapy services that the 11th hour offers.

For more information, visit their website: www.11thHourRetreat.org. Contact them here.

Thank you, first to Keith, for his courage in sharing his own personal journey via his book, To Guard My Every Neighbor: Inside the Fire, and to Don, for all of his work on behalf of first responders, veterans and their families dealing with the effects of PTSD. I’m also grateful to Don for letting me know about this man’s successful treatment. I don’t know who he is, and most likely never will, but I’m grateful he is now on the path to recovery and that one simple gesture led to an “amazing transformation.” It’s the best evidence of all.

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A Review of ‘The Keeper’ by R.L. Mosz

About a month ago, R.L. Mosz requested a review of her enchanting novel, The Keeper, which I completed in one sitting. An endearing twist on the “rich guy falls for poor girl” plot, The Keeper features a young heroine Caitlin Roseberry, whom we quickly discover has had to deal with two tragic, life-altering events at the tender age of 21 — the death of her father, her only parent, and the subsequent stroke brought on by the emotional trauma she experiences in the wake of his passing. The story picks up three years later with Caitlin dutifully showing up for a follow-up visit with her kindly older doctor Harlan Melrose only to discover that a family emergency has necessitated the substitute services of the smug, arrogant and much-younger Dr. Christopher William Seacrest.

At the age of 31, Dr. Seacrest has established himself as the Chief of Staff at the town’s renowned medical center and as an in-demand and highly acclaimed neurosurgeon. Despite his professional accomplishments, however, he remains unlucky in love — save for an occasional date with the socially acceptable, high-society diva Buffy, a woman for whom he feels a certain amount of affection though definitely not the kind that compels a man to propose a lifetime commitment or marriage.

TheKeeperThe prevailing wisdom in the medical center social circles contends that Dr. Seacrest is simply just too ego-centric and consumed with his work to truly love another yet as readers soon discover, there is much more to this handsome young man than meets the eye — including a haunting secret from his past. As a hard-working waitress at an organic restaurant and an “earth-worker”, recovering stroke victim Caitlin shares the same preconceived notions about Chris Seacrest. That is – until he invites her to attend a medical seminar. This first dates leads to an unexpected romance that takes them both by surprise though from the beginning the good doctor acknowledges an inexplicable attraction to the younger woman. Still, overcoming their own self-imposed insecurities to create a strong, unbreakable relationship will not be an easy task. Whether rich or poor, The Keeper reminds us that all human beings have their own unique challenges to face while living here on earth.

Rife with traditional values, The Keeper celebrates the spirit and determination of the individual, the transcendent nature of love, the beauty of the great outdoors, the perils and joys of friendship, and the importance of faith as its characters struggle to overcome their emotional and physical traumas, put the past to rest, resist family and peer pressure, and move on to a promising future. I would have liked to have seen a bit more thoroughness on the author’s part in presenting some of the plot points, including Chris’ childhood trauma and Chris and Caitlin’s long-awaited reunion after a major event temporarily derails their romance. Overall though, for those with a romantic soul and unwavering belief in the power of true love and the endurance of traditional morality, The Keeper is a satisfying and engaging read.

To purchase your copy, click here.

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