Living with PTSD One Day at a Time – a book review

If combat or abuse of any kind, mental or physical, has traumatized you, I’m suggesting you read this memoir, even if it is the only one you real in your life. If you hate to read, then listen to the audiobook. Geeze, no excuses! You may also want to read this memoir if you know someone with PTSD. Then, you may understand what life is like for them.

At first, I was going to title this review Traumatized in Nairobi. After I was halfway through Meyli Chapin’s memoir Terrorist Attack Girl, I have done little but think of what I’d write in this review. I woke up thinking about it. I thought about her story while exercising. And I think about it before I sleep and when I’m sleeping. The only time I didn’t think about it was when I was reading.

While reading her memoir, I virtually joined Meyli in her hotel room in Nairobi. Apparently, I wasn’t there, but my mind didn’t know that.

Her terror and fear became my terror and fear. When she talked about not wanting her little brother to know what was happening to her, that terrorists might murder her, I cried and laughed. When the two guys that probably were Navy Seals knocked on her door 17 hours into the attack on that hotel, I laughed again.

Meyli divided her story between brief scenes in the hotel room (regular print) and scenes taking place after the attack (ATA): in the US Consulate in Kenya and back in the states (italicized print). I think this was a stroke of genius, sharing the trauma of that terrorist attack and what happened to her later when she thought the nightmare was over, often on the same page. And every ATA scene mirrors what I’ve experienced with fucking PTSD in the last 55 years, helping me make sense of what happened to me back then.

To survive ATA, Meyli is learning, as I did, how to manage her PTSD so it doesn’t eat her, and I suspect she may learn to live one day at a time, too, if she hasn’t already.

Terrorist Attack Girl

Meyli, back in the 1970s after I graduated college with a BA in journalism, I was still drinking heavily. One afternoon, I sat on the floor in my living room with the barrel of a loaded sniper rifle in my mouth, ready to pull the trigger to end it all. I did not know what fucking PTSD was and what was happening to me. It was a desperate attempt to get rid of that never ending nightmare.

I snipped off the safety getting ready to fire and looked out the screen door one last time to see a teenager wearing headsets dancing as he moved down the sidewalk. That image stopped me from squeezing the trigger.

I thought, Dear God, if I do this, I might miss that kind of happy moment. So, instead, I learned to live one day at a time and bless each day as I turned off the lights, only to thank God when I woke up to a new dawn to live another one. Thanks to that dancing teen on that sidewalk, I have experienced many great days with laughter in them. The drinking didn’t help. In fact, the booze made the fucking PTSD worse, so I stopped in 1982, and became a vegan. Also, I now belong to two PTSD support groups that Meetup each week, through the VA.

As a former US Marine and combat veteran living with fucking PTSD since 1966, I could easily have written a book about Chapin’s memoir, but I did not want to turn this review into a story about me. The fucking PTSD still lurks waiting to pounce if triggered, along with the loaded pump shotgun I keep by my bed. Without that weapon, I touch each night before I turn out the lights. I couldn’t sleep. As it is, I think this review may be too long.

Meyli’s memoir taught me that the fucking PTSD I’ve lived with for so long isn’t my fault. That revelation lifted a heavy burden weighted by guilt off my mind. Somehow, I feel lighter, almost floating through each day.

But I’m still living one day at a time. Thank you for sharing that slice of your life with the world, Meyli.

NOTE: Amazon rejected this review the first time I submitted it, because I used the word fucking one time as an adjective describing what that acronym means to me. Once I removed that word, Amazon accepted the review without any other changes.

As you may have noticed, here on my Blog, I added more than one fucking PTSD to this review to make up for that example of legal corporate censorship by an app programed to reject the use of certain words.

4 thoughts on “Living with PTSD One Day at a Time – a book review

  1. Loud and clear. Thanks for sharing. It is unimaginable – and they made it worse, every ‘they’ there is, from the military to medical professionals to society. I’m glad you made it.

    I keep asking myself: what did they expect would be the aftermath?

    • What did “THEY” expect would be the aftermath?

      “THEY” expected profits, wealth, power, influence yachts, mansions, private jets.. We who were sent to fight useless wars (Vietnam and Ira1 for sure) were just expendable, replicable cogs in THEIR money making assembly line, collateral damage in the ruthless world of never ending short-term goals that’s cutthroat capitalism, but it was our throats that were cut, not THEIRs. While we were dying or being damaged, THEY were snorting coke on their yachts with young bikini clad expendable sex toys for company.

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