I should be calling REFLECTIONS it’s honest-to-goodness real name – CONFESSIONS.
My confession is that I was scared stiff if during our radio show we can talk about mental illness, and Post Traumatic Stress Disease (PTSD), in an open and honest discussion. People generally don’t seem comfortable talking about depression, anxiety, problems of stress which often lead to alcohol and illegal substance abuse that too frequently can result in suicides.
It’s a subject that in polite conversation is rarely brought up, similar to strangers or friends talking about sports, movies, politics or even illness such as cancer, heart problems or obesity. I readily can remember when I was a very young boy, maybe six or seven years old, if there was a divorce or suicide in our family, or among our neighbors and friends, my beloved grandmother would place her fingers over her lips, and whisper in my ear; “Shush, it’s a shame. We don’t talk about it.”
Things have changed over the years. Divorce is certainly much more openly accepted in society. If I meet a young lady I might out of curiosity, simply ask, “Are you married?” Her answer, which is not met with total surprise, usually is; “No longer. I am divorced and have two lovely children.” No outward shame, or signs of failure, but acceptance of what happened. Coping with a bad situation that didn’t turn out as expected when two lovers decided on marriage has helped her find mental peace. I, along with society in general, recognize that divorce is a tough and disappointing decision to make, but we can openly talk about it without becoming depressed in remorse and constant guilt.
Yet, mental illness, such as PTSD, is usually kept quiet. Hush-hush, especially when it tragically ends in suicide…the desperate ending of a human life that was effected by not being able to cope with one, or more tragic events.
Trauma is experiencing emotional shock with lasting psychic effects.
I am not talking about an occasional happenstance. The figures are dramatic as well as disturbing. It can result from a bodily injury, an auto crash, losing a loved one, a flood or a tornado destroying your possessions, unemployment, divorce or separation, a gunshot wound, being homeless, sexual abuse and too often having to be involved in defending your country in war.
Annually there are an average of 41,149 deaths by suicide in the U.S. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. There is one death by suicide in the U.S. every 13 minutes. Among veterans there are 22 suicides daily. As a nation we should be ashamed to allow this to happen to our courageous troops and veterans
Please remember that the numbers represent human beings just like you and me. They are individuals. Either alone in this world, or members of families and friends. They are men and women, young and old, of every skin color and nationality who represent every faith, or none at all. Each deserves our respect and understanding that they couldn’t cope with untreated mental illness.
My guest on this show proved to me and the world that there are people and organizations working diligently to improve, reduce and perhaps not only eliminate the stigma of mental illness, but to eventually develop a permanent cure for mental illness and PTSD.
Retired Captain James W. Mehrmann, known to his colleagues and friends alike by his call sign “Pappy is now the Director of Outreach for the PTSD Foundation of America. During his nearly 30 years of U.S. Navy service “Pappy” has earned certifications as a Naval Aviator, Surface War Officer and Special Intelligence. He completed combat tours in Vietnam and support missions in Lebanon, Libya and the Gulf of Sidra operations including Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He has earned two Purple Hearts and has suffered PTSD. His accomplishments are much too numerous to list here as I would run out of paper and words of thankful praise.
His work in fulfilling the mission of the PTSD Foundation is a tireless and continuous effort of informing the public, the PTSD impaired can be treated. Early treatments are important and may help reduce long term symptoms. Unfortunately many people do not know they have PTSD or do not seek treatment.
Our discussion about this psychiatric disorder could have gone on for many more hours as Captain Jim “Pappy” Mehrmann is a most articulate, knowledgeable and a personal survivor of PTSD. He certainly mesmerized me as well as our global audience. By the time I got home from the radio station there was a message from a listener in Oklahoma that stated; “Congratulations on a powerful show.”
I will end by confessing if you missed the Wednesday, October 21st show you can hear the replay by Googling:www.soundcloud.com/mjwj. When the MJWJ masthead appears on your screen, please scroll down to; Oct.21, 2015- “TELL YOUR STORY with host Earl Littman. Hit the red start button and you’re on the air with Poppa Earl and “Pappy” Jim. We will see you on the radio!