Friend and fellow author and blogger Cedar Sanderson has compiled an outstanding anthology of stories about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its effects on people. They’re in the form of fiction, but very much based on fact. You’ll know some of the authors, particularly Lawdog and Old NFO (J. L. Curtis), whom you’ve seen mentioned in these pages on several occasions. (We live very near to each other, and see each other several times a week.)
The anthology is titled “Can’t Go Home Again“. It’s already reached #1 New Release in its category on Amazon.com.
The blurb reads:
Men and women who lay their life on the line never escape unscathed, and when the time comes to return home, they find a wall between them, and loved ones. These tales follow those who gather the hope to begin healing, and tearing down the walls that have sprung up between them, and their loved ones. No one ever said it would be easy…
As a combat veteran, allow me to assure you that it was a very uncomfortable experience to read some of the stories in the anthology – but a valuable one. I’ve had my share of post-combat stress, as I’m sure many of my readers can also say. This is a powerful book, and a great tool to help us air out some of those old compartments in our minds that we’ve long since locked and thrown away the key.
My wife has an interesting perspective on the anthology. I’ll quote from her blog review:
Look, I’m still not comfortable applying the PTS label to myself. But the first step to understanding even better what makes Calmer Half tick, much less most of the men and no few of the women in my life, was also the extremely uncomfortable first step to realizing why I do certain things. Or don’t do certain things. Or have so much avoidance of doing certain things that it was plain as day to the people around me, and they figured I was perfectly well aware and just didn’t want to talk about it.
I’m working on it.
It’s led to more than a few raw, but cathartic conversations, as friends have taken my own struggle to bare their own emotional wounds in turn. This adult version of “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine” sucks, you know? But better than not talking about it, and far better than suffering alone and in the silence behind the facade of everything’s under control.
And given the number of friends who are authors, when we bare our wounds to each other, and finally let it out, we bleed fiction. Stories are, after all, a way of talking about pieces of the truths you can’t say out loud with the actual names and dates, re-arranged for places that never were and people who are creations of a mind trying to process far more than our surface consciousness is aware of.
. . .
After we both read Arsenal of Hope, Cedar Sanderson and I had long conversations about PTS from sources other than combat, which while it doesn’t manifest in exactly the same way, it certainly rhymes. And so, too, does the process of healing. Including the suck of dealing with the demons in your head, that you can’t cut off or leave behind like twelve inches of hair or the exes in another state.
And somewhere along the way, one or the other of us groused about the lack of honest representation in fiction of what PTSD’s actually like… and of fiction that showed moving forward, and getting better.
I was invited to contribute to this anthology, but couldn’t come up with a suitably “happy ending” story for it. My experiences tended to be on the rather less happy end of the spectrum, as were those of too many of my comrades in arms (for example, Gavin).
Nevertheless, I’m very grateful to Cedar for having nurtured this anthology to publication. I think it’s an important book, one that will not only entertain, but also help many people. Highly recommended.