What do you do when you find out you have Terrorism Induced Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder? You face it.
You ask yourself tough questions. You decide on letting
loose your grip on the coffins you carry around.
Saturday, February 28,
2004—Ground Zero Plus 899
Terrorism Induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Feb 28, 2004 -- I've been crying a lot
lately. It's therapeutic "they" say. Tears wash the soul
clean--eventually. I think mine is caked with more than I
might have tears for.
It is time for
me to let the sun shine on my 'caked' soul
I cry because
"they" say it's time to cry, time to grieve. It's
time to let the sun shine on my soul.
went to the VA hospital and applied to the Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder clinic. I was told that the trauma from the World
Trade Center, plus my daily battles with the Beast of Terror on the VigilanceVoice website, might have something to do with my life being
I fought the
advice. I am an egotist. I like to think I stand
above the pain and suffering of others, and that I can take the
pain--kind of like Jesus does in the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion.
I tend to forget what an old mentor of mine used to say to me
regarding my stubborn egotism: "Get off the Cross Cliff, we need
was the only newsman killed on Nine Eleven
My friend, Emily Biggart, urged me to go to therapy with her. Her brother,
Bill Biggart, was the only newsman killed that day. He was a war
photographer who had traveled the world in the most dangerous of
places and survived. Then, on Nine Eleven, he rushes out
of his home with his camera to never return. Emily and I
were having coffee that morning, just before I went to Ground Zero.
called me crazy and stupid for risking my life and I did my best to
comfort her after she found out her brother was dead, crushed as he
took final pictures of the bravery of firemen.
Emily's relieved now that I've surrendered to therapy.
I've become a surrogate brother in some ways. And Emily
can talk to me about feelings she has that few can relate to because I
was there that day in the midst of it all, inhaling the horror and
forgetting to exhale it.
My family is happy too. Everyone knows there's been
something wrong with me. I have the black "grim reaper stare,"
they say, a kind of glassy look as though I am focusing on the Dead
Zone. I try and laugh it off, and we joke about it, but it
is hypnotic. I keep looking for the Sentinels of
Vigilance rising up from Ground Zero.
The other night I awoke screaming and yelling again. My
wife told me I was angry that people weren't taking cover.
I couldn't remember the dream. There were faint images of people
standing stupidly while some evil force was trying to attack them.
I couldn't get them to take cover, to get into the foxholes.
I met with three doctors at the VA. They put me through a
rigorous evaluation process. The VA has limited
funds and staff as cutbacks are being sought to balance the budget and
the Manhattan VA hospital is being threatened with closure.
surrendered to therapy
I was interviewed by three doctors, a physician, a psychiatrist and a
psychotherapist. Then I was given a long written
exam, and the results of the test and interviews were submitted to
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder team for evaluation.
I was accepted into the PTSD program.
For survivors of violent holocausts who tend to stuff their pain and
suffering at the expense of their emotional well being, nothing is
more relaxing to the soul than to surrender to help.
When I heard I had been accepted, I let out a deep breath, one I may
have been holding for more than 800 days since the attack.
holding my breath for more than 800 days since the Nine Eleven
I call my version of PTSD, Terrorism Induced Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (TI-PTSD). It seems appropriate.
Part of the reason is that I have filed a claim to my disability
insurance company. For three decades I have paid premiums on a
private disability policy that I have used twice, once when I had
colon cancer, and when after coming to New York City after my wife's
bout with breast cancer, I fell into a deep depression, unable to find
work and adjust to madness of the city.
Then came September 11.
I am waging
war on the Beast of Terror
I was shell shocked back to life. I took the attack on the
World Trade Center personally. I took on the deaths of the
3,000 victims as "my people" for whom I was waging vengeance upon the
Beast of Terror. I was a survivor, and wanted all
those who died that day to survive too. I kept them alive,
in the form of Sentinels, surrounding Ground Zero, armed with a Sword
of Vigilance and Shield of Vigilance. Their job, to protect my
children and grandchildren from future harm.
Inside, I boiled with rage and anger against all who embrace
Terrorism. I included all forms, Emotional as well as Physical,
Domestic as well as Foreign.
The Beast of Terror was everywhere, is everywhere, hiding in the
shadows of human frailty, human weakness, doing pushups, waiting to
leap out of the dark and attack when least expected.
boiled with rage and anger
I feel relieved that I have been diagnosed with TI-PTSD.
It accounts for a lot of my behavior I didn't understand, and am
trying to grapple with. Like, making money.
I have been fighting the Beast so long I let all my efforts go to
slaying the dragon not putting groceries on the table.
The first order of business for my therapy, the VA said, is to
stabilize my economics. I cannot fight the Beast if
I am starving.
So, I'm working on that part of my recovery.
The other is my obsession to "save the world" from the "grips of
Terrorism." I have been asked to consider a
practical plan, one that includes my anti-Terrorism work in addition
to more mundane work that puts bread on the table and pays the rent
and lights. Balance, was the word used.
I understand what is being said to me. I know it
will take some time to sink in and apply.
Part of me
thinks I am the Creator of the Sentinels of Vigilance
Part of me doesn't want to let loose of my "fatherhood" over the
Sentinels of Vigilance. Part of me thinks I am their
Creator, the guy who brought them to life out of the ashes and has
feed and clothed them with the tools of Vigilance over the past
900 days since the attack.
I have to wrestle with that if I am to get better.
I have to remember that TI-PTSD is unique. It is all about
me looking at death not as being responsible for it.
Somehow, I have transferred the guilt and shame of the innocent who
died onto my shoulders, and I have carried around their coffins with
Somehow, I need to bury them, respectfully.
I am working on it.
It's hard to bury your children.
Feb 27--A Moment
Of Silence For Six World Trade Center Victims