In defence of Adam and PTSD

Not the biblical Adam, the Adam in Arafura.

No one likes everyone, I know that. Not everyone will like my book, or me, or my opinions. Peoples ‘sparkly bits’ don’t always match. We all view people and events around us through our own personalities and experiences, etc etc.  But I’m surprised at the animosity Adam (the antagonist in Arafura) has incited amongst some female readers. Amongst the negative comments, he’s been accused of being violent, a liar, a manipulator, and Heaven forbid …. a tosser. Harsh!

Grow a thicker skin, you say. Yes, and no.

The poor dude has post traumatic stress disorder. In defence of military personnel around the world (not to mention civilians) with post traumatic stress from trauma and abuse in war zones, it sucks. These people aren’t always easy to live with. Symptoms of PTSD vary widely depending on the individual and the trauma. Common symptoms are:

  • anxiety
  • over/under reacting to some things
  • panic attacks
  • hyper vigilance
  • shame from failure to save lives
  • shame in admitting you’re not ‘a warrior’ and have PTS
  • restlessness
  • fighting the enemy in nightmares
  • feeling numb

Post traumatic stress disorder is a real injury, like a real bullet wound, only psychological. But it can be a potentially terminal injury. Living with someone who has PTSD is not easy. The label is not the whole person, and it requires education on the part of those who care about the sufferers. In most cases, the chances of a full recovery are good with professional help.

Yes, in a way Adam is ‘damaged goods’, at least for now. He doesn’t think he’s worthy of love and belonging. Adam a liar and manipulator? You’ve lost me. But there you go, we are all different.

I certainly don’t expect readers to think, “What a great guy. He’s got his shit together.” I don’t expect all female readers to join the, ‘I would run away with Adam in a heartbeat’ camp. You don’t have to want him to be the father of your children, but I think he at least, like other PTSD sufferers, deserves our empathy and understanding. Stress after a traumatic event can hit anyone.

Sally Sara is responsible for an enlightening, 2 part documentary about PTS and a combat doctor, which begins at this link –

http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2013/s3860093.htm

In Arafura, Adam takes a risk and admits his vulnerability to Kat. Why is Kat attracted to Adam? Besides physical reasons which will come to light in the sequel, he offers the closeness, the emotional intimacy she seeks. In turn, she makes herself vulnerable by liking him. Her sensible side tries not to!

Brene Brown  gives a very popular Tedtalk on vulnerability, emotional intimacy and the courage to be imperfect. She discusses how shame can sabotage our desire for closeness. After much research, Brene believes the way to live wholeheartedly is with vulnerability, that it can be the birthplace of joy, love, and belonging. She also discusses why we might be willing to invest in relationships that may or may not work out. Listening to Brene speak was inspiring and in a way, therapeutic. It helped crystallise certain themes in Arafura for me.

Making yourself vulnerable can leave you, well, vulnerable. I admire her courage because that’s what it takes. There I go, back to social courage.

To seek help in Australia: The Veterans and Veterans’ Family Counselling Service – ph: 1800 011 046

Mental Health in the Australian Defence Force 
“Of the two million Americans deployed overseas, one in four bear the psychological scars of service in Afghanistan and Iraq.” David Finkel, author of “Thank You For Your Service” talks to ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly.

Marc Dauphin’s soon to be published book “Combat Doctor” will be available in November.

Brené Brown: How Vulnerability Holds The Key To Emotional Intimacy.

And shame sabotages our desire for closeness. http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy

Back to Adam – how does the saying go, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison?’ I was going to substitute ‘woman’ for ‘man’ but it was getting rude!

Any thoughts?

This entry was posted in Arafura, mental health, post traumatic stress, PTSD, social courage, war and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to In defence of Adam and PTSD

  1. Lee-Anne says:

    If you say you have a red car, you do! Complexities and flaws make literary (and real-life) characters far more interesting,appealing to the reader (and the protagonist) 🙂

    • Thanks Lee-Anne, they just weren’t the flaws I intended! I guess I know more backstory than readers so should just get cracking with sequel and stop over-analysing, right? 🙂

  2. Susan Forbes says:

    My Aunty’s ‘love of her life’ fought in the Vietnam war. Bruce was a loving, attentive boyfriend before he went away and they expected to marry when he returned. When he did return (and he was one of the ‘lucky’ ones who did), he was only a shell of his former self. PTSD had engulfed him and just like Adam in your book, his actions were bizzare and inexplicable at times but somewhere in there was still the wonderful man who went to war. My Aunty was still totally attracted to him and tried to help him but unfortunately, Bruce could not cope with a relationship (he still obviously loved my Aunty) but could not deal with everything that went with it……….. so it ended. So sad. In short……… I totally get Adam and cannot wait for the sequel! x

    • Your poor aunt and uncle. A lot (too much) is asked of people to fight in wars, and debriefing techniques only began after controversy after the Vietnam war. Thank goodness for the RSL at least. Poor Vietnam vets had a divisive public and Agent Orange to deal with as well. Thanks for your support, as usual! 🙂

  3. Bupe Rose says:

    I’m a huge fan of Brene Brown. I’ve listened to her talk on vulnerability several times. It hits home at so many levels. I’ve been challenged to be more vulnerable and to not be afraid of shame.

    • I came across Brene by accident and like you, her talk hit home on so many levels. It even helped me realise why one of my characters did what she did! Like your posts Bupe Rose. 🙂

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