PTSD Doesn’t Discriminate: Anyone Can Develop It

I’ve gotten some smart ass clap backs from people assuming that a middle class person of means cannot and should not develop or have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) so I felt the need to set the record straight. Fifty percent of people in the USA will experience first hand trauma, with women more likely to develop PTSD than men. Combat veterans are notorious sufferers of this condition and many mistakenly assume that this is the only sector of the population that can claim to have it. Anyone can develop PTSD, and 8% of the USA population will experience it. (PTSD stats taken from Google searches.)

From the National Institutes of Health:

Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term (acute) PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.

Although I have not been diagnosed with PTSD, there have been many traumatic events in my life that have created trigger points for my anxiety and stress. Certain news, good and bad, result in bouts of depression or panic attacks. I cannot get a call in the middle of the night without wondering if someone has been arrested, is dead or dying. When people yell at me I burst into tears; I assume an admonishment dug deep into my emotional core and decided to take residence there. The one that has taken me a time to get over is waiting for a late menstrual cycle. Due to the miscarriage and subsequent failed attempts at conceiving, staring into a pregnancy test is terrifying especially now that I don’t want children. Having sex is tough cause I do not want to have to go through that harrowing experience ever again.

Because I wouldn’t wish any of my traumas on my worst enemies, certain words, phrases or expectations send me down a path of anxiety, despair and quick emotional distress. I started avoiding weddings, baby showers and any celebration of love because I couldn’t handle the inquest about children. For all I know I can’t have them and I will never be a part of the parenting community. When my friends with kids don’t invite me to things I automatically assume it is because of our status. RSVPing no to our events, usually comes with an excuse about how their kids hinder their participation. The NO fatigue got to us so hard that we stopped planning parties all together. We are a family, just the two of us, and not meeting others’ expectations of marriage has given us enough trauma to last a few lifetimes. 

The next time someone says they have PTSD, even if it sounds ridiculous to you, be kind and don’t refute the person. Unless you have a clinical understanding of the disorder and a record of the person’s experiences and state of mind, abstain from passing judgement. People that appear happy and successful didn’t necessarily go through charmed childhoods or perfect experiences. Their problems are real, regardless of your opinion, and the pressures of life can create situations that were not safe and extremely traumatic for them. Fears are difficult to conquer and reacting subconsciously to triggers is a reality for many people, which cannot just be controlled or ignored.

Hugs!

Sunlan Star Wars Lego Exhibit – Portland, June 1 to Sept 1

We went to North Portland for brunch at Miss Delta’s (which was closed for a staff event) and we ended up at Radar. While we waited, we walked around the corner and found this gem at Sunlan:

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Made as a tribute to Ira James Newell, the friend that helped him build all the Lego Star Wars sets featured on the shop’s windows, Dennis had this collection set up for the enjoyment of the public. My 13 year old nephew wanted to see an AT-AT Lego walker and when we saw it he was overjoyed!

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Please swing by, enjoy this display, and sponsor the store. 🙂 Star Wars geeks must spread the word!

Day Trip To Cannon Beach (From Seattle)

My family has a strong connection with The Goonies: My cousin went into labor while watching the movie back in 2004. As 80s children, we all grew up wanting to visit the site of Pirate Willy’s treasure ship. Since my nephew, the baby born to said cousin, was in town we decided to go to Cannon Beach and explore the sights. Since it was the weekend after the 4th of July we decided to stay in Portland instead because the hotels at the beachfront were all full or didn’t have accommodations that would fit our needs.

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To make the trip more exciting we decided to take the US 101 to run the coastline down to Oregon. Turns out that half of the route is pretty much trees and mountains, with an unfinished nuclear power plant in between, so we were bored out of our minds. Having spent an extra 1.5 hours stuck in traffic due to police activity prior to taking the PCH/101 at Olympia didn’t help either. To make matters more interesting, we couldn’t find the rest top. (We think it was probably a U-turn away.) What did we do? We stopped at a Dairy Queen Brazier, in Raymond, and got some ice cream too. (Note to self a Frappé has COFFEE.)

Shortly after the DQ stop we saw the first shoreline in our journey. The place was very quaint and looked like a fisherman’s town. If we hadn’t had lunch, this spot would have been perfect for a “fish and chips with a view” opportunity. If you can’t enjoy the PCH from further north, the view at this spot made the boring part of the trip worth it. It didn’t last long and we went back to evergreens and asphalt pretty fast! About 20-25 mins later we hit water again at the Washington/Oregon line which has a viewpoint dedicated to Lewis and Clark. The open water was littered with cargo ships anchored in place with minimal activity. We weren’t expecting such a slow evening since at 6pm, the PNW has a few more hours of sunshine left.

 

Luckily, Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach were across the bay. We got to the notorious Goonies town and drove by fast since the house used for the movie doesn’t allow tours or visitors. A couple of golf courses later, we hit Ecola and the beach. Public parking is ample and conveniently located for guests, and even though the place was full we didn’t run into delays or too many patrons. After a 45 mim walk to and from a cool shot of Haystack Rock, we spent some time wishing we had taken the kites from the car to fly them for a while. We were so worried of not getting there waaay before sunset that we had to ditch the beach party gear. 😦 It was a gamble that paid off because we had more time to FaceTime with our family and show them the beautiful scenery. 

 

Famished because of all the walking we did on the noisy sand, we walked over to Harding Trading Co and had one of the best meals we had in a while: Gnocci, steak au poivre and fresh halibut accompanied by olives and cheese/fig baguettes. It was so decadent and delicious we could barely walk! The restaurant itself is part store part grandma’s kitchen with flair giving us a lot of items to choose from when playing a family game of “veo, veo”. We laughed so hard because our nephew made us guess the word Skull, since he could see it on a kite across the street. It took us a good 25 mins to find it. We couldn’t stop cracking up after that one.

If Harding is too full or has a long list, there is a brewery around the street with ample inside and outside tables. Castaways or any other restaurant nearby would be a good fit too. The convention center is nearby so many businesses flank it. There are also a few kite shops on the way to and from the restaurants for those who didn’t come prepared but they close before 6pm. Many places start shutting down at 9pm, even on Saturdays, so pay attention to the time as well.

Around 8:45-9:10pm we circled back to HW 26 and drove, through evergreens and winding roads, under the full moon, the 70+ miles to Portland’s Lloyd Center DoubleTree. Fresh warm cookies in hand, we trekked to our room and called it a day. Next time we will stay in the beach area. Judging on the 5 hr drive back due to unfortunate traffic events, we might have to fly there. No more road trips for us for a long time.

Stay tuned…

Hawken (PS4)

As a PS+ member, I like to look for value titles to justify paying the yearly subscription and Hawken didn’t disappoint. Set in some soet of post apocalyptic or future world where everyone can pilot a robot (or so I think, it wasn’t clear to me), you get combat peers and AI to earn points and credits to purchase and upgrade your mechs. Touted as an easy trophy game, with about 8 to 10 hours worth of effort, it is an entertaining mech shooting game playable online. (In less than 4hrs playtime you can be at a 70% completion rate.)

The short time span to get the trophies won’t rob you of replay value as the mindless exchange of gunfire and explosive weaponry is highly entertaining with really cool mechanics. The robots are really easy to maneuver.

You start with the CR-T, a trainer robot, and are tossed into the firefight without any training. (See PSN Trophies – Hawken for tips and information.) Once you survive the first couple of rounds, the AI lets you go back to the main screen to customize your robot and train it. You can unlock many mech types with the in game currency you win or by purchasing currency. PS+ members have access to a package that includes the Nief, a small and fast attack bot that is a crowd favorite due to its firepower and bargain status. Experienced players recommend that you work your way towards the Reaper and Marauder classes to be able to obtain all the achievements with the minimum time and cost. Time is money after all…

Enjoy!

Life is Strange (PS4)

Max Caulfield is just another student attending the prestigious Blackwell Academy in Arcadia Bay, Oregon when she finds out she possesses a gift that will let her rewind time. Partnered with her BFF from childhood, the blue haired and spunky Chloe, they set out to solve the disappearance of fellow classmate Rachel Amber. In doing so, their investigation leads them down a time travel spiral that wreaks havoc on the space-time continuum that threatens the safety of this quaint seaside town.

Square Enix hit it out of the ballpark with this game that is part Heavy Rain, part Remember Me and part Until Dawn. To get all the trophies in one pass, I used the guide on Playstation Trophies (FYI one trophy description is missing). The well earned Platinum trophy is not easy to get without it, and without searching and looking at every clue lying around the environment. Because I am an avid reader I only missed a few items and info but it wasn’t as vital to the story as the rest of the stuff I had gathered. Considering it was a free download/included with the PS+ subscription for June, it was worth the investment. A nice surprise in this shooter RPG MMO mess of a society we live in.

After a very draining but ironically energizing 8 hours of gameplay I had helped Max and Chloe thwart the effects of the time loop events they were caught solving. Chaos Theory comes up a lot so a refresher of quantum physics is part of the ride. It may not be many player’s cup of tea but the protagonists (both female) and the easy game play/controls are totally worth a gander. My husband would sneak peaks from the other room while I played and even did his own investigation since the intrigue of the crimes being solved and uncovered piqued his interest. Felt like we were binging on a Netflix Original True Crime drama.

A three episode stand alone prequel called Life is Strange: Before the Storm hits shelves August 31rst. It will feature Chloe and Rachel’s friendship and will skip the time travel abilities. It is already getting mixed feeling previews from the gamer community but if I have learned anything is that you have to play it before you can condemn it. Stay tuned.

Enjoy!

You Can Disagree With an Opinion and Be Wrong

I’ve spent the entirety of my life on this planet educating myself, and being educated by my peers and family, about every single subject that crossed our paths. Great care was taken by my elders to discuss any issue -past, present and future – that was deemed important and necessary to have a vetted view of the world and its realities. I took great pride in doing my best to become a productive member of society, and that included validating every opinion, angle and though about controversial and mundane subject matter.

Because of this my opinion is based on higher scrutiny standards and scrubbed of bias, to a degree. It is hard to keep my thoughts to myself when random people disagree with me because they feel like it. Being a woman, young, latin, a scientist, agnostic or whatever label you want to employ when categorizing me doesn’t invalidate my logic or reasoning. You will gain absolutely nothing by stating you disagree and you will have not convinced me you are correct either.

What does my rant imply? Glad you asked! When you post opinion pieces that are missing data, most likely you will hear from someone, like me. After all, we have no other way of knowing you did your due diligence because we did and we came to different conclusions. Most things in life can be boiled down to binary components: Yes or no. Gray areas are considered so because opinions range in comprehension but the facts are absolute and uncontested. Telling me you disagree doesn’t make your logic correct nor validates your opinion as sound. The onus is on you to open your mind and consider the opposing view to adjust your perspective. The data will set you free.

Don’t take these discussions personally, and take them as an opportunity to grow as a person and debater. Keep an open mind when people reach out to discuss controversial or deep subjects because it is supposes to be a difficult conversation. You can only give credence to what you can confirm, and sometimes your biases or convictions will get in the way of the bigger picture.

If thinking hurts your brain when you are discussing ideas then you are on the right track. Channel the passion you have about the subject in a rational way. Emotions can and will derail your train of thought if you haven’t considered all the angles. Don’t close yourself off to avoid a change of heart because sometimes you will have to adjust your beliefs.

The truth is out there…

Te voy a extrañar mano…

Este es el séptimo draft del blog post y todavía no doy con las palabras que le hacen justicia a lo que estoy sintiendo. Posponer mi angustia por el bien común es algo que me sale natural pero en este caso, me di cuenta rápidamente que tenía que seguir tu ejemplo y tirarme de pecho a este mar de emociones. Antes de avisarle al resto del corillo necesitaba asegurarme de que no era un mal entendido. ¡Lo que es la esperanza! En estos días uno no puede creer todo lo que lee en la red. La primera persona que me notificó que ya no vería más tus estatus en FB me confirmó que tu familia ya había posteado lo sucedido. No pasó mucho tiempo en lo que recibí una segunda confirmación de los hechos. El shock no se me ha pasado todavía.

Definitivamente un accidente de tránsito devastador a las 2:55am de un domingo de verano no era el final que tenía pensado para ti.

Aclaro. Para una persona tan vivaracha, alegre, jocosa, creativa y con espíritu libre, un malentendido o pelea en una barra hacía más sentido como causa de muerte que ser víctima de un conductor en contra del tránsito. Tu salida de este mundo merecía más gravitas, más wow, no algo tan mundano como ser una estadística para las compañías aseguradoras de vehículos de motor y de seguro mucho más que un byline de las noticias de un periódico local de Florida. ¿Recuerdas aquella noche en Vancouver? Cerramos el club casi a bofetadas porque sin querer ofendiste a alguien. Tu cara al darte cuenta de que lo que dijiste podría ser tomado como un insulto fue priceless: “I’m Puerto Rican, b@#%! (Oh wait, I did insult him!) Clásico Juan.

¡Uff! Tres veranos corridos como intern y miembro honorario de mi familia dejaron huellas indelebles en mi persona, bonitos mensajes de admiración mutua y cariño que jamás olvidaré. Cada verano regresabas con una sonrisa y en son de aventura, con una valentía y auto estima envidiable. Mil veces nos pediste que ajustáramos el flow, hacia arriba o abajo, de acuerdo con la ocasión, para poder disfrutar mejor en grupo. Traías la música por fuera y por dentro, y me hacías bailarla en contra de mi voluntad. ¡Que muchas veces íbamos a tu rescate después de una noche de “juerga”! Te ibas de rolling pin tres días y no era hasta que te reportabas que nos enterábamos de tu paradero actual. Never a dull moment with you around, buddy!

Se me partió el alma pensar que tus padres y tu novia no habían presenciado tus vitales primeros steps al mundo de #adulting, y que no íbamos a poder tener la oportunidad de compartir directamente con ellos todo lo que estamos sintiendo. Por ejemplo, recuerdo con una gran sonrisa el día que llegué a mi marquesina y me encontré con tu Jeep Compass del año. Yo en pleno layoff mode y tú empezando tu vida como ingeniero. ¡Lo que son las cosas! Me ayudaste a sobreponerme de mi pérdida de empleo como todo un caballero y campeón, y hasta dinero nos diste dinero por el cuarto que te prestamos en nuestra casa a pesar de que no te queríamos cobrar la renta. No estaría aquí sin tu apoyo y me hubiera gustado poder haberte ayudado más y mejor. Pensaba que tenía tiempo y que quizás podría devolverte el favor cuando anunciaras boda. Mi vida perdió un poquito de luz hoy. Esta vida es cruel mano.

Te ganaste mi corazón el día que en vez de quejarte de que mi esposo y yo nos peleábamos mucho nos dijiste que amabas como no nos tolerábamos el BS. Nos mencionaste que querías un matrimonio abierto y sin pretensiones, como el nuestro, de los que se hacen más fuertes con el tiempo y en la adversidad, alegando que nuestros argumentos pendejos eran prueba de que el amor incondicional existe. Toda esta madurez y flow no era de esperarse de un New England Patriot fan. (Es broma. :P) Tu sabiduría era refrescante y me dio mucha felicidad saber que habías encontrado una mujer con la cual compartir tu vida, adversidad y todo. Una dama que te ayudó a pelear tus dragones y demonios según se encaminaban juntos hacia un final feliz. *Sigh* Fuiste y serás siempre amado, por ella y por nosotros, dude. No lo dudes.

Jamás dejaste pasar una oportunidad para ser genuino y disfrutarlo todo. Pedaleaste por la vida con tus padres y hermanos siempre en tu corazón, muy admirable en alguien tan joven y emprendedor. Hiciste todo lo posible por tomar decisiones que los hicieran estar orgullosos de ti a pesar de tus locuras de juventud. Mi corazón está con ellos ahora mismo. Comparto su dolor con la esperanza de que puedan sobreponerse con fortaleza y valentía. No tengo idea de cómo van a aprender a vivir sin ti. Somos nosotros que te conocemos sólo hace cinco años y estamos devastados. Me hubiera gustado saber que querrías que hiciéramos para honrar tu memoria. Tengo que reírme porque creo que se lo q me contestarías. ¡Salud hermano!

Te vamos a extrañar eternamente. Vivirás en mis memorias, ahora y siempre.

Hugs, bro!

PD. No tengo fotos contigo porque cuando uno está en son de joda no guarda evidencia. 😎 Descansa en paz.

Introverts Can Make The Best Historian

I have spent my entire life documenting events, observations, experiments and knowledge in general. Written articles, videos, pictures, social media posts and collectibles, each piece of information is catalogued and stored in the vaults of my mind waiting for the day they are summoned. Each neuron takes its job very seriously preserving, as much of the moment as humanly possible, linking it to all the tangible proof in my keepsake boxes.

My mastery of keeping records was born from a need to treasure those items that would remind an older version of myself where I had been and where I was heading. Shy and not as photogenic with my unruly hair and Hermione-esque demeanor, I didn’t feel fully comfortable in front of the lens. Pictures may be worth a thousand words but a ticket stub or graduation program can hold dates, times and the names of those present when a shot couldn’t. The more inputs surrounding a milestone, the more reliable the memory of it. What would be the point of retaining all this data if it was incomplete? Half truths can be as worse as a full-fledged lie.

Armed with my camera, now smartphone, and an eye for catching people off guard (al naturel), I was invited to document most of my early years. Many kids have pictures from the parent’s point of view, except me. Most of the prints we have at home were taken through the lens of my equipment. All the smiles, giggles and hand gestures were directed at moi. That was the funniest and exhilarating part of my job as a historian. Getting the right reaction to match the importance of the light caught on film. Later in life I was summoned to unofficially capture weddings, showers, birthdays, get togethers, Halloween costumes, trips, Christmases and holidays. My data store of pictures runs into the hundreds of Gigabytes. (Which are back up in quadruplicate just in case.)

Because of this extensive library of recorded facts, opinions and data, my friends contact me when no one else can recall a particular moment or action. You’d be surprised as to how easily I have been able to track down a teacher, friend or witness to any of their past deeds. Pals joke I should work for the FBI, NSA or CIA. For the life of me I cannot remember a single occurrence of someone thinking I didn’t know, even when I was clueless, because somehow they thought I had all the answers. (Google helps locate what I may be missing, solidifying the myth that I do know everything.)

My new house is decorated with many of those wonderful stops along the way. This blog is also wrought with many of the knowledge, wisdom, sorrow and joy of the events that shaped who we are today. An entire generation grew up with me, savoring the same morsels of technological improvement, and we had the opportunity to set it all in modern tech stone. Although some memories can be painful to relive and access they are all valued as part of our journey together. My story doesn’t stand alone which is why it was important to preserve as much of it as I could. Growing up is never easy but having recollection of how we got to where we are can help us steer the ship in the right direction.

Please back up your data in any way, shape, form and method you can think of. It is the only evidence that we have lived; that we endured.

Hugs!

seaQuest DSV (NBC)

If you ever wondered about what things hardcore nerds treasure is cult classic shows. Although Netflix and other sources aren’t blasting that they have the episodes of this undersea drama, my hope is that they bring them back soon. It has the best of both worlds, the real science of deep water exploration with the fantasy of monsters, civilizations and talking dolphin crew members. Never did I imagine a fictitious submarine and its crew would teach me so much about compassion, adventure and friendship. Having hot teen idol Jonathan Brandis was a plus that enhanced the experience and drew an audience to the content that wouldn’t have made much waves otherwise.

SeaQuest DSV / SeaQuest DSV

Roy Scheider (Jaws) plays Captain Bridger, a character that mirrored the best of all the Star Trek men at the helm. In similar fashion, his group of rag-tag voyagers sets to fulfill missions for the United Earth Oceans Organization (UEO), accompanied by Darwin the talking dolphin. Set in the distant future of 2018, 25 years from the first air date in 1993, the intention of the show was to entertain using drama and veritable scientific advances to exalt the importance of conserving our planet and discovering the treasures of the depths of our own planet. At some point they pick up Dagwood (Peter DeLouise), who is of an alien looking genetically engineered lifeform.

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Even though the episodes eventually devolved into SyFy channel worthy material, cheese and out there, I recall it was a worthy endeavor. Spielberg was attached to it during the first two seasons and the main crew changes kept it interesting. Many of the episodes had meaning and social criticism morsels that garnered the series some awards and consideration among scientists and sci-fi organizations. As the series ventured into the realm of the ridiculous, Michael Ironside replaced a disappointed and mad as hell Roy Scheider as the captain during the last season. Set in 2032, after the deep submergence vehicle, DSV 4600, was feared missing for 10 years, the crew returns after being abducted by aliens, X-Files style.

If this synopsis doesn’t convince you. Check out Playtime, one of the episodes I do remember fondly. Its story touched on the perils of virtual reality, taking the ship on a land mission into a society in which only two people remained. The kicker? The two people didn’t realize they weren’t the last citizens because they were strapped to their virtual reality machines. It resonates to this day: put down your phone and recording devices and start living life people!

Enjoy!

P.S. I just recalled I had a 1:24 scale DIY model of the DSV. Man, you could tell I was well on my way to become and engineer and this show exponentially accelerate that drive and passion.


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