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Before I even dreamed I’d be living here, combat related PTSD and suicide risk touched me very deeply. So deep that I suspected my future would be related to it, somehow. The first wave of published studies on PTSD involved rape and sexual abuse trauma, and I’m a very typical case. I am also a suicide survivor. Combat related PTSD has unique features, though. I have been studying them thoroughly.

Along the years, I think I managed to attract and be attracted to those associated with the cause – either as activists or victims. Many of my friends here in the USA are former or active duty military. Many have PTSD.

My dream job is not as a university professor, as most believe. My dream job is at the VA. Here, in OKC, I managed to make relevant contacts and map my way to my goals.

Here’s where I think my athletic and academic expertise meet: both combat related PTSD and suicide risk are important social phenomena. That requires a good sociologist with a background in the medical sciences to analyze. And that I am. But treatment is tricky: research points to behavioral therapies as the most effective. However, they all require some mindfulness work, such as meditation. Trauma patients have a hard time with that because of the intruding thoughts (the same ones that haunt our recurrent nightmares). Under a loaded bar, though, the demons go silent. Whatever happens at the neural level, which is anybody’s guess, short circuits the automatic thoughts and they disappear. There is only the person and pure movement. The peace that can be achieved during these short moments build up a positive response from the traumatized person, given enough time. These people need to be led by skilled hands to the loaded bar. And that is where I come in. All I want is a chance to help these people – fellow wanderers in the dark lands of trauma – with my knowledge and skill. It is just a drop in the ocean, but a very, very heavy drop.

I’m seeking my certification as clinical sociologist (since a Ph.D. is not enough) and will do whatever it takes to get there. It took me 30 years to come to terms with the violence practiced against me. I have the rest of my life to pass on the lessons I’ve learned.

 

Part 6

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Mindfulness, meditation and other such tools are emerging as an important alternative to PTSD treatment and management. However, a number of victims cannot handle the challenge because of the intruding thoughts. It is possible that powerlifting my offer an alternative to “traditional” meditation.