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Stigma! What does it look like?

Image result for stigma

What is social stigma?

Description: Social stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on perceivable social characteristics that serve to distinguish them from other members of a society. Social stigmas are commonly related to culture, gender, race, intelligence and health. Wikipedia

My first shocking experience with mental health stigma as an adult happened shortly after honorably separating from the US Navy in September 1965.  It was in that moment that my world as a young adult with a bright future was seriously threatened.  Following a very productive and exciting interview process with a Fortune 100 company in Los Angeles, I fully expected an offer for employment as an apprentice teleprinter technician.  I felt grateful for the excellent training and experience received in the Navy as a radioman.  But all the excitement and hope for a career in telecommunications came to a shocking halt when the HR recruiter said, “even though your qualifications exceeded minimum requirements I could not be hired!”  I thought with complete dispair, “how could this be?”  It was at that moment, the HR recruiter revealed to me that my hospitalization for severe depression and anxiety while serving in the US Navy was considered a risk. It was then that I decided to never ever speak of my mental health diagnosis…my secret, forever put away in a box and out of reach.  This was stigma then, it is still stigma in the 21st Century.  (Note: I was fortunate to receive a job offer from another respectable telecom company and started my career.) We can all do so much more to stamp out stigma. Please help make a difference by taking quality time to talk openly and honestly with friends and family about mental health. Awareness is the first step in healing invisible wounds.

Steve Sparks

“I Worry About the Kids…” by Steve Sparks

My Journey, Part 2, Steve Sparks

My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2: Saving your children, family and loved ones from inter-generational Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)…

“Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods.” ~Pam Leo

Following is an excerpt from my book released for the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII… I was moved last week by a talk on a topic near and dear to my heart and soul…”Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).” Click here… We didn’t have the awareness of ACES in the 1950’s. That was a very painful time in my life as a child. But now there is no excuse for lack of awareness and stigma. It is with profound empathy and compassion for children and adult children who suffer with life long emotional pain, that I share an edited version of a preveiously written blog post from 2015. My story as a post WWII military child is reflected in my passion for the loving care of our kids at every step of the way toward a healthy and happy long life.

Chapters

  1. The Wrath of Stigma
  2. Local Community, Partnerships, and Responsibility
  3. Parents, Teachers, and Mentors
  4. Teaching Kids Empathy & Compassion…The dangers of emotional numbness & denial…
  5. How Does Moral Injury Damage Human Spirituality and the Soul?
  6. Museum of the American Military Family…Albuquerque, New Mexico
  7. Romance and Adventure with my Soulmate

Introduction

It has been almost 9 years since publishing my first non-fiction book, Reconciliation:  A Son’s Story, November 2011.   My personal path of healing and mitigation of the “chain and ball” of life-long symptoms of anxiety and depression, takes me back to children living and growing up in a toxic home.   The ideal time to save kids from the emotional baggage carried forward as a result of child abuse and maltreatment connected with toxic parenting is from the very beginning.  When parents become abundantly aware of how their parenting behaviors affect children and the detrimental life-long damage of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), they often become highly motivated to get help for themselves to save the kids if for nothing else.

Healing is about making a difference for others.  In the case of denial and ignorance on the part of parents who suffer from PTS, outrageous behaviors and angry outbursts, including physical abuse toward family members and loved ones, especially children, is common.  It’s too easy to pick on the loved ones in your life as a way to vent, but it is not always clear how much emotional damage is being done.  If parents knew the consequences of intergenerational PTS by inflicting emotional and physical pain onto children and family members, they would march down to the nearest alternative treatment center immediately and learn how to mitigate the symptoms effectively and begin the journey of healing.  In my experience and view, there would be no hesitation on the part of parents and adults if they had a high level of awareness.  We could eventually break the intergenerational cycle of pain in a couple of decades if we started with our own kids very early.  It is proven that even babies will pick up on toxic circumstances and behaviors and show symptoms of PTS as they become older.

The goal of My Journey of Healing, Part 2 is to specifically help parents with stress triggers to save their kids from becoming emotionally damaged during these critical years from birth to age 18.  Most of the content comes from my own research, resources, references, and experience as a survivor of child abuse and maltreatment.  Since publishing my first book, I have kept up writing consistently on my blog and website www.survivethriveptsd.com.  I will use my blog as the primary reference point since it focuses almost completely on children and families in life after trauma.  I have been writing on this subject for a long time.  It is now the right time to consolidate and integrate all the postings into a single reference book designed as a guide for parents who are survivors of traumatic life events, including hard combat as a warrior, sole survivors of an accident, and victims of assault and rape.  The painful symptoms of PTS can take on a life of its own if not treated effectively.  More importantly, the symptoms will have a consequential secondary effect on loved ones and children in particular.  Parents are solely responsible for protecting their children and will be highly motivated to do so once understanding the terrible consequences of exposing children to a home culture affected by life after trauma…

With a heavy heart,

Steve Sparks

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Consultant, Public Speaker

Veterans Day 2018…Honoring and Remembering American Heroes and the Families Who Served Too…

jimdowningbobbenafal

Steve Sparks with Jim Downing, left and Robert Benafal, right. Both served with my father on the USS West Virginia (BB48) in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Oregon Veterans Memorials Directory…  Click on highlighted text for more…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a red granite memorial tablet mounted behind on a gray granite slab with an electric flame on a pedestal in front of the Lincoln County Courthouse.

Flame of Freedom…Newport, Oregon  Click highlighted text for more…

Several  years ago while walking around our City Park in Depoe Bay, Oregon, I stopped to look closely at our town’s VFW Veterans Memorial.  When I looked closer, the name Ronald Allen Slane, Sp5, US Army 1967-68 was engraved on the plaque as an example to honor veterans of all wars.  Ron was a medic who died during an ambush in Vietnam while trying to save another soldier…he didn’t even have a weapon to defend himself.  “Ron Slane, Lincoln City, Oregon, volunteered to go to war as an army medic.  He was a conscientious objector, but believed he had a duty to serve in some way.”

Slane

Depoe Bay, Oregon VFW Memorial…Click photo for a larger view…

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For me, and millions of kids born before and after WWII, Veterans Day, is very personal.  Now, in retirement, I devote much of my spare time honoring veterans of all wars, and military families who serve too…  I also honor my fellow veterans who served during the Vietnam War, and all the wars since then.  We can never thank our veterans and their families enough for serving America while protecting the freedoms we enjoy each and every day of our lives.  This is a debt that can never be paid back…

So, on this Veterans Day, go visit at least one veterans memorial close to home, and give thanks to all those who have served, who serve now, and will serve in the future, including 1st responders who keep us safe on the home front.  Thank the families and loved ones who serve too, and who become the care givers to our heroes who return home with moral and physical injuries that often require a lifetime of healing. 

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 & 2…click here.

Forgive Yourself First!

How to Forgive Yourself…click here

“Even if we’ve gotten pretty good and consistent about offering forgiveness to others, isn’t forgiving ourselves often the most difficult?”

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Community Building Consultant, Mental Health Advocate…

Hello again dear friends and followers,

It has been awhile since I have written a blog post, one from my heart and soul that is… It has been an amazing year so far, mostly living a happy and healthy life with my loving wife, Judy, and Simba, our aging kitty. Most importantly, we are growing as senior citizens in a highly active community on the central coast of Oregon near Depoe Bay. We love living at the beach!  We are blessed with loving friends and neighbors who look out for each other. But as life usually works, stuff happens…

Just when I thought my own journey of healing was well in hand; you know, a manageable work in progress, I went off the rails big time in late May and early June! I can’t even know why my heart and soul picked this exact time and moment to revisit a very dark and painful time in my young adult life.  Sometimes unfinished business and a reckoning with the demons of another life can come at the most unexpected and surprising time in one’s life, especially as we age.

It was like my brain was exploding with grief about a long ago severe traumatic experience that I had kept in a hidden compartment…a state of denial.  The last time I grieved with great intensity and healing was while writing my first book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. But that was just a first step in 2011, and a very long way to go in taking an honest shot at truly forgiving myself as a challenged young man. I was woefully unprepared for adult life in the 1960’s and early 70’s, in a marriage that failed, leaving my 2 young beautiful children with a single mom, only to see Dad on vacations and short visits.  A very sad reality for too many young marriages that end in pain. I feel deep regret and profound guilt from this part of my life as a young adult.  But it is now time to forgive myself after 45 years of self punishment and denial.  The lifelong nagging and destructive emotional pain of severe guilt stops now! If you are angry with yourself, you behave in angry ways toward loved ones.

When kids grow up in a less than loving home, as I did in the 1950s and early 60s, they tough it out, but often take the emotional pain and baggage into adult life, affecting loved ones and others in too many negative ways. Read my book and learn more about the challenges of a military child growing up in a profoundly dysfunctional post WWII family culture.

“Learning who you are is a life long labor of love.” This quote, on my home page…Children and Families in Life After Truma came to me some months ago while working as a community building project consultant in Lincoln County Oregon where we live. This personal and professional experience has turned out to be one of the most profoundly humanistic learning opportunities in my lifetime…  It has been a journey of exploring humanity at worst and best. I’ll say more about this in a later post.

Allow me to share a couple of highlights from my summer visits with a wonderful therapist, a psychologist, from my own boomer generation. He is an ol’ surf dude as well…just like me. There was an instant connection of empathy and compassion…great chemistry. It is very challenging to find the right therapist. It is never to late…keep trying.

Before this last spring I can’t remember ever having a therapist who actually provided me with specific tools to help build skills and techniques that showed me how to meditate.  These disciplined self talk and deep breathing exercises proved to me how positive talk can beat back self deprecation and guilt from past emotionally painful life events…post trauma recurring painful thoughts and triggers.

Once the meditation exercises became a daily practice, I was able to effectively divert attention from negative and painful self talk back to the logical part of my brain where living in the moment and mitigating flight/fight responses happens. I learned how to stop the churning of a lifetime of severe guilt from moral injuries during childhood and young adult life…. Peace of mind is a gift at any age!

In my next post, I’ll share more of how my therapy and daily practice of meditation is helping me heal and discover how to live in the moment with a higher level of internal peace and self love. Until then, practice saying to yourself “Curious, Open, Accepting and Loving” or COAL for short. Seeking an attitude of COAL while breathing deeply during a highly stressful encounter or event is worth a try.

With empathy, compassion and love to all who seek happiness, peace of mind and good health.

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Mental Health Advocate

Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, by Steve Sparks click here

 

 

 

 

“Smart on Crime…” Lincoln County Oregon Sheriff’s Commitment to Reducing Recidivism…

Lincoln County Oregon Sheriff Curtis Landers

Yesforlincolncountypublicsafety.com 

As a member of the Sheriff’s Community Advisory Group, I can speak intelligently about law enforcement. Lincoln County law enforcement and public safety resources work most effectively as a strong collaboration, a continuum of essential services.  It is a true partnership between city police departments, state & federal, fire houses, emergency services, ambulance, hospitals and the County Sheriff.

The larger and more critical goal is to improve the safety and quality of life for all citizens, including the most needy who frequent the County Jail. Measure 21-186 is a good investment at the right time.

The expanded services from the Sheriff will help reduce recidivism in the County Jail (being arrested again and re-incarcerated); and promote community treatment and recovery. Measure 21-186 is a “ smart on crime” approach that is spreading across communities all over Oregon and America.

Vote yes on Measure 21-186 to make Lincoln County Oregon a stronger and safer community for all residents and frequent visitors of this beautiful coastal region.

Steve Sparks

Vote Yes Measure 21-186! Lincoln County Oregon’s Investment in Smart on Crime…

Vote Yes Lincoln County Public Safety Measure 21-186

As a Lincoln County citizen and member of the Sheriff’s Community Advisory Group, I can speak intelligently about law enforcement and public safety.  Lincoln County law enforcement and public safety resources work most effectively as a strong collaboration, a continuum of essential services.  It is a true partnership between city police departments, state & federal, fire houses, emergency services, ambulance, hospitals and the County Sheriff. The larger and more critical goal is to improve the safety and quality of life for all citizens, including the most needy who frequent the County Jail. Measure 21-186 is a good investment at the right time. The expanded services from the Sheriff will help reduce recidivism in the County Jail; and promote community treatment and recovery. Measure 21-186 is a “smart on crime” approach that is spreading across communities all over Oregon and America. Vote yes on Measure 21-186 to make Lincoln County Oregon a stronger and safer community for all residents and frequent visitors of this beautiful coastal region.

Steve Sparks Author, Speaker, Consultant Depoe Bay Oregon

 

 

 

 

 

April is #ChildAbuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  My journey of healing and awareness has allowed me to thrive under some very tough circumstances while growing up in a post WWII toxic home with parents severely affected by the symptoms of PTSD…  I carried the emotional baggage with me as an adult for many decades before realizing it was time to reconcile the pain of my childhood and young adult life.  My work with children and families through writing books, this blog, and participating in appropriate forums as a spokesperson is a labor of love, and opportunity to make a difference one child at a time.

In this link, Military Kids with PTSD, I posted about my own observations and experience as a military child growing up with parents who suffered severely from the symptoms of PTSD. As a military parent please take extra time to focus on your children. Use not only this month of April…take your increased awareness forward and help kids understand how war affects families of combat veterans, especially children. Use the resources to educate kids with love and kindness. Do not allow the children in your life grow up feeling isolated and alone with the memories that are often painful and misunderstood. As a parent or teacher you can make a huge difference in the lives of kids on this critical issue. We owe it to our children to give them the opportunity to grow up and live a healthy, happy, and productive life…

Please become engaged in community events promoting awareness for the prevention of child abuse.  If there is not an event planned near you, create one using the resources and references in the links provided in this post…. National Children’s Alliance…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2 and Click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff on Amazon…Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

 

 

 

 

#StopChildAbuse #ChildAbusePrevention #StepUp4Kids #EndChildAbuse https://t.co/1Qmkn6k2VH

“Smart on Crime” Builds Stronger Communities!

Measure 21-186 is a good investment at the right time. The expanded services from the Sheriff will help reduce recidivism in the County Jail; and promote community treatment and recovery.— Steve Sparks

Vote Yes for Lincoln County Oregon Public Safety!

Lincoln County is a beautiful place to live and a great place to raise a family, however our crime rate has reached a tipping point. Your local Sheriff’s Deputies are strapped and desperately seek your help in solving our community’s problems by voting “Yes” for Public Safety.

  • Corrections deputies continue to see high jail recidivism and persons with mental illness housed in our jail as other community needs are not met.
  • Solution: Yes on Public Safety provides funding for proven programs and job training to reduce recidivism, funds a full time work crew deputy for an inmate work crew to address community needs and allows for an inmate counselor to help mentally ill inmates.
  • Patrol deputies see the after effects of assaults on persons and property crimes that occur when none of us are on duty. In fact, the number of patrol deputies for Lincoln County has not increased in over 25 years and there are not enough of us to provide 24 hour coverage.
  • Solution: Yes on Public Safety smartly provides a modest increase of patrol deputies to ensure 24 hour patrol coverage 7 days a week for all Lincoln County. 24/7 patrol coverage is a must for citizen safety and security of property.
  • Patrol deputies and detectives see daily the human toll of illegal drug use by addicted parents who abuse children and property crimes perpetuated by persons who steal to support their habit.
  • Solution: Yes on Public Safety provides both a full-time drug detective to shut down local illegal drug dealers and a supervisor position to help detectives currently working on abuse and property crime cases.

We, your local public safety servants, view Public Safety measure 21-186 as a smart and effective solution to our county’s crime rate and that it will improve quality of life for all who live and visit Lincoln County.

http://yesforlincolncountypublicsafety.com

Click the link above to learn more… Thank you for supporting measure 21-186, a Smart on Crime approach to community building.

Best wishes!

Steve Sparks

 

Veterans Day 2017…Honor and Remembrance

Veterans Day 2017…Visit Memorials and Participate in Events Close to Home…

jimdowningbobbenafal

Steve Sparks with Jim Downing, left and Robert Benafal, right. Both served with my father on the USS West Virginia (BB48) in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Oregon Veterans Memorials Directory…  Click on highlighted text for more…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a red granite memorial tablet mounted behind on a gray granite slab with an electric flame on a pedestal in front of the Lincoln County Courthouse.

Flame of Freedom…Newport, Oregon  Click highlighted text for more…

Several  years ago while walking around our City Park in Depoe Bay, Oregon, I stopped to look closely at our town’s VFW Veterans Memorial.  When I looked closer, the name Ronald Allen Slane, Sp5, US Army 1967-68 was engraved on the plaque as an example to honor veterans of all wars.  Ron was a medic who died during an ambush in Vietnam while trying to save another soldier…he didn’t even have a weapon to defend himself.  “Ron Slane, Lincoln City, Oregon, volunteered to go to war as an army medic.  He was a conscientious objector, but believed he had a duty to serve in some way.”

Slane

Depoe Bay, Oregon VFW Memorial…Click photo for a larger view…

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For me, and millions of kids born before and after WWII, Veterans Day, is very personal.  Now, in retirement, I devote much of my spare time honoring veterans of all wars, and military families who serve too…  I also honor my fellow veterans who served during the Vietnam War, and all the wars since then.  We can never thank our veterans and their families enough for serving America while protecting the freedoms we enjoy each and every day of our lives.  This is a debt that can never be paid back…

So, on this Veterans Day, go visit at least one veterans memorial close to home, and give thanks to all those who have served, who serve now, and will serve in the future, including 1st responders who keep us safe on the home front.  Thank the families and loved ones who serve too, and who become the care givers to our heroes who return home with moral and physical injuries that often require a lifetime of healing. 

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 & 2…click here.