Sunday, June 17, 2018

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder …1944

PTSD did not officially become a diagnosis until 1980 but I will never forget how it affected our lives one lovely spring evening in 1944.

This grainy picture is me, age11, and Ron, one of the many British sailors that our family entertained during WWII. “Our” boys usually came in pairs but a few of them, like Ron, practically lived at our house and they often came out alone …hopping on the train just as soon as they had leave. This day he had arrived from Boston’s naval yard where his ship was docked and I was the lucky greeter. 

Ours was a big family, 5 girls, our parents and many friends … not to mention the sailors. On the night that I recall we were all gathered in the living room. It was a hot night and we'd opened the big window that looked out on the screened in porch in order to circulate the air.

Ron was the center of attention, sitting on the floor near the window and entertaining us with his news. All of a sudden a car backfired in front of our house. It was a very loud bang and we all flinched or covered our ears. Then, as we all came back to our senses, we realized that Ron was no longer with us. Where was he? What had happened?

My mother was the first to act and she rushed to the porch to find Ron crouched on the other side of the window, shivering and covering his head with his arms. He had instinctively jumped through the window to find safety and it had been so quick that we literally didn’t see it. When we realized what had happened our dad held us back and told us to stay where we were.

It was an hour before Ron and mother came back in and we tried our best to act normal and put him at ease. It was our first lesson in the horrendous unseen wounds of war but it would not be our last … and mother was always there to comfort the boys that we came to love.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It was considered a weakness, and too often still is.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Marie Smith said...

AC is correct. We lose many good people every year from the effects of PTSD.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

They use to call it shell shocked and sadly in those days there was little help for the men. I think it is wonderful that Americans such as you opened you home to boys so far from home. What a comfort it must have been.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

While these men could find comfort and shelter in your home, Ginnie, it's clear they could never forget the war even when in the comfort of a home where they were safe from danger.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember a young man in our neighborhood who was very handsome and behaved in childish ways. All the children liked him because he was soft-spoken and smiled a lot. When I asked my grandparents about him because he was so different from others his age, they told me he was "shell-shocked." We children always treated him with respect and tenderness. How sad when I think back on what happened to him because of WWII.

6:55 AM  
Blogger possum said...

Interesting story. What can I say but war is hell... even after it is over.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Joared said...

There is nothing romantic about war as so many movies, especially in the WWII era portrayed it. Recent years I’ve come to wonder about behaviors of a couple family members, brothers, who returned from U.S. after WWI and ultimately became chemically dependent, ruining their own lives, damaging those of their immediate family and subsequently dying young. Other family said they had returned from Europe significantly changed. Were they coping with PTSD?

3:26 AM  

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