Continuing the Conversation: Confronting PTSD in ReDeus
At the end of ReDeus: Native Lands, several of the recurring characters in our Crazy 8 Press series find themselves in New York City, 2033. All the gods from all the pantheons returned to Earth twenty years earlier. New York City was neutral ground and the United Nations was now a place where the gods could debate the issues.
However, when you have that many deities in one place, you can imagine the conflicting agendas and grappling for followers and land. Toss in a few trickster gods and you have a recipe for chaos. Add in someone who denounces the gods and has been managing to actually slay several, means the stakes are petty high.
Then the United Nations building blows up.
That’s a pretty depressing way to end the third book of an ongoing series. What should be coming next is the first solo novel in the series, focusing on my character Gabriella Trotta. She’s a journalist who has left Seattle and has been traveling across America trying to figure out who and what she believes in. She has resumed reporting and is there as an eyewitness to the destruction of a symbol of international unity and of many gods and goddesses within.
It’s been a year since I last worked on the outline as circumstances have gotten in my way but once I was invited to be part of Hold on the Light, it suddenly clicked for me. This will be a story of her PTSD and her recovery from it. She lacked faith in the Native American gods of the Pacific Northwest and wasn’t sure what to believe. To witness this event and then have to keep moving makes this the most psychological story I’ve ever tackled.
We’ve been taught that our characters have to suffer, have to be challenged beyond their comfort zones, otherwise we don’t have a story to tell. I think this qualifies but it also means it has to be authentic. That will require research since I have never witnessed anything quite like it. I missed 9/11, being in the air at the time, and once we touched down before the second plane hit, hightailed back to Connecticut before all the bridges were shut down. It was many months later before Deb and I ventured near Ground Zero, so I was at a remove.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t suffered at some point along the way. It just has been in far more intimate, personal ways as opposed to a national tragedy. Some of this has been the loss of family and professional setbacks that have rocked my sense of self-worth. I’ve compartmentalized these issues, focusing instead to lose myself in the work, and never allowing myself the time to reflect or grieve until later. Somewhere in the back of my mind are tiny rooms where these personal tragedies reside and I do everything I can to avoid opening those doors. Sometimes they bang and insist on being heard, other times I’m blindsided when something triggers a memory, letting them out. I do whatever it takes to put them away.
It gets me through the immediate problem but is it healthy?
I certainly know suffering and depression but want to make sure Gabby is treated right so she resonates for her readers. Many sufferers coping with mental illness take solace in fiction, either getting away from their problems or identifying with people in similar straits. I can’t let them down.
I applaud Gail Z. Martin who invited me to be among 100 authors working on this two month outreach. I’m certainly honored to be among so many who care passionately about the topic.
About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight