Fireworks and PTSD

Ah yes, the 4th of July, Independence Day in America. A good excuse to have a cookout, drink some alcohol if you are of age, and enjoy fireworks (or even produce fireworks). All three things I mentioned are the highlight of Independence Day for some of us.

The fireworks, unfortunately, are actually the lowlight for one very important sector of the population—military veterans and gun violence survivors with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[1] To make matters worse, our nation doesn’t do enough to help military veterans and gun violence survivors who experience PTSD as a result of the fireworks.

In the words of a veteran of the United States Marines who put up a fireworks courtesy sign on a previous Independence Day, “It’s the loud noise of the fireworks that can be a trigger. It sounds a lot like a bomb or explosions.” In other words, these fireworks remind people with war-related PTSD of the awful, even deadly, memories of being in combat in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Korea. They also remind many gun violence survivors of awful, even deadly, memories of they or their loved ones and/or themselves being shot at. The fireworks that are fun for some of us make the lives of others a living hell for a night.

What makes this injustice especially awful for me is that the United States makes a big deal of supporting our troops and gun violence survivors alike (as we should), yet we don’t seem to pay attention to the needs both groups on Independence Day. If we really had actions to go along with the “support our troops” or “support gun violence survivors” rhetoric, shouldn’t we, as individuals, be more sensitive to those who experience PTSD as a result of the fireworks?

My question, of course, is a rhetorical one, because the answer is, “Yes, we should be aware of these things!” But how can we, as individuals or as a society, take measures to be sensitive to the needs of people with PTSD?

I humbly offer a few suggestions for individuals, and a potential suggestion for state governments to consider.

One suggestion for individuals is to simply not set off fireworks if you can’t do so legally! The professionals are best at setting off fireworks and doing so safely, anyway. In addition, by refusing to set off fireworks you will lessen the amount of distress you cause to any military veterans from war-related PTSD or gun violence survivors from PTSD related to gun violence.

Another suggestion is more involved and costly, yet also potentially useful: if you have a family member or friend who has PTSD that gets triggered by the fireworks, consider searching for a 4th of July destination that is devoid of fireworks (not just firework shows, but fireworks from individual citizens). I have no idea how easy it is to find a 4th of July destination that has no fireworks, but the mere gesture of searching for a place without fireworks to help your family member or friend is extremely kind. Furthermore, if you are successful in finding such a destination for your family member or friend unless you are looking at international destinations, you would make the person’s life so much better.

My final suggestion is one for government. Namely, maybe state governments should consider hosting fireworks-free 4th of July celebrations in destinations far from fireworks (like maybe state parks, depending on location). Such celebrations would be fun, yet at the same time provide refuge for military veterans with war-related PTSD, gun violence survivors with PTSD, pets, babies, and people in general who don’t react well to fireworks (because there are actually many people and animals who don’t react well to the fireworks).

All of these suggestions are better than the status quo, which is one where we set off fireworks without thinking about those who are harmed as a result of others’ celebrations. Hopefully, individuals and/or governments will start to follow these suggestions, and in the process show that we truly “support our troops” and “support gun violence survivors,” including those with PTSD.

Note: Next week, I will publish my post on Friday instead of Tuesday.


[1] While my focus is on Independence Day in the United States, the issues I express here are also relevant to people with gun violence-related PTSD around the world.

Lesbian Stereotypes

As I said a few weeks ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

As the “l” (for “lesbian) is the first word in the LGBTQ acronym (or LGBTQIA), I think that it would be good for me to start this post (and LGBT Pride Month) by talking about what it means to be lesbian and stereotypes associated with friends, fellow writers, celebrities and others who are lesbian.

A lesbian is a woman who is only sexually attracted to other women. If a woman is attracted to men and to women, she is bisexual, not lesbian.

Now that we’ve defined what it means to be lesbian, we can start to understand what sort of stereotypes are associated with being lesbian. Well, in addition to the general stereotypes that are associated with people with same-sex attraction and relationships (link to previous post), here are some additional stereotypes often associated specifically with lesbians:

  1. Lesbians hate men. No, lesbians do not necessarily hate men. They’re just not sexually attracted to men. And just because one is not sexually attracted to someone else doesn’t mean that they hate the person.
  2. Lesbians have just never found the “right man.” In terms of finding a man for marriage, this is true—lesbians haven’t found the right man. The caveat I would add, however, is that since lesbians are attracted to other women and not to men, people who are lesbian will never find the “right man”; however, maybe people who identify as lesbian will be able to find the “right woman” (if they haven’t already found her).
  3. Lesbians aren’t feminine. There is this idea that lesbians like sports, are butches (which would basically be women dressed in a more masculine way), and like other things that men do. While there are some lesbians who are into those sorts of things, doing a Google search for “lesbians” will help you discover that there are also many lesbians into feminine things too, and that does not make “feminine” lesbians any less valid or lesbian than anyone who is a “masculine” lesbian.
  4. In a household with two lesbian parents, one person has to be the “dad.” Please, let’s not apply heterosexual standards to a homosexual relationship. A mom is a female parent, so both parents in a household led by two lesbians are both moms. If a lesbian couple decides that one of them should take more of the dad-like roles while the other one should take more of the mom-like roles, that’s the couple’s decision. However, once again, we should not force heterosexual ideas onto a homosexual relationship of any kind.
  5. Lesbians like all women. No. Just as heterosexual people have standards and aren’t attracted to everyone of the opposite sex, lesbians have standards and aren’t attracted to everyone of the same sex.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with lesbians. If anyone feels that there were other lesbian stereotypes I neglected to mention, or if anyone wants to expand upon the lesbian stereotypes I discussed in this post, feel free to talk about that in the comments section below!

This is the main Lesbian Pride Flag I see, though I do see other flags labeled as “Lesbian Pride Flags.”

Late Spring/Summer 2019 Blog News

It’s been a few months since I’ve made a post on blog news, so I thought that I am due to make a “blog news” post.

I have two pieces of blog news.

First, there are two upcoming Tuesdays that I will take off from blogging: July 9 (the Tuesday after Independence Day) and September 3 (the day after Labor Day). I usually like to take Tuesdays off when they fall at or around holiday times—these breaks allow me to rest a little bit and allow my readers to rest a little too and spend time with their families.

The second piece of news is that I am now actively using my Pinterest account. I’ve always been able to use Pinterest through my Gmail account, but I have never actually put it to use. While a lot of bloggers seem to highly recommend the use of Pinterest, the main reason I’m interested in Pinterest is because it gives me the opportunity to visibly promote other posts and blogs I like in ways I’m not able to on Facebook, Twitter, or even WordPress. Basically, what happens is that I can create a “board” in my blog’s Pinterest account for blog posts that I like, and then I can “pin” those posts in that board. While I will definitely share my own content on Pinterest (as well as Facebook and Twitter), the biggest purpose of Pinterest for me is promoting others’ work. That being said, if people who are experienced with Pinterest have other ideas for how I can use it, I am open to suggestions!

So, with that, I wish everyone a good weekend!

Oh, and speaking of social media, here are the links to my Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, so please feel free to follow me on one, two, or all three forms of social media I currently use!
Pinterest
Facebook
Twitter

Stereotypes Associated with People with Same-Sex Relationships

As I said a few weeks ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

However, before going into stereotypes associated with being lesbian, gay, or bisexual, I feel that I should address stereotypes associated with same-sex attraction that I’ve heard from LGBTQ+ friends, writers, celebrities, and others; as all three identities can (in the case of being bisexual) or do (in the case of being lesbian or gay) involve same-sex attraction and feelings, I felt that it was important to address stereotypes associated with people in same-sex relationships in general.

Stereotypes related to same-sex attraction and relationships include, but are not limited, to:

  1. The thought that people who are in same-sex relationships are living out the “homosexual lifestyle.” Yes, people with same-sex relationships are indeed homosexual, just as people attracted to the opposite sex are heterosexual. But people with same-sex relationships aren’t living the “homosexual lifestyle” any more than people in opposite-sex relationships are living the “heterosexual lifestyle.” And yet, the term homosexual lifestyle is used in a negative way and as if it’s a choice that could be easily opted out of.
  2. People with same-sex relationships can’t be Christian. This stereotype, I think, is the result of two things: a) the belief among some Christians that homosexuality is a sin worthy of kicking people out of a congregation and b) the fact that this attitude of rejection pushes many people in same-sex relationships away from a belief in Christ (or at least away from church attendance). The reality, however, is that a Christian is a believer in Christ as Messiah, and is someone who tries to follow Christ in all one is and all one does. Those two requirements for being a Christian are not limited to people who identify as heterosexual.
  3. Same-sex couples “destroy the fabric of families.” This statement begs the question of what makes up the fabric of a family in the first place. Is that fabric a heterosexual couple, or is it something else? Speaking from the experience of being in a loving family, what makes the fabric of families is love, not heterosexuality.

These, of course, are just a few of many unjust stereotypes associated with people in same-sex relationships. If any readers are aware of other stereotypes about same-sex relationships/people with same-sex attraction, or have anything to add about the stereotypes I have discussed above, please feel free to comment below!

Hafuboti [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

Addressing the Notion of “Praying Away” Mental Health Conditions

In many Christian circles, regardless of theology, there is the belief that you can often pray your troubles away. There is a belief that you can pray away financial troubles, family issues, physical illness, and yes, mental health issues as well.

While I am very supportive of praying for people who go through these different types of issues,[1] I think that it is extraordinarily important for me to use my past experiences with mental health issues to address the notion that it’s not always as simple as praying your mental health issues away, or that you are subject to condemnation if prayer doesn’t take away your mental health issues.[2]

You see, I was once one of those people who believed that if I prayed long enough and hard enough, any stress or anxiety I felt about my life would just go away. And honestly, in many of those cases, that was the case.

However, around the time of my grandpa’s death last fall, I discovered that suddenly, it wasn’t quite that easy. Far from it. To the contrary, no matter how much I prayed, I felt like I was sinking more deeply into an abyss of mental health issues. In response, I prayed all the harder, and yet I continued to struggle with unwelcome, unpleasant, and upsetting thoughts and ideas, best known as intrusive thoughts.

For a time, I suffered in silence—without a doubt the absolute worst thing I could’ve done at the time. I was worried about condemnation from others if I told anyone—condemnation for being a freak, for being weird, for the fact that I didn’t pray hard enough for all of this to go away, for the fact that I somehow didn’t rely on God enough. The last two of these fears, of course, relate to this notion that you can just “pray it away” and that there’s something wrong with you if you are not able to do that.

Thankfully, I was lucky to have a circle of loving family members and friends (most of whom are Christians, by the way; these people probably know who they are and these people mean the world to me) who didn’t condemn, who didn’t subscribe to the aforementioned beliefs about mental health and prayer. As a result, while my mental health is not always perfect (intrusive thoughts do make a comeback from time to time, seemingly around times of great change in my life), it has never reached quite the lows that it did around the time of my grandpa’s death.

If I want people to learn anything from my story, it would be that, regardless of whether you believe in the power of prayer (I certainly do!), sometimes mental health is more complicated than praying the sickness away, and we are being unjust to ourselves and others if we think it is always as simple as praying something away. Sometimes, it’s significantly more complicated than praying and requires support from family and friends, counseling, and/or therapy. And you know what? That’s okay.

So for anyone out there who is trying to pray the mental health condition away but you feel like you’re failing at it, as I was, just know that you’re not a freak, you’re not condemned, you’re not having issues with “failing to pray hard enough,” and you’re not alone.


[1] I’m a believer in Christ and proud of it. So yes, I am supportive of praying for people who are going through different varieties of struggles, because I pray for people going through different struggles all the time!

[2] If anyone is wondering what the “blind injustice” is, it’s that there’s a widespread belief that there is somehow something wrong with you if prayer does not cure you of your mental health issues.