Episode 165 Dr. Pamela Hall PTSD Unplugged Transcript

This transcript is from episode 165 with guest Dr. Pamela Hall.

Scott DeLuzio  00:00:00    Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast, where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. Now let’s get on with the show. Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today my guest is Dr. Pamela Hall. Dr. Hall is a forensic and clinical psychologist and a subject matter expert in post-traumatic stress disorder. She’s on a mission to get the facts about PTSD into the hands of veterans and their families. And Dr. Hall has written a book, PTSD unplugged how to leave the war behind us, which is a guidebook for combat survivors and their loved ones. Welcome to the show Dr. Hall. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background?  

Pamela Hall  00:00:54    Well, thanks Scott for inviting me onto your program. Really appreciate it because that is the mission is to really get the real facts about PTSD into people’s hands. My background is that I have a couple of years on me and when I first got into my graduate training, it happened to be the year after this diagnosis made it into the diagnostic manual. Prior to that, I had watched my older cousins return from Vietnam in the seventies. I saw the struggle that our families had with how to be helpful and how to embrace their homecoming amidst the political turmoil, which always kind of comes along with war. When I saw this diagnosis describing that fall of my career at my graduate degree, I thought, well, that’s what we were looking at.  

Pamela Hall    00:01:59    That’s what we were seeing. Fast forward 40 years and, PTSD has come in and out of my work for the first 20 years quite regularly until I worked at the VA for a doctoral internship in the mid-nineties. That was the first time I really dug in and started hearing from people about their Vietnam experience in particular. It just struck me how vivid the memories of war were, despite that we were already 20 plus years since they had been deployed. I knew nothing about words like deployment or anything like that. At that point in time, I knew about beer and alcohol, but I didn’t know that there was so much about the military experience and the veteran experience that I had yet to learn. That was a pivotal year for me to recognize the long-term effects of PTSD, at least the long-term effects without any effective treatment.  

Pamela Hall     00:03:26    From there, I went into private practice and, like they say, the long story short is that I worked with people one at a time, trying to be helpful. It’s talking about how they were managing symptoms. Yet still seeing that this memory of trauma would come into the room. Once the memory of what had occurred was in the room, there was nothing else that we could talk about except for what happened. This was before or while I guess research was being conducted about how to be helpful with those things. It was really my clients who taught me what was helpful.  By and large, what was helpful was a smart piecing of a discussion of what happened, pacing, meaning he can’t bite the whole, he can’t chew the whole thing at one time, you have to take bites and work through each bite of what happens or what comes up in memory.  

Pamela Hall      00:04:37     From there another 15, 20 years went by, I was happy to see that what I was learning from my clients was what was coming up in research. I kept working in this area, which seemed to be an area that I could work with very well coming around to 2008.  I was approached by QTC management, which has been a premier disability evaluator for the VA for several decades, a couple of decades, even before I started working for them in 2011.  We were starting to get a lot of claims from, OIF OEF, combat deployed folks as well as, sort of the start of the military sexual trauma evaluation process with the VA. They asked me to come on more.  I did, and eventually, I was working three, four days a week in clinics across the greater Los Angeles area, talking to anywhere between four and six veterans a day about their experience in war, whether they were having symptoms associated with those experiences.  

Pamela Hall      00:06:01    Whether there was a service-connected condition, which, I know your listeners will be very familiar with. I was that person doing a VA, psychology benefits examinations, for many years. At this point, I have done over 6,000 exams. Just hearing that pattern of symptoms and the long-term effect of these symptoms, has really brought me to this point, brought me to the point of writing the book, but that’s a bit of my background, in as short a summary as I can give you for today.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:06:47     I appreciate that background because it does help kind of set up who you are, what your experiences with all of this. I liked that you were saying that the things that you were seeing in your clients were also some of the things that were being validated by some of the research that was going on, and it is a big thing to take a bite out of. If you try to just dive in and take the whole thing down in one bite, you’re probably gonna end up choking on it.

Pamela Hall      00:07:24   [We were] choking went on before we figured it out,, the clients are patient with me as I was, we were at the beginning of things. In a way, it was exciting. They wanted relief. We learned together what that meant to take bite-sized chunks of horrible events and process them a bit.  

Scott DeLuzio  00:07:46    There’s a saying, how do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time. Like, it’s this big thing, if you want to eat it,  you’re going to have to do it one bite at a time. You can’t pick the whole thing down at once. In this case, the experiences that they’ve gone through are the elephant.  I’m someone who has experienced PTSD firsthand in my own life.  I’ve known other people in my life that I served with. I deployed with, and they’ve suffered from it as well. Personally, I suffered unnecessarily for a really long time, because I never thought that I could be the person who was affected by it for some reason.  

Scott DeLuzio  00:08:31    I don’t know why it’s just some. I dunno, maybe it’s my ego or whatever,  but for the longest time I thought to myself, that’s just the things that you hear about in the news. It’s the thing that happens to other people. It actually wasn’t until a few years ago that I was formally diagnosed with PTSD. I guess all of that is me setting up my first set of questions for you. Really talking about what PTSD is and who it affects and how does someone know that they might even have it? What are some of the warning signs or the symptoms that they may experience?  

Pamela Hall     00:09:06    Well, just bouncing off of what you said just a minute ago, how long it takes for somebody to come to a realization that something is going on that’s outside the normal. When it comes to PTSD, really, even including now, the picture we have of PTSD is a severe one. It’s and people don’t identify with that severe look at what PTSD is. In the book, I take several chapters to talk about what I saw most frequently occurring in the veterans that I was looking at. No matter what the trauma was, the symptom set, or the way that it affected their lives, was not severe in the sense that they never ended up in the backyard holding a stick, thinking it was a gun. How could I have PTSD if that’s not what I’m doing? I began to learn, again. You learn so much from the people who are enduring the symptoms. I learned from them what it looks like to have mild to moderate PTSD.  

Pamela Hall    00:10:22    That’s kinda how I frame it. What is that first? it’s the presence of memory that won’t let you go to the past. That is a moment in time, frozen in time, this concept of trauma memory. If you look at our diagnostic manual, which people don’t like very much, because, but that’s my filter and, the diagnosis has been upgraded and changed over the years, such that it makes a whole lot more sense to me now, as it is written than it did at the beginning. But the number one criteria that diagnosis and this is how you start to wonder whether this is affecting you, is exposure to a situation that is life-threatening, violent, horrific, or all three of those things. Those kinds of moments take us out of our, whatever our daily routine was like at that point and shoves our brain in a second into survival mode.  

Pamela Hall      00:11:38    Even looking at your past, for anybody to look at what they’ve experienced in the military or outside the military, it’s these kinds of events that shover our brain from calm, peaceful, dealing with coping with crap in life, too. All of a sudden fighting for life, fighting for survival, my survival or survival of other people. we experienced these things in that every time we experienced these things, does this happen. But sometimes in some cases that survival mode that gets started in the brain doesn’t stop. In these kinds of cases, what we see is that moment in time gets frozen in time and then can be activated by stuff going on around us and push us right back into, let’s say, war zone, survival mode, or assault survival mode, or, horrific events, survival mode. There’s so many accidents that can happen in the military that push people into that brain mode.  

Pamela Hall      00:12:54    The number one thing to look at is did I have events like that? They still bother me in terms of vivid memories that seem to either come out of nowhere or get activated by sights, sounds, and smells around me that eventually become predictable to me, and I started avoiding those things. Then once you recognize that, then you can see how that memory being activated is affecting how you’re dealing with what’s going on right now. It’s what’s going on right now that people usually look at that’s PTSD, but really what’s PTSD trauma memory and the way the brain is affected by trauma memory, and then how we behave because our brain is activated. Does that make sense?  

Scott DeLuzio   00:13:57     I think it does. I liked that you described it with that traumatic memory,  that life or death situation, the violent, horrific situations. Because, sometimes we’re not really sure, like what would cause that type of behavior. Maybe I never saw someone die right next to me or I never killed somebody myself personally, or I never did X, Y, or Z., but you could have still been a part of a situation where there was a potential for that violence and could have. So your brain probably goes into the same mode, that survival mode in any of those kinds of situations.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:15:00    I think I wanted to set that up first for the listeners. I know from my experience, it was one of those things for me, where I just never really thought that this could be something that I’m dealing with. Like, how could that happen to me? It just didn’t seem to make sense, but it can happen just about anybody really there’s, nobody’s immune from it.  I think it’s good to kind of have that baseline to have that understanding of what it is and how it could be triggered in your brain during some of these traumatic events. Whether you personally experienced a trauma, or somebody else, or you just witnessed it even from a distance, it could still trigger.

Pamela Hall     00:15:56    This is the greatest devolution of our understanding of PTSD. I think over time it is, and it’s reflected in the criteria, if you will, about what could create this kind of trauma memory situation. Now we’re seeing three big categories. One is direct. It was me and mine who were impacted. The other is I’m watching this happen to other people. I just think about the guy or gal standing and duty and witnessing, so content warning, trigger warning here in this conversation. Witnessing an IED explosion outside the camp, or down the line in the convoy, or going on a rapid response team to an event that occurred at a civilian location or, back home it could be something like this tragic event that happened at the end of hell week, a couple of weeks ago, that cost another one of our service members their lives.  

Pamela Hall    00:17:11     I think once you’re sensitized to these ideas, you pay attention when you hear about things that are happening. Conceptions or misconceptions of the civilian world is that, oh, maybe PTSD can happen if you’re in a combat situation in the military, but not other kinds of situations. Even service members make that kind of a judgment or a mismatch its misinformation is what it is. Because now the third aspect or the third big grouping of what can lead to this is if you are in a first responder position, where time after time, you’re going into crisis events and you manage each one without any trouble. Then all of a sudden there’s something that gets ya. You can tell it’s getting you because it has pushed you into a survival management mode.  

Pamela Hall    00:18:19    Now we have these three groupings of trauma events that can occur. That said in the past, we might not have thought of a medic experiencing a PTSD condition because that medic worked on the base in a base hospital. What we know is that that medic can be just as vulnerable to this happening.  By virtue of the treatments that are the injuries that they witnessed, the treatments they’re involved in providing. There’s a very broad definition. That’s also very specific because this injury is a rather specific injury to our ability to move in and out of survival mode, according to the circumstances around us. Instead, this injury pushes us into survival mode or chronically keeps us in survival mode. Like you said, it doesn’t matter who we are. It can happen to a therapist. It can happen to the smartest, most resilient person. It can happen in the air force and the coast guard and, in all branches of the service, it can happen. Resiliency has been a watchword in the military for quite some years now. The building of resiliency is certainly important. Still, the most resilient person can suddenly encounter, honestly, what you guys and gals call everybody’s got their thing.  Everybody’s that thing that’s gonna bother him.  

Scott DeLuzio  00:20:12   It could be anybody I’ve talked to who may have been deployed, but they never left the base. You’re talking about the medic who was just on the base. They never went outside the wire. They never were on a patrol or anything like that. They were just working on their base, and that can happen to them too. All that type of stuff can happen to them. Just as easily as someone who’s outside the wire every day, going on patrols and discovering IEDs or getting into a firefight, it could happen to both of them, just as equally. It’s good that we kind of cleared that up and got that information out there.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:21:01    But specifically when we’re talking about service members, and the veterans, we often see that they are arguments, let their pride get in the way or their ego, in terms of the treatment that they need. I think I was probably a good case of that. I like that people like me, for example, might think that they just don’t need to get help, but they’ll be fine on their own.  I can handle it. Some I’m tough. I can deal with this. But then their loved ones might be able to see something that’s not quite right. How can a loved one, a family member, a spouse, a child, whoever, approach these people and let them know that they think it might be a good idea to go and talk to someone and get some help? What are some of the ways that these people can help their loved ones get the help that they need?  

Pamela Hall      00:21:57    Oh, good question. I always have a little bit of trouble shifting to that point of view,  but who’s going to be persuading somebody to go well, I’ll tell you what, so I always ask, the first thing I ask is why now it’s been 10 years since you deployed, which by the way, is kind of in my experience, no research in this, just my experience that it’s 10 years post-deployment before, folks report or comfort a VA exam. What did it take for that to happen? The number one thing they say is my spouse told me to do it

Scott DeLuzio  00:22:43    Well, that sounds awfully familiar.  

Pamela Hall     00:22:47     I actually had a guy come plopped down in my office. This is like one of the stories I tell because it happened several times, but one guy in particular Marine. He plopped down and, he said, well, doc, my wife thinks I got PTSD. I think I’m just an asshole. I’ll be the judge of that, which made us both laugh quite a lot. Because agitation is one of those things that’s what we think PTSD is.  You got angry. Well, not necessarily. He might, or she might just be angry about stuff, but when there’s PTSD, anger is always part of it. Because I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, like at least the thought, why is this happening again?  

Pamela Hall     00:23:44    Why can’t I get a hold of it? I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since 2006. The sleep disturbance itself can account for irritability in a short temper, but you combine that with, why am I not sleeping because I can’t get this off my mind, or because I’m having nightmares about this a couple of times a week or a couple of times a month. That’s the range. What can a spouse do before it gets to that ultimatum point that spouses see the sleep disturbance?  

Pamela Hall    00:24:31     I think approaching somebody from the aspect of man, I never see you get a good night’s sleep. Besides that, you’re interrupting my sleep with all this moving around and talking all of this,  getting up to check outside, make sure that everything’s square,  and you did already lock that door by the way. You don’t have to go check that door again.  These are common. It’s so common. A person feels kind of foolish when it’s brought to their attention. It’s such a dicey situation for spouses to talk to each other about the impact of PTSD. That’s a big reason I wrote the book so that I could say, Hey, look at it, find out some things to know about what PTSD looks like, so that you can, maybe a little more sensitively, a little less. I think spouses and families are kind of scared of this too.  I’d probably hedge that way too much. I think everybody’s scared of this.  I think we’re going to be scared of this until we understand it.  

Scott DeLuzio  00:25:54    That’s exactly what I was going to say is that it’s. We’re all scared of the things that we’re not familiar with, but fear of the unknown. Like that’s a normal thing. Until we have a better understanding on an individual basis of what PTSD is and how it affects people. It is sort of a scary topic. I know when I first reached out for help, it was this big, scary thing that I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what the treatment was going to look like. I didn’t know if I was going to be all the way to some padded room somewhere.  I didn’t have a clue what I was walking myself into with all of this. Fortunately for anyone out there listening, there’s no padded rooms involved.  

Pamela Hall      00:26:41     I have 6,000 exams. I never put anybody in a padded room and 30 years before that, or, the third, whatever, all this, that sounds like a long time, but I’ll tell you, I have actually put my career into this sort of by accident and then on purpose. Honestly, I think the other thing people are really afraid of is you can’t get better from it. Why even address it, but if people didn’t get better from this, I’d actually done something else with my entire life. I’ve seen people get better.  Getting better means nightmares fewer and farther between. It means being able to tolerate going to sporting events again and tolerating going to a mall. I don’t know if anybody can really end up tolerating going to the mall, but, you could if malls are your thing, then you could tolerate that too.  I’m more of a skip in buying it and get out kind of a shopper.  

Scott DeLuzio  00:27:51     I’m more of an Amazon kind of guy,

Pamela Hall      00:27:55     I do all my grocery shopping remotely. Now. I’m not afraid of the delivery person.  Being able to get out of the house without having to plan every step, these are somewhat what recovery looks like. I also cover that in this book, what does recovery look like? That when a family member, a parent, talks to their service member about what they’re seeing, what this thing is getting in your way, man,  this is keeping you from being the dad you want to be. This is keeping you from playing soccer on a soccer field. Making you look over your shoulder, at every restaurant, so just kind of, again, with a bit of pride. I think it’s very hard to say to somebody, see the effect on you and what you can recover from this. That was a big reason I wrote the book was to be able to say, look, people do recover from this.  

Pamela Hall      00:29:07    It is a myth that people don’t recover. The people who don’t recover, why we have them. This is because we have not had effective treatment until very recently, So we just have seen people go on and on and on with this because we haven’t quite known what to do with it in an effective way across all of the same mental health professions.  That gets into another topic. I can so easily go down sidebars on this topic because I like it so much.  I was just about to talk about all the other ways that you can address this stuff without ever talking to a therapist.  

Scott DeLuzio  00:29:50    I do think it’s important that the family members of the loved ones who are out there, maybe it’s not even family members, could be neighbors, coworkers, friends, whatever that they know that there’s something that they can do to help. Kind of get them in the right direction to nudge them towards, getting some help. But there are steps like you were saying, there are some steps that people can take to go down this path of recovery. It is something that you can recover from.I mentioned Amazon before. We live in this on-demand world where you order something online and then like the next morning it’s sitting on your doorstep and you want to watch a show.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:30:46    You pull up Netflix and it’s there, you just watch it. I think that we’ve gotten spoiled in a way that we sort of expect there to be this magic wand that you can just wave over someone and then magically just have their PTSD disappear, and life is good, and everyone goes on and lives a nice, happy life. But that’s not the case. There’s no magic wand that you can wave. If there was, you’d be doing it all the time and you’d be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Because we’d all want that. We’d all be knocking down your door, trying to get  

Pamela Hall      00:31:26    In all these years. I have heard things come and go over and over again about this, is the quick way, this is the quick way to deal with this. Even within my profession, in 12 easy sessions, you can overcome PTSD. 

Scott DeLuzio  00:31:43   It takes commitment, right. It takes openness and honesty with the person that you’re speaking with. What does a successful plan look like? What level of commitment is involved? What can people expect to walk into their first session and go through this treatment process, and what happens after those 12 sessions? How do they continue to work on themselves?  

Pamela Hall     00:32:12    Well, now I’m going to have to sit up because it’s a heck of a journey for people. I love what’s been happening since I launched the book about Memorial Day. Last year we launched this book and I love what’s been happening because I’ve been having conversations with people like you, Scott, and veterans. This question is always the question. The first session people are, how long is this gonna take? How long is this gonna take? So my answer to them was, ask me again in six months.  

Pamela Hall     00:32:58    Because in six months, we’ll know, we’ll know whether six months was helpful. And by helpful, I mean, did it make these memories be less intrusive? Did you experience less anxiety or nervousness, or even fear about safety in public places in six months? We’re going to know what the pace is going to be and how you’re going to recover because you are going to recover from sticking to it. Recently, it occurred to me that recovering from PTSD is a lot like engaging in, a physical, personal training plan. How long does it take to get abs, Scott? How long?  

Scott DeLuzio   00:33:49    Well,  that’s one of those things. I hate the answer, but it depends on the answer because it depends on where you’re starting from.  You want to use that physical example of how long does it take to get abs, well, if you have this big beer belly and that’s where you’re starting from, well, it’s going to take a little bit longer than the person who’s already kinda thin. But that doesn’t have that definition there. It’s just gonna depend on each person’s going to be different. I like that analogy because it’s true, the amount of effort that you put into it is also going to affect how long it takes. 

Pamela Hall     00:34:31    The kind of skills you learn,  your willingness to practice those skills on a daily basis. Or like my personal trainer says three days a week, three days a week you have to do this stuff three days a week. I still don’t think I’m going to get abs, but that’s okay. I might take 5, 6, 7 days a week. There’s kind of a funny way that physical strength is a really good analogy to say the strength to push back against how a trauma memory wants you to feel, and I think folks who have PTSD know what that means. Other people are like, I don’t get that, because they don’t have the kind of memory that keeps wanting them. They don’t have the kind of memory that wants to push them into feeling sad or push them into feeling careful or, so the daily practice. Okay. What is the first session like a first session is about where you are in this process. Do you know how to name feelings? Oh, that is a big thing. First service members who don’t want to talk about their feelings in the first place. Now I’m going to suddenly teach you how to talk about feelings. That could take a lot.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:36:06    You’re absolutely right with that because for the longest time where we’re basically told, okay, like just stuffed down those feelings and, just suck it up and do your job. And that’s, that was a message that we got for all these years. Now we’re sitting down with someone who’s saying, oh, let’s open this, this package up and see what kind of feelings are inside. I don’t know if you want to open Pandora’s box now.  

Pamela Hall      00:36:36    It is Pandora’s box because it does fly out and things get worse before they get better. This is the uncomfortable truth, saying the quiet things out loud, truthfully this first month, two months, three months, look, it could be a while. The first quote, unquote, 12 evidence-based treatment appointments could just be all about opening the box and just seeing what’s in there. It’s tough because then you not only learn what your emotions are like now you have to have other ways to deal with them. Then,  well, you have to keep working out. You have to keep doing the healthy practices that you have. but you have to, you have to eat well, good sleep hygiene. I mean, we start talking about the things that are important to physical health. They’re also important to our emotional health and to our recovery from PTSD.  

Pamela Hall     00:37:41    A person like myself might say, I’m going to now teach you meditation. A person like yourself might be Mehta who I don’t really sit still for five minutes, let alone30 minutes or visual imagery. What the heck does that mean? Really knowing your veteran population, knowing your military populations so important, a big shift happened for me when I understood the kinds of routines and rituals that you all learn to shoot straight on the shooting range, believe it or not, those kinds of skills you’ll learn to focus in to be able to shoot straight are the same kind of skills you can apply to refocus when a trauma memory is bothering you.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:38:41    No, I had never really considered that until just like two seconds ago when you mentioned that.  You’re absolutely right. When you’re learning to shoot. When you’re shooting at any point, there’s a whole lot that goes into it. It’s not like Hollywood movies where you just pull the trigger and then just spray and pray shooting everything and you’ve magically hit them. There’s a lot that goes into it. You focus on your breathing. You’re the sight picture. You’re focused on everything that you’re doing. You’re in that moment. Anything else that’s going on is just irrelevant. You push that out. You focus on this one thing here and now in this moment. That’s like a really good way to think about it, that level of focus that you had when you were first learning to shoot a gun when you’re sitting on that range and you’re looking at that target out in the distance and you have your sight picture, your breathing, and all the mechanics. 

Pamela Hall      00:39:57     You stop thinking about the conflict with the spouse. You stop thinking about anything. That’s not happening on the range and you are just focusing. Translating skills you already have into skills for pushing back trauma memory.I think it is the ticket.  it’s certainly something that has been useful to a lot of, a lot of service members or a lot of what’s a lot, but at least the people that I’ve talked to, it was a while before I came up with that. First I just had to know how to respond to the question. Are you a veteran? Which is no, I’m not. I’ve been in the rear way behind the gear way back home, all of my life, appreciating the work you, you all do. my thank you for your services, very well-informed, but now that I know veterans, saying this from the perspective of mental health providers, the challenge is to develop veteran competencies and military service person competencies and being unafraid of crossing over skills that were useful in war or trainee to this battle against trauma memory.  

Pamela Hall      00:41:31    Because we want you guys to come back home. That’s what, this is all about how to leave the war behind us. Particularly I focus on combat, but I’ll just leave it at that for now.  It’s quite nuanced when you look at other kinds of trauma, like, assault-related trauma, there’s other ways to look at this, but honestly for the veteran population, some of those, already got those skills from the training. The crossover and being able to help people cross those skills over back to physical, physical training, personal training, and then doing it consistently, like learning, like disciplining yourself to address trauma memory in specific ways. That’s what leads to recovery and not just management of symptoms..  

Scott DeLuzio    00:42:28    I’d like to give you the opportunity to talk a little bit more about your book. you mentioned a couple of times throughout the interview and I want you to be able to give us a little bit more information about the book PTSD Unplugged, what sort of resources are available in the book? What do you hope that readers are going to take away from it? I believe you said earlier before we started recording that you had part of the book that you wanted to read here and give you the opportunity to do all of that. Now, if, if you still want to.  

Pamela Hall     00:43:05    Well, I never wanted to write a book in my entire life actually. But what was happening was what, it was 2019. I had been doing this since 2008 and I was talking to OIF OEF vets who were internet savvy and, or maybe not. I mean, actually, a lot of vets don’t really care about any kind of social media or whatnot. I get that too, but still, how to look up if you got a temperature and sweating and now we’re looking that up to see whether we got COVID something, do I have the symptoms?  This is not something that veterans were looking at.  

Pamela Hall      00:44:03    I just started asking, have you ever looked this up online, like you can actually Google evidence-based treatments for PTSD. You can Google the Nash, or you can look up the national center for PTSD, which is a VA organization.  I started saying these things to veterans over and over again, and went home and complained even our young vets are not investigating what this is to the point where my friends and family were like, it is time for you to write a book.  I got talked into it and it was the best process for me. It was the best thing for me to do. It took me about six months to write the book and then a year to, and then COVID hit and then, and then we edited the book. The first thing I want to say about the book is it’s this fan, let me get this.  

Pamela Hall     00:44:57    That’s how thick it is. My son, who is like my best fan and best critic, told me it took him three and a half hours to read it. So I’m like, okay, good. That’s good. The font is a nice size and it starts at the beginning saying why I wrote the book, which was just to get all the information in one place in a vet-friendly way. This is the conversation I had with 6,000 vets in one book. I also collaborated with a person I met along the way whose grandfather was a paratrooper, at Normandy. It starts with her depiction of her relationship and rapport with her grandfather,  and how his PTSD symptoms, which of course weren’t recognized as such but led to such alienation in his family.  

Pamela Hall     00:46:08    The goal in writing this book is to inform Vets and their family members about PTSD, to reduce the alienation, to lower the stigma, to say to our veterans that look at, we can see it. You can see it, let’s do something about it. This is the part I was mentioning earlier that when I finally get down to it, it’s chapter two in the book PTSD, what it is and what it isn’t. And it starts off with violence leaving more than just a memory. The most important thing to know about PTSD is what has been happening in your brain since you experienced that life-threatening event, while your thoughts and feelings about that day grab your attention. Trauma memory is what’s been grabbing your brain trauma memory. That horrible moment in time, that was frozen in time, violent life-threatening events impact your brain like a sledgehammer.  

Pamela Hall      00:47:09    They demand that you shift into self-protective survival mode. Then this neuro-psychological bubble forms. What I liked about writing this book is that he could use fancy words. A neuro-psychological bubble forms in the amygdala. It’s a part of our brain that tells the rest of our brain what’s happening. It pulls in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes of things. We feel fears of the moment and put them in a bubble. We don’t know why this happens, but that’s a traumatic memory. What we know is that it happens at least 20% of the time. That 20% of the time we experienced a trauma event, or let’s say 20% of combat vets are actually already diagnosed with PTSD 500,000 of you guys. It’s a lot. Every guy who comes in tells me about two or three guys and gals that they know, and not just guys, it’s also gals,  such a heavy percentage of men who are affected this way from combat.  

Pamela Hall      00:48:20    Revert to saying guys a lot, but it’s men and women. so you just multiply that out and that’s like a million and a half, that’s a lot of people and our, our suicide rate is horrible. Why did I write the book? I wrote the book because the war is haunting our service members, as it, as war has always haunted warriors. We’re in a situation right now in our culture where instead of our communities gathering around and embracing that warrior we’re telling that warrior you have a medical condition, go see a doctor about it. you went to war for me, come tell me about it. And so when you get to chapter nine, you’ve learned enough about PTSD that if a warrior comes to you, you’ll know what’s going on.  

Pamela Hall     00:49:31    You’ll have some idea of what to say or more importantly, what not to say. This is such a uniquely different thing that the common ways that we comfort people, actually make people feel less like talking. It’s just more valuable to listen and to repeat the message over and over again, I understand why that keeps bothering you.  I think that might keep bothering me too. There’s also some specific tools that we talk about in the book about how to have conversations with people about not just war, but other kinds of trauma events. This process of being out on social media and talking to so many. We’ve got a website PTSD unplugged. I have a blog on there that I get to keep writing. Now I’m actually happier about writing blogs than I was about writing the book. We’ve got some tools out there. I’ve got a tool there. That is about talking about or writing about what happened in a way that is helpful.  Not just blurting it out and then tossing back kind of shots, but it’s something that’s helpful. 

Scott DeLuzio   00:51:02    Because, tossing back a couple of shots is probably not the direction that you want people going, with their recovery process and everything. We do a great job at doing that in the military where we kind of cover-up some of the pain and everything with things like alcohol and other substances. But, it’s sometimes the pain you need to kind of face it, head-on and really address the situation, not just mask it with drugs or alcohol or, or whatever,  other risky behaviors and things like that. I really do appreciate the fact that you first off put this book together and in continuing to help the veterans who are suffering with all of this, really have the book there for people, the family members who might not really know what’s going on with their loved one. They can pick up this book and get a better understanding.  

Scott DeLuzio   00:52:14    Like you said, in a few hours, you can read this book and get a better understanding of what’s going on with your loved one and how you might be able to help them in a constructive way. If you’re not able to necessarily help them, yourself, but you can at least nudge them in the right direction, get them to, to seek treatment and everything. This gives you a better idea. Is it even PTSD that you’re talking about with this person? But at least you can try to understand a little bit more of what’s going on with the person. I think that’s a good place to wrap this one up, but it has been a pleasure speaking with you today about all of this. I really do appreciate you taking the time to come on and share your book and your background and everything else about PTSD. It’s a really important topic that I’m really excited that you were able to come on and share, about this.  I know you mentioned your website, the PTSD unplugged.com, but is there any place specifically where people can go to get in touch with you and get a copy of your book?  

Pamela Hall     00:53:30     I should probably say that I’m a terrible bookseller. We’re on Amazon. so we’re on Kindle and hardback on Amazon. You can also find us on Barnes and Noble and some of the other ebook formats. We first launched through Smashwords, which got us out to four or five different platforms people use NOOK and, Mobi and other things like that. So that’s where you can find the book. If you, if you go to PTSD, unplugged.com. There’s a book, tab that takes you to Amazon or not yet in,  in audiobook format, but it’s on the horizon, let’s say by summer, maybe sooner, we’ll get the audiobook together. So that’s there. And then the extra resources on PTSD unplugged.com where we have a resource page that we call Stronger Together has the national resources that people may or may not be familiar with.  

Pamela Hall      00:54:45    We’re trying to build a mom-and-pop type resource links there for boot camps and emotional support animals. There’s a guy who does PTSD, scuba, scuba recoveries. For free for vets, you can go scuba diving for a couple of weeks, and they’re having some great success because this is what takes you out of the memory of getting you into the present, getting you out of the past, getting it anchored in the present. You can recover from this. It takes longer than anybody wants it to take. Takes more work than anybody wants it to take. Anything worth doing is worth getting, getting into,  

Scott DeLuzio   00:55:36.It does take time, but it’s worth it in the long run when, when you start seeing the results and having the benefits in your life, and in your family’s life, and helping out along the way. It’s definitely worth the effort.

Pamela Hall     00:55:56    You deserve to come home for a mill, all this crap that you experienced. Thanks for sharing your platform, Scott. I really appreciate it.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:56:08    Absolutely. And I, again, thank you for joining me. Thanks for coming on the show. Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast. 

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