The topic for Lucy's guest post today has personal meaning to me. My father is a war veteran and I witnessed the effects of his PTSD throughout my childhood. I'm glad that PTSD is something that is being talked about and
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PTSD in The Killing Woods
by Lucy Christopher
|Lucy Christopher (c) Rolf Marriot|
In my novel, The Killing Woods, Emily’s father is suffering from PTSD as a result of the disturbing things he witnessed as a combat soldier. During the novel Emily recounts how her father, Jon Shepherd, experienced some of the most common symptoms of this disorder: recurring flashbacks, a blanking out of the event itself, a retreat into himself and a high level of anxiety. Jon Shepherd spends more and more time in the abandoned World War Two bunker in the woods behind their house, drawing dark, twisted images of death and the woods on its walls in an attempt to work through the pain inside of him. Emily and her mother do not know how to help him return to the strong capable father he once was, and there has not been enough general support since Jon was dismissed from combat. When Jon Shepherd begins the narrative of The Killing Woods by arriving out of the woods with the body of a dead girl and with no idea how it happened, it is assumed he murdered her. Jon has a reoccurring flashback of the last event he experienced in combat: where he accidently killed a civilian who was running to him for help. It is assumed that due to a flashback brought on by a thunderstorm, Jon Shepherd has done it all again.
Only Emily doesn’t believe it. She remembers her dad as the kind, storytelling figure that existed before his last Tour of Duty. She knows he could never murder an innocent girl, even while in a flashback.
For further research into PTSD, and into how mental ill-health affects ex-Service men and women of all ages, check out the wonderful and crucial work of the charity Combat Stress – www.combatstress.org.uk