“YOU CAN’T BLAME YOURSELF”
by Professor Zorkophsky, ©2020
(Oct. 17, 2020) — “Sultans of Swing Solo” (1:22)
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to ‘The Pulse of the Nation,’ the place to hear it here first. For those of you who don’t know, although I would find it hard to believe that everybody isn’t familiar with my many bestsellers and movies, most notably ‘Dandelion War,’ I am the most well-known and beloved shrink, ‘Doctor of Nuts,’ psychiatrist specializing in actual battlefield mental problems; in short, I am here to help.
“First, a little of my background: at one time in my life, militarily speaking, I was at the bottom of the totem pole: I did KP peeling potatoes; stood sentry duty in the freezing rain; went off to war; came back nuts; got my degree in psychiatry and went to work for the VA treating those who were just as nuts as myself.
“Now if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: drugs are not the answer to erase the slate clean of regrets or, to share a joke in the profession, ‘No Regerts.’ And that’s all they had me doing at the VA, handing out pills: a pill for this; a pill for that. Here, have some Valium. Not strong enough, didn’t quite flat-line your brain? Then try this: it’s called Dilaudid. Not good enough, then go score some heroin, but if you want the real McCoy, try morphine, the Zeus of them all.
“Or spend your own money on alcohol and hanging-out in bars where you’re sure to find others wasting away, killing themselves slowly rather than committing immediate suicide. When I stopped writing scripts for drugs, when I told my patients to face reality head-on, the VA politely told me to shove the pills down their throats or hit the road. I hit the road and hung up my shingle and, a few decades later, here I am helping more lonely and sad souls than I ever could working for the VA.
“It’s the regrets that hurt, but I say that you can’t judge yourself when you were wearing the uniform. While saving myself I just happened to save a bunch of others; actually, without them I wouldn’t be here, so we’re even. And then I was jumped and had a knife at my throat and if it weren’t for an old Marine (he must’ve been all of 40) who took pity on a young kid reading the comics at a transit barracks in Japan, again I wouldn’t be here, thanks to that Gunny who taught me his version of Judo which, basically, was to do the most harm with the least effort, not to be found in any textbook or training films.
“But I digress: the subject is how to cope with PTSD. I say don’t waste your time. Rather than ‘cope,’ as in not being a participant, manage your PTSD, and the best way to do that is to find like-minded individuals who are in the same boat who don’t believe in booze, pills and the needle. And no, I’m not talking about joining some organization to sit around and talk about ‘the old days.’
“We all have regrets, and the older one becomes the more regrets one has. You hear that she got married, or somebody died, or you missed the sale. Maybe you were promised a job but when you showed up somebody else took it. One thing for sure, the older you get the more self-reliant you become, and there are no regrets about that.
“There are a few classic symptoms of PTSD sufferers, one of which is to be paranoid, which is entirely understandable since at one time it seemed that everybody was out to get you. And now that you’re out, nothing’s changed: welcome home. Sudden loud noises are another. What got me were colors, especially that yellow-orange-red that you see in the center of a cloud of napalm. I was at a meat market in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, and the smell was reminiscent of a memory of great stress.
“What I’m saying is that there are endless stimuli which trigger memories and the only solution is to focus on what’s next rather than dwell on the past. Not so easy, I know, but after a few years (took me 17 years) you’ll see the light and get over it.
“And that will be when you’re most vulnerable, as close to suicide as you’ll ever be when you realize that the acute PTSD is all over and the mistakes come flooding in, the regrets of lost opportunities, the really bad memories. We’re talking one-on-one relationships, divorce, families torn asunder.
“And here’s the key: you can’t blame yourself; all you can do is blame the circumstances. And that’s the whole nine yards in a nutshell. It’s not your fault. Or, you got drunk, did drugs, packed up and left in the middle of the night, but you’re still here so suck it up and start a new day and enjoy whatever time you have left on this earth.
“I’ll tell you this: when I heard Reagan say, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall’ (0:10), I regretted not having voted for him. I’m proud to say I will not have any regrets about Trump. Here’s the straight skinny: to make your time in the military worthwhile, and to not have any regrets, vote for Trump.
“Goodnight, and I hope I helped a few of you out there. And one last thing: President Trump, fire FBI Director Christopher Wray, ASAP.”
“Lullaby of Takeda” (2:47)