By Tazanyia Mouton, USAG-Natick Public Affairs September 17, 2013
NATICK, Mass. (Sept. 17, 2013) -- Silouan Green -- a writer, musician, post traumatic stress disorder survivor and motivational speaker -- was in a tragic jet crash while serving as a U.S. Marine. A host of complications and medical conditions followed, lowering him into the hell of PTSD.
Green suffered from depression, suicidal impulses, long-term pain, and a completely shattered life. At that point, Green was given a choice: continue down the same devastating path, or live free.
He chose to live free.
He found his purpose after surviving PTSD, and now brings hope to people struggling to live and who are overcome by darkness.
"Darkness doesn't have to consume us. I know this is true because I've been there," Green said. "If things are so bad that we become tired of living, what do we have to lose by building a life that can overcome the darkness and give us deep purpose and meaning? We have little to lose and everything to gain."
Green spoke to the personnel of the Natick Soldier Systems Center Sept. 12, as part of National Suicide Prevention Month.
Experts say suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. About 90 percent of suicide victims had an underlying mental health issue, and many who chose to end their lives spent their final moments suffering in silence.
Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is a spokesman for the American Psychiatric Association.
"Mental health affects your whole body, and you really can't treat anything else if you're not also treating your mental health," Kennedy said.
Heather Leiby, director of NSSC's Army Community Service, wanted to get involved.
"Often, when we think of PTSD, we think of the combat Soldier," Leiby said. "But PTSD can affect other people, as well."
With this, Leiby said she thought of a starting point to open the discussion here at Natick. Leiby researched and reached out to Green to be a part of the dialogue.
Green has done work with the Army, the National Guard, the Marine Corps, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and with numerous other groups, all while sharing his own journey and helping others to begin theirs.
UNDERSTANDING AND RESPONDING TO PTSD
Green said anyone can overcome PTSD and live.
He added that those suffering from PTSD can overcome it and "have an awesome life."
Green went on to say that PTSD is developed and anyone can be "broken."
"It doesn't matter how tough you are, how resilient you are, what kind of training you get; anybody can be broken," Green said. "It's not a matter of weak or strong."
Lastly, Green stated that we have to be proactive.
"The nature of PTSD is such that you want to keep it inside, keep it locked away; you're not going to ask for help," said Green. "We've got to help people, interact with people, engage them."
Green told a story of the first time he met an Air Force psychiatrist; he immediately felt that the Air Force major would know nothing about what he was going through, and couldn't possibly help him with his issue. Green thought, "What are you going to talk to me about?"
"But thank God, that woman cared more about me than I cared about myself. And she taught me a lesson," Green said.
Green explained that when he looked in that major's eyes, he could see that she truly cared about him. He went on to say that the major helped him realize that he was not PTSD.
"I was more than that," Green said. "Trauma gives us tunnel vision because we lock it away and this monster is trying to get out. She helped me see that was not who I was."
THE LADDER UPP
The "Ladder UPP" (Unlimited Personal Potential) program began when Green started speaking to prison inmates. The program is for anyone struggling to manage life's transitions, and it is based on Green's own transformation.
The entire program is now available as self-paced online modules:
Module One: Reveal -- You are guided through answering the key questions that will help you understand and come to terms with the struggles you have been having.
Module Two: Rebuild -- You will map out your current "house" and begin to design your future.
Module Three: Start the Journey -- Put your design into action and begin your own Path to Freedom.
Green stressed that we as a community have to do our part.
"We need a community; you're not going to wear the uniform forever. All of us need to be aware of it and we need to start training these men and women earlier so they're ready for it," Green said. "But it's going to take all of us; no one organization is just going to have the answer. We all have to be willing to sit at that dinner table and say, 'What can I do, what burden can I carry for these men and women?'"
BE PASSIONATELY PRESENT
"There's an extreme feeling of helplessness," Green said. "The most effective therapies help regain a feeling of control; PTSD is a loss of control, (and) when you realize the lack of control that you have, you try to control other things."
Green said we should look "forward, not backward, with goals and a clear purpose."
And finally, we must replace old identities with new ones.
"You've got to go from being broken to being free and alive with possibilities," Green said.
"We are all different, and we all respond to different things. This is why I've created a variety of materials that all proclaim the same message of freedom," Green said. "You can move out of the darkness to a place where you can live free."
For more information about Silouan Green's story or to contact him, you can go to his website at www.silouan.com.
If you are having thoughts of suicide -- or any harmful behavior -- you are strongly encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or your local emergency services professionals at 911.