Starting the Memoir…

For the thing which

I greatly feared is come upon me,

and that which I was afraid of

is come unto me,

I was not in safety, neither

had I rest, neither was I quiet;

yet trouble came.


(from William Styron’s Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness)

 I’m finally looking at the memoirs out there on PTSD.  I’m not too enthused, aside from Jessica Stern’s Denial (what I read of it–it was too triggering at the time).  I’m interested in reading Styron, though that seems to be about depression.  There’s Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story by Lynn C. Tolson (which I know nothing about yet).  The Endless Tour: Vietnam, PTSD, and the Spiritual Void by Amy Snow looks kind of interesting.  There’s, of course, Kay Redfield Jamison’s work, but that’s a focus on Bipolar madness.  There’s more of course but they’re not quite what I’m looking for.  At all.  But even Stern’s is more scientific, factual, data data data.  I’m looking for what I’m trying to write–a memoir, literary obviously, on what it’s actually like having complex PTSD (and psychosis, bipolar disorder, dissociative amnesia, depersonalization–ok basically madness).  Literary madness.  I have a story to tell, only it’s not so much a story but fragments, pieces and clues, wholeness and the void–all that I am.  I’m teetering on whether I’ll be able to do it, whether I should attempt what could go nowhere–aside from the healing that comes from writing, which really, is enough, it’s definately somewhere.  I’m writing for myself.  But I’m also writing for awareness, even though that wasn’t my original intention.  I couldn’t see that far ahead then.

So I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to attempt this.  It’s tricky.  Jessica Stern’s memoir is a memoir about PTSD, not the events.  Clever.  But not my route.  It’s tricky because of the nature of PTSD and it’s other worldly void you’re dropped into, and then all the pieces and forgotten memories that come through your body–how the hell do you write that?  in some kind of order?  that’s believable?  I have essays and bits and poetry and narratives all over, but the POINT I’m making isn’t about the facts, it’s about the fiction I live in.  This is gonna take a looooonnnggg time.

One thought on “Starting the Memoir…

  1. I just read a memoir I enjoyed called, “Get me out of here” (about having and recovering from borderline personality disorder.) I thought it was really good.

    some things I do when I write about this kind of stuff is go easy, step lightly, and ask God to guide my pen and then it really isn’t my story but rather what message He wants out there that might help someone else. I think writing it for awareness and for the good of others is a sign of healing.

    what does your counselor think about you writing a memoir? (not sure if you see one – sorry to assume) let me know if I can do anything. Good luck, sweetie.



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