For those of you who don’t know, Roméo Dallaire is a Canadian who served in the army for a long time and was the commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda during the genocide in 1994. He also served in the Canadian senate, started the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldier Foundation, and has worked on many initiatives and programs and organizations that help veterans and child soldiers.
Waiting for First Light: My ongoing battle with PTSD is Roméo Dallaire’s newest memoir about living with PTSD. Some of you who already know who Roméo Dallaire is might know about his struggle with PTSD because his struggles ended up being published in the media; which is great when it was his idea to raise awareness and kind of unethical when it wasn’t his idea and just gossip about what was going on.
In any case, this is Roméo Dallaire’s first hand account of what it was like for him having to live with PTSD and how he’s found a way to live with it and carry on with life as best as he could. It’s pretty depressing to think of how only 20 years ago or so, PTSD wasn’t getting very much recognition and was so poorly understood. It’s far from perfect now, from my understanding, but at least it’s improving. I hope that if people like Roméo Dallaire keep pushing for better awareness, better programs, better empathy that things will continue getting better.
Waiting for First Light feels particularly relevant, whether you are Canadian, American, Australian, or anywhere else really. Some of the political contexts might be different, but I’ve heard a fair bit coming out of the USA about PSTD in soldiers, so even if you have to kind of guess at your own political situation, but I think that how hard it is to access services and navigate the political and military system can be really challenging. It’s also something that I feel like is important, with politics and military aside, because PTSD needs to be understood, especially with people experiencing PTSD from more situations than war; car accidents, abusive relationships, and other traumatic situations can cause someone to have PTSD. In any case, one thing I think is really sad is that Roméo Dallaire still has to deal with the side affects of having PTSD. I think there is a misconception that PTSD will just “go away” if the person seeks help or that eventually they’ll just move on because so much time has passed, which obviously isn’t the case (it is an anxiety disorder after all). I’m sure that that’s true for some people or maybe it’ll just be at a level that it no longer becomes an overwhelming daily challenge, but I think that it’s important to realize that how many people have to live with it forever but that it can become easier to live with if help is sought out.
It’s certainly an insightful read that is really worth checking out.
Title: Waiting for First Light: My ongoing battle with PTSD
Author: Roméo Dallaire with Jessica Dee Humphreys
Publisher: Random House of Canada
Publication date: October 25, 2016
Page count: 208
Genre: Memoir, autobiography