Interview with Seth Kastle
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to Seth Kastle author of " Why is Dad so Mad?? ". Seth is a Retired Army 1st Sgt. who served 16 years in the Army Reserve. Seth met his wife while deployed and proposed to her while in Iraq back in 2003. They both have processed their time while deployed differently. Seth came home and didn’t know what was happening to him, he had everything that should make him a happy, a beautiful wife and family, caring friends and a safe home but something still wasn’t right . It wasn’t until Seth was speaking to one of his Army buddies that he realized/ accepted that he had Post Traumatic stress disorder. At first Seth refused help. PTSD, has a strong stigma attached to it, it has a way of making you feel weak but he came to learn that it was a sign of strength to get and accept help. Seth learned that PTSD was like a shadow, it was never going away but you could learn to manage it, just because you have a shadow does not mean you have to live in its darkness.
Seth’s oldest daughter was four years old when him and his wife began to struggle to explain to their young daughter what daddy was experiencing. He did his research and quickly realized there were no resources for him to utilize in this situation. In that moment, Seth made the decision to take matters into his own hands and write a children’s book himself. “Why is Dad so Mad” focuses on fathers whom come back from deployment different than they left. Although PTSD is in the title of the book the actual book focuses more on the reality of the situation for families. Seth wanted to make it as clear as possible for his daughter to know that it was not her fault for the way he felt and that he still loved her. Seth researched by reading over 1000 children’s books, analyzing how they were illustrated and worded. Simple words, emotional vocabulary and analogies were identified as the most effective way to get his point across. Seth uses the analogy of PTSD being like a fire in his chest. This resonated with his young daughter. I could hear Seth get choked up as he recalled the first time he read his book to his daughter (who was six at the time it was completed) he said when it was done, she threw her arms around him and said “daddy I am sorry you have a fire in your chest”. This analogy gave his daughter something she could understand. Every time she witnesses her daddy battling with PTSD, she gets mad at the fire. She knows even at a young age that it is not his fault or anyone else’s, that he feels this way, it is the fire which is at fault.
When I hear about Seth’s story it really struck a chord with me. As a mother of two I struggle to explain the way I am feeling. I don’t know how to put it into words that my children will understand. I fear that they see their mother in pain and will think that it is because I am not happy with the life that I have. I never want them to think this. My life is beyond my wildest dreams but sometimes the fire in my chest makes it hard to appreciate the little things. I can get lost and I struggle to come back mentally but I always do. I am apart of many online and in person support groups and this is such a common fear among people diagnosed with PTSD. We don’t want to be a burden or hold our family and loves one back and we definitely don’t want to expose our children to anything detrimental.
Seth said eloquently to me “PTSD is a normal response to an abnormal event(s)” I couldn’t have said it any better.
I asked Seth about life after going “viral”. His story was published by NBC and then again by UpWorthy it was shared over a million times (I found out about him while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed). Seth assured me that almost all the feedback he has received has been overwhelmingly positive. The military community has embraced his book all around the world. He has received letters from various countries with very similar messaging “thank you for writing this it helped save my family”. I asked him about “trolling” something anyone who is in the public eye has to worry about. Seth said for every negative comment there has been 5,000 positive ones. Although the negative ones stick with you, he tells himself that it is not worth the energy to become upset by ignorance. The people who do not understand are blessed to not understand. All we can do is try to educate the public and spread awareness, these small set backs are very small in the scheme of things.
I asked Seth what he would like people to take away from this interview. Seth said “you can’t see the forest when you’re stuck in the trees”. We must survive day by day but then make the effort to step back and examine our lives. He urges veterans to do their homework. Read up on Agent Orange, toxicity, the burn pit registry, chemical weapons exposure and the drug administered to soldiers called Mefloquin and its side effects. We talked about statistics and how we both believe they are not correct. He cited the 22 veterans a day that commit suicide statistic (it has become very popular with the push up challenge on social media). He said that this statistic is misleading because only half of the states in the United States reported. Texas and California, two of the largest states were not included. What does this mean? The number 22 is dramatically smaller than reality!
Seth has come extremely far since the day he realized he had PTSD. Seth has been a pillar of hope in our community. He has turned his struggle into something good for so many families. I would like to congratulate Seth on his recent graduation. Seth has just received his Doctorate. Congratulations Doctor Kastle! Keep up the good work, we need more people like you in this world!
Seth's book can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Why-Dad-Mad-Seth-Kastle/dp/0692420681
Seth's wife Julia Kastle also wrote a book called "Why is Mom so Mad?" https://www.amazon.com/Why-Mom-So-Mad/dp/0692484493/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=26QGD8S7BE3Q55NE58R0