In her most recent book, Soldier with a Backpack: Living and Dying Simultaneously, author Linda Diane Wattley delves into her childhood to present a heartbreaking examination of the effect that trauma and stress can have on the human psyche. Years of mental, emotional and physical abuse left Wattley crippled by trust issues, but she prevailed, found strength in her spirituality and, over time, achieved inner peace.
Wattley’s earliest published work was a poem entitled “I Wish” that appeared in the Poetry Gem of the American Poets Society. For over 12 years, she had her own religious column in the Frost Illustrated Newspaper, in which she explored various philosophical topics and help to impart a divine message to her readers. In addition, Wattley’s writings have appeared in online magazines including Faith Writers, The Wright Side of Me Productions, The Blessed Room, and Cheers, and she also contributed to the anthologies The Triumph of My Soul and This Far by Faith.
To learn more about Wattley and her work, visit her at lindadianewattley.com.
What made you decide to sit down and write Soldier with a Backpack: Living and Dying Simultaneously?
This was a sincere labor of love for my oldest son who served two terms in Iraq. He was diagnosed with PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was his last episode that sent me on a serious journey to clinically understand what he was experiencing. For over three hours, we did not know if my son was dead or alive. His survival of such a horrific ordeal is the reason Soldier with a Backpack: Living and Dying, came to be. What God revealed to me is a gift to the world. And I share it with great certainty it will make a difference to those visited by PTSD.
In what ways did your childhood help to shape who you are today?
For sure, my childhood helped to shape me for whom I am today. Being raised in a hostile and dysfunctional environment, I became determined to seek understanding of God and life. What I learned allowed me to welcome spirituality, which gave me the tools to be a very wise woman equipped to love and understand my fellow man.
Was the experience of writing this book a cathartic one? Did recounting your experiences help to give any sort of closure to your life experiences?
Yes, this was definitely a cathartic experience. What is so amazing about this experience is that I saw my whole life journey thus far was preparing me to be an advocate for victims of abuse along with sharing tools of living with PTSD. I am a veteran and I am a civilian both have survived Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, diagnosed and undiagnosed. This made it possible for me to communicate well with my son and others who have victimized and traumatized. I saw out of the darkness came the light and no matter what, life is worth living.
In what way has your spirituality helped to make you a stronger person?
The fact that I am alive today and was able to still be a kind and loving person speaks volumes for the many years of injustice I had to live with people who were supposed to love and protect me. I learned life does not care how you feel; what are you going to do? If God allows anything, suck it up and keep it moving!
What lessons do you hope readers take away from Soldier with a Backpack: Living and Dying Simultaneously?
PTSD is no respecter of persons. Anyone can have it; it is not just a soldier thing.
The unseen is where the real power lies.
God wants people to know they are not created to be victims; they were created to be victorious!
PTSD is a very normal reaction to traumatic and stressed-filled experiences.
Without love, mankind will perish.
Stress is creating a world of alienation.
People with PTSD are not monsters.
They do great things for the world.
What’s the strangest or most vivid dream you’ve had recently?
I dreamed I was talking to LeBron James.
Who do you feel is most qualified to be the next President of the United States?
No one at this time. If I was to say, I would say Michelle Obama.
Are there any contemporary authors that you particularly admire?
Yes, Elissa Gabrielle, she writes with such great conviction. Her writing style holds your interest mentally, emotionally, spiritually and seductively. That combination is lethal. Sharel Gordon-Love writes in a way that takes you straight to the heart. She meets reality head on, causing you to face the music of life. And, Jacqueline Moore is another amazing author. She puts you there no matter how much you want to stay out of people’s business. Jackie is very creative with her thoughts which allows you to vividly see where the characters are their state of mind.
What are you working on next?
Right now, I am hoping to travel and share my message with the world. I want to be with people who can use uplifting truths.