My Big Fat Mess Called PTSD
by Diana Martin
“This is that rare inspirational book without a trace of pink-cloud saccharinity. Remarkably honest, powerful, and vivid.”
– Kirkus Review
In this memoir, a woman recounts her escape from an armed robber and her physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery from the experience.
In October 2008, Diana Martin was facing the stress of a tanking real estate market after having gone into business full time as a house flipper—buying, renovating, remodeling, and selling properties. She’d always paid her bills and had good credit, but with three mortgages and no buyers, she was facing foreclosure and bankruptcy.
So, when a man—The Guy, as she mostly refers to him—knocked on the door, grasping one of her flyers, she was hopeful. And then she felt the handgun at her head. She fought back, getting pistol-whipped into concussion and broken teeth; the robber zip-tied her hands together and demanded money. Following an inner voice, Martin ran, screaming, and escaped, finding safety with a neighbor.
In fiction, the story would be over—but as Martin ably shows in this gripping memoir, recovery from trauma is not that simple. Returning home, she notices her cats’ food bowls “filled halfway with my dark, almost black, blood….They never show that part in the movies, people cleaning up their own mess.” Having fought off one robber, Martin also had the “overpaid thieves” of Wall Street ruining her prospects. All she wanted to do was sleep on her lovely couch, named Marilyn for its seductive curves, but she had to start a new profession (which didn’t go smoothly) and endure the extended stress of The Guy’s trial.
Readers will admire Martin’s tenacity, honesty, and humor, as when first confronted by The Guy: “Whoa, he wanted money from me? Get in line, buddy.” Each insight is hard-won, and Martin limns the slow process well. She also describes images from meditation that have poetic resonance. The second half of the book is perhaps overdetailed, but this can be understood: Martin commits to fully tracing the difficulties she faced. This is that rare inspirational book without a trace of pink-cloud saccharinity.