'The Gutter Gospel,' by Mike Smith.
NORTH FARGO, N.D., Nov. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Mike Smith officially announced the release of his deeply moving memoir, "The Gutter Gospel" – a raw and personal account of one soldier's deep-dive into the depths of mental illness and despair, addiction and avoidance, to navigate through the terrible purgatory of hopeless isolation. Mike's story is similar to one being experienced by thousands of combat veterans today, with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) currently estimating over 40,056 homeless veterans on American streets on any given night. Mike was one of them, and returned to share his extraordinary tale to help those other veterans who are still lost. "The Gutter Gospel" is available online at Books2Read and www.TheGutterGospel.com.
Veterans suffer from a complex set of factors that influence their chances of becoming homeless, including financial hardship, shortage of affordable housing, PTSD, other mental illnesses, and substance abuse, which are all often exacerbated by a lack of family and social support networks. And although the VA does serve upwards of 150,000 homeless veterans annually, that assistance is far from total, with many who slip through the cracks on a daily basis.
When asked about why he wrote the book, Mike said: "It takes a veteran to truly understand another veteran in crisis. Those of us who were homeless, or addicted, or who have suffered a mental break, well, that's a unique sort of hell that only another who's lived it can truly understand. Especially because, as soldiers, we've been taught that we're supposed to be strong, to not show weakness, and not ask for help. I wrote my story to work through all of the trauma and PTSD I have endured. A trauma that has led me, finally, to God. But ultimately, I have heard it said that any life worth living is one worth recording. And that's as good a reason as any to share what I've experienced. Because if reading it helps one single person at all, then my time's been well spent."
Describing what Mike sees as the biggest issues facing vets in similar crisis, and his concept of the Accuser's Library: "Frankly, it's probably not what you think. We all understand that addiction, mental illness, economic worry, and homelessness are major issues – and they most certainly are. But what do all of those things have in common? What makes them all so much worse? Isolation and loneliness. Those are the two worst problems any struggling vet deals with every single day. Lack of support, or a shoulder to cry on. It's also an isolation from spirit, a separation from God. I call it an Isolation Island because that's exactly what it is: a lonely place with no one around. A swamp of trauma, bad memories, regrets, fears, and worries about the future. A terrible place to visit, and a harder place to escape from. And it's here where the Accuser's Library really gets its power."
"I suffer from severe vivid nightmares. Many of them so realistic, they parallel my true life. One nightmare I had showed me a deep, very powerful spiritual metaphor for my struggle to sanity. The nightmare revealed my need to anchor myself in faith, to find God. The Accuser's Library is the tool of the persecutor – that awful voice in your head, either demonic or a symptom of mental illness – that constantly tells you that you're bad, or useless, or not worth anything. It uses a catalog of perceived failures, a litany of every thing you did wrong, and throws it back at you: all day, every day. Relentlessly. Every PTSD sufferer knows what I'm talking about. We have to first fight against that Accuser within before we can begin to make progress outside. And that progress begins with first accepting that God is in control."
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SOURCE Mike Smith