A veteran dad who wanted to help his daughters understand his PTSD wrote a children’s book about how the mental illness affects his parenting.
The book “Why Is Dad So Mad?” and its sequel “Why Is Mom So Mad?” by author Seth Kastle of Kansas depicts mother and father lions talking to their cubs about PTSD, and why they do some of the things they do.
“He wrote those books so we can understand him,” Kastle’s youngest daughter, 6-year-old Kennedy, InsideEdition.com. “It’s kind of so we know that he’ll always love us.”
Kastle has been involved with the Army all his life. He joined right when he graduated high school and spent the next 16 years in service, including deployments to Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq.
His wife, Julia Kastle, also served in the Army.
“My wife is in my unit and that’s where I met her,” he explained. “We were deployed together two times, actually. I proposed to her in a bunker in Iraq in 2003.”
They returned home newly engaged and quickly found that their experiences made them unlike other couples.
“We went through all the things that everyone else goes through, moving in together and trying to figure things out, and we were also trying to unpack everything we’ve experienced over the last years and that’s something that probably impacted us a lot more than we initially thought,” Seth said.
When they became parents to Raegan, who is now 10, and Kennedy, who is now 6, they found their PTSD played a role in who they were as parents.
“That’s the thing with PTSD, it really affects your ability to deal with everyday life,” Seth explained. “That’s something we both struggled with probably more than we wanted to admit.”
They both sought the help they needed, but when it came time to have a conversation with their daughters about how their experience impacts the family, they didn’t find too many useful resources.
So one day, Seth penned the children’s book himself.
“It’s about a little boy asking his mom why his dad is always so mad. It’s because he went through a lot of hard stuff in the military,” Raegan told InsideEdition.com.
In the books, Seth compares PTSD to a fire building up inside his chest.
“I remember I read it to [Raegan] and she gave me a big hug and said, ‘I’m sorry you have a fire inside your chest,’” Seth said. “That’s something I’ll probably always remember.”
Raegan added: “I remember I was a little bit confused because I didn’t understand it wasn’t, like, an actual fire inside of his chest.”
Even though the self-published series was written for his daughters, he hopes to get the books into the hands of a bigger publisher so other families will be able to use the book to begin a conversation surrounding PTSD.
“This made us so much more understanding of each other,” Seth said. “If a 10- and 6-year-old girl can take a step back and look at something objectively, my goodness I hope that a parent can have the same level of grace for their child.”
And for any other veteran who might be dealing with symptoms of PTSD, Seth encourages seeking help.
“I look back at that first step, it was definitely the hardest,” he said. “But every piece of my life today is better because I took that first step.”