I’m Liz Schiller, and I’ve been working on Look for Me for several years.
After some personal experience with trauma and post-traumatic stress, I wanted to know: what the hell is going on? And what can a person do about it?
I came to these questions with two relevant bodies of experience. First, I know how to do research, and I’m not afraid of academic studies and technical writing, especially in psychology and biology. And second, I was raised with the attitude that if there’s something wrong in our society, the right thing to do is try to change it. I’ve been a nonprofit volunteer and staff member; I’ve been a community organizer.
As soon as I found out that there are some effective treatments for PTSD that very few people seem to be aware of, the next thing on my mind was: How to change the world so people DO know about them? Trauma is much more widespread than most people know. It has a huge and terrible effect on our lives and relationships. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s a tragedy of enormous proportions, and I’m not the first to say it’s a major public health problem.
There are lots of books about PTSD, including books about the two most effective treatments that I learned about. (If you don’t already know, they are Somatic Experiencing, developed by Peter Levine, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, developed by Francine Shapiro. There are other treatments that can be healing; those two have very, very good results.) It’s great to write a book. There are also plenty of therapists out there doing those treatments, and some others, every day and making a big difference for their clients. Both paths are fabulous, but I’m not cut out to be a therapist, and I didn’t think my writing a book would be the best way to change things.
After a year or two of reading, something strange started happening. I started thinking of rhymes that shaped themselves into verses and then into whole songs. I suddenly had characters living in my head. Thinking of characters is not new for me, but writing songs was not something I’d done since childhood.
I had this weird idea. How about a stage musical about PTSD? People learn through stories. Ideas find their way into the popular culture through, well, popular culture. Songs are catchy. They bypass our thinky brains and hit us right in the emotions. And it’s through stories that we get into the heads of people who have had experiences we haven’t had.
That’s the rational explanation. The truth is that this PTSD musical is growing like a yard full of kudzu with its roots in my heart.
Concept, book and lyrics are by Liz Schiller.