Saturday, December 22, 2012
Four panic attacks today. Good times, good times. My anxiety is like this little voice in my head telling me that no matter how hard I try, I am going to be a complete failure at every venture. It's like being haunted by my dead grandmother on my father's side.
I tried to quit smoking, and the timing was bad to begin with, but I couldn't handle it. I'll try again after the new year.
I am fighting with myself to do my therapy homework. I don't want to do it, because it sucks, but I need to do it. At least according to my therapist. My cats are fighting right now, and I am too tired to give a damn.
I haven't read a book in like two weeks because I'm too stressed out to sit still that long. It's almost bad enough that I feel like I should be inpatient for awhile. Almost. It sort of feels like the feeling you get when you drink a bunch of energy drinks. Heart's pounding, everything is almost painfully bright and clear, my brain can't quite get my body to do the right thing at the right times, and I feel disconnected from people around me. It's like being a penguin and everyone else around me is a Llama. Penguins and Llamas can't empathize with one another very well. The penguin is a land and sea creature, but llamas only understand the land. The penguin can't very well ask a llama for directions for routes via the sea. It just doesn't work.
I'm not making any sense anymore. That means its time to stop writing.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
They play roulette with my medications, and with my therapy. There is no consistency. For two years, this has been going on. Three therapists, three psychiatrists. It's like being violated all over again, every time I have to talk about it. Talking about it isn't really helping. Taking my meds isn't really helping.
I went to the mall yesterday to get a dress for my birthday party. Three separate times I thought I was being followed. I was convinced that someone was going to grab me and hurt me. What am I supposed to do, in order to feel better?
I am seriously tired of it all.
I can't go to the residential treatment program for PTSD, because my symptoms are incompatible with their program. I take medication prescribed by my doctor for panic attacks that they don't approve of. Also I disassociate. I space out. I can't pay attention.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
This new therapy thing is going to be the worst sort of hell imaginable. Already my mind is consumed with these memories that are pure torture. Can't stop thinking about the rapes and the assault. I'm constantly on edge, anxious. Non-stop panic attacks. It's exhausting. You can imagine my resentment when my therapist told me I had to write a paper entitled "Why I was raped". How stupid can you be?
Friday, November 9, 2012
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Three years of agoraphobia and I have gotten used to coddling myself. Anything to keep my head above water, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other etc. etc. I worked my ass off in Prolonged Exposure Therapy to get a grip on my panic attacks. I endured the worst torments of hell to gain some measure of control. I still HAVE panic attacks, but they don't have me if you follow me.
Since then I've been sort of, adrift. Letting shit slide, if you feel me. I nosh on comfort food, and read and read and read until reality is far enough away that it can't quite get me in its grip. I suppose I may have grown a bit complacent, leaving a way for the depression to sneak in and get its hooks in deep. I have a hard time focusing on what is real and right in front of me. I digress.
Enter the fucking social worker, my actual therapist. She jumped my shit about missing appointments (as if the meaning of "agoraphobia" had temporarily escaped her), and then insinuated that I didn't really want to get better. She suggested that I try a residential treatment program out of state, which instantly triggered a grand mal panic attack. Then she wouldn't let me leave her office, while I was busy freaking out. She made snide comments and was generally a pain in my ass. Her posture, tone of voice, and turn of phrase all suggested some hostility. At any rate when I was finally home and sedated, my boyfriend called, and the wretch said I must have misunderstood her. She ought to know better than to fuck with the crazy people.
At any rate, I called my dad freaking out, and he slammed my ass about going into the treatment program, and I just wasn't ready to hear it. He worries about me being stuck at home all the time alone. It isn't good for me, I know that, but what the hell else can I do? Then my dad called my fucking brother who wanted to talk to me about the program, so I had another panic attack, and thanks dad for making shit harder on me than it already is. I asked dad to back off and give me time to think about it, but now half the family knows the VA wants to lock me up out of state for three months and everybody is "concerned" and wants to talk to me about it. So I spent half of today sedated as well, and I'm stressed and have a headache from clenching my teeth all the time.
It pissed me off that the social worker so easily dismissed the efforts I have been making to get the depression under control. It pisses me off that she suggested that I didn't want to get better. It pisses me off that my dad thinks the VA will or ought to take away my disability if I don't go to the damn treatment program. In the words of the wordslinger Stephen King "Every hand is against me now."
God save me from good intentions. Everybody just wants to help, and I just want to throttle them all. The insidious whispers of depression beckon me to hide in bed and cuddle my teddy bear and let the world go to hell in its own way. I want to scream and scream and scream and never stop til I'm dead.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
One foot in front of the other. Today is horrible, and it takes everything I have to survive it. Tomorrow will take care of itself. It's insulting to me that someone suggests even indirectly that I can somehow "will" myself better. People say that I used to be so strong. Yes I remember that too. Young and convinced of my own immortality. I'm not even thirty yet and I feel old. It's hard for me to conceive of another thirty years or more on this planet. Strength is an elastic sort of term. I seem to have lost that core of steel that I used to have buried deep. What I have now is more stubbornness than anything else. I've been kicked in the face too many times by fate to be willing to give up now. I know I can take a damn hard kick and keep my feet. Maybe just barely, and not at all gracefully, but I'm still here. I don't worry too much about the next kick (and as long as I'm still standing there will be another one without question), because I know the depth and breadth of what can be survived, what must be endured. I'm just beating this metaphor to death aren't I? I'm tired. One foot in front of the other and don't worry too much about what comes next. If it kills me, well then I won't have anything left to worry about. If it doesn't kill me, it may not make me stronger, but there are benefits to mortality. Take two pills and call me tomorrow. And don't worry about me, when I can't walk anymore, I'll crawl. I've done it before.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Therapy has taken a turn for the strange and painful. I'm being forced to try and make changes. I need the change, desperately need it, but I don't cherish it. These last few years have worn a rut into my being. I'm trying to climb out, but it's frustrating and I am strangely resentful of the effort it takes. It would be so much easier to allow that rut to wear itself deeper and deeper into me, until change becomes impossible.
I wake up angry in the morning, and I remain angry until sheer weariness calms me down. Or I take a pill to calm myself down. When all of this began, when I had my breakdown from denying all the trauma for years, I was fiercely determined that I would get better quickly. I had my life planned out, and damned if anything was going to keep me from it. After years of this purgatory of therapy, I no longer have any idea what my life is going to be. I have no plan. I've been distracting myself from the fear, depression, anger, and despair maniacally for these past years. Anything to keep from being overwhelmed by the vastness of my troubles. I feel curiously blank. All my wants are pro forma. I have learned not to hope, not to expect, and to only deal with the most immediate events. Most discussions of the future are a pretense on my part, because I cannot relate to any sense of the future. It's as though the future doesn't apply to me. This behavior is all a defense mechanism of course. Survival is my singular concern.
Making changes is tough. I have to try to care, instead of merely pretending. I feel like I need some sort of spiritual quest or task or some such nonsense, to kick start my motivation. A vision quest maybe? A glimpse of the future to assure myself that such a thing exists. I am skeptical. If I had some secret true name, it would be something like "cynic" or "skeptic".
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Having major panic attacks, and unable to cope with them with my usual methods. Near constant anxiety. Nightmares so bad, I wake up soaked in sweat. I can't even watch movies or tv, because I can't concentrate. I can't seem to focus even on reading which sucks so hard. Books have been a constant companion for me ever since I could toddle around on my own.
I need to relax in the worst way, and other than drugging myself into a zombie like state with my meds, I've no idea how to do that. This is the worst it's been in more than a year. It was also totally unexpected.
Friday, July 20, 2012
I'm just so fucking tired of it all. I'm tired of the panic attacks and the agoraphobia. I'm tired of always being on my guard around people. I'm tired of dealing with the VA's bullshit. The only thing I never seem to get sick of is smoking cigarettes.
Changes are terribly traumatic for me these days, but the monotony is killing me. I'm afraid, and I'm angry, and I'm tired of not being in control. I'm actually starting to envy certain members of my family for their alcoholism. Oblivion is so damn tempting. The idea of something like deep space, just a huge empty void is my happy place right now. No feeling anything necessary. No self-awareness. Just the great nothing. These are the kinds of fantasies that are going to get me put away if I don't watch it. It's a damn shame when you can't even enjoy a good imagery without worrying whether you've finally taken a stumble over some invisible psychiatric line. The depression gets disturbingly morbid sometimes, and I get tired of trying to think happy thoughts. The good doctors will just change my meds again.
I should probably quit before I talk my way into a padded cell, but it makes it a little easier to bear to just rant once in a while. I'm way too frightened of people to say the whole truth anymore. It's always just a little too much. Not to mention I don't trust anyone that works for the VA. I swear to tell the truth, not the whole truth, but nothing but the truth.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I had another round of drama with the VA. I had to be evaluated for Individual Unemployability. Since I can't work due to my disability, I needed to apply for this extra benefit. I completely forgot that I'd applied for this months ago.
I had to go to a civilian clinic contracted by the VA, and according to the internet these folks are infamous for screwing over veterans. Of course, the VA said they use them to get a fair independent opinion. Pshaw and other noises of disbelief.
At any rate, I had to be evaluated by a male psychiatrist. I found out that I don't respond well to male psychiatrists. I don't know who I feel worse for, me or him. I was already freaking out before I even got into his office. I could not look that doctor in the face while I answered his questions, and I could barely speak above a whisper. By the end of the appointment I had covered my face with the clipboard of paperwork so he couldn't see me. I have rarely felt so pathetic in my life. I had already taken anxiety medication by the time I got there, but I was still having panic attacks. It makes me tired. So unbelievably tired.
I find myself fantasizing about finding a small dark hiding spot to cower in for a few days. I gave serious consideration to leaving town for a few days. I know I can't outrun my disabilities though, so I didn't bother. Still, it's tempting.
I've let my short attention span run rampant lately, and I've started a few projects. I started a short story, smutty and ultimately tragic. I also started cleaning out some closets. It's always a bad sign when I start organizing things. It's how I try to work out a really good mad. It's also probably a metaphor for trying to straighten up my life. Later, I'm going to start throwing things out again. Good times.
You don't know, because you can't see me, that my working space is cluttered beyond all reason. I like it that way. There is a pile of stuff on my right and on my left with just a small space around my computer that is reasonably clear. I have a ridiculous and unnecessary collection of office supplies. My favorites are sticky notes and pens. I have post-its for any and every occasion, and I start getting edgy and anxious if I don't have enough pens. "Enough" in this instance being approximately a metric fuck ton. I have pens in jars and drawers and little cubby spaces. I've also got a stash hidden in my filing cabinet somewhere I think. Another stash in my purse. I also get unreasonable when my boyfriend starts borrowing my pens and not putting them back. I'm neurotic okay? I regularly sweep the house for stray pens and tuck them back into my little stashes. I hate it when I find pens in little baskets full of miscellaneous junk. How are you supposed to use a pen if it's buried under all kinds of crap? So my desk is the default position for finding a pen to use. Not to mention he always goes for my "good" pens first. I'm very particular about pens. I have strict standards for pens. I once spent months trying to locate the perfect pen. Succeeded too eventually. I have my regular, boring, ink pens. Those I don't mind other people using so much. I have my almost awesome pens, which are gel pens, that are reasonably ergonomic. I have my colored ink pens, which I use exclusively to annoy people with and to distract children. I have my perfect pens, which are expensive, and which no one, not even me, uses except for special occasions. I also have a collection of other pens that I got during my search for the perfect pen, which I don't mind other people using. It's the perfect pen because it is precisely the correct width, both in the tip, and to fit into my hand. It doesn't jiggle or make noises when you shake it, and the gel ink is smooth and perfect.
I have digressed. As interesting as my many eccentricities are, I had a point. Oh right, the week from hell. The experience at the doctor's office was traumatic, and has left me even more moody than usual. I'm alternately completely exhausted and full of nervous energy. I don't want to eat or sleep, and my concentration is shot all to hell. I'm restless and chronically dissatisfied with everything imaginable. Nothing pleases me. Nothing soothes my badly battered nerves. I might have to give up my morning coffee this week if it doesn't settle down soon. That would be bad. There have also been some minor family drama, but that is nothing new. I think there is a countdown in my head somewhere, counting down the seconds toward a royal tantrum of one sort of another. I hope I get it together before then.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Once I took my brother and his girlfriend to see a movie. A homeless woman came up to us begging for money. My brother's girlfriend was young and not used to dealing with panhandlers. I gave the woman some change and tried to usher her away from us. The girl pulled out six dollars, a five and a one, intending to give the woman a dollar, but before she got her hand all the way out of her pocket with the money the woman grabbed the money. I grabbed the money before the woman could take off with it, and refused to let her have all those she was shrieking and spitting in my face. There were cops across the street having a coffee break, and when we finally got the woman to leave we went to tell them what happened. They totally didn't care. I was baffled.
Another time my boyfriend and I were getting coffee, and a homeless guy pulled out a crack pipe and starting smoking crack right in front of us. I made my boyfriend tell the barista to call the cops but she just kind of shooed the old man off. I was indignant, because the man took off with his crack and started panhandling a block over. So I followed him while my boyfriend tried to get the cops on the phone on a non-emergency number. I followed him until I saw a police cruiser. I flagged the cop down and pointed the guy out and told him that the guy had crack on him and what happened. The cop sighed and rolled his eyes and said he would keep an eye out for him.
I find shoplifters, I keep an eye on them and tell the store manager. Once I caught a woman trying to use a stolen credit card, and I had the store call the police and I wrote a detailed statement including their car plates because I followed them out to their car.
When I see someone doing something to make my neighborhood unsafe, I can't let it slide. People tell me things like "Why'd you have to ruin that homeless guy's day?", or "Why didn't you just walk away?" and I am completely baffled. Why would I allow someone to get away with using dangerous drugs, or trying to rob people, or steal in my neighborhood? If they get away with it, they'll just do it again. Dangerous drugs like crack mean there are dangerously unstable people in my neighborhood and that doesn't make me feel safe. People who steal one way will try and steal another way, only maybe next time they try and steal from me. People who try and mug young people outside of movie theaters ought to be arrested.
I can't get anyone to see this from my perspective. There are all these weird "urban survival" rules, where everyone pretends not to see bad things happening so they don't have to get involved. Like it's such a big deal to watch from a safe distance and remember what you see until the authorities can get involved. These people drive me crazy. It's like they want their neighborhoods to be unsafe. I don't want that crack head to hurt some kid because he goes crazy on a bad batch of crack. Not if I can point him and his illegal and dangerous behavior out to the cops. Even the cops are like "whatever". C'mon. This is sad. I don't have a superhero complex, and I don't do anything that endangers me, I just pay attention and let the authorities know what happened. It takes like half an hour out of my day. Well okay, I do know surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques, but really all you have to do is stay a safe distance away and watch while pretending not to be watching. I don't recommend anybody go following dangerous drug dealers down dark alleys, but you can see which alley they went into and point it out to the cops.
I think my training makes me more likely to be able to provide accurate and specific information, because I know what information the cops need to know in order to be able to catch the guys. I don't know, maybe I'm crazy and the rest of the city is sane. Maybe I'm just in a unique situation, but I don't seem to have the ability to deliberately turn a blind eye to things like that.
The VA kept telling me I should get a job in law enforcement and I laughed at them. My obviously debilitating disabilities make that an unsafe and unhappy career path for me. Plus I don't take orders really well, despite my five years in the military. The cops are restricted by way too many rules, which is mostly a good thing, but it sends them out fighting with one hand tied to one of their feet hopping towards a gun fight. Then the prisons are overcrowded so bad guys get out in a quarter of the time they should have, often leaving more dangerous than when they went in.
Our society is way screwed up. We spend way too much time, money, and energy protecting criminals instead of protecting their victims. Everybody else is just trying to justify living in dangerous areas by pretending to be deaf, blind, and mute when anything bad goes down. Those same people throw hissy fits whenever something happens to them! Why aren't the cops doing their jobs? Why did you let this happen to me and what are you going to do to protect me? I love the hypocrisy. I really feel the urge to cackle madly when I hear that kind of stuff. People cling tightly to their ignorance, don't they? I don't understand why people won't do simple things to help make the situation better for everyone?
It's not my job to fix these problems when I see them, but who else is going to do it? If it obviously benefits me to do something about it, then damnit I'm going to do it. People are stupid! These little things that can be done to ensure the neighborhood is a little bit safer, are avoided like the plague. "All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing."
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I'm less than thrilled about the new therapy thing. I have to identify all the thoughts and feelings that I have that are inappropriate. Oh good. Let's play "How many ways am I wrong?".
I have been more than a little morbid lately. Some days I feel like I should just paint my face black and white and start writing hideous poetry. The disconnect is back again. Am I a member of this species? I can't identify with people, and I don't really remember how to try. I definitely can't identify with the female of the species. I know a few girls who have this problem. Girls play twisty-turny, vicious, and sneaky games with each other, where the winner is the one who inflicted the most damage on the other girl's self-esteem. Guys seem to have a better system, although it makes me tired trying to play that game also. Social contracts are just games people play with one another. I've found myself trying to justify humanity's existence to myself, which is a pointless and depressing endeavor. I'm not really qualified to judge, but based on my experiences, at least half of the people in the world suck to one degree or another.
Reaching out to people is not my best thing. Asking for help is my worst thing. Trying to make friends is torture. I can't keep living in my head. For one thing my brain likes to give me nasty surprises in the form of horrible nightmares. Vicious circle.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
I've been trying to find other things to occupy my mind. I started working on a table runner for Christmas three years ago and still haven't finished it. I also need to patch some quilts that are fraying. Every time I sit down to work on my novels, I get distracted. So I'll get to it when I get to it. I don't have any reason to rush it.
It's finally summer in Seattle, and it's really nice outside. I have no interest in going out in the nice weather, but it's nice to out the window.
I've been reading tons of Heinlein which is probably at least part of the reason I haven't felt like writing. I spend hours wandering through wikipedia re-reading stuff about ancient philosophers that Heinlein borrows from for his characters. My favorite is Diogenes the Cynic. It's entertaining. Also I know I'm a total nerd, meh. I like how Socrates and his disciples gave Roman society the finger in so many different entertaining ways. I always approve of intelligent rebels. I was excited to take Symbolic Logic and Quantitative Reasoning in college, but was ultimately horribly disappointment. The Socratic method sounds like a hell of a fun way of annoying people, by constantly challenging their premises. The class was all Aristotle and Boole though and that was totally lame. I don't math and predictive calculus sucks the big one. Plus my therapist says my treatment is going to start using Socratic questioning, and admits that she will be frustrated because I'm likely to argue everything she says. Her problem though. To me it just sounds like a dare. I learn best from arguments. Plus its fun.
Friday, June 22, 2012
The VA didn't have to make my life hell by hanging that axe over my head for two freaking years while I waited on some stuffed suit bureaucrat to decide my fate. When I sent in the paperwork, I included about five pounds worth of evidence from my doctors, and from my friends even. My doctors all worked for the VA, all you'd think it would take would be a freaking email from my doctor to some idiot in a suit, and it could have been handled in like a week. Nope. Maybe they hate trees? I was traumatized all over again every time I had to call them, or fill out more paperwork, and every waking moment for two years. It is one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life to have to sit down with strangers and tell them about the most horrible thing I have ever been through, over and over and over.
It's bad enough just talking to doctors. In the three years I have been getting treatment at the VA I've had five psychiatrists, two social worker interns, and one psychology intern. Every time I had to ignore the fact that I didn't trust these idiot head shrinkers and tell my story once again. This isn't counting the other random VA people I had to talk to, not to mention my advocates. My advocates, bless their hearts, handled the brunt of the paperwork, and just told me where to sign. I couldn't function because I was in the middle of nervous break-down at the time. My boyfriend had to lead me around by the hand to get me to do anything at all.
The army was worse, by far. The army was openly hostile about soldiers displaying any kind of weakness. The VA jerks all seem completely apathetic to the fact that they were causing me harm. I'd have an appointment to talk to someone, and I'd have a panic attack in their office and they'd just keep handing me forms to fill out like nothing was happening. Take a number and have a seat in the waiting area, someone will get to you eventually.
In the army I could just shout, start arguments, insult people, and generally annoy people, and this was still preferable to them over me admitting that war and rape had affected me adversely. The VA just ignores everything. Obviously, my doctors have to pay attention, but no one else there does. Not even the pharmacists give a shit. I seriously had to go to the ER because they weren't sending me my medications in a timely manner (the VA mails out the meds, I don't know why) and I suffered through discontinuation syndrome which involves nasty hallucinations. The clinic were they send traumatized women at the VA, is right above a methadone dispensary and homeless coordinator. What the hell is that shit about? We have to use their receptionists also, because the VA won't fork up the cash for our clinic to have our own. The "clinic" itself is a hallway with about 7 therapists and two psychiatrists working out of tiny shared offices, across from administrative offices. It feels like shark week every time I check in for an appointment. The waiting area in the clinic is a couple of chairs shoved back against the wall in the corner between our hallway and the administrative hallway. I resent the hell out of them, because dealing with my nightmare is just an afterthought the VA decided to add at the last minute but didn't budget for.
Have I mentioned lately that I hate people? Seriously what kind of messed up civilization do we have, that people who protect us are brutally assaulted and victimized, their perpetrators get away scott free, and then they have to suffer all sorts of horrible things in order to get help they need? This whole thing reeks of election year politics to me. Every now and then some politician will stand in front of a camera and dust this issue off to shock and horrify people, but no one ever really does anything to fix it. Frankly, my advice to people is, don't let your daughters and sisters and wives join the military. The government only cares about them as a statistic they can flaunt to the media anyway, "Look at how awesome and non-discriminatory we are!". They have no idea how to deal with issues that affect women. They have a policy that forces female soldiers to go to a gynecologist once a year for a pap smear and breast exams as necessary. Sometimes they even issue sports bras with equipment issues, but like all equipment, they only come in two sizes, too big or too small. They don't have body armor designed for female soldiers that fits us as comfortably as they fit male soldiers. They sure as shit can't protect soldiers from one another. They've cultivated a culture where women are afraid for their lives to report it when they are raped. I'm not saying women can't do everything that men can do (and in most cases do it as well or better), but why should we? What do we get out of it? Sure as shit don't get respect. If you survive it, your relationships have a greater than average chance of failing horribly (I don't know why that's true, I only know it is. It's like gravity. I don't know why it works, but I know if I go up, I'm going to come back down). Shit, when I went to basic training, my drill sergeants forbade females from smiling, and accused us of flirtation when we did even if there was no one around. I had to sit through a "Don't be a whore" lecture from one drill sergeant also.
I'm not saying I'm not proud of the things that I did in service to my country...but why? I did what I did, and I hope it helped, but any help I gave sure as shit didn't make any difference to the way I was treated. No matter how good I was, it didn't matter. I kinda resent that now. All I ever did was try to give my all to the army when they needed me.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
All I really know how to do is read, write, or try to in some other fashion to express my understanding of something. I can be terribly clever when I'm writing, and in reality I'm kind of dense. That's alright. In an actual conversation I'm difficult, usually at least a little insulting, and hard to empathize with. That's okay too. I never have enjoyed people, I'm too suspicious. When I'm writing, I'm a completely different person. Or in very rare cases, if people will just shut up and listen to me, then I can say what I need to say. I suppose that makes me an egotist or something. Who cares? Nobody ever really listens when people talk, they are after all, only waiting for their turn to talk. When you write on the other hand, and write well, people have to listen. When people hear others speak, they are really only hearing what they want to. The rest is discarded and forgotten.
When I'm writing I feel as if I can command a spectacular symphony and the audience is waiting breathless. It's really the only time I feel as though I am truly myself. And who really gives a damn what anyone else thinks when you are enthralled with creating something? Not I, sir, not I. Painting is agony. It's awful, but necessary. I paint when I need to purge. Writing is an adventure. I lost interest in writing for a long time, because every time anyone read anything I wrote they told me how wonderful I was. I got bored with positive feedback. Writing is wonderful though, even when I'm dredging the black hole and laying out all the horrible and painful experiences for the blood-thirsty mob. It gives me a clearer understanding of my subject. When I write, I have to dissect my subject, my opinions and feelings on my subject, and try to express my understanding of the truth of my subject. When I paint on the other hand, I deal with too many abstract concepts and whims to gain much understanding from my painting. When I write, I feel as though it is less necessary to purge, so I don't paint as much.
Since no one has ever read my first almost complete novel, I'll tell you and you will have to take my word for it. My main character is a wonderfully simple creature, who is full of anger and an itch to prove herself. She's seriously a bitch, who is used to having everything her own way, and is will to kick as many asses as necessary to ensure she continues to get her way. It is impossible for her to fail, because she has an enormous strength of will that often awes people. Sound familiar? She's the part of myself who had to survive under extremely unusual circumstances. I prettied her up a bit for the novel. She doesn't hold grudges the way I do, and lives very much in the now.
I've started my second novel, once I finished the first draft of the first. I have a new main character in the same world as the first. This character is a very tragic person. She's afraid or intimidated quite often, she's been through hell. She's uneducated, ignorant, and very rough around the edges. She is unflaggingly polite, and often a bit simple and strangely wise, but she carries on doing what needs to be done. She's a part of me also. The part who never fit in, that people hardly ever understand and always underestimate. She's a bit more mysterious than my first main character.
I adore my characters, and have a running biography on them in my head. I know everything there is to know about them, and I let them drive the plot. It's a way of letting all the various pieces of myself express themselves.
Friday, May 25, 2012
I had hysterics last night. I'm sure a panic attack was part of it, but I had hysterics for several hours because I'm sick of being sick. PTSD and agoraphobia totally suck. I'm just tired of it all. Well and truly fed up. I haven't been writing very much, or doing much of anything at all really. I've been too busy being not well. Okay I've been too busy trying to ignore the fact that I'm not well.
I've had two of these episodes, that are really weird. I think they are anxiety related, but in each case I started feeling like I was drunk or something. All of the sudden the world just stopped making sense. Everything became very surreal. I totally lost the ability to speak coherently or think much at all. I felt like I was drunk, like, I opened my mouth to say one thing, and an entirely different thing came out. By the time I say something, I've lost my train of thought. In both cases I became hysterical. I just got overwhelmed by everything, all the shit I've been through, and the sense of futility of trying to deal with PTSD and all the rest.
I watched this documentary once, where these frogs had to climb up a waterfall. That's what I feel like. I've been climbing up this completely vertical surface with tons of water crashing on my head, making me lose my grip and fall, making it nearly impossible to climb hundreds of feet to the top. I don't think the frogs were really climbing, I think they were swimming, but the principal is the same.
I've even been having hysterical dreams of the same caliper. It's exhausting. No rest for the wicked.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Thursday, May 3, 2012
I haven't been writing much lately, I feel too awful most of the time. I feel like I need a baby-sitter. Someone to remind me to eat, remind me of all the things I always forget, and nag me to do chores (or better yet, do them for me! A girl can wish.). I'm not going to go into the minutiae of all the crap I'm supposed to remember, but there is an awful lot of it. To top it all off, the sheer quantity of shit I have to do triggers major anxiety followed by depression, followed by anxiety.
Clearly, I'm a candidate for permanent inpatient psychiatry. I don't know how people put up with me. I don't know how I put up with myself. I just want to go back to bed and hide, or at least wait until this latest batch of anxiety wears off so I can think.
Monday, April 23, 2012
I've been writing in tiny bits and pieces, but I'm still writing so that is good. My family might be moving up here, which I think is really great. It would really help me a lot to not have to be alone so much.
I tried to work up a budget, and it freaked me out so bad I had a panic attack. Money terrifies me. I grew partly in a trailer park, and we never really had much of anything. We moved around a lot, because we were always dodging bills when I was a kid. I'm 29 and debt free which is really awesome, and I want to keep it that way. I have some savings, but still when I think about money I kind of freak out.
I've had a lot of trouble focusing on things. I end up staring at walls, lost in my own little world. I read so much, it's ridiculous sometimes. I read the same books over and over again, but I also buy a ton of books.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I really don't feel comfortable expressing the magnitude of this problem, but it's got me in a very bad place right now. I'm second and third guessing every tiny decision I make, and feeling trapped and frightened because I don't know what to do. It's making me very insecure, and increasing my anxiety and depression. It has made it incredibly difficult to focus, so writing is out for now. I've nose dived into reading fiction, for several days at a stretch, and although it is a fantastic escape from the voices in my head, it really isn't helping me solve the problem. I'm trying to get in touch with my therapist via telephone to see what she thinks, because this is too big for me to deal with.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
It's not often I find myself actively regretting reading a book, but this one was distasteful and horrifying, not to mention unoriginal. I thought I was reading Stephen King's "The Long Walk", as portrayed by a slow witted teenager with a tendency to over use hyperbole. I had nightmares last night, that a large group of maniacal teenagers were hunting me down. I suppose that's the best that can be said for the book.
Monday, March 26, 2012
It's insidious how shit sneaks up on me. Granted I've got people wanting me to tell them all the horrible little details of Iraq, or combat, or military culture, or military sexual trauma. It's a problem, because I want to help people understand the magnitude of the problem they are trying to solve. It's not just about helping the survivors anymore, everybody wants a fucking cure. Hell I don't know, maybe make an example out of a few of the criminals on a firing line and maybe that would help. I can't save the world, and I know it, but I have these compulsions to help, because gee I don't want this to happen to anyone else. I'm a survivor, and "I talk good", so I'm supposed to have all the answers. I have a goddamn migraine is what I have. I just woke the fuck up two hours ago, and now I have a migraine.
Excuse me, while I turn green and go destroy things, and rage in monosyllabic nonsense.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I watch funny cat videos on YouTube, because sometimes if I smile enough or laugh it can help ease the worst of the depression. I have soundproof headphones, and I listen to my favorite singers and sing along as loud as possible. I like to watch funny Disney movies, like How to train your dragon or Kung Fu Panda, because as they say, laughter is the best medicine. I make lists sometimes, of all the things I don't want to do (mostly consisting of chores and the like), and make a list of all the fun things I could be doing, and then I pick one of the fun things and do it, reminding myself that I am lucky.
What do you do to shake off a bad mood?
Monday, March 19, 2012
It's also laundry day, and the list of excuses to not do laundry keeps growing. For instance, right now I've put off starting laundry, because I'm writing in my blog.
Yes, I've turned into that girl. The one I always hated in school, who never does anything unless she can't get someone else to do it for her. So I instituted laundry day, one load minimum twice a week. I don't cook anymore, particularly not if I'm in the house alone. Most of that is because my medications are pretty sedating. I'm a good cook, furthermore I used to really love to cook. I had the typical southern woman's urge to feed everyone all the time. I'm also using the excuse that my boyfriend is on a diet right now and should eat fried foods three meals a day. Laundry is a much detested menial chore that is perfectly safe for me to do unsupervised. Yet here I am whining to myself and stalling.
On the bright side, I've saved so much time through procrastination that I finished a 50,000 word novel. It still requires a great deal of editing, and if I sit here long enough I will end up working on editing instead of doing laundry.
If I am really going to get well, and overcome PTSD, I need to start trying to become a responsible adult again. I've lived most of the last two years in my head, avoiding reality whenever possible. At some point you have to start focusing on what is right in front of you. So laundry day is a step in the right direction. Soon I will return to my former state of bad-ass-ness. (Ha!)
Also I'm running out of time in my twenties for epic adventures. I did go to war in my twenties and arrested lots of bad guys, maybe saved a few lives. I have finished the first draft of a novel, something I've wanted since I was a kid and realized that real live people make books exist. I still have the vague feeling as my thirties approach that I should do more, be more, something. Anything really epic. I know that I'm still a youngin' in the grand scheme of things, but the approaching end of my youth makes me want to go all carpe diem on my ass.
Friday, March 16, 2012
If anybody out there is going through struggles with military sexual trauma and/or PTSD, there are people out there who can help. It's a tight community. It's drama and judgement free help. It's also just free of expense although most of the non-profits will accept donations. These women have extensive experience with these issues, and as terrifying as these things can be, it is much easier when you have an advocate on your side. They'll help deal with discharges, VA disability claims, and many other difficult things.
You don't have to be alone, unless you want to be, and you certainly don't have to go through this alone. www.vetwow.com If they don't have anyone in your area that can help, they will be able to find someone, it's a very tight community, and Susan (the director) knows a lot of people. I've mentioned the G.I. Bridge Project before, and you can find them on facebook. There are so many amazing resources out there, and they can help you, or help you help yourself.
Friday, February 24, 2012
But there was this mission in Baqubah. We were in this neighborhood for several days. One of the Infantry guys shot someone in the street. The body just lay there in the street for the rest of the time we were there. We had to actually walk over it every day to get to our trucks every morning and every evening. After the first day, dogs were coming out into the streets and eating parts of the dead guy. It was flipped over on it's stomach, for which I am eternally grateful, so they couldn't get to the soft belly. They mostly ate at the legs and arms. Every night they got a little more. It was beyond fucked up.
Now every time I see one of those stupid chew thingies that my puppy has, I think to myself, "If I died here, and no one found me for awhile, and my puppy was hungry enough, he would eat me just like that guy."
It's one of the dozens of reasons I'm not as attached to the puppy as my boyfriend. DJ is a ridiculously adorable puppy, but sometimes I can't look at him because it makes me sick to my stomach. Sometimes I have to hide in my own house to get away from the sounds he makes when he chews on things.
It's very "Silence of the Lambs" isn't it? I think I'm going to throw up.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
They gave me the back pay, which should have felt awesome. The reality of it, is that the VA is paying for the last two years that I couldn't function normally as an adult. It's kind of depressing. I'll be a bit more financially independent, which is good. I guess I just hoped it would have been a turning point. Maybe I thought the money would fix everything, which is silly I know. All it does is let me make tiny steps to feeling more self-sufficient, maybe more self-confident.
I have no idea what path I'm on, or where it will ultimately take me. After two years like this, I still don't know. I make these tiny steps, and the path seems to stretch farther and farther, and I can't see anything ahead of me. My footing just isn't so good right now. Especially not when all I want to do is hide from the world. I'm not here, you can't see me.
Monday, February 6, 2012
The hard part is trying not be angry with myself for not being able to wave a magic freaking wand and making it all better. This is not a matter of being "weak" or any of the other incredibly stupid things ignorant people love to toss around. I have zero control over the panic attacks or flash backs, other than hiding out while I work on my therapy. It's easier to handle when you don't feel as though you are being judged.
People like to make sweeping assumptions about all sorts of things they know nothing about. Someone once said something like "Of course bad things happened to you, it was WAR." Oh, my bad. The army trains you to work as a team, and the team is trained to protect the whole team to the best of their ability. I had the same training, so it blew my mind when members of my team hurt me. I was thousands of miles away from home, the team was all I had, and I needed to be able to depend on them, and I couldn't. Believe me that kind of shit, will drive you crazy. War is hard enough, there is no "of course" about it, because nothing in your whole life can really prepare you psychologically for it except living it. When it becomes real, illusions will be shattered, fear and pain thresholds change, and you fall back on whatever you can to hold your sanity together until you either die, or go home.
You can not make sweeping generalizations about that kind of thing, and you are an idiot if you try. That is the truth as I know it, and having lived it, I would know. I also know that picking up the pieces are hard to find and put together after the war is done. It's hard to even recognize the pieces of yourself from before the war, because you aren't the same person you were before. I don't know if I will ever be close to the person I was before, because I don't remember who she was. I've got pictures of her, and I can't relate that image to who I am now.
It is hard to accept the illusion of safety once you are back home. Soldiers never take that kind of thing for granted after war. Even in your own home it is hard to feel safe. For some of us, it is hard to even PRETEND that everything is alright. Even in our dreams, when we sleep, we don't feel safe, because the dreams, the memories, the pain is still there. It really gives a hard new take on the phrase "You can't go home again". I read something somewhere that said something like "It is of the utmost importance to not have to worry about being shot in your own home." This is a simple truth, and it made me laugh. And cry.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Alex always made me smile, even when I was miserable, frightened, and angry over the horrible things we saw. We saw soldiers and enemies die. We played Dungeons and Dragons in rubble in between missions, so that we could find something that felt normal. We told each other secrets, and we told jokes to make each other smile.
Alex went home for mid-tour leave and married his sweetheart. He emailed me pictures of his wedding. On May 6, 2007, Alex died. They took his body home to Nebraska, to his young widow.
I didn't know him for very long, not even a year. We both knew that we might die, I was too angry to care, but Alex just acknowledged it and tried to make me laugh. When he died, it broke something inside of me. My grief over his death is still as strong today as it was the day I watched his truck get blown to pieces with him inside. He was too far away for me to help him, and there was nothing I could have done to save him anyway.
He was a good kid, and he deserved everything that was good in life.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
In general, this has shot my plan of forcing myself to be optimistic all to hell and back. If my past history is any indication, my mood, sleep, and eating habits will be shot to hell for a few weeks to a few months, before I start leveling out again. Someone at some point diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder, and something that seems like paranoia which I don't fully understand. It all falls under the broad heading of PTSD anyway, and will not affect my disability rating.
Right now I really want to crawl back into bed, and pretend like today doesn't apply to me. Ironically, my Pandora just started playing "Somewhere over the Rainbow". Curious. The urge to break something has passed, and now I'm only tired.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
What do you do when all your dreams are taken away, not given freely, but stolen? I haven't been able to forget my dreams, even though now it seems likely that none of them will come true. I've locked myself away in this tower for so long, that looking out at the world is frightening. Two years now, I've been too terrified to leave home and seek out my dreams or search for new ones. I could have done anything before this, I was capable of doing almost anything. I don't even know what to hope for. When I look at class schedules I have panic attacks. What is this? I am 29 years old, and I have no debt and I have a little money saved. There is nothing hanging over my head that should stop me except for these damn anxiety disorders. I can't leave my house under my own power. I can't be around crowds of people, or even walk down the street alone. I'm so confused, and I try hard not to think about it at length, because it makes my throat close up, and my heart beat too fast, and I lose control of my breathing, it's too hot, and I want to run, but where do I go? My chest aches, and now my head is spinning, and oh God where do I go to hide? I can't let people see me like this, I can't let myself get trapped like that, it's too humiliating. When the panic finally stops I start hating myself again for my weakness. I can't get anything accomplished, because I've spent half the day hiding, so now the depression starts. I'll just go crawl back into bed with my favorite blanket, and my teddy bear, and my gun where I feel safe, and rest until I feel better. As soon as I feel better, I'll get some work done, and everything will be fine once again. I end up sleeping for four hours, and the rest of the day has slipped through my fingers. I wake up with a raging headache from so much crying and I feel sick, and angry at myself again, and I just go on feeling like that until everything goes numb. Then I don't want to go to sleep at night, afraid of the dreams, the nightmares, or maybe just wanting to punish myself for being such a failure. Such a failure. I was a combat soldier! I served tea in a firefight, I did air assault missions, and patrols for two weeks straight with no rest, and these little freaking panic attacks are going to hold me back? What a weak pathetic person I've turned into.
For two years. That is what my life has been like for two years. So what dreams am I supposed to reach for now? Where do you go from all of that? I don't even recognize myself half the time anymore. So much time has slipped through my fingers. I've painted myself into a corner, and have very little choice about where to go from here. Try, try, try again. It makes me so tired to think of the future when even the present is almost unbearable some days. The therapists say that I'm not the same person I was before, and that is normal. They say figure out what you want to do and then make a plan. Every day take little tiny baby steps and before you know it you will be running again! Yah! What the hell do they know about anything? They only deal with theoretical situations. God only knows when they will get my brain chemistry sorted out again.
This isn't even as bad as it gets, and I'm pathetically grateful for it. When it gets really bad, I don't even bother getting out of bed. I just lay there and wait, knowing that every day I survive, is one day closer to dying. How bizarre that such a thing would be so comforting.....
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I spend quite a bit of time carrying on internal monologues to myself. I have to remind myself constantly to acknowledge my feelings but not to react to irrational thoughts or feelings. Some days it feels like I spend the whole day in one never-ending pep talk. It is exhausting. Therapy sucks. I work hard at being non-critical of myself. My life is so self-centric it is kind of ridiculous. I watch others working so hard to take care of me, and it makes me sad.
There are very few people who can grasp the magnitude of what I am going through, and I'm lucky to have people in my life who try so hard to help. I feel like I should be helping those wonderful people in my life more, but I always end up frozen in panic when I try to crawl out of myself long enough to make those kinds of decisions. If I commit to doing something and then fail to accomplish my goals, I end up punishing myself for that failure, which leads to days of withdrawal, depression, and fear of further failure. I have become a Master in the art of ambiguity. Everything is maybe. If I don't make a commitment then I can't fail. How is that for a defense mechanism? Reflexive ambiguity. Oh how the mighty have fallen! Ha! There I go again, time for an hour long internal lecture on the importance of being non-critical of myself, and not punishing myself for things I can't control.
I am being unnecessarily morbid about all of this. Unfortunately this is just how it is now, and I will eventually learn how to deal with it. No room for self-pity, and no taking any crap from judgmental internal voices. I will strive for objective neutrality in all things. I will fake optimism until the fake part falls away. Rah, rah, rah, go Team Me!