Friday, February 24, 2012


I had a really unpleasant memory tonight. I have this puppy, a 7 month old corgi, and my boyfriend buys him things to chew on. Dried animal parts or whatever. I refuse to discuss it with him, and I refuse to look at them. I can't stand the sound it makes when my puppy chews on them. It grates on my nerves terribly. I'm not a vegetarian or anything like that, I eat meat.

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

If anyone is interested

There is a new MST resource website in the works, but they have ten days to raise $5,000 to get federal funding. It's really really important.

If you can spare $5.00 or anything really, please go to


Friday, February 17, 2012

Hide and don't seek

I got my new disability "award" from the VA. I'm rated at a total of 80% disabled. However, I'm still unable to work due to my panic attacks. I'm still working up to being able to go see a movie with my boyfriend.

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

Don't I wish, it were that easy.

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Frank Herbert's Dune

I will make myself safe.

For all of my misery, it does get better. It gets better so frustratingly slow that it is hard to appreciate the progress. I still wake up angry almost every morning, but I don't have as many days where it seems the whole day is one big panic attack.

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


Once up a time I made a friend, in a country that was torn apart by war. We were soldiers, and very young. My friend's name was Matthew Alexander, and he was very young, not old enough to drink when I met him. He was from Nebraska. He was engaged to his high school sweet heart.

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

Curiously furious

The magic medication that made my nightmares stop, isn't working so great anymore. I've had some vicious mood swings, triggered in part by the VA's latest attempt to give me a nervous break-down. I filed an appeal of my initial disability award of 30% for PTSD. I've been living on around $500 a month for the last two years or so, and unable to work due to my disabilities. Specifically, my utter terror of leaving the house alone. They decided that the first year of my appeal they would bump me up to 50%, and for last year they would assign me a 70% rating. I've been alternately raging at the unfairness of it, and becoming resigned and depressed over the whole situation. Not only did I get a rating that would provide me income that I could live off of, but now I have to file a whole lot of other paperwork. Interestingly, every time I start to fill out the appropriate paperwork, I get a migraine within a few minutes.

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.