CW: suicide, PTSD symptoms (Skip it if you’re not positive you’re up for it. 💜)
Today has been rough. I had the math isn’t real nightmare again last night. It fucks me up every time. It usually means my sleeping mind has penetrated my defense system, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Yay. /sarcasm. These are the times I wonder if testing medical cannabis for PTSD might be a good idea. I know what’s coming and I’m trying not to wig out. I’m trying not to let four letters defeat me.
When I first entered mental health services at the VA, I was told the only way to overcome PTSD was to talk about what caused it. It sounds simple, but talking about it means thinking about it. Thinking about it means visualizing and reliving it mentally. Reliving it mentally means willingly stepping into the hell that fucked you up so badly, it altered the structure of your brain. And do this with whatever mental health professional you’re assigned. Side note: You won’t see the same provider more than once for the first five years of your recovery. Good luck!
I read an article in Wired magazine suggesting the retelling of traumatic events that caused PTSD retraumatizes and worsens the condition. I gave it to the nursing staff on the mental health ward at the VA. It aligned with what they concluded for my situation. They weren’t surprised. There have been visible changes at the VA since then, many improvments. For example; the VA now acknowledges the fact women also serve. (I mean more than just saying they do.)
They still have a way to go before the number of veterans who opt for suicide goes down. It’s around 20 suicides a day right now. It makes me sad, but I understand it. When you’re the one who gives everything you have to the military, and suddenly you find yourself in a hospital, being told you’re no longer fit to serve, (because something that happened while you were honorably serving your country was more traumatic than your brain could process,) it makes a lot more sense. It made perfect sense to me when I was told I had to go through hell again to get out of hell. Everything within me said, “Fuck that, I’m out of here.”
I came very close to succeeding at offing myself. My memory of the event is spotty. I won’t go into detail, but what I remember most is the suicide prevention counselor telling me the police were surprised I survived. It stuck with me and helped shake me out of my tunnel vision. I was (final) acting on only my initial perspective of my situation. It was bleak as fuck, don’t get me wrong. However, I tried to bail before going through the entire mental exercise. It didn’t cross my mind I might be playing tag with PTSD.
My perspective broadened, and my situation stopped appearing so black and white. I remembered I’m a survivor; Of course, I can handle whatever PTSD throws at me. It’s sometimes painful, I’m rarely well rested, I startle like the calls are coming from inside the house, and I can’t watch anything with suspense or would frighten a five-year-old. Additionally, July 1-July 10th, I have to wear noise canceling headphones all day, and earplugs all night. I used to love fireworks. Now they’re torture.
It’s also best for me to get out of town when the airshow is going on. I was in Air Defense Artillery for the first five years of my service. Nothing moves in the sky when I’m outside without my noticing (and identifying it as friend or foe.) Probably for the rest of my life. I used to participate in wargames at 29 Palms, California. It’s basically the most incredible game of laser tag on earth, (tracked vehicles, copters, aircraft, huge teams,etc.) While it’s easily in the top five most exciting things I’ve ever done, it also scared the shit out of me several times. Let’s just say showoff pilots who do flybys of ground troops who are under camo are assholes of enormous proportion.
I know what’s coming, and part of me wants to curl up in a ball and cry. Sigh. Instead, I’m going to dig deep and find what I need to get through, even if it’s by the skin of my teeth. (Who thinks of these?) I have my Wanda Syke’s: I’ma Be Me DVD if things get too bad. I’m going swimming with some neighbors soon. They’re Muslim and wear suits that are quite modest. They gave me one when I asked where to get them. I have super nice neighbors. I have it on now, and I like it. It’s too humid to run outside, which sucks. But swimming is better for me anyway. I’m off to focus on fun like there’s a prize.