I made a terrible mistake in attempting to seek abuse-free care from the Sioux Falls VA. I didn’t even realize I messed up until earlier today, roughly 24-hours before I was to meet with the Patient Care Advocacy Director and a Mental Health professional, to discuss my complaint of past abuse at the facility. I sat down to prepare some notes on issues I wanted to address, and requests for reassurances the mistreatment would cease before I attempted seeking care again.
I didn’t get very far before I realized I was weeping. My blood pressure spiked, and I was shaking. All the memories I’ve spent years burying resurfaced and leveled me. All the nasty comments I endured played out in my head all over again. The hateful glares, the lies, the threats, and the relentless anger swept over me as if it all happened moments ago. My resolve shattered into a million tiny pieces.
I sent the Patient Care Advocate a note, apologizing. I told her I’m not as strong as I thought. I feel horrible for wasting her time, but I’m unable to force myself to go back to the VA. I’m a bit surprised by this revelation. I’m also disappointed in myself. I remember when I could (and did) endure anything that didn’t kill me. I feel like I don’t know myself anymore. I’m not who I thought I was. I’m no longer a brave warrior who can fight through any pain or fear. I’m the dog cowering and shaking in the corner after being kicked for too long.
I know I’m not the only person traumatized by alleged mental health professionals and staff. I witnessed the abuse of patients at the VA, and have talked to others who confided in me about being mistreated there as well. It led to a conversation about the apparent attractiveness of working in mental health wards for sociopaths and sadists. I recall feeling validated I wasn’t the only one who noticed. I’m relieved I know enough now to prevent further abuse.
I know never to open my door for the police. I know if The New and Improved Depression Monster catches me to drop everything and get the hell out of South Dakota, (where it’s still 1960.) I know which questions to refuse to answer. I understand being mentally ill is a crime, and asking for help leads to severe punishment. Experience is an excellent teacher. I know I’d rather die than go back to the Sioux Falls VA. I guess I’m just another statistic, after all.
I found out a few days ago the Fleetwood Mac concert is now in February. I narrowly escaped a meltdown over canceled plans. Instead, I’ve been coping with brain fog, but at least I still get to anticipate the new date gleefully for three months. Brain fog sucks, but it’s much better than shutting down altogether. I fought off The New and Improved Depression Monster (TNAIDM) last night. I’m surprised by how quickly I managed to kick his sorry ass. I’m trying not to think about it too much (because I’m worried it may have just been a flyby before an epic battle.)
The lingering melancholy is yet another round of recognizing I messed up (socially) again, but I haven’t yet figured out what I did wrong, or with whom. It’s merely a sense I’ve offended without intent. The evidence is so tenuous and speculative; I don’t dare accept it as a certainty. Instead, I’m struggling to refrain from beating myself up over it, while also trying to convince myself refraining from all social situations isn’t an optimal solution. (I wasn’t kidding when I confessed my inner five-year-old is usually in charge.)
I’m frustrated because I know social isolation is not only doable, it’s often attractive. The downside is the fact it limits the depth of happiness. I’m once again debating constant but lonely contentment in isolation, versus what is allegedly more healthy, positively more joyful, but also filled with lots of pain: socializing. I spend much time here; I should probably decorate this Freaking Chamber of Perpetual Deliberation. Sigh. Presently, the desire to withdraw emotionally and STFU be silent is overwhelming. Sharing my thoughts is (evidently) irresistible and eventually devastating. (All the swears.)
I love that humans are so complicated, with infinite depths within each. It’s why they fascinate me. Observing and interacting with them is like a drug to which I’m addicted. It’s just that I can’t seem to master communicating. It’s as if there’s an intricate dance I must perform to gain access, but I can’t hear the music. I can almost hear the universe belly-laughing at me, though. Chase that carrot, bitch! I suppose it is a bit funny from a particular perspective. I may suck at talking to people, but perhaps I’m like Wanda Sykes to the aliens watching us for entertainment.
That’s the shirt I’m wearing right now, (expressing my usual sentiments toward aliens.) I’m going to design one that says; I Might Be a Famous Comedian on Kepler-186f, then order it and wear it. Yep. I’m that weird, don’t you know. 😂 (And this is after decades of trying desperately to fit in.) Fortunately, the older I get, the less I bother stressing over silly shit like clothes. Clean and comfortable are the only criteria I aim for, these days. I still get a good chuckle whenever I remember all the time I wasted worrying about what others think of what I’m wearing. If you don’t like it, don’t wear my clothes. 😂 💜✌🏽
I’m not typically one to rave about the sports, but this is amazing! I didn’t even know this sport existed before viewing this footage. I’m an instant fan. I also want to experience it for myself, (preferably with no audience.) I’m reasonably sure I’d spend a good deal of my float time bashing into the walls while screaming; not that it would dissuade me from trying repeatedly. Kyra Poh makes it look easy, though. I think this is the type of footage we should broadcast to aliens.
Nine days until the Fleetwood Mac concert. Part of me wants to camp out in the parking lot until it’s time for the show. I already have my ticket and have practiced driving there twice. I’m excited! I’ve made a few contingency plans on the off chance my car breaks down, or the garage door refuses to let me out of the parking garage. Nothing I can control will prevent me from seeing this concert. Nothing! Muahahaha!
I’ve been trying to write this post all day, but I’ve taken many breaks to dance, jump up and down, sing, and generally fail at containing my anticipatory joy. I’m going to be in the same space with Stevie Nicks! Words cannot express how happy I am about this. I love her and am so glad she exists. She’s taught me much by what she’s shared through her music and interviews, and it’s provided me with comfort and strength. Music is powerful, and I don’t think I’d survive without it.
I’m on the brink of a new project with four other autistic women. I don’t have much to share at this point, but it’s where I’ll be dedicating my (hyper) focus for the next five years, at least. It’ll be my fourth career, in a way. First I was a soldier in the Army, then a full-time student, a software engineer, and now this new project. I’m probably not a multitasker. I do best when I give all to a single endeavor. It works for me. When I feel pulled in multiple directions, I tend to shut down altogether, so I’m glad I know this about myself.
Also, I think people who can juggle several things at once while still giving their best to all are incredible. I tend to stare at them in awe, despite getting busted for it often. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been caught staring, I’d be hella rich. I’ve consciously tried to stop doing it, but with no success. I suck at remembering if I can see people, they can see me too. If I were a decent photographer, I would take a damn picture, don’t you know. 😂
Next week is going to be busy. I have an appointment with an eye doctor, dentist, and the concert. I’ll also be meeting with the director of my local VA hospital and a Mental Health Professional before the dental appointment, to discuss my recent complaint of abusive treatment there. I’m low-level stressing about all three, but my excitement over the concert has all worries in an illegal sleeper hold. Yay. (I should probably knock out a few more difficult things while in this nothing-can-bring-me-down state of mind.)
On top of everything, I got an email from a dear friend I met on Twitter (before I recognized I’m social media impaired, SMI.) 😂 It’s a good thing Amy Lee already taught me I couldn’t die from being too happy. I have to say, though, if I get to choose, I want to die from overwhelming joy. I’m off to beat my drums while smiling like the doof I am. ✌🏽💜
I mentioned in comments recently how Sheryl Crow is teaching me how to communicate with people from a more productive place. Her song, Halfway There on her Be Myself album is my anthem for the lesson. (It’s also a great song.) Music is the most effective way to teach me something. I feel like I’ve already made good progress. Now, when communicating, instead of only thinking about presenting my viewpoint, I also think about how those who might not agree will hear it.
The reasoning behind the lesson is the fact there’s little point in expressing my opinion in a manner that will cause the listener to tune me out. I have a cat for that. Heh. I know whenever I speak to her, she’s listening for keywords, (such as, treat.) She’s interested in my tone of voice. Anything beyond is noise. If I want people to consider my opinions as worthy of thinking about, I have to work on how I present them. Just like with Amelia Bedelia, my tone of voice, and the words I choose will make or break the conversation.
I didn’t realize how horrible I am at this until recently. I tend to come off like a drill Sgt. In my defense, I did virtually grow up in the Army. I’ve been out long enough to recognize it’s an entirely different world than that of a civilian. It took a long time for me to adapt. The hardest part was accepting civilian attitudes. It’s incredibly frustrating to work with (or even be around) people who aren’t giving their best by default. Of course, not all civilians are like this, but I seem to find the ones who are regularly. 😂
Fortunately, I no longer lecture people on the merits of doing their best, (like a drill Sgt.) I even try to keep my face in check, but I’m never sure I manage. I’m a thought telegrapher. (You can probably imagine how much fun this added to my training. /sarcasm) Worse, my expressions aren’t necessarily the NT (neurotypical) version. Aside from about-to-laugh or about-to-cry, I’ve been told I look angry when I’m thinking or processing. Damn eyebrows.
Body language is something I’ve decided not to stress over any longer. I don’t get it, I probably never will, so no more beating myself up over it. As for my own, I’m working on not walking away like I’m trying to escape whenever I talk to people. (Even though, half the time, I am.) My entire lifestyle centers around not having to speak (out loud) to strangers much. I suspect many who have or had a speech impediment share this habit. I also used to put my foot in my mouth virtually every time I opened it. (Thank goodness, Stevie Nicks already taught me the importance of thinking before saying. Love her!) Now I’m ready to take it further. Baby steps, yo. 🙃
The battle for access to abuse-free health care continues. Jade and Keia of Gettin’ Grown talked about the fact African American women frequently die prematurely due to racism in the medical field on this week’s podcast. I felt validated after listening. I’m not the only one who has had to deal with doctors or dentists who don’t think black people feel pain. Or who automatically disbelieve anything we say. I’m glad I decided I’m not going to die prematurely due to the crudeness and cruelty of some alleged professionals.
I’m proud of myself for refusing to see the evil dentist who mistreated me again. I looked right at her (probably with angry eyebrows) and said, “No. I specifically stated I would not be seen by her again when I made the appointment.” The receptionist acted confused, but I saw a different dentist that day. It was the first time I stood up for myself, but not the last. I’m grateful the Patient Care Representative at the VA is a (more than) decent human being. She’s already helped put in motion an eye exam, and I’ll be seeing a non-evil dentist later this month.
I wrote her a note identifying some examples of the abuse I’ve endured in the Mental Health clinic and ward. I didn’t share much, and only mentioned one person by name, but it was an overwhelming exercise. I also shared how I was dealing with my ex-husband turning into Ramsay Bolton at the time, which is what drove me to seek assistance in the first place. It brought back all the shit I’ve had to put up with since I got out of the military. Plus, the Kavanaugh Travesty triggered me and stapled me to the floor as a result. It was like standing in the midst of a trauma avalanche. Good times.
I’m doing better now, (finally stopped weeping.) I look and feel like I talked shit about Mike Tyson’s mom in his earshot, but at least I’m not silently wishing slow deaths on everyone who ever hurt me any longer, (then feeling guilty about it.) I finally slept, which helped. I also listened to lots of music and watched a Will and Grace marathon while pacing. I might take the saying, walk it off, too literally, but whatever works. I paid enough attention to recognize how insensitive (and probably offensive) we were in the 90’s. I didn’t notice back then. (+100 to the millennials for helping us see how unkind we were without realizing it.) ✌🏽
p.s. Here is a fabulous, healing, and hopeful video. #SISTERHOOD