It feels like aliens poking at my body.

CW: ¬†suicide, PTSD symptoms (Skip it if you’re not positive you’re up for it. ūüíú)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

He has a 12 minute bit about Ovaltine!

Today has been quiet and peaceful. ¬†I feel disconnected and free. ¬†My largest accomplishment so far was washing my car, but I’ll be doing laundry tonight when it’s cooler. ¬†I’ve been sleeping at least 4 hours a night recently. ¬†It’s nice to have my brain operate in real time for a change. ¬†I had to pause just to recall my own name the other day. ¬†That’s ridic. ¬†Being an airhead is one thing. ¬†Getting distracted by hearing the breeze is another. ¬†I’m happy to report no more accidental injuries. ¬†I ruined my 2 day streak of no bruises, though. ¬†The toilet grabbing gravity check left a doozy on my thigh.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need more schooling. ¬†I’m not certain yet if it will require my enrolling in another degree program. ¬†I sincerely hope not. ¬†One PhD is plenty for me, thankyouverymuch. ¬†I love learning new things, but I resent the amount of time wasted while attending a formal school. ¬†I want to see strong A.I. in my future. ¬†I know many doubt, but I don’t care. ¬†It’s been the overall goal of my life. ¬†The one thing that always gets my undivided attention. ¬†The thing that I think about when I run, and in my sleep. ¬†I don’t care about fame or fortune. ¬†I care about being fascinated with every ounce of my being.

I know I’m not alone in my obsession. ¬†I avoid networking with other A. I. devs and researchers who are working for some companies. ¬†Many assume there is a single path that we’re all climbing together, with a clear and compatible goal at the end. ¬†That’s not the case. ¬†There are already sinister application goals, of course. ¬†You can put the cart before the pony if you throw enough money at it, I suppose. ¬†I also don’t share information at this point, because deep learning is profitable, and I’m not strictly speaking financially. ¬†But you can refocus your eyes, because I’m done with that topic.

I saw the new Kindle, and want it. ¬†Dammit. ¬†I just got the paperwhite. ¬†So I won’t get it unless my paperwhite meets with some sort of accident. ¬†It probably won’t. ¬†It’s odd that I still crave new gadgets, but haven’t bothered opening the latest ones I’ve acquired. ¬†I even put it on my schedule, but everything got flipped, turned upside down, and it didn’t happen. ¬†I feel like I’m running from something, but it’s different. ¬†I’m not running out of fear. ¬†I’m running because it’s what I used to do, and I haven’t figured out how to stop yet. ¬†It never felt this uncomfortable when I was running out of fear. ¬†Now, I think I’m starting to resent it. ¬†It’s interrupting me, and that’s my pet peeve.

I realize this makes me seem simple minded, but I don’t mind because I’m pretty sure I am. ¬†When I feel like I’m stuck, be it from a misinterpretation, a shocking revelation, or being overwhelmed, I act out my mental resolution. ¬†I literally clean and organize my living space to help get my brain unstuck. ¬†Even when it’s a minor hiccup. ¬†I’ve caught myself aligning magazines while trying to keep it together in loud, bright waiting rooms. ¬† Sometimes, counting everything isn’t enough. ¬†I miss a lot of appointments because the waiting room situation kicks my ass. ¬†Oddly, the waiting room at the dentist is the least stressful. ¬†Walk-in on a Monday morning is the most stressful.

I suspect one of the things I’m going to gain from therapy is an off switch. ¬†We talked about routines and schedules. ¬†I could tell she wasn’t impressed with my half-ass solution for when I hyperfocus on work. ¬†She didn’t say, “How’s that working for you?” with words. ¬†But the awkward pause and almost laugh said it loudly enough. ¬†I’ve admitted to the fact that I’m depressed. ¬†It’s a low level depression, so it’s something I normally would ignore (deny?). ¬†And that defeats the purpose of striving for a happier life. ¬†So… Hi. ¬†I’m Alison. ¬†I’m depressed. ¬†But I’m drinking milk, and… No. ¬†I know. ¬†Joking about it doesn’t make it disappear. ¬†It just makes coping with it more fun. ¬†It’s my depression, and if I want to have fun laughing at it, then that’s what I’m going to do. ¬†Because laughing is the opposite of depression.

Depression Diversion

I slept really well last night. ¬†I went to bed at 7PM, which is ridiculously early for me. ¬†I woke up at 4:45AM because Amelia wouldn’t stop walking on me, and meowing for me to feed her. ¬†After I fed her, ¬†I intended to strip my bed and start laundry, but instead I fell asleep again.

I estimate I got about 9 hours of sleep. ¬†That’s an alltime record for me when not ill. ¬†Usually I average between 4 and 5. ¬†I generally suck at sleeping, even though I practice good sleep hygiene. ¬†I blame it on my brain. ¬†It, much like my cat, would rather play all night. ¬†Sometimes I give in. ¬†I did add a new mattress pad to my bed that was advertised as the same ones used in Marriot hotels. ¬†I have a Tempurpedic mattress, and this is a thickly cushioned pad on top. ¬†The combination was heaven.

I think the new mattress pad kept me from overheating from the memory foam. ¬†I’m hot blooded big time. ¬†Also, my body sucks at regulating my temperature. ¬†I blame a head injury from when I was in the military. ¬†As much as I’d like to say I obtained said injury in the line of duty being a hero, I can’t. ¬†I got it from riding on bumper cars at a company picnic. ¬†My car wouldn’t go, and some asshole hit me from behind at top speed. ¬†I bumped my head against the pole that attaches the car to the roof of the driving area. ¬†I blacked out for a bit, and then asked for a do-over since I missed most of my turn.

Instead, I got a trip to William Beaumont Army Hospital, where I was kept overnight for observation.  All I remember about that night was that my friends brought me some warm flour tortillas from Taco Cabana, and then ate the green jello off my dinner tray.

After I woke¬†up and walked around for a bit, I realized I was feeling down. ¬†The photos of the refugee boy who drowned were¬†still on my mind. ¬†I unfollowed one of my favorite singers (Paloma Faith), on twitter because she posted a graphic photo of him today. ¬†I just can’t take any of that today. ¬†I donated money to UNHCR ( a UN refugee agency), but still feel like it’s not much of an effort to help. ¬†I have to redirect my thoughts away from the travesty for now because I have PTSD, and The Depression Monster would just love to jump on this opportunity to drag me into despair.

So I decided it was time to delve into my anti-depression canister and pull out an activity. ¬†I got: ¬†Create a song on your computer using Logic Pro. ¬†So aside from chores, that’s my activity for the day. ¬†I’m making an upbeat electronic dance track. ¬†I’m working on the bridge now, as I already have the main melody. ¬†I’m taking my inspiration from Justin Timberlake. ¬†Except I won’t be beatboxing on any tracks. ¬†I may create a video for it tomorrow, and then upload it next week. ¬†I’ll think on it.

setupmac

The purpose of the activity is to distract my brain and force it back into happy-go-lucky mode. ¬†It works well. ¬†I have a short attention span, which means it’s also easy for me to redirect my thoughts. Bonus. ¬†But when I am engaged in an activity I like, I can do it until my body or my cat demand I stop. ¬†I’m just weird like that. ¬†It’s a good thing for a code monkey.

Halfway through setting up to create my song, someone knocked on my door. ¬†It was Fedex with 2 packages. ¬†The first was my Bose Soundlink Mini II. ¬†It’s as good as I thought it would be. ¬†The second was another Raspberry Pi. ¬†That’s for another project. ¬†It also had 2 new 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles. ¬†One is one of those ¬†Wasgij puzzles where you don’t get a photo of the finished puzzle. ¬†The other was a cartoon with a gazillion things going on at once.

I do jigsaw puzzles to wind down before I sleep. ¬†I have to avoid any kind of screen for an hour before I lay down, or I won’t sleep. ¬†Then I usually read a while, then sleep. ¬†I’m off to work more on my song.