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.