It has been years since I sat down and wrote here. Much has happened, but I am on the downhill side of things so I thought about picking it up again.
So let's start as if there were nothing before this.
I went into the Air Force in 1987. While in I was raped, sexually assaulted (many times), and continually sexually harassed. It would seem like sexual harassment was just a part of my career field. I was a Security Police, Law Enforcement, Canine Handler. This was back when Security Police (now called Security Forces) was separated into two distinct sections - Law Enforcement and Security Specialist. When I was in, and where I was at, no time were the sections allowed to move one to another. If you were Law Enforcement, that is what you were. You could be pulled for the day if needed to security side, but you were LE. If you were security, you stayed that. The only cross over was elite gate guard, that you could be. K-9 was very different.
This was a totally neanderthal testosterone pumped field. We were given a lot of power and with it the ability to abuse it was easy. I was naive. I really believed that all Security Police would not only follow the rules but want to be the best at what they did. It was a wakeup call that not only was this not true, but I never met people who were: rapists, racists, thieves, murders, lying, you name the deplorable behavior and I knew a fellow SP who had done it.
Before I was even in I hit a side of "security" that I pushed out of my mind. In the hotel that we all stayed at, right before going into the MEPS, the security guys were the ones with the alcohol, the ones who had the drugs and the ones who sexually assaulted women who were told they there to protect us. I passed it all off as they were civilians, it would be different in the military - was I so wrong!
Sunday, January 17, 2016
VA Medication Mess-up
I have moved to another address and knowing the VA I had made a back-up plan with my psychiatrist if I could not get an appointment in the time needed to refill my medications I would be able to email and have my old one refilled and sent to me. Of course VA did not disappoint me, I still have not gotten a mental health appointment, it is in February, so I emailed and the prescription was filled. Now here is where this is a total VA thing – It was sent to my old address. Not only that but the new prescription, I was given also, got sent to the old address. I changed my address at the VA hospital as soon as I moved (months ago). I went to track the prescriptions and saw they were delivered to the old address last week, all of them.
On top of that my ebenefits account changed my address back to the old one after I put in the new one, again months ago.
So now the new medications that I have been waiting for over 6 months to finally get to help is hours away from me. Plus, the old medications that I have been on for a while, and if I go cold-turkey I’ll be in the ER, is also at the old address. On top of it all the new medication was sent from the old pharmacy – how did this happen, oh yea, it was VA.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
This is the annoyance of dealing with the VA and continually having to remind them that I have experienced MST and that I am not about to allow any male to touch me – and do not care who it is (unless completely necessary). I went to my chiropractic consulting appointment, which on its own is completely stupid! I have already been to many chiropractic consulting appointments, and after they say that I need chiropractic, then either the policies changes or I happen to move and it is all over from the start, as if I had never seen a VA chiropractor in the first place.
So changing from one VISN to another is like changing from one country to another. I had to put in for a change in address from different parts of the VA since they all do not talk to each other. I then get to see a new primary care physician, who this one did not even look in my records before seeing me. The clinic did not print out my medication list to have on hand either. No, I see her and she asks me what are all the problems that I have – really? I have been in the VA system for over 20 years and you want me to list what is going on right now, what comes up ever so often and anything else that I can think of? Well first off one of the difficulties I have is with my memory. After that comment I actually got a “and what else?”
So I had to wait to get here to start the process of seeing a new PCP so that I could get a consult to Chiropractic, even though I have had them in the past and had been given Chiropractor services right after that. The one time that I had to get another opinion was when I went to where I had to go today and I swear it is the same guy who wrote in his notes that there was nothing wrong with my back or neck. Then had an exam which gave me service-connected disability for my neck. This was the same guy who told me that if I needed Chiropractic services I should just drive there and he would try to fit me in. He knew that I lived four and a half (4 ½) hours away from the facility. He did not think there was anything wrong with that. So if I am having pain in my back and neck I should get in a car and travel 4 ½ hours to get adjusted then 4 ½ hours back? Yea, this was the Chiropractic specialist.
So I drive 45 minutes to get to this appointment. The guy (who like I said I swear is the same idiot) asked me a bunch of questions. One of the questions that I always have a problem with is –on a scale of 1 to 10, what is your pain level right now, and what is it when your neck hurts? Now let’s just think about that for a second. My levels are definitely not another persons. My 10 is having my face sewn up without any anesthesia, a 9 is some of my migraines and an 8 is childbirth without drugs. And really what in the world is that question for if there is no baseline? If you do not know what I think is a 2, then saying a 2 is useless. You may think a 2 is a bee sting – that and even paper cuts do not get above 1 for me. I get migraines that hurt so bad the idea of bashing my head into a wall to make the pain stop, is very real for me. Then I go to an ER and get shots (I hate shots –like there is no tomorrow), but I not only get a shot but tell them that I normally get two, and that’s not a 10. There needs to be some type of pain level which gives a few of the numbers to what normally people have been through, like a paper cut.
I answer what I can remember, which at times it is “I don’t know, I can’t remember.” I can read people pretty well now, and I can see in the body language, in his tone, and in the questions that he is not at all interested in helping me, more like trying to find reasons to not agree to services. After all the questions he says that he is going to do an exam, do I have any questions? Yes, is there a woman chiropractor? He says no, “is that a problem?” Really? Is it a problem that someone who I have never met before wants me to lay down and put his hands on my neck and down my back – yea! I have a serious problem with that. I just said yes, I did and his demeanor went from irritated to annoyed, very annoyed and he said that this is over and that he would check me out of the clinic. There was another guy in there, to assist and the questionable look on his face told me this was not right. I did not question but I know that he is going to write up something so that it is going to take me going back in my records, getting the last chiropractic treatment plan that I had, which was right before I moved, and then having to file to see someone else before I can get any services.
This is so aggravating. I tell the VA all the time that I do not want a male nurse, male therapist, male doctor, or male rehabilitation therapist. I understand there are some that are just going to be male. I have seen male neurologists, male dermatologist who was allowed to look at my arm, but I am very particular about having any male help. I do not like anyone to touch me, but I know that there are times when if I have to allow it so that I can get the help that I need, but only a few parts of my body for that, my back and neck, no. My foot, my arm, my leg to the knee, the top of my head, my arm to just above my elbow; that is pretty much all, and only when it is completely necessary, and this was not. And with having the VA changing people on me all the time, it does not help, that whole trust issue comes into play.
Why the chiropractor cannot look at the detailed treatment plan, the x-rays and all the other notes from VA doctors and even VA chiropractors is beyond me. If the plan that was written by my chiropractor (outside the VA) was agreed to by the VA and the treatment was authorized for pay, then why do I have to have another consult? Why not just look at my records? That is the VA system. Some do all they can to not help veterans, and I have come across many of them.
Since there are some great medical staff working at the VA, I always have hope that I will come across them. I know it is inevitable that I will deal with the ones who think it is their job to deny as many veterans as they can, and others just have a job and do nothing beyond what they have to do, but I always have hope.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Made the move, wow, what a Trigger maker.
The day finally came and I moved to the new town. I hate to move, just like most people, but it adds an additional issue to the already issued filled life. My safety and security (or really the amount of stress that I have for the myth of safety and security) is all messed up. There are new sounds, there are new smells, new sights, and even though I brought my stuff, it is still all jumbled into new areas that I am trying to get used to.
The first part was the hurry up and wait (sound familiar) which I so hated in the military. I hurried up and was ready to move, the house was a different story, so it was a wait. The wait was that most of my stuff had already been moved into a storage unit in the new town. Every time (I swear it was) that I needed just one more item for whatever I was thinking about doing was in the storage unit, hours away from where I was. My husband, bless his heart (got that term from living here and it really is not a compliment), said we would be moving in a few months (more than a few months ago) so I should pack up what I did not think that I would be using for the next 6 months. It would give time for the move and then time to find another permanent house. So in February I knew that there were certain clothes that I would not be using, they went into the boxes, certain items that I was okay to be without for that period of time, into the boxes, and so forth. Six months later and I was not only not looking for the house, I had not even moved.
Now I sit with most of what I really need all packed up and stored away in the storage unit. Although it is now just down the street, because of the thought this would have happened earlier, most of my stuff is in the back of the unit, it would take hours to get to. Hours because you would have to just set aside whatever was in front of it instead of removing it completely from the area. This has caused returning to breathing techniques, counting, side-tracking the brain, all of it; the whole backpack of tools. Also because of the new time frame, my husband did not move with me. He is still in the house we own, while I am this “temporary” housing with the dogs (he has the cats). The house that I am in is about the size of the great room and kitchen from the other house, very small for all of the stuff I have accumulated over the years. I am using the second bedroom as a closet because the closets that I left were combined about that size. I no longer have my own craft room, there no longer is a separate office, it is all packed into this little house.
Do not get me wrong, I am very blessed to be able to be in this house and be able to be with the dogs, but I miss my husband (who gets to come see me for two days every two weeks), I miss the space, but more than anything I miss the privacy and quiet. I lived out in the woods. I had neighbors but could walk out my back door and sit under the pavilion eating breakfast as the dogs ran around in the fenced (huge) yard and only hear the sounds of nature. Every once in a while a car would go down the road, but that was rare since the five houses that lived past up left early in the mornings for work every day (and the kids off to school). I did not realize that I had moved to right behind the police and fire department, in the middle of the town. Oh I knew that I would have neighbors (hence the blackout curtains that are hanging in all the rooms toward people). But I did not realize that it is (or has to be) a city ordinance for the fire and ambulances to put their sirens on when it is 3am and there is not a single person out there on the road, oh, sirens and lights. I did not realize that I still have such a response to those sounds. I also can hear the cars going down the road. Not a dead end road that I left but I have now found out the major road people like to drive on, even though it is through a housing area. It’s a cut from one main road to the other, and it totally is used.
I stay at the house for most of the time. I have made myself get out and go to peer groups and a trip to the grocery store, but my day is spend in the house, going outside a few times in the backyard to play with the dogs. They happen to like the inside as much as I do now. There is a church behind the house and a field that separates the back of the fence to the church buildings, so I really do not see anyone out there, but I know there can be. The adjustment has not been for just me. The dogs are dealing with all the new animals of this area, the new smells and they happen to love the fire trucks going off at 3am, they howl. The house came with some cats and there have been two attempts on their lives so I now go out to the back and make sure some cat is not in the dog’s area before letting the dogs out.
But I have noticed myself going back to some learned behaviors that I do not like. I check the locks more than once before going to bed. I lock the door when I am home, I lock my car when I am home (both things that I did not do where we were, did not have to do). The house sits back off the street so there is a bigger space between it and the street, but that does not give me much comfort. I guess if something were to happen, going out and yelling I would definitely be heard, whereas in the other house I could scream my head off and not a soul would hear me.
Sleep is the most elusive thing now. I try to sleep but there are just too many noises that are not nature. I know that I was moving by an military instillation but did not realize that I have a few new triggers I did not know about. Since I left the military I have not lived anywhere close to a base, and now that I am, wow, pretty surprising for me. Seeing the uniforms around town, hearing the helicopters, planes and mortar rounds, I did not even think I had issues with any of that. After I got out I did the jumping when I heard a car backfire, or when I heard fireworks, and some shots (country shots), but there was not such a flooding of military like there is here. I assumed because it has been so long since I have been out, and that I have processed much of what I went through, I would just have a little adjusting here – I was wrong, very very wrong!
I heard someone apologize that they were crying when talking about their assault, as if they should “be over it” because it had been over 30 years since it happened. I had shook my head, it does not matter how long ago these things have occurred, when you are triggered, when your mind decides to remind you of what you have been through, there really is nothing that you can do, other than go on with positive coping skills you have learned. The brain automatically just clicks and before you even have a thought your heart is racing, your beginning to shake, and you just have to work through it, but you can work through it.
Here is what most people do not understand about triggers – you do not pick them, they pick themselves. I can be fine with a lot of things that are very similar to my traumatic experiences, but then comes that little scent and it is over, my body responds, then I have to respond to the response. There is a reason they call them “automatic thoughts” because that is what they are – automatic. It is mind boggling that you can go so long and think that you have worked through it all, then one day the sound of a car backfiring and you find yourself jumping for cover. Just as I have found that I also am staying clear of men. I keep my distance, I watch them more, I am suspicious of them all. I see the uniforms, but it is not that, it is the insignias that seem to be the true trigger. Mostly, I believe, because those were not the uniforms when I was in. What I did not realize was the amount of camo military wears when off duty. They have not been in that long to have the “old” uniforms that are no longer used, but they put that camo jacket on and it just seems to be everywhere here. I was out in the country, Texas hunting country and I have seen more camo walking in Walmart than I saw the whole time in the woods. It is not the hunting camo, it is the military camo, and there is a difference.
I push myself to make sure that I am not falling back into one of those holes I used to be in, and it is difficult, much more difficult that I imagined it would be. Triggers that no longer seemed to be triggers are just that again, triggers. It is as if my body and brain are regressing back by leaps. This is not the first time I have moved, but this move brings so many firsts as well as reminders of the past that it really has done a number on my mind. I am in auto mode. I am responding automatically and then dealing with the responses.
I guess it could be somewhat like when you are sick. When you are sick and you smell something you do not like, because you are sick you smell that even more, and the reaction is times 10. Your immune system is already dealing with the virus and then all these other issues (that you normally would just shake off) attack you, as if they know you are weak and they take advantage of it. Not everything is more intense, just like being sick, the happiness and joy seem to not be part of it.
I also thought for sure, since this area is by a military instillation, that there would be more services for veterans, that also is a shocker. There are actually less services here than back in the town that was not by a military post. So I now have some work to do here. Another set of irritations when I see the grant money that was given out from TVC (Texas Veterans Commission) and contracts from the state go to organizations that list they have services in this area, then I call and am told there is nothing here. If there is nothing here, then why are they listing this area as a service area and getting money for it?
Then I see other non-profits that really want to do the help, they cannot get the funding because they lack the finesse in writing grants (and to say the truth, they are not lying about what they would like to provide, so they get whatever is left over, if anything). It is a money game, follow the money and you see that there is so much abuse in the non-profit sector. People complain about companies (for profit) that seem to be greedy because they feel the company needs to do more (which I totally disagree), but here is tax payer money, not money gained from a product, and it is being abused and nobody wants to complain about that? I read the reports that they give to the state, and then when I compare what has happened in the past, and what is being done now with millions more, it is senseless. Other non-profits are paid as third parties to make sure the money is being spent right, or the program is doing what it is supposed to do, so why are they not listed in their paid for reports? Nobody wants to ask the hard questions, okay – so you helped 300 veterans? How? What was the outcome? What was the help? Helping is not telling the veteran they cannot do anything and referring them to another agency that they know also cannot help them, just to get the numbers. Plus I personally saw the numbers being forged, just made up on the spot to get the report out. So why is the third parties not getting this? Because they are questioning the people who are doing the lying, and not the veterans. They really do not care if there is fraud, I know, I tried to blow the whistle and it went nowhere. I have found that at the time, they were asking for more funding, so me saying that there were made up reports would not look good, and my report of fraud and abuse stopped at the director, put into some file (actually I think the file box is called “confidential paper shredder”).
It is amazing how it is like pulling teeth to have the state lay out where the money went in detail, they like to bundle, it looks better that way. Following the money is also difficult when this organization got the funds and subcontracted out to this organization who subcontracted out to another (who actually did not do anything different than just ask if the people they were contacting were veterans or not, to get to place the check in the box for the tally). Millions going, and nobody really looks into if any real services are offered? I am sure that I have been tallied up with others who called wanting services, I was told they did not have anything in my area (even when that is a covered area in their grant and state contract), but that I could try this other non-profit, “veteran referred to other.” Of course this other non-profit has nothing to do with services that I am looking for.
Let me be specific. I was looking for mental health counseling. I called the non-profit that has the contract and the grant and state in their papers that they offer this counseling to veterans in this county. Well no, there is no services here, in fact I have to travel over an hour to one of their locations to figure out if they even can provide the service, an assessment. So since I am not the farthest county from their closest service, how can they say that they offer services here? I am an hour away, others are more. And it was not that I go there and then get the services, I still have to be “assessed.” There is no “assessments” listed in their contract to provide these services, they are just supposed to provide them to veterans. Oh, the “assessment” is not to see if I am a veteran or not. I am tempted to actually do the hour traveling just to see what assessment they are talking about.
Reporting the fraud and abuse got me almost institutionalized, (not ever VA!), so now I am going to be not only continuing the asking of the questions, the writing of the complaints, but I am going to be competition to these non-profits who are not providing the services they are being paid to provide. I tried this another place, but Community Healthcore was not at all interested in actually helping veterans. No, they just like the photo ops and the veterans section does not get enough income to be a concern for them, but they continue to get the funds, year after year. So in a new area, new people, and I asked questions this time, before offering anything. I had to know if this was an organization that really wanted to help veterans, or was it a front for something else. I checked two (that are in this area) off my list, they are not focused on veterans, even though they both have “veterans” in their name. As you know by now, this is a total pet peeve of mine. If you are not focused on the veteran community, DO NOT have your name utilize it, especially when that is the only target population your name states it is focused on. If you say that your organization is veterans and they are there to help other veterans and I walk in (as a veteran) and find few are actually veterans and you are targeting anyone, TAKE veterans out of your name. You are a fraud! It is the same as saying Women Helping Women, you have one or two women there, but most are men and you help everyone. Then when questioned more, your programs are lies, they look good on paper but you do not have anything to back them up, referring to another organization to take care of it is not that same thing as doing the helping yourself.
It is difficult. I name the organizations and then somehow I am the person who is wrong? My name gets smeared, I get attacked? Not this time. I am not going into this with listening to the “professionals” saying that maybe it is because of what I went through that I am not seeing the real circumstances. Oh, I see them, you (professionals) are in denial. I am educated enough, have enough experience, and am not about to push aside my gut feelings because you want to think you know better than I do. Yes, I do suffer from a mental illness, I also have issues after my TBI, but to use that against me, to not actually hear what I have to say. It is NOT paranoia if they actually are out to get you!
Off the soap box, not that I do not like to be up there, but keeping myself looking toward the positive of what I can do with this corrupt system is the better focus of my energy. Telling the non-profits that they are not fulfilling their contracts, telling the state that the non-profits that are getting these millions are not doing what they claim to be, well, it does not seem to do any good, no matter what fraud and abuse complaint form you fill out. So keeping up with just outing them, that is okay for a small amount of energy (they make it so easy), but the veteran loses. The rest to helping non-profits who really do what they say, really do focus on veterans, really do want to help. It has taken some time to find just one that is truly interested in that, and be in the area to be able to help.
Again, I get off topic so much, so back to the triggers of the new area. I am telling other veterans who have experienced MST, no, it never goes all away, but there is no reason to beat yourself up when it seems as though you are going backwards. As long as you are making choices to move forward, as long as you understand that you do have choices. There will be good days and bad ones, you are not only human, guess what – you are normal. These responses are normal to what happened, but the difference is that I have more positive coping skills than I used to, and I do understand that this is a life-long continual road. I am not the only one dealing with this, and I am not alone in this. There is outside help when, and if I need it, and asking is not being weak, in fact asking shows that I have enough strength to know when I cannot do it alone. I was not sent into war alone (while in the military), and I do not need to fight these battles alone on the outside.
For all out there suffering in silence, you do not need to continue down this path alone, there are people who do understand, who have been there, done that. There are more out there than just the keyboard (other taught) warriors, but real ones, ones that can walk side by side with you; your fellow Vetsisters, and sisters-in-arms. We are out here waiting for you, we love you and we will walk with you, reach out to one of us, we did not leave you behind, you just need to put your hand up and we will grab it. Our sisterhood runs deep, we are warriors, we are veterans!
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Let’s just change your meds.
It sounds so very simple. But there is so much more to it than that. I recently had to go to the VA, Mental Health because my medications that I have been taking for years are now on a refill list of just three months. That means every three months I now have to go in and see the psychiatrist or one of their subordinates. I was low and called to have the refill just put back in again, something that I have done for years. That was when I found out that I am on the three month list….oh yea, something new.
I was told that I could come in that afternoon, if not the next time was in weeks. I was almost out of meds, I needed them refilled, so I put everything to the side and went to the VA. I was not happy about being there, but I knew it had nothing to do with the front staff, or the nurses, so I was very polite to them. I was put in the room with the subordinate of my psychiatrist, someone that I had seen once before. We had not really meshed the first time, it was not a total loss, I thought she had at least listened to what I said, but I had my doubts. I am completely annoyed by “mental health professionals” who think they know so much that they are going to somehow open my eyes to something I never thought of and it will change my life, I just need to…(fill it in with anything, I think I have heard it all).
So I am already annoyed, I have a headache beginning and I am wondering why I have to see someone before I get my medication refilled. I am not in there but a few minutes and she asks if I am upset. Usually I just keep in the annoyance, but I had a headache and did not feel like being there. So I was upfront, I was upset that I had to go in for my medications to be refilled. She started in with the “it was not my idea, I am just following what was in the file.” I understand protocol, I was there so it should be an easy fix, just refill my medications. She starts asking what symptoms I have, so I become completely clinical on her, I list the names of them, so she can just go down the list and check the boxes. She asked what I wanted. I wanted my medication refilled and to add a sleeping pill, one in which I had taken before. So the sleeping pills worked? No, they did not work to the extent she was talking about. I was getting 3-4 hours of sleep and there were some days that I just could not seem to shut down. I had taken many sleeping pills and I was picking one that had the least side-effects for me, but still would knock me out. I usually use them on nights that I have nothing the next day to do. They make me really groggy in the morning and my mind just fogs for most of the day. I have learned how to cope with that, but it does give me sleep, and my body would be worse off without the sleep.
She responds to my annoyance with going through the last appointments that I cancelled. I had no problems, there were good reasons. One is that I try not to have any appointments in the morning, which means if they have scheduled one, I call and cancel and tell them that I want one in the afternoon (as it states on my records). Oh sure there are times that I have to do the morning ones, but they usually are labs, or when I need to see my Primary Care Physician and that is the only times open for the next month. Side bar- my doctor is very wanted at the VA, so I usually cannot get in to see her without an appointment months ahead, and I do mean months. I have called and asked if anyone cancels I will take their, just call. Those are the ones that I suck up the morning time just to be able to see my doctor.
So I tell her, if I called and canceled, it was for a good reason, and I would have, when I canceled asked to be rescheduled, but that does not always happen. So she starts off with, well if she had asked someone to do something, and they had not, she would call back. Very apparent that the VA is not the system she uses for her healthcare. I am not about to wait on the phone, calling all day to be put on hold to get an answering machine that states it is either full and cannot take any more messages, or that it is not set up to take messages. Yea, that is the one that I love. I get an answering machine that is not set up to take messages….oh so VA. So over the years, unless it is an appointment that I really care to go to, I just let it slide until they come around and get one for me again. The therapist appointments are different. I go here and there, if I am not having any real difficulties I cancel and do not get another one. That was the appointment that she decided to get stuck on. I was completely honest, something I have been told over and over (by my husband) not to do with the VA, or I will end up locked away. As I have said in my previous writing, I am not about to be taken alive by the VA to be put in any type of mental facility. I will deny that I am a veteran and pay if I ever need that type of service. I am not about to trust the VA with my life after what they did to me, never again!
So she asks what responsibility do I have in the fact that I do not have any scheduled appointments for the therapist. It was mistake on her part. I said none and she about fell out of her chair. No, if I am given an appointment that it states in my records that I only do afternoons for therapy, and then get one, call, cancel and ask to be scheduled and not be. No, that was where my responsibility ended and the VA’s took over. So she picks this statement off the wall that she had taped up and shows it to me. Really I scanned over it only, but then looked at her like “and?” So she talks about the symptoms that I still have. I tell her yes, I have them and I will have them for the rest of my life. I understand that, accept it, and have created coping skill to deal with it. I also know that every once in a while I will have to add another coping skill, tweak the ones that I have and/or dump some. She goes on the aggressive, as if I have told her that there is no reason for her, to me. But it is true, I was there for meds, I was not there to talk, and I am sorry but I am not about to talk to someone that feels that I am not trying hard enough.
I said that the pills keep me at a level that I can handle. She kept trying to make me agree with her that the medication took care of the symptoms, a VA technique to decrease my percentage if they get the chance. So again I tell her (which I hate to repeat myself at these little get togethers), that no, I am at a level that is an acceptable functioning level for me, that is what I said. She pointed out that I was still have some serious symptoms, and I said that I know what level I function at. So she does one of the silliest things, questions “How is that working for you.” Oh, yes, the ultimate Dr. Phil question. I look straight at her and say that it is working just fine. Another slip off the chair. So she says she wants to try me out on some different sleeping pills, than the ones which I have said I wanted. Why? In all seriousness I believe she wanted to be in control, and I was not about to give her that control. I told her what I wanted and she wanted to try something else.
She said it was a sleeping pill that I would not become addicted to, as if I was to the ones that I wanted. No, I take them as needed, maybe three or four for the month, no that is NOT addiction, that is using a medication to get the results that I want and not relying on it for everyday use. She wanted to drop my current medication in half. She said it was because the sleeping pills she was thinking about were “cousins” to my med, so I did not need that dose. Wait, yes, she did not listen to me when I said that I use the sleeping pills only when I cannot sleep and need to, that occurs about 4 times a month. They are either nights that I have something I need to do the next day, and be awake for, or I just have not had a lot of sleep and it is seriously effecting me. So I ask how do I take the sleeping pills, she says every night. No, I am not interested in having to use medication to get to sleep. I have gone down this road before and all I was was a vegetable. I would sit on the couch, watch TV, well stare at the screen, but that was it, I was a zombie, and not the fast moving kind. Again she had not listened to me.
I flat out told her that I was not about to decrease my medications that I was currently taking and that was what myself and the psychiatrist had agreed upon, pretty much I told her, “you know, your boss.” She said that in our previous session (you know the only one we had had) that I was more willing to work with her. Now I had moved from annoyed to mad. I wanted to stand up and yell “just refill my drugs!” I was done with the little bit of niceness that I had left in myself. I said that I wanted a sleeping pill, one that I did not take every night, one that did not cause weight gain, and had the least amount of side-effects. She said that I had taken it before, but on a level that she never prescribes and that it probably made me feel like drugged because it was an over… she caught herself, but it was out. Yes I had been given a drug to the level that it was an overdose, and it was totally known. And you think I am about to trust you? Do not think so.
So she tells me that this medication at the level that she would give should help, but she had to tell me about the side-effects, so she began and said that she had only seen it once and it was in an emergency room. Whatever the name of the disorder that had been called, well I did not care, I had been on this before, at a level she thought was an overdose and did not get whatever it was, so I doubt that I would have it. Then she said another one and said that it was really rare and she had never known anyone to get it. Ok, so what the heck? Just tell me that is was a possibility with all the other listed side effects, and if I have a problem then I would definitely not take anymore and get medical attention. Well after all this lengthy conversation she states that she first wants to see if I have this heart condition which can be caused by the lengthy use of the meds that I have been on. She wants an EKG, great. So I go with a nurse and get one, the go back in and she says that I am not to the level yet, but that she does not want to prescribe something. I really was not paying much attention at this point. I knew that I would get the medications that I do on a daily basis refilled, and I would have to wait to see someone who would listen to me for the sleeping pills. So she asks what I want to do from there. Oh, I was so close to just telling her to get over her power trip and do what I asked, and what had been agreed upon before by my psychiatrist.
But why not just change the medication, to try something different, that maybe it would help these symptoms that I have and listed? Well, I do not just have PTSD, I also have been chemically poisoned and have brain damage (to be blunt). I had numerous head injuries in the military, I saw the change after the last and I knew that what I was telling her, the symptoms she kept attributing to my PTSD was not, no, they were from TBI and that does not change after 25 years. It has been increasing in severity and symptoms over the past five years rapidly. We had talked about the whole thing the first “session” we had. I was not dealing with something that I could talk through, that did not have a triggers, it was a chemical imbalance, brain damage, and I was tired that all she kept seeing was “PTSD.” And all she kept hearing was that I had symptoms, so why would I not want to try something new?
Now, after all that, I come to the answer. Changing medications is not like changing your clothes. I have to taper off (at least I should, sometimes I have to remind the doctor, or nurse that there needs to be tapering) the current medication or dose (lowering is not just dumping a pill, instead of twice a day you take one). See the medication that I take is to be on the level of 150mlgs for the entire day, so twice a day I take it, so that it is in my system for the entire day. She wanted me to just dump one, not go down and take a lower dose twice a day, just one. That was a serious red flag for me. Going on and off medication is hard on the body and the mind. I have a very sensitive system and taking or not taking something really messes me up. She wanted me to dump a pill and add something else. Do NOT think so. I am in the middle of a move from one town to the other, that’s stressful, especially for me, and during this time instead of listening to what I know will work, to what I know will allow me to function, let’s just mix it up. Let’s give me more migraines as my system gets used to the medication (if I can stomach it in the first place), and if all of this is a mistake, well, you have to come in to get the increase back to what was working, then wait the days while it is in the mail (our clinic does not have most meds on site, they come from the VA hospital in Louisiana).
Finally I leave, I have my refill, I have some other sleeping pill prescription that she thinks will help. I am skeptical, but really just gave up with her. Again had I said the truth, I think I would be calling my husband to bail me out. The irony is that he screens people in the ERs and jail to see if they need to be immediately hospitalized in a mental facility for their and other’s safety. So I wait, in the mail and the medications arrive. I look at how to take the sleeping pills (every night, love that I was listened to so well for), then on the label it has a warning, to not take this medication with two others, they happen to be allergy pills, they happen also to be the two allergy pills that I currently take….oh, the VA. I have two different medications for allergies, I take one and when it does not work I take the other, off and on I have used them like that and it has been the only thing to help. The “allergies” isn’t seasonal, it is something that is all the time and the rash that I get with it complicates things. So this is what has worked, but to have them on the warning label just makes me laugh. Oh the VA, you can try and kill me off, but I am a lot smarter and very leery of what you “prescribe.” Oh, I do not know if taking the two would actually kill me, but I have been prescribed medications in the past (one from one doctor, the other from mental health doctor) and asked the pharmacist tech I knew to put them into the system, red flag, death was the outcome. So I never take anything that I am given until I go online (back then there was no “online”) and check things out. You would think that the VA system would catch it, that there would be some red flag come on the screen, since they are dispensed from the same place. Oh, yea, they will be hearing about this one. But to not even have to go online to see the red flag, that is just so ironic. Let’s just change up those meds again, okay…. No, I think that I will stay with what I have, it works and I do not have the time to die or go for a really fun ER trip. With the moving I do not have time to play the VA game, so I will take what I know works and wait for the next appointment to get the sleeping pills.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Lie turning into truth in 2 days.
It is what we say to ourselves and how we allow others to influence our own truth. Many times after a sexual assault people try to sugar-coat, or even get the victim to “see” they do not really understand what happened to them. As well as others who know fully they can silence a survivor if they continue to feed a pattern of lies until those lies turn into truth for the victim.
While I was in the military I saw it hundreds of times, the victim saying they had been assaulted and the officer coming back with “well it might seem to have been that away” to by the end of the interview it was “yes we understand you thought this happened and we are okay that you recognize your mistake, thanks for coming to your senses.” Hard to see it when you only have the beginning statement and the end, what you do not see is the systematic ability to influence a victim into not just questioning their own version of the event but accepting the lies they are being told.
I saw it happen very innocently for a minor silly lie that really meant nothing during the art symposium this past week. This small lie was a joke in the beginning, it hurt nobody, it really did not matter to anyone, but it happened so easily and the person, once they were reminded of the lie could not believe it.
I was at this workshop, which really was just an all the time thing, Creation Station, a great idea to have art supplies out and you can just come in and create, no instruction, just grab and go, sit and talk, or sit and be quiet, no pressure, great. I would occasionally head to there when I did not have any women in the Woman’s Retreat Room. I could see if any women headed that way so it was perfect. I began to do a painting, just colors that I felt belonged on the canvas, abstract art. At the same time another was doing a beautiful picture of a tree. After my head injuries my ability for my hands to do what I want in precise detail to needed to do a painting of a tree that looked like a tree is gone. Another reason that I like abstract art, I am not remembering what I lost because of the injuries, dwelling on the past, my old self, just expressing the love for my own art now.
So here this beautiful picture of a tree is sitting waiting to dry, by it is my much smaller group of emotional colors that evoke happy joy of being to me. A person comes by and comments on the tree, how beautiful it is, (after commenting on how they liked my painting), but I liked the tree better than mine, in that if the two were at auction, I would bid on the tree. So out of just jokiness I thanked her for the comment on my tree. It was a joke and I immediately stated it was not mine, but the ability (from being law enforcement) of me to lie and it seem totally truthful overtook the person, they walked away and I, as well as the others sitting there, thought she knew the truth, that it was not my tree.
I saw a woman and headed to my room and a few hours later returned, the person in charge of the station, a wonderful woman with sincere love for people, commented that the person had returned and talked about my tree again, and that she had believed it really was mine, that the joking was that it wasn’t, not that it was. So we laughed and throughout the next two days joked about my tree.
At the end of the symposium I went to retrieve my painting, which I had added other stuff to and let sit there to dry. When I got there I said that I was there to pick up my painting, she looked and said that she could not find my tree. At first I thought she was joking, it was a running joke, we had talked about my tree for the past 2 days as if it was real, but an underlined joke. I looked to her and said what tree and she had not noticed that just saying it like it was true for the past 2 days, she now believed that it was my tree. I reminded her that it was a joke, that I had not painted a tree, and she stood there for a minute and the “wow” expression that came over her face, that in such a small amount of time, of pretending it became fact, real fact that not only did I have to state it was a lie but give her time and remind her of the exact situation why it was said that I painted a tree.
A simple lie, really a joking lie and a running joke that pretended a lie, two days later and it was fact for the very person who was there when I painted the abstract painting, who was next to the person who really painted the tree, which took hours next to her to do. She was there for hours next to the person, periodically looking over, watching the beginning of just blank canvas moved through the strokes to a beautiful tree. I was only there for my 10 minute abstract work then took credit for the tree, but in two days, of here and there talking about it, pretending I had painted a tree, and this person’s truth had change completely, and I was not even trying.
So think about if it was purposeful, that I had the position of authority (law enforcement, supervisor, in your chain of command, counselor, others) to purposely make that lie into truth. Like I stated, I have been taught (and very well) from the military how to lie, how to tell someone a complete lie and not give away any of the signs. When I remember the lie, make my eyes move from one place to another, to not curl the lip, to not squint, not look away, not look down, not have my voice change, not have the tempo of my voice change, to at the same time I am telling the person my name, there being no difference as I say I painted the tree. When you pretend the lie long enough it can become truth. I knew full well that at the final day she really believed that I painted the tree, and it was not just a simple, “remember I did not,” for her to remember the real truth. She knew I painted the tree at that moment as much and with the same conviction as when I first stated I painted the tree and she knew that I did not.
This tactic is used very often to victims to make them change what they know is the truth, to what the other would like the truth to be. It works by applying enough of the truth to make the mind slowly re-remember something else. I had painted a painting. I had been proud of my painting, it had been complimented on, I was there at the same time the other painting was being done, and I can lie really really well, to people’s faces and that is the tactic. It is not a statement on some form that it happened another way, it is to their face, agree with enough that you have them thinking you are helping them, then add what you need by small bits. Sometimes it starts with just a wondering question, “do you really think he thought that,” then it’s the adding in a form of a question, “maybe he thought…”, then you slowly change the way they perceived what happened until they are questioning their own thoughts and memories, accepting the other, denying their own. They came to law enforcement because they were under the assumption we all were there to serve and protect. They came for help from the ones who are there (their job) to help. They have seen law enforcement help, maybe even the same person they are talking to. They have been taught that they are there to help. But the biggest lie around is that there are ones who are not, not to serve you, not to protect you, not to help you. I saw it over and over, the assaulted soldier, the abused wife, the bruised girlfriend, the American civilian, the civilian, “maybe he…?” Do not think that this is something that happens only to the ones who assume, I knew exactly what they did, I knew how they felt, I heard from their own mouths their thoughts on the subject, and yet, when I was assaulted and I took it to my captain (law enforcement), I actually listened to the “maybe’s” not as much had I not known, but after that, after Social Actions asked “maybe” after my first sergeant asked “maybe” after the IG asked “maybe,” my truth began to turn to the lie of “maybe.”
Even recently (a few years ago) when I had the feelings, when I saw the red flags, when I knew, I had professionals, coworkers, supervisor, ask “maybe,” and I started to question my own truth to Maybe. I went to people who I thought had my best interests in mind, they did not. That is one reason why I continue to write in my journals, and if I have a question I turn to what I was thinking, feeling, knowing at the time, first. I turn to the truth and continue to remind myself that their maybes are NOT mine, their maybes are not true, their maybes are the same as the beautiful tree I painted.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
I know this has been talked about before, but it is such a big part of MST, the more information someone knows the better.
At the art symposium that I recently had the opportunity to be at, that seemed to be the main thought from many of the women which I spoke with, the guilt of it all. I listened to numerous stories of horrific experiences, all of which none of them had any responsibility. One of the reasons that I do not believe that many self-help books that are designed to help with PTSD should be used for PTSD from experiencing MST is that many ask you to write what responsibility or choices you had in the trauma which are yours to own. I do not care if you ran down the street naked, if a guy (or woman) chooses to assault you, that decision is all upon them.
I understand the risk factors associated with many choices but that matters not. The ultimate choice, the person who did the choosing was the perpetrator. So let’s hit some of them, yes, being drunk diminishes your ability to do many functions, but so does sleeping, and being on certain doctor prescribed medications. Being with a bunch of military guys alone puts you at a disadvantage, but so does being shorter, so does going to your room alone, so does going to the bathroom out in a combat zone.
Why do we as survivors continue to find guilt in what happened? I can make the most stupidest choice, but that does not make it a “green light” to be assaulted or harassed. I personally do not write about male MST from the first person, because I am not a man. I do not know what it is like to be assaulted or sexually harassed as a man. But there are many responses which cross between men and women for MST experiences – guilt. The guilt goes across genders. Although the reasons behind the guilt can be different. Many of my male MST survivors have told me the biggest reason they said nothing and felt guilt is because they are men, they are supposed to “be strong,” to be the protector, not the weak link. But it is not weak to be an MST survivor. There is nobody in this entire world who can protect themselves from everything all the time. It is difficult for many people to come to the realization that they themselves are vulnerable, that picking through circumstances of the assaults to find what they “should” not do, or do to make sure they are never a victim is useless. Just as anything in life there are risk factors, there is a risk factor for driving but if you got blindsided while driving does anyone ever ask “what were you doing driving?” To actually live in this world is a risk.
It pains me to hear other women veterans who have not been assaulted or repeatedly sexually harassed to list any reason that they were not assaulted or harassed. The thought that any person thinks they can list why they were not a victim, I am here to reveal something, it was because someone did not choose to do that to you, that is the only reason. I have heard from “I did my job” to “I let them all know how it was” and other such statements that live in denial, it not only does not help, it is a lie, not purposeful, but still a lie. I will open my experiences up to help you with this, I did my job, and I actually did my job better than my male peers (they knew it, I knew it, command knew it, and every once in awhile someone from outside my squadron would remind them of it). Since doing my job well made me a target, does that mean that you were a slacker to not be a target? Doesn’t feel good does it, to be called out on something that is not true. Let us move on, after my rape, I pretty much told everyone if they even thought about assaulting me that I would say nothing, I would get my weapon for the night find them and kill them. It was not a baseless threat, I meant every word of it. Did that keep me safe, no. Did it mean that other tactics had to be used, yes. The only reason that my fellow K-9 handlers made it out of Saudi Arabia alive, had nothing to do with them. It was the fact that I thought I had seen one of them, I automatically (totally without thought) went for my weapon, thank heaven I had not been given it back yet because it was not him, I just thought it had been. I knew if I was given a weapon when I did see him I would kill him and I did not want someone (like this guy who looked like him) someone who was innocent to be hurt because of what others had done. That was the only reason, it was not that I thought that killing him was wrong, morally I knew that it was and I was completely willing to live with that for the rest of my life. I could not live with someone else being hurt (as in another guy, not any emotional pain of family member of the perp, I am sorry but their pain I did not care about), but someone who was just there or happened to look like any of them. I said I could not carry a weapon around them anymore, lucky them.
I also want to squash the “I did not allow myself to get too drunk to not take care of myself” – I have never had a drop of alcohol, did not help protect me. How about the I did not sleep around? I was a virgin when I was raped. I had someone who critiqued one of my memoir books state that because I did not go out drinking with the guys I purposely ostracized myself, pretty much telling them I was not one of them. Oh, yea, right, (sarcasm)but I did go out with them at times, some did not know that I did not drink until they ordered me what I loved, a pina’ colada, and I asked if it was virgin (without alcohol). But had I drunk with them, someone would have come along and said that I should not have drunk with them, making myself vulnerable.
That is the thing, that is what many do not understand, all the “should have” and “should not haves” mean nothing, it did not matter, so had I slept around then I was a slut and “deserved it?” Had I drunk with the guys “I should have known what would happen.” Had I this, had I that, had I not this, had I not that…No matter what this or that is, someone would try and used it to rationalize that what happened had something to do with my choices, it DID NOT! The choice was the perps and theirs alone, so the guilt is the perps and theirs alone.