APA Paper – Veterans and PTSD

I’m in an Orientation class and they’re teaching us how to write an APA style paper. Coming from an English major to Psychology major means switching from my well-known MLA style to the foreign APA style. Anyway, so I’m learning that. We get to choose our own topic. I chose veterans’ suicide rates and PTSD.

I’ve done lots of research and reading statistics and government produced documents. The point is… the state of the government and public’s relationship with veterans is pretty bad. The suicide rates and extremely high and getting higher. The ages of those committing suicide are getting younger and younger. And it seems like there’s a lot of talk and everyone agrees that something should be done and veterans should be taken care of, and yet nothing is actually being done. Not enough anyway.

It’s time for the public to stand up and demand better treatment for our vets, better facilities for them, and better education and training of the people working in these facilities. They need a bigger budget to accommodate this.

I’m ranting, but something should be done. Vets should be a much higher priority than they are now. They shouldn’t be homeless. They shouldn’t have trouble finding jobs. They should be able to get help from educated people dedicated towards their mental health. There should also be some kind of education, training, preparation for families of vets coming home with PTSD or any other mental illness.

Okay, I’m done now. But come on… America, the greatest country in the world but if you look at the state of veterans, we’re pretty low. Not enough people are speaking out about it. Certainly, not enough people are doing anything about it.

Done now. For real. But seriously… like if you agree.

Busy Busy Busy Bee

For the past few weeks, my life has been crazy busy. I’ve been gone from home more than being at home. I stayed with my sister and her baby and fell in love with him completely. (not posting pictures for privacy) I may be biased but I think he’s the cutest newborn baby I’ve ever seen. He was absolutely perfect.

While I was there, my school term started! In a matter of days I went from not being a student to applying, being accepted, registering for a class and then it started! I mean, it was less than a week – the whole process. I was amazed. Promo note: If you’re ever looking for an online university that’s a legit university – Troy University is the best. They work with a lot of military so they’ve been doing online for years as well as having an actual brick and mortar university and different campuses. I’m just starting week 3 of my course and I can say that so far the professor an advisors have made my transitioning so easy. They answer questions quickly and thoroughly. It’s just a great university.

Anyway. I’m doing my class, I’m waiting for a specific job opening that would be perfect for me, and currently I’m cleaning out all my stuff, going through everything. So it’s been a busy time, hence the absence on here!

But I love being able to say, “Yes, I’m a student.”

I want to prove my high school teachers who all told me I’d never graduate college wrong, and I want to get my degree. I want to prove that little voice in my head wrong, the one that says I’m worthless and can’t do anything right. I want to show that even people with mental illnesses and PTSD can be successful!

I’m doing it and you can too!

Official Student and Baby Watch

I’m officially going back to school to finish my degree in psychology!

Due to my PTSD, anxiety, and depression along with my many other mental health issues, I was forced to take a hiatus from school. That short term break turned into 6 years.

But I’m going back now! It’s totally online, 100%, which I love. It’s perfect for someone like me.

Baby Watch.

My sister is pregnant and is due to be induced later this week because she’s so far past her due date that she just can’t stand it anymore.

They haven’t told us the name, but we do know that it’s a boy. So I’m going to be an aunt. I’m going to have a nephew to spoil rotten and even though I can’t emote that publicly and show how excited I really am (mental health issues), I am truly very excited. And nervous. I’ve never really been around babies much, but this is one I get to spoil and send home to their parents on a sugar high!

So that’s my fun news of the week! I’m going back to school, and I’m going to be an aunt!

Anyone else with exciting news? Or boring news? News of any nature really…

Get Rid of the Stigma

My world has recently been shaken by some upsetting news. Someone I know, or rather knew, killed himself. He had been struggling for years,  but thought that he didn’t need any help because he was a man. Being in the south means that there’s an expectation to live up to, being the man of the house, being the bread winner, be the stable rock for everyone else.

I can’t explain why he did what he did. I can’t explain his reasons because I don’t know. There was no note that we’re aware of yet. He didn’t get the help he needed because it’s so stigmatized and seen as such a negative thing, a man needing help emotionally. I still don’t know how to process it, but that’s what’s been happening.

About a year ago, the man who lived across the street sent his wife out to the grocery store so that when she was gone, he committed suicide. I can’t imagine it. Well, I can. I’ve been suicidal in the past. I’ve literally held a gun in one hand and a phone in the other. Because I knew how it would affect people I loved, I used the phone and reached out for help. There’s still a stigma, even with women, but I think it’s worse for a man.

If you’re reading this and you feel like ending your life is your only solution, I’m here to tell you it’s not. I don’t know what you’re going through, but I know what I went through and am still going through. I know that it’s hard and some days you don’t want to get out of bed or even open your eyes because that moment between dreaming and waking when the world is nothing but black is better than real life. I know what that’s like. You might think that no one cares about you or will miss you, but there is someone out there who does and who will. Even if that doesn’t convince you, reach out for help anyway because it can’t really get worse, can it?

Call the national suicide hotline (US): 1-800-273-8255

If you can’t actually talk about it, try texting CONNECT to 741741 to talk to someone for free.

Just try it. It won’t hurt. Before you do anything, talk to someone, anyone, because this world needs YOU. You just don’t know how yet. Seeking out help doesn’t make you less of a man, less of a woman, or less of a person. Seeking help is that first little brick of inner strength. We all have it if you dig down deep enough. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Talk to someone. You never know how it’ll help.

I can’t help but think that if there was less stigma around suicide and mental health, that the two people I mentioned (not including my own family members) would still be here today and would be able to reach out and help others by sharing their story. So share yours. Talk to someone.

Why I don’t like therapy

I’m not at all saying, “Don’t go your therapist anymore.” If you have one and it helps that’s awesome. I’m real happy for you. But I’ve had a different experience. Isn’t therapy a place where you go to be heard? I felt like my psychologist wasn’t hearing me. That made me feel like I just spent $240 to whine to someone. Which I’m pretty sure isn’t how therapy is supposed to work.

So maybe this is my therapy – writing to you, both of us anonymous. Doesn’t that make things easier? Isn’t it easier to be yourself because whoever is judging you still doesn’t know who you are. Sure, it makes it easier to bully and troll people too, but that’s easily taken care of by deleting and blocking users. We’re both anonymous. We can’t see each other. We might even pass each other in the street or driving on the road, but we’ll never know. That’s what I like about this. Anonymity. The good and the bad.

My therapist wanted me to use my writing to re-write the event over and over until it was easier. But some things can never be made easier and she wasn’t listening to me when I told her how uncomfortable that was – not just because it was emotionally difficult to do, but because it wasn’t going to help me. It really wasn’t. I knew it before the exercise and knew it afterwards. That’s what made me stop going. She was having me re-live this trauma again and again without getting any kind of result other than re-traumatizing me.

I guess my point is traditional therapy isn’t for everyone. I tried equine therapy that focused on my PTSD and it helped me more than anything I’d ever done. It helps that I like animals already, even though I’d never been around a horse in my life. If therapy isn’t working for you, don’t give up on it entirely. Try to find someone somewhere who does something different. I’d never been around horses but I was willing to try and it helped me so much. Don’t be scared to try something different if you can! It may surprise you.

tl;dr I’m Back, Crappy and all!

It’s been a while. Why? Life. Life just gets in the way of these kinds of things doesn’t it? We get so busy, so wrapped up in appointments and other obligations that the things we enjoy doing fade away.

Two members of my family are currently on a trip to France, so I’m house-sitting/pet-sitting for them. This basically means that I get a vacation. Now, I had planned on being able to lay out by the pool, swim when it got too hot. Unfortunately, the weather has other plans. It’s stormy and not ideal by the pool weather. So I’m vacationing inside. I didn’t bring a lot to do inside and I’ve run out of other things. Then, I remembered I had this blog!

There’s something freeing about having this blog, remaining anonymous. It’s like the masks on Mardi Gras. You can be whoever you want, or you can be the real you and take off the other mask you wear every day (like me). Having a blog means you need to be able to write. Well. Not sure I’ve got that bit down, but I’m trying and I’ve heard that the more you do it the better you get at it. Fingers crossed for me and for you, if you’re still reading this far (thanks). Another thing is that you have to have something to write about. That either forces you to go out and have a life, or be thoughtful and write something deep and meaningful after thinking about something for a long time and actually have something worth sharing, anonymous or not.

I guess it’s possible to just have a really crappy blog (like mine, currently). I’ve got to get better at using the computer (this site specifically), writing, and having a life. My anxiety or my PTSD or both make it very difficult to go out and do things. That means saying no to your friends until they just stop asking. I don’t mean to whine because this isn’t a blog about me whining. It’s going to mean something…eventually. Actually, it’ll probably just be like my brain whose focus bounces around like a wild ping-pong ball.

I apologize in advance if you’ve read this far. I also thank you. Next post will be me actually saying something, not just typing words about typing words.

Getting Things Done

Every day I wake up and think, “I hope I don’t waste this day too.” I know that life is short, anything can happen, you never know when your number’s up, yada, yada. I think about it quite a bit lately (I think because my step-grandmother just passed – no condolences necessary). So I wake up with the intention on accomplishing something that day.

But then my meds kick in and make me sleepy, or my anxiety crushes me, or I dissociate, or I can’t even make it out of the neighborhood because there happens to be a car behind me but they might be following so I race through the neighborhood like a madman to get home without being seen thanks to my paranoia and PTSD.

Finding something that I can do at home is good because almost none of those issues pop up! My Etsy shop has been up for about a year but I haven’t been using it. Now that I’ve got more listings up I find myself motivated and excited to do more. That is such a good feeling, and rare for me. I want to make more things to sell. Usually, I just give things away as a gift or keep it for myself. Selling them gives me an opportunity to make some money (to balance out how much I’ve spent on the supplies) and something to do. It’s more than me being able to say, “I washed the dishes and vacuumed the house.” To other people, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. They do all those things and go to work. I can’t. I wish I could. I wish it so much and I’m trying to get better, but it isn’t easy.

When I meet someone new (because I’ve taken a risk and went to a new church meeting thing once a week at night and it turned out I liked it so I’m going back), they’ve always asked my name and what I do. The last time I was around new people the questions were my name, my major, where I’m from (college). What can I say to those answers now? What do I do for a living? Nothing. Sorry. I’m a mooch. I come off as lazy and privileged. I know I’m lucky and that there are so many people in my situation who aren’t as lucky and don’t have the support system I do. Being able to answer them, “I run an Etsy shop,” makes me feel so good! Even if it doesn’t seem like much to them and no I’m no where near making a living off it, it’s still something other than permanently imbedding myself in the couch and burning my eyes out on TV.

tl;dr   Getting my Etsy shop going has gotten me going and I’m that real kind of happy that’s deep happy.

(Yes, I’m linking myself again. Sure, I’d love it if you bought something. But if you don’t, I’d be just as happy getting views on my “stats” dashboard. My standards are low.)

Nate wasn’t so bad…

At my house, there was a lot of rain and a lot of wind. That was it. But we never lost power, only cable and internet (Uverse) for a few minutes and then everything was fine. I woke up with power and didn’t have anything to worry about. I had trouble falling asleep worried that if the power went out then so would the alarm system. So I slept with a loaded gun on my bedside table. I’m glad I didn’t need to use it (though it did help me sleep)! I’d already moved anything that could blow away inside the garage or shed. Anything that didn’t fit (furniture) was all tied together in the middle of the yard.

I woke up yesterday morning and found everything was fine! There was no major damage to anything at my house or any of my friends’ houses or my brothers. There were a lot of new branches down to pick up which I started bright and early yesterday while it was still breezy out. But it wasn’t too long before it was back to hot and the air was so muggy it was like breathing through a wet blanket so I gave up. I got the front yard done and that’s enough for now.

While I was out working though, my neighbor was walking her dog and she asked if we had power. I told her that we did and she informed me that she didn’t. She only lives three houses down. Last night I looked to see who had lights on and who didn’t. Most of our little court was dark and that was when I noticed that noise I’d been hearing all day was a generator going.

Our street is in a weird location. It’s right at the cross sections of power grids and school zone districts and all kinds of stuff (but only those two have ever really had an effect). Normally when there’s a storm and the power is out it’s our house that loses the power and the other two or three houses with us. It’s always been frustrating. Especially after Katrina. No one had power for a week. Then the houses at the end of the street (not my end) had power and two or three days later we did.

But Nate wasn’t Katrina by far. Everyone has power this morning. So I’m thankful that the hurricane wasn’t too bad for us and we didn’t have any issues. I know my grandmother owns a condo over in Gulf Shores. If you weren’t aware Jim Cantore was only a few miles down in Orange Beach. And if Jim Cantore’s there, that’s exactly where you don’t want to be.

We’re lucky. The elevator is out but she’s high up on the fourth floor and isn’t there currently so she won’t have to be going up and down all those flights. Most of the building is rental. A few of my friends lost power in the early hours of the morning, but by last night they had it back.

So all in all, Nate wasn’t that bad for my area. I hope it wasn’t bad for anyone else’s (I haven’t been keeping up with it outside of anywhere where my “people” live.

I hope everyone else was safe through the storm. If you’re in a flooded area I really hope it gets settled soon and the things you really love aren’t ruined! Everyone affected is still in my prayers.

Why does God let bad things happen?

I have no idea.

I’ve gotten that question before — I’ve asked that question many times . “If God is such a loving God, why does he let [insert awful thing] happen to good people?”

I have no answer for that and I never will. God, the Creator of all things, doesn’t need to explain everything to us.

How many times as a kid have you asked why you had to do something and they said “Because I said so.” We didn’t understand why we had to then, but accepted it.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:9

 

One of the counselors I had in a hospital told us in a group session that understanding isn’t a requirement for acceptance. I don’t understand why God does the things He does or lets horrible things happen. They just do. Nature is nature. All I have to do is accept that there is evil in the world. It’s there because we have free will.

No matter what happens, I still have to accept that God has a plan. He cares for me. I should keep my focus on Him. Always.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that. There are days where I wonder why He let that happen to me. Did I do something? Was it my fault? But I can’t change it. I’m not in control.

Today, just take a deep breath, close my eyes, and know that I’m here for a reason.  Maybe one day I’ll even figure out why.

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” ~ John 13:7

Family Time

I’m headed out for a trip to spend some time with my sister and brother-in-law.  I love them, I really do. But family time makes me uncomfortable. Since what happened to me happened, I’ve learned to shut off most of my emotions. Around family, though, you’re supposed to show all the excitement and love and all that. I’m not a big fan of hugging either, but they are. I don’t want to hurt their feelings so I suck it up.

Still, while I love to hang out with them, I get tired out very quickly because the entire time I’m putting on a face and acting. They don’t know what I’ve been through. Not really. I don’t really want them to either. That’s something that you’ll never be able to get out of your head. I don’t want more people to live with it than have to.

It makes things difficult because we have two very different views of the world. Hers is a safe, untouched on the happier scale. That’s a good thing. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I am jealous but I try not to let it show. I love my sister, but we’ve never been close — too different.

It’s nice being around them, I like spending the holidays with them, but this isn’t a holiday.  Our dogs love each other though.  Those two dogs are opposites. Mine’s older, much smaller (10 lbs), and all black (with a gray little beard). Hers is tall, weighs twice as much and is mostly white with a few brindle spots (and lots of freckles under her fur).  A whippet and a dachshund mix. One a pure bred from a registered breeder, the other a mixed rescued dog. But they’re hilarious to watch. Cammie is short and trots along, her tags tinkling with each step. Then there’s Penny, the skinny dog with a curly tail. She silently follows Cammie. When Cammie doesn’t have anything to do, she naps. When Penny doesn’t, she paces. She’ll just walk silent circles around the coffee table in the living room. She’s like a shark. She’s such a sweet dog and really pretty.

The dogs love to be with each other. When we’re all together, Penny doesn’t care about anything but Cammie. So that’s what I’m really looking forward to — letting to dogs play together.

tl;dr I’m driving 4.5 hrs to stay a couple of weeks so Cammie has an epic doggy play day, even though the people make me uncomfortable.