The Weird Thing About PTSD

I was raped, sodomized, and beaten for six hours back in January 1987.  Twenty-eight years ago.  Initially, I knew what I “should” feel like, but didn’t really register much.  But that wasn’t really anything new- I’d been pretty good about not registering specific feelings for a long time.  As I’ve gotten older, and had more life experiences, the specific emotions have become much more identifiable.  And unpleasant.  I’ve been through enough therapy to recognize specific feelings, as well as have a greater understanding of what others go through who have been in similar situations.  And sometimes, not so similar situations.  Those can be triggers as well.

I had never been much of a crier.  I’d boo hoo once in a while, but for the most part, I could suck things up and move on.  That has changed.  Some of that is from a good thing: I’ve been able to understand how other people feel with both good and bad events.   That has been a huge ‘plus’ in so many ways, but it also makes my own memories and reactions that much more intense.  I’m a regular faucet now whenever there’s anything that remotely sets off my own memories.  Doesn’t even have to be all that similar.  Just has to trigger a feeling of some sort.

With another parole protest going on, I’m even more on edge.  For the most part, my daily functioning is ‘normal’.  Movies and TV shows can be really tough.  The news stories can be absolutely grueling.  I feel SO badly for those who are violated and/or lose a significant part of their life.   I have to ‘pace’ my exposure to the news.  With TV and movies, I generally have seen most of the episodes before from several series, so know to ‘brace’ myself during specific scenes… but sometimes even that doesn’t work so well.   In one episode of “Law & Order: SVU”, ‘Olivia’ walks out into the squad room after having been held hostage by a serial rapist/stalker who takes her out of the city to a seasonal house (that doesn’t belong to him).  She beats the snot out of him, and has to make a statement.  When she walks out into the squad room, it brings up all sorts of feelings of when I had to walk out of the apartment of my neighbor, after being raped.  There were news stations/cameras and people lining the sidewalk, and looking at me.  One of them lowered her camera, and looked down- giving me the first bit of dignity after that life-changing event.  When ‘Olivia’ walks through that group of people, it stirs up so much.

Some would argue that watching such shows as “Law & Order: SVU” and “Criminal Minds” are poor choices given my background, but I disagree.   In those shows, they show as much as they can about the impact that crime has on the survivors (I hate the term ‘victim’) and, they get the bad guy in 48 minutes.  The good guys win.  There are characters that include the ‘collateral damage’ of crimes against individuals.  And sometimes, the shows are hard to watch.  But it was much harder to live through an event that would be a plausible story line for those shows.

I’ve been much more ‘tender’ this time around with the parole protest.  I’m getting so tired of them, but at the same time, I feel responsible to keep fighting to keep him locked up.   He doesn’t deserve to be out. He agreed to a 60 year sentence in a plea bargain.    He offends EVERY time he’s on parole. Since he was 18 years old, parole is just another opportunity to rack up more ‘victims’.  I’m angry that the woman he attacked prior to attacking me just blew off sentencing.  Had she made sure he got as much time as possible, I wouldn’t have been raped.   I don’t want that same burden on my shoulders.  I may not be able to control the decisions of the parole board, but I am involved.  If they let him out, it’s on them.

In the meantime, I have to talk myself down now and then.  And sometimes, I have to just let myself cry and feel whatever is going on.  On good days, I write.  And every day, I have to remember how much I have to be thankful for.   PTSD isn’t something that gradually resolves in a predictable manner.  It comes and goes when the triggers set something off that is associated with some memory or feeling.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  It just is.

 

Brain Dump… or Just Getting Weird

OK, for those who know me, the ‘getting weird’ part might be nothing newsworthy.  I go through times when I’m skating along fairly well with the medical stuff, and then something happens, which freaks me out because of the cancer history and neurological issues, and I get in a funk.  I’ve been having trouble swallowing consistently, and have finally asked for a referral to the ENT (should hear about an appointment time soon).  Raw carrots and medications get stuck regularly, and things like rice or dry chicken are sometimes downright scary.   I guess I’ll find out about that when I finally get to the appointment.

The continued atrophying of my thigh muscles is still an issue.  I do what I can to stretch, walk around the apartment, take out the trash, and do my own grocery shopping (very painful).  The days after my monthly grocery store trip are generally miserable- but I’m also not good at taking the pain meds.   I try to make them last, and since hydrocodone is now a Schedule II (and requires a paper prescription for each refill- no faxing from the pharmacy), it’s inconvenient and painful to go get them. But, I’m going to have to give up and just go get them.  My doc can give me two refills per trip- just all dated for different months – so have to be filled at spaced intervals.  And, I have to take them.  I’m meticulous with other meds- but the pain meds hit me the wrong way- like I just need to buck up and get a grip.  That doesn’t work well when I’m lightheaded from the pain.

My blood pressure is also shifting (going low), so that is a problem.  I’m adjusting the meds for that.   I’m requiring less insulin, which is good- but sort of trial and error as I readjust the dose.  None of these things are any big deal… but sometimes the pile-up of several things is exhausting.  I’ve also lost a little weight (about 25 pounds from highest chemo weight; 14 since March 1st )- so that’s good, but still trying to shed more.  But I bailed out of Nutrisystem.  It was getting too focused on numbers, and my history doesn’t bode well with compulsive number calculations.  I get back into thinking about how much easier it is to lose weight when I’m NOT following some relatively rigid rules.  I think it’s a good program, but NOT for someone with a history of eating disorders.  I could feel those old patterns swinging from the rafters of my brain.

Then I look at the world at large, and the horrible things people do to each other.  I’m not going to go into specifics, since I’ll just get upset.   When I see tragedy on TV, I just want to reach through the screen and wrap my arms around those who are suffering.  SO, I pick and choose what I watch anymore. Tonight I had the weather on, as we were having severe storms again, and more tornadoes hit the area.  We had an EF-4 come through on April 9th that really tore up one whole town, and heavily damaged another subdivision.  Tonight, a 6,200 ‘lot’ camping ground was hit.  They’re still looking for people as I write this.  The other towns hit in April haven’t got their lives back together, and now some folks 10-12 miles away are looking for their lives, that are scattered around the neighborhood.  As of now, they know of 5 who are injured, and trapped  by flood waters.  But they haven’t accounted for everyone yet.

The shooting in South Carolina was an abhorrent act- and the congregation of that church are amazing examples of how NOT to hate back.  Truly inspirational people, and all before a week has gone by since nine of their friends and family were mowed down.

My brain is tired.  My limited ability to DO anything to help is so frustrating  (I can’t be outside in this weather because of the heat intolerance).    And yet, I have SO MUCH to be thankful for- and I do realize that.  I’m very blessed in so many ways.    Today, I got something I’d wanted to try for a while – Mexican street tacos- they were outstanding, and a real treat since I don’t leave home more than 2-3 times a month for groceries and MD appointments.  This did make me happy today 🙂  They were so good.

Street Tacos with steak, pork, and beef tongue (which was like pot roast)

Street Tacos with steak, pork, and beef tongue (which was like pot roast)

Sometimes, I just need to blow off steam 🙂

Can This Country Ever Come Together?

And I’m not necessarily talking about who wins the election in 2 days- though that ‘s a big part of it, but it’s way beyond that.  Everywhere I turn, there is such hate and divisiveness.  It’s so far beyond disagreement with any sort of mutual respect.  It’s bitter, hostile, and wishing the other ‘side’ ill will, or making personal attacks that go beyond disagreeing with views and beliefs.  And, it has no limits demographically. But recently, it does come through in the political hate each side seems to have for the other side.  Have people forgotten that there are decent human beings who happen to disagree?  Sure, there are politically based people in the public that I really don’t like (from both sides- extremism is very unpalatable no matter who does it).  There are many I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with. But I don’t wish anything dreadful on them.

In reading some of the comments on news stories, or even on YouTube for something totally unrelated to politics, the venomous comments are horrifying.  The topic can be a song, a video on some personal tragedy, or whatever. There is hate everywhere. Social media has made this so easy.  It’s the chickenshit way to spew contempt without having to actually come face to face with the person or ideas they abhor.  And there is no indication that there is any value for the person who may disagree.  It’s sad.  Pathetic. Terrifying.  There are comments about the person not deserving to live, that anybody associated with them isn’t worth taking up space on the planet, etc.  Over a disagreement in beliefs.  Says a lot about the desirability of being part of either side when personal attacks are acceptable.  I want nothing to do with either ‘side’.

We have people in this country who shoot a theater full of Batman movie goers ‘just because’ (and yes, I realize that mental illness was behind that to some degree- yet it was also well planned, so some measure of clear thinking was involved).  I’m grateful that the current candidates haven’t been harmed in a society that can produce Columbine, the Batman Massacre , killing of Amish school students, etc.  I pray for whoever wins the election.  Nobody deserves to be mowed down.  And in this society, I can see it happening very easily.  Some idiot will become a ‘martyr’… and some will be delighted, though without daring to say it at that point. Then it would be wrong- but to be so hateful otherwise?  It’s become a sport.

I cleared out many political ‘shares’ on my FaceBook page this morning.  These are from people I know.  I wish I didn’t know a thing about their political views (from either side) because most of it is followed with some type of disdain or hatred.  Republican, democrat, ‘other’, or independent.  It doesn’t matter. Politics has come to be equated with hate and division.  There are so few civilized discussions, and personally, I don’t want to know what my FRIENDS think about politics.  I’ve shared some things, and have tried to be selective, but I now feel that it’s just perpetuating what I loathe.  I was wrong to send anything political to anybody. I apologize.

No matter who wins the election, the media and social media will continue to provide an outlet for those who are bitter and hateful.  None of that solves anything. We all know that politicians just want to be right for the sake of being right- for votes- not to do anything productive. And those who campaign can’t really fulfill anything they promise since they’re not the final step in decision making- unless it’s to veto something, or their buddies are in control of the House of Representatives and Senate.  Congress seems to be a cesspool of hatred.  A microcosm of the country at large.

I’ve had a relative (a.k.a. family member) describe me in bitterly hateful terms because I asked to not receive anymore e-mail propaganda from her (and I never sent her anything from ‘my side’). She hadn’t returned e-mails (about ‘hey, how are you?’) or had anything to do with me for over 20 years.  Yet she decided she knows that I’m a hate monger?  No.  That relationship is over.  It’s one thing to disagree. It’s something else (and a deal breaker) to make it a personal attack.  And yet, that’s all I see from so many people- including Christians, who ‘talk’ about not being judgemental, but can’t seem to shut up with their judgements about those they disagree with.  Those who don’t care about God, but claim to want everyone to get along, are just as guilty.  If people can’t be civilized I really don’t care to know them.  Disagreeing is one thing, when it’s done with respect that both sides feel passionately about their beliefs.  But when any side demands respect and refuses to give it, they’re all hypocrites.

There are a good number of ‘friends’ who I wouldn’t have anything to do with if I knew them for purely political reasons.  There are some family members that I’m stuck with until they cross the line and get personal with their attacks.  And yet mostly what I see are hateful posts that cause me to wonder if the sender thinks the horrible things about me because I don’t agree with their views about someone they don’t know as a human being.  Public figures are not humanized. They have become objects.  And social media has made categorizing and objectifying people the way to interact.

Eight years of Bush-hate has become four years of Obama-hate (or Obama worship- depending on the ‘side’).  No matter who wins this election on Tuesday, there will be more hate.  And it does cross over into relationships.  Even if I agree with most of what my friends believe, I don’t want to see their hatred.  Maybe some folks need to unfriend me.  If hatred over someone they don’t know is that important, that’s probably a good thing to just get rid of me.  I’ll understand.  I don’t agree completely with EITHER candidate or ‘side’.  I don’t identify with any party.  Sadly, it’s become picking the less of two evils.  I’m embarrassed by many of the conservative pundits.  And I dislike many of the far-left personalities.  Extremism isn’t appealing no matter where it comes from.

So, I wait for Tuesday to be over with. Just get it done.  The tone for the next four years will be set in a heartbeat.  Obama wins, and the right hates; Romney wins, and the left hates.  There is no middle ground anymore (at least what is made public- maybe there are some who stay quiet that can be more discreet and humane).  Regardless, our country is ruined. Until there can be some sort of cooperation and removing the person’s ideas from their value as a human being, we’re going to continue to fail.  If we can’t pay for our debt, we’re going to be like Greece (who had a major corporation refuse to send a cancer drug to them this week; google ‘Merck and Greece’).  If we don’t take care of our own, we’ll have people needlessly dying and/or homeless- generally through no fault of their own.  And these seem to be the only two options….no middle ground that can be agreed upon.  So we’ll fail. We’re already dropping in health and education categories with other countries.

While I still think that this is the best place to live, it is a horrible place to exist among so much hate.  So, the 25+ countries that read this blog- this is my view. I still love my country…but less and less the people who make their opinions known in hateful ways.  For now, it’s worse from those on the right…. but if Romney wins (as it was in the years with Bush), the left will spew their venom.  And in the end, it does nothing to fix anything.