Archive for the ‘Female Peer Support’ Category

Triggers

September 2, 2013

Hi all, Prodigal Brigid here. I feel the need to share something that has happened to me, and set me way, way, way back in my recovery. I thought I was doing really well. Even the review board didn’t want to give me the full 30% I was entitled to for the MST I suffered for over a decade. They said I was too well adjusted. Too well adjusted, but not able to drive 50 miles to see my best friend. Too well adjusted, but I deadbolt my door the second I get home, and check several time throughout the day/night to make sure it is locked. Too well adjusted, that I will not open the door for anybody, period, unless the text or call me and let me know they are coming over and when. Too well adjusted.

I’ve got news for them. I am not well adjusted. I am a blubbering mess, terrified, out of my head. And back in therapy again, and all my meds have increased, some doubled. I am also on Worker’s comp now, and am possibly taking an intermittent leave of absence. Can’t go to the grocery store. Can’t sleep. Can’t make it a day without crying. And why? Triggers.

Here I am trying to help others, and now I am just a big ball of jello. Never thought I would be susceptible to this, but here I am. Once a very strong, brave, indestructible woman, and all the doctors and authority figures just keep on asking me if I am suicidal, or want to do harm to myself. Uh, no, harm was done to me. But the thought started crossing my mind a few days ago.

Long story short, I got molested by a woman at work. I have no idea who she is, I never saw her. And I froze and panicked after she whispered in my ear, to make sure I knew she had done this intentionally. That one single incident has set me back, almost worst than when I was gang raped 25 years ago. I can’t explain it, but this one single stupid incident has me terrified. Is she going to do it again? She would be a fool to do so, because I will harm her if I figure out who she is. Mt therapist says it was a case of bullying. My employer states even if they find her, it will be my word against hers. 

But the biggest surprise through all of this, my employer is paying for all the meds and therapy, to help me get somewhat back to normal. And they actually are being very decent to me. Maybe there is some hope. 

My psychologist is going to test out a new PTSD therapy on me, one she has never done before. It will be long, and painful, but hopefully will help me never to react like this again. In the meantime, I can only pray for strength. 

Please pray for me,

Brigid

 

Random Thoughts

August 7, 2013

Hello, Friends.

I am writing from the front lines – or from what feels like the front line – of the war to care for our silently wounded veterans. Please excuse today’s post – it is going to ramble and be a little out of control. I am also dealing with a family situation – my husband managed to take a header down our stairs and broke his arm…so I am a little exhausted from work, worry and caregiving.

I continue to work within the system in regards to the Peer Support issues. I have been told that I was considered “too far along in my recovery” for patients to relate to me. HUH?? I am still scratching my head on this one and others are scratching along. How can someone be too far along in their recovery. For those of us living in recovery – we know that it is a daily battle – a choice we make. We choose to be healthy and to be happy. That isn’t to say that we don’t become overwhelmed, angry, sad, depressed, furious, frustrated or just plain pissed off. That isn’t saying that we don’t want to lay at home and forget the world exists..we make a choice.

Those of you living in recovery know what I mean. The choice is an everyday thing no matter what your “addiction” is. For some people it is alcohol, drugs, cutting, bad relationships, job struggles – for me it is agoraphobia. (Fear of the market place) I would be very happy to seal myself inside my house and lock all the windows and doors. I would be happy to refuse to function. So long as the cable television is on and the refrig has snackage – I could be at complete happiness and peace. When I live that way no one hurts me. There are no dangers. I am surrounded by nothing but peace and quiet. No racing thoughts or anxiety attacks or doubts about my own feelings of being “not good enough.”

I would never wonder why the kindness I try to give is returned with venom. I would never question another person’s silence as anger or disappointment. Never ask the question – “What did I do wrong, now?”

That is my drug. Feelings of unworthiness, shame, being a stupid ass, feeling useless or clumsy. Wondering why some people are just cruel and why we can’t just color nice and not throw the sand in the sand box. Racing thoughts that keep me up at night telling me – you aren’t good enough, you aren’t smart enough, you aren’t strong enough. When I listen to them I fall apart.

The choice of getting up and moving forward is MY Choice – in fact, for most of us who are survivors of sexual trauma – it is our VICTORY. We didn’t get to choose…we weren’t asked our opinion when it came to our sexual assault or our rape. No one asked me…”is it okay if I sexually assault you?” In fact, that is part of why it is called forced sexual penetration without consent. No one asked if we’d mind.

Having the ability to choose – the right to choose – knowing that I can say “NO” or “YES” regardless of any situation is part of recovery for a survivor of sexual assault. Knowing that we are in control – we can take back what was taken from us – it is a powerful thing.

Very few people walk through life without experiencing hurt, tragedy, sorrow or anger. We all suffer from trauma – we are all walking wounded at some point in our lives. Some of us struggle and work hard and make a recovery – some of us don’t. Life is a bit like a food processor – some of us make it into the salad just sliced up and some of us get shredded.

I continue to fight – I don’t know what else to do but fight. Anything else feels like a surrender and surrender is not an option. You know how I feel about “coincidence” – there is no such thing. Maybe this is supposed to happen this way. I am working with people in positions of authority and I have actually gone to the ethics committee because they aren’t caring for women veterans or MS survivors. We will see what becomes of it. Hopefully, someone will stop and think and see where the mistakes are in the system. I am hopeful – there is no other option. To give up hope is to give up on thinking that anything good could ever come of the fight.

I beg you for your warm thoughts and prayers.

Peace,

Joan

Igniting the Fuse

July 19, 2013

Well, Friends…I do believe that I have totally lost my mind!  After much thought and a couple of conversations with people that I work with/for…I have decided to challenge the fact that the Peer Support position that I didn’t get hired for was filled only by men.  I decided to request a review of who was hired and why.

I have ignited the fuse on my PTSI with a blow torch!  The last time I challenged anyone in a similar way…I lost my entire military career.

You ever just get so angry that we, as women veterans and/or MST survivors, are just plain invisible.  I sometimes get the feeling that the faster we go away the happier everyone else will be.  Of course – this isn’t meant to make male veterans feel bad…after all – way too many of you are MST Survivors, too.  You are truly our brothers.

However…when it comes to being a female veteran I sometimes feel that we are treated as somehow “less” than our male peers.  Like we are girls playing “dress up” and not Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airman and Guardians.  It sometimes blows me away at how they sometimes justify (not just VA…but many other agencies) not hiring a female veteran to do something because “they have access to a female XXX, so they do have equal access.”  They just don’t get it! 

I like to put it this way…if I were to say…”I want a women gynecologist.” and they say…”We don’t have a woman gynecologist…but we can get you a female proctologist.” doesn’t make it the “same thing.”  It is the same thing with mental health care…a psychologist is not a peer support specialist and a peer support specialist is not a psychologist.  Two different jobs!

As far as the whole Veteran vs. Civilian thing…I have an opinion on that as well (don’t I always.)  My VA Psychiatrist and my VA Psychologist are both civilians.  They are terrific providers who both truly care and they have been helpful…but there is one difference.  There is no ‘cheddar cheese.’

Apple pie is an amazing dessert!  I like mine with a really thin slice of cheddar cheese and whip cream.  It is still really good with just whip cream…but that little piece of cheddar is missed.  Veteran providers in mental health and health care are the little slice of cheddar cheese.  We are the ones who truly know what it feels like to wear the uniform.  I sometimes feel that I have to explain myself or the situation…but a fellow veteran…they get it!

I would like to use an example from this week.  I had a conversation with someone, a fellow veteran, and he complained that he was hungry.  I said – I got a can of C-Rats.  He said, Sounds great.  I said…It is “ham and hockers.”  He said – No way…disgusting.

That conversation was totally lost on any civilian that doesn’t know what a C-Rat is or what a Ham and Hockers are.  For those of you out there who are really young…ham and hockers are ham and lima beans.  Only Cockroaches and Ham and Lima Beans are going to survive a nuclear holocaust.

Now I am too young to have actually eaten c-rats…we had first generation MRE’s…back in the day when everything was dehydrated and the most common field sick call was “too many potato patties!”

So – I have decided to fight this.  Not so that I can have the job…but so that I can bring better awareness to the desperate need for women veterans to have women veterans as peer support specialists.  Additionally – the need for ANY MST survivor to have the gender preference option in peer support.

Please keep me in your warm thoughts and prayers…because this whole thing has me scared to death!