The Other, Other… Ad Nauseam About PTSD Depression

I’ve considered killing myself an uncountable number of times, but I remember the first and the last very well.

1st – I was sitting in the dirt, a rock cutting into my ass cheek, but I didn’t want to move. Feeling that bit of pain was somehow soothing. I was leaning on my ruck waiting to go home when new orders came through and we were diverted. And it came upon me quick that I could leave this shit one way or another.

 

Last – I’d moved back to my hometown after a business venture in Vancouver flopped. I was self-destructive, full of pity and self-hate. I felt like everything I’d done didn’t matter because I’d come back to the place I’d left to the same job. And I don’t know how my friend knew, but he did. Internally, I raged at myself for every moment I was awake. I hated everything and myself the most.  And my friend made an appointment for me with the VA in Dallas. I don’t know if he knows it or not, but he saved my life.

It’s a struggle, people. Some days are good and some aren’t. But it’s worth it because things change. Circumstances change. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Tomorrow will be different.

 

Depression
TL;DR: Depression is something you live with, that’s always there. Take your meds and live to piss someone off another day.
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The One About Sarcasm

Y’all June is almost here and you know what that means, right? An end to another School Shooter Season! Watch as the number of school shootings decline rapidly, tapering off to zero. Watch as those months become part of the statistical formula. Watch as SOMEONE tweets about how his administration has all but STOPPED that problem. Just wait for it. You know it’s coming.

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How can we protest any louder? How long before they shoot someone you know, love, or care about? And I did notice that everyone in this pic is white. What does that say about our country and who’s “acceptable” to protest anything?

 

TL;DR: Sorry shooters, school’s out!

Another One About Shootings

OK, so fuck our kids. They’re going to die in a school shooting NOT because of guns, but because of a lack of God and poor mental heath treatment. OK.  That’s fine.  Sure.

But here’s what I want then:

Teacher salary = to 0-3 pay $5,000 monthly

Combat pay for teachers when the shooting happens at $250 a month extra

BONUS pay at $500,000 per child they keep alive during the shooting.

Mandatory psych evaluations for every family member

Biweekly psych meetings with parents and students

Mandatory weekly home visits to make sure guns are being treated properly

Mandatory daily review of you and your family’s social media accounts for misogyny and racist comments,  suicidal or homicidal ideation, and a general overview of your feelings and mental strength.

Mandatory therapy for males between the age of 9-19 in order to undo the idea that they are entitled to another person.

Mandatory drug testing for parents and students

How do we pay for this? Ask the federal government. We can tax NRA members, fine those families who are remiss in these mandatory mental health checks, and start a separate school with one entrance, armed guards, and a sniper nest

Is this unrealistic? Is this a joke to you?

This is my reality. And if I’m going to die in a classroom, I need better pay and more say in who I teach. Do you have a kid with ADD? Do YOU have family with schitzo-effective disorder? Have you ever been divorced? Involved in a custody dispute? Ever written anything hateful about a group of people?  Then your kids can’t come to public school.

There, I fixed it.

 

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So, how many?

 

 

The One About Acceptable Losses

Yeah, it’s the world we live in.

Yeah, you need to understand that safety is nothing but a fucking illusion and the glass doors of the cube farm won’t stop anyone that is a motivated shooter.

This isn’t hyperbole or an overreaction. It’s the goddamn truth.

I work in a school.

I have had a plan in place for the 14 years I’ve worked here. Every class that I’ve taught knows pieces of my plan. And I have always been very careful with my words for the kids’ sake and mine.

Yesterday I attended a school safety briefing. The language changed. It’s not IF it happens, it’s WHEN it happens. It’s having to say that there will be dead and injured no matter what you do. It’s explaining to PreK-2 teachers that hours of silence is not likely. There are legal business things that had to be said, but when asked away from the crowd, telling those teachers to break out the glass in the windows, toss kids out, and fucking RUN as the best option for them living through this without being acceptable losses.

It’s helping a teacher “bulletproof” her room as much as possible because there’s more of a chance of wall penetration than knocking down doors.

It’s telling teachers that they have 3 seconds to lockdown.

There’s explaining not to react to a fire drill on lockdown – even it’s a real fire.

There’s explaining not to open the door for ANYONE. ANYONE. Even if that means listening to their coworker, friend, or student crying in the hall.

It means teaching our kids where and how to hide. There are 740 of them and 80 of us.

There’s seeing the realization on civilian faces that this is a fucking reality and that kids and staff will DIE. That there will be acceptable losses.

It’s me puking in the restroom after.

This isn’t a case of people coming for your guns. This is what it’s like to prepare for those guns coming for our kids.

Fuck you and your AR-15 that is safer than kindergarteners.

TL;DR I am sick of kids dying.

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The One About Antidepressants

My daily antidepressants are fantastic. The two side effects seem to be sleeping and vivid dreaming. It’s like sitting on the front row of a theater, craning my neck up at the screen. Everything is bigger, louder, more in my face. All of that is great when it’s some surreal piece of freudian manifestation. But when it’s a screaming night terror, that’s a little different. Friday I woke in the middle of the night crying and lost. I got up and took a Xanax, my emergency meds, and next thing I know I was waking up at 11 Saturday morning. I lasted about 3 hours before sleeping again til 7 pm. I made it until about 10pm and crashed out again. My Saturday was just GONE.

I’ll be cutting Xanax in half next time. I can’t afford to lose days.

BUT, I’m taking my meds and having mostly good days and working.

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Let’s pretend the quotation marks are correctly done.

TL;DR:  Meds are great for me. Don’t see if as weakness. Anything less is a rook mistake

 

The One About Students

I will not quote statistics. I will not rail against the NRA. I will not explain to the close-minded. It’s all been done and said before. And it does no good.

Instead. I will tell you what I do in my classroom.

  • Answer 11 year olds’ questions about the shootings (every time)
  • Explain my plan in case of an active shooter
  • Practice my plan with 30 11 & 12 year olds
  • Hold part of it back because I don’t know who they might tell.
  • Explain that NO is an acceptable answer.
  • Allow them to conclude that women, POC, nonbinary, and LGBTIA+  are people
  • Discuss anti-violent solutions to problems
  • Role play difficult social situations and discuss the various options
  • TALK to them and KNOW them
  • Be an adult worth trusting
  • We read about mental illness & “differences” to normalize it
  • We study world religions and their similarities

For the last 14 years I have taught kids to love one another and to save the world from itself.  My kids are out there. They’re still learning and now some of them are teaching their own kids.

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The One About Seeing a Psychiatrist et al.

I have not been back to school since the Great Blood Pressure Incident of 11/29. The administrations’ thoughts and prayers were not well-received here because they came with 0 plan of action to help me or my students. I finally got in to see the psychiatrist today (by no fault of her own – this is a very busy time for mental health professionals) and was told that I do indeed have PTSD (duh).  Basically, what’d happened is that the therapy and self coping I’d developed decayed due to my work situation. (duh)

My issues:

  • rituals
  • hypervigilance
  • rage attacks
  • panic attacks
  • generalized anxiety
  • depression
  • high blood pressure caused by these things
  • night terrors
  • insomnia

I’ve been placed on an antidepressant and will not be returning to work until the second semester. By then, these new meds will have kicked in and hopefully they’ll do the trick.  We will reevaluate the drug situation in 6 months to a year.

Best thing said to me so far, was when I left the ER two weeks ago and the nurse caught my attention on the way out. He said, “Hey, you’re not crazy. You’re not.”

I bawled. It hit me in the human side of me that’s still capable of emotion. 5

TLDR: I am starting this journey again. Thanks for your kind words and concern.

 

 

Rook Riley: writer, game enthusiast, and all around linguistic bad ass