Category Archives: VA

The One About Asking for Help

For real and true, this post will be long.

It’s no secret I’m a teacher. Since before the first day of school I’ve asked my principal for help because our class size is out of control. I have 32 students in a smallish classroom and it sets off my anxiety. It’s too crowded and I can’t move around the room. Also my kids this year have some serious challenges. Normally those are my kinds of kids – there are just SO many.  One of my students is currently awaiting a trial date for his FELONY SEXUAL ASSAULT charge. (He is in an alternative school, but he’s on my roll.) I have another with gang ties who’s been seen driving (this is 6th grade) around the neighborhood. I am responsible for teaching 96 students the joys of reading and grammar. AND I am not too shy to say this is a job I have rocked the shit out of for 14 years. On Wednesday things changed for me.

The student with gang time is pissed off in the hallway. He’s yelling and throwing a fit because some boys in my class told him that I said he was stupid. And then he says he’s going to tell him mom on me. Totally lost it. I have never seen nor spoken to the women who never returns my calls. So I’m just as loud as him. “YEAH? I’ve got some stuff I want to tell your mom too. Let’s call her! Right now!!” And everything said after that blurs a little because I started seeing stars.

I head down to the school nurse and she take my blood pressure. It’s so high she won’t tell me what it is and has me sit there. I’m cussing up a blue streak and having a general meltdown. I decided I was done for the day (at like 9am) and put in for sub. The nurse took my blood pressure again before I left and wrote it down for me.

This is the email I sent to my AP and my principal:

Ladies,

I just left the doctor’s office. Nurse (XXXXX – the school nurse)  took my blood pressure this morning and it was 187/122 – so high that she didn’t even want to tell me what it was. An hour later she took it and it was still 168/99 which is still too high. The doctor put me on medication, so I won’t be in tomorrow because we need to see how I react to it.

This is not a blood pressure issue. This is an anxiety issue.

 I need help.

I have asked for:
another teacher – can’t afford it
move classrooms – they’re all the same size
get smaller desks – no

I am not trying to assign blame. I am still asking for help. Help that isn’t another person in my room. That isn’t me trying to teach someone else how to do their job. I’ve loved (XXXX) so much that I’ve given 14 years of myself to it.

 I don’t want to stop now. I just don’t know what else to ask for or what can be done.

“What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”
–George Bernard Shaw

Their reposes was LITERALLY thoughts and prayers:

Mrs. XXXX,

I hope that you are feeling better today. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

XXXX XXXX
Assistant Principal
XXXXX Elementary

AND THIS ONE from the woman I’ve known and worked with for 14 years:

XXX,
I am sorry to hear that you are not feeling well. I hope the medication helps with your blood pressure. I have experienced that personally and I know how dangerous it can be to your health.
When you return on Friday, let’s set a time to talk.
XXX
Principal
XXXXX Elementary
No here’s what we’re going to do. No I’M SORRY I couldn’t be bothered to read your entire email or revise the things I’ve said NO to in the past. Just.. hey I have high blood pressure so let’s make this about ME. Ugh and fuck you.
My team, the infamous crybaby math teacher and the Are dinosaurs real since they’re not in the bible science teacher, is about 0 help. I texted them on Friday (when I was still out because dying on the floor in my classroom doesn’t sound like a good idea) and this is the text I got in return:
It’s been a nightmare of a day, be thankful you’re out! There have been 4 different fight threats. OE and ER yelling and cursing at each other across the cafeteria, CW disrespectful, IP tried to trip the sub. I printed progress reports for my class and said something to B about there not being any math grades in, she just put it off, so I asked XX the best way to handle it, and she took it to XXXX (the principal). Apparently B (The crybaby teacher) is bad mouthing everyone and telling people she’s done acting professional and doing favors for us. I don’t think she’s done favors for you and I.. oh and we are going to be self contained after the winter break.
Sent from my iPhone  
Self contained means I will be in the classroom with the same kids all day and be responsible for teaching all subjects at a mastery level. I will be planning every subject. Grading every subject. Which will be 6 subjects 6 assignments daily = 192 a day. As opposed to 1 or 2 assignments a day = 96 to 192. The difference being I know these assignments and would be grading 96 of the same thing. Make grading easy-peasy.
SO…
Since then I’ve seen a doctor and received a prescription – but I cannot DRIVE when I’m taking it. When I think about going back to school – dying on the floor is my first concern. And then I work myself back up.
SO…
Today I went to the ER. The nurses, PAs, and doctor were amazing. Now I have a note that says I can’t go to work until the AT LEAST the 14th of December because I’ll see the psychiatrist on the 13th.
Now I have to figure out the best way to tell my team and admins. They’re going to be pissed off.
life-has-never-given-me-lemons-it-has-given-me-4548004
TLDR: Don’t trust anyone else to do the right thing for you. Corporations and school districts consider themselves more important than any individual or class. Believing anything is definitely a Rook mistake.
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The Other One About My Weakness

I thought that last post would be my last on this topic – at least for a while.  Since then, I’ve had two more really bad PTSD days and a couple of just real bad days. I leave for work in the dark – about 5:30 a.m. and have conversations with myself about how would be the best way to wreck my car so that no one else gets hurt – just so I don’t have to go to work and be stuck in a small room with 32 kids for 6 1/2 hours. I have blown up and yelled at home a couple of times. I came close to punching someone in the face because they appeared behind me, speaking almost in my ear. I spent an hour on the floor of my closet with my dog for quiet solace and crying.

I currently have three coping mechs:

Shutting down without speaking for long periods time

Drinking

Spending money

I have 22 days until my appointment. And that’s at a civilian center, because I would be dead if I had to wait on the VA. Besides, going to the Dallas VA sends me over the edge to start with. The place is packed to the gills with people much worse off than me. I won’t take their spot.

But I feel like a failure. I haven’t had to take meds before. I’ve been able to shore myself up against the darkening storm. I’ve made myself OK. I willed it to be so. I’m just out of time.

In 22 days I could be a silent, broke alcoholic or worse. 23621228_1461471297300803_3708888256101548341_n

TL,DR: I am falling.

 

The One About My Weakness

Part of my problem is the job. There are TOO many people in my space. My processor slows to a crawl and I fight the urge to just walk out and never come back at least twice a week.  Jamming 33 people and desks into 21 by 25 foot room will do that to me. I can’t remember shit. Any request for help has been met with adding teaching assistants to my already over crowded space.  That is not the help I need.

This weekend I had a full blown episode. Couldn’t breathe. My heart jackhammered my head. It’s like being punched in the chest, like a hammer blow to the sternum. Like being physically attacked. On the way to a party, my sigoth had to pull the car over so I could get out. Had to STOP the MOTHERFUCKING CAR so I could get out RIGHT. NOW. My body shook. Tears. And then to the party where I slammed a couple of beers before I could feel right again. I’ve seen this path. I know where it leads. Statistics can eat my whole ass.

Yesterday I  found a psychiatrist that specializes in PTS and anxiety in combat vets. Couldn’t get an appointment until December, but that’s OK. I’ll limp through until then. I’ve trained for fighting wounded.

If we’re friends and you notice a change in my behavior, please – PLEASE- document it. You don’t have to say anything to me, just hang on to it. I’ll ask people to email their observations right before I go to the appointment.

working-with-veterans-suffering-from-mental-health-problems-10-728

The One About Today

It’s not been a good couple of days over here. Normally I’m totally down for a good thunderstorm. Blue-gray clouds, lightning zippering across a black sky or lighting it all up in 2 second increments, but not today. That electrical charge in the air put me on edge first thing this morning. Driving forever across the metroplex in a torrential stop.  down stop. pour around and through the emergency response vehicles guarding the wrecked and injured, their lights coloring the slick roads – it’s all got to me. Welcome to HyperVtown . Population me. Cause the rest of you fuckers aren’t allowed in. It-takes-a-great-deal-of-energy-to-remain-300x300

The One About Now

Sometimes when it’s dark, it’s the worst. Fearing sleep or wanting sleep to not deal with anything wars in my head. Sometimes daylight’s the worst. seeing everything in crystalline clarity and knowing theres nothing to worry, get upset, or get fucking pissed off about- but there it is. Like cat shit on the linoleum. Everyone can see the daylight crazy. No way to cover it up. No way to hide it.

The years press down on me. All the time I’ve been home safe and all the time I wasn’t. It’s acid. It just keeps eating away at me. Eating me away. How much more will it take before I wake up and can’t remember how to be me any more?

I’m OK. Everything’s fine. No, really, I’m OK. It’s my mantra. And most of the time it’s true. Tonight my skin doesn’t feel like mine and I want to kick a hole in something. But, I’m going to bed instead. Sleep it all away  hlyygni

The One About Slipping

I’m a talker. I will carry conversations. Lately, all I’ve wanted to do is sit in silence watching Netflix or sleep.

I know that’s not me.

So my sig-oth said to me awhile back that it might be time for me to seek some treatment (again). That’s his way of letting me know that I’m regressing. I can feel it. I think it’s the great divide between the forward thinkers and backsliders that’s going on in the States. There’s not a safe space here. And I’ve looked at all the cat videos I can stand.

I’ve done cognitive therapy. You sit and talk with the therapist who assures you that you’re living a guilt-free life. That works for awhile because logic. Problem is that the tangled brain/emotion/thoughts come back and, for me, it’s hard to hear her voice. Sounds crazy, right?

Right. Mental health issues. Crazy. Labels are great.

There are other options: meds, family therapy, group therapy, and exposure therapy. Fucking all the therapy makes you talk and I don’t want to do that. Feeling like a little chicken-hearted punk because I know I need to go, but it’s sure comfortable in my little zoned out spot on the couch.

 

The Other, Other, Other, Other, One About the VA

It’s not enough that we have maggots. The Other Other One About the VA

Google auto fills “vet suicides at” with:

  • Phoenix VA
  • VA
  • Denver VA
  • Attempts per day

It doesn’t tell you about the one that happened in Albuquerque on the 22nd. Just like no one reported on James Ingram III setting himself on fire in a VA parking lot (The One About Ending It All) because apparently people pretend like none of this is happening.

All I know is what was reported by disabled veterans.org because there’s nothing else to find. I even checked the Albuquerque Journal‘s obit section and none listed the cause of death as a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head while standing at the doors of the Albuquerque VA hospital .

hlyygni

Reach out. I didn’t seek help – it was thrust on me. A friend made the appointment at the VA for me. It wasn’t my answer. Compartmentalization will break down. Seek help and/be the help. Anything less is a Rook mistake.