Tag Archives: PTSD

The First One About SoonerCon

I am currently at the most amazingly inclusive and safe space con I’ve ever attended. (please note that this was my experience ymmv) Trans and fluid kids were SAFE to be themselves. Not everyone was a straight white dude over the age of 50. There were more people of color than I’ve ever seen at a con and they brought their KIDS! There was a great fresh vibe.

The hotel staff were friendly and got in on it. They all wore fan t-shirts instead of their normal button down uniforms and were fantastic. If you know me, I spent a lot of time in the bar and was fucking thrilled they had STRANAHANS!!!

The ConCom are ON IT. If there’s a problem, they’re solving almost before you can finish your sentence. Seriously, you must come to SoonerCon next year. It is fantastic.

SO – why the fuck did I have a panic attack during a panel I should have been moderating on overcoming false equivalency in the #metoo movement?

OH PTSD, let me count the ways:

  1. It’s doesn’t have to be any one thing, This shit accumulates.
  2. I’d been nervous about leading this particular topic because it is so important. I was worried I wouldn’t do it justice.
  3. A dude stated his opinion that he didn’t believe the women who came forward because there was no police report or evidence. (There was an educational process handled by Katie in the audience.)
  4. A gully-washer started. Thunder, lightning, and the future threat of navigating 35 in a tornado (no there wasn’t one in the forecast, but this is Oklahoma)
  5. Going to work tomorrow to finish up summer school.
  6. Because… #metoo

No worries, I’m fine.

I cannot thank David “Oak” Rice enough for keeping it going and doing my job while I was trying to keep myself together.

But let me tell you what the staff did for me.

As I was on the verge of a full on meltdown, my friend and I decided that we’d just stay another night which made it better. Aislinn, the Con Chair, wanted to make sure I was OK and somehow telepathically contacted Shai, president of Future Society of Central Oklahoma. By the time we’d walked from the connected convention space to the hotel, Shai had a room key for me. Seriously – less than 5 minutes.

Believe me that these folks take care of their guests and attendees.

So tonight, I’ll stay here in OKC with good friends and good people.

 

 

 

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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.

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.

fuck-em-shortest-prayer-in-the-world-16823377

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 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.

 

 

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.

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.