A conversation with myself

Self: I hate you.
Self: You’re fat.
Self: What’s the point.
Self: It’s useless.
Self: You’re only good for one thing, and it’s exactly what you’re afraid of.
Self: You’re lack of control is appalling.
Self: I hate you.
Self: You’ll never amount to anything. You’re too old to start again.
Self: There’s no point.
Self: You’re fat.
Self: You’re not worth the time anyone spends on you.
Self: The world doesn’t want you. The world doesn’t NEED you.
Self: Just kill yourself and save everyone the trouble of dealing with you.
Self: You’re better off dead.
Self: You’re better off dead.
Self: You’re better off dead.

Educate yourself; or, How rape apology infiltrates even my safe space

**trigger warning**

So I started group therapy for post traumatic stress disorder early this year. It’s every other week with five other women of varying ages, plus the therapist. In one of the last couple of meetings, one of the other women said something like, “Why is it that I’m the one who has to pay for all this therapy and medication when I was the one who was traumatized in the first place?”

Yeah, good question. How is that at all poetic justice? I thought, though I didn’t say it. I still have trouble going to the groups because… well, because reasons… and getting into the room just to sit there is more a priority at this point than actually contributing to the conversation.

Anyway, last Wednesday, I went downtown with my best friend for a doctor’s appointment and to pick up some prescription medication. After the appointment, and after I’d shelled out more than $30 for the prescription (all I can say is: thank the gods I have health insurance), I half-jokingly said to my friend, “Ugh; all this therapy and meds cost so much! Why do I have to pay for it all when I was the one who was hurt? Why cant he pay for it?”

And, half a step behind me, he said in all seriousness, “Because you didn’t press charges.”

I couldn’t help it; I started laughing. I nearly stopped in my tracks. I couldn’t believe he’d even said such a thing. I didn’t—don’t—understand how someone who’s so loving and so understanding to me personally can still not understand how sexist and crappy our culture is. Oh wait, I forgot: he’s my best friend, in some respects my safety, but he’s still a man. How could I ever have hoped that maybe he’d educate himself about the patriarchy and rape apology? Heaven knows he benefits from it.

I said, “No, it’s because the world is fucked up.” I didn’t push it because I didn’t want to get into a fight with him right there at the hospital, or work on educating him with explanation(s) about “how the real world works for women”, or make him trip over himself trying to apologize for the utter lack of reality he’d apparently unknowingly just espoused. I was too tired for the two former options and always just get irritated with the latter, even though I know he means well. I don’t want an apology if nothing changes; what the hell’s the point, then, right?

So here I am now, writing about it because that’s all I know how to do because I’m terrible with on-the-spot stuff and I need to work it out in my head and I had to decide if I was really offended or if I was just taking things too personally. Well, it turns out that if it eats at me for more than a a day or two—if I mull over it and ruminate on it—I’m offended. I’m offended by the lack of education some people have given themselves, even when the subject matter has a pretty direct effect on them, because they seem to think such an education isn’t important or that some other person is supposed to educate them, or because they think they’re actually not as affected as they really are. (Side note: it’s difficult for me to imagine how anyone can claim that sexism and slut-shaming and rape apology have no direct effect on them when they live in a world that so obviously condones those things.)

I’m not interested in rehashing this any further; what happened to me was too “grey” for anything worthwhile to come of my reporting it to the proper authorities. I realised shortly after it happened that most of the response would be, “Well, why did you go into that isolated area with him?” instead of, “Why the fuck would anyone think that it’s okay to do that to someone else?” (Unfortunately, I was correct in said realisation with the people I did [try to] tell.) My somewhat varied sexual history would come to light, no doubt, and make me a less-than-perfect prosecutorial witness. And, of course, it was my word against his.

I don’t know. I just… I’m not a “humorless feminist”… it’s just not funny.

30 Days of Truth 27

Day 27: What’s the best thing going for you right now?

I’ve got a good support system for myself, finally, I think. Or rather, I have the skeleton of a good support system. I’m not better yet, but I’m pretty sure I have access to the tools now to get better. That’s the best thing I’ve got going for me right now. It’s not a lot, but it’s more than anything I’ve had since… well, maybe ever.

30 Days of Truth

30 Days of Truth 26

Day 26: Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?

Yes, I have. Often, even. Here’s the thing, though. As a person who’s been depressed enough to want to take that permanent solution, let me just make on thing clear: I have never ever thought about it as “giving up on life”—when I’m thinking about it, it seems more like (1) the only good choice among a plethora of crappy choices, or (2) the only choice I have left that will make any positive impact.

When I’m thinking about it, it’s the only thing that I think will work. I mean, I’m in so much pain and dark emotion that “giving up on life” seems to me like the only way to fix it. Don’t you think that I would do whatever that other thing you’re thinking of if I could? If I thought there was another, better option, of course I would take it.

And just to mention it: don’t you dare call a person who’s committed suicide “selfish”. In that person’s mind, they are actually being selfless. They truly believe the darkness in their own heads and that “giving up” really will make it better for everyone, including themselves. You are thinking about it like a healthy person, which a severely depressed person is not.

Now, that being said: I’ve attempted suicide once in my life and come close on numerous other occasions. In high school, I attempted it but was stopped by someone who’s proven himself a good friend over and over despite my actually being a pretty shitty friend to him. Who the hell knows why he sticks around, but sometimes I think he’s the only sane thing I have in my life.

In college, I voluntarily admitted myself to the psychiatric unit of a hospital as a danger to myself. When the admitting social worker didn’t believe me (though he ended up admitting me anyway), I decided that I was never again going to tolerate such disbelief and, upon being released, began cutting. (I have since stopped, though the urge is still there sometimes.)

Since then, I have waffled between dysthymia and severe depression and the topic—that is, death by my own hand—has often crossed my mind.

30 Days of Truth

“Before the World Intruded” review

Before the World Intruded coverBefore the World Intruded:
Conquering the Past and
Creating the Future, A Memoir

By Michele Rosenthal
Your Life After Trauma, LLC
09 April 2012

Okay, I’m going to admit right now that the primary reason I bought this book was because I wanted the free gifts, as indicated on the Amazon.com sales page: “To receive over $1,900 in free trauma recovery support resources, take your Amazon sales receipt number and visit: Project Give Back“. (More on the free gifts in a minute.) Michele Rosenthal founded Your Life After Trauma, and Before the World Intruded is her memoir detailing almost 25 years of undiagnosed, untreated PTSD. I purchased the memoir in order to obtain the freebies, when I received the book, I read it all the way through in just over a week. It’s not a long or difficult read: 229 pages in an extremely readable and conversational tone.

Even though it was interesting to take a look into someone else’s recovery process, I could barely relate to her circumstances: Rosenthal had a life-threatening allergic reaction, spent weeks and weeks in a hospital in a bed specially made for burn victims, and nearly died before recovering (physically, at least) and moving on with her life. I could, however, relate in more ways than one to the consequences she experienced: she never talked about her trauma, and she fell into depression and anxiety multiple times before finding her passion(s) and giving the idea of truly healing a decent chance.

I was… somewhat disappointed (I guess? not sure if that’s the right way to say it, but…) that at the end of the story, she enlisted the help of a hypnotist… and everything just got better. I think the mind works in mysterious ways and if she says that hypnotism worked for her, it worked for her. But… well, I’m skeptical. I’m kind of looking for something that I can apply to my own life, I suppose, in reading about other authors’ experiences, and hypnotism just isn’t… it.

Now, about the free gifts
All the “gifts” are available virtually, so there’s no cost to anyone for shipping and handling, etc. Said gifts include a subscription to Aspire Magazine, the 21-day Create & Sustain Success Course, the 10 Days to Embrace Your Inner Rebel and Create a Life You Love! video series, the How to Survive a Mental Highjacking video series, relaxation music/sound files, information about grounding, and so on and so forth. (I have not included here any links that a person with a bit of smarts couldn’t find for themselves, and I have not included anything that was uploaded directly to the Your Life After Trauma website. If you would like to obtain all of these free offerings, I suggest buying the book for yourself.)

Unfortunately, I’m not sure the “free” gifts were really worth buying the book, but luckily, the memoir’s story was worth the cost on it’s own. The gifts feel to me a bit like a used car salesman trying to up the ante when he doesn’t actually need to—it’s a well-written, interesting story and I would recommend it (aside from the stuff about hypnosis; ugh) to anyone who finds real-life drama intriguing. That said, the freebies are free, so even if you don’t do anything with them afterwards, it’s not like you’re losing money over it. And if you do find something helpful/useful, then more power to you.

“PTSD: A Spouse’s Perspective” review

PTSD: A Spouse's Perspective coverPTSD: A Spouse’s Perspective
How to Survive in a World of PTSD

By Erica David
WestBow Press
28 January 2011

I read PTSD: A Spouse’s Perspective by Erica David as an ebook, the first I’ll be reviewing since I received a Kindle Fire for the holidays this past year. As I am struggling with PTSD myself, I thought this short read might do me some good.

Well, yes and no. The print edition is only 84 pages, and I was able to read through the entire thing in one sitting. It’s clear that the author really is dealing with her own post-traumatic stress and her veteran husband’s, but the writing didn’t catch me and draw me in the way I hoped it would. I already know a decent amount about PTSD, so the explanations and definitions weren’t so helpful as they might’ve been if I’d never before heard of the disorder. Plus, the entire book was poorly edited for content and grammar. There are glimpses of the author’s trauma here and there, but they are so fleeting that it’s like I just caught something out of the corner of my eye as I’m whipping past on the freeway, and even though I turn my head to see more clearly, it’s already gone.

All right, so the book doesn’t claim to be a memoir; it fits more into the self-help section. Erica David, to her credit, does include more about how a person should set boundaries (and stick to them) in order to be less affected by a spouse’s PTSD. She mentions more than once that the man she married isn’t the same man who came back from military service, and she’s still not sure that love is enough to overcome the trauma they both experienced.

The author also says that PTSD is incurable, and I don’t believe that. I don’t think a person who has flashbacks or who drops to the ground when they hear a loud, sharp noise will have to continue having negative responses to their triggers. As least, I hope not because I don’t want to walk on eggshells around my own trauma for the rest of my life. And really, does anyone?

Regrettably, the author also employs gender essentialism (“Women have an inner need for closeness that only female friends can supply”, etc.) and veers dangerously into abuse apologetics (“If we tolerate abuse, we get abused.”), so I’m on the fence about recommending this book to anyone, whether they have PTSD (or a spouse with PTSD) or not. I agree that secondary PTSD is woefully under-treated, and PTSD veterans’ families have a clear lack of resources at their disposal to help the person with post-traumatic stress and themselves, so in that respect, this book sheds a bit of light on and area that obviously needs more research and care.

This short book was a good idea, and I think the author’s heart is in the right place, but it’s been very poorly executed.

DISCLAIMER: I received PTSD: A Spouse’s Perspective free from WestBow Press for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.