Veterans Day and Mental Health

Veterans Day Mental Health

Read Mark C. Russell’s November 9th editorial published in The Seattle Times entitled, On this Veterans Day, where is the outrage over mental-health crisis?

Russell concludes with this call to action:

Honor our veterans this holiday by demanding the president and congressional representatives to urgently do the following:

  • Conduct independent investigations into the cause of the military mental-health-care crisis.
  • Establish a unified “Behavioral Health Corps” within the Department of Defense.
  • End hiring restrictions of licensed marriage/family therapists, mental-health counselors and clinical psychologists to address chronic staffing shortages.
  • Establish a “Joint Services Behavioral Health Lessons Learned Center.”
  • Compel the VA/military to ensure every veteran has access to all evidence-based therapies per the VA/DoD PTSD guidelines.

Mark C. Russell

Resources:

NAMI | Support for Veterans & Active Duty

Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry. On this page we focus on questions that military personnel often ask, concerning treatment resources, disclosure and staying healthy during the transition to civilian life. If you are having thoughts of suicide, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.

Veterans Crisis Line

#BeThere for Veterans and Servicemembers - Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

MHA Infographic: Things Adults Say That Hurt Instead of Help

Sharing this from Infographic: Things Adults Say That Hurt Instead of Help

Journal Writing

03-06-16

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Here I am at my parents’ house writing. Not necessarily for my blog, though I did save this to my blog writing folder on my hard drive. No, I’m free-writing for myself. Journaling. In the traditional sense. To ease my anxiety. To use some of the energy that my cup of coffee has juiced me with. I care not how I write. I try not to edit as I write. Instead, I write to let the tension flow out of my body, through my fingers and onto the page.

Yes, I’m writing in Word, not WordPress where I do most of my writing. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still write for an audience, not just for myself. Then again, I even daydream for an audience, as if I am performing, public speaking, addressing someone else. That’s how I think. I am a performer at heart, ready to please, though I often do not – no, not often, sometimes. I sometimes do not please, even when I try, for I have little in the way of filter. The words come tumbling out and sometimes I walk on toes not meaning to.

Anyway back to myself. Or perhaps not back to myself. What sort of writing would best help me now? A friend of mine, a former boyfriend, a poet, once suggested that instead of doing so much journaling in first person (which, yes, I’ve done over the decades intermittently), that I write in third person. Write as if I’m writing about a character. Distance myself from the content. Make it into a story.

Interesting idea. Not sure if I will do so now. But perhaps I will in the future.

What stresses me out at this very moment is not just what I have on my plate with regard to my parents, their property and their finances, but the reactions of those close to me to the risks involved. My husband Nick worries about lawsuits and cost overages. My sister asks shrewd questions. They have our interests at heart, but to the extent they are stressed and worried, I must not just address the valid arguments they make, but handle and assuage their anxiety.

Day from Hell

Recently my mother slammed the door on her speech therapist. She refused nursing care for herself and blocked nurses from seeing my father. Her behavior has caused both of them to be discharged as patients from home health services. No more home nursing visits, physical therapy or speech therapy.

My parents reside in a board and care near my home where they are fed and cared for by caregivers. They still are seen by an internist with expertise in treating seniors. They take their medications. And, I have requested that a psychiatrist see my mother.

Back to the story about my mom… When I visited, my mom restrained me and blocked me from leaving their room. My husband felt compassion for my parents and questioned whether they received adequate care (they do). (He supports me now and tries not to offer opinions or “fixes.”) I ended up feeling so out of control and overwhelmed that I posted this to Facebook:

I really need a friend right now. Feeling alone, isolated, misunderstood, on my own, unsupported, inadequate.

I received just what I needed – love and support. Here are responses I posted:

Today I heard that my mom’s home health care providers were discharging her as a patient because she refuses service and slammed the door in their faces. I’m working so hard to help and feel so helpless. Hard to just let it be.

I’m stressed out caring for my parents and for my son. Got to me. Just broke down. Feeling better but the weight of my responsibilities remains. Must let go.

Thank you, friends! Greatly appreciate all the support. My feeling isolated passed. You all helped. Spoke to my dear neighbor. In the midst of family crisis. Will be ongoing for a while. Stress can weigh too much and wear me down at times. Sometimes I throw up my arms and cry for help. Thanks for answering my cry.

All the love is loud and clear. The mood has passed. The stressors and triggers remain. Have to let go of what I cannot control.

Back to School at Last

So this is where I was with my son back in April. Transcribing this voice recording was gut wrenching for me. In April, my struggle to get my son back to class after multiple absences came to a crisis point. He fell farther and farther behind in his challenging honors curriculum. He was overwhelmed. I was at my wits’ end.

Since then, we had him assessed for special accommodations which never went into place because he did not go back to his regular high school in the fall. We then enrolled him in online classes which didn’t work out because he needs teacher feedback. Finally this week, he started one-on-one private school. Each day, he attends 50 minutes of one-on-one teaching for which he does one week of homework either independently at home or on campus where a tutor is available.

For those who don’t want to listen to seven minutes of me bemoaning the situation back in April, here’s a transcript of my voice recording.

***

Parenting Fail Self Care Fail Transcript

Okay, today has been a complete parenting fail and failure to take care of myself so that I can be a better parent.

My son’s been sick a lot recently. Every winter, every spring, he gets sick A LOT. I’ve taken him to doctors. Still, he gets sick. Every year he starts out in the fall getting straight A’s, and then in the spring he has to do a whole bunch of catch up because of his absences.

Well, now he’s in high school, and he’s in like hard core International Baccalaureate and AP classes. I mean all honors classes. And, today… last week he was sick.

Yesterday he went to school, but he didn’t do all of his homework. He said he had it under control. He didn’t. He asked to wake up early this morning to complete an English project. Wasn’t able to do the project. Curled up in a ball. Didn’t want to do it. Said he was tired.

My husband said he was up all night awake. I don’t know what the deal is there. But, he kept on falling asleep, curling up in a ball, wouldn’t get up, wouldn’t wake up, wouldn’t do the homework, wouldn’t get ready for school.

So, I just smacked him with my hand. Wrong. Abusive. I gave him a smack sideways. Hit his arm. He started to cry. Okay, you’re awake. Do your homework. Get ready for school. We’ve got to go. You can’t miss school. Not doing your homework is not an excused absence. I can’t take you to the doctor for an excuse for not doing your homework. Because at this point I have to take him to the doctor every FUCKING time he is absent from school because he is beyond the allotted absences.

Okay. He cries. He crawls up into a more tighter… he is in a little fetal ball. I swat his bottom. I hit him again. I say, you’ve got to go to school. I don’t care you’re not done with this project. I’m going to print it out as is. I don’t care if it’s not done. You can’t not go to school. You can’t miss your first period in order to do the homework for your second period. You have to go to school.

So I took him to school. He’s distraught. He ignores me. He…

I walk, because I want to go to see the guidance counselor or somebody about the whole situation because I’m just out of my wits. I go.

He ignores me all the way to class walking from the car. He walks a different way.

I go to the guidance counselor. I tell her the situation, the history. We take a look at what his teachers recommended for next year.

Two teachers recommended honors classes – in the classes that aren’t even his best classes, like English, his class that he just… is really hard for him to do, is like pulling teeth. He writes beautifully, but getting up in front of people and reading what he writes and writing very intense, metaphorical stuff – not so easy for him. So, he’s in this, like, advanced class, that he probably doesn’t belong. So he’s… They recommend that. They recommend another AP History. They recommend the honors English. Math, though, his best subject, now recommended regular Algebra 2. Because he’s getting a C because he’s been absent.

Fuck. I don’t actually care. He can be in all regular classes. But it makes no sense for him to be in honors classes on the classes that are most difficult for him, or at least not in the classes that he has the most passion for, but has missed the most.

Oh, he’s missed them all. But, you know, I mean, you can read something, you can do your history. But, you really, if the teacher teaches something differently than the book is. And, honors geometry, he keeps on saying the teacher teaches it differently than the technique in the book. And, when my husband tries to teach it, my husband’s an engineer, the way that he teaches it to people… Whatever.

So, major fail. I’m completely distraught. I blew up this evening at my husband over this whole situation.

Guidance counselor says maybe independent study, maybe a smaller private school, maybe, you know, whatever different options. Get him assessed by the psychologist. Get him special ed…

Kid has been in treatment since he was four years old. I’m fed up. I’m fed up. Fed up with taking him to doctors.

I will keep on taking him to his psychiatrist and to a psychologist. I will do what I can to try and get him well, but I am so fed up. I am so fed up with trying to drag this kid to school. I am so fed up with trying to drag him to do homework. I am so fed up with setting limits around video playing when he gets so obsessed.

I’m just done.