Flashbacks

Reality Testing

Delusion: I am a prisoner of war.

restraints

They attack me in the doctors office. Typical-looking doctors office, with the little table-chair with the paper for your dirty butt to sit on because you’re sick. But I didn’t sit on the table, I sat in the chair, because I didn’t think I was sick.

I must be crying. Am I really in here again? What do I want from them?

It’s not words that form first when it comes to trauma. It’s feelings, and my feelings are sad and scared. I am deluded, thinking they would notice “sad,” and “scared” and know that it probably came from trauma, and help me with that, and then everything would be better.

The police come in. I don’t know how many, sometimes it is only two, sometimes five or six. They are multiplied by each having two hands, all gloved in blue latex in a doctors office, but the doctor isn’t wearing blue latex – only the police.

Why are they already wearing gloves? Did they put on the gloves outside in the hallway? Did they stand in the hallway like the SWAT team, and suddenly the commander flashes a “go” sign and they all charge in, like the night they battered down the door to the apartment where I lived with the boy who killed himself….?

I jump back, not forward. They grab me anyway – I thought they were only supposed to grab you when you attack them, and when I jump back it isn’t an attack, it’s because they’re between me and the door, and that leaves me only one escape: turning into a ghost and passing directly through that corner right there behind the chair I sit in. I don’t like it when they grab me, but they twist my arm behind my back and push my elbow up towards my shoulder socket, and they all weigh twice as much as me anyway so they beat me pretty easily.

Then they cuff me behind my back, and the backseats of the cop cars are actually plastic, like a baby booster seat. I have to sit sideways because the metal hurts against the plastic seat, but I’m used to this now. Sometimes the police play their own music, like the radio. Sometimes it’s just the police scanner. They always call in to dispatch what they’re doing, something like “medical transport,” and the beginning mileage on their odometer and the dispatcher responds with the time of day.

Now I’m in the other chair, at the top of the elevator. How did I get up the elevator? Someone’s making me angry, but I don’t remember the face. I don’t want to be here. Before, they said they wouldn’t admit me unless I was suicidal, now I’m saying I’m not suicidal and they still won’t let me go. I’m confused. Why am I here?

Then I hear a voice from a past life, from somewhere else.

A prisoner of war:

Listen to me.
You’ve been captured. They’re going to break you now. They’re going to torture you and try to take everything you have. You must give them nothing. No matter what they do to you, give them nothing.

Now we’re in the ward, in the room with no toilet and there’s another table. Only this one has chains on it which go to  thick leather straps with giant buckles – restraints. Why am I in here? The police are still there, and some other attendants including Solomon who I remember from my last visit. They all look through me.

Someone says I must remove all my clothing.

No,” I say. I will not.

Someone says something about looking for evidence of self harm.

No,” I still say.

Someone grabs me by the wrist. I wrench it back. Then there are hands everywhere, and everyone has gloves on. All the policemen, all the attendants. More come in. They’re saying, “she’s strong!”

They force me on the table. The force my legs open, and one man sits on each leg. One man holds each arm. One man forces his weight into his knee in my back. “She’s strong…”

They get my legs tied to the table. They shackle one wrist, and start on the other. I broke my wrist when I was thirteen, and it’s atrophied and narrow. I slip through the shackle, and twist in the restraints, pushing off the men.

“She’s loose! Grab her!”

All the men pile their weight on top of me. My lungs flatten. Solomon must tighten the right shackle to its smallest setting. It’s tighter than it’s supposed to go, so he has to wrench the leather strap through the buckle several times before he can successfully fasten it. He’s out of breath.

OUCH, Solomon,” I say to him. Our faces are inches apart. He hasn’t looked at me yet, but he looks at me, and his eyes are brown. Suddenly he looks sad.

You remember me?” he says. I don’t answer him.

They tie me down. They pull my pants and underwear down for the first time and inject me three times with 2mg each of three different sedatives.

They wait a while, and finally the men all leave, laughing and already reminiscing about how much fun they just had. Things are hazy now. The woman I’m left with is sweet, but I don’t want her to do what she is about to do.

We have to check your body now, Vico,” she says. “I’m going to try to do this as gently as possible.”

It’s not easy to gently undress someone in restraints, especially pulled down so tight like the elastic I am, stretched over that table like animal skin on a drum head. It takes some yanking to get my pants undone and pulled down to my ankles, and then back up; and to get my shirt and bra pulled up around my neck.

She’s gone. There’s another woman who I can’t see in a chair by the doorway. I don’t know how long it’s been. I really need to use the bathroom.

I need to pee,” I tell her.

No.”

Please, I need to pee. You have to let me pee,” I say.

Not until you calm down.”

Please, I’m going to pee myself!”

Good. You just lay there and piss yourself then.”

A long time passes, but it’s difficult to gauge, with the room fuzzy and blotchy from the drugs. 30 to 45 minutes.

They must have eventually let me out, and let me pee. I say “must have” because I am here, writing this now and not still tied down on that table. I think I remember someone letting me go. But I don’t remember anything else from that time.

I suppose I’m not a prisoner of war. It would be very unpatriotic for me to assume that. Torture only happens in places like Guantanomo Bay. If I had really been a political prisoner, I would have been labelled, and everywhere I go my label would identify itself to the authorities. And that label would go on to ensure that I am forever treated as an ex-con, and a mischeif-minded scoundrel for my rebellious and anarchist behavior.

What a relief to get that silly delusion out of my head.

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Statement of Solidarity

To all the other Little Voices:

We are waking up to the abuses of our environment,

We have been told we are bad and crazy,

and we are obedient.

We have acted bad and crazy.

We have screamed to get our voices heard

and we are labelled manic.

We have been disbelieved,

and we are labelled distrusting.

We have learned from infancy that safety is arbitrary,

and we are called paranoid.

We have anticipated punishment and deferred to pretenses,

and we have been punished for being manipulative.

We must fragment ourselves to integrate multiple realities,

and this process is called psychosis.

What do labels mean to you?

She’s not crazy either! Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

I am SCARY (and I like it)

It’s been an exhausting night, but at least I got to say cool gay-rights stuff like, “Oh, so it’s because we’re not married, isn’t it?” and “I’m her emergency contact, and we have rights!” Since the recent supreme court decision, saying stuff like that actually gets you somewhere in the medical and mental health system. They tried to brush me off a few times, denying she was in their ER. My partner was definitely there, definitely not getting the attention she needed and generally being misunderstood by the entire staff.

Loonies, UNITE!

I said my scary bull-dyke stuff, and they relented and admitted they’d admitted her. The in-charge nurse RELUCTANTLY passed my number on to the staff psychiatrist who evaluated Jane, and he called me around midnight last night. Thank the sweet baby Jesus!

“Her father said she’s been prescribed some medication, and she’s not taking it, is that correct?” He asked me.
Wake up, Vico. Wake up and use your mouth-words.

“Well,” I said, “I’m not really sure what medications she’s supposed to be taking. Her mother and step-father fancy themselves her in-home psychiatrists and entrap her in their home and force her to take a pretty wide variety of pills. I don’t know what she should really be on.”

“Hmm,” said the good Jewish doctor from the Bay Area, “Well, the reason I ask is because her behaviors are indicative of Bipolar Disor-”

“She doesn’t have that.” I interrupted. You see, I’ve been clinically diagnosed (by my partner’s 17 year old little brother) as a “know-it-all” and it seems I just can’t stop compulsively knowing things. It’s very damaging to my relationship with my partner’s parents, whom I will refer to as “Borderline-Personality-Mom (BP Mom) and “Creepy-StepDad-Who-Has-a-Gun”(CreepyGunDad).

“She has Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” I explained.

The good doctor wasn’t bitter about being interrupted by the crazy girlfriend, which earned him 5,000,000 super-duper gold star happy points.

“Hmm,” he said, “and why do you think that?”

“Oh just her behavior,” I tried to make my answer sound like it was coming from a source other than my compulsively knowing-things-about-things habit. On the strong chance that he had never heard of Complex PTSD, I wanted to validate the good doctor so he didn’t get his little psychiatric feelings hurt and take out his own incompetence on my partner.

“I understand why you may think she’s manic. But she never has hallucinations, never hears voices. She takes risks, and I think that’s the behavior in question here – she absolutely drives recklessly.”

“Yes, and that’s what we’re concerned about,” said the good doctor.

“Yes, you should be. But the reckless driving isn’t just poor impulse control. She takes risks in order to put herself in a dangerous situation; she recreates the environment of her trauma to re-live it, and to to get a chance to change the outcome.” At this point I heard a loud “BING” sound as the lightbulb over the good doctor’s head suddenly ILLUMINATED!

“Do you know what kind of trauma?” asked the good doctor. Which is good, because that information falls outside of the realm of things generated by my unfortunate and clearly mentally ill mind.

“Yeah, I do,” I told him, and I explained that, despite her chronic psychiatric hospitalizations over the past two years, she has never been asked about her trauma or given any chance to speak about it. I only gave him the details of the formative abuse, i.e. the abuse that occurred in the first five years of her life. The list includes emotional, physical and sexual abuse; long-term and repeated entrapment and imprisonment and torture; slavery and enforced labor; long term objectification; and long-term exposure to crisis.

“Wow. That sounds……that sounds awful,” said the good doctor. And the angry little knot with Jane’s name on it that lives in my solar plexus melted just a tiny bit. I explained to the good doctor that Jane would never co-operate with her parents since they are both “part of the whole PTSD thing.”

“Her mother took her to a child psychologist when she was five, who apparently said Jane was doing fine and that they should never talk about it ever again,” I told him.

“What the hell kind of psychologist is that?” the good doctor politely inquired.

“I don’t know, some shitty therapist in Martinez in the 90’s,” I answered, “Please excuse my language.”

The good doctor agreed with me, and I went on to elaborate about BP Mom and CreepyGunDad’s habit of sweeping things under the rug. Without coming across as completely accusatory (which I am) I tried to gently elucidate their tendencies toward chronic accusations, scapegoating, and gaslighting with poor Jane. “That just sounds horrible,” the good doctor responded, and my Jane-knot gradually untwisted to my great relief. I’m sorry, society, but knowing-it-all just feels so good sometimes. I hadn’t even mentioned BP Mom’s chronic physical battle with [horrible degenerative illness retracted to protect the identity of those involved], and CreepyGun Dad’s habit of convincing BP Mom that all her hospital visits could be avoided if Jane would just stop “stressing everybody out.”

The good hospital with the good nurse-in-charge and the good doctor and the good people had no psychiatric beds for the night. She’s been transferred to a different psychiatric hospital. I’m interested in how this will all play out, since the psychiatric system depends on the isolation of their victim to support their pathological abuse and blaming.

The connection between Jane and I is too strong for them to sever, and besides, I’m a Gemini (a lesbian Gemini).

So, Psychiatry, we meet again.
Only this time I’m not trapped in your torture-machine.
We can do this this easy way or the hard way. My only advice is…don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.

feh-muh-nist

Hothead Paisan by Diane DiMassa

6 ways to recover from Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD

counselorssoapbox

By David Joel Miller.

You can recover from Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD

Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD is the result of repeated injuries, each of which create additional trauma. Complex Trauma frequently arises in children who are abused or neglected over long periods of time or survivors of sexual assaults who are re-assaulted.

Being injured once is bad enough but repeated traumatization can result in problems far in excess of those caused by a single trauma. People who were traumatized in childhood and then retraumatize in later life are likely to develop severe and debilitating symptoms. Some researchers have suggested the name of Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD for this condition.

It appears that many people can experience severe trauma, recover and not develop PTSD. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are normal reactions to experiencing a trauma – in the short run. If the reaction is excessive, interferes…

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Rising from Ashes

11/08/2013

“Vico reports feeling confused, emotionally labile and angry. She indicated that she has difficulty thinking and concentrating. Vico possesses the cognitive ability to lead a productive and fulfilling life; however, she is presently experiencing frequent episodes of crisis.”

Diagnosis:

Bipolar 1 disorder, Most recent episode depressed with mixed features, with anxious distress, and mood-congruent psychotic features. 

“Vico researched Autism and raised many good points regarding her own thoughts and behavior during interviews. As we find with other bright adults who have struggled with personal relationships and adaptive skills, it is understandable why she requested we explore this possibility. After completing a comprehensive evaluation; however, it was evident that Vico’s communication, self-insight, and empathy are more advanced than that of adults on the Autism Spectrum.”