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.

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?

Trauma – Thoughts of Revenge #1

I survived the mental health system.

I have been verbally/physically abused by nurses, therapists, ER personnel, psych techs, and obviously psychiatrists. A lot of people have been, but they keep quiet about it. The repercussions of trying to tell a mental health professional that abuse occurs within the psychiatric system are monstrous. I have endured a decade of systematic torture. As a result, I’ve developed the symptoms of PTSD, for which I could never afford therapy. Instead, I process things by writing about them.

Revenge? Or Rebellion?

Feelings of revenge are a natural response to trauma. In a study of 96 individuals with PTSD, the severity and repetition of traumatic thoughts surrounding the traumatic event predicted the severity and repetition of thoughts of revenge. Intrusive thoughts were a better predictor than perception of the perpetrator’s being punished for their actions. (Kunst, 2011).

In other words, it might not matter if the abuser is brought to justice; I’ll still be thinking about getting revenge. Should that keep me from fighting this fight? I think many civil rights movements have begun with trauma, and thoughts of bringing the perpetrators of abuse to justice.

Thoughts of revenge have triggers. I take refuge in learning more about my actual conditions: Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy and PTSD as opposed to the diagnoses that have been thrown at me over the years to make me go away: Bipolar Disorder, mania with psychosis, ADD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Tourette Syndrome, Dystonic reaction to medications, Borderline Personality Disorder, and of course attention-seeking. Learning the truth, while self-healing and constructive, is triggering. I feel rageful, indignant, hopeless, and empty (uncared for).

Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect compensation for what I’ve been though. But people spill coffee in their own laps and get to sue McDonald’s for it.

Letter sent to a medical malpractice attorney:

I think I have a case for malpractice/medical error with Poudre Valley Health’s ER dept.

I have a history of “mental illness” which has been recently identified as being neurological in origin; i.e. I have Myoclonic Epilepsy. I presented frequently at the ER feeling “confused, shaky, and anxious,” and was even taken to the ER by ambulance for “acute dystonia,” and presented often with suspected Autism. Epilepsy was not suspected and I was treated for “psychiatric” conditions.

When released, I had a seizure while driving and got into a very serious car accident, of which I have no memory. I was given another psychiatric evaluation at the ER and taken to a behavioral unit. Although my car was totaled and I face litigation for the property/bodily injury incurred from this accident, PVH ER records indicate the MVA as “minor with minimal damage to vehicles and no injuries.” I was also convicted of reckless driving.

Is this a case for medical error due to mis-diagnosis?

Could be.

Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy

Diagnosis
Delays in diagnosis are common, often until a generalized tonic-clonic seizure brings the child to medical attention. Ignoring the myoclonic jerks is commonplace. Suspect JME in any adolescent driver involved in a motor vehicle accident when the driver has no memory of the event, but did not sustain a head injury.

Clinical Pediatric Neurology: A Signs and Symptoms Approach (2009) by Gerald M. Fenichel

Imagine if we had a voice; What would we say?

Stuff my Mom Says

She’s narcissistic.

And the children of narcissists often feel empty inside. To me, that emptiness is a conditioned expectation of disappointment. When you allow yourself to vulnerable, it’s natural to expect compassion. You get your hopes UP! And they have a loooong way to tumble back down as Mom turns away and ferociously cleans (dismantles) the oven. Too many times we’ve expected compassion, empathy, or validation and been let down. The repercussions of this extend into our adult life; we just cage ourselves up after a while.

Vulnerability is something to extend to people you trust, AND we are supposed to trust our parents, right?

vulnerability

Personality Disorder Mom’s responses to my most vulnerable moments over the years:

When I told my mom I was:

Not doing well in 4th grade: We’ll put you in a Christian school where the teachers can ACTUALLY beat you.
Not doing well in 5th grade: SHOW ME THE BRUISES!
(No, but really, she’s abusing us): don’t get ugly with me!

duckling

Not into Jesus: I just can’t let you leave this room until you can convince me that you’re not going to Hell!
*Jesus bonus!*: All my friends at Bible study told me that it’s not you, it’s just Satan.. acting through you.
Threatened by a harem of Mexican middle schoolers: Well if you leave school early, I’ll call the police and they’ll take you to JAIL.
Sad-walking alone at night: I just know you’re having SEX! With BOYS! (I was thirteen)
Lesbian: I just know you’re going to get tortured and killed like that poor boy in Wyoming! 
Breaking up:
I thought you two were going to be together forever!
…..except she said it like this:

We are a co-dependent family! Now depend!

sick for several weeks in college: well then, why are you wasting all your time on the phone telling me about it? You should be doing homework!
nervous about adulthood: how can you expect ME to tell the future?
epileptic: (…) oh right she doesn’t answer the phone since I found that out
angry about being abused at school: you were a difficult child!

We don’t have to stay in that cage. We can look at the walls and decide as adults where they should be.

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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