30 May 2015


Summer is a change-- things around here get a lot quieter, a little more laid back and relaxed (yes, both), and well, it's a university campus and it's academic summer.This is more or less what you'd expect. I like the quiet, and the summer pace. Madison WI is a beautiful place in summer. I don't know that I'm dealing with the transition, the change of seasons, all that gracefully.

I'm working more hours now, since I've started wearing the student software developer hat at work. It's affecting me perhaps a little more negatively than I expected. I was late to work by a couple of minutes one night last week. Last night I misread my schedule and I was late, so I was really late.

I don't have a sense of time-- some people just intrinsically know that it's Saturday and they have internal clocks and circadian rhythms that keep them on track, and I hate them (no, not really). For me, today is just like yesterday is just like tomorrow is just like 1991. There are entire parts of my life that I haven't forgotten so much as I just don't think about them. It's a PTSD symptom, avoidance, and I've become (unfortunately) subconsciously good at it. I don't completely understand it, and often I don't know it's affecting things until something bad happens, like being late for work. My brain and my body aren't saying "hey, you need to be up and showered and dressed at such and such a time tomorrow" when I'm up too late tonight because tonight and tomorrow night are, to my brain, the same. Eventually that kind of thing catches up to me and I'm waking up at 1830 when I'm supposed to be at work at 1830.

Being late sucks. I hate it, because not only am I letting down the person who's sitting at work waiting for me, I'm making myself more anxious and stressed because I hate it and why do I have to deal with this stupid PTSD shit and fuck fuck fuck I can't find my keys and shit shit shit I'm going to get in trouble at work and then my entire world is going to crumble around me and I'm going to end up homeless and probably dead.

Fun, huh?

I've actually been doing really well with getting to most places on time for a while now-- not every place, and not every time, but at least with work I've been doing well. So it's frustrating, because now those who watch such things at work are going to be watching me, and being one of the people that's been where I work the longest, this really shouldn't be an issue. I'm pretty sure those who watch me would rather not have to do so-- I'm not having a hate-the-man moment here, and it's not really anyone's fault but mine.

At some random point in the past, I'd be completely derailed right now, and it's a testament to therapy and lots and lots of pills that I'm not. Still, I don't feel well, mentally or physically. I'm tired even though I got lots of sleep. I'm hungry even though I ate supper (which for me was technically breakfast). The world is wibbly wobbly-- it's a very hard to describe feeling that is sort of like "hey, I know that the planet is always spinning on its axis but right now the spinning seems to have a wobble in it and it's getting harder to navigate."

What I want to do is sleep for about 48 hours, which I seem to do fairly regularly the past few months. I don't actually sleep that long at once, but when this shit acts up I go to bed and sleep for 12 hours. Then I wake up and the world feels like it's spinning and wobbling again and I decide that the best course of action is going back to bed, and what was once early Saturday morning is now late Sunday night or early Monday morning. I figure I sleep 8, 9, 10 hours at a time, strung out together over about two days.

It is hard, working more hours, because work has a schedule that expects you to be somewhere specific at a specific time and furthermore expects that between your start time and your end time you will be fully engaged in what you're doing and you will actually be producing something of tangible benefit to your employer. In my case, the additional position I've added to my workload is one where I'm writing software, and at some point my employer expects that I will deliver a deliverable thing. It is at this point that PTSD stands up and says "Hey, remember me?" and starts fucking around with my already-not-there sense of time, and before I know what's happening I'm showing up late to work.


This is as good a point as any to mention that I finally got an appointment with the mental health clinic at the VA hospital-- I'd seen my psychiatrist about a month ago, and she put in a referral for me, but the person from mental health and I were playing telephone tag and she isn't set up to use the VA's secure messaging to patients thing yet because she's a new intern. I had a follow-up appointment with my new not-a-psychiatrist-but-whatever person last week, and I stopped at the mental health clinic then and set an appointment up. Yay. Anyway.

Yesterday's appointment was what I've started to refer to as the autobiography appointment that always happens when you start a new line of therapy. There's always the same questionnaire about how you're feeling, it's always the same questions, and a few words into the explanation I'm always like "yes, I know this questionnaire just hand it over and I'll get to filling it out." There's actually a mobile app that asks the same questions, and I try to take the included assessment weekly so I can track how I'm feeling, which is now I know what questions to expect.

Every time I get a new provider, I have to explain what's going on again-- the PTSD, the Desert, that some days are better than others, that I still have nightmares where I wonder where I fuck I am when I wake up, that I'm jumpy, that I'm irritable, that no I don't drink or smoke, that if I ever see someone from Porchlight in my path I will walk out of the way via Omaha to not encounter them because the results might turn out bad, and on down the list. Now, since I've been homeless before, I have to talk about that. Now, since I'm diabetic, I have to talk about that (and honestly, I'm still working on dealing with these two things on top of dealing with PTSD, which is likely what all of this is about).

I don't trust the VA. Not any more. Not after the things that happened when I was in transitional housing at Porchlight. Not after the the Vet Center, the VA's social work office, the VA's homeless program office, and the VA's patient advocate all left me out on the street after Porchlight evicted me-- since Porchlight isn't a VA or government agency, the VA wouldn't help (even though VA pays Porchlight, which makes Porchlight VA-funded IMHO, but I'm rambling again).

So it's difficult starting over with both a new medications hander-outer and a new therapy person who is a fucking intern. I'm not just some yahoo that just showed up at the VA a week ago and said my life sucks, I've been in and out of therapy fighting this shit for a while now. I'm handling it-- that I'm still here, typing this and not in jail or addicted or worse says I'm handling it-- but I do need help in some ways and I need the real badass flavor of help for combat veterans , not an intern.

Then I remind myself that this is not the same person who hung me out to dry a year ago, and that this person hasn't been a part of the VA (and may not be a career VA person) for that long might actually be a good thing. I can't just not trust anyone. So, I'm trying to convince myself that this is a good thing and stick with it.

It's hard though, and it takes a lot of energy, and the amount of energy I have is finite-- writing code for someone else in exchange for money takes a lot of energy too, as does writing code for my personal projects. This summer I'm also trying to learn as much about writing software for a living as I can. Code standards, design patterns, automated testing and deployment, learning new javascript frameworks, algorithms, data structures, methodologies-- I'm even learning a new language, PHP, which has its own set of all of these things-- all tools of the trade, all things I need to use in my work and personal projects now and in the future.

I'm under a fairly high level pressure and stress, which isn't all bad or uninvited-- but it's a load to carry, and I'm having to make some adjustments to keep walking forward with it on my back. The past week hasn't been the greatest. I haven't been sleeping right, and haven't been getting to places I need to be (work) on time, and I'm just feeling unproductive some (but not all) of the time. I'm fighting it. Writing this is one way to fight it, as is going to get a decent breakfast (which I'm about to do) as is spending the rest of the day reading about agile development, debugging one of the apps I started at a hackathon last year, and as is checking out the Polymer Project to see if it's something I need/want to learn how to use.

I'll be all right. A day or so of hardcore hacking, followed by some (hopefully) good sleep, and I'll be feeling better-- I have to, in order to do what I want to do. I'll give myself a break over being late, even though it's something serious, in order to correct it. This is a low point, perhaps, but I'm still trying to do better every day. I'm still fighting. Right?

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