2016, The Rollercoaster

As the rollercoaster ride known as 2016 comes to an end, many of us will reflect on the past year, make resolutions, recap major news or life events. I won’t do much of that here except to say that I’m glad 2016 is coming to an end and I know 2017 will be better. There is a wonderful adventure awaiting me with the New Year and I can’t wait to get to it.

Most of my highlights, and low-lights, for the year can be found here in my blog. And I don’t do resolutions. So, what I’ll do for my final post of 2016 is share my top three posts, according to number of views. And I’ll share what my three favorite posts were that didn’t make the top three in views.

For 2016, I made 42 posts on Story of My Life, almost the one a week I had planned. I had over 5,000 visitors with almost 10,000 views. My viewers covered 55 different countries. Amazing. This was truly more than I imagined when I resumed writing again to my blog. I only started again for my own therapy, to sort out my thoughts, to be vocal about PTSD and surviving a suicide attempt. I’m glad I could offer something that seems many people out there can relate to and understand. Thank you all for the support, the encouragement, and the kind words.

The rollercoaster ride of 2017 is coming. Please keep your hands and feet inside the ride all times and remain seated until it comes to a complete stop. Or…. Go out and conquer the world, chase your dreams, be happy, and discover life. I think I’ll go out and conquer the world while chasing my dreams. Enjoy the ride. Good day, God bless.

Dave

Top 3 posts (by number of views)

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/02/06/battlefield/

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/04/16/the-pysch-ward/

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/02/13/the-irony-of-life/

 

My 3 favorites (it was hard to pick just 3)

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/02/20/the-mirror/

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/08/20/the-storm/

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/03/12/passing-the-torch/

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Road Trip

I’m on a road trip. When I post this, I’ll be somewhere on I-20, probably in Louisiana. While I have covered several topics on my blog during its existence, I usually focus on PTSD, serving in the Army at war, and surviving suicide. And occasionally I bash the VA because they suck. For example, Friday morning I waited an hour at the VA to be told they couldn’t give me a print out of a recent evaluation I had. Today’s post will be a little different from the more recent ones.

There are certain things about my home life that I have tried to keep off the blog. In a few posts I have mentioned some of the marital problems at home. There are no more problems. I have moved out. And now I’m on a road trip, heading to my sister’s house in Louisiana. I will most likely stay there until the new year sorting through my thoughts, decompressing, writing, and relaxing. I don’t get back to my old stomping grounds very often, so this will be nice.

I moved out because she wouldn’t. I had hoped she would move out and I could stay with the kids, but that’s not a fight I want to take on and make things worse than they should be for the kids. In retrospect, I should have filed for divorce when she moved out in March instead of waiting. Then there wouldn’t be anything to argue about. But I chose to pay the bills instead of hiring an attorney. That’s life. And I expect some negative feedback from our mutual friends. Be careful if you don’t know the whole story.

I left the house around 6 p.m. local time. I made it Jackson, Mississippi, before I needed to stop and get a hotel room, where I am composing this. I’ll get up in the morning and finish my trip to northwest Louisiana. I have no set plans and am not on any schedule. I hope to find the motivation to diligently work on my book. I have neglected it for too long now. I’m sure I’ll see some old friends and catch up on all the years gone by. I’ll spend some time with my dad. I’ll get some rest. I’ll miss my kids.

I talked with them earlier in the week and explained that I would be moving out this weekend. They knew it was coming since last month they were told that I had in fact filed for divorce. But that conversation was still hard. Thankfully, they are all very well-grounded and are old enough to have some understanding of what is going on. I feel like a complete schmuck that I didn’t call my two grown children that are out in the world making great lives for themselves. This whole thing happened a little quicker than originally planned and I was focused on getting my stuff together and making sure the school aged children were okay and getting a grasp of all that was going on. My children know that I love them with all my heart.

There’s a lot in my life that I’m not happy about currently. However, in my life as a whole, I am happy. I believe things are going in the right direction for me. I am not happy that I won’t see my kids for a few weeks. I am not happy that I will be going through a divorce. But I am happy to be starting the next chapter in my life. There was a time not long ago that my mind would have put me through some horrible, dark thoughts concerning the prospect of being away from children under these circumstances. Not now. Yes, my kids are my life. But if I can’t be in good mental health for them, things will get bad, like they were before. So, I guess it’s better to be away and in good mental health than to be in a bad marriage and lose my mind.

I have no idea what all this road trip entails, but I am looking forward to it. I’m in a good place in my mind. I am looking forward to the future. I don’t have all the answers and I have no idea where I’ll end up after this little sabbatical. But I am confident in myself, in ways I haven’t been for at least a couple years. The past is the past. And my future looks good from where I’m sitting. Thanks for reading my dribble drabble this week. Good day, God bless.

Dave

The VA is Killing Me

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything here. I just haven’t felt like writing. It’s also been a while since I’ve read any of the blogs I follow. It’s been a rough few weeks. I have been busy. My busy doesn’t equate to productive by any sense of the definition. But the thoughts in my mind keep me busy, yet also inhibit motivation and desire to do the things that I need to get done or even doing the things that I enjoy doing. I’m stuck in a cycle of doing the bare minimum to survive. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I can see it. It shines bright enough to lead me to the end of all this. I just don’t know how long before I get there. But I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

There are two main issues lately that have my mind in the darkness that I fight on a daily basis. One is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA). The other isn’t worth talking about and has no bearing on my future anyway. Some fights just aren’t worth fighting. The VA, however, is a fight that I have to keep fighting. And despite being set up for failure in that corrupt system, I must win. In reality though, who am I fooling? They would rather me die and save money for bonuses and art than to help me get well again. But I will go down fighting and swinging no matter what it takes. And before anyone reads anything idiotic into that, “going down swinging” is simply a figure of speech, not a threat. That disclaimer is for the one person that doesn’t know the difference, she knows who she is.

Concerning the VA. I had some appointments recently. Four out of five of them were with a medical group contracted by the VA to determine compensation and pension. My eyes were opened to how things really work, how things should work, and how veterans are just plain screwed in the system. First, every time I’ve seen my primary care physician at the VA, he tells me my breathing is fine. However, he’s the only one. I went to sick call at Ft. Jackson a couple months ago and the doctor that listened to my lungs wanted to order x-rays immediately because of how my lungs sounded. A follow up with a civilian doctor after returning home from that trip had similar results. The doctor I saw most recently for the compensation appointment asked me why the VA hadn’t already diagnosed me. She said there was already overwhelming evidence that the VA sent to her that I should have already have been diagnosed.

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The breathing test is a scam. I didn’t realize the first couple times I took it that I was taking it multiple times each visit until I passed. That’s how the VA works. Make the patient test until they can say there’s nothing wrong. But the doctor is sent only the results of the passing test. They don’t realize that it took me four times testing to get the minimum score. All total that day I took two different breathing tests seven times and passed one time on each test. Basically, I can breathe well enough 29% of the time. That’s good to know. That must mean I don’t need any breathing treatments or meds to help. They can now spend that money on other things that don’t benefit the veterans.

I saw something a while back where a person made a statement that veterans shouldn’t complain about free health care. I wanted to reach through the internet and choke that guy out. (again, just a figure of speech that isn’t possible anyway). I paid for this so called care. I paid for it with my health and my sanity. I paid a dear price for it. In addition, it’s not free anyway. Everyone in the VA gets paid. And they get paid pretty well, some more than others. It’s not a charity. It’s not a non-profit clinic that treats the poor. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that has no accountability to the ones it is supposed to be serving. I don’t want free health care. I want the health care I already paid for. I want the health care that our taxes pay for with the VA.

In August of last year after my failed suicide attempt I went to the VA with the false hope of getting help. I spoke with the patient advocate at my local VA. I didn’t know where to start so I started with her. She assured me that I would get the help I needed and started making phone calls. When she finally got through to a live person the conversation switched from getting me help to her and the person on the other end of the phone bitching about not receiving their bonuses. And I quote the patient advocate, “Yeah, I haven’t got my bonus either. I’m about to drive over to Biloxi and ask her to her face where my money is.” I looked for her business card so I could call her out by name, but I don’t know where it is. Nice to see how much they really care, or what it is they really care about. She was going to drive 400 miles round trip to get in someone’s face about a bonus. Not sure why that needed to be discussed while I was sitting there.

My primary care doctor at my local VA has told me he didn’t want to diagnose me because it would have consequences on my career in the army reserves. Don’t treat me because I’m still in the reserves? In other words, “maybe you’ll die before the VA has to take full responsibility of you.” And at my most recent appointment he commented on my lungs, “We aren’t going to do anything yet. Let’s bring you back in in six months and see how they’re doing.” This is not what my body and mind paid for in Iraq and Afghanistan. I demand better service and better care. And I’m going to be as loud as I can to show everyone what veterans go through in dealing with the VA.

I know experiences vary. I know of a couple friends that got great service and care from their VA where they live. But they are few and far between. From what I can tell, most of us go through the same thing I’m going through with the VA. I can’t fix it. But I can make some noise. Maybe it won’t do any good, but I will be heard. The system will continue to remain broken. There’s nothing I can do about it. But I will keep moving towards my light at the end of the tunnel. And I will survive.

Thanks for reading this week. Sorry it was somewhat scatterbrained and all over the place. I only wrote it as it came to me. There’s no real flow in my writing lately, too much going on in my head. But I will make it to where I’m supposed to be. I am confident in that. Good day, God bless.

Dave

Other posts from me related to this:

https://davidegeorge.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/breathe-in-breath-out-if-you-can/

https://davidegeorge.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/crossroads/

 

But Wait, There’s More

My life lately feels like one of those cheesy infomercials from the 90’s where a washed up musician would try to peddle a greatest hits compilation of various artist of his era. Or even try to sell his own music because he can’t get a gig anywhere and no one really remembers what his one hit was until they watch the commercial. I can hear the announcer in the background saying, “And the hits just keep on coming.” And at the final sales pitch he says, “But wait, there’s more.” That’s the story of my life, the hits in life just keep on coming. And you guessed it, there’s always more.

Recently my debit card was compromised on the other side of the country. My card had to be turned off and a new one came in the mail. But not soon enough. I had forgotten about that and tried to check out at the grocery store before I got the new one. Oops. Then the electricity was turned off because I didn’t pay the bill on time. It did get turned back on a few hours later as I scrambled to get the air conditioning going again for the comfort of the kids. The VA continues to be a thorn in my side. I do not understand how they can mess up so many things and not even care. They would go out of business if they were a commercial entity. And to top everything off, my wife, who moved out in March, is now moving back in because obviously I can’t take care of the kids like I thought I could. It’s my own fault.

I cannot begin to describe the lowness of this. This feeling of being an utter failure. I am not unfamiliar with failing. I’ve failed pretty good in my life before, many times. But I would get back up, dust myself off, and look for the next great challenge. I was never really afraid of failing, it’s part of life. Shake it off and move on. I do not seem to have that in me anymore. No more seeking challenges, I have an overload of them already. No more getting back up off the mat, I am beat. I feel like I am down for the count, been punched in the face too many times now. Before you read too much into this, no, I am not having ideas of suicide again. I am accepting that I have failed and there’s nothing that will make this one better in the near future.

I don’t have the money for an attorney to start the process of filing for divorce. I guess that’s a good thing since I would not ‘win’ anyway. What judge in his right mind would award me the kids with my track record? PTSD, anxiety, major depression, a failed suicide attempt last year, no job? Seriously, what was I thinking when I thought I could pull this off? I can’t. I give up. She can move back in. I’ll find a place to go somewhere eventually. Then I’ll look like the one that left and be the bad guy, that’s fine. I don’t mind. Eventually, I’ll end up being one of those deadbeat dads that I despise. You know, the jackass that can’t support his kids. I guess I’m there already. Yep, another new low in my life.

I might catch hell for this post. With the estranged wife moving back in to the spare bedroom, this post will likely only make things worse between us. No, I’m not doing this to piss her off. I’m doing this because I have not written much on this topic of my life and I need to. I write, I share it, and I feel better. It’s what I do, that’s my process. I wonder if my deeper depression the last couple months was exacerbated by not writing about being separated when I wanted to. I had chosen not to write too many details about my failing marriage because I don’t want things to become more contentious between the ex and I, because we still have to raise the kids, and it’s just easier if we aren’t arguing. But we argue anyway. So, for my own therapy, I’m going to write what I want, what’s on my mind. And I will feel better for it.

That’s the plan. We’ll see how it works out. My plans haven’t fared well for a while now. I am way overdue for something good to happen. And I know it’s not near as bad as it feels. I know it could be worse. I’m just tired of everything being all uphill. And I think for the first time in my life I’m scared of failing. Not failing like when I’ve lost multiple businesses over the years. Not like failing when I dropped out of college with only two semesters left a couple years ago. Not even the way my mind and body are failing and not being able to do all the things I used to do, military or otherwise. But I’m scared of failing when it really matters.

Thanks for reading this week. Take care, God bless.

Dave

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image from a google search

Depressed

I’ve been battling my depression the last couple weeks. That sounds funny to me, “my depression.” Like I have any control over it or can say when it comes and goes. Do I own it? If I still have the receipt, can I return it? Can I trade it in for something more fun? When I say “my truck,” “my kids,” “my house,” “my recliner,” it sounds normal. Tangible things. Things I can recognize with my senses. I can’t see my depression with my eyes. Or taste it, smell it, hear it. I can feel it, but not in the traditional sense of feel. If I could feel it, I imagine it would feel something like a sticker burr in my foot or a splinter in my hand. Or it could possibly feel like a tank tied to my waist and tossed into the ocean. Lately, it’s felt much more like being tied to a tank.

I have no motivation. No energy. No desire to do anything. I recognize this and have been doing some self-reflection to see if I can figure out why the last few weeks have been seemingly hard for me. I know life is up and down. I just don’t know why this down time is longer and harder right now. I don’t like this. I don’t like how it feels.

But here’s what I know. In the last month or so, the kids have gotten out of school for the summer, the lot behind my house is being built on, there is construction on my street, and I got a dog. Getting a dog was a good thing. More on “Gumbo” later, but he is a perfect addition here and a great dog. But the other things I mentioned, and some things I haven’t, seem to be having a negative influence on me.

I had no idea the old house behind mine was even going to be demolished until one morning my house shook from the slamming of a backhoe into the old house. That was a rude awakening. It was two days of demolition and noise. And with that house gone, I felt exposed to the world. My safe, confined area on the back porch now felt wide open. I could see down the street that runs behind my house. That means I could be seen from down the street. Eventually, a new foundation was poured and construction on the new house began. More noise, equipment, and strange people practically in my back yard for weeks now. I guess the upside is that my property value will go up with a brand new house right next to mine.

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The kids getting out of school for the summer is a good thing, but it changed the schedule I had been on, that I had become used to. I’m staying up later now and sleeping in longer. My sleep schedule is messed up and that’s causing me to not sleep as well at night, even when I take my medications. This might be why I lack energy, have become more irritable lately, and just don’t seem to want to do anything anymore except watch Netflix and play stupid games on Facebook. I’m in a rut. A deep and wide one.

The construction on my street, actually in the whole neighborhood, is annoying. It’s loud. They’ve closed the road a few times which bothers me. What if I need to escape? I know, that’s not likely, but it did cross my mind. It’s a local government doing the work so it’s taking longer than it should and half the workers stand around and do nothing. I’m sure it’s also costing twice as much as it should as well. I haven’t done yard work in three weeks since all the noise and commotion started.

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On a more positive note, I got a dog last month. A great dog, a Golden Doodle. His name is Gumbo and the kids love him. He gets so excited in the mornings when it’s time to wake up the kids. He loves playing fetch with the Frisbee and chasing squirrels. He doesn’t like the nail gun that’s being used to roof the house behind mine. He doesn’t like thunder. One night he jumped up in bed with one of my kids during an exceptionally rough storm. He hates fireworks and jets flying overhead. But he is so gentle and friendly and smart.

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Also, I’ve started working on my novel again. It has been a work in progress for few months now. I’m almost half way through writing it, over 40,000 words so far. I’m going for somewhere between ninety and a hundred thousand words. I might take an excerpt from it for next weekend’s blog to see what everyone thinks. Maybe it will never get published, but I’m going to keep writing it anyway. But who knows, maybe it will get picked up by a publisher. And become a best-seller. And turned into a motion picture. And, and, and. Not likely, but it is a fun thought. And I’m enjoying writing it.

So for now I’m depressed. I have anxiety. I’m not dealing with my PTSD triggers very well. The VA is annoying and slow. Physically I hurt. I’m running out of shows on Netflix that I find interesting. But I know it could always be worse. I know I have been worse before but I’m not there now. I’m still moving forward and getting better, this is just part of it. Sometimes things just suck, this is one of those times.

Thanks for reading this week. Good day, God bless.

Dave