VA Interview #1

Just did my first interview with the VA, am now being scheduled for a “Tele-Health” interview, to be with a Dr, at the Portland VA, to occur in the near future, at my local VA.  These memories have become the driving factor behind these depressions, I’m “unpacking” all this shit i’ve had stuffed away for 30 years now.

It feels like my Dr. is tugging at threads that I’d rather left alone, and the I’m probably unemployable for the first time in my life.  Employers like employees that show up 5 days a week, 40 hours a week.  I wind up trapped in my darkened bedroom staring at the ceiling, thoughts racing, torturing myself.  Completely drained of all energy- just using the john is an “Olympic event”!

Taking the dog out means when I come back in I’m so exhausted I am seeing little black stars as I collapse onto the sofa.  How can I be so useless?!? I’m a competitor, always at the top (not because of what others think, but for the satisfaction it makes me feel inside).  I hold 2 degrees, I’m at least “room-temperature” bright.  Now I’m little better than a vegetable at the bottom of a depressive spiral. No good to anyone. How can such a precipitous fall happen in less than 3 years?!?

Well, they broke me, they can pay to fix me. Fuckers.  I’m mad now.  Mad at a chain of command that would punish the victims (often labeling them “mentally defective”, which has many ramification in post-service life), while rarely punishing the offenders at all. That’s how it was in Rumsfeld’s military, and all too often is today.

Hit ’em in the wallet.  That’s all these politicians care about, they don’t know right from wrong.  But the more warped vets they gotta’ take care of because their military leaders tolerated (and still do) this type of abuse… well, that’ll make ’em think. Fuck ’em.  Fuck ’em all.

I’ll post again when I’m out of this spiral.

The Sea Lion

New Healthcare Bill Threatens Mental Health Coverage

Under the proposed Senate healthcare bill, insurers will be able to persuade states to allow them to to provide no coverage whatsoever for mental health diagnoses. (See  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/us/politics/senate-health-care-bill.html) Imagine how many thousands this will mean are turned away when seeking help for depression, PTSD after all manner of cruelty, addiction or having suicidal feelings.

This bill is the height of self-serving and arrogance.  Maybe this is the America that the supporters seek to create, however I choose to believe this is not so, they are simply blinded by ignorance of the necessity of these protections, as well as a roughly $75,000/yr tax cut for the wealthiest constituents.

As it stands, this bill must be stopped.  Find out where your Senators stand: https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2017-06-22/factbox-where-key-republican-senators-stand-on-healthcare-bill . Call them, show support for health care coverage not only for ourselves, but the many thousands still enduring what we had to survive ourselves!

    The Sea Lion

The Helo Drop

This is the raw data as a processed what has been one of the most intense incidents of my life.

The Helo Drop

1. Write down your deepest emotions and thoughts about the trauma or traumas. How has this event touched your life? You might describe what happened, what you saw and felt, and what you remember. You might also want to tie this event to other parts of your life, such as your childhood and your relationship with your spouse or significant other, parents, family members, friends, and co-workers. How might it be related to people you love? How is it connected to who you would like to become in the future, who it is that you have been in the past, or who you are now? You might even write about your dreams and haunting thoughts relating to the trauma, in addition to exploring your very deepest emotions.
     Hopelessness, powerlessness. The damned thing just fell straight down, plunged from the air and disappeared just as fast as it had fallen. From what I understand they invert and survivors of the actual crash often become disoriented and swim deeper, drowning themselves. Nobody survived this incident.
2. Write about all the ways you remember the experience(s)- sights, sounds, smells, memories, thoughts, feelings, and so on. You may link the experience the experience to other important things in your life. You may want to write about the same experience or about another aspect of it, or a different event.
      I felt like a kid- unable to have any real effect on the outcome. As a result, I believe, I try to be to be in control of all possible outcomes.
     What was really bizarre is how “peaceful” things were (not like the “Boat Pocket Incident”). In spite of the chaos that I’m sure they experienced aboard the helo, it was a beautiful day and the operation was proceeding normally until the crash. We were really well organized on board. What a horrible way to die. The day was sunny, warm and pleasant as we were at flight quarters.
3. Explore your thoughts and feelings about whatever emotional upheaval bothered you the most. Focus on some of the emotions that came up after the event. Did you think that you were going to die, or that you were responsible for what happened? Write about what you now know; that you did not die, or were not to blame. You can also write about the same things you wrote about earlier, such as powerful experiences or emotions you haven’t shared with others.
     I did not think I was going to die at any point in this process. But I did feel powerless, as I’m sure everyone else did. So close to us, both physically and emotionally. I was not to blame here, I’m not certain that anyone was. (I never heard the results of the investigation afterwards.) Some of us just die, military work is dangerous shit.
4. Write the story about what happened to you, and if you want, include what you did to help yourself survive. Even though no one else may see your story, it is important that you write about all the ways you remember the trauma- sights, sounds, smells, memories, thoughts, feelings, and so on. You may link your survival to other important things in your life. You may want to write about the same subject or about another aspect of the event that you haven’t covered.

 

5. This event has effected not just you, but everyone else around you. The ways in which you think and talk to people about it may have changed over time. However painful your experiences have been, you will have learned from them. Think of another person who has gone through a similar event. Knowing now what most helped you survive, what would you say to that other person?
     Lots of folks felt bad about this happening. As a result, I genuinely hate heilocopters and PAX transfers. I would tell someone else that sometimes some of us just die, even when everything is done right. It sucks, but it’s true. (Yes, I realize that I hold myself to a wholly higher standard.)
6. Imagine that it is ten years from now and you’re looking back on what happened. How will you want to think about the event(s) at this future time? What do you think you will see as the most important parts of what happened when you look back on it?
      10 years later (in this case, 28 or so) I’d say that I’d like to think of the persons involved, well, APPRECIATE their LOSSES in carrying out their duties. What I see as the most important takeaway is the fickle & arbitrary way in which some lives are taken.

 

 

The Physical Aspects of Depression

The Physical Aspect of Depression

Just as with heart disease or with a broken leg (hardly anyone would be so ignorant as to suggest that recovering from either of those afflictions is just a matter of “pulling yourself together”), empirical, measurable changes are occurring within the brain of the individual suffering depression.

The good news is that knowing there is a physical component, there are steps that can be taken to address both the psychological and physical aspects of this disease both on the part of the patient and the physician.

Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky gives an excellent summation of both the physical and psychological interplay.  Knowing this, we can take action to countermand this wicked illness.

Check it out here: https://youtu.be/NOAgplgTxfc

The Boat Pocket Incident

This was the first incident I analyzed in addressing PTSD issues.  Please have a read.

The Boat Pocket Incident
This really messed me up. I was probably 5-6 months out of boot camp, CDR. XXXXX XXXXX decided that we were going to do “the fastest night-time boat launch” since WWII. We were in the South China Sea area, not far from Brunei. The sea state was roughly 3, the ship was taking light rolls, and the ocean was choppy with small whitecaps. This particular area is also dotted with oil rigs, most of which have no lights.
During this launch, I was doing about what I was qualified to do, manning the “sea-painter” (essentially guy-wires running both to the stem and stern of the motor whaleboat from the ship). The BMC (Boatswain’s Mate Chief Petty Officer) was the acting Safety Officer, XXXXX was the helmsman, another shipmate, “XXXXX”, a good friend of mine and also a signalman helping me strike out of deck division was the boat signalman, and a hispanic guy that I got along with (I forget his name) was the other crewmember.
As the davits were being lowered, Tank manned the aft boat hook. (XXXXX was an SM3, as such was in no way qualified to be manning the boat hook, but he always was too helpful of a guy.) As the boat hit the water XXXXX released the aft hook, just as the ship took a roll towards the starboard side. The hook automatically retracted into the davit arm, striking XXXXX in the chest and lifting him a good 10′ out of the boat, like a rag doll. As everyone scrambled towards the boat, the ship rolled back to port causing both XXXXX and the hook to come crashing back down onto the deck of the boat. I saw the look on XXXXX’s face as he fell- he was in shock, bug-eyed, mouth agape, looking right at me. I’ll never forget the look of horror in his eyes. There was a loud and sickening “crunch” as XXXXX and the boat hook struck the deck.
We all scrambled to re-attach the boat to the ship, did so, and carried him to sick bay, all the while this eerie groaning and wheezing , with blood issuing from XXXXX’s mouth. He was (gratefully) unconscious. Arrangements were made to get him medical care, the nearest military installation being a British base in Singapore. It later came down from the QM’s on the bridge that the Captain had said that “no US Navy man is going to a British facility”, and tank was eventually airlifted to a US Navy hospital ship closer to PI. XXXXX never made it to the ship.
I remember the BMC (who was one of the foulest, most profane human beings I have ever met, and also looked like a weasel- tall, skinny as a rail, craggy-skinned as fuck, and MEAN) squealing “I was gonna call a safety! I really was!” as they took our statements in the forward crews lounge after the incident. I remember thinking then, and I feel even more this way today, that the man was a COWARD, as he had the authority and he had the DUTY to his subordinates to stop the operation, to “speak truth to power” against CDR. XXXXX, the other crew members knew it was too rough (we had commented about this amongst ourselves prior to the launch).
This incident has affected me greatly. I have come to view authority as almost “God-given” (maybe some of that plays into the backlash from the MST incidents), and that if you have that power, then it MUST be used for the benefit of those who lack that voice, and that it must be used without regard for self-interest. ( I have in years since resigned from jobs where I have been ordered by a superior or even a client to staff sites unfairly and unlawfully (read racist/sexist/religion), or have been otherwise instructed to break that almost sacred bond of trust with my subordinates, I remember one of my bosses calling me a “real Boy Scout” because I would not unfairly and illegally reassign a number of subordinates based on their race and religion- incidentally, he was a real “Charlie-church” type. Fucking hypocrite IMHO.)

This scene still haunts my dreams, I often find myself replaying those events, vividly, knowing that I should have spoken up, hell, all of us should have, stopped it. We didn’t have the authority, but we did have the responsibility, instead of just “bitching about it” amongst ourselves.

The Sea Lion Blog

Welcome all to The Sea Lion Blog.  I began this as a means of “processing” several incidents that have led to crushing depressions over the past several years.  It is my hope that others may find hope and strength to fight the daily fight against crippling anxiety, depression, and PTSD.  Please read the stories, share your own experience and strength.