what it’s like being a disabled veteran

First, let me start by saying that I absolutely do count my blessings. I consider myself fortunate indeed, and I do live quite “comfortably” (more on that later). I do not want anyone to think that I’m whining, or a victim, but sometimes, a girl’s just gotta rant…

I joined the Navy in August of 2005, was stationed at the ASW base in Point Loma in the spring of 2006, and had my first back spasm that fall. I was lying in bed for about 8 hours, not knowing what was wrong, not knowing how to make the pain stop, when I finally realized that I needed to get up and get help. As soon as I tried to get out of bed, pain like I’d never experienced. I screamed. I screamed and screamed. The window in my barracks room was open, and I was mortified that people could hear me, but something had to be done. Just as I was able to roll out of bed, my roommate came in and told me she was going to help get me to the NMT office for help. I gingerly walked down the stairs, across the street, and into the office, with her help (thank God my room was so close…). I was in tears, I couldn’t bend, twist, or stand up straight. I walked into the office and told them I was in pain and I didn’t know what was happening. One of the Petty Officers there pressed his hand into my back to see what was wrong and I had to clamp my own hands over my mouth to muffle my scream. They called an ambulance, and the EMTs put a backboard up against my back, strapped me on, and tilted me back. It was excruciating, but once I was lying down again, the pain subsided a little.

When we got to Balboa Hospital, the doctors gave me intravenous fluids, painkillers, and muscle relaxers. I was told that due to the severity of the spasm, and how long it had been happening, the muscles had separated from my spine. I had sprained my back. I was told I’d have to keep it strong to avoid re-injury, so I worked out three times a day, every day. 20 minutes on the elliptical in the late morning, weights, and stretching. Class PT, usually volleyball or mock PRTs in the early afternoon. Another 20 minutes on the elliptical after class in the evening, more weights, and more stretching. I was in the best shape of my life, then I went to the ship.

I reported to the USS Chancellorsville in the spring of 2007, we were in the yards, so there wasn’t a whole lot of typical work going on. I painted, sanded, did deck grinding, and lots of cleaning. We pulled out in the fall, and our underway schedule started. We went up to Canada in the winter, that was my first real underway, and it sucked. It was so cold, but I dealt with it, made the best of it. The following summer, we went on WESTPAC, my first, and while it was difficult (I genuinely considered not going because of the abuse I had been suffering at the hands of my division), I adjusted well, and I even got together with my now-fiancé at the very end (while we were in port! No hanky-pankys on the ship).

The winter was uneventful, but the next summer, we SURGEd, and that’s when the real problems started. The metal decks and steep stairwells started to wear on my knees, I was noticing pain and stiffness developing, but just dealt with it. That fall, we went back into the yards, but we had to take part in RAMs (Random Antiterrorism Measures). We were short on gun qualifications, and didn’t have enough topside rovers, I stood 11 hours of watch in one day, from 1130-1630, 1730-1830, 1930-2030, and 2130-0130. That was the day my knees finally gave out. By the end of my last watch, they were the size of melons, so swollen and stiff with fluid that I couldn’t bend them.

After the initial pain and swelling subsided, I started realizing that my chronic symptoms had become much, much worse. My knees creaked and cracked, they caught and slipped, I could no longer bend them and bear weight, I had to choose. Now, everyone knows that when lifting, you’re supposed to use your legs, but that was too painful, I started lifting with my back. Being pretty strong, and working out with the VBSS team, I was no stranger to manual labor, and I had no issue working with the boys doing the dirty work, but after a while, I began to notice that my back was causing me pain too. I would be stiff in the morning, and it was painful getting in and out of my rack, lifting and bending became harder, and my back spasms returned. I also developed sciatica, which caused shooting pain down my legs (mostly my right) and numbness in my feet. I lost all reflex in my right knee.

I expressed my concerns to Doc, but she was busy, tough, and an FMF Corpsman, she didn’t have the patience to deal with complaints like mine, so I dealt with it. We got a new Doc, and while he was a little more approachable, he was less competent, and wasn’t able to help me much. I developed dishydrosis in my hands and feet, and some kind of eczema on my legs, but nothing he gave me helped. He did give me Toradol injections when my back was really hurting, which was several times a week, sometimes more than once a day. He also gave me Mobic, which kind of helped.

I began to get depressed, I didn’t like being in pain all the time, it made me angry, and I would lash out at people, who would in turn call me a bitch and treat me like crap, only they didn’t know that I was only angry because I hurt. In 2010, it got to the point where I demanded to be seen by someone else. The only problem was, we were in the middle of the ocean doing RIMPAC, and the only option was going to the USS Ronald Reagan, but I took it. Doc told me that if I was as bad as I was saying I was, they might send me home, so I packed my stuff, and waited to be allowed to go. People started saying I was malingering, that I was just trying to get off of the ship, because I “packed too much.” It made me even angrier.

I went to the Reagan, told them what was going on, and found out that I wasn’t supposed to be getting Toradol and Mobic because they were both the same type of NSAID. So they took me off Toradol, the only thing that gave me relief for a few hours after a dose. I lost it. I started crying, I told the doctors that I needed better treatment, and I begged them for some real help. They sent me to one of the Chaplains, a rabbi, who was very kind and understanding, he wrote several e-mails to my command requesting that I be seen both by Balboa and Fleet Mental Health. I’m not religious, but he offered to pray for me, and I said yes. He prayed for me in his stateroom, and he asked YHWH to help me. I appreciated that beyond measure.

I was sent back to the ship, much to the hateful satisfaction of those who said I was “faking it,” but they had received the correspondence from the Reagan and my chain of command understood that I needed more help. I was referred to FMH and sent to Balboa for an MRI on my right knee. After a few weeks of seeing a psychiatrist (a nice Commander who happened to be from New Hampshire, which was a nice shared bond, seeing as I’m from Maine), I was doing better, I was on medication, and it was generally easier to deal with the pain when I could go home, sleep on a comfortable bed, and my wonderful boyfriend would rub my back until it didn’t hurt. I received the results of my MRI, and went for a LIMDU assessment, where I was told I would never be able to serve at sea again.

When I received my LIMDU orders, my LCPO was disappointed, now that I was leaving, it was clear that I was actually an asset to the division, and he needed me for PAR (I forget what the acronym stands for, but it was a big ASW review of maintenance, operations, and training). I told him I would stay, but that I needed to get out of the duty section, I simply couldn’t stand for hours at a time anymore, my back and my knees couldn’t take it. He said there was nothing he could do, so I said I was sorry, but that I had to leave.

So I reported to TPU (worst command ever, don’t go there, ever…) and eventually got placed in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) where I served my LIMDU time. When my six months expired, I was still using a cane, in physical therapy, and wasn’t nearly “cured,” but I got stuck in a rather unfortunate loophole, one that did not work in my favor: if one is unable to finish an entire six month LIMDU period before their EAOS, they are not entitled to go on LIMDU (even if it’s a renewal). I asked if I could get a Med Board instead, but they told me I had to complete two consecutive LIMDU periods to get a Med Board. I ended up being honorably discharged, which requires being fit for full duty, and they made me sign my fit for full paperwork with a pen in one hand and my cane in the other. I was told the VA would take care of me.

I was discharged in August of 2011, I had filed my VA paperwork in July, and I didn’t receive a response until about eight months later. I still don’t have a rating on everything! The really fun part is that they are making me start all over again with my treatments. I had to go on the basic prescriptions for pain, depression, and my eczema thing (it hasn’t actually been diagnosed, no one knows what it is).

While I was in the Navy, I was also treated for cervical dysplasia, and had several colposcopies, I hadn’t had one in a couple of years and got one from my PCP, but the results were inconclusive, and now she won’t let me get one until September, and if it comes back normal, I can’t get another one for three years! My mother had cervical dysplasia, she missed a pap once, and the next time it came around, she had stage four cervical cancer and had to have a hysterectomy. I’m 27, I don’t have kids yet, I’m not even married  yet, my fertility is a very important thing to me right now, and I swear to God, if I get cancer because the damn VA didn’t want to pay for a pap every six months, I will sue the shit out of them.

I don’t agree with suing, I think we’re a sue-happy society and that people need to take personal accountability, but I can’t get health insurance because I have a pre existing condition. Even if I could, I couldn’t afford to pay the hundreds of dollars a month for private health care. The VA is all I have right now. The VA is all a lot of people have, and it sucks. There’s too many of us, and not enough funding for them. The VA makes monsters out of decent people because veterans can’t get the care they need. The VA doesn’t cover chiropractic work, which was one of the most effective treatments I had for my back while I was in the Navy, I’m also told acupuncture works wonders, but they don’t cover that either. Luckily, my fiancé received an e-stim at work, which is another therapy I’ve done, and that helps. I have a heating pad, my fiancé rubs my back when it’s sore or stiff, and he even bought me a hot tub last Christmas. Maybe I was “spoiled” by Navy medicine supplying everything, down to over-the-counter meds, but I feel like the VA doesn’t provide us with shit. I had to wait eight hours in the ER once, only to be given an IV with some painkillers and then discharged. I still haven’t been seen for my knee, my back, or my eczema, which has now spread to my arms. Dermatology won’t even see me until I go back and try hydrocortisone. Really? You think I haven’t tried that yet? I’ve had this since ’09-’10, you think I haven’t been there, done that?

I worry that my relationship may fall apart, I get angry, withdrawn, and it’s hard to want to be intimate with someone when you’re always in pain, or itching, or sad, or all of the above. To top it all off is the stress. I am always stressed about something, and I seriously feel like it’s killing me. Last night, I couldn’t shut my brain off about a school project, and I didn’t get to sleep until 7am, and was woken up by my dog at 10:30am. I’m not even tired now, and it’s 3am! I just can’t relax, I can’t be pain-free, I can’t be normal. “Normal,” for me, is pain. I get back spasms now, and I know they’re just as bad as they used to be, but they don’t register as hurting as much because I’m used to it! That is so messed up! My PCP in the Navy told me that I was the most jacked up 25 year old she’d ever seen, and that if I didn’t get 80% service connected disability from the VA, she’d be shocked. Well, I started at 60%, but they did upgrade me to 80% this year (with back pay), and I haven’t even been evaluated on the main issues yet.

This is the life of a disabled veteran, I guess: pain and stress, stress and pain…

date night for dog owners vs. date night for non-dog owners

I just read a Huffington Post blog entitled Date Night for Parents vs. Date Night for Non-Parents and while it was pretty funny, I felt like perhaps I could use this to bridge the gap between the “my dogs are my children” and “dogs are nothing like children” people.  So here it is, with the “parents” portion edited for dog parents:

“Date your spouse!” the experts always say. “Just because you’re married with a family doesn’t mean the spark has to die down. Flirt with each other! Keep the romance alive!”

That’s great advice. Really, it is. It sounds fantastic… in theory. Kind of like before you have kids dogs when you swear you’re never going to feed them processed cheap food or let them play with your phone old socks to keep them quiet for 10 minutes. But when you try to put it into practice? Well, sometimes it just isn’t practical. I mean, I’m pretty sure that when I’m brushing my teeth while wearing food drool-encrusted pajamas and telling my husband how I accidentally got poop under my fingernail while changing a diaper picking up dog poop and oh by the way did we pay the sewer bill last month?, I’m the last person he wants to flirt with.

I’m not saying it isn’t important to try to keep a connection as a couple — it is. And relationships take work. But so do kids dogs, and all the obligations that come with them. And when you’re trying to juggle all of that, it’s not usually the children dogs who are shoved to the back burner. Even when you try to keep the spark burning, it’s a whole different ball game when you’re married cohabitating with kids dogs. Going on a date, for example, only remotely resembles the dates you used to go on. Let’s break it down.

GETTING READY

Non-parents dog owners: Take a leisurely stroll around the mall because you’d like to pick up a new outfit for tonight. Oh, and maybe a new eyeliner or something at the department store. Throw in a manicure if you’ve got time. Arrive home, soak in a tub, deep-condition and exfoliate and moisturize, shave every shave-able body part while blasting your favorite music. It’s like a spa up in here. Spend ample time perfecting your makeup, hair, and outfit. Put on cute underwear. Be excited because tonight is going to be awesome.

Parents Dog owners: Rummage through your closet to find something flattering that you don’t wear every day. Get pissed off. Settle for something. Wish you could take a leisurely stroll around the mall to buy a new outfit. Realize the kids dogs have used eaten your eyeliner as a crayon; make a mad dash to Target use a thin line of eyeshadow instead. Arrive home, look at the clock, freak out because the trip to Target seriously ate into your time budget. Shower quickly, swiping over your legs with a razor, hitting up your pits and bikini line if you have a couple extra seconds. Ignore kids dogs pounding on door play-fighting loudly under the bed. Decide whether to blow-dry your hair or just put it up wet. Put your hair up wet because the dogs are afraid of the blow-dryer. Slap on some makeup. Squeeze into some sort of fat-reducing underwear. Hope you don’t sweat through get dog hair all over your blouse with all this dashing around. Be excited because as soon as you’re able to leave the house, tonight is going to be awesome.

LEAVING THE HOUSE

Non-parents dog owners: Grab purse, cell phone, keys. One last quick mirror check. Open door. Exit.

Parents Dog owners: Make sure the kids dogs are fed and the kitchen isn’t a wreck no food is left out for them to cry over while you’re gone. Leave emergency numbers and special instructions for the sitter wrangle the dogs together and try to get them into the proper crates. Tell the kids dogs goodbye. Wonder why the hell they’re acting barking like you’re about to permanently abandon them. Give hugs and kisses turn on lights and TV, adjust security camera to check on them while you’re out, and try not to get food hair or snot drool all over your decent outfit. Pry clingy children from legs shut crate doors. Slip out the door. Realize you forgot your phone. Come back in and repeat clingy-children barking debacle.

THE DATE

Non-parents dog owners: Go to a high-end restaurant or an upscale bar. Order without looking at prices. Enjoy laughs and animated conversation about movies and current events. Check your phone periodically to see if anyone has “liked” your check-in on Facebook. Discuss where to go next; the night is young and the options are endless!

Parents Dog owners: Go to a chain restaurant because you have a coupon (or go to a high-end restaurant, but order the chicken because it’s cheap). Feel frivolous because you order an apple-tini with your meal. Rejoice in the fact that you don’t actually have to cut up anybody’s food deal with begging, or tell anyone to get out from under the table or stop blowing bubbles in their chocolate milk trying to get on top of it. Check your phone periodically to make sure the sitter hasn’t called dogs have settled down in their crates. Promise you won’t talk about the kids dogs. End up talking about the kids dogs. Keep checking the time because you’re paying the sitter by the hour you can only be gone for six hours, and anyway, you’re getting tired because 11:00 is way past your bedtime and the kids dogs woke you up at six this morning.

AFTER THE DATE

Non-parents dog owners: Return home; decide whether to end the date or take it further. If it ends there, go inside, remove makeup, put on comfy clothes, let out the fart you’ve been holding in. Go to bed. Sleep peacefully. Wake up whenever. If it goes further… light candles, pour wine, put on soft music, and reveal that cute underwear and those nicely shaved legs. Bow chicka wow wow!

Parents Dog owners: Return home. Fork over cash to sitter, trying not to cringe about how much money you’ve spent on this date in total Let dogs out of their crates to the whirling dervish that is their wild and unstoppable excitement. Look at children sleeping let dogs out to run and poop and marvel that you missed them, even though you were excited to be away. Remove makeup, peel yourself out of fat-reducing underwear, put on comfy clothes. Yawn. Decide whether or not to devote a few minutes to “spousal intimacy” with the dogs in your bed with you, or just go right to sleep. Drool all over pillow until child dog wakes you up in the middle of the night for a drink/to tell you about a nightmare to be let out/to tell you there’s pee in the bed poop on the floor. Wake up at the crack of dawn to make breakfast for hungry children let dogs out again because, duh, who else is going to do it?

So you see? Bringing romance into your relationship is important, but becomes slightly tricky when kids dogs — and everything attached to having them — are thrown into the mix.

I think until they’re older for their lifespan, I’ll just be thankful for Netflix and popcorn, and the fact that my husband doesn’t care so much if my legs are stubbly or my outfit is old.

Just as long as there’s no poop under my fingernails.

Much thanks to Rita Templeton, the original author of this article.  Rita, if you’re reading this, it means that you’re awesome, and I hope that my blatant plagiarism is seen for the admiration it represents and not because I’m trying to steal your thunder (okay, maybe a little bit of it, until I get picked up as a blogger for HuffPost or HelloGiggles).

wedding planning as coping mechanism

So my wedding is almost here (8 days!) and I’ve been throwing myself into all the little details of the whole event, not just because I’m neurotic to the point that it makes me seem organized, but because it’s helping me escape the crap that goes along with it.

My bachelorette party was kind of a flop. Nine girls said they would celebrate with me, one was too sick to show, and never bothered to tell us, another was too ill to continue after dinner, (she had strep, I get it, go home and rest!) another had to work the next day because her command is going through hell right now, and another left early because her son’s birthday/college acceptance party was the next day. These are all understandable things, I know. However, when combined with the fact that three other girls left in the middle of it to go do something with someone else, then came back and said they had to leave, leaving three of us alone, sober, and calling for a ride home before the night could possibly get any worse… I got my feelings seriously hurt.

It’s also apparently my fault that they left because the girl throwing it said she was getting anxious because I didn’t appear to be having a good time. Uh, I was bummed that people kept leaving! Just because they had totally valid reasons for leaving doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck that they had to go! How is this my fault?? Apparently I’m “hard to please” and “not easy to be friends with.” Fine. If that’s how you see me, then why bother? If I’m so high-maintenance and such a chore to be friends with, maybe we should just let the whole thing go!

Then, I call my future mother-in-law to get photos for a memorial we’re doing, and she tells me that I have to respond to a confirmation email from her husband (my Romeo’s step-father) from a computer, because if he sends them to my phone, the large files will break it. What?? So I try to explain to both of them that web-hosted email is the same whether it’s my phone or my desktop, and the guy says they will not be sending the photos, and FMIL tells Romeo that I called her ignorant. Seriously??

Then, I ask one of my bridesmaids if I can store my dress at her place until the wedding, tell her I’m picking it up today, and she says “cool.” Then she says she can’t come to the fitting because she has plans. Um. How am I supposed to get the dress into your house, then?? Luckily, another friend has said she wants to go, and will store it for me at her place.

Not to mention that of the 110 people I invited, only 50 are coming, and over half of the people who aren’t didn’t even bother to reply. Some of those who did were two weeks past the RSVP date. That’s ridiculous. That is so rude.

So I’m throwing myself into seating charts, escort cards, timelines, and sign-making to get my mind off of it. Most of the time it works, but sometimes, like right now, I sit and think: “what did I do to deserve this?” “Do I actually deserve this?” “Am I being too sensitive, or demanding?” I have no answers for these, I really don’t. I just know that it sucks, and I really, really hope that I won’t feel this way next Saturday. I don’t want to cry my makeup off…

i can’t deal anymore

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Yup. Six. That’s not even the worst part.

The shower was thrown by my Maid of Honor, who lives across the country, and she flew from Dallas to be there before flying home to her husband she almost never sees because she’s always traveling for work. Did I mention she rented out a rooftop venue and had it catered with a custom menu for us? Yeah. She did. Six people. Fuck my life.

I feel like the lame fat kid waiting for kids to show up to his birthday party and then spending it alone. Really? Our bridal shower? I understand maybe ditching a Cards Against Humanity night, or even a birthday thing, but our BRIDAL SHOWER? We only get one of those! Ever! I’m no-shit seriously considering canceling the wedding. Why throw a party costing tens of thousands of dollars so that people can be dicks and not show? We invited 110 people, the RSVP date is July 1, and we have 34 attendees. That’s pathetic. Pathetic.

I want to die. I’ve never considered suicide so seriously before now. The only reason I haven’t done it yet is because it would devastate my fiancé to have to put our dogs up for rescue, because he wouldn’t be able to care for them by himself, he works too much.

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Too dramatic, you say? What’s the big deal? It’s one party, everything will be fine? No. No it won’t. Because this has become the norm. This is what happens, and I know it’s because of me, because everyone loves my fiancé and they would never treat him like this. I’m a burden to the people in my life alive, and I’m a burden to my fiancé dead. Do you have any idea how that feels? Put aside whether or not you think it’s true, and imagine that you felt that way. Whether or not it’s true, rational, or ridiculous, that is exactly how I feel right now. I’ve been trying to sleep for four hours and can’t because I can’t stop thinking about how miserable I am and wondering if I would regret taking all of my sleeping pills at once with a bottle of vodka.

I can’t do this anymore, I just can’t. It’s not worth it. I don’t know why I think it’s worth it to keep trying. Even our officiant (a mutual friend) called and said he may not make it to the wedding. That’s how little people give a shit about me. I’m not asking for all of their attention, I haven’t deluded myself into believing that people are always going to be available whenever we have a party, but these invitations went out in April. APRIL! It’s not like they didn’t have time to plan! And even worse, I feel guilty for missing my friend’s birthday party tonight because I wanted to have dinner with my mother whom I see once a year and my sister-in-law whom I haven’t seen since 2012.

This sucks. I don’t even know what I’m going to do. I think I’ll take a Neurontin and hope I pass out…

if you’re going to treat me like shit, i don’t need you

I’m one of those people who really needs to be liked.  I go out of my way to make sure people feel comfortable, included, cared for, and appreciated.  To the point where I can’t enjoy my own parties, end up taking on extra work in groups, and spend entirely too much money on people I can’t even really count as friends.  This habit gets me way too stressed out, always ends up backfiring, and to be honest, I’m going to be 29 this year, I’m too old for this shit.

People who make fun of me for having a blog because it’s “stupid” should look at this: Interesting Facts about Blogs, it was written over two years ago, so I’m pretty sure the numbers are a little different, but there are some interesting factoids in here: “Most people read blogs more than once a day,” that surely doesn’t point to blogs being “stupid,” does it?  “Businesses that blog at least 20 times per month (4-5 week),  generate 5 times more traffic than those that blog fewer that 4 times per month,” point being: bloggers can make money.  Look at Jenna Marbles/Mourey, she started blogging in 2009 for Stoollala, and is now worth $2.5 MILLION.  To any dumb fuck that thinks blogs are stupid, tell her that.

The Huffington Post is a blog.  Gawker.  Lifehacker.  Fail Blog.  Business Insider.  Am I saying Always A Sailor is going to be like that?  Hell no!  This is my place to vent and sound off about stuff that I want to write about.  Does it matter that my number one post is about Navy tattoos?  No, I don’t mind that one bit.  The Navy and Tattoos was my 12th post, and you want to know why I wrote it?  It wasn’t so much to bitch about the chick who gets Navy tattoos and hasn’t “earned” them, it was mostly because I was trying to find information on military tattoos and had a ton of trouble figuring out their origins.  I thought that if I was looking for the information, maybe other people would want to know as well, so why not make a comprehensive list.  I thought about doing separate posts for all of the different branches, but let’s face it, no one has the diversity of tattoos that the Navy has, it’s just our thing.

I’m just done trying to defend myself, my use of hashtags on Instagram, the way I’ve decided to raise my dogs, (yes, you read that right, I have to defend the respectful treatment of my own dogs) and the fact that I’m a disabled veteran (I can’t tell you how many doctors, “shipmates,” and complete strangers have told me I’m faking.  Eat shit and die).  In order not to be a hypocrite, I’ll try not to judge others too harshly either (maybe I was a little over-the-top in my tattoo post, but whatever, it was three years ago, get over it).

I was just texting a friend about a get-together she’s having this weekend for her birthday (Happy Birthday, J!) and she said this:

I’m ready for my 20s to be over, I feel more classy because I’m older for some reason, like my age kind of makes me badass.

We talked about how we no longer feel it necessary to close bars, have ragers, and party like we will never party again.  Sometimes it’s cool to just hang out around the fire pit and talk about nothing, you know?  Everyone seems so obsessed with putting out this image of being a badass, and I don’t think you achieve it until you grow the hell up and get over all that crap.  Most of my friends and I are entering that “don’t give a fuck” portion of our lives where we’re old enough to realize life isn’t a goddamn competition, but still young enough that we can kick ass in anything we want to do.  I look at some of the people I served with, especially those that are out now (whether honorably or dishonorably), and I just think about how sad they are.  They still feel the need to treat others like crap to make themselves feel better.  I’m sorry your life wasn’t all you wanted it to be, but it’s life, that’s how it is!  One minute I’m considering asking someone my fiance and I served with to do a reading at our wedding, the next he’s being a narcissistic prick and I’m thinking “fuck you, buddy, I don’t want you around on the happiest day of my life…”

So, fuck it.  I’ve spent most of my life trying to make “the cool kids” like me.  Usually people stop after high school, but I joined the Navy, which is more like middle school, so I backtracked.  Now that I’ve been away from that crap for three years, am a graduate student, and am just so happy with my lot in life (except for the whole depression and handicapped things), that I simply don’t have time for the immature morons that insist on ruining it.  Social media seems to bring those things out in people too, they feel so powerful, sitting there behind their computer screens.  It’s disgusting.

So, now that I have trimmed some douche off of the wedding guest list, I can continue with my life, without these jerks anywhere near my radar…

depression

Depression and anxiety are cruel masters. One minute you can be fine, the next you want to die and you don’t know what hit you. The smallest problems are complete catastrophes. The dumbest things will make you cry. Things that should be no big deal will make you seethe with anger. You lash out, and then regret it, but you don’t know what to say, so you think maybe it would just be easier if everyone was mad at you, because then they would stay away. You still crave social interaction, though. So you throw a party, clean and cook all day, and no one comes. You try to be extra supportive and give your friends things to try to show them you care, and then realize the sad truth that it’s not reciprocated. You try to come up with a guest list for your wedding, and can only list a few people whom you really care about to come, you have to widen the criteria so the day isn’t depressing. Then only a third of those that were invited say they’re going to come. You know even fewer will actually show up. You become extremely judgmental of others because you’re extremely judgmental of yourself. You set these unachievable goals, and when the inevitable happens, you lay in bed or on the couch for a week doing nothing, because you feel like you are nothing. You question people’s affections, sabotage relationships, and hurt the people you love. You overeat, or you don’t eat, or you pull out your hair, or you hit things, or you cut yourself.

Living with mental illness is not only hard, it’s impossible. Please, don’t give up on us. We’re capable of so much more than we believe. We need you to believe for us.

the sgt bergdahl thing

usa

 

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about the case of Sergeant Bergdahl and his release from captivity in Afghanistan.  Bowe Bergdahl was released last month in a prisoner exchange by which the United States released five detainees from Guantanamo Bay into Qatar, where they must stay for a minimum of one year, and are “subject to strict bans on militant incitement or fundraising that might pose a danger to the United States.”

Okay, granted, this raises some questions:

1.  What happened to the United States’ policy of not negotiating with terrorists?

The United States has a policy of not negotiating directly with terrorists.  We can, however, negotiate through an intermediary nation.  In this case, it was Qatar.  What the Obama Administration did is not new, nor is it “illegal,” nor is it treason.

2.  What’s the deal with Bergdahl’s dad?

If you’re asking this question, then you’ve probably read and seen photos of Robert Bergdahl, the father of Sgt. Bergdahl, who tells us he grew out his hair and beard and began learning Arabic and Pashto in an effort to bring his son home.  Right-wing media has been criticizing Mr. Bergdahl because his actions apparently make him a Taliban sympathizer, and a Muslim (why being a Muslim is a bad thing, I don’t get, but my guess is that stupid people think all Muslims are terrorists).

3.  Isn’t Bergdahl a deserter?

Officially, no.  In 2010, “the evidence was “incontrovertible” that Bergdahl indeed walked away from his unit, [however the Pentagon] did not accuse him of desertion.”  There is little information on this part of the story, but earlier in the article cited by the previous link, Bergdahl is described as feeling little conviction for his assignment in Afghanistan, saying “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.”

Here’s the issue.  Those of us at home have no idea what those guys over in the Middle East have to do.  We don’t see the end result of our demand for action and justice.  Likewise, the grunt on the ground isn’t going to see the big picture, it’s above his pay grade.  It is understandable that Bergdahl would have had some frustration, especially with the incidents he cited: “He said an Army vehicle had run over a girl, but “we don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks.””  I don’t care what your mission is, that’s horrible.

4.  Come on, he forgot how to speak English??

This one I’m also really skeptical of, to be completely honest.  However, I think Robert Bergdahl put it quite eloquently: “The complicated nature of this recovery will never really be comprehended.”  What I do know is that sassy attacks on the former POW, like the one from Sarah Palinaren’t helping.  None of us knows the first thing about what that man went through, even former POWs, because Bergdahl was the first and only American POW during this war.  It’s going to take a long time to figure out why he doesn’t seem to be capable of speaking/comprehending English, and in the meantime, the rest of us should probably just shut the fuck up about it.

 

I understand that we all have a right to our own opinions, and we have a right to voice those opinions, but I propose that everyone stop, learn, and think for a moment about what they’re doing and the things they’re saying.  So many people are simply spreading ignorance and hate when there is absolutely no basis in fact for such feelings.  I don’t give a damn what country you’re from, or what rights you have, you have a responsibility as a human being, with the capability of analytical, logical, ethical cognition, to think before you speak.  Think before you form an opinion.  Think before you make the entire country look even dumber than we already do.

the catch-22 of finding a job

I finished my bachelor’s degree in February (Bachelor of Science in Business Technical Management with a concentration in Human Resources), and I’m now in my second semester of grad school, pursuing an MBA with an emphasis in Project Management.  I’m due to graduate at the end of October 2015, and I’ve got to say, I’m incredibly worried.

I’ve been perusing job listings, seeing what’s out there, what I could do with what I have, looking at the job descriptions for the jobs I want and seeing if I have the right prerequisites; but there’s always one thing listed as “required” that I just don’t have: experience.

So everyone out there wants to hire someone with experience, but no one is willing to hire people without it in order to give them experience.  Basically, you’re telling me that I need to go get a job that I am grossly overqualified for, so that I can get some experience in the field, but still not in that particular position.  Obviously you all want someone with experience!  That’s a pretty “duh” question to ask: “would you rather take a risk on someone that’s unproven in this particular position, or hire someone who’s done it for years?”  Really??

I get it.  The employment situation still isn’t great, and companies can afford to be picky, but they’re really limiting themselves by not wanting to hire the hard-charging recent graduates who are chomping at the bit to prove themselves and show a company what they can really do.

So I can’t get a job until I gain experience, but I can’t get experience until someone will hire me.  Alrighty then…

There’s another problem, too.  I’ve applied to a handful of positions, and I haven’t heard back from HR on a single one.  At first, I just thought this was incredibly rude and I was angry, but for purely selfish reasons, and then I came across this piece by Dr. John Sullivan on TLNT.com: Why Aren’t Job Applicants Given Decent Feedback?  In the article, Dr. Sullivan poses a pretty good argument for why companies should be giving rejected applicants feedback, and it’s not just about manners.

Furthermore, I’m hearing more and more from old Navy friends that they can’t get jobs either.  What happened to hiring preference for veterans?  I thought we had all this great experience that everyone wanted!  There’s pretty decent tax breaks for hiring veterans as well, especially us disabled vets!  The White House has even released a Guide to Hiring Veterans, it answers all kinds of questions and goes over all of the incentives, so why are we also getting slammed with the “you need more experience” line?

Listen, Mr. Hiring Manager, we have experience.  We have experience coming out our ears.  We have experience doing things you’ve never even dreamed of.  We know how to get things done with limited resources and time.  We know how to treat our supervisors, especially those that are newly discharged.  My veteran friends are some of the most respectful people I know, so much so that it sometimes humbles the people they interact with.  We know how to work as a team, because that was drilled into us from day one in MEPS.  You succeed together, or you fail together (sometimes this can be a bad thing, check this out right here).  Veterans understand safety, following instructions, policy, procedure.  We learn fast because we have to, and many of us are incredibly smart.  Just because you don’t know what an SQR-19 is, or have any clue what it means that someone has worked on the CIWS, doesn’t mean that we don’t have experience doing some very relevant jobs to the position we’re applying for.

Stop looking for the perfect resume, it doesn’t meant the person who wrote it is the perfect candidate.