Sunday, May 14, 2017

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Random Thoughts

Living a life of chronic pain is something I never imagined.  One becomes hyper aware of environmental inputs to the point of morbid intensity.  The stress is unendurable.  The realization that this condition will never improve inspires fatalistic thoughts and deranged conjectures.  For example, when I die will I awake in some religious purgatory with this infernal misery as punishment.  I was indoctrinated as a child and have lasting scars.

I understand the reasoning of our wounded warriors who return from a valorous fight maimed for life and who have been changed forever.  I empathize with these brave patriots who after experiencing unimaginable trauma, can no longer maintain their former personalities. Brave soldiers who have become so physically and mentally dysfunctional they no longer fit properly in the context of our society, or in the context of their own families. This may explain the huge number of homeless veterans who sleep on American streets daily, forsaken and cast aside by the most giving of all nations. This abandonment of our veterans is a national disgrace.

I knew homeless veterans personally, not as a detached social worker, but as a homeless bum.  Our group did not drink alcohol or use drugs.  We did not fly signs, pester people for handouts, receive food stamps, or receive cash assistance.  Some of my old friends were pensioners who actually contributed years of work to society.  Yet these gentlemen preferred to dine at soup kitchens and live under tarps under trees through every type of imaginable weather, exposed, harassed, fearful, hungry, dirty, and insane.  Why am I telling you this?  Stereotypes as conceived from afar by ivory tower talking heads don't apply to everyone who lives on the street.  They are not all lazy people either, some take day jobs desperately wanting to escape their plight. The rent a bum industry makes a fortune off of down and out hard luck people.  Some even gain long term employment through temporary services, but most aimlessly drift from job to job, from town to town, accomplishing nothing.

When I was in the University of Utah burn unit  (costing the taxpayers God knows how many thousands of dollars) I asked to be released before the doctor even considered it.  I had no where to go except for the shelter medical bed.  When I was being discharged from the hospital I had a chance encounter with a homeless liaison social worker. She shamelessly shouted at me in the hallway from afar, that I could not continue to mooch off the hospital forever.  I was never so offended in my life.  Did she think that I was using the hospital as a sort of vacation retreat and that the hospital staff had to force me from my bed?  If that cunt had expended five minutes of her time familiarizing herself with "my case" she would have never been so rude and insulting.  Social workers have no business among poor people.  Her behavior typifies the prevailing response you can expect from these social justice warriors who claim to have a monopoly on compassion for the sick and injured in this world. Snide condescending jeers and sneers.   Mangled veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder probably run the same gauntlet when dealing with professional psychiatrists who consult their diagnostic manuals, and like pontificating gods, espouse factitious disorder or malingering. Meanwhile people are left to dangle in the wind to deal with a constellation of mental horrors alone and unaided.  Have no doubt, people derive a great deal of sadistic satisfaction from the misery of other people.  But when the laughter subsides the fatigue takes over.  People get bored and frustrated being around people who cannot control their moods and who involuntarily may even express occasional discomfort.

There is a distinction, however.  I am entirely responsible for my folly.  I had a choice to behave like a fool.  I was not serving my country like a loyal patriot.  I was not ordered into battle.  I deserve my misery.  I understand that some injuries change people forever.  I understand why so many people consider suicide.  The country can do better to help people who are not at fault and who served with distinction.

I used to spend days in the library researching depression.  I thought I had rewired my neurons, a firm believer in plasticity.  That was a voluntary effort, but this chronic pain is beyond conscious control due to the sheer number of damaged pain receptors  Extinction is impossible.  It is inhumane to force people to suffer, but millions do every day without any possible respite. We as a nation can do better to help those who cannot help themselves.