Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

This was probably the worst weekend of my entire time at this duty station, but it did bring about some good, so I can’t speak too harshly of it, if I’m being honest. It was pretty bad, though. Instead of just telling you what the event was that ruined my weekend, though, I’ll tell you the whole story.

It was Friday night. Due to the overwhelming number of responses from the friends I polled that I should, in fact, go out and have fun, I had decided to go out for a few beers and then call it an early night, because I’m a responsible grownup. Or boring. Boring works, too. Anyway. Rose had done my hair in two French braids for me and I had opted to go for clothing that was more “me” and more focused on comfort than looking good, because honestly when I’m me and I’m comfortable I’m confident and what is more attractive than confidence? I wound up wearing my Uh-Huh Baby Yeah! t-shirt, skinny jeans, and my slip-on Vans. I was comfortable, I felt more like myself than I had in a long time, and I was in a really good mood, something that didn’t often coincide with going out. As an introvert, more often than not, going out feels like a chore. Well, as I was putting the finishing touches on getting ready, Emmett texted me and asked if I was planning on going out. I told him I was and we made plans to meet up (with Nico, too) and go out as a group. We met up in Nico’s room, I helped him figure out what to wear, (I swear the boy is the most adorable diva on the planet), and then we went out. We went to Dardo first, since it was finally re-opened and we had all been missing Chicho. I had one drink (both of the boys had two) and then who should saunter in but dear sweet Rob Nixon. We promptly included him in our group and he informed us that his roommate was at Brixton. Well, Rob’s roommate is Chris, so I immediately paid my tab and headed for Brixton, because I wanted to see Chris’ handsome face! I adore that man.

Now, two things to keep in mind. The first is that Emmett and I were having a heated and hilarious gif war on Facebook Messenger while we were out, which had kept both us and Nico entirely amused while we were at Dardo. The second is that I had invited CJ to come out with us and he had blown me off on the pretense of wanting to stay in and have a quiet, chill Friday night at home. No one understood that better than me, so I teased him a little but didn’t push the issue.

So. Brixton. We all had a few more drinks (I had one and both of the boys had two), talked with Dave, Chris, and Rob, and chilled out. Well, I got a sudden, intense vibe that I should leave. I texted Nico and told him that I was probably going to head out soon, partly to inform him of my intent but mostly to see where he was at – if he was ready to leave as well or if he wanted to stay out for a while. He replied immediately that he, too, was considering leaving shortly (at which point I remembered that he had a volunteer thing the next day). About fifteen minutes later, as we had decided to wait on our friends to finish their drinks, who should walk into Brixton like he owned the place but CJ. I hid behind Emmett because I didn’t want to deal with CJ and decided it was time to leave. Emmett, who instantly realized what was going on, was leaving with me. I stopped by the bar long enough to hug Chris and tell him goodbye and then made a beeline for the door. Now, according to Emmett, he saw what was about to happen and tried his level best to warn me, but he was just a few seconds too late. As I had turned from the bar and started to walk out the front door of Brixton, someone slapped me on the ass as hard as they possibly could. I froze. I couldn’t even compute for a few seconds. And then, suddenly, I felt a surge of rage the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since the days when I fought competitively. I turned around to face CJ at a slight angle, almost in my fighting stance. His eyes widened and he backed away from me, blurting out, “Oh, God, she’s going to fucking hurt me.”

And then, in what I believe to be the most impressive display of self control of my entire life… I turned around and left the bar. I power walked home, headphones in and blaring music, with Emmett and Nico trailing in my wake, rage pounding through my veins and in my head. As I got back on base, however, the anger started to drain from me, being replaced by panic and terror and tears. I was holding it together fairly well until Emmett, who genuinely didn’t know any better, touched my shoulders to let me know that he was leaving. Now, I love Emmett. Absolutely adore the boy. He is one of the sweetest people I know, which is why I feel so bad that my knee-jerk response to his touch was to pull away like he was going to hurt me. He looked at me, bewildered, and I just shook my head and took off. Nico tried to touch me to comfort me, and I shied away from him, too. I wound up having a full blown panic attack, crying for several hours, and passing out.

 

It got worse during the following day’s conversation with CJ. He had tried numerous times to apologize to me and the previous night I’d merely responded with the information that he was lucky I didn’t want to bruise my Naval career by fighting because otherwise I would have put his ass in the ground and told him to never touch me again. The next day, he had continued to try to apologize but, when I didn’t immediately accept his apology and tell him everything was fine, he yelled at me, causing me yet another breakdown into tears and resulting in me telling him to leave me alone.

Now, I realize this may sound like an overreaction to some of my readers, but here’s the thing. The incident that I just described to you is sexual assault. A part of my body that is inherently sexual was touched without my consent. And the worst part, for me personally, was that it was someone who knew that I’d been sexually assaulted before – someone I trusted. It’s been two days and I’m still not okay yet. I’m still shaky and avoiding physical contact and feeling nauseated. There are no words to describe how violated I felt, and am still feeling today. It put me in a depression tailspin a little bit, but thankfully I had friends ready to pull me out of it and be there for me all day Saturday. I’m working on moving forward and I know I’ll be okay, but things like this are why I try to raise awareness for the reality that is sexual assault.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds.

Expectations

Nothing stands to make a girl feel as good about herself as finding out that she’s meeting (or even exceeding) the expectations of people whose opinions she respects. After a year plus, I finally got back in touch with one of my favorite instructors from Corps School (training for corpsmen after boot camp and before we go into the fleet). I told him what I’ve been up to and thanked him for his help, mentorship, and advice throughout Corps School, found out that he picked up HM1, and had a good long talk that culminated in him telling me that he’s proud of me and that I’m a “hard charger,” a high compliment in the Navy. It made me feel so good about myself to be making an HM1 like him (multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, highly decorated, and just a generally good person both on and off duty) proud.

I also got a random “I love you and I’m so proud of you” type text message from my sister this morning, a sincere apology from someone who owed me one, and a continuation of my flirtation with a cute MM3 I’ve known since boot camp. Overall, today has gotten off to a really good start. I know it can’t take full credit, but I’m at least partially attributing it to my waking up and making the conscious decision to be in a good mood today. Attitude isn’t everything, but it accounts for a lot more than I think people realize.

Now, with what is going to come for the rest of this week, I think that having this Monday workday start out so well was really and truly necessary. I have my PRT tomorrow afternoon and I likely won’t pass but, again, I’ve made the conscious decision not to let it bother me. It is only due to some physical illness as well as mental health issues that I got to be as out of shape as I am, and now that I have a handle on it nothing is going to stop me from achieving my goals. I’m telling you, this whole positive attitude thing might be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m sure it will annoy my coworkers a little, but they’ll get used to it eventually. That being said, as much as I might have to potentially worry about this week, I have even more to look forward to. I have a big family dinner planned for the squad this Saturday evening, I should find out on Friday if I got selected for orders or not, and this is yet another week that I get to go home to a wagging tail and some aloof appreciation of my presence (dog and cats, respectively).

On another note, I’m so grateful to have gotten referred to my current psychiatrist. He is excellent at his job, but he’s also one of the few providers I’ve ever seen who treats me as a patient and not as a corpsman. I’ve had so many healthcare providers dismiss requests, talk over me, and ignore my input simply because I’m a low-ranking corpsman who worked for them at one time, when they would never do that to any other patient. On the flip side, my psychiatrist values my opinions, listens to me, and takes my opinions into account. He sees my being a corpsman as a good thing, giving me more say in my treatment than he might for someone without medical field experience. It’s nice, too, because we both know that I do research into medications and treatments before I talk to him about them, so it’s not like I’m one of those “I Googled my symptoms and I have cancer” patients or, heaven forbid, the “well, my sister/aunt/uncle/friend is a nurse and THEY said…” type patients.

He and I both agreed that aggressive treatment was best for me – especially given my mental health history and history of suicidal ideations/suicide attempts/self-harm/etc. – and the routes that we’ve taken so far seem to have been helpful, exponentially improving my mental state. I am so blessed to be in a situation where I have access to good mental health care and I’ll say again, as I’ve said many a time, that I am so grateful to the Navy as a whole, because it literally saved my life, not to mention introduced me to some of the best people I have ever met in my entire life.

 

Seeing as how today is the first day of a new month AND a Monday, and given that I spent a good solid chunk of the weekend re-evaluating my entire life, I’m making some serious lifestyle changes. I refuse to participate in the whole New Year’s resolution thing because the fail percentage of the average person to stick to their resolutions is super high, and thus I also reject the label. Lifestyle changes it is. That being said, I do have a rather consistent history of being kind of a flake, which is something that I am actively trying to change. My focus in the coming months will be in two areas: things that I’m trying to turn into daily habits (writing, going to the gym, eating better and tracking my calories, etc.) and big lifestyle issues (getting a better handle on my finances and getting out of debt, losing a significant amount of weight and keeping myself overall healthier, taking a more proactive stance on my mental health, etc.). A big problem that I’ve always had in my life is that I have a tendency to give excellent advice… that I fail to take myself. A good example of that would be the innumerable times I’ve counseled friends and loved ones to take time for themselves/make sure they schedule self care/etc., which is something that I never do for myself. So, moving forward, that will be another thing on my “work on this” checklist.

 

Well, that’s it for this week’s Monday update. Until next week, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior!

Another Tuesday Morning

I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday partly due to a busy workday and partly (okay, mostly) due to I forgot. I’m working on it, I swear.

It’s been a weird mixed bag these past couple of months for me. The ups have been ups and the downs have been downs, but… I don’t know. It’s just been weird. I’m starting to feel better overall, but some of the downs have still been pretty disconcertingly low. I’m seeing my therapist today and my psychiatrist tomorrow so hopefully, between the two of them, we’ll figure something out.

In other, happier news, I had an actual event horizon/miracle go down this past weekend. I am an introvert, by all accounts, so typically when I go out, I only enjoy about half the evening and then I kind of just want to die/go home and crawl into bed and never come back out. This weekend, the other corpsman from my clinic and I took our new corpsman out in town for drinks and tour of Rota with a few friends and, much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening. I socialized with a bunch of other corpsman from the hospital, hung out with my kiddos and smoked hookah, swung by Donor Kebab for the best “it’s two AM and I’m drunk” food on the planet, and generally just had a really good time. It was the best kind of weird, possibly ever.

I may or may not have discussed this previously on this blog (I honestly can’t remember) but I am a survivor of sexual assault. Due to the circumstances surrounding the assault coupled with my introverted leanings, I have a habit of getting extremely anxious and unhappy in the types of social situations like the one I just described, so the fact that I was able to enjoy the entire night is actually a huge breakthrough for me. I’m hoping that this trend continues and that I start being able to function normally in social situations and actually enjoy going out as opposed to spending the entire time feeling paranoid and uncomfortable.

The whole assault was harder for me to process than it probably should have been, largely due to the fact that I didn’t tell anyone about it for over two years. I had rationalized the assault, telling myself that I’d wanted it and any number of other lies to justify it and, in retrospect, I can’t help wondering if I did this because I subconsciously knew that I couldn’t handle the reality of the situation at that point. It wasn’t until, several years later, I heard a young woman I was friends with relate the story of her own sexual assault and it started to sound eerily familiar that I came face to face with the ugly truth. It was still even longer before I started to talk about it, and it took me a long time to come to terms with having been a victim. Moving forward, I’ve done my best to work alongside the SAPR (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response) teams in the Navy and I’m hoping at my next command to be able to be a victim advocate. All that being said, this past weekend does look like progress and hopefully it continues.

More updates on this front as events warrant!

 

It is Taco Tuesday. That just dawned on me. Oh, man, I’m gettin’ tacos tonight! And the best part is that I have the totally valid excuse of needing to take my new corpsman to Cream’s for the first time. I need to make sure I do my Spanish homework today, though, because the waitresses and bartenders there are trying to help me buff up on Spanish, so they don’t speak to me in English anymore!

On that note, I suppose I should go do my Spanish homework. Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!

Tactical Combat Casualty Care

I have a valid excuse for not updating this Monday! I got (unexpectedly) enrolled in TCCC, which is apparently a mandatory class that all corpsmen have to take every three years. It’s basically FMTB (Field Medical Training Battalion, which is where corpsmen get sent to learn how to be Marines) Lite, cramming the months of training received at FMTB into one week, and it was more fun than I’ve had at work in a long, long time. We did three days of class room instruction, broken up with labs and practical applications (or prac apps), then took a written test and prepped for the FINEX (final exam). The didactic portion covered the basics of care under fire, tactical field care, and tactical evacuation care, while the prac apps were more “how to carry a Marine without hurting yourself or them” and how to run a rugged field IV. When the test-out day rolled around, I was slated to be one of the casualties. I spent three and a half hours being tourniquetted, soaked in fake blood, and man-handled before it was finally my turn to be the corpsman. We geared up – flak, Kevlar, “rifles” (duct taped and spray painted super soakers), and med bags – did a light PT, and then approached the kill house. We charged into the tunnel, dropped knees, and returned fire while having fake blood rained down on us from above to the tune of machine gun and AK fire and one of our HM2s yelling abuse at us. We then moved into the kill house, kicked doors in, and located our casualties. My patient was “unconscious,” so I dropped a tourniquet on her and grabbed her in a Hawes (or backpack) carry and charged out of the room and down the hall to adequate “cover and concealment.” From there, I did my full tactical field care trauma assessment, then hauled her outside and recited my 9Line, proving that I knew how to call for a tactical evacuation, should the situation arise.

My proctor, one of my favorite HM2s in the hospital, told me that I scored on the slow side of instructor times, and that he’d been particularly impressed with how quickly I’d secured my casualty’s airway. My absolute favorite HM2 in the hospital and former mentor had been shouting abuse at me during the entirety of my run-through, and he made a point of finding me outside after I was done and apologizing, hugging me, and telling me that he loved my face even if he’d been mean to me. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really remember half of what was said during my FINEX. All I really remember was that he did, at one point, yell at me for a mistake I’d made and follow it up with “oh, fuck, I forgot how to corpsman!” which I really found more humorous than anything else.

The class was amazing, and I almost didn’t want this week to end. But, unfortunately, woven in with the awesomeness that was TCCC, there was a lot of shitty stuff that went down, too. I failed my weigh-in for the PRT by a half inch, screwed up in my college class and lost a bunch of credit/got a few failing grades because I forgot about deadlines, and found out that my old clinic is trying to get my back from my current clinic, which is really not cool.

I actually took a minute out of my morning to talk to my therapist about it, because when I worked in my old clinic, I cried in the bathroom at work literally every single day and was depressed with suicidal ideation almost all the time. If my officers can’t succeed in keeping me in my current clinic, my therapist and my psychiatrist can weigh in and warn them about the potential dangers to my mental health, should I be forced to return to work in my old clinic. Hopefully all of this will work out, but it’s difficult to be optimistic when my old ALPO is already talking about it like it’s a done deal.

Not to mention that fact that I – still worn out from the FINEX, mind you – am on duty today, so I’m extra tired and oh-so-salty right now. I have a normal workday that I have to struggle through, and then I have over a week’s worth of homework to do, not to mention trying to bullshit my way through a 5-7 page paper, plus I need to find time to squeeze in a fam run, since that’s apparently something I have to do every single duty day now, which isn’t inconvenient or annoying at all, she said sarcastically. All this and the only thing I WANT to do is go home, crawl in bed, and stay there until Monday. Sigh.

 

Well, until next time, stay frosty, nerds!

The Norm (And Departures From It)

It’s nice when I have almost a whole week without a breakdown or any sort of even somewhat serious mental health issue. Last week was one of those decent sort of weeks, and this one seems to be off to an even better start. I’ve always considered Sunday to be the first day of the week rather than Monday and, that being said, my week started off on the best possible foot. My best friend’s ship finally came back from patrol last week, so she and I spent Sunday grocery and kitchenware shopping, cooking, playing video games, and hanging out with her awesome new roommate. It was glorious and much needed, and got me addicted to not one but TWO new video games! Speaking of which, I so highly recommend you get on playing The Last Guardian and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Both games are absolutely exquisite and I am rapidly becoming a huge fangirl of both.

I think I can safely say that I’m finally stable on my meds, and I’m looking forward to my meeting with my psychiatrist on the 19th to discuss our next steps in trying to fix my brain. I think the next step we’ll be talking over is potentially putting me on some kind of ADHD med, which I really never wanted, but my increasing inability to focus on damn near anything seems to be making it a necessary evil. Plus, it is supposedly a great appetite suppressant, which means it should definitely help me lose weight.

On that note, I have GOT to start getting to the gym on a regular basis! But it’s so difficult to go after work because I’m always so tired and getting up at 0500 just sucks and I feel like I can’t win. I may just start working out in my room again, thus saving myself some time. I can just get up, crank some PVRIS, do some Freeletics bodyweight workouts or calisthenics or whatever, and then shower and go to work. Or do it right when I get home so that I can then shower, eat some dinner, do my homework, and then go to bed. This should be getting progressively easier, though, as Amy is going to start working out with me again, I think. Of course, she leaves in June or July, but by then it should already be a habit. … right?

Either way, my PRT is right around the corner and I need to get my shit together before then on the push-ups and sit-ups front. I’m already signed up for the swim PRT, so that’s one less thing for me to worry about. I’ll kill that portion just like I always do. It’s just a matter of bringing my score up, because I kind of want to. I’m shooting for good-medium this time around, maybe even a good-high depending on how things go. Of course, this all assuming I manage to pass the weigh-ins, which is still questionable… I guess we’ll find out. Further updates as events warrant. In the meantime, I’m out. I’ve got too much to do to write as long a blog post as I would like today, unfortunately.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!

Bravery

Okay, so this post probably isn’t going to make me sound very brave. It’s probably going to make me sound like a wimp who wound up being an asshole for a minute. But I feel brave, dammit, so I’m going to share this.

When my ex-fiancé and I called it quits, he insisted that we stay friends and refused to give me any buffer time. This made moving on excruciatingly difficult, bordering on impossible, for me, because every time I thought I’d made some progress, he would text me and I would find myself right back to square one, questioning if breaking things off had been the right decision and second-guessing myself until I wound up crying myself to sleep over him. Again. And the worst part was, I can’t help feeling (in retrospect) that he was manipulating me because he knew about my mental health issues and knew how to use them against me. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

Now, mind you, all of my fabulous girl power friends were telling me that I needed to cut him off – block him on all social medias, delete and block his number, and give myself a chance to reboot, if you will. But I hesitated. At the time, I would have told you it was because he had apologized to me (sincerely this time) and seemed like he was changing and I was wondering if things were going to work out for us after all, in the end. But the honest to God truth was, I was scared. I was so, so scared to let go of someone who loved me, because what if no one else ever loved me again? What if this was my one chance and, if I blew it, I’d die alone?

This all came to a head over the weekend during a conversation with an old friend, who was fortunate enough to leave this duty station in her dust last year. We were talking, and something she said struck a chord with me. She and I have a lot in common, and we have a really great understanding of each other, because of that. She gave me some advice about how to survive my last eight months here, but she also told me this:

“… make space. This is why that Charles Bukowski poem is my favorite goddamn thing. ‘Isolation is the gift. All the others are just a test of how much you really want it.'”

And for some reason, that was it. That dropped the coin. I still didn’t act on it right away, but the final catalyst – the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back – came today, when my ex started texting me and immediately started being passive aggressive and acting like a dick. It suddenly just hit me. I didn’t have to take that. I didn’t have to allow him access to me. And if I needed to take some time to heal before I attempted to be friends with him, that was my goddamn prerogative.

… I may or may not be listening to Britney right now.

 

So, I removed him as a friend on Snapchat and Facebook, deleted his phone number, and blocked him on WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. I’m starting over. He’s not going to be a part of my life again until I decide to let him in. I’ve deleted all the dating apps off my phone and I’m focusing 100% on myself right now – going to the gym on the daily, trying to eat better, studying up on my future career and focusing up on my college classwork, trying to accelerate my degree as best I can. It will be interesting to see what I can accomplish in the next eight months!

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds. ❤

Hello, Darkness…

My old friend, my ass. Two posts in one week!? It’s like CHRISTMAS. But seriously, folks…

I’ve been battling depression since my early teens, with ebb and flow in terms of severity. It tends to run in my family as well, with my father and middle sister struggling with depression as well. As far as I know, my father has never attempted suicide or self-harmed; my middle sister has definitely self-harmed before, but I’ve never asked about any actual suicide attempts. As for me, I’ve made multiple suicide attempts, but only self-harmed for the first time a few weeks ago. My mental health has always been in kind of a flux and flow state, though I do feel there’s been some significant improvement since I’ve been in the Navy.

It’s ironic, given that the military lifestyle is one of such intense stress, but the healthcare – and, more specifically, the mental health care – that is available to military members is leaps and bounds beyond what I had at my disposal prior to enlisting. The doctors I have now and the knowledge that I’ve gained in my time as a corpsman have all contributed to my current state of… not sure I’d call it well-being, per se, but definitely better-than-it-was-being. I seem to be stable on my current meds, I follow up with my shrink in a few weeks, and my therapist and I are back on a seeing each other every two weeks kind of schedule.

 

I’ve wavered back and forth in terms of my intentions for my military career – whether I wanted to get out or stay in, and if I were to stay in for how long – but more and more lately I feel like I’ll probably stay in for quite a while. My current career path has me re-enlisting and commissioning as soon as I finish my Bachelor’s, and I like where I see that taking me. I try to balance the amount of time I spend in the present and the future, but the idea of a brighter future ahead of me is what has kept me going here lately, especially with the amount of complete and utter bullshit the Universe has been throwing my way lately.

For me, the biggest determining factor in whether I stay in or get out is going to be my next duty station. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my time at my current duty station, to a certain degree, but the command that I’m with here isn’t exactly the best and I’m looking forward to getting a taste of what the Navy is like elsewhere. In roughly a week or two I should be finding out if I got selected for orders during this last pick, and I’m torn between hoping I did and hoping I didn’t, as some personal things have come up lately that would change some of the billets I chose, but – at the end of the day – I’m just ready to move on with my life. It’s time.

 

For the next eight months or so (which is about how long I have before I PCS), I need to start making a concerted effort to schedule my self care. I need to work on telling people “no” and taking me time when I need it and not letting others strong-arm me into things I don’t want to do. I need to set aside time for myself to read with a cup of tea or do yoga or just sit quietly alone somewhere and meditate or whatever it is on any given day that I feel is the best self care option for me. My therapist has been telling me this ever since the first time I saw her, but more and more now I’m seeing the actual need to do it, something which I’m sure will have her rolling her eyes at me. She knows that I’m exceedingly stubborn and does her best to be patient with me anyway. She is an excellent human being. Most people don’t put up with me like she does unless they’re related to me or I’m paying them.

 

Well, I guess that’s all for now. Just a reminder to all of you out there struggling with your own mental health issues: you are not alone. Always keep fighting. There are people who are here for you. There are people who need you here, alive and well. And remember that suicide doesn’t end the pain. It just passes it on to someone else.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds. Excelsior!