What To Do When You Don’t Have A Clue

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I have no idea what I should do.  I have been feeling overwhelmed; angry; sad; frustrated; confused; forgetful; forgotten; unappreciated; & unappreciative.  The past month and a half have been difficult to manage, in fact, I have been absent from work for the past two weeks.  I am currently awaiting the VA to decide whether or not they will help me with an inpatient stay at a PTSD program.  The hold up in this process is likely the fact that according to their examinations of me that I do not have PTSD, only Adjustment Disorder with anxiety due to combat.  My service connection for mental health has not been finalized yet as I am in the (middle, beginning, end?) of an appeal.  They did graciously add to my service connection that they would cover and treat any mental health issues per Chapter 17.  Funny that their treatment plan for me was exactly the same as what it would be for someone who has PTSD…but far be it from me to suggest that the VA simply is looking for ways to not diagnose people with PTSD for monetary reasons.  Anyway, I digress.  There is a program near JBLM that helps with people who are struggling with the symptoms of PTSD and I have been referred to it by my therapist – someone outside the VA channels that I used the Choice Act to access.  What I really want is to go there and start to work on finding ways to heal and live with who I am now.  Over the past 6 months, every time I go to an appointment with the VA or with Choice Act providers their practitioners have sent someone out to talk with me to see “if I was okay.”  Just based on my presentation most times, other times by my truthful answers to their check in document surveys.  You know the one – “How many times this past week have you felt…”  Well, damn.  My answers must show something concerning for all the fuss.  Even at work (where I thought I was keeping up a pretty good poker face) my co-workers finally started to ask that familiar question, “Are you okay?”  That, I admit, was a difficult dose of reality for me to accept.  When I talked with my wife later she told me “See, everyone sees it.”  At my place of employment I have to deal with people in crisis that need someone strong and stable to support them getting the help that they need.  Daily.  Multiple times.  I also am one of the supervisors that the staff go to to get help in maintaining their caseloads and when they need help processing problems and direction.  Me.  In my current capacity, I am the last person that should be dealing with any of that.  And so, when my current therapist (for the second time) suggested that I think about inpatient treatment, I was finally ready to accept that I did need help.  I informed work and family that I was taking some time away for me to get some help.  Little did I know that the VA would prove to be glacial in its pace to assist a veteran who actually needed something more than an ibuprofen or hand surgery.  No kidding.  I have yet to have anyone in the VA system even admit to getting the referral from my therapist after two weeks.  Contrast that with the time when I saw my VA primary care physician about my extremely painful thumb – I had a referral to a hand surgeon within a week and they freaking cut my thumb in two before a month was done!  But mental health issues?  Veterans who don’t know if they might get angry enough to drive their van through a building or lose their employment because they get confused and feel threatened?  Or worse, a veteran who is so burned out that when a client comes to him seeking help that he misses the signs and that person kills themselves.   No, that situation requires the VA professionals time to “seek clarification on the recommendations of your Choice Act therapist and the mental health team at VAPORHS.”  And cynical as it may sound, I understand exactly what the VA is doing.  They are banking that veterans will just get so frustrated that they give up, that they walk away from the process.  In my case, they will be quick to point their fingers outside of their system, saying “this person didn’t contact us or fax required documentation.”  But what they don’t know is that I have already seen from both sides that they did in fact receive documentation – it’s all just stalling tactics.  But even if any of that was true, there is the fact that during the two weeks I have been waiting for the VA system to do something, I have only received ONE phone call from anyone in the VA mental health team and it wasn’t to talk to me about my current situation or my well-being.  No, it was a single phone call to see if I could sign a release of information.  The impetus of the VA clinicians to maintain a professional detachment and the overwhelming dictate to not do anything to step outside of service-connection has turned the practice of likely ordinarily helpful people into bureaucratic linemen, stalling any who dare attempt to break through into services that they may need but don’t rate.  And though I feel like screaming at the VA personnel every single time I see any of them, I sit and quietly smile, because every veteran knows that if you act out in anger in a VA facility you get banned from services.  So, I sit here without a clue, awaiting help from a system that is trying its damnedest to not do anything at all.  I wish I could sit here today and connect all this to some grand lesson or anecdote that shows forward progression on the path of life; but I promised that this would be an honest journey and that I would strive to tell the truth, even if it was painful.  What am I supposed to do when I don’t have a clue of what to do?  I haven’t a clue…


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