June 10, 2012

Mental Health Emergencies

An overwhelming sense of hopelessness may lead a person to think of only one way out. I want to say that we all have errant thoughts of others being better off without us, but that's probably a symptom of something in me. Obsession is an often overlooked component of the hypervigilance portion of PTSD, coupled with the delusional aspects of traumatization cause the suicidal thoughts to be seen as a way to escape the emotional and physical pain.

Upon percolation the overwhelming and despondent thoughts often lead us too constantly resist compulsions to drive head on with a truck or off an embankment. Picking up a sharp knife to chop veggies for dinner becomes an ominous dilemma or looking out the window makes me wonder if the second story is high enough. When the higher thought processes shut down and give way to base emotional states we become susceptible to reactionary and compulsive behavior. In our hearts and minds we are torn between the vast chasm of the macabrous to spiritual enlightenment, of which in war we felt simultaneously.

Get help now, for your mental health emergencies. Don't sit alone waiting for months on end. Your life depends on getting treatment and reducing these obsessive thoughts.

Do you feel like you may need help, but not suicidal or homicidal?
  • If you do not have a primary mental health practitioner it will probably take 2 to 3 months to see one if all you did was make an appointment. It is imperative to make that appointment. Even if it takes that long it will give you some hope on the interim.
  • If you are not suicidal or homicidal and have a regular primary care doctor and cannot wait for two or three months. Call your Primary Care Doctor's number, select the phone option that will connect you with the triage nurse, they may be able to get you in sooner. Explain your situation and ask for a consult for a therapist and psychiatrist.
  • If you do not have a Primary Care Doctor and are not suicidal or homicidal and are located near a VAMC, go to the ER and ask for a consult for a mental health practitioner on duty. They will be able to assess your mental state and give you a followup appointment.
Do you obsess over hurting yourself or others?

Suicidal ideation or thinking of killing oneself is dangerous to a veterans health. Homicidal ideation or thinking of hurting or killing someone else is dangerous to those around us. This is a huge dilemma for many veterans, to sign oneself in. I have signed myself into the VA at least 6 times and needed it every time. I am very compulsive during these times and vulnerable, the last time it happened I drove straight from a college class and signed myself in and stayed for 11 days. When I am at my wits end and thinking of death, killing and harm to myself and others, its time.

I was a student and addressed another student who did not contribute much to a group paper, as I was the one to fuse and edit five sections. I told her she owed me one because we got an A on the paper. She straight went ghetto and got in my face in the classroom and said "What did you say?" I started shaking and then laughed to diffuse the situation and said "I was just kidding." Not for fear of her, but for fear of what I may have done. I left the classroom shaking from head to toe and stopped in the atrium, then she walks to close to me as I am almost hyperventilating. I went straight to the VA, signed myself in and stayed 11 days.
  • If the obsession with killing yourself or someone else occupies too much of your time, then go to the nearest VA Emergency Room and tell the nurse on duty that you want to hurt your self.
  • They will immediately stop what they are doing and take you to a safe area and assign someone to sit and wait with you to see the psych doctor. Usually interns of some kind.
  • The VA will keep you for at least 72 hours or when the doctors can determine you are not a threat to yourself or others.
  • During that time you will start or adjust medications and see a therapist. Tell them it all don't hold back for fear of judgement.
  • Take a notebook without a spiral for journaling, I use legal pads. I usually take a book or two.
  • Followup appoints usually within a week of being released.
This is a period for self reflection under the guidance of trained professionals, begin your journey of healing. Within the last couple of years the VA has instituted new policies and training for suicidal veterans, a more compassionate experience today than when I first signed into 7 north over a decade ago. Don't know if I would share the homicidal part until you come across an empathetic practitioner. Empathy is the the ability to emotively connect with others, as we were with our battle buddies. Beware, today it may register as a threat to our distorted way of thinking.

An empathetic practitioner will be able to guide you emotionally as well as intellectually. When I came across an empathetic practitioner the burden lifted when he was able to illicit what felt like a confession. I expected the VA police to show up and lock me away because I admitted a powerful urge kill someone. But, that never happened. More delusional thinking of the Unseen Wounds of War. We were able to walk through the triggering event and mentally process it without loosing myself.

If you want to lessen the consequences of your traumatic responses, then share with someone who can help you process the absurdity of your war trauma.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you Scott for sharing a very important message that many think about but never speak out loud, their fear's and trouble's. It's good to know that Vet's are not alone. Vet's healing Vet's.

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    1. I value readers who feel what I am writing, thank you.

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  2. Thank you, Scott, for addressing this very important topic. I am a wife of a combat veteran who has attempted suicide twice, both times resulting in violent clashes with police officers. Even with this history of very real suicide attempts, it was startling to me how difficult it was to find help for my husband in subsequent crises. I wish I had been aware of sites like this back then where my husband could have connected with other vets...he rarely left the house and was so isolated. I'm sure you are helping so many by bringing these dark, difficult topics into the light. Thanks! Sharlene

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  3. I hope this message finds you well.

    "If you want to lessen the consequences of your traumatic responses, then share with someone who can help you process the absurdity of your war trauma."

    Can you explain this a bit more? I a not quite sure I understand what you mean. I have a Marine Vet friend who was diagnosed with PTSD several months ago. He is doing the best he can as am I trying to help him. Your Blog has valuable information that has helped me tremendously (I started from the bottom and working my way up). How or who helps with the "absurdity of war trauma"?

    Thank you so much for these blogs!

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Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee