Yesterday I was faced with an interesting perspective of my life. Ten years ago last month I was diagnosed with four conditions, their implications life altering. Psychotic Disorder NOS, Borderline Schtizotypal, Majorly Depressed, & Personality Disorder NOS. I was handed a couple bottles of pills, not even told good luck, and sent on my way out of the military. I didn’t know about the VA system, that it could help me because I was service connected for my conditions. There was no manual telling me about my benefits after the military.
In my darkness I heard talk of the VA, but thought that it couldn’t possibly be for me. Benefits were after all only for those who retired from the military. Eventually my father-in-law at the time talked me into going with him to an appointment and I received an ID card and an appointment to be evaluated. This meant little to me. I didn’t catch on that this meant I could be seen for my mental health until four years later. No one at the VA took the time to tell me that my evaluation was the starting point for getting services at the VA.
A Response I tell myself to try to justify these slips are that I was supposed to educate myself of my benefits. However, I ask how is one to educate oneself when at the time no materials, websites, or briefings were offered to explain what the VA is. To make matters worse, during my discharge the senior discharge petty officer promised me I would have a year of medical benefits after my discharge. I tried to go to a medical facility a few months after my discharge and was laughed away at this awful lie.
I spent a few years on low income sliding scale mental health visits that were more costly to my mental health then they were worth attending. The attending PA labeled me Bi-Polar because of my anger issues and refused to explore anything other then my anger and my newest diagnosis.
After a bitter divorce, I spent a lot of time in and out of mental wards for suicidal tendencies. Highly medicated, and with little therapy. Any stress triggered my moods. I couldn’t hold down a relationship, job, or friendship. I purposely destroyed parts of my life to lose them to make it easier to let go in the end.
After one of my next to last stay in a mental ward I made the decision to move my life to a new location for a new start. The old patterns returned, but I found a therapist at the VA willing to tackle my issues, using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Anger Management, Depression Groups, and a PTSD clinic I made great strides in changing behaviors and attitudes. I fell apart one last time, but I picked myself back up and soon became the Vice President of a Non-Profit Organization dedicated to helping Veterans in crisis. I worked with them for a year until funding dried up.
Today I have a girlfriend, an apartment, a car, a way to pay the bills, and friends. I still have depressed days and good days, but the difference is I don’t work towards having the depressed days anymore. I’ve pieced what I can of my life back together. The parts I’ve destroyed are gone forever, but I do have hope that some pieces will return in the future. A big win for me is that it has been a year and seven months since my last hospital stay, still counting.
Today my current diagnosis are personality disorder, & major depression. My main therapy treatment is CBT and anger management.