Like many others, I'm on a journey in search of mental clarity. I've been a lot of things; a US Navy submariner, a rock climber, a filmmaker, and a life coach, to name a few. But, life's a little too complex to settle for just one label.
The Problem With VA Mental Health Services
It's no secret that the Department of Veterans Affairs has its problems when it comes to access to mental health services. The organization has made leaps and bounds in the right direction since it started recognizing and treating PTSD in 1980, but there is still a long way to go. Veterans like myself are constantly experiencing extremely lengthy wait times and a lack of choice when seeking out any care within the VA system.
My First Submarine Watch
This was it. I was finally a useful member of the crew. Earlier that morning, I had finally qualified to stand the Shutdown Roving Watch. Our boat was in the shipyard, which meant the engine room was shut down, but someone still needed to walk around every hour and check on different machines and temperatures and pressures. Enter the Shutdown Roving Watch, or SRW, or roving watch as it was spoken. This is the guy that wanders the depths of the engine room with a clipboard and flashlight, writing down the same set of numbers each hour, bored out of his mind. During the day there are plenty of crew members to chop it up with, shipyard workers to yell at, and commotion to keep us busy, but at night, there’s nobody. Three guys look after panels in the maneuvering room, one of which takes the occasional trip down into the engine room, and every few hours one of the supervisors will take a tour of the space and review the clipboard, but that’s it. It’s an important job, sure, but only on the rare occasion that something goes wrong. Otherwise, it’s a lonely way to spend a day, switching off with other watchstanders every few hours.
Ted and Lisa
Ted and Lisa wake up, as they have for the last fifteen years of their twenty-year marriage, facing apart on the full-size bed in their lifeless bedroom. Ted yawns, stretches, and lets out a long, distinct sounding fart. This is Lisa’s cue to roll out of bed and brush her teeth. Ted is of the opinion that one brushes their teeth after eating breakfast, not before. Their marriage is not free of love, just free of excitement. Ted starts the coffee maker, Lisa fries the eggs. Their relationship is more symbiotic than romantic, but it’s enough to keep them together.
U Mad Bro?
My mind is a cloud of shit right now. I feel like I'm at war with everyone and it's stressing me out. My neighbors wnt a win-win scenario with our shared side yard, and I just want to run them out of town, demolish their house, and forcefully take over their land.
My Gentle Return to Sanity
The past few weeks have been stressful, to say the least. Between firing my marketing team, narrowly avoiding a mental breakdown, going through withdrawals while cycling off a high dose of antidepressants, and remembering my late fiance on the third anniversary of her death, all while trying to enjoy a two week road trip through the PNW; I felt like I haven't been able to catch up until now.
Five Years Later
Every day seems like a small step in one direction or another, but to really see how far we've come, we need to look back to where we started. So, Jackson, me, this letter is a look back; a contemplation on this chapter of our life, a meditation on the last five years.