Rage

 

Rage

Every once in a while my brain begins what I call its rage cycle. Very rarely once it begins can I keep it from going through its cycle. I can regulate my activities, and control my diet and to a certain extent my surroundings. But in the end I am a slave to the cycle once it begins. Rage is hard to describe to very many people, they generally relate in terms of anger, rest assured it is not anger, it is rage. Sometimes it begins with an injustice. The past few weeks the injustice of my children the damage done to them has been the catalyst. But sometimes, it’s just watching unhealthy people continue in their unhealthy way to make themselves sicker and sicker without seeing that it is their habits that are at fault and not their “Genetic Make Up”. For several decades now I have had to answer to this rage that continues inside me. The truth is it’s not even the event triggering the rage that is the issue as any injustice or petty belief I have can trigger it. It’s the rage itself that is the problem. It truly is darkness, or an abyss. If I was depressed I have no doubt it could cause suicidal ideation, but I’m not a depressed person in any way. If it was anxiety, I would be so paranoid; I would be unable to engage in any aspect of life. The only way to describe it is rage, and to unleash it or not to keep it subdued would result in a catastrophic event that would cause harm to anyone in my vicinity.

For decades now I have spent the better part of my day in a ritual that allows me self control. From the time I get up until I close my eyes at night, I engage in an ongoing series of exercises to calm the rage in my mind. For example the first hour of my morning is spent calming my spirit (in fact I stop and do this many times during the day). As a rule I rise before anyone else in the house, and make a coffee (I allow myself one shot of caffeine in the morning), sit and inhale the aroma and allow my body to finish waking from its sleep or many times lack of sleep. On the rare occasion that I don’t have the hour to myself, I find a spot and push out the world if I am able. When I can’t find a place for myself; on these occasions my risk of expressing my rage is greatly increased. I continue with momentary periods of occupying my mind on repetitive simple tasks that allow me to continually calm my mind. For example, most food I eat is non processed and raw when I buy it. So refining my food, gives me time to slow my mind. I grind my own grain into flour; make coffee by grinding the beans and the perculating them in an old fashion perculator and many simpler home processing tricks rather than buying prepared foods. If I could I would buy a cow and milk it as part of my routine to slow the world down so I don’t feel I have to get off of it. It’s not because I can’t organize or handle stressful days, but rather because if I don’t slow the world around me down, I won’t be able to have stressful days and not lose control of the rage. As I’m getting older the probability that I could one day end up in a nursing home scares the shit out of me. I can’t imagine a day without my routines. Who becomes responsible when because of an environment that doesn’t allow me the freedom of my routine (and dictates what my routines will be) disrupts my ability to have self control?

I spent a lot of time on ranges perfecting the art of instinctive battle drills. Responding without thought to given dangers. The fact that I can slow the world down and think before I respond is the only reason I am still alive. The Desmond family of Nova Scotia brings to mind the ugly truth of what I refer to as the flip side of the suicide coin. Behavior that is so outwardly driven, that it results in self destruction, but only after you had destroyed what you loved. I suspect I know a little about what you may be thinking if you have read this far into the article. This is some pretty dark reading. Unfortunately I will get a little darker before I return to the light. When someone’s brain is damaged to this point and when all hope of returning to that light is abandoned, (this is where I was 20 years ago when my children were taken from me) this is when they will act out. Knowing this Lionel Desmond asked for help but none was there. To be clear I never acted out in any act of violence, I had always been able to maintain control on the rage, but to this day I still don’t know why I never broke and acted out. Perhaps it was the old men from the Knights of Columbus that showed up and led me by the hand or my family or any number of other intercessory events that kept the breakdown from occurring. I do know that it often felt at the time like it was a deliberate attempt from those involved to create a situation that I could never recover from, so that my children would never have a relationship with me. Every week a new accusation would be leveled against me, and every week I would have to return to court to answer the accusation. The accusations were never justified or proven, just leveled week after week. In the middle of it all my pension would be cancelled and I would have to fight to get it reinstated, which would take months. I even had to have myself admitted to prevent further accusations and to allow an independent Doctor to assess my mental health. Looking back at this I am even more amazed that I didn’t follow in Lionel Desmond’s footsteps. If in fact I was the problem they believed me to be, why after $50,000.00 in court fees, a week long trial that found no evidence and the return of one son did I not break mentally? For this I have no answer, only that all of this occurred throughout the 90’s and began 25 years ago as I write this article. Twenty five years later we are no closer to having a solution to the problem, although we do throw millions at it annually.

So what would have happened to Lionel’s family and my own if instead of being abandoned by our government, society in general and then attacked through the courts; or deigned treatment or a safe place to recover? What if Lionel and I had a safe place to go with others, who understood our rage, and had suffered and survived and learnt how to flourish and stay one step ahead of their rage. Would I have gone as deep and as dark as I did? Would I have lost the relationships I lost? Would my children have been hurt to the extent that they were hurt? I ask the same question of the Desmond Family. Knowing what I know today allows me to grow, thrive and enjoy life, had the two of us been working towards his control on the rage within him would his family and him still be alive and healing while moving toward a fulfilling future? The only way to answer these questions is to change the past which we cannot do. But we can change the future. In the next few weeks several Not For Profits focused on veterans mental health are beginning a conversation. A conversation we hope will end with a step forward in funding and organizing a peer’s support initiative that will accomplish just that.

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Brothers and Sisters, … and Veterans?

Brothers and Sisters, … and Veterans?

Even from the most grievous loss comes hope. Twenty years ago I lost 4 children secondary to the trauma of military service. At the time I went into battle mode trying to stop the damage from occurring to them and to myself. Being as damaged as I already was, it didn’t accomplish much in the short term. I had to make choices to accept the losses and focus on what I could accomplish at the time. After 3 years I had regained my oldest son Lynden, 2 years later I was called to rescue my oldest daughter Monique. Only to lose her a second time 2 years later, she was also badly damaged from my military service and the unprecedented and over reactive response of Child and Family services. It took another ten years after that to restore that particular loss and restore a relationship with her. Interestingly enough it is that relationship that would become the catalyst in restoring my relationship with my youngest two children Jordan and Camille. This past weekend I had the immense pleasure of walking Monique down the aisle and giving her away at her wedding. This is the first time I actually felt good letting one of my children go. Several years ago her and her brother Lynden with the help of their step sister Emily reached out to my youngest son. The outreach was not to be, as there were still a lot of 3rd party interventions keeping these siblings apart.  I have two children from one relationship and another two children from a second relationship. They are brothers and sisters that have never been allowed to connect share or love each other. Nor were they ever allow a relationship with their father. None of which was ever their choice or mine.

 

Despite this, social media connects much of what we seem to lose track of, despite some of its negative impact on intimate relationships. In our case it helped restore a family. My younger son Jordan took a chance and reached out for help to meet his sister Monique on this very joyful occasion and it was clearly not an easy thing for him to do. We had a few awkward moments and conversations, and I had to curb my desire to grab a hold of my son and not let him go. But we also laughed a lot and cried a little. Much the way I felt so many years ago, only this time I had all those feelings plus a few new ones stewing within my damaged brain. The weekend itself was a flurry of activity with family coming and going, late nights and travel. Not the most ideal environment to be meeting someone for the first time in 20 years. I can only imagine the experience from his point of view. He was 3 at the time he was taken and has no memory of anyone or any event, but everyone he met family wise knew him and greeted him like an old loss love (which he was). Then there is his sister Camille. I have still not met her but a few days ago she reached out and asked to get to know me and her brother and sister. The process will begin again, and by the grace of her brother we will be more skilled this time around when we do meet. Perhaps something less chaotic than a wedding and a little more relaxed with more time to admire and share with each other.

 

The experience was not unlike jumping into events and training with other veterans over the past few years which I had done with Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur or True Patriot Love. That brotherhood I trained and lived with for 17 years in the military and was separated from for pretty much the same length of time brought very similar emotions to bare. When I saw my colleagues Brian, John, Dave, Kelley, Craig (but to name a few) for the first time in 25 years I felt very overwhelmed. It was like a part of me that had been missing for an eternity had just been returned. Meeting my son and talking with my daughter via text messenger was very much the same. Military veterans need to remain connected with each other. I never understood this until recently or to the extent that we need this extended community to heal and convalesce.

 

Yesterday while texting with my youngest Camille; I set up a messenger group for her and her brothers and sisters (and myself) to get to know each other. I left a single message “Let’s start getting to know each other” I then left and was engaged in a course for a few hours that evening, when I returned 20 plus messages popped up one after another in rapid fire as the conversation loaded. For the first time as a parent I knew what it felt like to sit back and watch all your children play together while you sat back in a chair and watched. My children had never played together (at least not all four together) in their lives. Well, technically they still haven’t as it was only on messenger. But the banter is very reminiscent of my own brothers and sisters when we gather, and at the moment I find it hard to sit still knowing that the day we gather physically will come very soon.

 

Brian and I got together just last Friday and sat on my porch enjoying a cigar and catching up on each other’s success and failures. It was the same nervous “I can’t wait” feeling for him to arrive. It was the same meeting Kelley, Dave and John up in Ottawa, I guess we really don’t know what these lifelong relationships mean for us until we experience moments like this. Old men gather to tell stories on benches in the park and old ladies collect to gossip in the kitchens (or so we picture in our minds) for just this reason. To know where we came from, whom we are and where we are going. And as much as we need to do this as parents, brothers and sisters, we need also to do this as veterans.

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Maybe You Have A Thought Of Your Own? 

Maybe You Have A Thought Of Your Own?

It’s interesting, that every time we try to improve our given predicament we are challenged as to whether or not we have done what is right. I am speaking right now on how the veterans who have overcome battlefield disables and injuries to compete in the Olympic style setting of the Invictus Games. Some question whether our government is using the games successes as political fodder to support or hide its lack of commitment to the myriad of issues that it fails to resolve with regard to veterans. It seems regardless of political party in power, or how many years go by those problems linger on without resolution. Would or does Canadian Government use recovering veterans to promote its political agenda? Um…ya of course it would and does, but from a solution perspective should that matter?

Morally yes of course, at present there are a couple of court challenges surrounding veteran’s pensions and care. Issues surrounding controls of care and treatment, culpability, proof of injury, wait times, not to mention the redundant appeal process, have been circling veterans and their care givers for decades. If anyone spent even a little time in any one of these grievous areas investigating or reading the complaints, arguing the question quickly becomes moot. There is a reason so many are “pissed off” and vocal on the subject, and why so many criticize government for the mere appearance that it would gloss over its own roll in veterans health (or lack of it). Perhaps the better question is what can be done about it. Well other than court challenges and demonstrations which are already being done and largely ignored it is a good question considering the issues have been ignored for so long. But even that is changing.

Media (CBC and the Globe in particular) ran national coverage on the Mefloquin and Somalia inquiry protest on Parliament Hill, on the 19th and 20th of September. I was shocked to see coverage nationally to be truthful, but also very grateful to see change coming in the coverage of these types of issues. It seems not only government but veterans are repeating history. Post World War 2 veterans in the face of an apathetic government formed what we now know as the Canadian Legion. It was their answer to an unanswered call for help. Flash back over the past 25 years and the ignored needs of veterans as a whole and much has not changed.

Oh, we recognize the Afghanistan veterans and their plight with suicide, but  not the suicides of the Gulf War, Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia/Yugoslavia/Croatia, nor do we vocally oppose or stand up to be accounted for when addressing the loss of pensions to the veterans that were injured post 2006. In direct response to these and many more topics related to veterans and their care many veteran advocate groups have sprung up. Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur (POE), True Patriot Love (TPL) (both of which I am proud to have been connected to and received support from in an incredibly significant way) but there is also Wounded Warriors, Veterans Transition Network, and many, many smaller start ups like the Not for Profit Veterans House, that I am also involved with.

In fact the larger groups have been “attacked” or criticized for expenses, although the critics have at least so far been fair enough to admit the resulting benefit to the veterans is significant. The truth is the cost to provide services is very high, and most people have no concept as to the extent of that cost. I can attest however in my own testimony the impact these encounters have. Veterans House it’s self is the product of the POE Boot Camp program partially funded by TPL. Even my posts over the past several weeks were inspired by my participation on TPL’s Douglas Expedition just this year.  Operating with a clear mind and blogging may not measure up to the expense of The Douglas Expedition in some people’s minds, but in my mind following 25 years of recovery, it is gold.

The problem I see in the framework of the present model is, the competition for funding dollars and the many worthwhile beneficiaries competing for those dollars. I can’t help but think it’s time for the veteran communities to unite. Can you imagine one very large strong vocal message united in a vision of how veterans should be treated, funded, and served in their transition from military service (whether injured or not) into civilian life. There is a forum which runs annually, The Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research (CIMVHR) which now dominates how veteran’s health is researched, governed and implemented. Perhaps it’s time to open a new forum for veteran’s organizations? A forum that unites our voices and represents all the small and large organizations. Then, we the veterans can dominate how; we the veterans are involved in our own role of recovery and integration into civilian life. Just a thought, maybe you have a thought of your own?

 

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I Got the Better of This Deal

I Got the Better of This Deal

A lot of time and money has been spent on adding more to the arsenal of treatment options for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Operational Stress Injuries (OSI’s) but what has actually changed. Back in ‘93 when I first sought help, clinicians offered drugs and various forms of cognizance therapies. Twenty five years later, not much has really changed. We are introducing the 3D model of cognizance therapy offering a virtual environment to relive your trauma in safety. The drug arsenal has evolved somewhat (or has it) but the logic behind it, being; if we relive the trauma in a positive environment, it will stop bothering us, is still the accepted norm. Problem is it doesn’t really stop reoccurring trauma, and although I am no clinician I often wonder what makes them tick. Reliving the trauma is ultimately what I want to stop, and it seems to me every time I began a new therapy, I had to relive the trauma, not just in my own head but for someone else at their request. This is probably why I don’t do therapies anymore, and why many veterans chose to self medicate.

It seems the search is on for the magic bullet, the one shot that cures all. Yet for as many veterans that suffer from PTSD or OSI’s, there are as many solutions. In reconnecting with my past I have renewed many relationships with brothers I served with 25 years ago. All of us who manage sufficiently to pass as law abiding citizens of Canadian culture and are able to mask or hide our deeply fractured mental states, have all accomplished one similar thing;  A major shift in our diet. No it’s not a magic bullet. It is a lot of hard work. The daily self discipline it takes defines the very term Sargent Major. One slip and it costs me days or even weeks of sleepless nights and rapid dark moods with little to no control. But it sure beats the alternative, which is a lifetime of mediation and side effects of that medication.

The real mechanism of success I have been learning recently is that when a group of veterans get together there is an accounting of sorts. Are you doing what you have to, to minimize the effects of the trauma you have received on yourself, and on your family? Are you accessing the programs that take the burden off of your family (and yourself) and allowing the stress to be shared and managed at a level other than your personal discomfort? Even after 25 years I am still learning this one. Recently I spent an afternoon with a couple incredible men, and brothers. Several I served with and have not seen in 25 years, and some I have just met and grew to love instantly. Kelly immediately held me accountable for my failing actions, (Veteran’s Affairs Admin which another brother Craig had been at me about since last May). The great part about Kelly’s torment was that I get to give it back to him. I had a conversation with his wife about his health, diet and in exchange for my compliance, he promised his own commitment to action. Having fulfilled my obligation to Kelly, I now get to hound him until eternity or his health improves. I got the better of this deal; incidentally my wife calls me a food Nazi … poor Kelly.

And then there is poor Dave, 2 days after I gave him the evil eye and ousted him in front of our peers for eating chips he knew would haunt him, (well actually I think he ate a few more things than just the chips). He made a post swearing off the processed food (which was causing him stresses), forcing himself to confess his sins to his own brothers. Not because he wanted the attention, but rather the accountability. He knows we (his Brothers) will rally around him and hold him accountable for his decision. So I of course sent him a Face Book “I told you so” meme. (He’ll get me back I’m sure).

For me it’s not just the accountability, but the atmosphere that accompanies it. It’s the in your face, you can’t BS your way out of it atmosphere. A therapist telling you not to do something before you leave the office in contrast to a group of brothers hounding you night and day while calling out, “you know better”. The therapist never knows if you truly complied, (unless your wife tells on you) they take your word at face value. I said I complied, therefore I did comply. Now wouldn’t it make more sense to treat a veteran in a veteran community on a 24 hr basis, if even for a short term to establish a new norm, or a good habit through that self discipline I mentioned earlier? There are several groups working tirelessly on Veterans House (the Not For Profit I am involved with). They are working on collecting a few similar groups to form a larger entity to work towards that very end. Think you can contribute? Then drop me a line.

 

Stephen Beardwood

Director

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Post Remembrance Day 2016

Now that remembrance day is over, It’s time to remember that the day for many hasn’t ended. We at Veterans House are committed to change that, but we need your help. Awareness campaigns are not enough. We need direct support for key individuals that can open doors to funding. Is that you, or have already forgot what Remembrance day was about? Our thanks to the Royal British Legion of this painful reminder.

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For Immediate Release

OCTOBER 24, 2016 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE cropped-Veteranshouse1.jpg

Canadian Veteran Launches New Approach to Suicide Prevention

November 11th reminds us of the sacrifices made by the men and women who have risked their lives serving our country, many of whom have paid the ultimate price.

As this Day of Remembrance draws ever near, Canadian Veteran, Stephen Beardwood, (retired Corporal) with his team at Veterans House are launching a new peer-support program for Veterans aimed at preventing suicides among this at-risk population.

Being aware of veterans’ homelessness and suicides is one thing, creating a culture that intercedes and restores veterans to communities and to families is another. Veterans House is one organization taking action to turn the Canadian veteran community’s dream of belonging and understanding into a reality, starting with one house.

Veterans House is a peer-supported home environment where veterans can heal from Mental Health or Operational Stress Injuries and transition to a meaningful life with their families and communities. It is unique because it is based on live-in, peer-support, and the 24-hour presence of others who are also recovering and have encountered similar experiences in their transition. This project has strong potential to contribute to suicide prevention and homelessness among this unique population.

Veterans House is a safe environment for healing with other veterans who have had similar experiences. The presence of fellow veterans during the daily routines of recovery adds a 24 hour accountability factor, directly countering the non-compliance and avoidance issues that prevent recovery.

Veterans House incorporated as a not for profit on the 24th of June 2016 and has begun the process of application as a registered charity and is actively seeking individuals that can open doors for funding.

 

– 30 –

 

Media Contact: Stephen Beardwood

Telephone: 613-328-8536

www.veteranshouse.ca

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Veterans House ‘On the Road to Recovery’

Veterans House is a not for profit, peer supported home environment where veterans can heal from Mental Illness and transition to a meaningful life with their families, and communities.”

 

Veterans House is in need of your support. This peer supported program of veterans helping veterans needs your donation of $25, $75 or $100 dollar. Our goal is to raise $30,000 to help veterans who suffer from PTSD and Mental Health problems on their road to recovery.

Our generosity link
https://igg.me/at/QoC4RYvLAAw

Veterans House incorporated as a Not for Profit on June 24th 1016 and is in the process of applying for it’s charity status. Your donations will help us to help veterans reach their potential.

Check us out and follow us on You Tube, Twitter and Face Book or contact us at info@veteranshouse.ca and don’t forget to donate here on our website http://veteranshouse.ca

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We Are Under Construction

Please stay tuned, more to come. Contact us at info@veteranshouse.ca for more.

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