He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he gaze long into the abyss... only to find his own reflection.

News of the Abyss

Cutter has added something. I've begun Diary, 2016 though it's lame so far.

There is so much news about PTSD sufferers and how badly they are treated that I could - and should - fill this front page with that stuff...

Combat Veterans have it the worst. Understand? People in poverty have it the worst. Understand?

No. You probly don't. People are not equal. Not at all. That's what people forget. People are not all starting from an equal position, or live in an equal space...

And that's a problem.

This is not a "news" post. But a personal one about a newsworthy incident that happened to me.

I am, literally, a Street Photographer. I take many photographs of manhole covers, for example. I just posted one here:

manhole cover

(There is a Google+ Manhole Cover Community for these images.)

A few days ago, midday, I was walking down a crowded street that was a tourist destination, so there were many tourists, and locals, walking about.

I was on a "Photo Walk", and that manhole cover was new to me and interesting. It was in the middle of the right lane (the side I was on).

I waited for a time when no cars were coming down the road and stepped out with raised camera and took the shot. (A truck in the left lane was coming near and slowed down as it did so.) But I was in the road for not more than 10 seconds.

"It worked!" I said out loud as I had taken the shot blind, holding the camera above my head. Excellent!

Then I started walking on, and, passing me on the sidewalk, coming across the street no less (which needs to be noted), a guy says to me in a loud, angry voice, "That was really stupid!"

And I made my first mistake as I say, "What's it to you?"

Well, that triggered this guy. He went immediately into a rage, saying angrily and loudly, "I'm a cop!".

He then quickly stepped over to me, face twisted in rage, and shouted in what can only be described as vicious anger, "You can't stand in the road!" And on he went, saying several other "You..." things, in a complete fucking rage, mouth twisted, eyes behind black sunglasses, a large hulk of a man in a tight black t-shirt and neatly shaved head. Spewing his hateful admonitions toward me.

As was meant by his actions, I was immediately going into "shut down" mode and do not remember all he first said. I just stood there. At a pause in his yelling at me, I responded, "I waited until there were no cars coming. I was taking a picture."

"That truck had to slow down!" he yelled. And he repeatedly yelled in vicious anger, "You can't stand in the road taking pictures!", stepping a few inches closer to me with each shout.

That's the trained intimidation tactic that Cops do -- show anger, get close, shout control words. And at every word from the "Perp", increase the anger, step closer, shout even louder.

He did this four fucking times until he was an inch away from my face. He was the typical embodiment of an arrogant man showing that he was ready to get violent. At one point shouting, after I started questioning his actions, "Just walk down the road." Pointing the way I had come. He was trying to put some fear into me.

But I became silent then. Unmoving. He went back to his, "You do not take a picture in the middle of the road!" Adding to it, "Do you understand me?" I was silent. He stepped even closer. "You do not take a picture in the middle of the road! Do you understand me?" He stepped even closer. "You do not take a picture in the middle of the road! Do you understand me?"

He couldn't get any closer because then he would be touching me.

After a second I said something like, "Why do you seem like you're gonna beat the crap out of me?"

He leaned his face even closer to mine, and in a really low voice, but through gritted teeth and still edged with rage, said, "I'm not going to beat the crap out of you." And continued his scare tactics, "I'm just telling you to not stand in the road." Almost in a whisper, but still through gritted teeth and edged with anger.

"But I don't understand your anger, and why you seem to want to attack me or do violence."

Still with subdued rage, not addressing what I had said, he uttered again his control words, "I'm just telling you to not stand in the road." Adding this time, "Fair enough?" It was still a whisper, and still edged with that absolute rage inside him.

"Fair enough," I capitulated. And he walked away.

I should not have capitulated. He was wrong. I should have asked, "Cop? Of what town?" (he could have been a fucking tourist), "Are you on duty?" (he had street clothes), and more.

But I should have just not responded to his first remark and ignored him.

But this demonstrates the trained, planned, and executed intimidation and control tactics that Cops do all the time.

He was not a "Policeman". He was a "Cop". And all across this country, such Cops do this bullshit to many people every fucking day.

I was victimised by him. I was traumatised by him. And he meant to do that to me. He meant to do that to me. He meant to harm me emotionally.

And with PTSD such as I have, he did harm me. The traumatised brain -- whether from an abused childhood or relationship, or from a physical assault such as a rape or a beating or a robbing, or from being in war -- does not react to being accosted like what this "Cop" did to me in a normal fashion.

He's lucky that I was a meek and frail kind of PTSD sufferer. We can imagine how a large man suffering from combat PTSD could have responded.

I just stood there and took his shit, mildly talking back. And in the end, capitulated to him, letting him have his way.

And for the rest of the day and for the next several days I've ruminated over this incident, making angry outbursts at myself at times. And have been having full blown, hours long, all day long even, panic attacks.

And wanting to drink large quantities of alcohol so I can suppress all these feelings.

I can't undo what was done to me. I can only change my response to it. No one can change an asshole like him. One can only change how one deals with an asshole like him.

PTSD is called a "Disorder" for a reason. The "Disorder" is in how the brain functions. The PTSD brain is "mis-wired", and these "mis-wirings" cause the brain to react instantly and prolongingly in an "unreasonable" way. From feeling acute, severe, painful emotions to wanting to act out in harmful ways.

For myself, and for many of the combat veterans as documented in Penny Coleman's book, Flashback, we can act out in ways that ultimately harm ourselves. Many a PTSD combat veteran's life ends in suicide -- something that happens all to frequently, and always never mentioned by any Media.

I am still in a panic attack over this -- even now as I write this, days later. I can not change what happened. I have to change how I handle such things, in the now and in the future.

Having a mental disorder means that life is a challenge -- life is difficult, hard, painful.

Encounters with assholes and arrogant people makes life more difficult, even harder, more painful.

My only good thought in all this? That that asshole himself was seething in anger over our encounter for some time -- the rest of the day perhaps, or even days after. Maybe he has "anger issues". It is my hope that he is not an "angry abuser" as well.

In an article at The Nation, Rebecca Vallas writes about a scene in the Netflix drama "Orange is the New Black":

One of the very first scenes of the third season is a flashback to the character Pennsatucky’s childhood. We watch as her mother forces her to chug an entire two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Pan right to the sign showing us that they’re at the Social Security Administration office. Then we hear Mom say, with a young Pennsatucky now bouncing off the walls behind her, “So I understand, Supplemental Security Income benefits for kids like mine are $314 a month, is that right?”
The implication is clear: Mom is attempting to simulate the symptoms of ADHD in her child in order to fraudulently obtain SSI benefits.

‘Orange Is the New Black’ Is Dead Wrong About Disability

It's just a fictional drama. And it's just fiction.

And Vallas goes on to debunk many of the "loafers are living off of Government rather than working" bullshit in the media, spread by the likes of Ronald Reagan to the new "Know Nothing" pundits like Nick Kristof.

Pundits and lawmakers getting their knowledge of disabilities and how Social Security works by watching or hearing about TV shows is frightening. Or worse, damaging.

"I've never been a soldier," I say to the wide-eyed, lanky-limbed veteran sitting across from me. "Tell me about military life. What's it like?" He looks up as if the answer can be found in the blazing blue sky above, shoots me a sheepish grin, and then fixes his gaze on his feet. I let the silence wash over us and wait. He looks embarrassed. Perhaps it's for me.

Interviews sometimes devolve into such awkward, hushed moments. I've talked to hundreds of veterans over the years. Many have been reluctant to discuss their tours of duty for one reason or another. It's typical. But this wasn't the typical veteran -- at least not for me.

Osman put in three years of military service, some of it during wartime. He saw battle and knows the dull drudgery of a soldier's life. He had left the army just a month before I met him.

Osman is 15 years old.

The Child Veterans of South Sudan Want to Know
Will Americans Support Them?

By Nick Turse

A highly recommended book: Flashback by Penny Coleman.

"Memory makes us who we are."
-- Penny Coleman

I do not remember buying this book, but I certainly remember reading it.

It was several years ago, and I was still struggling to understand PTSD and my internal struggle with it (undiagnosed) all my life.

In the book were first person narratives by women who survived their military husband's suicides. And I am reading the stories of those men and I am balling my eyes out and saying to myself, "How can their stories be so like mine!"

Then it hit me: It's easy to traumatize a child.

"In the end he did not harm enyone but himself."
-- L. Robideau

One does not recover from trauma -- one lives with it, with it still inside you, deep inside. This is a quote from the essay, "Kicking The Pigeon", about a Chicago public housing resident's abuse at the hands of the "skullcap crew" -- five Chicago Police Officers.

The story also is a exposé of the so-called War on Drugs and how damaging it is on the majority of African Americans living in American cities and how they were, through over a hundred years of legislation and law, segregated and separate and decidedly unequal.

A traumatic experience indeed.

As I listened to her talk about her sense of exposure and helplessness, I was reminded of an image a friend once used to describe how people "recover" from traumatic violence. It is, she said, akin to the way the body responds to tuberculosis. One does not get over TB by excising it or expelling it from the body; rather, the body walls off the bacteria and contains them. Similarly, the victim of terrorizing violence rebuilds her world, containing but not erasing the virulence that has entered her life. In this sense, a traumatic event changes the underlying terms of existence. It remains present within one's nervous system and soul as a continuing vulnerability. Even when one has rebuilt one's life, the trauma may under certain circumstances be reawakened with the force and immediacy of the original assault. And so for Diane Bond, it appeared, her encounters with the skullcap crew had reopened the wounds of earlier violations. While the crew presumably wasn't aware of her history of sexual violence, it's not hard to imagine they had picked up the scent.
-- "Kicking The Pigeon" by Jamie Kalven

"You stare at the ceiling while the clock on the wall ticks away. You are totally alone, not a friendly soul in sight, surrounded by grim-faced men who are determined to kill you. Your heart pounds, your body feels electrified and every second seems like an eternity as a Kaleidoscope of wild thoughts crash around franticly in your compressed mind."
-- Death Row Inmate on waiting to die
Writing Down the Pain
I'd like just once to fall asleep feeling good about myself. Just once. Drunken stupors do not count.