Hang in There

Written by CarrieAnn Grayson, M.Ed, US Army Veteran and Marketing Coordinator for Project Sanctuary.

It’s easy for people and organizations to talk about “self-care”, but do they really know how hard the struggles are for veterans? It’s not just the holidays that make our brains run 100 mph; it’s every day. Today is my first day out of the inpatient psychiatric ward at the Denver VA. I spent nine days in there trying to reset my brain from some very significant life stressors I thought I’d never have to deal with. I wrote the whole week in a journal in order to help process what I was going through. I’ll share those words with you all next year in a series of blogs. It might be weird, but I didn’t look at the process of journaling as a specific coping tool. Instead, I focused on the words as a blog and felt as if I was semi-working while still in the hospital. I took it on as a research project, and it gave me a purpose while I was there, healing in my own way.

Project Sanctuary has been great and supportive to me the whole time. I asked to start back to work again today to add some normalcy. Taking days off will only be damaging to trying to get back in a daily structure. In between breaks today, I am starting to fill up my VA-issued pillbox that will total 22 pills in one day. I went from 0 to 22 over the week I was an inpatient. This may be hard for people to believe, but I’m open to it if it will help reset my brain.

I’m working on finding a purpose again. I haven’t been in an inpatient unit since 2007 when I was in the Army for an overdose. I also haven’t been on daily meds since then either. This is a big change for me and a hard adjustment. I have a great support network and look forward to continuing my healing process. The support has been pouring in, and I’m grateful. I want veterans to know it’s okay for us to ask for help. It’s okay to bawl your eyes out and sit at the ER and beg for help.

I’m very impressed with the way my local VA in-processed me through the ER. As hesitant as I was to ask for help, I knew the VA was my only hope…and to my surprise, they pulled through. I felt hopeless and embarrassed when I went and confessed I had suicidal ideations. The VA ER staff was understanding, non-judgmental and supportive. I thank them for getting me in fast and recognizing my symptoms. I never thought I’d say this, but kudos to the Denver VA for helping save my life.

Hang in there this holiday season. We are here with you.

If you need help and are in crisis, below are links for resources to contact. If it is a medical emergency CALL 911.


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