survivor-story

When you’re an introvert like me and you’ve been lonely for a while, and then you find someone who understands you, you become really attached to them. It’s a real release.
—  Lana Del Rey
10

I just wanted to let you know that I, too, know what it feels like…to lose hope.

When he put his hands where they did not belong a grave formed in her ribcage.

I saw her seven days after.
The flowers were ripped from her field forever.
I cried more than she did.

Seven more days and her suicide note read; “This body is his so I don’t want it.”

"Troubled Teen Suicides, Family Devastated" was the headline that week.

He cut her smile off and sewed it on the wrong way yet he was not mentioned once.
He was a “good guy” so his bloodied hands and crappy stich work don’t mean a thing.

She is not a survivor…

And I think every day; if only there would have been somebody to turn her fragile stiches into a cape.

Maybe then she could have flown instead of fallen.

—  "This Body Is His So I Don’t Want It" •M.d.s•
youtube

I have spoken to this girl and confirmed it was true before sharing this video.  This happened three weeks ago.  Three.  Weeks.  Ago.

I ask for you to go support, share, and listen to Anon’s story.  As much as I wanted to believe I was the last girl, I was not.

you know what, i want the version of lbd where gigi is so furiously fucking angry at george wickham that it’s white-hot and palpable through the screen

well, no; actually what i REALLY want is the version of lbd where this entire plotline was handled about 1000% differently. but if i can’t have that, i’d at least like the version of lbd where gigi is so angry at george wickham she burns with it, that the hate radiates up and off of her, that her lips contort around his name like it tastes bad in her mouth. you know what else i’d take, is the version where she speaks of him with that brand of brittle indifference that means you’ve actualized something, that you haven’t forgiven and haven’t forgotten but you’ve beaten it down, conquered it, used it to make yourself stronger. where is it, i ask you, the version where the narrative doesn’t treat him like the bogeyman of her fucking life, where it’s not constantly suggested that she can’t deal with, can’t handle this piece of her past, where she’s not regularly shown reduced to tears by reliving him—and this isn’t to say that i think for one second that crying over something or someone like this makes a person weak, by the way. it’s not because i think for one second that we don’t relive these things, these people, that these sorts of hurts don’t dig their heels in and scar us long after they’re over. i know, first-hand,that we do, that they do. that’s why this bothers me. 

i am so fucking sick of watching these women cry over george wickham. and it’s not because the hurt he represents isn’t a valid one, and it’s not because i don’t think they’re owed some tears: it’s because this is a scripted goddamn show, a playact, a farce, and if you’re going to write an abuse plotline, lbd, you damn well owe me a survivor. you damn well owe me someone who fought the aftermath of their abuser and won, someone whose family and friends don’t treat them like a wilting flower whenever The Name comes up, someone who visibly demonstrates that these motherfuckers are not all-powerful even in absence. someone who is not afraid of their abuser anymore, because there is nothing left to fear. somebody who demonstrates that getting to that place is possible, that an abuser does not retain control forever. and the fact that you had that opportunity — the chance to create that character, to say to your thousands and thousands of viewers that abuse doesn’t define you, break you, make you a victim forever, or prove in the long run to be something you can’t heal from — and you didn’t use it? is maybe the most disappointing thing about this arc for me, despite the long list of missteps to choose from. 

when skydiver Joan Murray’s parachute failed, she approached the ground at 80 miles (128km) per hour, landing on a mound of fire ants. The shock from being stung over 200 times by the ants released a surge of adrenaline which kept her heart beating, and allowed her to survive.

Abortion journal entry 2/26-27/15

Let’s start with the day before my abortion. All of the days leading up to this night were filled with nothing but positivity, which led me to decide that I needed to do all I possibly could to make sure that the days following my abortion were as comfortable as possible.

Thus began the “treat yo’self” shopping!

I went to my local home-goods store and bought a twin Sherpa blanket and a memory fiber pillow for my home stay.

Afterwards I went to the local Walmart and bought absolutely nothing but junk food junk food junk food!! And Gatorade for replenishment of electrolytes and Canada Dry for my stomach pains. On my way to checkout, I found some glow stars to put on my ceiling. I had $50 to spend, so why not? I grabbed them, put them in my cart, and made my way to the teller.

Blah blah blah, I bought my stuff and went home. I had to leave all of my stuff in my car given that my parents had no idea of my pregnancy or my plans for an abortion. They’d certainly wonder why I bought a bunch of “welcome home from a shitty day” stuff.

Babe came over that night and helped me put my glow stars up. Once finished, we left my lights on and went downstairs to watch movies until 11 (when I had to stop eating and drinking altogether). Babe left and I set up four alarms to make sure I was awake in time to get ready for “school,” which my parents would think I was going, then went to bed with my glow stars glowing and my cat curled up next to me.

I woke up on the morning of my abortion with my cat by my side still and my colorful stars displaying brightly. Needless to say, both sights were very comforting.

Time passed quickly after I woke up.

I showered, shaved out of respect for the doctors that would be operating, dressed in the coziest of clothes and made my way out by 9am. Upon arrival at babe’s house, I began to feel sick. This is really happening. Today is the day and it’s really happening! The nerves hit me. I got nauseous, scared, nervous. But of all the emotions I was feeling, I was not questioning or regretful of my choice. Our choice.

10:45 we left for the clinic. The drive was hard. I was nervous. I was ready to throw my head out of the window and barf at any moment. All the times I had researched abortions had hit me. It would be the most painful, the most emotional, the most horrible experience id ever endure.

Maybe it’s good that it was all in my head. I raised my anxiety so high that now that I look back, I realize it was not NEARLY as bad as I’d imagined it would be. But I’ll get to that later.

We got to the clinic at 11:00, filled out paperwork, paid our fee, and waited. Waited and waited and waited.

Many types of women came in. All colors. All shapes. All appearances. All different durations of pregnancy. And I had not one nerve to judge a single one of them. Because we were all there for the same thing. All of us. I remember one family came in trying to force their 20year old daughter into an abortion. She left. They left separately.

It felt good to know I made this decision and that it wasn’t forced on me.

I was called into the back. I hugged babe, and made my departure. I had to pee in a cup, get my blood taken, and ensure that I was healthy and able to have the abortion. All checked out. I was put into a separate waiting room where another lady, probably mid to older 20’s, was sitting in one of the many studio style chairs with puppy training pads on the seats. In the changing stall, I cried and cried and cried, silent little sobs. Got into my gown, sat in one of the puppy pad chairs, and continued to cry.

The wait seemed like forever.

I got word that there were activists outside of the clinic which only heightened my anxiety. My sobs got louder, yet somehow remained silent.

My name was called. I was guided to the sonogram room and I asked the nurse if I could have a copy of the sono. I could.

I didn’t like the sonogram process. My abdomen already felt tender as it was and she had to press really hard to find the fetus/embryo. It took her a while and I was hoping she would never find it and it was all a bad dream. She did. Then confirmed that I wasn’t actually 7 weeks, but 5 weeks instead. Good news on my part. The fewer the weeks, the smaller the dilation, the lesser the pain. Next was the exam process.

Now I began fearing the worst part. I swore they were going to shove that scary clear duck beak thing up there which, in my last experience with my OBGYN, was absolutely more terrifying than the idea of the abortion itself.

Come to find out an old man would be doing my abortion and exam (not some young bachelor looking to score a free peek and feel on a knocked out girl. Because I’ve heard of such practices) which was a bit of a relief. He looked professional, acted professional, and had enough apathy that I was actually comforted.

The exam was quick and consisted of a quick two finger insertion and a press on the abdomen. That’s it! I then waited until it was my turn for the abortion. The wait wasn’t as long, but it was certainly more excruciating.

My turn came. My heart raced as I walked down the hall, into a wide room with an operating bed, stirrups that held my legs up at the knees instead of the feet, and a huge light by the right knee. Talk about a terrifying sight! To add to this mess, there were tools on tools on tools just laid out on different operating tables in the room. My nightmare of evil experiments being played on my body was now sitting in front of me.

I sobbed and began to ask the nurse questions to ease my tension while I was lifted into the oddly shaped stirrups. She answered all of them with eager and complete responses. However I was still anxious.

Old man doctor walked into the operating room and didn’t say a word. He grabbed my arm, wrapped a rubber tunic around it, and prepared my vein for the needle.

Then the screams began. SCREAMS. From the room next door! I was instantly shocked. What the hell was wrong with her? Was she receiving an abortion?! Was she attacked!? Was she hurt!? No. She was coming off of the medication. My anxiety SPIKED to the roof. But it was too late. By the time I started my panic, the medicine was being injected. I calmed. I breathed. I leaned into the nurse’s caress on my head. I remember trying to reach for her hand to hold it, and that’s it.

Black out.

Before fully waking up I remember the nurses hoisting me onto the gurney. Black out again.

I woke up face up in the gurney, looking up at a ceiling with a rectangle light. It looked to be floating back and forth. I began to see hallways; if you’ve ever played Skyrim with the dragonborn mod, just imagine white hallways moving around like the halls in the black book quests. That’s the best way I could put it in perspective.

At this point, I felt everything was just a trippy bad dream and that I was never pregnant and never got an abortion and was never in a recovery room.

Everything was moving way too much. I now understand why that poor girl was screaming; those drugs were TERRIFYING! However the fear in the movement was so much that I’d managed to put myself back to sleep. Then the voices started. And the dreams.

I began to dream about the abortion process. My nurse had the head of a cat and my doctor, the old man, had the head of a goat. The walls kept moving, and yet I felt no pain. Not one bit in the dream and not one bit in person.

Voices began flooding my head. My voice, the nurses’ voices, the doctor’s voice, my boyfriend’s voice, his two brothers’ voices, his parents’ voices, my parents’ voices, my coworkers’ voices. I was absolutely losing it! And I knew it too!

I called a nurse over and told her something along these lines: “you guys gave me a drug that put me to sleep. Now I’m awake and I’m losing my goddamn mind. Tell me, am I in a crazy house?” Now, that’s how I remember saying it, but it probably came out more like “I’m fucked up. I’m so fucked up. Am I in a crazy house? You don’t have to lie to me am I in a crazy house?” Of course the answer was no. Did I believe her? Not a bit!! It didn’t help that I wasn’t seeing one of her. I was seeing FOUR of her. FOUR!

I fell back asleep. The dreams stopped, the voices continued. This time I began to talk back to them. The volume dropped down to four, sometimes five voices. I called a nurse over again: “nurse? I’m hearing a lot of voices. Can you tell me how many people are in this room?” 5. There were 5. Me, a girl recovering across the room from me, another girl recovering behind a hanging sheet, wailing and talking a complete storm (probably like I was) and two nurses. “Who’s doing all the talking?” It was the mess girl behind the sheet, thankfully. Nurse told me I was talking up a storm but wasn’t nearly as loud as anyone else in the room. The nurse was no longer four, she was three. Only three of her appeared now.

I fell asleep..

I woke up and the walls were no longer spinning and shifting. They were moving more like a water bed would when you toss a heavy book on it. I could manage, as long as I wasn’t feeling like I would fall off of the face of the planet. I began to narrate what I was seeing so I could reassure myself that I was alive and this wasn’t a dream. “Am I alive?” I remember calling out to a nurse, “am I dead?” “Did I die?” “I’m dying!” I sure did feel like I was dying too. The nurses reassured me otherwise. Once I was convinced that I hadn’t crossed over into the other side, I continued the talking out loud. “The walls are blue… No… The walls are purple… Are the walls purple, nurse?” The walls were lavender. “And the ceiling is taupe? Brown? Tan?” Correct. It was a hideous color and that’s all that mattered. “There’s an emergency light on the wall. It’s got a red light on it. There’s a light on the ceiling. Big long light.” At this point I’m positive the two nurses were sitting in the corner, watching me in amazement as I try to force myself into sobriety.

I looked to my left. One nurse approached and asked if I was having cramps(my memory is really poor here. Pardon me if my story seems to jump in time. Remember, this is all a blur that I’m managing to remember bit by bit). “I’m not having cramps. Not down here [uterus]. It’s all in my head. My head, nurse. I’m losing my fucking mind. Can you inject an IV and pump some water into my veins to flush this shit out?” Whether or not they did, I don’t remember. I do remember seeing a liquid bag above my head and the other nurse telling her to inject an IV. Maybe they did.

Knock out.

I wake up. The nurse is running her hand on my head and asking if I’m okay. “I’m still crazy, nurse. Will this ever end?” I remember very vaguely asking “is this real life?” Then nursing into insane laughter because I began to think of the “David goes to the dentist” video.

Thus, the jokester came out of me.

"How are you feeling? Any cramps," the nurse asked, gently putting her hand on my abdomen.

"You know what, yeah, I’m having a little bit of cramps. Not that bad though."
The nurse said she was going to give me shot in the butt. I looked at her, “my butt!?” Yes. My butt. “Not my hole, right!? Because I’ve tried that and trust me it is not pleasant!” She giggled and assured me it would be a shot on the cheek. Also agreed that it’s not pleasant in the slightest. “I’m going to roll you on your side, give you a pinch, then a poke on the butt, okay?” Nurse asked as she got ready to roll me on my right side. “Uh, no! You better buy me dinner first!” I squealed, then burst into silent, gasping laughter as I realized I sounded like an old man flirting with his waitress at a bowling alley café.

With a lot of effort on my end consisting of moving my arms back and forth with hopes that the energy would somehow roll me on my side, I got the shot. It hurt like a bitch but I was too drugged up to even care. The jokester continued. “Hey nurse, wanna hear a joke?…. Why did the turtle cross the road?……. To get to the shell station!!!” It wasn’t funny at all, but she laughed. I’m positive that the joke itself wasn’t funny, rather it was my bat-shit behavior. Either way I was glad I was making the nurses laugh.

Black out.

I woke up… Again. Facing the wall and feeling like an infant waking from a nap. I was rocking my head back and forth, blinking, trying to keep my eyes from going crossed, and flailing my hands to get my motor skills moving. I pushed against the wall and my gurney moved. OH, the power I possessed!! I felt so strong! I did it again! And again!! The purple wall was nothing compared to my strength!! Ha!

Nurse came back and pushed me back in place. “We meet again, purple wall.”
“You’re taking a while to come off, so I’m going to sit you up now, okay?” Nurse asked, putting her hands on mine.

"No! No I’m not ready yet I’m too fucked up!" Regardless, she sat me up.
“Now I’m gonna puke. Nurse, I’m gonna puke. Can I get one of those kidney bowls to puke in?” I don’t remember how, but (poof!) a kidney bowl appeared at my now crossed legs. “I’m gonna puke now, nurse, okay?”
“Okay!”

Hurl. Nothing but vile.

I was feeling too dizzy to be able to sit up on my own. And my leg was asleep. “I’m going down, nurse!”

"No no you have to stay up!"

"Nope! It’s happening! I’m going down! It’s happening!" I let go of the bars of the bed and began to lean back, ever so slowly. The funny thing is my arms were still outstretched like I was still holding onto the bars. So now here I am, in Frankenstein position, giggling my troubles away on the gurney.

With my hands still up, I began to play with my sight and touch. I brought my hands together in front of my face, intertwined my fingers, pressed them together, made different hand gestures. My most popular one? A thumbs up.

"I’m okay," I began to chant, "I’m okay. I’m alive. I’m okay. I did it." My chanting was enough to have another, third nurse, the one who did my ultrasound, to peek her head from the operating room and into the recovery room. This was a shock. I was so convinced I was against a flat wall and now there was a sliding door with a nurse popping her head out! "What the hell!? I? I just came out of there!?" I pointed to the wall.

"Yes you did!"

"I got an abortion?"

"Mhmm!"

"I’m done?"

"Yep!"

"I’m not pregnant?"

"Nope!"

"No way!!"

"Yep! You’re all done!"

"That’s fuckin awesome!! Sweet!!"

She popped her head back into the operating room. There was another girl knocked out on the bed. I was thankful that I only caught a glimpse of her head and not the terrifying things going on in her lower region. The door closed.

"I came out of there!!" I announced to the nurses, filled with all kinds of excitement. Why? I have no clue.
The chanting continued. “I’m okay!” “I’m alive!” “I’m not pregnant anymore!” “I’m okay!” “I did it!”

… And then the self talk. “Jesus Christ this sucks.” “Never. Again.” “I will never do this again.” “Holy shit this is scary.” “Wow I really fucked up!” “This is real, I was really pregnant!” “Wow!” “Nurse this is real, right?” My voice was an echo. I was sure no one could hear me. But the echos were returned. The nurse was always responding to me.

"I’m gonna sit up now okay? Don’t let me fall."

The nurse came over and watched me sit up. I looked at her. “Nurse, I took psychology so I know that I’m okay and that I’m just fucked up on this drug. I’m okay, right? I’m in a recovery room and I just got an abortion and it all went well, right?” She giggled and assured me that I was okay.

I don’t know how long I was sitting up, criss-cross-applesauce, but my right leg was DEAD. It wasn’t asleep, it was dead. “Aw fuck,” I grumbled like a drunken man that had just spilled his lager on his crotch, “my leg is asleep, nurse what the hell do I do?”

She came over and turned my entire body, dropped the bar on the bed, and let my legs hang over. “Just don’t lean forward,” she said with a hand on my shoulder, “you’ll hurt yourself.”

"You got it, nurse! I love you!"

She walked away.

"Oh my god I’m so embarrassing! Nurse I’m never this… This… I took psychology I know the word… Extroverted!!! I’m an introvert!! This is so not normal for me! I’ve been high before but I’ve never been this fucked up, oh my god!! Nurse, I’m pretty sure part of the reason I’m losing my mind is because I have a tumblr. Do you have a tumblr?" She giggled and said no. "I have a tumblr. Don’t get a tumblr. It’s confusing as shit… Hey nurse? I’m gonna throw up again, can I get some water?" Again, my desired water just popped up in front of my eyes. My memory was shot.

I drank.

I puked.

"Oh man this sucks!"

My puking was probably bothering the other patients, so the nurse closed the curtain on me and left enough open for her to see me and check on me.

Every now and then I’d hear a “how are you doing, Brandi?” In response I would either throw out a thumbs up, or one of these lines: “I’m coo’!” “I’m just fine and dandy!” “I’m chill!” “I’m fine as hell thank ya very much!” “I feel like shit!” “I’ve been better” “I’m high as a motherfucker!”

At this point, they were ready to call Babe. “Call Daniel,” I cried, “where’s Daniel?”

"He’s coming."

"Where’s Daniel?"

"He’s on his way, dear"

"I want Daniel! Where is Daniel!?"

"He just got here, he’s waiting for you."

"Please I want to see Daniel I want to talk to Daniel"

"We’re going to let you go soon, he’s here waiting for you, okay?"

"Okay thank you. Tell him I love him please."

Now my memory is growing soft. So I’ll skip to right before I left the clinic. The nurse finally convinced me to stand up. I did so, and bent myself over the bed next to me. Thankfully, it wasn’t occupied. She grabbed all of my stuff from my locker that I was assigned with when I had first checked in. “My brown bag. It has my condoms and my sonogram and my phone. Is it here?” It was.

Oh this poor nurse. While I was hunched over the bed, she was putting a pad onto my undies and preparing my clothes to put them on. “You went to school for this?”

"No, I went to school and fell into this," she giggled.

"That’s crazy. I could never do this. You’re awesome for doing this. I’m so helpless!"

"It’s what I do!"

"You’ve seen me at my most vulnerable, nurse. Bent over, drugged up, bleeding. And you’re still here. You deserve an award!"

She slipped my panties on, my volleyball shorts, helped put my shirt on, and led me to a chair to rest. I puked a little, but managed to keep myself straight.

This part was haunting me pretty well.

While I was waiting for the nurse to get a wheelchair for me, I heard the operating room. “Ow!! Ohhhhh!! Please!! Oooowwww!!” A girl was crying; screaming. She wasn’t put to sleep. All three of us girls in recovery from the drugs were left silent. We knew what was happening. I cried. The girl in the chair next to me cried. The girl in the bed that was across from me when I was recovering had covered her head with a pillow. “I don’t want to hear that,” I moaned, then hurled into the plastic bag I was given.

The wheelchair came. “Please take me out, nurse I don’t want to hear that girl in pain!”

She lifted me, put me in the wheelchair, and began to wheel me to the exit. “Slow down, ya maniac!” I remember giggling to the nurse as she made squealing tire noises. Boy, was she great!

Babe had pulled his car up to the exit door and helped wheel me from the clinic, off of the sidewalk, and hoisted me into his car. The ride home was pleasant. He drove softly. I remember mumbling and telling him about my experience. My lack of pain. How much I loved him. How happy I was that we did this. He listened. He chimed in.

"I got an abortion. It’s over. I’m not pregnant anymore. We don’t have to worry anymore." I vaguely remember murmuring to him as he held my hand.

We got home in due time. His mother wasn’t home, thank god. His brothers were there, all wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I was still staggering and shifting about like a newborn calf. Walking was just pitiful. I was led up to his room and laid to rest under my Sherpa blanket and cozied up in my new pillow.

Water. He presented me with water which was all I ever wanted from the moment I woke up that day.

The rest of the night went smoothly. He served me Mac n’ cheese, some of which I threw up, gave me water. Lots of water, gave me a wet rag to help with my immense sweating, sat in the bathroom while I showered to make sure I didn’t slip or pass out, allowed me to nap, then ensured I was in good condition before I went home at 11pm that night.

By then the drugs had worn off. I went home, greeted my parents, carried my gallon of Gatorade to my room and went to bed. I slept soundly. No nightmares. Not even a dream to remember. No cramps. No midnight bathroom rush. No vomiting. I was fine.

Now here I am. Laying in fetal position, the most comfortable position, with very minor cramps and a small tummy ache. I’ve got my sonogram hidden safely in my room for me to pull out as a reminder of that day. I wanted to share my story so girls know that it’s going to be scary. It’ll be nerve wracking. You’ll be nervous. But if you take the day one hour at a time, it’ll fly by and before you know it you’re fine. You’re okay. You’re alive. And please know this. There is nothing wrong with getting an abortion no matter what the reason. I wasn’t ready. Babe wasn’t ready. Our families wouldn’t have been ready. We made the right choice and I think we both feel that this brought us together to become an even stronger bond.

Don’t ever think that abortion has to be a negative thing. View it as you wish. However there is nothing wrong from growing and making light of what you’ve gone through. However you feel about it, just know that you’re strong, you can do it, and you can choose your path.

Hello Tumblr, Alex here. I am FTM Transgender, and you might recognize me from my Gay Conversion Survivor post. With the recent deaths of Leelah Alcorn, Zander Mahaffey, and now thirteen year old Damien on life support, I thought it was about time to start talking about how important your life can be, if you survive through depression and suicide. 
While it is true that tragic deaths of our LGBTQ friends can gain public publicity, I believe that survivor stories can also make a positive impact in our community. So here I am to tell part of my story.
Like Leelah, I was forced into Gay conversion therapy. Going through conversion therapy put a lot of mental stress and trauma, that still affects me to this day. If you have read my older post, I explain the trauma in detail there. Like Zander, I am also FTM. I struggle with things like gender dysphoria, basically hating my own body. Also like Zander, I lived in a highly abusive household. My mother was mentally ill with severe cases of Schizophrenia, she would see and hear things that weren’t there. multiple times she went missing, and I grew up with a Step Father who tried to rape me. I know that Zander also had trauma from that, and it pains me to see stories of other children who didn’t make it through the sexual and physical abuse. My mother was highly physically abusive to me, and I was also abusive to myself. I self harmed for probably four years. I would cut my wrists, arms, and legs. I would take a lighter, or a hair straightener and burn my arms to the point where I was charred. From physical abuse, I also carried around bruises. But I never told anyone. When all this happened, I was about fourteen to sixteen years old. So I understand how these poor children felt. But I also know, that if you are struggling through an abusive home, self harm, self loathing, or anything of the sort, I KNOW you can make it through. Because I did. So I am looking at the deaths in our community, and I am thinking, did these poor kids really have to die? Their deaths are a cry for help. Their deaths are an outreach to our society saying FIX THIS. As Leelah said, “FIX SOCIETY.” 
So I have such similar experiences to theirs, and I am LIVING BREATHING PROOF that you CAN SURVIVE. YOU CAN LIVE TO TELL YOUR STORY. Instead of dying, LIVE. LIVE to experience these laws change. LIVE to tell the tale. LIVE until the point where you can be FREE to do and live as you please. FORGET the people who want to stand in your way. My mother is now a missing person. And now I can transition freely. I never needed her in my life. But I had to LIVE to be able to be free of her. My real father, he never cared about me. BUT I AM ALIVE and I never needed him. 
I do not want to see any more deaths in the LGBTQ community. I know that it is easier said then done. All those times I self harmed, all those times I held a knife to my chest wanting to plunge it in. All those times I took handfuls of pills to try and sleep forever. The times I tried to stop myself from running into a street full of cars. I tried it all. and i’m here to tell you- ITS NOT WORTH IT.
PLEASE PLEASE don’t kill yourself. If you are struggling and wanting to end it all, PLEASE at least MESSAGE ME ONCE. Let me try to talk to you. I know that words can’t fix all the problems, or take the pain away, but please live to see another day. Thank you. Please I want to spread this message like WILD FIRE. I want it to get more than my Conversion therapy post. I WANT THE Children, Teens, and adults, or parents of the LGBTQ community to know that YOU CAN SURVIVE. I AM LIVING PROOF. And I am happy. It was all worth it. SIGNAL BOOST!


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SOLDIER STORIES: Man’s best friend, survivor’s companion.

[1] Rosco, a “Survivor Syndrome Companion Animal” stands ready to be petted while his veteran, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Syriac, talks to soldiers at his unit in Charlotte, N.C. about the benefits of companion animals for soldiers who have "Survivor Syndrome.” Syriac also spends his free time helping to rescue and train other dogs, in hopes that some of those animals will become companion animals for other service members who endure the condition as well.

[2] Rosco stands behind his veteran during formation. Sgt. 1st Class Jason Syriac is a two-time OIF veteran and currently serves as a military police officer with the North Carolina National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

(U.S. Army National Guard Photos and article by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell, 130th Maneuver Enhanced Brigade Public Affairs, 11 JAN 2014. Modifications to article content and wording by R. Etzweiler, 18 JAN 2014.)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - When Rosco walked into the North Carolina Army National Guard Armory in Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 11, 2013, everyone noticed. Every soldier turned their heads as he entered the room; his golden hair flowing, his tail wagging and a great big smile on his face.

Rosco is not just any ordinary dog though; he is a [Survivor Syndrome] companion animal. His veteran is Sgt. 1st Class Jason Syriac, a military police officer with the NCNG’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

“Rosco is a companion animal,” said Syriac, who copes with his condition daily. “He is certified to go into buildings, but he has no specific job but to be a therapeutic dog.”

That job, though, is a very important job for any veteran who struggles daily to engage healthy coping mechanisms for their condition. Training for a companion animal varies depending on where it is trained, but most dogs require one to three weeks or more of training based on the skills they need to perform.

Dogs like Rosco, whose task is largely companionship and emotional support, do not require as much intensive training. However, some dogs may learn how to turn on lights in a house if the service member is afraid of going into a dark house or to alert their owner if there is a situation that may trigger some aspect of their condition.

“A companion animal has to qualify as a good-citizen dog,” said Syriac. “It has to go through a series of tests and training to make sure the dog is qualified as a good-citizen; that he won’t be aggressive or be nervous or bite anybody.”

There are currently several organizations across the country that train companion animals and bring together dogs and service members struggling with Survivor Syndrome. Triumphant Tails, Inc., an organization based out of Raleigh N.C., trains service dogs for people with a broad range of needs, including veterans.

“Training a service dog for a [soldier with Survivor Syndrome] can take from 6-12 months depending on what tasks the service dog needs to perform,” said Megan Standish, founder and head trainer at Triumphant Tails. 

Standish, a former Army captain, suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq, which causes her to suffer seizures. She started Triumphant Tails after being introduced to therapy and service dogs during her recovery.  She said her personal service dog alerts her when she is about to have a seizure so she can take her medication. The dogs she trains can also perform a variety of tasks to help their handlers. 

“Some of the tasks these dogs can perform are blocking, waking a handler during a nightmare and retrieving medications so the handler doesn’t forget to take them,” Standish said. “Dogs can also retrieve items on command, call 911 in an emergency and turn on lights. We can tailor each dog to the specific need of each handler.”

In addition to being helpful, there are many benefits to the relationship formed between the service members and their dog. “Some people, all they need is a buddy to be there for them between their ups and downs and not judge,” Syriac said. “Dogs are always happy to see you. They are not going to betray you or leave you for another owner.”

Service members with [Survivor Syndrome] can sometimes be tense and worried. Syriac said having a companion animal like Rosco around could distract from those feelings and helps service members deal with their surroundings. “Everyone flocks over Rosco,” Syriac said. “People ask to pet him and they love on him and they get down on the floor with him. He brings happiness to everyone.”

“That’s another benefit of companion animals,” he said. “If other people are happy and you see other people being happy, your tendency is to become happy as well. It’s contagious.” 

Standish said this interaction can be a benefit and help start the recovery process for service members with [Survivor Syndrome]. “A dog forces you [to engage], to get out and interact with society,” Standish said. “Even just taking your dog for a walk two times a day and acknowledging and answering questions and comments like ‘Your dog is so pretty’ or ‘What is his name,’ is a great start to learning how to function in society again.”

Dogs need exercise and so do service members with this condition. “You know your dog needs exercise so you are definitely going to bring the dog out and exercise it,” Syriac said. “Exercise benefits those suffering from this condition.” And that is what Syriac said works for him, exercise and a companion animal. He said those two things keep him centered and relaxed.

Syriac, a two-time Iraq veteran, spends his free time rescuing dogs from kill shelters in the Raleigh area; training them and familiarizing them with domestic environments (or “re-homing” them) to civilians and service members so that they too can enjoy the benefits he said he gets from Rosco. “There are a lot of high-kill shelters in the area where a lot of dogs just need a home,” he said. “So I scoop them up and re-home; I train them and integrate them into society and introduce them to other dogs. Rosco has seen 18 dogs come through my home in the past year and he welcomed them all with open paws.”

Of those 18 dogs, four became companion animals, and Syriac has no problem traveling to get K-9s to their new homes. He has driven as far north as Boston and as far south as Florida to bring dogs to their new owners. Syriac hopes that others will get to experience the joy and benefits of having a dog as a companion.

“Rosco is always there for me,” he said. “Even if I’m having a miserable day, I can just look at Rosco and he makes me happy.”