Last year (2022), I made it my goal to get as physically and mentally healthy as I could. While I can’t say that I recommend my tactics to everyone, they did in fact help me. I will probably always need medication, and I may never work a regular job again (but maybe we’ll see…), but I am tons better than I was previously.
I have a heart for veterans, but I can’t say that I’ve always understood them. Today, I may have come closer to understanding them.
My stepdad (a veteran) had finished a tin of Earl Grey Tea. I saw the tin and noticed it had a scene from Alice in Wonderland on it. I mentioned to him that it was cute, and he gave me the tin:
Alice in Wonderland has been a significant story for me. Just like Alice, I chased a White Rabbit (philosophy), and also like her, following that path, for me, led me into a story of madness, political weirdness, near death, and confusion. Also like Alice, I find myself no longer down the rabbit hole. Yet, the experience changed me forever.
When I was more ill, the story of Alice in Wonderland brought up sick feelings. After all, I was still down the rabbit hole, growing in size (psychotically) and trying my best in a unknown world.
I also have a T Shirt of Alice in Wonderland (just because I liked the story when I was young and was fascinated with Lewis Carroll). After I noticed the tea tin didn’t bother me, I decided to put on my shirt to see how it felt. Previously, it only brought up feeling similar to PTSD.
That’s when I understood prisoners of war (POWs).
Frequently, when I go to the grocery store, I see veterans wearing things that show their service. I never understood, though, why a POW would want to wear a hat that said ‘POW’. Why remember that horrific thing?
All along my path of healing, I have taken selfies of my progress. As I change mentally, so does my physical appearance. I have tried different clothes, different hairstyles, makeup, and so on. I have changed physically. My general mental state has changed. Last year, I took a selfie every time I noticed a mental health improvement. (That was a lot of selfies!)
Today, I had my best friend, Jason Frazier (Choctaw), take a photo of me in my Alice in Wonderland shirt because it felt very different, the way I imagine a POW feels wearing a POW hat. What it meant to me was exactly this:
- I was there.
- I survived.
- No one should be there.
- I’m trying to never go back.
- I remember.
After reflection, I changed all my social media and website photos to this one picture. I don’t know if I’ll keep it forever that way, but it’s that way for now.
I don’t look perfect and pretty in it. It’s not a professional photo that markets me as a perfect product. I probably won’t get many men in my DMs for it (thankfully). But it shows just who I am, where I’ve been, what I’m made of, that I didn’t harden or give in, and how I feel comfortable looking and dressing now, at this moment.
Just like, I guess, a POW at the grocery store.