Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite

*In the 9th Circle of Hell, bed bugs warrant a CW. Respect your mental health when reading.*

I have a standard caveat on my blog that I will change minor details or abstract timelines for the sake of maintaining anonymity. Despite that claim – sensible though it probably would be to actually do that – to my knowledge, I have only actually changed two tiny details about my life for my blog. Both have been about the specifics of what my workplace produces and to whom it markets it, which are probably sensible precautions given my bully-of-a-boss’s penchant for firing people. The 9th Circle of Hell seems to think themselves so far above the law I probably could call out the abusers by name and they’d just laugh that they were still invincible, but my boss might just be the kind to fire a person on suspicion alone because he thinks a random anonymous blog with less than 1,000 followers could possibly be about him.

I’ve not changed any details about the 9th Circle of Hell. All the crap I’ve written about it – past and present – is true. It really is that bad. In fact, if anything, what I’ve written to date on my blog remains only a sanitized version that leaves off a lot of the nitty-gritty everyday horrible things I’ve experienced dealing with that state in favor of sharing the biggest atrocities. I’ll stay anonymous forever for my own and others’ veil of pretended protection, but it turns out I can’t actually alter details of my life when talking about the 9th Circle of Hell. I can’t even always be as vague as my PTSD hypervigilance thinks would be prudent. My PTSD brain simultaneously wants to protect itself by maintaining a veil of “generic everyman-ness” to my story, yet also keeps demanding I share details that are very specific to my story. It can no longer contain all of the things that have happened within and because of that state without the refuse overflowing, and my blog seems the safest place to dump the trauma wastewater.

If I don’t talk about what I’m dealing with – after a lifetime of being taught to hide because experiencing trauma is somehow “shameful” – I’ll unravel. I can’t just tell the truth, I apparently have to tell the whole truth (well, with just enough vagueness that I don’t permanently trigger my readers or compromise my attempts to get justice), and nothing but the truth. After thirty-odd years of compartmentalizing and emotional numbing, the only thing that seems to be halfway stitching together the mental tatters that are all that remains of my mental “rope” seems to be telling my story in real-time. Judith Lewis Herman apparently was not wrong when she said that those experiencing trauma must be allowed their voice lest their continued silence suffocate them.

In my past and in my present, my reality has been pretty routinely trampled or re-written by those with more power. After that much erasure of my reality, even any voluntary, self-made attempts to alter my own story in minor ways triggers me. I’ve probably shared enough that a truly determined person could figure out who I am, but my Partner claims that the minor risk of giving away my identity is probably worth it, because, well, I’m not famous or important enough that I’m worth the effort to look for dirt on, especially when the 9th Circle of Hell isn’t afraid of me anyway, and my blog is actually true even if those it paints in an unflattering light would love to deny that. 

Thus, you can be absolutely certain that if I write that something horrible has happened – even if its the latest in a long, long line of horrible things – it truly happened. I’m not some attention seeker sensationalizing how bad the 9th Circle of Hell is for dramatic effect. I doubt any of you were thinking that, because you all probably have dealt with the reality deniers in your own life regarding your own story, but, hey, I have a history of my story being disbelieved because “how can things possibly be that bad.” I feel the deep need to assert my reality even when no one on this blog is actually questioning it. I still remember how easy it is to allow others to erase it. I’m still so afraid someone will try to, even here in my “safe space.” That’s the legacy of gaslighting.

And, frankly, if I hadn’t lived my life this year, I might almost understand how someone could think I was making it up for attention. The unending litany of crap is just so…unending…that I might – if I came from a safe world and had never had to see the dark side of social services up close and personally – begin to doubt that so many unique agencies that are state-licensed to provide HCBS services to disabled adults and others with intense medical or psychiatric needs could be that bad. I might begin to think that maybe that bully-of-a-boss who told me “resolve it before you return or don’t return” was on to something. I mean, surely twelve weeks can resolve anything, right?

It depends on what your definition of “resolve” is. Did I “resolve” the situation for which I went on not-FMLA? I guess. I mean, the abuse that we discovered was substantiated, my sibling was moved to another agency – despite others’ best attempts to prevent that at the last minute because a trauma history made him sufficiently undesirable – and for all of the however-many-weeks it has been since mid-August (the linear progression of time kind of loses its visceral perceptual meaning after enough trauma) my sibling seemed reasonably happy and like maybe he was recovering from what happened at the last place. (This would count as a miracle because my Partner and I sure haven’t recovered, and we only discovered, not endured, that abuse.) This would also count as a minor miracle because my not-FMLA time is most decidedly up at the end of this month. Wouldn’t it be nice if this story had – if not a truly happy ending – at least a nice convenient lull that neatly coincided with my boss’s imposed timing?

I didn’t succeed in landing another job during my not-FMLA. My one interview didn’t lead to an offer, sadly. So, I will, most likely, have to return to a rather unpleasant work environment. Money is a thing. So, trust me, if there were any way to just be done with it all, I would so be ready to write about my happy ending. I would even gladly accept a conveniently timed lull in the crap. I don’t want attention. I just want things to no longer need my attention and for my wearied brain to maybe have a break.

Thus, I hope my readers won’t do like too many others in my life and refuse to believe I’m telling the truth when I then report that – while I suppose I did “resolve” the original situation (aka the abuse) – my life is never so easy as to have that be the end of it.

Of all the idiotic, stupid, fuck-the-9th-Circle-of-Hell-and-everyone-in-it things: the new place in another part of the damn state that finally ended up with my sibling after the game of pass-the-trauma hot potato has a severe bed bug infestation. And, when my family member returned my sibling tonight, she found a bright green notice on the door of that the agency’s home reporting that the renters (aka the agency) had failed some kind of inspection (possibly related to the bed bugs, or – who knows – something else I’ll soon discover) and if the city code violations aren’t corrected within the allotted window and the proper fines paid, the tenants will be evicted.

My sibling has been at a new place after a move necessitated by substantiated abuse at the prior group home for less than a full month, and that place has already managed to screw up in a way that threatens to get their clients evicted. Oh, and guess when the thirty days listed on that bright green scary notice is up? If you guessed “the very last day I could possibly be out on not-FMLA” you win the “I’m deeply sorry for whatever life experience has taught you to also know to expect the worst” prize.

You know that old saying “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite?” The “sleep tight” part came from old rope mattresses that had to be manually tightened because they liked to unravel. That is a very apropos metaphor for my mental health after hearing about all of this.

 

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24 thoughts on “Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite

  1. You know what? Anyone with a disability that has dealt with govt agencies knows that you are not exaggerating. However, I understand the fear that some may think you are but I doubt most do. So no worries.

    Truth: Judith Lewis Herman apparently was not wrong when she said that those experiencing trauma must be allowed their voice lest their continued silence suffocate them.

    I’m truly sorry for what’s going on. I know the constant worry does nothing at all for your own health. Being a caregiver is very stressful and a full time job. Even if the person doesn’t live with you you’ve still got to be their advocate, make sure they’re safe w/ their agency. It’s hard work. Thank you for being there for your family member, for not failing him. You’re doing your best and that counts a lot.

    Faith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for saying that. I *wish* others didn’t know for certain how bad things are from personal experiences – I wouldn’t wish those experiences on anyone – but if they have to happen, banding together to share truth is very powerful for surviving them.

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  2. And the hits keep coming. I’m so sorry you and your family are having to experience this. Life can be incredibly cruel, I guess it makes the better moments that much better. For what it’s worth I’ve never doubted you. Most of my life has been a special kind of ‘incredibly unkind’ so I can relate on some level. Hoping today gives you moments of peacefulness to rest your mind. As I’ve gotten older, and since The onset of MECFS, I’ve started staying in the moment more. It helps, doesn’t change reality, but helps with a periodic reprieve from it all. 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we have to learn to stay in the moment. The first rule of chronic illness is to try to take care of yourself or the illness *will* get worse. You reminded of that recently – and so did losing my vision for a week. It seems in some way the most cruel irony, because how can anyone with a chronic illness *actually* take care of themselves when it seems like there’s something traumatic coming at every turn, but my Partner and I had a serious talk about how if I don’t find a way to remember my meds and do my PT and manage stress even after I return to work, I’m going to end up one of those folks with Ehlers-Danlos who burns herself out until I can’t work. EDS is genetic enough that I can now look even within my own family to see in the prior generations who took care of themselves and had slightly better trajectories with it and who didn’t and progressed even faster. I’m at an EDS progression disadvantage already, I know, with also having trauma exposure. So, definitely trying to give my body any periodic reprieve I can will hopefully pay dividends later in life in my health.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so right, it is a cruel irony. The other is trying to ignore your illness or become your illness and at the same time respect your bodies needs at every turn. Or maybe those are the same in one way or another. Regardless, yes reprieve is essential for best case. Hoping you and your hubbie have a nice weekend.

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  3. It’s never crossed my mind. Your sincerity is sound. I suspect you’re not wired for deceptive anything. But your fears and feelings in this area are valid. I believe you. I care about you. Typing the words so you can see them is something I will do anytime. Your subconscious and conscious self needs and DESERVES validation. Not just because you’ve been invalidated, but because you’re human.

    I’m holding you and rocking gently in spirit. 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Read ahead. It gets worse…the place folds, literally leaves the clients in the dark. I haven’t actually done an update post yet, but the new emergency agency that took over the house after the people who allowed the bed bugs folded decided they don’t want to serve anyone with a trauma history. So, they gave notice to us yesterday that we have thirty days to get out. There are literally no other open beds in the state at this time, other than in the two places he was previously abused in. I’m basically camping out at the East Coast agency next week hoping if I refuse to leave until they call security then maybe they’ll finally allow me to get to the head of the waiting list and move him to another state without losing funding. I’m desperate here. There is no other place left with an open bed in the entire gods-damned state that hasn’t basically caused death by neglect to one of their disabled charges.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That will be the next post I probably write: “the week I risked arrest my refusing to leave a social services agency on the East Coast until they agreed to let me rescue my Sibling from the 9th Circle of Hell because if they don’t, it could end in tragedy before I ever finally get his name to the top of their interminable wait list for transferring services between states.”

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      2. I’m sufficiently well-known in that state as a rabble rouser about the abusive group home system that if I mention it by name with this level of detail, I fear reprisal. I wasn’t joking when I said please be careful about the staff at your facility knowing about your blog. From what I’ve seen, a place like that could do anything from use what you write there to extend your stay indefinitely, force you under the guardianship of your abusive parents as unfit to make decisions, or justify further restraints and isolation because your postings are “delusional” and evidence of diagnoses you don’t have. I admire what you are doing in spreading the word, but I do seriously fear for your safety. I also suspect you’ll end up in court over this experience to have to finally earn release, the same as we’ve had to fight in court to get my Sibling out when he was once involuntarily committed over our rights as guardian. But, I wasn’t the detainee so they couldn’t pin the horrific claims they made about me and my co-guardian on us. (Also, none of those claims were true, but when has the truth ever mattered to the 9th Circle of Hell regulatory system?) You are, so I worry the staff will be able to invalidate your testimony because of it. Your state is one of those that people will find on the list of worst offenders when they try and hunt for my state. Multiple readers have guessed yours *is* that state. I don’t confirm or deny, but each time I tell them if they know yours well enough to be imagining it as the 9th Circle of Hell, they are at least correct in the figurative, though I still fear for my sibling’s safety if I say whether or not they are correct in the literal.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, and another lesson learned the hard way: owners of places can individually sue you for libel when you tell the truth. In a just system, you can’t be sued for telling the truth – especially if you can prove it – but in the real system if you make allegations they weasel out of, they will immediately counter sue and a few terrible state regulatory agents who permit abuse will side with them. I believe you. Your story is so close to mine and other victims of the system in the details of the things done to you, the way the threats are made. I believe you, so please don’t doubt that. But, I’ve told the truth and watched the truth be labeled libel *years* before Trump showed the country it can be done on a national scale. When you do go to the regulatory agencies over these abuses, contact me offline. I can’t say I’ve changed the system, but I’ve learned a few things that have at times made the fight both easier and harder for us, and I’ll try to offer what advice I can to help you in your quest for justice.

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      4. I understand the danger. I understood it when I authorized my ghostwriter to keep the blog. I’m sure I’ll be called paranoid, but I suspect I’ll die here. (Did you read the post about the two men in my room? People do disappear from this facility.)

        I made the decision to take the risk. My only other choice was to simply comply with all their wishes and completely lose myself. I refuse to do that.

        The staff knows about this blog. One told me to tell my ghostwriter that I didn’t want my personal business online. The only way they know is because they’ve listened to my phone calls.

        What don’t know is that ghostwriter is highly educated and experienced with this. The ghostwriter has studied thought reform/mind control and related topics in depth. Although the ghostwriter has only made a few references, she can—and will if necessary—outline in detail what they’re doing and illustrate very carefully how it is, technically and realistically, the same as the thought reform used in destructive cults and in Chinese prison camps. There is a lot information available, and if something happens to me, she will enlist the assistance of organizations that work against this type of thing, and make it far more public than this blog.

        She is already posed to do so.

        We know they listen to our conversations.

        We have let them know that information is being held back and will only be released contingent on how I am treated.

        When they are jerks, the blog becomes more graphic, and gets promoted.

        When they leave me alone, the blog is more subtle and does not get any promotion.

        If I’m not released, as promised when I got here, it will become a very public blog and the darker secrets will begin to be revealed.

        If I die, the whole story will go completely public through several avenues, and she will continue to advocate for me and others.

        The staff was actually warned for two months about this, via our phone calls. They advanced me levels, laid off the restraints, and let me have a home visit with a family member.

        When I got back from the home visit, I was so depressed…and they tormented me worse than ever.

        I have not been restrained, though…last night was the closest I came. This one particular staff seems to enjoy restraining me—she’s the only one who continues to try.

        So, I have seen an improvement.

        The ghostwriter has no guardianship or legal ties to me whatsoever.

        There’s really nothing they can do about her. She’s not used any names. She’s very careful about how she presents the information to stay within legal limits.

        And of course, they will always just say I’m crazy…

        But the ghostwriter has made it very clear to the director that that, in itself, is a tool used by abusers, and that this will be evident in a court of law if we have to go that far.

        I appreciate the warning. We are perfectly aware of what we are dealing with. Perfectly aware…although there is much we are not saying.

        I sincerely wish you the very best, and hope it all works out.

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      5. Your person is experienced? Like journalism experienced? I tried that route early on but didn’t feel like I got someone who knew how to handle this. I wonder honestly if I should talk to your ghostwriter. Someone also needs to know what is going on with my sibling’s situation. Similar things have happened in group homes for decades and – as my blog attests – things keep happening. I can at least corroborate the kinds of things that are done to those whose voice is taken away, and I’m educated and don’t actually carry any labels in the 9th Circle of Hell beyond “person who is deeply hated” because I learned very early on not to admit anything of my own story to keep my head down and stay out of places like that. I think the only true difference between me and you is that one of my own abusers actually reminded me that – whatever they did to me – if I spoke out I’d end up institutionalized, and I’d seen in the 9th Circle of Hell already what that meant. Fear of what you are experiencing led me to bury my own trauma symptoms far enough down that no one could ever use them against me, and paradoxically that one abusive thing done to me might be the only reason I personally never ended up institutionalized or with labels. My sibling obviously was institutionalized, and group homes are just as abusive. I also worry what will eventually be done to the co-guardian since she can’t hide her PTSD as well as I do, and she still lives in the 9th Circle of Hell. (I’ve begged her to leave as soon as we can move sibling, but I worry she’s already lost any agency to save herself and will only last long enough to see Sibling out of there. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen that happen in my family…)

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      6. Also, do you want me to promote your blog, or is it safer to leave it alone? I’d honestly like to help in any way I can. I’m not sure, though, if increasing your audience by cross-promoting would run counter to the strategy of only increasing visibility when abuses are perpetrated or not. I don’t want to accidentally make you less safe, but I’d like to help.

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      7. 😞 (ghostwriter): I’m not a journalist, used to be mental health professional, have had the system try to rope me into it, but found alternate ways to care for myself. I’ve observed it for many years, talked to many of its victims and seen it from the inside. It drove me to research and study, and connect with authors, professionals, and organizations that educate and work against mind control cults—which these institutions are. (Considered psychology cults.) There is a lot of information available. I’ve been doing this for a long time. The person I am writing for is one particular client I encountered who was the most discontent with the system I’ve ever seen and desperately trying to get help. She’s intelligent, and not nearly as “delusional” as they say she is….she’s very alert and astute, and stubborn. She will not comply…so they abuse her all the more. I befriended her because I knew she wasn’t going to make it without more knowledge and a little support. I’ve been working with her for a few years. We kept her out of the state hospital for some time, and it got to the point that NO facility in this state would even take her…too many had had to answer the joint commission and she was labeled a “liability”, but one particularly evil person decided to punish her and sent her home from a crisis center AFTER she cut herself there and TOLD them she was going to go home and overdose. They clearly WANTED a reason to send her there…it was months of absolute torment and she finally buckled. We’ve seen retaliation. But they seem to regretting that decision because it’s not worked out very well for them. The blog is only part of it. The staff at the hospital is extremely cordial to me, and knows they are in trouble. They still try to get away with things, so I give them their own medicine. Every slip up brings another consequence. I’d be glad to talk with you, I don’t know what I could do. I left the mental health system because I couldn’t be a part of it anymore…either for employment or treatment. I may be able to direct you to more effect means of dealing with your own trauma, but I’m not very familiar with any other state…still, a psychology cult is a psychology cult. I could possibly give you more resources. I wouldn’t even attempt this if my own issues were triggered by it…I’d think the first step is taking care of yourself. I feel so badly for your sister…I’ll assist any way I can. 😕

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