Course Progression

I figured it’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my course. I’m now on the home stretch! Only a few more units left and rumour has it that these units are much easier than our previous ones. Now It’s a lot of putting what we have previously learned into action and applying it to new things. I nearly got perfect on my last practical exam! I score 98% which I’m damn proud of! Especially since I felt a little iffy on a couple of my faults. But I did everything right. I lost a mark for one small procedural error.

dean scream

Two weeks ago was a pretty intense week. We had 2 tests and 1 written exam back to back. I was so happy when Friday rolled around so my brain could take a much needed break! The next week had been pretty stressful too, but for other reasons, which I can’t really go into detail about.

Long story short, classes got interrupted some because we had stuff to do, which was annoying and a pain in the ass. But it was something that was going to be done regardless. They just weren’t planning on doing it so soon apparently. Any ways, things are good now. We didn’t get too far behind in our classes. I’m just glad this happened last week as opposed to the week before. It’s hard enough when you’re stressed about passing your classes and then to throw some more stress on top of it all.

Sorry for the extreme vagueness but I can’t say much more than that unfortunately. Even though most of the public is aware of it, I can’t go into details. Also granted the public doesn’t know the whole story.

I’m nearing the end of yet another unit now. I’m looking forward to the next one because it’s much shorter with it being only a week and apparently much easier. But we shall see if there is much truth to that. What’s easy for some is not exactly easy for all.

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Thank You

I was really surprised by all the support I got from my last entry. I honestly expected no one to say a thing. I even had some readers pm me sharing their own struggles with their own invisible illness.

It’s still a struggle. Some days are better than others. Some days it even seems like the depression monster is non-existent. Last week for some reason it was a difficult one. Even despite being surrounded by so many people and talking to my wonderful husband, I couldn’t shake that feeling of loneliness and isolation. That the people around me didn’t even care. They couldn’t see or even begin to understand my inner turmoil.

It’s hard to open up to people about my depression. I find people will react in a few different ways. Mainly they don’t take it seriously and brush it off. Others will just say it’ll pass. Very rarely will anyone say “I understand, do you want to talk about it?”

Then coupled with how difficult my course has been, my depression begins to spiral out of control. I begin to lose my motivation to try because I feel like a complete failure. That nothing I do is good enough. Then slight criticisms cut deep. Things that shouldn’t bother me hurt so badly. And it’s hard to be away from your loved ones for so long. It’s hard not seeing them on a daily basis. I don’t have my support team with me.

Sorry this kind of went a bit down hill. Didn’t mean for it to get so dark. I began this entry on a happier tone and had hoped to keep it that way, because I’m not having one of my down days. I promise my next entry will not take such a dark turn. I’m trying to keep positive 😀

Confession

My dear readers I have something to confess. This is something I’ve been dealing with for many, many years and It’s only been recently that I’ve decided to share it; rather than keep it bottled up within myself. I’m sure some of you are scratching your heads right about now, wondering what on earth I’m rambling on about it. Well I’ll cut to the chase. I suffer from depression.tumblr_mt2me4otZl1rvfh0po4_r1_1280

For those of you who know me IRL, you probably are shocked by this revelation. Probably thinking “But she’s always so happy and cheerful, she can’t possibly be depressed!” I’ve just been really good at hiding it. Each day I’d wake up and wear a mask of happiness, to hide how I really felt. I’ve been struggling with my depression for many years, nearly half my life. Some days are easier than others. Some days I do wake up and feel on top of the world. But then there are days where my depression just gets me so down that I barely have the energy to do anything.

Depression isn’t just a mood. It’s different than just feeling sad. It affects how you think and feel. You don’t just “snap out” of it. It’s not as simple as that. It is emotional, mental and physical. It drains you to the point where everything feels like a struggle. Physically getting out of bed can be near impossible on bad days. Motivation, interest, desire all fly out the window. You feel like no one else would understand, which causes a lot of people with depression to isolate themselves and withdraw from things they normally enjoy.

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I managed my depression fairly well for the most part, but in the last couple years it’s been rearing it’s ugly head more and more. It is hard to suppress the feeling of hopelessness. It’s hard to silence the negative thoughts in the back of my mind some days.There are days where my thinking gets so warped that I get upset or feel hurt about the silliest things. On my good days I look back and just wonder how I could of gotten so upset. But when my depression flares up, reason and logic don’t matter. My mind simply focuses on the negative. It can’t see the positive; it filters it out.

Unlike some people I’ve avoided speaking to a therapist about it. Simply because I didn’t want to be labelled as a crazy person who is dependant on drugs just to feel normal. I also didn’t want other people to know or think differently of me. I just wanted to be normal. So you may be wondering why am I coming out with this now? Well for those of you who don’t know, it’s Invisible Illness Awareness Week. This is my invisible illness. You can’t see it, but it’s there and I’ve been living with this illness for a long time.

Invisible illnesses encompasses many different types of illnesses. It’s not just mental like depression, bipolar, ODC etc… It also includes things such as chronic pain. For example people who suffer from arthritis, you can’t physically see it. You can’t look at a person and be like “Oh they’re in pain because they have arthritis.” It’s there, you just can’t see it. Some aren’t as severe, but living with an illness other people can’t see an’t be frustrating. Others are quick to judge since they can’t see it therefore it’s not that bad. I encourage everyone to try and be more understanding with those of us who do have an invisible illness.

I’m Learning!

Sorry for the lack of updates. There were a number of factors leading to that. The main one was lack of internet access. So I’m going to try and condense and summerize everything since my last entry! Wish me luck!

CFB-Borden-ON

After completing BMQ, I was sent to Borden to await my training. Borden is very pretty, especially if you love nature. There are a lot of trails to walk/run in you’re spare time. But in the dead of winter, Borden is not fun and is even less fun if you can’t drive or own a vehicle. It’s very isolated and the nearest town is a bit of a hike; the nearest city is about a 30 min drive. Like I said, you’re isolated. It can drive you mad!

Being on PAT platoon was not the most enjoyable thing. I actually wished I was back at St Jean from time to time. MY best advice is to volunteer for tasks. It at least gets you out and doing things other than working out twice a day.

Just 2 weeks after I arrived I received my course dates and they were beginning much sooner than I had anticipated. I was looking to see if I could get a detached posting to a base in my hometown so I could live at home with my husband. But my first course, POET (Performance Oriented Electronics Trainning) was set to begin in only 7 weeks (April 24th), so there was no way they would send me home. So I stayed and huffed it out, only to discover 2.5 weeks before my course was to start, it had been cancelled. Everyone on my course got shifted around. Some were lucky and were only pushed back to April 30th, the rest of use were pushed back to either June 8th or June 29th.

Wanna guess what date I got? Give up? June 29th. I was furious. I could have been at home, tasked to the base in my hometown, and not paying rations. Of course there was still no way they’d send me home because by the time my posting would have been approved it would have been declined. There\s this thing with long-term posting for tasks that they don’t like to post you unless its for a minimum of 2 months.

So I was stuck in Borden for another 2 months. I at least got on a nice long term tasking on base working with the 3 Canadian Rangers Patrol Group. I worked with a lot of amazing people there. And even though I’m not going to be a Supply tech, I learned a lot from them.

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Finally The end of June rolled around and I was packing my bags and heading off to Kingston for 7 months. POET is not easy. Especially if you have no background in electronics. Even thought they teach you everything, it’s fairly condensed and hard. To pass a class you need a minimum of 70% on the final test. You could get 69% and that would be considered a fail. And people do fail out. There is one course that has lost about half it’s students since it began and they’re only about halfway through POET at this point. We’ve only lost 1, which now makes me the only girl on my course. Lucky me, I now have to babysit 13 boys. Well not all of them are bad, just some.

Kingston is much nicer than Borden, mainly because you actually in a city, so when you’re not busy studying there are lots of fun things to do. For anyone who will be taking POET, study study study! I can’t emphasize that enough! If you don’t understand something in class, ask. If you don’t understand what you’re supposed to be doing in a lab, ASK! Don’t be afraid. Suck up your ego and pride and ask for help. Otherwise you’re just going to screw yourself over. The instructors are there to help. They want to help you because they want to see you succeed!

Some other bits of general advice: Don’t leave your lockers in your room unlocked or leave the combinations on the back. The staff will periodically go in your room to make sure your stuff is secured and your room is clean. Also, hang your DEUs up in your closet and not shoved in the bottom of your kit bag. Your staff will not like that and will punish your entire course with an open locker inspection, which is not fun in the least. Also make sure your parade boots are super shiny. They do inspect them once a week and if they’re shit you will be on boot parade until they are vastly improved.

BMQ Complete!

First, sorry for the long delay in updating! The last 2 months have been insanely busy for me! I finished BMQ! Getting to grad day at times seemed like a daunting task. Some days were brutal and really tested me. I’ll try to give a little review on my final few weeks at basic.

Our first week back after the holidays was very boring. It was a lot of sitting around doing nothing. Week 8 we went to Farnham for the first time. It could have been a good time. But someone had to get an improper haircut on the weekend so we all paid for it. So instead of having only 4-8 people doing sentry duty per hour at night, we had 16. Not fun. Especially when 12 of the posts were outside and it was freezing.

We did the obstacle course, which was not fun. Mainly because we had to trudge through deep snow and it was snowing pretty heavily. I fell off of one obstacle. I wasn’t hurt, don’t worry. I landed in the net. I was just mad at myself because I was so close to finishing it. The most terrifying part was when one of our staff tried to get me down. My tactvest and rifle began to strangle me and I couldn’t breathe.

We went to the firing range the next day. We marched at an insane pace and I got really bad blisters on my heels. Not good when you have a 13km ruckmarch the next day. The range was very cold. It was so cold that the sensors on the targets weren’t recording our hits properly. So our scores were terrible.

The ruckmarch sucked. Before starting we had our feet inspected by the doctor. He looked at my heels, cringed, bandaged them and wished me good luck. I made it about 4.5km in before I was pulled out. My heels were in so much pain and I almost slipped twice on the ice. I was so mad at myself. So disappointed. I know if I didn’t have those bleeding blisters I could of done it, no problem! And yes my blisters were in fact bleeding. That’s how bad they were.

I don’t think I was ever so happy to see the Mega in my life. Farnham sucked. I was not looking forward to going back in 2 weeks. Oh and here’s one more kicker. When we got back to the base we were told we had inspection  the next morning. So guess what we all did from about 3pm to 11pm, laundry! Oh my god there was so much laundry…50 people and only 4 washing machines…yea, that was fun….

Week 9 were learned topography, which was actually kinda fun and interesting. It was just a nice change of pace.

Week 10 we learned CBRN (gas mask training). That I was more worried about. You have very little time to mask up. But once you learn the drills and learn to keep calm it’s not so bad. It’s when you start to panic that you screw up.

Week 11 was Farnham part 2. We slept in tents in the freezing cold. But we had coleman stoves and lanterns in the tents to keep us warm. Plush the gear they do issue you is amazing. I was nice an toasty in my sleeping bags. We did the obstacle course again and I made it through everything without falling. That was an amazing feeling! Then we did photos afterwards. We spent a couple nights in shacks but you didn’t really get any sleep. There was no time for sleep. Our staff kept us busy around the clock.

Coming back to the base felt amazing. But what wasn’t amazing was the timings they gave us. 30 mins to bring all our kit upstairs, changing into clean clothes and meet in one of the breakrooms. Only about a dozen of us made it in time. But really, that’s an insanely short timing for everything we had to do. Because guess what, we had drill practice! Yup, a week at Farnham, sleep deprived and then they make you do drill for about 4 hrs.

Grad week was bitter sweet. We all felt great because we knew we had survived it all. We finished all our training. We felt like seniors in high school, top of the food chain, ready to move on to the next phase in our lives. But first we had to learn the drill for parade. Everyday we had drill practice. But we needed it. We needed to know the parade better than the backs of our hands. Our staff wasn’t going to be there to call everything. The parade was all us.

When grad day arrived, we dressed in our DEU’s (dress element uniform), got our graduation certificates, took photos and made sure we all looked good. the moments leading up to the start of the parade were nerve-wracking. But once you get your mind in the zone, you forget there’s a couple hundred people out there staring at you. Marching out for the last time was amazing. It was over. It was all done. We were finally finished!

Before we were allowed to go to the reception our platoon 2I/C had us line up in 4 ranks and gave us a little speech. Then he dismissed us for the very last time. Still get’s me a little emotional when I think back to it. It was a very touching moment that I’ll never forget.

As terrible as BMQ was at times, I didn’t truly hate it. And I don’t regret my choice of joining the Canadian Forces. In the end, it was all one big learning experience. I had some good times there, made some memories and friends. Even though some of us may never see each other again, well that’s why we have texting and facebook right?

Wrap Up

Well that just about wraps up my BMQ journal entries that I wrote. I’ll fill in some of what happened after my last entry.

We had our drill test the following day. Only a handful of people failed. And because not everyone passed none of us got our cap badges. We did eventually get them the following day after the re-test when everyone passed. The rest of the day was “free-time” for us, for the most part.

We were assigned “Duty Platoon” our last week, which meant we had to clean the common areas on base. But the weather was starting to get bad. So the decision was made to let anyone who was driving home leave at 14:30. We lost about 1/3 of our platoon, maybe more. Certain areas we were told we didn’t have to clean because they were a safety hazard. And because so many of our platoon had left Duty Staff told us all we had to clean was the Green Break Room.

Once we were finished cleaning that, we were “free” to do as we pleased. Kinda. Some people went to the Mess, but came back disappointed when they discovered they weren’t serving alcohol. I just hung out on our floor playing card games. We eventually played Cards Against Humanity. BEST. GAME. EVER. We had some good laughs.

Since being home I’ve had to do a lot of Christmas shopping and readjusting to civilian life. You think it wouldn’t be hard, but it is. Especially walking. When you get used to marching everywhere, walking normally is hard. It’s been hard not calling anyone who serves me (cashiers, waiters etc..) Staff. Oh and cutting back on swearing.

There have been some good habits I’ve developed, like always being aware of timings. When someone says “lets meet at such-and-such a time” I always make sure I’m at least 5mins early. I almost fear being late. I don’t want to get yelled at!

I leave to go back tomorrow. Of course we’re getting hit with a snow storm. Just figures. We had a very mild Christmas with no snow and the day I leave we get it. I’m just hoping there’s no major delays.

Packing has been a bitch. Trying to figure out what to bring is hard. Well clothing wise any ways. After grad, chances are I’m going to my next posting and not home. So I’ll need a better variety of civilian clothes. And definitely more winter clothes. What I had before weren’t the warmest things I could have brought.

BMQ Day #34 & #37

28 Nov 2014

These last 2 weeks have been brutal. We did our weapons training, which I was not looking forward to at all. I’m not big on using weapons. I know, I’m in the military I have to learn. But in my line of work I will rarely, if ever, be required to fire a weapon.

This morning was the dreaded weapons test. I was a ball of stress and nerves. The staff testing me could tell. I know my shit, it’s just I hate practical tests. I over think everything and make really, REALLY stupid mistakes. I made a very bad and critical mistake during my test. I was so nervous that I kept forgetting to do one simple step. So I failed. But, silver lining, we get to retest on Monday. They understand that a vast majority of us have never used a weapon until now and our fail rate was apparently average.

It still didn’t make me feel any better. I was mentally beating myself up the entire day. After the test I went to the bathroom and cried it out. Yes, I cried. I was so disappointed in myself. I hate failing. And I especially hate failing for something so stupid. Stupid on my part.

Thankfully I have the weekend to de-stress, study and practice. I do not want to fail again. I know my mistake and I vow not to make it again!

1 Dec 2014

Holy crap it’s December! Where the fuck did the time go!? Today was a “fun” day. First thing this morning was the weapons retest. Everyone passed! Pretty sure the main reason we all failed in the first place was nerves.

In the afternoon we did the FORCE test again. We originally did it back in week 1. This was to see how much we have improved. I improved in everything! My biggest improvement would have been the sandbag lift. You pick up a 40lb sandbag 1 meter, drop it, jump over 1 meter and repeat 30 times.

My original time was 2:05. This time mine was 1:40! I was very proud of myself. It wasn’t easy, but it felt easier than last time. I didn’t feel out of breath or struggle much. But I went in with a game plan. You have 3:30 to complete it. I calculated it out that I’d need to do a minimum of 7-8 lifts per minute. And when I thought about that way, it didn’t seem so daunting. I also paced myself. Slow and steady wins the race. I didn’t worry about how long I was taking, I just focused on my form. I made sure I was getting a good grip and kept my breathing in check.

The only thing I did worse on was the beep test. But to be fair I had my left calf wrapped in a tensor bandage. I strained it about a year ago and it’s been bothering me lately. Any ways, the beep test was at the very end and by the time I got to stage 2.5 my clasp broke on the bandage. So the bandage began to unravel, which made my leg begin to ache. I pushed as far as I could and dropped out during stage 3. I was so mad! I could have kept going! My cardio was great! Just my fucking leg! ARG!!