Lifestyle, Mental health

Ugly Truth 42: Why I Quit Drinking for 12 Days

Artist: Leonid Afremov

Good Morning Forum,

Lately there has been so much on my mind, and yet I found myself unable to lift pen to paper. More than that, I found myself falling further away from the small things – those little endeavors that make me an individual. My self awareness has taught me that my inability to create or be cognizant is a sure-fire sign that a change is needed. The devil is in the details, and maybe that is our greatest tragedy.

I come from a deep genetic pool of trauma, alcoholism, mental illness and addiction. In general, I have an addictive personality. Drugs, alcohol, self-injury, and disordered eating have all been on my list of poor coping skills over the years. Anyone who knows me personally knows not to mess with my cigarettes or coffee before 8am, but I would be remiss if I did not confess that while I may not be a textbook alcoholic, I do have a spotted history of problem drinking.

I live with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, Panic Disorder and Chronic Pain. I was properly medicated for two years. After two hospitalizations and ten years of therapy, it didn’t take long for me to learn how to self medicate. I have always done my best to balance my poor choices with moderation, mindfulness, yoga, and creative outcomes such as writing, painting and knitting. However, in light of this quarantine and the way the month of April always seems to dig its claws into me, I soon found myself drinking more and coping less.

Since quitting three days ago (again), I have found that each day feels better than the last, although it has not been without its setbacks. I have experienced mood swings, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, blood pressure changes, and extremely vivid dreams and nightmares. As a seasoned scary dreamer, I have learned how to keep myself calm in these scenarios, mostly as a result of PTSD, however these dreams have been visceral even for me.

The truth is I haven’t read an actual physical book in years, something I typically have a passion for and take great pleasure in. I strayed far from my yoga practice, and have felt a general sense of imbalance and unease as a result. I was feeling run down, and had become complacent toward my loss of previously held enjoyment. I became disinterested in my intellectual pursuits, and my education began to suffer a little more than usual. Perhaps in juggling being gentle with myself, I let my personal accountability slide, too.

The good news is I know exactly how to get it all back. I am not a sobriety preacher or twelve-stepper, but I look forward to reclaiming my wellness, restoring my energy, and reconnecting with my loved ones. I look forward to being slightly less cerebral, sleeping a little better, crying a little less, and reading more books.

So often the trouble is just in starting something new to promote a positive change. Certainly, one can not achieve self development without stumbling along the way. We are hardwired to self-sabotage and make excuses for ourselves, even surrounding the things we want most out of life. Perhaps our greatest triumph is learning how to set meaningful boundaries in order to return to ourselves over and over again.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle, Mental health

Ugly Truth 017: Chiropractors are Practitioners of Pain Relief

Dear Readers, Welcome back to Deskraven where we dispell the myths of human suffering by highlighting the truth. Today we’re talking about chronic pain. As if living with mental illness isn’t enough, many of us also live with medical conditions and/or intense episodes of pain flares for various reasons. This sounds overwheing because it is. I have herniated discs (spinal injury) from a car accident in 2015 that causes severe radiating pain flares in my lower back, shooting pain through my left hip and leg, numbness, tingling, weakness, migraines, neurological symptoms and general alignment issues. Up until recently this was manageable with warm baths, copious amounts of ibuprofen, diet (anti-inflammatory foods), and yoga. Over time the pain worsened and I became unable to do these things. I found myself flailing through sleepless nights and crying with frustration when unable to walk or dress myself. Waking up in the morning instantly overwhelmed me when I was faced with work and transportation obligation. I stopped doing my hair and make up because I didn’t have the energy. I stopped living and was merely trying to survive by spending all of my nights and weekends in bed. Add to that severe panic attacks, the type that violently rattle your cage, and things are bound to knock loose. Yesterday this all came to a head and while I was hunched over in walkless tears once more, I decided to do something about it. The truth is I have been to the doctor several times since my car accident complaining of strange and worsening symptoms, but with no insurance and nothing emergent without an MRI, I was sent home with more questions and continuing chronic pain flares. I knew I didn’t want narcotic medication and I didn’t want to be sent home, I wanted an affordable long-term solution. If you know me then you know I am terribly stubborn and let things go on much longer than they need to. After calling around and doing some price comparisons, I arrived at Joint Chiropractic riddled with anxiety and pain. The receptionist could see this and urged me not to sit since I was having obvious difficulty returning to a standing position. She took my blood pressure and informed me of all the going-ons in the establishment. Minutes later I began my two hour session with Dr. G who was nothing short of validating. After a micro course in chiropractic medicine he poked and prodded me. During his exam he discovered nerve damage, L4 and L5 disc injuries, a slightly abnormal spinal curvature, a crooked tail bone, joint dysfunction and high blood pressure. “You’re a mess,” he said. I laughed half heartedly, relieved to finally have some answers and grateful for his top notch bed side manner. The thing is spinal health is linked to every area of your body and can even influence mental health as a result of neurological symptoms. My injuries are the culprit of debilitating migraines and lonesome physical disability, so I took a deep breath and followed his instruction. He twisted and contorted my body with plenty of snap crackle pops. I laughed. I cried. I shook his hand with genuine gratitude and was given a prescription for a minimum of 10-12 adjustments, ice in lieu of my warm baths which can cause further inflammation, possible x-rays, exercise recommendations, and a prescription strength dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication twice daily. The truth is I am still in pain, but less so. Sometimes alternative medicine can provide a better quality of life than pain management clinics and traditional physicians. I am so proud of myself for being proactive about my care. This is the best thing I have done for myself in a long while, and I am optimistic about the future. Do you experience chronic pain? Have you considered chiropractic care? How do you cope with maintaining a functional quality of life? **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle, Mental health, Parenting

Ugly Truth 012: Comparison Kills

“I looked through others’ windows On an enchanted earth But out of my own window– solitude and dearth. And yet there is a mystery I cannot understand– That others through my window See an enchanted land.”
Jessie B. Rittenhouse
Good Afternoon and Happy Weekend Readers, Welcome back to Deskraven’s 100 Ugly Truths about mental health! In my last post I talked about the social perceptions, comparisons and partial truths we tell each other. From that sprung an endless well of my own woulda, coulda, shoulda’s – and it wasn’t long before I was feeling guilty. You see, we all want what we don’t have. People with straight hair want curls, people with light skin want tans, people who stay home wish they could work more, and people who work wish they could stay home. It all depends on the needs of yourself and your family dynamic. Many women find their identities in motherhood while others thrive in career environments. Still more, some women – and men – juggle both. Personally, I have always had a heart for being a stay at home mom for many reasons – but I have never been fortunate enough to do it. My first and only son was not planned, nor were the circumstances that soon followed, so I found myself in a young age of adaptation more so than any heartfelt sense of romance or family planning. It got me wondering about how different life might be had I been mature enough to carve the path for myself. There is much research that indicates the value of a stay at home mom. To start, full time stay at home parents offer children a rooted homebase rich in resources. They are free to attend the social-emotional needs of their children, accompany school and sporting events, run last minute errands, make doctor’s appointments and maintain the home while loved ones are away. I find endless value in this! Likewise, the stay at home mom offers balance to a sole provider by running the home and all that it entails. Families with a stay at home parent sometimes make less, but they also spend less in my opinion. Having worked in childcare for ten years, I can tell you that it is grossly expensive and leaves much to be desired depending on your parenting style. Many families find that at least one of their salaries goes almost solely to childcare which easily begs the question, What is the point of that? Children in centers are more resilient and socialized, yes, but they also tend to be more anxious, uncertain, and ill. On the flip side, career mothers offer glowing demonstrations of provision and multi-skilled strength for their children. They teach the importance of education and contribution in a different way, although that lesson may come at an unspoken cost both culturally and personally if not balanced carefully. The sad reality is growing your family well is extremely expensive no matter how you do it, and many women never have the luxury of choice to begin with. That said, our choices, environments, and maternal roles definitely push and pull on our mental health. The decision to have a child is a momentous one, at least it should be. The truth is, I have always dreamed of a big family – but I can not afford one in more way than one. The truth is I worry about my physical, emotional, and psychological capacity – but I can also hear my biological clock ticking as my only son grows closer to eight years old. The truth is I had severe Post-Partum Depression the first go around. The truth is my finances are mine alone and I rely on no one – on purpose – for fear of losing it all again. I put great pressure on myself as a maternal human being and endure the pros and cons of my choices. In my ideal world I would be a full-time stay at home mother and student. This would allow me to nurture my children at my preference while still growing myself. My children would have access to me, the bills would be paid by a supportive partnership, and by the time they reached an age of less need I would be equipped to re-enter the workforce. I deeply envy women cut from this cloth, so I assign value to the things I successfully do manage to demonstrate for my son, as well as give myself grace when I catch myself in a moment of wishful thinking. What many people forget to remember is that the stay at home mom is only a temporary animal, and we must not lose our identities when faced with difficult decisions. What’s more, being a stay at home parent comes with a different type of stress and responsibility, but it is one that allows you to practice self care through labors of love. This is an opportunity the working woman must carve out for herself, meaning it may take a greater toll on her mental health. When reversed however, the stay at home mom may become more susceptible to mental health conditions due to a lack of purposeful exertion, genetics or meaningful socialization. The truth is, working women and stay at home women have different needs, obstacles and priorities – and one may not necessarily be better than the other. All I know for sure is unplanned pregnancy and family planning have entirely two different outcomes, and it breaks my heart. Maybe the most important thing familial relationships can teach us is tolerance, love and forgiveness. The truth is, different doesn’t mean better. Are you a stay at home parent or working parent? What brought you to your decision and how do you feel about it? How has it impacted your mental health? **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!
Lifestyle, Mental health

Ugly Truth 010: Unplug to Truly Connect

“Being connected to everything has disconnected us from ourselves and the preciousness of this present moment.”
L.M. Browning, Vagabonds and Sundries
Good Morning Readers, By now you may know that I have taken it upon myself to take a break from social media for 100 days. You can read more about the whys in Ugly Truth 003: Distraction Posts Work. My hope has been to return to myself, my family, and look down less all while resetting my dopamine signals. Initially, I gave up Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube but chose to maintain WordPress and LinkedIn. I made some small adjustments after the first week such as keeping Facebook Messenger active, and watching YouTube so long as it was television and not YouTubers or comment engagements. The goal is to minimize notifications and time consumption. The reason social media is so damn catchy is due to the instant gratification it provides us measly impatient humans. When you hear that notification sound you are indeed engaging in a behavioral pattern reinforced by feel good chemical changes in the brain, and so you keep coming back for more. While this is fun and mostly harmless, it has caused all kinds of new reflections in our own psychology specifically, and society in general. You might ask, “Jaymie, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is we’re seeing changes that include cultural comparisons resulting in an increase in depression. The trouble is a problem of information access that makes us feel vulnerable and less safe. What’s more, these comparisons are only perceptions – not reality. When you hop online and see how successful John Doe is or that Suzie Q. married Mr. Right, you compare and contrast their life to your own. Unconsciously or otherwise, you begin to see holes in your life where there are none. What you see on social media is a heavily filtered version of the truth. As such, you may think Jane has it all while she backpacks across Europe while never knowing that she may struggle with an eating disorder or inconsolable crying spells behind closed doors. This is because social media is just that – social. We as a species adhere to certain rules of conduct when engaging with one another. The truth is we do this in person too! Social media platforms provide an additional barrier, making it even easier to only see partial truths. So do yourself a favor and stop comparing your insides to other people’s outsides. Over the past two weeks without social media I have noted a couple of things. I have noticed that I am happier! This was most significant the first 2-3 days while my brain recalibrated to the freedom and dopamine signals. Then, like any good high it leveled out and tapered off. Once the euphoria passed, I experienced my first con; I was lonely. Social media provides us with good company, conversation, and entertainment. When it comes to mental health, social media affords us support groups, education, and the knowledge that we are so far from alone in our suffering. I found myself missing the support of friends and loved ones far away. I started missing the nostalgic pictures, countless cat videos, and clever quips – and I still do. I found myself faced with a significant blockade when it came to social networking, a necessity for any working mother. On the flip side, I also found more quality time with my family and developed a new hobby – knitting! Lastly, I noticed my phone holds battery a whole lot longer. The truth is, everything in moderation. Have you ever done a social media detox? What did you learn? **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!
Lifestyle, Mental health

Ugly Truth 009: Hobbies Matter

“If you are losing your leisure, look out! — It may be you are losing your soul.”
Virginia WoolfGood Afternoon Readers,
Welcome back to your mental health forum! This week Deskraven is highlighting the importance of hobbies as we continue to explore the ugly truths of mental health and long winded suffering. It may sound silly, but the ability to leisure appropriately is indeed a skill as well as an indication of general well being. When you live with mental illness, you may find that you have lost interest in your previous passions or your willingness to pursue new ones. This happens for two reasons. First, depression alone is a harsh reality for many people regardless of your diagnosis or lack thereof. Depression is infamous for stealing your light, laughter, and levity. Anxiety robs you of your energy, your will to live and may even be traumatizing. When an individual is traumatized their life is put on pause in order to endure extreme stress, and may halt otherwise typical development as a result. This loss of cognition paired with day in and day out anguish or fear can undoubtedly cause many to stop playing, pursuing and planning. Next, if you’re a psychology major you may be familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow offers an honest demonstration of what happens in the human mind when one is exposed to internal suffering and/or external threat. Simply put, his theory suggests that if your most basic needs are not first met such as food, shelter, or safety – then you will never be free to pursue matters of the heart or mind. This may include the ability to create, the ability to accumulate new information or learn new skills. Therefore, the ability to engage in truly rejuvenating leisure skills can take practice, especially if you’ve been thrust into a survival mind set by trauma, abuse, or mental illness. The truth is, we must first tend to our wellness in order to make room for play. Play frees us from bondage while gently returning us to ourselves, and if you’re lucky – you may learn something new along the way. I am a chronic starter who seldom finishes. I am intensely ambitious with endless ideas. However, because I have mental health conditions and pain flares, it doesn’t take long before I become distracted or disembodied by symptoms or inconsistent anxious energy. It can make it very difficult to stay organized. I can quickly become unlike myself, seemingly unable to complete the routine tasks of a day – much less get creative or have fun. When this happens, I am obligated to sacrifice time for self care for as long as it takes in order to recover. Because of this I have started and stopped many projects including employment opportunities, educational goals, creative endeavors and even relationships. To this end, I have opted for a visual presentation of completion by taking up knitting – and you know what? I love it! I find it meditative, creative and practical as a connoisseur of all things plush and warm. I find it fun, affordable, and tactile. Knitting allows me a sense of completion in a relatively short period of time, while also providing a finished product that can be deeply meaningful for my friends and family. The truth is, the antithesis of a generalized lack of ease is returning to the things you love, sensory experiences, and the memory of having tried – even if you fail. Sometimes it is the smallest of things that bring forth the most joy. When was the last time you learned something new? **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!