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High Functioning: When Depression Gets Dressed in the Morning

Dear Readers,

As some of you may remember, back in 2015 I completed a 15-week Virtual Internship on an emotional support forum called 7 Cups of Tea. This afforded me the opportunity to mentor Members and Listeners through a peer-to-peer support model on all things mental health on an online platform.

(Excellent resource! If you would like additional information on this free therapeutic cyber-space, please visit the link or comment below.)

During this time I was also in mental health recovery myself, and took the time to share some of my personal experiences. Among them, was the epiphany of what it means to be “high-functioning” when you have a mental health condition, which directly lead me to the topic of outward appearances and the stigma so many face.

While preparing for my fifth psychiatric appointment, which took each and every one of my spoons at the time, I emerged showered, dressed, haired, and make-up-ed. My then-husband took one look at me and said,

“You look way too put together to be crazy. You should go in pajamas and slept on makeup.”

While dismissing my anger, my mind became illuminated and preoccupied by the visual representation of mental illness in society.

It’s true. More often than not it is messy. We are so quick to assume the homeless passer-by or eccentric widow must certainly be succumbing to some episodic behavior of the depraved and diagnosed. And yet- who is accounting for the high-functioning mentally ill, or those who may find themselves blissfully twirling through a period of normalcy?

What of those who protect their self-worth, fighting to emerge from the infamous blanket tower or the voluminous scribbling of unrealistic ideas?

What of those who are somehow able to stand on two legs long enough to advocate for their children, even though a bottomless storm is creeping beneath?

What of those who attempt to meditate with psychosis ringing in their ears?

What of those who experience mania in a not altogether euphoric religion or productive frenzy?

Most importantly, what are the consequences of this strength?

Natasha Tracy illustrates,

“So yes. I’m capable. I’m talented. I work hard. I produce stuff. Yay me. But the price I pay for that is not being able to be anything else.”

From “High-Functioning Bipolar Disorder” featured on America’s Mental Health Channel.

So, the next time you jump to judge someone’s capacity you might stop and instead consider the truths we all contend with. Consider the chronic pain manifested by depression, the smile of a co-worker, or the family crisis on line three.

EVERYONE has mental health. The true mastery is in balancing the chaos with enough self-care to allow yourself to function.

Just because you can pay your bills on time, doesn’t mean you’re any less sad than Susie-Q over there. Just because the voices in your head encourage you to swim in the ocean, doesn’t mean you can’t run your own business.

**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!

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Clarity: Fears of Abandonment and BPD

bpd

Dear Readers,

Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by mood instability, feelings of worthlessness, insecurity, poor impulse control, the inability to regulate emotions and turbulent relationships. These individuals often describe a degree of emotional sensitivity so tormenting that it deeply effects their quality of life. Many of the consequences of this illness appear during the frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, and can manifest themselves in the form of self destructive behavior or generally poor coping skills. There are commonalities here to Bipolar Disorder (formerly known as Manic Depressive Illness), however, personality disorders are typically less cyclic and respond to different courses of treatment.

Understanding abandonment and its relationship to Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the best ways to restore and refine your interpersonal relationships. For most people, real or imagined fears of abandonment have a fundamental impact on their most meaningful unions.

In my studies, I came across an insightful piece of writing that I wanted to share here as a sort of “a-ha” moment. I found it to be useful within the confinements of this illness, or in promoting healthy loving relationships in general. Please take note and leave your thoughts in comments below.

“Acutely aware of our own transience, we alternate between an aching despondency and a rebellion against the facts. We cling to our loved ones, or remove ourselves from them, rather than loving them in all of their vulnerability. In so doing we distance ourselves from a grief that is an inevitable component of affection. Using our best obsessional defenses to keep this mourning at bay, we pay a price in how isolated and cut off we can feel. Love and grieving, like separation and connection, are co-constitutive. Opening oneself to one emotion deepens the experience of the other. The heart can open in sadness as much as it does in joy. His point is that everything is always changing. When we take loved objects into our egos with the hope or expectation of having them forever, we are deluding ourselves and postponing an inevitable grief…by pushing away the painful aspect of experience we isolate ourselves from our own capacity for love.

The solution is not to deny attachment but to become less controlling in how we love. It is the very tendency to protect ourselves against mourning that is the cause of the greatest dissatisfaction. It is possible to have a relationship to transience that is not adversarial, in which the ability to embrace the moment takes precedence over fear of its passing.”

~Mark Epstein, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness

So, what are the implications of this passage? I urge you to examine your own thoughts and behaviors within the context of relationships. Are you utilizing your unions for personal benefit or reflection? How does mental illness change the way we love others?

**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!

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Sibyl Marie: A Cat’s Tale

Dear Readers,

Cats get a bad wrap. If you have had the misfortune of having a less-than-desirable feline, my heart goes out to you. I happen to know and love one awesomely cool kitty-cat, and I’d like to share her with you tonight. Her name is Sibyl Marie.

sibyl

In 2014, I married a man I did not love for the sake of safety. After much anguish surrounding my sense of self and sexual identity, the marriage folded less than three years later. So, there I was, peeing in my new toilet, scrolling through Facebook like so few of us are willing to admit, when this green-eyed beauty floated across my screen. Her first mother, Laura, had lost her in a nasty breakup years prior. Understandably, Laura had moved on to a life filled to the brim with the love of a new partner and pets, leaving her unable to take Sibyl in. So, the disgruntled ex-boyfriend threatened to bring Sibyl to a shelter if no one came to her aid. Naturally, every ounce of love and compassion jumped from my soul and I sweetly replied, “Give her to meeee!”

This was a half-hearted offer I admit. After all, I had a little boy and a new life to juggle all on my own.

name

After a few small transactions and immense support from her first owner, she was on her way that very same day. Sibyl came to me during a time of tremendous life transition, so I feel intensely bonded to her. It goes without saying that I am absolutely bias when it comes to the favor of my feline friend. Still, she deserves credit for her humor, her calm yet playful demeanor, and her undying love for eye-contact. After a few tears, much mewing, and fancy feasting she adapted warmly… just in time for Hurricane Harvey to make landfall.

For eight long days, Sibyl and I were trapped in the ivory tower that is our second story apartment building. While water levels were rising and grocery shelves were obscenely lacking, while citizens miscalculated their evacuation plans and the streets quieted her engines so sirens could blare, Sibyl and I stayed snuggled together in my one bedroom apartment- destined to become best friends. Eight days without going outside is enough to make just about anyone lose it. Employment, school districts and commerce paused. Fortunately for us, I had paid mind to gather provisions beforehand- so there was bread, flame and rum a-plenty!

Most importantly –Sibyl Marie is a stupendous emotional support animal. We all have our histories and she is no different. She has her own kitty anxieties and idiosyncrasies from the environment she was in before she called our house a home. We have noticed she stirs away from specific objects, brooms for example, and runs from loud noises. She cries when there’s thunder and hides from the vacuum. Similarly, my psychological enthusiasm evoke days of unrest where carrying myself upright is just too much to ask. And yet- we never fail to love one another. She comes when I cry, when I tremble with panic, and find myself shaking with nightmares. She comes when I fall short of breathing, traverse through flashbacks or suffer from psychosis. She tolerates the squeezing touches of my seven-year-old, and loves my partner just as much as I do.

Sibyl Marie has been a most cherished addition to our family, and we often laugh of giving her her very own YouTube segment. She springs from boxes, chases lasers, cries for tuna, and pounces in the night. She meows for the sake of talking and brings laughter wherever she goes. She cries for snuggles, licks hands, and knocks over dishes without a care in the world. She is uniquely petite, intelligent, hilarious and oh-so affectionate.

snuggle

So, the next time someone tells you cats suck you might empathize with their plight, or you just might prove them wrong.

Tell me your cat stories in the comments section. The good, the bad, and the ugly!

us

**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!