Mental health

Ugly Truth 43: May is Mental Health Month!

“Maybe we all have darkness inside of us and some of us are better at dealing with it than others.”
-Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes

Good Morning Readers,

Have I told you lately how much I love this community?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. How have you been feeling lately?

As for me, I would say I’m in the solid yellow phase.

If you or someone you know has questions or comments about living with mental illness, please feel free to share in the comments below or contact me at contact@deskraven.com.

So, how are you feeling? Don’t be silent.

**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!

LGBTQ+, Mental health, Relationships

Ugly Truth 37: Loving a Woman Changed my Worldview

“It was terrifying to love someone who was forbidden to you. Terrifying to feel something you could never speak of, something that was horrible to almost everyone you knew, something that could destroy your life.”
-Cassandra Clare, Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)

Dear Readers,

For as long as I can remember I have been attracted to women. This energy translated in all kinds of ways including the trivial and experimental. When I was young, I could not determine if my preference was tied to my predisposition toward manic depression, the result of trauma, or the simple product of my incessant curiosity. Perhaps my preference for women was simply just that, a preference. I was not privy to the possibility of expressing my sexuality in a healthy way and so, like most young women, I found myself stifled and oppressed until the spillover became too great. Falling in love with a woman changed my worldview by leading me to discover my personal truth and informing my capacity to receive.

For decades not only was my sexuality snuffed out by others, but also by myself. My own ego and fear would be the final frontier between me and my true happiness, at least until I learned this type of self-sabotaging behavior is completely unnecessary. When I look back and see how glaring obvious all of this seems it almost feels silly. I was in middle school when I started spending the night with my lady friends. Growing up in the north woods of Minnesota I was completely unaware of same sex couples. So, even though I had a loud biological response toward women and girls, I certainly didn’t know how to navigate those feelings due to my lack of exposure. Add to that my mother’s mean intolerance for the very same reason and suddenly it isn’t too hard to imagine why I kept my mouth shut. As I grew older though, it became harder and harder to hide. I would often enter relationships with men only to cry myself to sleep at night. I spent a tragic number of years aiming to please others and it cost me greatly. At best, living dishonestly can only be described as a repetitive re-traumatization of self.

When I was sixteen, I met my first boyfriend. Not surprisingly he was an effeminate man and sexually ambiguous. Seemingly towing the line between male and female he would often take too long to fluff his appearance, wear eyeliner atop his envious eyelashes, and shave his under arms. Still, I maintained and often acted on my eye for women with consent from my partner. I continued this pattern of dating men while kissing women for many years before finally getting married in 2014 against the adamant counsel of my father. To no one’s surprise the marriage dissolved two years later, and suddenly I had no choice but to my face my personal truth. I am in fact a very gay woman. After a handful of lukewarm encounters, one fiery female romance, and countless nightmarish dating scenarios I gave up all together on finding anything truly meaningful. That is, until I met Alice.

When I met Alice, I was what I would describe as perpetually open-minded. Coming out for the second and final time left me in a state of strange infancy. I was vulnerable, fearful and excited by the days ahead. While I would never be foolish enough to turn away from the real thing, I also was not actively seeking a serious long-term monogamous relationship. In retrospect, a great many of my life choices have been a direct result of my inclinations toward the notion of love. At the seat of myself I remain a romantic and I will never apologize for that. However, this type of vulnerability often comes chock full of aching organs, bittersweet endings, and lessons hard learned. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t become somewhat jaded after being force fed a heaping pile of disappointment. Some part of me though, however microscopic, clung to the swirling daydream that lasting love could exist for me if I could somehow find the courage to live honestly.

My encounter with Alice was the most natural unexpected experience I have ever had in my life. Our conversations were playful and organic before evolving into the meaningful inquiry we all hope for. We began to chip away at our commonalities, our biggest fears, our hopes for the future, and our own points of strength that we promised never to compromise on again. We promised never to discuss religion and politics, and then characteristically proceeded to do so. No topic was too scary. Nothing was off limits. It wasn’t long before our hearts began to lean in and our minds grew curious. In the same shared breath and quelling anxiety, we realized we both had nothing left to do but meet in person. I never imagined being able to remember the night clear as day, but I do.

After sharing a quick and unflinching bond with this woman I had one last order of business. I had to kiss her. Lucky for me, Alice felt the same way I did and agreed to meet. We agreed to go in comfy clothes and half brushed hair in order to lower the pressure for us both. So, I put on my favorite red pants, my favorite oversized hoodie, tied my hair up in those tiny clips that always seem to fall down the drain, and drank in the biggest gulp of bravery I could muster before wandering out the door with all the false confidence in the world. I knew I wanted to arrive early because living with anxiety taught me long ago that I will never be the girl who loves to light up a room. I slinked up to the bar and promptly ordered two beers to calm my nerves. Her texts came rolling in as she got closer and closer. Ten minutes away…five minutes away…almost there. The suspense was killing me. Finally, she walked through that door, tilted her head only the way she can, and smiled that sideways smirk that still drives me wild six months later. All she had to do was say one little hello to me and in that moment, it was as if all my broken pieces were pressed back together. I was hers. I calmly invited her to get a drink of her own before retiring to the couches on the other side of the bar, but inside my head was swimming. We did our best to get to know each other better above the clatter and belligerence of the patrons. Some time passed until finally she leaned in through the smoke, pausing only to gauge my reaction, and kissed me for the very first time. Suddenly, everything I thought I knew about the world shattered. I had butterflies in my stomach, crawling skin, a cloud in my head, a spark in my heart, and tears in my eyes. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but I knew I felt relief in feeling that in a world that had so often made me feel lost and forgotten, I was finally home.

Alice would go on to be the strongest most loving, loyal, gentle and patient friend I’ve ever had. Never once has she made me feel like I was going to lose her, although the thought alone motivates me to do everything I can not to. She is always pouring into me and giving back in ways she may not even understand. Best of all, we are both rewarded for being nothing short of our genuine self. The truth is, I could never imagine the life I live now and yet here I sit – in a completely new city, with a completely new routine, and a completely new sense of self that can only be the direct result of her generosity and respect toward me.

Falling in love with a woman changed my worldview by leading me to discover my personal truth and informing my capacity to receive.

**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!

Mental health, Parenting

Ugly Truth 30: Today My Son Was Diagnosed

Dear Readers, Today, I fell to tears on my way home from work after a losing sleep battle at 5am, chronic pain, and the challenge of another trying day for my son. Today, Zachary was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Today, I grieve for my son; for the way things will always be harder for him, for the way he can not yet apply insight toward his behavior, for the friends and caregivers who will misunderstand him and unwittingly make things worse, for the way he covers his ears when noises are too loud, for the way his IQ soars but his social life suffers, for the way I fiercely attempt to guard his self-esteem, for the way I fear I wont be vigilant enough, for those who will and do pressure us into difficult decisions, for the way he severely grapples to regulate his emotions, for the songs he sings that so many will mishear, for the constant redirection of a conformist society, for the way his intelligence will always lend itself to his awareness that he is different. If you don’t believe in these diagnoses, do me a favor and keep your opinion to yourself. I can assure you our pain as a family is very real, but it is not unattended. Zachary has received hundreds of hours of counseling, various therapies, behavior intervention plans, the benefits of countless round table committee meetings by his cheerleaders, and accommodations as his progression and challenges fluctuate. For now, I will have to rest in the years of education and instinct I have invested in. I will have to rest in the competence of the team, physicians, teachers and loving family that surround him. For now, I will have to rest in the knowledge that even when I am imperfect, I am enough. Final Summation: The ability to comfort yourself is invaluable. **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!
Mental health

Ugly Truth 027: I Am Depressed Again

*Warning: This post makes mention of suicidal Depression.

“Life is like a game of chess.
To win you have to make a move.”
― Allan Rufus, The Master’s Sacred Knowledge

Dear Readers,

Welcome back to Deskraven, your Mental Health Forum. Today I want to talk about the elephant in the room. I want to talk about the condition we all share. I want to talk about the swallowing horror we are learning to talk about, but still largely hide. I want to talk about Depression.

Depression is characterized by a distinct loss of interest in previous held joys, loss of energy, appetite fluctuations, excessive sleep or insomnia, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, thoughts of self-harm or suicide, persistent grief or sadness, excessive crying spells, fluctuating moods and agitation or irritability. There are many theories surrounding the influx of Depression in our society, many of which I can get behind. The fact that we have become too civilized for our own good, for example. However, I live with Bipolar Depression which, like me, is a little different from the text book definition.

I experience mixed episodes related to Bipolar Disorder, previously known as Manic Depression. In a mixed episode, the sufferer experiences symptoms of both Mania and Depression simultaneously, and/or in rapid succession of one another. There are so very many different ways we experience mental illness, and Bipolar Disorder is no exception. So, a word of caution should you choose to embark on a conversation of this magnitude: Not everyone experiences Bipolar Disorder the same way. While my episodes are different from that of typical mood swings, my experience of Depression has always been more pervasive than my experience of Mania. More importantly, my Depression has been extremely treatment resistant. Medication helped a great deal in quelling the intense irritability that resulted from the overwhelming guilt I felt as a mentally ill mother. Likewise, medication went to work to tame the instability of my psychology, my insomnia, my paranoia and my psychosis – but there remained an ever present slight slope downward where Depression pulled on my even keel.

Depression is the sound of steel doors clanging shut on your better angels. It is the inability to move, even when movement is what you most need and desire. It is the lie that love is not enough, and you would be better off dead. It is an emotional anguish so significant that you dread entirely its inevitable return. It is an inability, not an unwillingness. Depression robs you of your character, your personality, your passion and your pleasure. It tells you that you are not good enough. That you are a burden. That you are somehow deserving of this inexplicable nauseating grief. That you are nothing more than a self-indulgent cynic. That this life hurts too much to keep going. That the smallest setbacks make mountains out of molehills.

The truth is, when I am un-medicated I drop into a suicidal Depression at least twice per month. True suicidal Depression is not a choice. It is a survivor’s final response to the seemingly endless hour of deeply disorganized, firey, unforgiving madness that is Bipolar Disorder. This is a chemical imbalance. You see, insight is worth less than nothing in the face of mental illness. While it may help you shape your coping skills to better suit your needs and aid in prevention, when you are actually in the thick of that heated, harmful, heady moment staring directly into the abyss, nothing can reach you – not God, not logic, not love – and so you flail, begging to humiliation with bleeding organs and limbs to find the tiniest foothold somewhere along the growing walls of that lightless trench. Suicidal Depression attacks the senses. You can not hear, see, smell, or feel properly, and so you find yourself quickly grappling in the dark. Some describe completed suicide as the final symptom of Depression, and I couldn’t agree more. Completed suicide is the final dark thought and the truth is, it takes a great deal of strength to not grab it.

There are three things that have helped me cope with suicidal Depression, and maybe it will help a handful of the millions around the world who live with this ugly truth. Obviously, the most important thing is to be closely monitored by a physician and practice good medication compliance, but if you’re like me and you don’t have access to health insurance, keep reading.

First and foremost, dismiss. It is important to recognize that when you are suffering from Depression, no matter how real it may feel relative to your experience, your perspective is false. It is essential to recognize the thoughts coursing through your mind. Then, you must find the strength to dismiss them as no good. This takes a great deal of practice as the height of the pain of Depression will completely rob you of the ability to detect the distortion. Be validated in knowing that this is a skill that requires psychological jumping jacks. I like to think of it as meditation, because meditation teaches you to return yourself to the present moment. In this way, I feel that meditation lends itself well to the perspective adjustment we all require when faced with this condition. These gentle reminders can serve you greatly in moments of despair.

Next, distract. When I begin to feel the stinging pricks of Depression, I aim to distract myself as much as possible. Depression is an all consuming monster making it incredibly difficult to get out of your own head. Fortunately, this skill has become increasingly accessible due to our chronically distracted culture. Do try to pay attention to the quality of this distraction, however. I will often find myself buried in a television show, a good book or some form of artistic expression. Do not be afraid to indulge in dark themes, as this can serve as an expressive outlet and comforting validation in a world where those without Depression just simply do not understand. Do, however, guard your mind from themes or content that may trigger your Depression to worsen.

Finally, dig in. Due to the very nature of Depression, we often forget to remember that this too shall pass. One of the great joys of having a mood disorder of this nature is that my episodes are relatively short. While I know people who suffer from chronic Depression (God save them and keep them) for months or years at a time, Bipolar Disorder offers the respite of mania or neutral stability from time to time. This is a blessing dressed up as a curse because while they are not without their own consequence, these phases of Bipolar Disorder allow you to come up for air in a matter of days or weeks.

If you’re suffering from suicidal Depression, call your doctor.

Dismiss, Distract, and Dig in.

For more on this topic read: High-Functioning: When Depression Gets Dressed in the Morning

**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!

Blogging, Mental health

Ugly Truth 022: I Don’t Like Everything I Write

“The first draft is just telling yourself a story.” -Lisa See

Dear Readers,

Welcome back to the Deskraven Blog, where you mental health finds home!

Depending on how long you’ve been following this blog, you may find that my literary voice fluctuates between formal and personal. Despite all the mountain-top screaming I do for others, I still experience resistance when faced with my own personal truth. Even while writing this I am certain I have said it all before and shouldn’t continue. It sounds silly because it is. After all, this fact is what makes the Deskraven project exactly what it is – a win-win.

Not only do I write for others to spread stigma-free awareness about mental illness, but I write for myself in order to develop a healthy internal dialogue capable of processing interpersonal experience free from self-criticism. This isn’t always easy. Often times I revisit my old works as a form of self-development, of which there are many to smile about, enjoy and take great pride in – while in others I find only gag-worthy disdain.

As a writer, I am well aware that the editing process never ends, however, as a person I continue to struggle with OCD-level perfectionism. I will often question what I did or didn’t say. I will often question my audience, and become overly concerned about who is reading – if indeed anyone is reading at all. I will often question putting myself on public display even though the benefits always outweigh the consequences. Finally, I begin to question the Deskraven Blog in it’s entirety, and grapple with the very real impulse to hit the delete button. That is, right before I remember that writing can take many directions, and the purpose of mine is simply to serve the hearts and minds of others, to help those who lack a voice, to help those who cry alone never unafraid enough to say these things out loud, to reach those who read and never comment, but always find something to gain in the shared human experience of suffering.

The truth is, I don’t like everything I write – and that’s okay. A large part of processing thoughts into expressive language is recognizing not only the what, but the how.

The truth is, writing has been a vehicle for me since the age of 12. I remember this because it was the year my father left that I felt more pain than I knew what to do with, followed by my very first urge to write it down. In the years after, I filled several journals with my ever distorted and evolving thoughts. People took notice, and I began to collect them as gifts and fill them with relative ease. I enjoyed every aspect of the tactile experience that writing has to offer. I often smiled at the process of selecting new tools, paper, and ornate over-priced personal daily records. I often beamed that I could read and write cursive when others could not. As an avid reader and lover of books, I quickly found peace, comfort and escape in the words of the world’s greatest authors – and yearned like hell to be one. While coming of age, I found strength and coping skills in the aptitude I developed through what seemed to be a natural talent. This was reinforced by the easy A’s I earned in Language Arts all through out high school and college. After years of diary entries, exceptional teachers and published poetry, I realized the need in me shifted from proper comma placement to content creation.

(I often dreamed of becoming a professional writer, however, I felt that a career that relied on production was not realistic for someone with major health conditions. That is not to say it can’t be done. Still, I remained ever-concerned that the added pressure would act as an exacerbater rather than a catalyst – and so a hobby word invention remained.)

I am no longer an angsty teenager who confronts the anguish of ailment in hidden pages. Today, I am a woman of age who publishes her struggles on a public forum because it makes her wildly uncomfortable, and yet, she can’t seem to write fast enough. It has become less about word choice and structure, and more about authenticity. This has become especially powerful in many areas of my life as an intensely passive and intellectual introvert.

All artistic disposition aside, there is value to be found in the struggle.

**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!