Mental health

Ugly Truth 53: I Took a Mental Health Day This Week

“Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, it’s not for them.” – Joubert Botha

Good Morning Forum,

Welcome back to the Deskraven Blog, where I aim to lay bare 100 ugly truths about my mental health journey.

If you’ve read this far, then you know I live with Mixed Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia on a consistent basis. Of these, the Bipolar Disorder appears to be the most pervasive and problematic lately. Bipolar Disorder is a progressive life-long illness. That is, it never goes away and in fact, the longer you go without treatment – the worse your episodes become over time.

Episodes of Bipolar Mania and Depression have the potential to cause lasting damage to the learning and memory systems found in the brain. For some of us, Bipolar Disorder also has the potential to become the source of PTSD as a secondary diagnosis, as the episodic nature of Bipolar Disorder can provoke traumatizing psychological experiences and catastrophic social consequences. For me personally, PTSD stems from multiple traumatizing events related to mental illness, abuse, abandonment, suicide, and medical trauma.

The stress of Bipolar Disorder often triggers my underlying anxiety into full blown Panic Disorder, a mental health condition characterized by reoccurring panic attacks. A Panic Attack is a surge of intense fear with severe physical symptoms resulting from perceived danger in the absence of an actual threat, and the fear of their imminent return. It is not uncommon to feel as though you are having a heart attack or dying, often resulting in a visit to the ER. The fear perpetuates the physical response, and the physical response feeds into the fear. I am fortunate to say I haven’t had a significant panic attack in sometime, although last week I could feel those old familiar pains bubbling underneath.

Paired with my deeply introverted nature, it suddenly became blatantly obvious how these things are connected, and why I feel no need to leave the house due to a general fear of people, the inability to escape, and/or wide open spaces that leave me susceptible to harm or humiliation, better known as Agoraphobia.

I could see the crash coming, but there was little I could do to stop it. I could see myself soaring high above my normal energy and productivity levels in the weeks prior. I found myself sleeping and eating less, talking, reading, and writing with frenetic energy, boasting long term goals in the grand scheme of things, and just generally acting outside my character. I was in a Mixed episode.

If you’ve ever been in a Mixed episode yourself, then you know how quickly euphoria can turn to dangerous agitation, motivation to listlessness, and paranoia to psychosis. In the worst case scenario, you may ultimately be faced with suicidal ideation while you try to exist in a psychological space that shares symptoms of both Mania and Depression simultaneously. Most people associate Bipolar Disorder with swinging between the two mood states, but the truth is everyone with this disorder is different, and patterns of mood and behavior tend to be more cyclic than previously thought.

In the aftermath of a Mixed Episode, it is not unusual for people with Bipolar Disorder to describe the sensation of a Depression crash. That is, the emotional fallout that takes place after an episode of Mixed Bipolar or Bipolar Mania. Indeed, what goes up must come down. You may see changes in you or your loved ones. This can last days or weeks, and generally consists of feelings of disconnection, stress, worthlessness, complete exhaustion, and changes in behavior or routines as you come to grips with what you may have just experienced. Suddenly, you may find yourself rooted back in a reality that doesn’t seem to glow as bright. Perhaps you’re even pushing through denial to understand that your mind works differently.

As I continued to soar, I knew the landing would be anything but gentle. Being that I am currently unmedicated, I had no choice but to ride the wave, and pray my insight would keep me as grounded as possible.

By the second week I found myself unable to breathe or sleep effectively, and was toppling into relentless crying spells. All I wanted to do was eat and sleep. I was juggling mental health symptoms, chronic pain, work, school, motherhood, cold-like symptoms in the era of Covid, and had started my menstrual cycle (which is uniquely debilitating for me, but that’s a story for another day.) I felt increasingly overwhelmed by the demands of what it means to function, and soon the day came where I couldn’t get out of bed at all. With the support of my incredible girlfriend, I called into work and took a mental health day. Once the feelings of guilt and insecurity passed, I was instantly humbled by the notion that sometimes mental illness demands self-care take precedence over earthly obligation.

That evening, my sweet girl returned to me and poured into me the healing of good company, validation, and heartfelt conversation. She was so lovingly reassuring, always seeking to provide whatever it is I need, and the blessing was not lost on me. The next day, I began the task of pulling myself out of the clinical Depression that followed. Through it all, the most important thing to me will always be my family, and the due diligence I feel to spare them pain, treat them well, and lift them up – especially when I am drowning. One of my greatest challenges throughout my mental health treatment has been asking for help when I need it. Don’t let it be yours.

If you don’t make your mental health a priority – it has the potential to do it for you. You may feel deeply concerned about the repercussions of taking a mental health day. However, if you don’t listen to the limitations of your mind and body, you may find there is no ambition, family, or hobby to return to. In some cases, the risk may outweigh the benefit of pushing through.

My day of rest allowed me to relax and regroup, although it would be a few more days before I was able to fully regain my footing and move forward. I am slowly beginning to return to myself after the fallout, and putting things in place to return to my psychiatrist just as soon as I am able. Despite my uncertainty, the world went on spinning, and my job was there waiting for me the next day. The truth is, we must make time for our wellness free from shame and stigma, primarily when the consequences of not doing so become so much greater.

Discuss: Have you ever taken a mental health day? Did it help or hurt your circumstances? Did you receive support? Share what you learned in the comments below!

**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 021: The Hidden Symptoms of PTSD

“PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.” –Susan Pease Banitt Dear Readers, I was diagnosed with PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in 2014. While it explained so much, it also left me with more questions than answers. The consequences of traumatic experiences on the mind are visceral and despite common misconception, not isolated to Veterans of war. When I began to dig my heels into real trauma work, I learned just how relative and complex this disorder can be as no two people experience it the same way. Some people are survivors of one major traumatic life event, while others have many. I fall into the latter category, making the recovery process that much more challenging. Much of this disorder includes managing symptoms by understanding their roots and the dynamics of intense fear. The media has done a great service to this population by highlighting things like agitation and mood swings in major motion pictures; however, there is more to unearth about this disorder. Below you will find the less well known symptoms of PTSD in the spirit of offering additional support and resources to those in need. Depersonalization ➡️ Emotional, physical or cognitive detachment from one’s surroundings or sense of self. Feelings or unreality. Nightmares ➡️ Intense graphic dreams of horror with reoccurring themes of traumatic events, feelings of helplessness, harm or entrapment. Avoidance ➡️ Avoiding people, places or things that remind the person of traumatic events often including crowds, particular sights, sounds or smells. Hypervigilance ➡️ Heightened reaction and intolerance toward light, sound, verbal conflict or physical touch. Inappropriate Guilt ➡️ Feelings of worthlessness or regret surrounding the circumstances of one’s trauma, often including convictions that the situation could have been handled differently. Flashbacks ➡️ Sensations of time travel, hallucination and confusion including loss of the present moment and physical, emotional and/or auditory sensory experiences related to past traumatic events. Migraines ➡️ Trauma-related headaches including tension, chronic pain and nausea. Treatment Options Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems. Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a form of psychotherapy in which the person being treated is asked to recall distressing images while generating one type of bilateral sensory input, such as side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping. If you or someone you love is struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, please know you are not alone and help is available. PTSD Help Guide: Symptoms, Treatment and Self-Help for PTSD **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, Relationships

Ugly Truth 020: Change is Good

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” –Leo Tolstoy
Dear Readers, Welcome back to Deskraven, your mental health home! In today’s Ugly Truth post we are learning how the dynamics of change can be complex, but ever important in terms of self-development. If you know me personally, or have read any of my previous posts, you know I have not been shy about my struggles. I understand the personal and professional risk I take by telling the truth, however the benefit of diminishing mental health stigma and comforting others is worth every moment of glaring discomfort in the unmasking. This week a deep dark depression was scratching at my door and while I often pride myself in my ability to cope, I soon found myself in the depths of crying spells, incongruent thoughts, and hopelessness. When internal events take place, namely mood shifts, I often internalize while trying to rationalize what is happening by being logical, isolating and inventive. Still, even I can fall short of the very message I so often send to others: Know when to ask for help. Communication is a master key in the game of life. It is so important whether you have a mental illness, or just want to maintain healthy relationships. Half the battle is knowing what you need, the other half is asking for it. I am an inherently passive individual. Usually this serves me well in terms of tolerance and conflict avoidance, however when it comes to communication, passivity can prolong suffering and even lead to resentment. A lot of the time my depressive episodes are chemical requiring nothing more than self care and a waiting period, but sometimes they are circumstantial. It is the circumstantial kind that really require the most work, including the concept of change mentioned earlier in this post. Viewed in this light, depression becomes something of a riddle. Therefore, solving the riddle becomes a reasonable course of action to lessen depression and demonstrate self responsibility. When my tears dried up it dawned on me that I needed change. I learned change can be as big as a new career, or as small as a new haircut. All I knew for certain was that things were not working for me the way they were. If you or someone you love is struggling, be encouraged by the notion of change. When you find yourself suffering you must examine the phenomena to get to the whys and find resolution. The answer may be a painful one, or it may be simpler than you realized. The important thing to remember is that happiness is something to be looked after. You are responsible for being proactive in all areas of your health because internal experiences are forever solitary ones, and no one can do it for you. If you are unhappy in your relationship, talk about it. If you are miserable at work, seek out alternatives. If you are in need, ask for help. Change is scary and can create good stress, but ask yourself if complacency is keeping you pinned to the ground. Ask yourself if finding a way to create movement in your life will bring relief. **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 019: I Feel Like I Have No One

“If you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”

Dear Readers,

Despite all the advocating I do for others, I often feel isolated by my own chaos. Loved ones offer words of comfort and well-meaning friends, but the only one who can ever know your truth is you. Insofar, despair remains an endlessly solitary experience.

I want for just one reliable family member to take care of me when I feel like I’m bottoming out. Crisis intervention and medication are not going to stop me from being overwhelmed from a functional stand point from the chronic pain and psychological symptoms of my daily struggle. Stress is the worst possible thing for my health. I just keep pushing and pushing, and it makes me dangerously impulsive as I begin to flail desperately, dying to escape. Even when I try to proactively create change for myself, I feel like I am failing.

The truth is, I want to be taken care of for once in my life. I want someone to kiss me and promise me everything will be okay. I want to believe them.

**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 018: The Wisdom in Letting Go

“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.” Deborah Reber
Dear Readers,
Perhaps the most important thing we can learn from maturity is that grief alone is not reason enough to take action. Often times we feel overwhelmed by loss, stricken by sadness, or consumed by longing for a past lover, friendship, idea, or goal. However, just because we feel something doesn’t mean we should do something. Perhaps one of the greatest hallmarks of maturity is understanding the difference between feelings and actions. Perhaps acceptance indicates growth, especially when things do not go in your favor. In a previous post I wrote about one of the greatest love affairs of my life that just so happened to be with a woman. I haven’t seen or truly spoken to her in years, and yet every so often I find myself dreaming of her. When this happens I experience a stressful influx of grief. It is not unusual for me to spend the following day or two in a puddle of nostalgia and bittersweet tears, ruminating and revisiting old correspondence. It is not uncommon for me to reach out to her and to try desperately to mend the silence once more, begging to rebuild for the umpteenth time. The truth is as much as I miss her, I admire her for staying away. Like a moth to a flame I just never wanted to give up on her. Perhaps because our relationship was deeply fruitful and unique. Perhaps because we shared countless interests, hours of laughter, movies and entirely too much chocolate. Perhaps because her friendship circle became my own and so my loss was greater. Perhaps because she challenged and loved me simultaneously. Perhaps because I finally found the accountability she had been screaming at me to take for all those years, and I wanted to show her. Perhaps because she always made me laugh. Despite our ability to turn a perfectly good ladies night into a verbal anger match, no one could ever understand me quite like she did. Perhaps no one ever will – and I’m learning that that’s okay. Acceptance does not necessarily mean failure. Sometimes it just means acknowledging your emotions and being strong enough to feel them without acting on them. Accepting her absence in my life has not been dissimilar to grieving the death of a loved one, but I’ve learned to fill the hole with unconditional love. Maybe one day she will change her mind and reach out. Maybe enough is enough. I can admit that I sometimes self medicate in an attempt to toss and turn a little less when grief creeps up my spine, but the truth is as soon as the risk begins to outweigh the benefit, it’s time to let go. The art of letting go has been a reoccurring theme in my decade old stack of therapy notes. This focal point was a reflection of my incessant need for control. This need manifested as control because control mimics safety. As a child of abuse and trauma, safety became a suitable priority in all areas of my life, so I became preoccupied with avoiding harm and abandonment through dangerous control attempts. My opportunities for control were found in abusive relationship dynamics, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive behaviors, even senseless manipulation and chaos creation. By no fault of my own, I found dysfunction to be the natural state of things rather than the unnecessary uproar that it is. Somehow, the maladaptive behaviors I had learned as a child became problematic as an adult, and yet they comforted me because they were familiar. This is self-sabotaging behavior and more importantly, the concept of true control is a fallacy. The truth is children do better when they know better. I had to learn to accept healthy loving dynamics and reject mistreatment. I had to learn to fall in love with myself independent of relationship reflections. I had to learn to find joy in the mundane and avoid the impulses of boredom and excessive discomfort. I had to learn to stay present long enough to acknowledge, accept and process pain without fighting or fleeing. Those lost live on in my memories and my ability to continue loving them in the retelling. I am no longer bound by the guilt of the agitation I experienced as a result of my lost sense of control. I now understand the value of staying in the presence of pain, thinking before I speak, and disregarding actions attached to thoughts or feelings. While not entirely free from self-loathing (also a control dynamic), I no longer harm myself and instead aim to empathize. Whether you are freeing yourself from pain or people, it is only when you can let go that you can truly possess. **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!