chronic pain, Mental health

Ugly Truth 31: What My Chronic Pain Actually Feels Like


“If I only could explain 
How much I miss
That precious moment 
When I was free
From the shackles of chronic pain.”
-Jenni Johanna Toivonen

My chronic pain summary – for future reference and all my fellow pain warriors who suffer from invisible illness.

•Car accident – June 2015
•Orthopedic surgeon referral and slipped disc(s) – June 2015
•Electrical vibration with sound in skull/loss of consciousness – June 2015
•First paralysis episode – August 2017
•13 chiropractic sessions – April of 2019
•Car accident – September 2019
•Cat scan – September 2019

Findings to Date:

Anterior Head Posture (Leaning forward due to an imbalance of muscles in the neck, shoulders and upper back.)

Kyphosis (Abnormal curvature of the spine.)

L5/S1 Disc Herniation (Spinal injury that causes unremitting and severe pain, muscle spasms, nerve damage, lack of coordination, numbness in the extremities, overactive reflexes, muscle weakness and at it’s most severe – loss of bladder control.)

Spinal Stenosis (A condition where spinal column narrows and compresses the spinal cord.)

Lumbosacral Radiculopathy
(A disorder that causes pain in the lower back and hip which radiates down the back of the thigh into the leg. This damage is caused by compression of the nerve roots which exit the spine & can lead to sciatica – this is the pain that causes temporary paralysis.)

Migraine with Brainstem Aura

From the American Migraine Foundation:

Migraine with brainstem aura is a migraine-type that has aura symptoms originating from the base of the brain (brainstem) or both sides of the brain (cerebral hemispheres) at the same time. People who experience migraine with brainstem aura also experience migraine with typical aura symptoms, including:

  • Visual (Examples include sparkles or zigzag lights in the vision that may move or get larger. Generally on only one side of your vision).
  • Sensory (Examples include numbness or tingling that travels up one arm to one side of the face).
  • Speech/language symptoms (Examples include trouble producing words even though you know what you want to say or trouble understanding what people are saying).

In addition, people with migraine with brainstem aura get brainstem aura symptoms such as:

  • Dysarthria (slurred speech)
  • Vertigo (feeling of movement/spinning of self or environment)
  • Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
  • Hypacusis (impaired hearing)
  • Diplopia (double vision)
  • Ataxia (Unsteady/Uncoordinated movements)
  • Decreased level of consciousness

Follow-Up:

Neurologist and MRI

If you or someone you love lives with chronic pain, share your story 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, 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, Parenting

Ugly Truth 023: I Desperately Want to Have a Baby (And Why I Won’t)

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” -Elizabeth Stone

Dear Readers,

When I was young, I swore I would never have children. After experiencing a childhood of abuse and abandonment, I did not believe having children was the right answer for me within the confinements of my family. Add to that a less than desirable predisposition in the way of genetics, and this decision came quite easily. Although, it was not without its heaviness of heart. Still, biology had its way with me, and in 2011 I gave birth to a healthy beautiful baby boy.

My relationship with his father demonstrated the deep love and adoration only young love can bring, and was completely free of any undue abuse or abandonment. Understanding the function of a loving dynamic was new to me, and made it easy to understand how one comes to desire more children if for no other reason than to share that experience with the person you cherish most.

As we grew older, our bond was tested by an enormous strain, and I am sad to say our relationship could not withstand the blow. After amicably parting ways, although not without tears, I again proclaimed, “No more children!” Coming from a blended broken family teaches you a few things. First, you get two of everything, and second, some decisions are never easy no matter how you slice them. After watching my mother struggle so, I was certain I did not want multiple children from multiple partners. I realize this may sound arrogant and narrow minded, but I understood early that this was one of those uneasy decisions.

I remained set in my ways, and did not produce another child over the course of the next six years. In that time I also experienced the love and loss of marriage and divorce, which only reinforced the gratitude I had for my decision. After many failed relationships, I soon swore off relationships altogether. This isn’t that far fetched an idea if you know my father. His bachelor status is well over a decade old, so I had exposure to the kind of predictable protection that this lifestyle choice can provide. Surly, I would never again have to worry about the loss of a loved one, or an unplanned pregnancy. For six months I was resigned to my decision, and settled happily into my new routines. In my son’s seventh year, however, my desire was set aflame by the unexpected love of an old friend, and a ticking biological clock.

Here I am now pushing 30 years old, watching that door close a little more each year as my son grows older – and all I can think about is the daughter I’ll never have. The truth is, I can not reconcile my heart with my mind.

My standard of living is below the demands of a growing family. I live with a myriad of health conditions – some of which are genetic – all of which are exacerbated by the experience of pregnancy. These include mental and physical health. As someone living with chronic pain, I am confident my body could not support a pregnancy without consequence.

Alternately, being in love is a natural causeway. Watching my son mature gives me an inflamed sense of everything as a first and last experience – and it devastates me to the point of distraction. I see my peers almost unanimously growing their families, and I find myself intensely jealous. I day dream of pregnancy, nursing, and all the wisdom I have now that I didn’t have with my son. I cry for the way I feel like something is missing. I cry for the way my son will never be called “brother”. I cry for the way I can not gift my partner. I cry for the name I have already given her.

The truth is, I would consider it flatly irresponsible to produce another child at this point given my health and my circumstances, and yet my grief is unrelenting.

**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!