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 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!