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

Ugly Truth 34: Psychosis Sucks

“Imagine a world where your thoughts are not your own.” -Daniel, Schizoaffective Patient, 2019

Have you ever experienced psychosis? You are not alone. Approximately 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the US experience first episode psychosis each year. 

Psychosis is the experience of false beliefs and/or sensory experiences – including hallucinations involving sight, sound, smell or touch, and delusions – such as visions of grandeur or severe paranoia as it relates to mental illness. Delusions may be jealous, grandiose, persecutory, somatic or erotomanic. Hallucinations may sometimes be contextualized by one’s delusions, or altogether incongruent.

Some early warning signs of psychosis include:

Consistently worrying about grades or job performance

Struggling to concentrate or think clearly

Having unwarranted suspiciousness of others

Failure to keep up with personal hygiene

Withdrawing from friends and family

Experiencing strong, inappropriate feelings or no feelings at all

I experienced by first bout with psychosis in childhood. Throughout all my diagnoses, paranoia has always been very pervasive, and while I have put the work in to adjust this about myself, my conviction that others will almost always hurt me presented as hallucinations from a very early age.

It first began with insects, then shadow people, even dead people, screaming and full blown delusions – sometimes called thought hallucinations. On Halloween of 2014, I experienced my first ever break with reality. For the first time in my life I could not distinguish between what was real and what wasn’t. The evening was unremarkable, however, I believe the knocking of trick or treaters may have triggered me this night. (It is worth noting that during this time my PTSD was at it’s peak, I was not sleeping, and I had experienced small episodes of hallucinations in the days prior. I also have Bipolar Disorder and Panic Disorder, so it stands to reason that psychosis would present itself under the circumstances of extreme sleep deprivation, stress, and spiraling fear.) I was home alone, stood to walk toward the bathroom, sat down to pee, and upon standing was suddenly overcome by an impending sense of doom. In an instant I became paralyzed, unable to traverse the threshold between my bathroom and the dining room. I suddenly became convinced someone was in my home, hiding in the above attic, waiting for the opportunity to pounce on me and instigate my demise. Still frozen with fear, I flung into a panic turning off all the lights and locking all the doors. I locked myself in my bedroom and opened the nearest window, removing the screen to ensure my escape should this attic person come bursting through my door. Perhaps the best decision I made was calling for help while I had fleeting thoughts of where the firearms were kept.

This experience was by far one of my most troubling and profound. For many, the initial response is shame and embarrassment, perhaps even a suicidal impulse. However, I am grateful because this situation was the final push I needed to walk into a psychiatrist’s office where I was properly diagnosed and treated for the first time. The truth is, you’re not alone and it’s not your fault.

Psychosis may result from Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression, PTSD and/or an acute onset of trauma, sleep deprivation or stress. If you or a loved one is showing signs of psychosis, seek medical attention immediately.

For more of my thoughts and coping skills regarding psychosis read Trauma Confession Series: When Trauma Work Wakes Other Sleeping Monsters

**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!
Lifestyle, Mental health, Parenting

Ugly Truth 012: Comparison Kills

“I looked through others’ windows On an enchanted earth But out of my own window– solitude and dearth. And yet there is a mystery I cannot understand– That others through my window See an enchanted land.”
Jessie B. Rittenhouse
Good Afternoon and Happy Weekend Readers, Welcome back to Deskraven’s 100 Ugly Truths about mental health! In my last post I talked about the social perceptions, comparisons and partial truths we tell each other. From that sprung an endless well of my own woulda, coulda, shoulda’s – and it wasn’t long before I was feeling guilty. You see, we all want what we don’t have. People with straight hair want curls, people with light skin want tans, people who stay home wish they could work more, and people who work wish they could stay home. It all depends on the needs of yourself and your family dynamic. Many women find their identities in motherhood while others thrive in career environments. Still more, some women – and men – juggle both. Personally, I have always had a heart for being a stay at home mom for many reasons – but I have never been fortunate enough to do it. My first and only son was not planned, nor were the circumstances that soon followed, so I found myself in a young age of adaptation more so than any heartfelt sense of romance or family planning. It got me wondering about how different life might be had I been mature enough to carve the path for myself. There is much research that indicates the value of a stay at home mom. To start, full time stay at home parents offer children a rooted homebase rich in resources. They are free to attend the social-emotional needs of their children, accompany school and sporting events, run last minute errands, make doctor’s appointments and maintain the home while loved ones are away. I find endless value in this! Likewise, the stay at home mom offers balance to a sole provider by running the home and all that it entails. Families with a stay at home parent sometimes make less, but they also spend less in my opinion. Having worked in childcare for ten years, I can tell you that it is grossly expensive and leaves much to be desired depending on your parenting style. Many families find that at least one of their salaries goes almost solely to childcare which easily begs the question, What is the point of that? Children in centers are more resilient and socialized, yes, but they also tend to be more anxious, uncertain, and ill. On the flip side, career mothers offer glowing demonstrations of provision and multi-skilled strength for their children. They teach the importance of education and contribution in a different way, although that lesson may come at an unspoken cost both culturally and personally if not balanced carefully. The sad reality is growing your family well is extremely expensive no matter how you do it, and many women never have the luxury of choice to begin with. That said, our choices, environments, and maternal roles definitely push and pull on our mental health. The decision to have a child is a momentous one, at least it should be. The truth is, I have always dreamed of a big family – but I can not afford one in more way than one. The truth is I worry about my physical, emotional, and psychological capacity – but I can also hear my biological clock ticking as my only son grows closer to eight years old. The truth is I had severe Post-Partum Depression the first go around. The truth is my finances are mine alone and I rely on no one – on purpose – for fear of losing it all again. I put great pressure on myself as a maternal human being and endure the pros and cons of my choices. In my ideal world I would be a full-time stay at home mother and student. This would allow me to nurture my children at my preference while still growing myself. My children would have access to me, the bills would be paid by a supportive partnership, and by the time they reached an age of less need I would be equipped to re-enter the workforce. I deeply envy women cut from this cloth, so I assign value to the things I successfully do manage to demonstrate for my son, as well as give myself grace when I catch myself in a moment of wishful thinking. What many people forget to remember is that the stay at home mom is only a temporary animal, and we must not lose our identities when faced with difficult decisions. What’s more, being a stay at home parent comes with a different type of stress and responsibility, but it is one that allows you to practice self care through labors of love. This is an opportunity the working woman must carve out for herself, meaning it may take a greater toll on her mental health. When reversed however, the stay at home mom may become more susceptible to mental health conditions due to a lack of purposeful exertion, genetics or meaningful socialization. The truth is, working women and stay at home women have different needs, obstacles and priorities – and one may not necessarily be better than the other. All I know for sure is unplanned pregnancy and family planning have entirely two different outcomes, and it breaks my heart. Maybe the most important thing familial relationships can teach us is tolerance, love and forgiveness. The truth is, different doesn’t mean better. Are you a stay at home parent or working parent? What brought you to your decision and how do you feel about it? How has it impacted your mental health? **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 011: A Day in Bed is Invaluable

What a magical thing is the bed, and what a vulnerable, innocent creature is the sleeping human – the human who never looks more truthful or pitiful or benign; the curled-up, childlike dreaming soul who has for a few hours become an angel adrift.” -Michael Leunig Good Afternoon Readers, Saturday is always a shit day. If you’re like me and live with chronic pain while working a typical nine-to-five, then you know your first day off work makes you feel like a trainwreck. This decompression period is what happens after a week of significant exertion and limited resources. My energy levels crash, my joints flare, my sleep suffers, and there is nausea and headaches to boot. The truth is, I am too busy trying to figure out how to do the grocery shopping to grab Starbucks with you. Age discrimination is a very real thing. I cant tell you how many times I’ve been told that I don’t know what pain is because I’m only 29. However, I can tell you that I’ve been so stricken by pain that the inability to move brings me to tears from frustration alone. (If you’re reading this and you’re an ignoramus, please think before you speak.) When people ask me what I’m doing this weekend and I say, “Nothing” they rear backwards in their chair with snarky comments and wrinkled up noses. For some, a day in bed is a day wasted. For me, a day in bed relieves the pain and exhaustion I have no descriptors for. I require at least one day a week with zero obligation if I am to continue successfully. Part of it is legitimate introversion, but most of it is a need for rest significant enough to cope with chronic pain and mental illness. I usually spend Saturday’s crawling around my apartment with poor posture and breathing exercises attempting to glean whatever relief I can from bubble baths, ibuprofen and intermittent stretching sessions. I read somewhere that a diagnosis can come with the cost of the inability to be anything else, hence the ill timed expression, high-functioning. The truth is, a day in bed is not a lazy desire, but a dire necessity when relating mental health maladies to life performance. When was the last time you spent a day in bed? **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!