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 002: Laundry Feels Like an Olympic Sport

Fatigue is what we experience, but it is what a match is to an atomic bomb.” -Laura Hillenbrand Dear Readers, I’ve written about clinical exhaustion before in 7 Truths About Mental Illness Related Fatigue to shed light on the unexpected sources of fatigue. Today I want to talk about what loss of energy feels like. This matters because it can rob you of your most prized possessions, and the ability to build memories. Fatigue is not just feeling tired. It is the inability to exert yourself, even when you most want to. It is the inability to process information properly. It is becoming overstimilated by environmental changes and social courtesies, however routine they may seem. Fatigue is the inability to move even when you’re most motivated, the inability to take in your surroundings, and the inability to respond. Fatigue is feeling trappd in your body, but it is never intentional. My weaknesses come from insomnia exacerbated by episodes of chronic pain and mental illness, but everyone is different. I can fall asleep, but I can’t stay asleep. I often wake anywhere from four to six times per night. This may be from the discomfort from pain, the anxiety from racing throughts, or the hypervigilance and nightmares of PTSD. I explained this during an evaluation with a psychiatrist some time ago, to which he replied, “That’s awful.” I resent sleeplessness because it bleeds into every area of my life. It impacts my relationships, my ability to produce and follow-through, and my ability to work as a typical 29-year-old should. Effective treatment of insomnia almost always requires medication. However, my attempts to approach my health in a natural way has taught me a few good things about sleep hygiene. Sure, the medication will knock you out, but sedation is not the same as restful natural sleep. Sleep is so important because it brings healing and recovery from the day to your muscles and your brain. When these things are left uncared for, it can cause a resurfacing of symptoms related to mental health, and completely drain a possibly already injured body. Therefore, self-care remains my top list priority on a daily basis. This generally consists of hot baths, meditation, stretching, proper nutrition, hydration, and leisure skills. I must also reserve my bed for sleep only, refusing any temptation to eat, work, or play. The trouble is when self-care becomes necessary, it can become time consuming which forces you to prioritize your life differently. The truth is, small victories matter – but they may come at the expense of others. You may fail to return important phone calls, execute daily tasks, or nurture your relationships. Add to that a nasty social stigma attached to fatigue, often being mistaken for a character flaw such as laziness. It’s not something many people understand, but I assure you it’s real. If you suffer from fatigue, may you find hope in balance and returning to the things you love. What keeps you up at night? **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 Series 001: Love is Not Enough (Suicidal Depression)

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.” George Orwell, 1984 Trigger Warning: This post makes mention of suicide. Dear Readers, I’ve been told I think too much, and they’re not wrong. I had a plan laid out for the next Deskraven series. I had hoped to shed light on my personal life in a framework entitled, “Family Matters.” I planned to reveal and explore the challenges and rewards blended families face with children who are not neurotypical. However, this will have to wait for another time as more important matters arose this morning. In a fit of spiraling suicidal depression, I decided it pertinent to discuss the ugly truths of mental health instead. This topic took precedence over family dynamics due to the danger and depth involved. As well as the personal notes on my own heart, the way suffering is universal, and the stigma attached to this subject. This concept bloomed some despite my tears. Therefore, I have challenged myself to publish 100 ugly truths about mental health over an extended period of time. I have no idea how long it will take, nor do I know if I will splice in other content along the way. All I know for certain is this is a pressing conviction on my writer’s brain, and I encourage you to chime in along the way. Ugly Truth 001: Suicidal Depression Having multiple diagnoses can make symptom management tricky. Knowledge is power, but sometimes you have to do the best you can with what you’ve got regardless of the source. These disorders are multifaceted and dramatically impact my quality of life. I have lost jobs, friends, relationships, and my own will to live more than once. This morning, one of these internal storms was triggered by severe fatigue in the face of obligation, robbing me of my joy and ability to self regulate. Lately, I’ve been exhausted, completely overstimulated, and stumbling to communicate despite good intentions. I have been anxious, depressed, and worried (yet ever ambitious) for the future. I didn’t sleep well last night, and PMS is in full swing. I was trying to get a fucking grip when my partner let one slip of the tongue slice through me. It wasn’t intentional, but my mind has the unadoring ability to misinterpret information. I know the blocks were stacked against me this morning from a self-care perspective alone. I paused to rationalize it and empathize with myself, but I couldn’t stop crying. Suddenly, I found myself hoping for the big nap. I couldn’t help but seek the relief the sky provides, regardless of whatever lives there. Then came the river of lies:
“They’ll be better off without me…”, “I am a burden to everyone…”, “I can’t cope with the pain…”, “I am only 29, I can’t go on through a lifetime of this…”, “I am so tired…” “I am not strong enough…” “I am gonna throw up…” -and so on. I have done enough self work to catch myself in a suicidal state and be objective, but it doesn’t stop the impulse or the inner truth – and that is the piece I don’t think many people can understand. Suicidal ideation is not always circumstantial or ego-centric. Sometimes, it is not a reflection of an insufficient life. Sometimes, it is a pure and simple brain chemical mishap resulting in a state of mind you just can’t turn away from. Sometimes it is an irrational mood event much like mania or anxiety. I often pray that I will always be strong enough to step away from the ledge, and endure any amount of suffering if it means my son has his mother. However, I would be lying if I said I never thought about going for one final swim. And that is what makes this an ugly truth, the fact that the love of our children is not an opponent for suicidal depression. I know I am not the only one. So, this post is dedicated to the countless mothers and under-reported fathers out there who are confined to their beds and uncharacteristic harmful ways. This post is dedicated to those of you who would rather sleep than live because nothing is enough to spare you a most significant darkness. Even true love, our most precious human gem, can not always redirect an irrational mind. The truth is, you can not see clearly in a suicidal state. All you know is you want the anguish to stop, and you’ll go to great lengths to get it. The truth is sometimes love is not enough. Suicide is inherently self indulgent – yes – as most mental illness related actions (or inactions) are. However, it does not reflect the common misconception of cowardice or selfishness. Similarly, suicide does not reflect the worth of the survivor. Yes, it takes considerable strength and bravery to stay when you want to leave, but suicidal ideation is simply a desperate miscalculation reinforced by misinformation. Stay tuned for more ugly truths as I aim to inform and minimize mental health stigma. You can read more about my story as a survivor of suicide in A Suicide Survivor Story pt. I & II. If you or someone you know is struggling, trained counselors are ready to listen and help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK The Crisis Text Hotline: Text CONNECT to 741741 Additional Reading: How To Deal With Suicidal Thoughts—From 7 Women Who’ve Been There, Women’s Health Magazine **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! Have you survived a suicidal depression, an attempt, or lost a loved one to suicide? Please share your stories in the comments. You’re safe here. You’re not alone.
Mental health

7 Truths About Mental Illness Related Fatigue

“I often wished that more people understood the invisible side of things. Even the people who seemed to understand, didn’t really.”

Jennifer Starzec, Determination (5k, Ballet, #2)

Dear Readers,

Fatigue is one of the most stigmatized topics in mental health. Often times onlookers suspect an embellishment or falsehood of some kind. Even more often, age discrimination becomes real. Things like, “Be grateful you’re so young and healthy…” or “You just slept 12 hours, how could you be tired?…” or “Why can’t you get out of bed?…” really drive a knife into my side. Afterall, how could I possibly be advantageous enough to educate someone who just doesn’t know any better when I can’t lift my own legs?

Fatigue, or excessive exhaustion resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness, is a complex issue and often manifests itself differently in a wide range of circumstances. The same can be said within the realm of mental health alone, as exhaustion varies and fluctuates from one individual to the next. See below for the various ways fatigue presents itself in my life, and how different symptoms require different coping skills.

1. Insomnia

The inability to fall asleep.

2. Sleep Disturbances

The inability to stay asleep.

3. Anxiety

The ever energy-consuming disorder that is the physical manifestation of a psychological event. Symptoms include shaking, nausea, changes in cardiac health, disproportionate fear, crying, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, numbness or tingling in the extremeties, trouble breathing and chest pain.

4. Bi-Polar Disorder

Mania

Racing thoughts, increased energy, pressured speech, grand ideas with no real execution, psychosis, decreased need for sleep – all from which there will be a hard-hitting physical crash.

Depression

Loss of interest, loss of appetite and general apathy all lead to feelings of fatigue. Ironically, depression can be a saving grace as it often results in a significant paralysis that leaves you unable to execute self destructive behavior.

5. PTSD

Nightmares, hypervigilance, guilt, flashbacks, sensory input and overstimulation all contribute to an inflamed sense of stress and insomnia.

6. Chronic Pain & Migraines

Inflammation, swelling, paralysis, joint, bone & nerve pain related to a slipped disc in my spine resulting in sciatic nerve compression, trouble walking and episodic pain flares. Migraines consistent with auras, tension, nausea, light sensitivity, and writhing pain.

7. Medication

Medication side effects may include restlessness, insomnia, drowsiness, or sedation.

It doesn’t take a scholar to understand how draining these experiences can be. Add to that morning exhaustion a full plate of daily obligation and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a total nervous breakdown, complete with snot bubbles. So, what’s my answer to all this?

MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY.

INTERRUPT THE BLAMING, SHAMING, SELF LOATHING CYCLE.

KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP OR SAY NO.

SLOWLY RETURN TO THE THINGS YOU LOVE.

EMPATHIZE WITH YOURSELF.

My hope is that this post will serve as a resource for those who may not understand the sleepy behaviors of their loved ones, as well as promote awareness and tolerance in otherwise difficult situations. Additionally, may it serve as a validating referral for those of you who suffer.

**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!