Mental health

Ugly Truth 46: June is PTSD Awareness Month!

“The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”

-Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror


The Facts:

*PTSD is not just Veterans of War
*Rape Victims Have a 49% Chance of Developing PTSD
*7-8% of the U.S. Population Will Have PTSD at Some Point
*Women are Twice as Likely to Develop PTSD
*Symptoms can Take Months or Years to Develop

*Individuals with PTSD are 2-4 Times More Likely to Develop a Substance Use Disorder
*78% of Those with a Diagnosis Experience Depression in Their Lifetime
*People who Suffer From PTSD are More Likely to Commit Suicide
*1/3 of Veterans with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Also Meet Criteria for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after a very stressful, frightening or distressing event, or after a prolonged traumatic experience.

Events That Can Lead to PTSD Include:

*serious accidents *physical or sexual assault

*abuse, including childhood or domestic abuse *exposure to traumatic events at work, including remote exposure

*serious health problems, such as being admitted to intensive care *childbirth experiences, such as losing a baby

*war and conflict *medical trauma

*civil unrest *pandemics

PTSD develops in about 1 in 3 people who experience severe trauma. It’s not fully understood why some people develop the condition while others do not. While treatment is available, some symptoms may never diminish.

Symptoms Include:

physical pain

nightmares or flashbacks

depression or anxiety

withdrawl or avoidance

repression

emotional numbing

insomnia

hyperarousal

irritability

guilt or shame

Discuss: Does PTSD impact your life in some way? Share your experience 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!

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!

Lifestyle, Relationships

Women who Love Women: Falling In Love and Out of Touch

“I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line.”
Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
Dear Readers, Something you may or may not know about me is that I have struggled with my sexuality most of my life. I have identified as bisexual, lesbian, and polyamarous before doing away with labels all together. I have been blessed to have romantic and platonic relationships with both men and women. My first sexual encounters were with females, and it wasn’t long before I started learning my preferences. In high school, I fell in love with a beautiful girl for the first time, and was then pursued by another. Unfortunately, the relationship crashed and burned due to a jealous love triangle, of which I was the epicenter. However, I never forgot how much she taught me about myself. It was this relationship that resulted in my first brush with discrimination. I was harassed at school for openly being myself. My mother cried and pleaded, begging me not to hurt her. She told me she would never accept it, and she never did. I faced discrimination from employers who preferred to look the other way, nevermind the church and always some non-believing male trying to push his way in. At the end of my 10th grade year I moved to Texas and enrolled in a new school. I was still coming to terms with myself, but remained mostly transparent with my preference for women. I pursued two girls that year while men pursued me, but neither lasted. I always knew what I wanted. Still, I stumbled with the acceptance and the inner circle dynamics that come with a definitive learning curve. After all, men and women are as contrasted a specimen as two things can be. In 12th grade I entered into an open relationship with a male that allowed me the freedom to pursue female partners. It was a delightful time in my life although, my union with my primary partner at the time was very unhealthy and soon went from accommodation to possessiveness. As a result, my relationships with women at the time suffered greatly, and never matured past casual encounters. It wasn’t until I was free from this relationship and relocated again that I began to date women exclusively, determined to be happy once and for all. And then…there she was one day, standing before me in a polka dot blouse, dark hair flowing in the wind and those puppy dog eyes. She would grow to become the greatest love tragedy of my life. I dreamt of her last night and it swelled in me an endless pool of memories and emotions. Sadly, we have lost touch which is one hundred percent my doing, but it wasn’t always that way. There were many years of love in the sunshine, missed opportunities, and the soft landing of my very best female friend. This woman and I were very different, and yet similar in all the ways that mattered. She came from a wealthy family. I did not. She was well-liked and active in her academics. I was not. She was precious, loving, and tolerant. I was not. She was social, outgoing, and daring. Still, I was not. She taught me the language of mental health for the first time, of which I was in very much denial at the time. She taught me the priority of relationships and would vocalize them often. She was loyal and unfailing to a fault, always rushing to my aid no matter the hour. She valued family, friends, and struggled with her faith. She exercised good humor, ambition, and generosity. She balanced productivity with the wisdom a day in bed can bring. She always knew just what to say, even when I didn’t want to hear it. She put others first, even when her health was failing her. She loved her sweet, sweet kitty girl – Sophie – who I miss even now. She was beautiful. I admired her. I loved her. Oh my God, I loved her. With this admission I sat straight up in bed with an epiphany blooming behind my eyes. I began to cry. I was so joyful, and then equally fearful. When I informed her, however, she did not reciprocate and the anguish struck deep. We tried to maintain a friendship, but this seldom survives once one-sided feelings come to the surface. Over time, she had a change of heart and we reconnected once more, although I think some small part of me was never quite able to trust it. My inability to be vulnerable matched her inability to communicate dispassionately which created long lasting damage in our relationship. Our arguments were often trivial but severe, a reflection I believe of the unresolved hurt we both experienced while trying to be close to one another in every capacity over the years. As time passed, things changed again and I moved out of state. Over the course of this time, countless letters and phone calls were sent and received. Once more her heart was changing and she found greater meaning in our connection. I was delighted, but also clueless about the depths of that adoration. She never informed me that she had high hopes to try again upon my return, and in my idiotic blindness I entered into another poor relationship pattern before I even considered the notion of her and I finally being together. You cannot fathom my regret. This time, the tables were turned. She was the one who was hurting, and it was simply too late. Soon, my relationship ended and once more we were both available, only this time I was too wrapped up in my grief and misbehavior to see clearly. I rejected her long before she became brave enough to utter the words – …what if? And I’ll never forget the look on her face, or the breaks in her voice. Before I learned to manage my illnesses differently, I clung to very poor defense mechanisms at the great expense of others. Whenever I found myself suffering, I would repeatedly self-destruct. I would internalize and isolate with every intention of losing everyone close to me. Ultimately, the end result was suicidal action. My warped sense of logic convinced me that by pushing everyone away, I could end my life in peace – virtually free from guilt. How sickening and self-indulgent depression can be. I didn’t see it at the time, but this is what I was doing. This was the beginning of the end and somehow, my most beloved, brilliant, beam of light got swept up with the others. Some of my friends stuck around long enough to understand, forgive, and rebuild. But she hasn’t – and I don’t blame her. The truth is, she gave me so much more than I deserved. Having been a self-sabotager most of my life, it comes as no surprise that I sucked the life out of the relationship that could have so changed me with vapid excuses like fear, immaturity, and ill-timing. I know I hurt her immensely, and I will never forgive myself for that because not only did I lose the potential of a lifetime, I mistreated my closest and most passionate friend. I cast fear and doubt into her heart. I lost a friend who saved my life more than once. Shortly after, I embraced the work of personal development through therapy, reading, and writing. I grew in more ways than I can count. Sadly, this relationship suffered the most as a result of myself, and I can’t help but feel what can best be described as a double-consequence. Comprehension and change wont bring her back. I’m afraid it’s too little, too late. I will always think of her when the morning light hits the corners of a room just right because she brought me such warmth over the years. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself. She held me just right, and made me laugh with tears in my eyes. She visited me in the hospital. She gave me countless gifts, experiences, friends and resources. She taught me the value of accountability. She taught me the truth of having loved and lost – twice – against not loving at all. Following our final falling out, I dated a handful of girls that were lovely, some that were not so lovely, and some that just reminded me that I let go of something truly special. If I could see her now I would apologize. I would not deviate with fear. I would choose love. I hope you do too, in whatever form it takes. **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

Understanding Triggers: 15 Bullet-Points of Conflict Resolution

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”

John Steinbeck

Dear Readers,

Many of us with mental health conditions are considerably self-aware. Perhaps that is the benefit of therapy… to awaken and comprehend – to reconcile our internal storms with our external environment. Through out my own self-development I often found myself exposed to intrusive sensory experiences, crippling clinical-grade anxiety, and unsuspecting mood swings. When I began to learn and navigate the experiences that were afflicting my compromised consciousness, I soon came to realize many things along the way. This phenomenon is often referred to as post-traumatic growth.

So, what is a trigger? Psych Central reminds us,

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma. Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback.

For example, I like to watch people fight on YouTube. Verbal conflict and physical abuse triggers me, so I use the learning experience as a conflict resolution tool in tandem with exposure therapy.

My take away?

•We could all use better parents and role models.

•Difference creates dispute.

•Communication and comprehension are skills that require practice.

•Behavior is learned.

•Maturity matters.

•Pain is relative and universal.

•Familiarity promotes empathy.

•Intolerance hinders hospitality.

•We fear what we do not understand.

•Fear clouds judgment.

•Judgment and discernment are not the same.

•Blatant dehumanization is consequential.

•Bystanders are just as guilty as perpetrators.

•You should never hit a woman until the fifth times she’s hit you in the face.

•They have the wrong lights at Wal-Mart.

What has your trauma taught you?

**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!