Lifestyle, Mental health

Gratitude is the Guardian of Your Joy

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Dear Readers,

I am not a particularly religious person. I prefer to think of myself as spiritual rather than assign myself a religious label. Instead, I prefer to take the good from all of the major pillars of religion and apply it to my life in a practical way. Unlike most, I am okay with the not knowing. Occasionally, I will experience a thirst for knowledge and attend church for my sheer love of lectures, philosophies, and human understanding. On one of these days, the pastor’s wife stood at the podium and said these words, “Gratitude is the guardian of your joy.” -And it stuck.

These seven words of wisdom highlighted my genuine understanding of fundamental happiness. If we can be grateful, then we can shift our perspective just enough to glean some positivity from a painful situation because gratitude suggests choice. Therefore, there seems an intrinsic link between happiness and choice. As Thanksgiving approaches, these words sit with me still. More so since I am sitting in the unknown of unemployment- one of the most infamous stressors for any young family. So, perhaps a little self-examination will do me well, and help someone else along the way.

6 Things I am Grateful For & the Why:

1.) My Family.

My family dynamic has never been conventional, and so my definition isn’t either. I have had many unions and separations with men and women. One of these was fortunate enough to have produced a child. His father and I are no longer together although we maintain a loving and respectful relationship despite our differences. Somehow, the family we build becomes our own, having less and less to do with blood. There is so much value in the blending of differences, re-definition in the face of traditionalism, and the daily choice.

2.) My Home.

For most of my life I lived with others. I had boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates, friends who never left, and family to take me in. It wasn’t until my divorce that I was faced with the heat of a Texas August, and the choice to provide for myself independent of the provisions of others. I was not without help, of course. Now, almost two years later, the apartment I live in is mine, the bills I pay are mine, the car I drive is mine, the books on my shelf, the clothes on my back, and the food in my pantry is mine. The fear and the responsibility is my own, and the reward all the greater.

3.) My Health.

I am 29 years old and while not in perfect health, my chronic pain and mental health conditions pale by comparison to those I know and love with chronic medical ailments. Having been a caregiver much too soon, I have had a front row seat to the way illness can run amok on individuals, families, and bank accounts. While I would consider my functionality level below that of a typical twenty-something, I still balance the choice to get out of bed each morning.

4.) My Son.

Most people insinuate their children are their life, and it is probably perfectly true. However, my son saved mine and that is a fact. As a young woman, I was in the grips of horrendous grief and madness. My mind, body, and soul were dripping with chemicals and hell bent on fast tracking my self-destruction for a solid five years prior. I made a series of repetitively bad choices in great succession of one another if not to end my life through intent, then through sheer negligence and a complete lack of self-care. I was never malicious toward others. I was simply flailing through pain with zero guidance due to my own lack of language. My pregnancy taught me preservation of self for the sake of someone else, and forced me into fearless maturity. It taught me the choice of good health and good company, safety and security, and my full-time preoccupation with the truth.

5.) My Cat.

Pets provide a strange relationship free from circumstance or condition, one you may even be quick to resent. But if you look hard enough, you’ll notice that our domestic companions await eagerly each day for nothing more than our company and good graces. They misbehave, damage our over-priced goods, and cry into the night. And yet- there remains a middle ground where our choice to care for them meets the purity of their friendship and promised love.

6.) My Diagnoses.

I live with three major mental health conditions. It is something that has taken me all my young life to understand and manage wisely. Human suffering is universal, and therefore, has the power to inform. Suffering teaches compassion, empathy, and gratitude for the boring and mundane through shared experiences of loss and abuse. Suffering provides perspective when the unexpected uproars happen, giving you the strength and reassurance that it could always be worse. It gives us art, boundaries, and grace. Illness gives us the choice to victimize ourselves by ceding to self-absorbed unhappiness and self-medication, or to assign pain a function through self-love and recognition, to release it from its all consuming vanity, and serve those in need.

So it seems this free-association piece has secured my livelihood by circumventing my subconscious, and coming full circle on the reoccurring theme of choice.

What is guarding your joy this holiday season?

**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!

 

 

Uncategorized

Sibyl Marie: A Cat’s Tale

Dear Readers,

Cats get a bad wrap. If you have had the misfortune of having a less-than-desirable feline, my heart goes out to you. I happen to know and love one awesomely cool kitty-cat, and I’d like to share her with you tonight. Her name is Sibyl Marie.

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In 2014, I married a man I did not love for the sake of safety. After much anguish surrounding my sense of self and sexual identity, the marriage folded less than three years later. So, there I was, peeing in my new toilet, scrolling through Facebook like so few of us are willing to admit, when this green-eyed beauty floated across my screen. Her first mother, Laura, had lost her in a nasty breakup years prior. Understandably, Laura had moved on to a life filled to the brim with the love of a new partner and pets, leaving her unable to take Sibyl in. So, the disgruntled ex-boyfriend threatened to bring Sibyl to a shelter if no one came to her aid. Naturally, every ounce of love and compassion jumped from my soul and I sweetly replied, “Give her to meeee!”

This was a half-hearted offer I admit. After all, I had a little boy and a new life to juggle all on my own.

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After a few small transactions and immense support from her first owner, she was on her way that very same day. Sibyl came to me during a time of tremendous life transition, so I feel intensely bonded to her. It goes without saying that I am absolutely bias when it comes to the favor of my feline friend. Still, she deserves credit for her humor, her calm yet playful demeanor, and her undying love for eye-contact. After a few tears, much mewing, and fancy feasting she adapted warmly… just in time for Hurricane Harvey to make landfall.

For eight long days, Sibyl and I were trapped in the ivory tower that is our second story apartment building. While water levels were rising and grocery shelves were obscenely lacking, while citizens miscalculated their evacuation plans and the streets quieted her engines so sirens could blare, Sibyl and I stayed snuggled together in my one bedroom apartment- destined to become best friends. Eight days without going outside is enough to make just about anyone lose it. Employment, school districts and commerce paused. Fortunately for us, I had paid mind to gather provisions beforehand- so there was bread, flame and rum a-plenty!

Most importantly –Sibyl Marie is a stupendous emotional support animal. We all have our histories and she is no different. She has her own kitty anxieties and idiosyncrasies from the environment she was in before she called our house a home. We have noticed she stirs away from specific objects, brooms for example, and runs from loud noises. She cries when there’s thunder and hides from the vacuum. Similarly, my psychological enthusiasm evoke days of unrest where carrying myself upright is just too much to ask. And yet- we never fail to love one another. She comes when I cry, when I tremble with panic, and find myself shaking with nightmares. She comes when I fall short of breathing, traverse through flashbacks or suffer from psychosis. She tolerates the squeezing touches of my seven-year-old, and loves my partner just as much as I do.

Sibyl Marie has been a most cherished addition to our family, and we often laugh of giving her her very own YouTube segment. She springs from boxes, chases lasers, cries for tuna, and pounces in the night. She meows for the sake of talking and brings laughter wherever she goes. She cries for snuggles, licks hands, and knocks over dishes without a care in the world. She is uniquely petite, intelligent, hilarious and oh-so affectionate.

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So, the next time someone tells you cats suck you might empathize with their plight, or you just might prove them wrong.

Tell me your cat stories in the comments section. The good, the bad, and the ugly!

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**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!