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!

Mental health

Ugly Truth 004: Positivity Only Goes So Far

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”

– Glenn Close Greetings Readers, Welcome back to the Ugly Truth Series brought to you by Deskraven. Let us use this space to explore the ugly truths of mental illness in order to spark conversation, embolden our language, and demystify stigma. Today we’re talking about the ever preached power of positivity – and where it stops short. I know two things about genuine happiness. One, positivity takes practice and two, happiness is only real when shared. Likewise, like most things this translates differently if you’re someone who suffers from mental illness. Try as you might, you may find there is a cap on your positivity practice, especially if you have a mood disorder. In my experience I have found that I can successfully practice positivity and apply it to my life right up until my chronic pain flares past my ability to see a silver lining. This isn’t necessarily because pain causes anguish, although it undoubtedly does, but because it can pose as a significant distraction to most everything else. This makes my ability to practice positivity secondary, and my outlook will often suffer as a result. Positivity is not walking around with a delusional sense of glee, but instead choosing gratitude and joy even when your circumstances suggest otherwise. It is maintaining some sliver of hope in the face of adversity. And when hope can not be maintained, radical acceptance must take its place – bringing me to ugly truth #3. Positivity is important, essential even, but when you have a mental health condition the dynamics of joy and choice change considerably. Particularly when the moods you experience are chemical rather than circumstantial. Radical acceptance allows us to accept our state of mind or environmental triggers as truth. This paired with the wisdom that this too shall pass can offer peace of mind, even when positivity struggles to find its way through. We can combat this with mindfulness. So here’s a how-to list with some of my methods to assist you in remaining intentional in your positivity practice. Practice Gratitude Gratitude is achieved when we take the time to be grateful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we’re lacking. This can be done using a thought practice or a journal to list things like family, partners, employers, pets, or achievements. If you’re like me, you may break it down even further by celebrating food, water, shelter, warmth, or a day of good health. Words of Affirmation Reciting positive affirmations to yourself may seem hokey, but in reality I have found the ability to self sooth a most invaluable skill. Offering yourself reassurance and comfort during a stress trigger or mental health episode can help keep you grounded, as well as relieve your friends and family of the duty. Self-Care Self-Care is useful in terms of practicing positivity because it demonstrates self-love. This also takes practice and will be different for everyone. As an introvert, I prefer wind down rather than charge up techniques. Comedy and Cuteness Laughter is essential to my well-being. I was raised by two parents with a genuine and solid sense of humor and so found the value in it very early. When you have a mental health condition you may suffer from over-thinking. Good humor and the cuteness of infants or animals helps to pluck me from the conundrum of getting in my own way by offering some light heartedness and those feel-good hormones of belly laughter. Likewise, affection legitimately reduces stress levels. Healthy Risk-Taking Research shows that risk taking reinforces positivity by providing the satisfaction the memory of taking a risk can provide. Anytime we attempt to or actually dispel fear almost always results in meaningful personal growth. This is especially true for anxiety sufferers where fear runs irrationally rampant. The truth is mental health conditions can rob us of our lenses. Positivity is where the practice of one day at a time relieves the fear of big picture thinking. What helps you maintain positivity? Additional Reading: 11 Ways to Boost Positive Thinking, Psychology Today **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

3 Ways to Cope with Discouragement

“I read somewhere… how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind death stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.”

Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Dear Readers,

As much as I love writing for others, it is important sometimes to write for myself. All of the topics featured here are an extension of a recent personal struggle, and this is no different.

This week I was struck with a series of blows, but also some small victories. My fluctuating days, though dispairing they may be, then inspired me to investigate the fine line of positive thinking as it relates to mental health. One of the most important things I learned in therapy is the power of negative thinking.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

-Henry Ford

As someone who has lived through a great many heartfelt experiences of pain, it is only natural that I developed a catastrophizing mind along the way. It continues to take daily work to untangle the habit of seeing the danger in everything, including success.

The sensation of discouragement for any living thing can be a harsh blow, but for those of us living with mental health conditions, it can often lead to proufound devastation and a resurfacing of symptoms. This is significant because the role of goal setting is paramount in recovery, and can become fragile when faced with opposition. Therefore, it becomes pertinent in knowing the steps one can take to retrain their brain.

Mental Health America outlines three ways to cope with discouragement in their article, Stay Positive:

Foster Optimism

▪ Write about a positive future

▪ Search for the silver lining

Practice Gratitude

▪ Write a gratitude letter

▪ Keep a gratitude journal

▪ Remind yourself to savor

▪ Share your good news

Avoid Negative Thinking

▪ Avoid dwelling on downers

▪ Change unhealthy self-talk

▪ Ask yourself if your negative thought is really true

▪ Remember any achievements that disprove your insecurity

▪ Imagine what you’d tell a friend

▪ Beware of all-or-nothing thinking

▪ Consider alternative explanations

There you have it, some self work we can all adhere to! If it were up to me, I would add self-compassion, self-care, and worry limitation to this list. The truth is there is so much we can do to reverse our thinking, and it starts with problem solving in the present moment. Like anything skillful, these things take practice.

What do you do to feel strong?

**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!