Lifestyle, Mental health

Ugly Truth 54: Personal Development is Work

“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
― Alan Watts

Good Morning Readers,

You know, it’s not every day you catch the rain the moment it falls. I shouldn’t be awake and 5am, but sometimes I’m so glad I am. I love those tiny moments of peace and clarity just before the world begins to stir. Nature has so much to offer, if only we would pay attention. So, it got me thinking: What can I do today to strengthen my personal development?

There has been something of what feels like a torrential madness swirling through me lately. It is difficult to articulate, but I always try to maintain my transparency for my readers. The best piece of advice I ever read was to encourage others when you are struggling. While this platform does serve as a vehicle for my own meandering, I also seek to produce meaningful content for you, my readers. As a mental health writer, it is imperative to give something tangible to your audience, something useful.

Unable to sleep, I went down a spiritual rabbit hole this morning. I found some interesting insight I’d love to share with you because I believe whole heartedly a shift in perspective, however temporary, is useful for us all.

Have you ever considered the possibility that mental illness is a natural response to an unnatural world?

The above lecture by MindValley Talks offers a Crash Course on Spirituality (4 Levels of Consciousness and the Big Questions by Alan Watts.) It touches on the social constructs we build, and how they confine us to a certain way of thinking. Imagine, for a moment, if you could rebuild your inner world to serve you rather than torment you? The good news is you can, and like all good things – it requires practice.

At the halfway point in this lecture, the speaker offers up a meaningful exercise by Alan Watts, a British writer and speaker responsible for the interpretation and popularization of Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism for a Western audience (Wiki.) If you have an hour of your day to do some soul work, I’d love to see your responses in the comments below.

The Two Lists

Make a list of everything that you know because you experienced it.

-and-

Make a list of everything that you know because someone told it to you.

Discuss: Who are you? What do you desire? What do you know? Do you have a meditation practice, or are you sleeping on your intuition?

**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 39: Low Self-Esteem & Five Things You Can Do About It

“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember ~ the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” -Zig Ziglar

Dear Readers,

The role self-esteem plays in our personal wellness cannot be understated. Certainly, the things we say to ourselves have the power to significantly alter the way we perceive the world and our place in it. During early childhood, we begin to develop our sense of self based on the stability of our environment and the temperament of our caregivers. Likewise, unfavorable conditions such as abuse, abandonment or trauma often complicate the path to becoming a wholly healthy and well-adjusted person. In the event that self-love has been lost, there are five steps to improve self-esteem including changing the narrative, proper goal setting, accountability, practicing gratitude and repetition.

 Changing the Narrative.

Understanding cognitive dissonance is probably the single most powerful tool when working to improve self-esteem. So often we fall into patterns of thinking that include self-loathing or reflect the criticism of our parents. Learning to detect and dismiss distorted thinking is extremely difficult and requires a great deal of practice. Consider the things your inner monologue is telling you throughout the day. If your self-esteem is suffering, chances are these thought patterns are deeply negative and self-deprecating. Therefore, learning to reassign value to ourselves can be deeply useful. The good news is the human brain is indeed malleable, and our thoughts can be reshaped in a relatively short period of time by altering our behavior.

Proper Goal Setting.

When setting goals, we often fall into the mindset of going big. However, sometimes less is more. The ability to set an appropriate goal for yourself can aid in improving self-esteem by providing momentum from short-term goals to long-term ones. Similarly, acknowledging your accomplishments (rather than your shortcomings) is a positive tool that can bolster your confidence by highlighting your capacity, rather than your inability or unfinished business. Additionally, the cycle of self-discipline is highly reinforcing, and most likely to keep you motivated during times of lulling productivity.

 Accountability.

Personal accountability is essential when wanting to redefine any part of yourself, and self-esteem is no different. Put simply, be the change you want to see and do not make excuses. If you want to lose weight, set your alarm an hour earlier and carve out time to exercise. If you want to sleep better at night, shift your routines and follow through. So often, the solution to improve your relationship with yourself lies within your willingness to start a positive change. So, simply begin.

Practicing Gratitude.

Mindfulness, meditation and gratitude is a meaningful component of any walk toward wellness. Shifting our inner perspective from negative to positive esteem starts with recognizing our immediate surroundings as good and helpful. Take five minutes each day to figure out how being grateful translates in your daily life. Maybe it’s a mental list, a moment of silence, or a journal entry. Likewise, practicing gratitude invites us to restore a sense of agency by properly aligning our focus with our priorities in the present moment rather than what should have, could have, or would have been.

Repetition.

Like any good thing in life, improving self-esteem takes time and practice. In fact, all of the steps above require a great deal of both to offer meaningful change to your life. There will be road blocks and setbacks aplenty, but do not be discouraged. The important thing is that you return to yourself each day, and continue to let your love language to yourself take precedence.

**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 007: Psychomotor Agitation Hurts

Psychomotor agitation is an increase in purposeless physical activity often associated with depressive and manic episodes of bipolar disorder. It’s a classic symptom that most people readily associate with mania: restlessness, pacing, tapping fingers, dashing about meaninglessly, or abruptly starting and stopping tasks. While psychomotor agitation can take many forms and vary in severity, it is an indication of a mental tension that cannot be managed and one that manifests physically with frenetic activity. – Marcia Purse, VeryWell Mind Good Evening Readers, Welcome back to 100 ugly truths about mental health! Last night I began to sink after I triggered myself while reading some old writings. Suddenly I was flung into the flashbacks of the memories I was revisiting. The walls around me soon fell away and I found myself off the ground. I reached for my loved ones in attempt to take my own advice. I flailed while trying to remember my coping skills, but I was just no match for my slipping mood. It wasn’t long before I jumped to distraction, whirling through my nightly routine without ever actually accomplishing anything. I was spinning, frantic, agitated and growing angrier with each passing moment. What was happening to me? When you’re diagnosed with a mental health condition it provokes a sort of self examination. It is a natural response to want to peel away the dysfunction from your personality. I crave understanding and logic when faced with the mystery of madness, so I excused myself for a breath of fresh air after confessing to my partner that I was unwell. It never takes Google long to come up with an explanation, and there it was, psychomotor agitation. This symptom is generally associated with mood disorders, PTSD, and anxiety. Similar to the relationship between panic attacks and fear, psychomotor agitation is a physical manifestation of internal events. The truth is if you or your loved ones don’t have the insight to spot this, you may not understand why you feel the way you do. Fortunately, because this symptom is physical it doesn’t take long for other people to notice. My partner will often point out that my face is changing and I’m not quite myself. My eyebrows will furrow, my lips will purse, and I commonly catch myself in an angry cleaning frenzy. As indicated above, abruptly starting and stopping tasks is a hallmark of this frenetic energy. It can be very draining, damaging even, causing you to act unlike yourself and possibly hurting others in your path. The truth is this is something I’ve only recently started working on. Mindfulness is a lifestyle people use for many reasons, but the practice of self awareness is key when managing mental illness. You have to hold yourself accountable if meaningful change is ever going to happen. This agitation carried over into my morning and I was filled with regret when I was unable to process the loud clangings of my 7 year old. Ultimately, I couldn’t shake it on my own and turned to medication. Relationships are often a social tool. They are extensions and reflections of ourselves. When I lived alone I had a very hard time with symptom management because I didn’t have an informing audience. The truth is, sometimes it takes an exterior observation to see more clearly. Insofar, isolation has been my most powerful coping skill when agitation occurs. Isolation is often seen as a maladaptive behavior, but under these circumstances it is a useful way to decompress and protect loved ones from your irrational anger. How do you cope with agitation? Have friends or loved ones ever pointed out your strange behavior? This evening, I challenge you to quiet your defense mechanisms and be receptive to the truth. **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!
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.