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!

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!

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!
Lifestyle, Mental health

Ugly Truth 010: Unplug to Truly Connect

“Being connected to everything has disconnected us from ourselves and the preciousness of this present moment.”
L.M. Browning, Vagabonds and Sundries
Good Morning Readers, By now you may know that I have taken it upon myself to take a break from social media for 100 days. You can read more about the whys in Ugly Truth 003: Distraction Posts Work. My hope has been to return to myself, my family, and look down less all while resetting my dopamine signals. Initially, I gave up Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube but chose to maintain WordPress and LinkedIn. I made some small adjustments after the first week such as keeping Facebook Messenger active, and watching YouTube so long as it was television and not YouTubers or comment engagements. The goal is to minimize notifications and time consumption. The reason social media is so damn catchy is due to the instant gratification it provides us measly impatient humans. When you hear that notification sound you are indeed engaging in a behavioral pattern reinforced by feel good chemical changes in the brain, and so you keep coming back for more. While this is fun and mostly harmless, it has caused all kinds of new reflections in our own psychology specifically, and society in general. You might ask, “Jaymie, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is we’re seeing changes that include cultural comparisons resulting in an increase in depression. The trouble is a problem of information access that makes us feel vulnerable and less safe. What’s more, these comparisons are only perceptions – not reality. When you hop online and see how successful John Doe is or that Suzie Q. married Mr. Right, you compare and contrast their life to your own. Unconsciously or otherwise, you begin to see holes in your life where there are none. What you see on social media is a heavily filtered version of the truth. As such, you may think Jane has it all while she backpacks across Europe while never knowing that she may struggle with an eating disorder or inconsolable crying spells behind closed doors. This is because social media is just that – social. We as a species adhere to certain rules of conduct when engaging with one another. The truth is we do this in person too! Social media platforms provide an additional barrier, making it even easier to only see partial truths. So do yourself a favor and stop comparing your insides to other people’s outsides. Over the past two weeks without social media I have noted a couple of things. I have noticed that I am happier! This was most significant the first 2-3 days while my brain recalibrated to the freedom and dopamine signals. Then, like any good high it leveled out and tapered off. Once the euphoria passed, I experienced my first con; I was lonely. Social media provides us with good company, conversation, and entertainment. When it comes to mental health, social media affords us support groups, education, and the knowledge that we are so far from alone in our suffering. I found myself missing the support of friends and loved ones far away. I started missing the nostalgic pictures, countless cat videos, and clever quips – and I still do. I found myself faced with a significant blockade when it came to social networking, a necessity for any working mother. On the flip side, I also found more quality time with my family and developed a new hobby – knitting! Lastly, I noticed my phone holds battery a whole lot longer. The truth is, everything in moderation. Have you ever done a social media detox? What did you learn? **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 008: Spoon Theory is Real

Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. – The Matrix Dear Readers, This week, I did something kind for someone else at the expense of myself. Perhaps this is why kindness is so rare, because it does indeed come at a cost. The truth is, Spoon Theory deeply applies when you have a chronic illness, even in the face of intrinsically motivated choices. If you’re not familiar with the idea, Spoon Theory is a disability metaphor that suggests you are allowed a fixed number of spoons each day in terms of energy, and you must decide carefully how to spend your spoons. Likewise, when they are gone, they are gone. When you have a health condition of any kind, you must divy up your time in a strategic way so as to ensure your most basic needs are met. This may be in the form of a shower, cooking, cleaning, socializing or working. Once fatigue sets in, you’re out of moves for the day. This is why you’ve might of heard me say, “I’m out of spoons.” Currently, I work as a Caregiver to a family with great needs. They are good people who have entrusted me to help them. Having worked in the industry for ten years I have come across all types of people. So far I have learned that I am passionate about helping those with a legitimate need, rather than a convenience of good wealth. I am someone who craves work with a purpose, but even I have my limitations. Still, I pushed through an act of kindness this week and not only was it recognized, but rewarded. Naturally, I suffered physically for my efforts, but at the end of the day I felt good about this small victory. After a blundering week of tears and losses, I had some wins to be accounted for. I find relief in assigning pain a function. Suffering allows compassion and unconditional love. The truth is, reciprocity is the key when achieving kindness through sacrifice, and we must share our spoons wisely. When was the last time you lifted a burden for someone else? Additional Reading: The Surprising Risks of Being Nice, The StartUp **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!