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!

Mental health, News

Ugly Truth 40: What it Really Feels Like to be Tested for Covid-19

FILE – In this Wednesday, March 25, 2020 file photo, medical personnel are silhouetted against the back of a tent before the start of coronavirus testing in the parking lot outside of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. As cases skyrocket in the U.S. and Europe, it’s becoming more clear that how healthy you were before the pandemic began plays a key role in how you fare regardless of how old you are. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Dear Readers,

It began with a slight feeling of unease. Progressively, I began to feel worse with symptoms of dizziness, body aches, nausea, extreme fatigue, sore throat and lower ear pain. Like most young people, I dismissed all the early warning signs as hay fever or some lesser form of a more common illness. After all, I was taking all of the sanitation precautions, and I wasn’t experiencing any coughing or shortness of breath. Surly, my overactive imagination was at it again with its wild inventions of what-if. It wasn’t until a sustainable low-grade fever arrived that I realized something may be wrong.

At the discretion of my employer it was imposed on me that I get tested for Covid-19, also known as the Corona Virus. If you have had access to any living breathing news source or conversational human being in the past three months then you are more than well informed on the state of things. As if our generation has not endured enough, we are now faced with the harsh realities of a full blown pandemic.

With the help of my girlfriend (who recently proposed to me! :D), I located an Online Screening Tool which is designed to assess your level of risk. If you are considered at risk, the system provides you with a Screening ID code and a number to call. For those of us in Harris County Texas that phone number is 713-814-4501. Do expect extended wait times. It took me a minimum of two 40 minute intervals waiting on hold to reach someone. During this call you will be screened again, and provided with a Screening ID that may be the same or different from your original code. If the representative deems you are at risk and/or an at-will participant they will direct you to the nearest testing site by providing a time and location. They also ask that you not eat anything before your test. Water is okay. Keep in mind the Screening ID is good for one day only. If you decide not to use it to visit a testing site that very day, you will need to pre-screen yourself again and obtain a new code. While many locations are now open to the public, you still require pre-approval, an appointed time, and a location. If you do not meet criteria but still want to be tested, you may need a doctor’s recommendation. Please do not just show up to one of these drive-thru sites and expect to be seen.

Next, my pre-screener told me to write my Screening ID on a legible piece of paper and place it on the dash board of my vehicle. She stated I was free to travel to the testing site after we hung up. Have your ID ready (a Driver’s License will suffice) and for the love of God, DO NOT ROLL DOWN YOUR WINDOW until the third and final check point when instructed to do so. Expect high security, low contact, and some confusion.

*You must TRAVEL ALONE and/or each passenger in the car MUST HAVE THEIR OWN SCREENING ID.*

My testing site was a 20 minute drive to Legacy Stadium in Katy, TX. The testing site itself is fairly obvious, however, finding the entrance point may require some reading and sign following – which you can expect more of for the duration of this process. Upon arrival, I passed several police vehicles, read the signs, and followed the arrows zig-zagging my way across the roped off parking lot to my first check-point. The first masked lady approached my car and leaned forward to speak to me through my driver side window. Your natural instinct will be to roll down your window. DON’T DO IT. She confirmed my Screening ID, time of arrival, and instructed me to scan a QR Code for further instruction. I have an Android device so I was unable to complete this step, however, it is not terribly important. She advised I write my phone number down next to my Screening ID, place my Driver’s License on my dash board, and turn on my hazard lights before waving me through to the next check-point.

Next, there was an instructional video on display demonstrating the self-swab process. Be mindful of where you get your information from because I promise you this part was not as scary as the media made it sound. If you have ever had a true nasal swab before, then you know the only thing more miserable is strep throat itself. Rest assured, these tests can be self-administered and are painless. During this time, the second masked man approached my car with a checklist. He asked me if I was experiencing an emergency, if I was “okay”, and if I had enough gas to idle in line a while. I gave him the thumbs up to which he responded with the a-okay hand gesture and returned to his post. The Texas Search and Rescue team was there to direct traffic and identify stopping points. I waited less than five minutes for the cars ahead of me before pulling forward. A pair of women emerged from the tent to my left in protective gear. They leaned over my windshield to collect the information on my dash board, confirmed my identity, and completed the registration process before walking away again. Upon their return they placed a biohazard labeled testing kit under my left windshield wiper, and nodded at me in approval before waving me through to the third and final check-point.

Finally, I arrived at the actual testing site after watching another instructional video on how to administer this test while maintaining proper distance. I was told to roll down my window, reach into the bucket on the table, open the swab, and break off the top. Using a combination of yelling and gesturing to make up for the 6 feet of distance and masked muffling, my instructors walked me through removing the informational pages to keep for my future reference, placing the swab into my left nostril, swirling it around and leaving it in place for 15 seconds. I was then instructed to repeat this on the right side of my nose, place the swab in a liquid-filled vile, replace the cap, and place the kit along with the trash back into the bucket on the table – all without never leaving my vehicle. One woman then told me to expect a call in 3 to 5 business days from one of two labs with the results, and waved me on my merry way.

Ultimately, the entire process took maybe 20 minutes beginning to end. While the experience of it seems surreal and cinematic, there were no extended wait times and the only true hardship I had was coping with my own anxiety.

My hope is that this post will save you from the hassle I faced in obtaining this information should you find yourself being asked to get tested for Covid-19. In the meantime, please maintain proper sanitation practices, social distancing, and common sense.

Update: My test results came back negative, however, I remain in quarantine due to unresolved symptoms at this time.

**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 34: Psychosis Sucks

“Imagine a world where your thoughts are not your own.” -Daniel, Schizoaffective Patient, 2019

Have you ever experienced psychosis? You are not alone. Approximately 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the US experience first episode psychosis each year. 

Psychosis is the experience of false beliefs and/or sensory experiences – including hallucinations involving sight, sound, smell or touch, and delusions – such as visions of grandeur or severe paranoia as it relates to mental illness. Delusions may be jealous, grandiose, persecutory, somatic or erotomanic. Hallucinations may sometimes be contextualized by one’s delusions, or altogether incongruent.

Some early warning signs of psychosis include:

Consistently worrying about grades or job performance

Struggling to concentrate or think clearly

Having unwarranted suspiciousness of others

Failure to keep up with personal hygiene

Withdrawing from friends and family

Experiencing strong, inappropriate feelings or no feelings at all

I experienced by first bout with psychosis in childhood. Throughout all my diagnoses, paranoia has always been very pervasive, and while I have put the work in to adjust this about myself, my conviction that others will almost always hurt me presented as hallucinations from a very early age.

It first began with insects, then shadow people, even dead people, screaming and full blown delusions – sometimes called thought hallucinations. On Halloween of 2014, I experienced my first ever break with reality. For the first time in my life I could not distinguish between what was real and what wasn’t. The evening was unremarkable, however, I believe the knocking of trick or treaters may have triggered me this night. (It is worth noting that during this time my PTSD was at it’s peak, I was not sleeping, and I had experienced small episodes of hallucinations in the days prior. I also have Bipolar Disorder and Panic Disorder, so it stands to reason that psychosis would present itself under the circumstances of extreme sleep deprivation, stress, and spiraling fear.) I was home alone, stood to walk toward the bathroom, sat down to pee, and upon standing was suddenly overcome by an impending sense of doom. In an instant I became paralyzed, unable to traverse the threshold between my bathroom and the dining room. I suddenly became convinced someone was in my home, hiding in the above attic, waiting for the opportunity to pounce on me and instigate my demise. Still frozen with fear, I flung into a panic turning off all the lights and locking all the doors. I locked myself in my bedroom and opened the nearest window, removing the screen to ensure my escape should this attic person come bursting through my door. Perhaps the best decision I made was calling for help while I had fleeting thoughts of where the firearms were kept.

This experience was by far one of my most troubling and profound. For many, the initial response is shame and embarrassment, perhaps even a suicidal impulse. However, I am grateful because this situation was the final push I needed to walk into a psychiatrist’s office where I was properly diagnosed and treated for the first time. The truth is, you’re not alone and it’s not your fault.

Psychosis may result from Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression, PTSD and/or an acute onset of trauma, sleep deprivation or stress. If you or a loved one is showing signs of psychosis, seek medical attention immediately.

For more of my thoughts and coping skills regarding psychosis read Trauma Confession Series: When Trauma Work Wakes Other Sleeping Monsters

**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

Exploring Disability: Facing Mental Health Discrimination

WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION

If you have ever suffered from a long-term, short-term, or sudden psychological ailment, it is highly likely you are no stranger to facing discrimination in the workplace. When an employer inquires about your health, the right to disclose your condition (or not) is yours alone. Certainly, there are pros and cons to both scenarios. However, there remains a stark contrast between what should be, and the hard reality we all may come to face at least once in our lifetime.

Should you choose to disclose your mental health condition to a potential employer, you alleviate the stress of having to force an acceptable level of functioning, explain away any oddities, or any brief dishonesty that may come along with it. Likewise, you open a pathway for meaningful dialogue that may produce credibility and longevity in your role. This can also contribute to reducing stigma and assumptions surrounding other-abled populations. However, should you choose to withhold this information, you may have the luxury of a avoiding a harsh and unkind response, up to and including termination. Despite the fact that discrimination is perfectly illegal, and companies have incentivized job seekers by offering promises of integration and acceptance (these are the optional disability, gender, ethnicity, and veteran status check boxes you see on many job applications), many employees still experience intolerance when disclosing their mental illness. One may also experience the sensation of being squeezed out of a position through means of indirect but excessive discomfort at the hands of an employer.

SOCIETAL DISCRIMINATION

While the globe continues her awareness campaigns and demand marches, truly altering a societal mindset takes decades and must be a slow gentle progression. No one likes to be force-fed a brand new belief system. In the meantime, many of us with mental health conditions in the workplace continue to suffer either in silence, unapologetic ignorance, or abuse. Other than the obvious subjective nature of cognitive impairments, I believe the greatest misconceptions related to mental illness are understanding limitations and age.

So many people find mood disorders, stress disorders, anxiety and psychosis to be an excuse due to the fact that there will be periods of symptom dormancy. That is, some days are better than others and even when the hard days completely meet the criteria for disability, countless people ground their skepticism in periods of normalcy.

This is a mistake.

The reason conditions such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are qualifiers for supplemental support is due to their nature of general unpredictability. That is, turbulent mood swings, inexplicable crying spells, delusional paranoia, and terrifying psychosis paired with the extreme psychological and physical (yes, I said “physical”) suffering of the patient. Second to that, if someone is 28 years old than surely they should be in the prime cognitive and physical condition of their life, right? (Insert insensitive ignorant remark here.) This simply does not apply to mental illness because, as true irony would have it, clinical diagnosis does not discriminate. This sudden shift in social display and dramatic disruption to conventional performance given one’s age and the presence of an invisible illness is what makes some people unreliable employees, and yet, employers often become enraged and confused by these shortcomings.

PERSONAL DISCRIMINATION

In my personal experience, I have traveled both the path of disclosure and non-disclosure. I will tell you I prefer the truth for two reasons.

1.) Any relationship, employment or otherwise, that begins at the seat of omission will certainly create more stress and will almost always result in a complete disintegration of the opportunity altogether.

2.) If I am going to thrive and be successful in any role, I will do so as my genuine self and nothing less. I will be accommodated (or dismissed).

I will not apologize for my trembling hands or the fact that I forgot everything you just said to me the moment you finished (if I even heard it at all). I will not be the subject of ridicule or shame due to another person’s inability or unwillingness to accept my condition due to the very obligation a self-proclaimed integrated society affords me.

SYSTEMIC DISCRIMINATION

Perhaps most heartbreaking, discrimination exists even from within the national programs designed to protect these populations.

You must demonstrate your limitations to the court, but not so to fall into a trick question or diminish your credibility.

You must show that you can care for your children in a legally competent and unharmful manner, as well as the inability to find or keep a job.

You must collect and produce your medical history in a way that is substantial enough to satisfy the definitions, but also maintain a respectable level of care for yourself to show that you are actively engaged in self-help.

You must work limited hours in a skilless role or not at all, and demonstrate multiple failed attempts to work.

While unable to provide an income for yourself, you must wait anywhere from 3 months to 2 years (or more) to receive your acceptance (or denial) letter.

In the event of an appeal, you must produce a lawyer to promote your credibility as a witness and help the judge weed out those milking the system.

It is a long arduous journey to receive the benefits promoting social security even though many of us have paid in ten years or more before becoming disabled, and even when we actively demonstrate limited assets, resources, and a considerably compromised quality of life.

Whether we face mental health discrimination from an employer, a friend or family member, or the state- it does not come without vital consequence, including the influx of resource utilization that occurs by failing to properly support those with major progressive and degenerative illness.

So, when we can’t win at home or at work, how do we keep from falling through the cracks?

**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!