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Misplaced Grief

it’s important to remember while we grieve to not get lost in it.

it’s important to remember while we grieve to not let it rule our day.

it’s important to remember while we grieve to not misplace the grief.

placing the grief on the shelf for a little while is nothing to worry about, that’s natural coping.

placing the grief far back onto a dusty bookshelf full of misplaced emotions, on the other hand, is detrimental.

let us remember what the loss has given us – a chance of renewal, a chance to change behaviors that are not serving us, a chance to treat others how we wish we treated our lost loved one.

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A Child’s Lament

I don’t remember much of my childhood.

The memories I do remember are best kept hidden deep inside.

They swirl around my insides like a whirlpool of dead stars into a black hole.

But my dear reader, I can’t hide them anymore.

It’s all too much.

These dead stars poison my body and soul.

Please take them from me.

Reach into that black hole and hold them for awhile.

And then, please stay awhile.

I cannot be left alone with them, again.

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My Doctor Failed Me Today

I have been trying to get off of the fake love of my life, cannabis concentrate, for the last few years.

I have worked with substance abuse teams, therapists and group sessions.

I am now in an intensive DBT program at this place I’ve received all of my care. In order to be in the program, it is required you see one out of three of their doctors.

I’ve been seeing Dr. I* for over a year. Overall our relationship was cordial. She has a heavy accent and sometimes I can’t follow along with what she is saying, and I end up letting it brush by because, well, I have social anxiety.

Today, I came into the session planning to inquire why she dropped by antidepressant dose in half overnight, and maybe that is why I am struggling weaning off of 1gram of cannabis concentrate.

My partner was sitting next to me when after I approached the subject and let her know my feelings politely, Dr.I basically said “we have tried everything and at this point we are back at square one.”

Square one? I’ve been busting my ass getting clean. I gave up nicotine and alcohol! Why does she just seem to always tell me, “you just need to stop.”

That doesn’t work. Period.

To Be Continued.

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Trauma

Unlike other forms of psychological disorders, the core issue in trauma is reality

Bessel A. Van der Kolk, Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society
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5 Ways To Ease Depression Symptoms Right Now

Written by: Kayla Mason


It’s no secret that during the emergence of the Covid-19 virus, anxiety and depression rates have skyrocketed.

Rates of anxiety and depression among U.S. adults were about 4 times higher between April 2020 and August 2021 than they were in 2019 (Deangelis).

In 2020 and 2021, I talked with people that I had known for years who, for the first time, were now speaking to me about their mental health.

As much as I, and possibly the whole world, wish this virus had never been sprung into our already chaotic lives, it has, and though we cannot control the virus, we can control how we cope.

Here are 5 ways to help ease your depression symptoms right now

1. Write A Gratitude List

You always hear people say the common phrase, “Life is over in a flash!”… Or, at least, I’ve heard it a billion times in my thirty-year lifetime. Anyway, that phrase is a fact, and life is indeed short. It does pass us by fast, and we often take advantage of that.

Writing down people, places, and things that you are happy to have in this life, prompts us to remember better times in our lives.

more here: https://www.psycom.net/how-to-be-happy

2. Take Care of Yourself

Listen.

There have been periods in my life when I’ve not showered for days. I’m not proud of it; actually, I’m really embarrassed.

So, I can understand when others struggle with maintaining adequate daily personal hygiene.

Like anything, there can be many reasons people do not care to shower, bathe, brush their teeth, etc.

People or families may not be able to afford hygiene products or may not have access to these products.

Taking care of yourself is more than just focusing on the physical. Other types of self-care include focusing on your emotional health, work-life, or finances. Balancing all of these aspects of our lives ensures a healthy lifestyle.

3. Connect With Others

According to Williams (2019), socializing not only staves off feelings of loneliness but also helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills and increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer.

I am known to isolate in my own home for various reasons. I struggle to leave the house because of intense anxiety focused on socializing. It’s tough to push myself out the door to connect with people. I can absolutely understand people’s struggles with socializing with others and maintaining relationships.

What is important to remember is how you feel when connecting with people outside of your household.

If you feel apprehensive, anxious, or scared, then maybe you have some inner work to do with your relationships.

If you feel refreshed, joyful and accomplished, then maybe you are ready to dive into the world and explore what kind of relationships fit you best.

4. Get Outside

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve had a mental health professional ask me, “Have you gone outside today?” which is usually followed by the roll of my eyes.

Then something magical happens. I literally drag myself (the worst feeling!) out of my apartment, whether it’s to walk to the car or to Dunkin Donuts and…..I FEEL BETTER.

I notice the air and how it feels. I see the sounds all around me and they feel familiar; they feel right. It feels good to be outside, AND it feels good that I pushed myself out of my dungeon and into a garden of sorts.

So, honestly, try to go outside. Even for a few seconds. How do you feel?

Research shows that visits to forests, rural areas, and parks can improve mental health and thinking skills, even in people with depression. Exposure to natural environments can also help fight mental fatigue and reduce stress.

more here: https://www.psycom.net/mental-health-wellbeing/mental-health-benefits-nature/

5. Meditate and Visualize

Like being told to go outside, I’ve continuously been told that meditation is extremely helpful in treating mental health symptoms. Last year, I meditated more than I ever have and found joy in it. Although, I also found discomfort. It’s not comfortable to face your thoughts head-on, quietly, while being mindful.

I personally find that guided meditations are the most helpful, especially for someone who has dealt with complex trauma throughout their life. It’s easier and more beneficial to focus on what the meditation teacher is saying vs. reoccurring intrusive thoughts flying around at hyperspeed.

Another way to meditate safely could be by visualizing a happy time in your life or by envisioning a safe place in your mind where you can be present. What does your safe place look like? What is around you? Where are you? Will anyone join you here?


Kayla Mason is a thirty-one-year-old Communication student, working on her Master’s degree at Southern New Hampshire University. Kayla was raised in The Berkshires, a quaint area in Massachusetts surrounded by art and culture. She uses her writing as an expression and as a respite from the symptoms of her mental illness. She hopes to bring awareness to the importance of mental health access and to the importance of living mindfully day by day.

Kayla Mason is a Communication student at Southern New Hampshire University who is majoring in New Media and Marketing.

She belongs to the Freelance Union, which provides support through policy advocacy, benefits, resources, and community while raising writers’ voices to make sure they are heard. She also belongs to the National Writers Union. The purpose of the N.W.U. is to promote and protect its members’ rights, interests, and economic advancement, organize writers to improve professional working conditions through collective bargaining actions and provide professional services to members.

CONNECT HERE:


DISCLAIMER The materials and content contained in this website are for general information only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users of this website should not rely on the information provided for their own health needs. All specific questions should be presented to your own health care provider.

FOR IMMEDIATE SUPPORT If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.


© 2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Work Cited

Deangelis, Tori. “Depression and Anxiety Escalate during COVID.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, 2021, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/11/numbers-depression-anxiety.

“Mayo Clinic Minute: The Benefits of Being Socially Connected – Mayo Clinic News Network.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Apr. 2019, https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-the-benefits-of-being-socially-connected/#:~:text=Socializing%20is%20good%20for%20your%20mind%20and%20body.&text=Socializing%20not%20only%20staves%20off,connecting%20via%20technology%20also%20works.

Monaghan, Elizabeth. “For Optimal Mental Health, Add a Regular Dose of Nature.” PSYCOM, https://www.psycom.net/mental-health-wellbeing/mental-health-benefits-nature/.

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I’m Ashamed of My Mental Illness

Sitting here, in my car passenger seat, waiting for my signature espresso drink, I’m full of self-hatred.

I’ve let just about all of Facebook and social media know that I struggle with mental health issues, along with friends, family, etc. Although they know I struggle, I assume they also see me as a functioning adult who inspires others to be more open about their mental health and stability.

Most days, I understand that helping and inspiring others who struggle with what I do is a gift. It’s enlightening to see people blossom!

Today though, I need to be one of those I help. I need assistance; I need someone like me to listen or to take the place of a caregiver I never had and am still grieving over. I need someone to soothe me. (Even though I know only I can do and am responsible for that.)

I’ve had a lot of validation in my short life that confirms I am too much.

Today, it really feels like I am.

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What is Complex Trauma?

According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2021), complex trauma (c-ptsd) describes both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events—often of an invasive, interpersonal nature—and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure. These events are severe and pervasive, such as abuse or profound neglect.

In the article “Understanding Complex Trauma, Complex Reactions, and Treatment Approaches”, written by trauma expert, Dr. Christine Courtois, she summarizes complex traumatic events and experiences as stressors that are:

(1) repetitive, prolonged, or cumulative

(2) most often interpersonal, involving direct harm, exploitation, and maltreatment including neglect, abandonment, or antipathy by primary caregivers or other ostensibly responsible adults

(3) often occur at developmentally vulnerable times in the victim’s life, especially in early childhood or adolescence, but can also occur later in life and in conditions of vulnerability associated with disability, disempowerment, dependency, age, infirmity, and others.

Symptoms of complex trauma can include but are not limited to:

Reliving the traumatic experience

Avoiding situations with reminders of abuse

Changes in beliefs about you and others

Hyperarousal

Inability to regulate emotions

Negative self perception

Difficulty with relationships

Dissociation

Distorted perception of abuser

Suicidal Ideation

Treatment for complex trauma (c-ptsd)

psychotherapy

  • -internal family system work
  • -exposure therapy
  • -cognitive behavioral therapy
  • -dialectical behavior therapy

eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

medication

support groups

Complex Trauma Resources

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder

https://www.nctsn.org/what-is-child-trauma/trauma-types/complex-trauma

https://www.verywellmind.com/using-mindfulness-for-ptsd-2797588

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Coping & PTSD Flashbacks

I stare off and focus on a spot in the room. The image becomes fuzzy or non-existent and I’m instantly transplanted into my mind – into the scenarios I have been ruminating on.

I am back in my room from middle school. I’m surprised at how well I remember where everything is and what everything looked like. I am back there now, floating through the room to room, recalling the emotions I felt while here.

Despair, confusion, anxiety, connection, sadness, anger, frustration, fleeting happiness

I come out of the dissociative and flashback episode quickly. I am left with lingering images, thoughts, and feelings from the episode for hours if not days.

A flashback is when memories of a past trauma feel as if they are taking place in the current moment.

When I go to sleep at night, I fall asleep fast – sleep gives me a break from reality and my deepening depression.

Since my mom transitioned, my sleep is filled with monsters. Images of family and relational ruin and gore fill my dream state with blips of my personal life replaying itself over and over.

Learning skills and tools to cope with these flashbacks is essential for me and essential for those dealing with PTSD on a daily basis.

Here are a couple of tips that I’ve learned to lessen flashback intensity and lessen them all together.

What can you do to help flashbacks?

Tell yourself you’re having a flashback.

-Breathe! Take deep and slow breaths. Use box breathing. Inhale for 4, Hold for 4, Exhale for 4, Hold for 4. Repeat.

-Return to the present moment by using the five senses.

Distract yourself by watching a film, taking a walk, calling a friend, etc. Do something you enjoy doing!

Use DBT TIPP Skills:

credit: @dialecticalbehaviortherapy on WordPress

More About TIPP Skills Here: https://www.manhattancbt.com/archives/1452/dbt-tipp-skills/

How can you prevent flashbacks?

• Be aware of warning signs. This can help you manage or prevent flashbacks.

• Identify what triggers you and make a plan on how to avoid or overcome these triggers.

Happy healing my friends. We can do this together.

More Resources

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd-and-complex-ptsd/self-care/

https://www.mindmattersmhc.com/blog/10-grounding-skills-to-help-cope-with-flashbacks-related-to-trauma

https://www.rainn.org/articles/flashbacks

cover art by: https://charlottefarhanartactivism.com/charlotte-farhan-artist-biography/