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“I’m Good…”


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5 Comments

Posted by on 12/11/2016 in Images

 

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Nursery Rhyme | [Poem]


Trigger Warning: This poem is about self harm. Please do not read it if this is a trigger. [UPDATED] Though I do not struggle with self harm, several of the close people in my life do, and so I wanted their words to be heard and felt here. These words put into poetic form, are from the discussions and talks I’ve had with those people.

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Cut this line upon my skin

So I can feel what a pain I’ve been

Burn this flame upon my flesh

So I can control this life a mess

Drill this hole into my thigh

To take away the numb, make me feel alive

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord nobody weeps

 
4 Comments

Posted by on 11/10/2016 in Poetry, Self Harm

 

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Drawing Mental Illness | [Video]


I came across the video below about artist Shawn Coss who decided to draw one mental health illness each day for the month of October. I contacted Shawn and asked him for permission to post some of his work on my blog and he was kind enough to agree.

Also, check out this excellent article about Shawn on The Mighty here –  https://themighty.com/2016/10/shawn-coss-creates-creepy-drawings-of-mental-illnesses-for-inktober/

 

You can order prints of Shawn’s artwork at the link here – https://any-means-necessary-clothing.myshopify.com/collections/inktober-illness-2016/products/inktober-illnesses-11×17-print

Be sure to support him by liking his Facebook page and checking out his YouTube videos.

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3 Comments

Posted by on 11/05/2016 in Depression, Videos

 

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Catharsis and the Angels


michael

Catharsis hung there.

Limp. Swaying from the rafter that supported his mud and straw-thatched roof.

He could hear the cord stretch and groan from his weight as his eyes became heavy.

Back and forth.

Back.

And.

Forth.

His eyes began to close as the cord tightened and choked off his life wind. Choking his hope. His will to live. His resilience.

He hadn’t the will to raise his arms and save himself. He could have he supposed. But he refused. He felt a calming peace blanketing him as his life energy fell through the soles of his feet, leaving his body forever.

Finally.

Finally he would be free of this torment.

Finally he would have peace.

Peace from this Wahrlog of the Darkness.

The Darkness. A darkness so consuming, so debilitating, that each day was a struggle. A struggle to rise each morning. A struggle to tend to his fields. A struggle to continue life. A life coated with apathy.

He had hid it well from his fellow villagers. Masked it behind his toiling in the fields. Masked it behind his inward solitude. Disguised it with the will to be alone. To remain undiscovered and unbranded with the Stigma.

He knew others who had been discovered. Who had been branded on their forehead with the seal of their affliction – their illness. He remembered seeing the searing iron hissing as it sunk into their flesh. Leaving a soft cloud of smoke as it pushed deeper into them.

And their screams.

Their screams.

They were forever labeled in society by those they knew. Those they loved. Those they had children with. Their families. Their neighbors.

Branded.

Shunned.

Stigmatized.

Some, like himself, afflicted with the darkness – the deep, dark, debilitating depression he knew since he was a child.

Others, afflicted with the fear – remnants of some past traumatic stressing life event that had ripped their soul in half, and forced them to relive their past horrors. Manifest in the forms of flashbacks and tortured by the night harpies of terror. He could hear their screams at night.

Alone.

In the darkness.

Others, afflicted with the rage – elevated, hyper levels of anxiousness brought on by some outside trigger. Issuing in a brain pandemonium of paranoia and irritability. Lashing out at those whom they held closest as they wandered through their personal fog of war.

Through his closing vision, Catharsis could faintly make out the Specter emerging from the darkness. Moving closer. Stretching his pale white claws from his cloak, his talons scratching the walls of Catharsis’ mud home. Digging into the hardened clay and leaving deep cuts as chunks of adobe were ripped away. In and out of his slumber, Catharsis thought how they resembled his fields that he had just returned from. Their perfect rows whose cast shadows aligned harmoniously in the setting sun.

This was his last thought of peacefulness as Catharsis’ eyes closed.

And Specter’s grip closed around his throat.

*     *     *

At the instant the beast secured his grip to claim his prize, a magnificent burst of white light flooded the room.

Specter shrieked like a hung pig being bled dry and lurched back from the blazon firestorm that enshrouded the hanging body.

Two forms took their place next to the body of Catharsis. On either side, like stark angelic sentries sent to protect him from the Wahrlog. They raised their hands and in a fluid motion brought them down, lances appearing and striking the mud floor.

Specter hissed and the sentries lowered their weapons, tips pointed at its open throat.

A sentry stepped forward a crouched in the dirt, bracing itself with its weapon. Slowly and deliberately it scratched a line across the floor, fire following in a steady trail.

It retracted and regained its position.

“Though shall not pass” the two sentries whispered.

Specter lurched through the flame and in one swift movement was impaled on their spears. Instantaneously, Specter disintegrated into the light, taking with him his shadows and his darkness.

*     *     *

As one sentry held fast the body of Catharsis, the other swiftly swung its lance at the noose, cutting him free.

Lowering him to the ground the sentries whispered, “you are safe child.”

 

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Thought Someone, Right Now, Needed to Hear This


to_the_world_001

“To the world you may be one person.

“But to one person you may be the world.”

I remember when I’ve been in the throws of my Specter, and consumed with such hopelessness and misery I believed no one else endured. That depression demon who is currently being held at bay in his cage of Lexapro and Abilify, but can attack at random times with a sucker punch to the kidney, leaving me without the breath for life. It’s at those times that one person can change your life. They are there. You just have to find them, reach out to them, and hold onto them. They will be there. You mean the world to them.

If you’re wearing the other pair of shoes and know of someone who needs to be reached out to. Use this post as an excuse to do so. You may save someone’s life.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 06/04/2016 in Depression, Quotes

 

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There’s This At Work…


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My daughter helped me design this board at work.

I was prejudiced.

I prejudged.

I didn’t think that an office of  400+ onsite/offsite employees would support this.

I didn’t think a firm of 10,000+ employees worldwide would support this.

No, endorse this. Embrace this with such open arms.

This month of #mentalhealthawareness.

A good friend of mine (who I’m talking into guest blogging in the near future) organized the activities that make up this month’s Mental Health Awareness Campaign at our firm’s local office.

When she first started out, her goal was to raise $400 by having folks donate money towards the senior leader they wanted to “get pied” for charity. The leader with the most votes/money towards their name will get pied, while the leader with the least “votes” will get to do the “pie-ing”.

She surpassed that goal and employees have donated a little more than $600.00. She had to set a higher goal of $1000.00.

I work at a really wonderful firm.

I am fortunate.

I am blessed.

And I am thankful.

 

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wh atma y me an s2 m3

wh atma y me an s2 m3

 

 

 

 

 

Being mentally ill with depression means that people may not always get me. I’ve come to accept that.

I’ve also come to accept that it’s okay.

A lot of the times I don’t even get myself.

A.

Lot.

I guess “understand” would be a more accurate word.

It’s like trying to explain to somebody what May means to me, except it comes out sounding like this post’s title looks.

They may never understand what it feels like. And I’m happy that they never will. I would wish this on no one.

There’s so many things I’ve never understood about myself for years, and have only begun to within the past 5-10 years of my life.

A list of un-understandables in my life has been:

I don’t understand why I feel sluggish all the time. 

I don’t understand why laughing feels so forced.

I don’t understand why I want to be alone all the time.

I don’t understand why I don’t want to do things.

I don’t understand why I am always so tired.

I don’t understand why I see grey when it’s brightly sunny outside.

I don’t understand why at 42, I can still sleep until 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon.

I don’t understand why I set my alarm for 5:00 am and hit it until 6:00. 

I don’t understand why I think of suicide

I don’t understand why I pray to God to take me home in my sleep.

Over the years I have come to understand why though.

Depression.

A severe, deep-seated depression.

My Specter.

Picture 5

[SOURCE: https://indisposedandundiagnosed.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/this-is-what-chronic-illness-looks-like/comment-page-1/#comment-1817]

NOTE: This image is the original idea of Cass and her site at the above link. Check it out and give it a Like!


 

So for me, the new significance of May is about raising awareness of mental health. And in my case, severe depression and suicide. It’s about taking a chance, stepping out on a scary ledge, and talking about my mental condition to others.

Lessons Learned: Some Things I’ve Learned from My Depression

I would hope that you would take these things and hold them in your heart. Don’t forget them. Remind yourself of them. And learn from your mental condition.

A list of understandables in my life is:

  1. I have a condition, not an illness. I am not sub-human. I am not sick. I am an extraordinarily strong person because I survive through things other people can’t imagine having to deal with. I live my life a little differently than others because I live with affliction.
  2. I am perfectly imperfect, and that’s perfectly okay. I’ve learned to forgive myself and accept myself. I have a hard time believing the phrase, “I don’t let my mental condition define who I am.” I know what people mean, but I think in the end, depression has set some life parameters that I have to (or choose to) live by. If I don’t abide by those…rules, I start to hear Specter’s rusty cage hinges creak and I feel him scratching on the walls of my soul.
  3. What I feel is valid. I am not crazy. I may be a little broken. You may be a little bruised. But don’t you dare let anyone tell you you’re crazy. Don’t you dare let them make you feel that way. You. Are. Not. Crazy. Real talk.
  4. Only I will take care of myself. I must take my meds. Daily. I must eat healthy. I must exercise. Meh. I’m working on the last two. Have
  5. Strive to be empathetic and kind. You know why. You have struggles other people don’t know about. So do others. I remember a time my Lexapro had run out and I couldn’t afford a refill. I had been off it for about four days and I could feel the dizziness set in from withdrawals. Then the bottom fell out. Specter’s claws were dug so deep into my shoulders I could feel them carving at the bones. Someone put their hand on my shoulder and sat with me. I was in tears. I was choking my words out in a dark chair in a dim corner. He made a call to get me my medicine. That’s why.
  6. Be a servant when you can. Help others when they’re down. People have helped me when I’ve not deserved it. Free of charge. Pay it forward.
  7. Exude grace. Strive to give others the benefit of the doubt.
  8. Have grace on yourself. Learn to accept grace yourself. Be gentle on yourself. We beat ourselves up so much each day. Allow yourself forgiveness. See #2.
  9. People do understand – surround yourself with those people. There may not be too many. But you know what? That’s just about the right number anyways. Find your devout warrior supporters and cling to them. Share yourself with them. Open yourself up to them. It is empowering. It is healing.
  10. My God loves me. Me and God. Ahh, yes. For such a lifetime I’ve bashed myself for not measuring up. Engorging bucket fulls of self criticism, guilt, and shame for never feeling like I measured up. Never earning my dad’s approval, or my Father’s. All. Those. Years. And I got it wrong. His scars are enough to cover my soul. His Grace is the way to my healing. His forgiveness is the magnetic north to my moral compass. SOso many times I fail. Flat on my face. He’s always there to pick me up and hug me with a gentle, warm smile.

Now…Let’s take back our lives and make this our new fight song! This one’s for you Niki.

“Cry Thunder”

Time after time as we march side by side
Through the valleys of evil and the torturing souls,
Night after night, for the glory we fight,
In the kingdom of madness and the tales from the old

Death by our hands, for the higher command,
As the darkness surrounds us hear the cries as they fall
Fire burning steel and the tyrants will kneel
Hearts burning stronger with the power of the sword

Set sail for the glory,
Pray for the master of war (pray for the master of war)
Sunlight will fall by the wastelands,
Endless rise for the heroes before

Cry thunder!
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Cry thunder!
Strong in command
Blessed by the union, freedom of man

Reckoning day, for the demons we slay,
With the force of a dragon we will conquer them all!
Chaos still reigns devastation and flames
For the ultimate glory when the legacy calls

March on
Through the hellfire
Blazing for the darkness beyond (blazing for the darkness beyond)
Nightmare return of the thousands
Giving rise to the heroes once more

Cry thunder!
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Cry thunder!
Strong in command
Blessed by the union, freedom of man

[Solos]

Unholy darkness,
In the eyes of broken dreams,
Outside of the wasted and torn,
A land of tears still remains
Soldiers of destiny calling,
And the fallen will rise up again,
Conquer the forces of evil and fight to the end

Cry thunder!
Sword in his hand,
Titans of justice, fearless we stand
Cry thunder!
Strong in command,
Saviour of nations, freedom of man

Cry thunder!
Sword in his hand,
Warriors defending,
One final stand
Cry thunder!
Strong in command,
Blessed by the union, freedom of man

Blessed by the union of man
Cry thunder!
Yeah yeah

 

 

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About This Map

About This Map

20160421_104910.jpgMany of you know I survive through clinical depression. And though I am 42 (as of this writing) I’ve struggled with this Specter since middle school. Many of you know all too well, the impact it has had on my life and those around me.

I feel pushed by the Lord everyday, to be as open as I can about it – feeling alone is the worst feeling in the world.

I don’t want anyone to feel like that. No one should.

I feel pushed to face the darkness, and encourage those who deal with the same demons. To talk about my experiences with those who have lost loved ones to this affliction, and may be themselves, pressing on through the awful quagmire of hopelessness.

So about this map…Having blogged for almost two years, I am thinking of creating a series of short stories about several heroes and their struggles with mental illness.

I wanted to share the beginning of their world with you.

I wrote a short story on stonewalling in relationships, which inspired me to begin to branch out with my writing.

 
 

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So What? [POETRY]


I would like to thank Natalie and Alexandra over at Joy with a Side of Sarcasm for their humbling rendition of “So whAt.”! What an awesome tribute using Vimeo. Thank you ladies. Please check out and follow their blog and leave a comment!

XXXXX Chris

Here is the link to the original post – So whAt. [Poetry]


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/161704664″>stravens_Salfi_MP2_Sound</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user47865027″>Alexandra</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 
 

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If Mental Illnesses Were Monsters, This Is What They’d Look Like | [REBLOG]


Check out these cartoons of mental illnesses created by U.K.-based artist Toby Allen. He decided to draw different mental illnesses as monsters, as a way of helping himself and ultimately others. Check out the article I found on Huffington Post as well as his Real Monsters series.

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Hopelessness | [POETRY]


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Hopelessness

He felt such hopelessness in life, all he could do was jump.

She felt such disassociation, all she could do was cut.

Reality was harsher, than this living hell,

they lived inside their heads. No one could ever tell.

The night harpies of terror, claw her hair each night

When she pulls the covers up around her, shaking from the fright.

The flashbacks and the memories, of her broken bones

Break her hope and will to live, she wants to just be gone.

Away from all the pain, the hurt, the emptiness.

He tries to run, he tries to end the dread,

of living in a quagmire, he tries to choke it from his head.

Wishing it was just a shell that he could peel away and shed.

See, you’re not alone in this, no you’ll never be.

There’s just too much that’s going on for you to ever see,

that others survive, through the same unending pain.

Come in, we’ll hold you dear, we’ll help you feel again.

 

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Selfless | [POETRY]


Reblog this to someone who may need to hear it today.

Let’s reach out to our friends who are hurting.

image of hands holding hands

Selfless

He took a little piece of him,

and placed it in my hand

I was hurting, sad, and broken,

and I couldn’t understand

Why he gave so selflessly,

and cared to share a part

Of him so free and graciously,

a portion of his heart

 

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The Wall | [POETRY]


Image of a wall with poetry by the author.

The Wall

A little brick of hate was laid, down into the dirt.

Along with words of callousness, and spite, and wrath, and hurt.

A wall was built that housed mistrust, by someone I loved dear.

It grew in strength, brick by brick, each year it grew in fear.

All I could do was sit and cry, and beg that it’d come down.

But each day mortar, stone, and hate, solidified it with the ground.

I saw the light begin to fade, as it closed against the sky.

I hung my head in deep despair, in hopelessness I cried.

Then one day a dove appeared, against the blackened grey.

It chipped the joints, and broke the bricks, and toppled them away.

It pecked, and chipped, and split the wall, stone by simple stone.

For love and peace had reached a soul, that never the soul had known.

And now a garden there exists, in place of deep despair.

No brokenness, no sadness, no signs of disrepair.

For what was once a wall they made, was used to shut me out.

Love had now transformed through healing, and brought the rampart down.

 

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Risk | [QUOTE]


Image a turtle with quotes, "Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out." James Bryant Conant

 
7 Comments

Posted by on 07/22/2015 in Quotes

 

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Perseverance | [QUOTE]


Image showing lady throwing ashes into the sea with quote saying,

Spreading his ashes.

About a month ago, my girlfriend spread the ashes of a dear childhood friend into the sea…

Shortly after that we got into an argument…

Hours after that she left the above quote on my desk…

…I am blessed by her continued thoughtfulness and selflessness.

“The force of the waves

is in their perseverance.”

– Gila Guri

 

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Rainy Day Pics for You | [IMAGES]


“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Here’s some lemonade I made for you on this rainy day, with Pixlr. Please feel free to use them in your posts.

Thank you for joining me in my journey.

X Chris
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Taken in the parking lot of my church.

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These trees line the parking lot of my church.

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Taken at a local cemetery.

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Not a rainy day pic, I just love this one. Taken in Norwich, CT, USA.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on 07/18/2015 in Images

 

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I’m Getting Her PTSD, Pt. 5 [POEM]


How do you relate to the people in your life with PTSD?

This post is part of a series of poems dedicated to my girlfriend. She has PTSD and severe anxiety and you will understand her story with each post. Each time I learn something about the mental conditions she lives with, I add a “part” to the series. Please read the previous verses. Each can be found at these links – Part 1, Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 of her story and the lessons she’s taught me.

Image of girl running

“In panic she runs, through her forested mind”

Running on Empty-

Heading towards “E”, one mile at a time,

The rubber is melting the road.

With her foot to the floor, and the gauge in the red,

She races to unburden her load.

The wraiths of panic, pursue her in flight,

Their talons are shredding her gown.

The harpies of terror, claw at her hair,

Knocking her down to the ground.

In panic she runs, through her forested mind,

Past triggers, closing too quick.

She can’t get away, not this time,

She’s stuck in the labyrinth; the crypt.

The branches slash, the thorns rape her skin,

And the rocks they bloody her feet.

She’s almost on empty, the tank’s almost bare,

She’s crumbling in fright and defeat.

And I catch up to her, pulling her close,

So she stops, and she looks up at me.

“I can’t do this. I won’t, and I quit.”

“Let me go. I just want to leave.”

And I let her crumble, and the tunnel opens up,

She’s so exhausted, and broke.

But she’s made it again, through the anxiety,

Such a spirit of resiliency and hope.

She’s grown on me, and taught me her life,

My mouth hangs open in awe.

For I’m getting her condition, her PTSD

I’m beginning to understand it all.

Thank you for reading the fifth installment of this series. Please pass it on to those who are surviving through PTSD, flashbacks, and anxiety.

 

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Where In The World Are You, Readers? [INTERACTIVE PROJECT]


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Hello. I’m Chris.

I live with severe depression and in September of 2014 I unsuccessfully hanged myself – my friends saved me. 

I’m also a history/geography nut.Picture of Chris, the blogger of surviving the specter.

I’ve seen some pretty interesting locations showing up in the stats portion of surviving the specter, and am interested to know where visitors are viewing from. If you would kindly let me know where you are from and what drew you to the site, I would appreciate your thoughts.

Please feel free to include any other comments or even ideas for future posts.

If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, check out the guest blogging tab and email me your work – I’d love to read what you have.

As always, thank you for taking your time to help with this project and may you find peace through your valley, my friend.

Whether you’re a follower or you just stopped in to see this cool image, would you go ahead and let us know where you live in the Comments section?

Inquiring minds want to know!

 

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Coping with Flashbacks [ARTICLE]


The Night Harpies of Terror

The Night Harpies of Terror

My girlfriend has PTSD.

I’ve learned that flashbacks haunt her on a regular basis. It took me some time to get used to this and so I wrote a poem about it because it is something I’ve learned about her and her PTSD.

I found an article that helped me learn some more things about this phenomena and thought that it would be good to put it out there for our community – http://ptsd.about.com/od/selfhelp/a/flashcoping.htm

Here’s a quote I appreciated and that opened my eyes just a little bit wider in understanding-

In coping with flashbacks and dissociation, prevention is key.

Flashbacks and dissociation are often triggered or cued by some kind of reminder of a traumatic event (for example, encountering certain people, going to specific places), or some other stressful experience. Therefore, it is important to identify the specific things that trigger flashbacks or dissociation.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, my friend. Do you live with flashbacks? Is there another coping mechanism you use that the article didn’t mention? Would you feel comfortable sharing it in the Comments section?

 
 

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Mindfulness and Depression: Learning to Feel Good Again [ARTICLE]


Picture of Willoughby Spit on the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk, VA USA

Willoughby Spit on the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk, VA USA

Here’s a pretty good article on mindfulness – http://www.choosehelp.com/topics/depression/mindfulness-and-depressionI thought you might like it.

How many people use this? I have a really hard time sitting in one place for 20 minutes. I’ve done this once, in a Saturday session NAMI class. My “safe place” was the beach that’s across the street from me. Here’s a picture of it for you to enjoy!

If mindfulness is new to you, here’s a quick quote from the article that gives you the gist of it-

The main idea in mindful meditations is to look at your thoughts as fleeting curiosities. This is added to a perspective that we need to live in the present. Not to ruminate about the past or worry about the future. Now that already sounds good to people who suffer from depression. It is sort of like when I was a kid, and there was a big kid who would threaten me. My mother would tell me to ignore him. She said if you don’t react he’ll leave you alone. I said, “But he’s going to beat me up!” She told me that he is looking for a reaction and I need to let him find it somewhere else. I said, “but he’s picked on me in the past!” She said, “That’s in the past. Let it go!”

That’s the attitude you need for mindful meditation. You learn to ignore the threatening thoughts. Especially with negative, beating-you-up type thoughts, but also for any thought. In mindful meditation you learn how to observe your thoughts without letting them conquer you or control you or your emotions. You learn to detach yourself from your thinking in such a way that you can consciously decide whether or not the thought is worthwhile engaging or not.

Have you, or do you use mindfulness? Care to share with us in the Comments section? I’d love to hear what you have to say, my friend.

 

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What It’s Like to Fight The Demons [QUOTE]


We know what it’s like to live with demons.

They will not prevail.

Because WE have COMMUNITY here!

Lyrics from the song,

“Until it Sleeps”, Metallica

Where do I take this pain of mine?
I run, but it stays right by my side
So tear me open, pour me out
There’s things inside that scream and shout
And the pain still hates me
So hold me until it sleeps

-“Until it Sleeps”, Metallica

 
13 Comments

Posted by on 07/04/2015 in Images, Quotes

 

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EMDR – Session 1 | What Was My First Session Like?


Today was my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy) session. An introductory session, a teaser if you will. A little preview of the program.

I was pretty tired but decided to play along. I had done my homework and written down the most painful memory I had. Actually, I was feeling spunky with the Adderall so I wrote down 5.

It’s a nice number.

THQUIRELL!

Notes from my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Processing Therapy) Session.

Notes from my first EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Processing Therapy) Session.

What is EMDR?

EMDR therapy is recognized as an effective form of trauma treatment. The founder, Francine Shapiro, was walking in the park thinking through some of her own distressing memories. As she watched the ducks going back and forth she realized that the side-to-side lateral eye movements seemed to decrease the negative emotion associated with the negative memories. She assumed that eye movements had a desensitizing effect, and when she experimented with this she found that others also had the same response to eye movements.

SOURCE: http://www.emdr.com/general-information/what-is-emdr.html

My therapist told me that Francine wondered if there were any other times in which lateral eye movement seemed to benefit people and she had an epiphany – REM sleep!

The rest is history.

I Told Him My Homework

Since I have my homework pictured above, I won’t reiterate it. How did I guess we were going to start with items 4 and 5? I should’ve known. If you care to read about these items, I wrote about them in a little more depth in a post entitled, Forgiving My Dad’s Anger. It may turn out to be a series, I’m not sure yet.

I Made An Island

When we started, my therapist gave me a pair of headphones and two small ovular items that fit in the palm of each hand and had cords that plugged into a base unit along with the earphones. I asked what the heck this was all about and he explained that I would hear beeps in the headphones that alternated between each side, and at the same time the units in my hand would vibrate in sync with the beeps I was hearing. This was supposed to replace me following his moving hand with my eyes, sort of like the cops do when you get pulled over for a sobriety check.

So now that the instrument explanation was over, he had me shut my eyes and explained that I would be making an island. This was to be my safe place where no one could harm me and the entire island was surrounded by a forcefield. He had me tell him what I saw as well as what I smelled, heard, and felt.

I told him I saw white sand (unlike the nasty brown stuff indigenous to this area that sticks to your skin) and that it was fine like powder. I heard waves, seagulls, the wind blowing through huge palm trees, and somewhere waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the recesses of my mind, a screecher monkey howling deep in the forest, haha.

For the next 5-7 minutes, with the headphones on and the buzzers buzzing, I had to imagine myself sitting in a recliner just enjoying my island.

Being mindul.

This is a technique we did in one of our NAMI meetings and is good for PTSD and those who suffer with anxiety. My girlfriend uses this in her DBT training as well.

How the Session Ended

So all that took about 45 minutes. We ended the session with him telling me that this would be a good practice for me to try. It slows the breathing and heart rate down and would do wonders to help me relax. He told me that when things got heavy (we would be “dredging” up a lot of old trees that had fallen and were buried deep) or too much, I would use this as my safe place until I came back down.

How Do I Feel About EMDR So Far?

I won’t lie, I’m a skeptic.

Even though it’s scientifically documented to be successful many times over, I am of the thinking that it’s a farce at this point.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to be open minded. But it’s going to take A LOT to get me on the other side of the fence.

Thank you so much for taking your time to read this post. I do appreciate it.

So what are your thoughts as readers? Have any of you undergone this type of therapy? Have you found it successful? Have you not? I’m looking forward to holding a dialogue with you in the Comments section. 

 

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Blank [POETRY]


poetry_blank_001

“Blank”

Now you’ve gone and done it,

You’ve broken all his bones.

Your words were quite the perfect weapons

They crushed him like thrown stones

Now you’ve gone and done it,

You’ve slashed her mind to shreds.

Any hope of self esteem,

You’ve dashed down on the river bed.

I bet you’re pretty proud,

You heartless parasite.

To be the one to ruin minds,

To make them want to end their lives.

This will be your legacy,

How you’re remembered here.

Your stone will have no words,

Your life will disappear.

 

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How Can You Promote Your Blog with Pinterest? [TUTORIAL]


You might be asking yourself…

Why Should I Be Using Pinterest to Promote My Blog?

Well, here’s three solid reasons-

  1. Because it’s free.

  2. Because it’s free.

  3. BECAUSE. IT’S. FREE.

So HOW Do I Use Pinterest to Promote My Blog?

Here’s how I do it:

surviving_the_specter_pinterest_001

1.   Create the board on Pinterest. You’ll need to have a Pinterest account before you start “pinning”, or posting images to categories, or boards. In the image above, I titled the board and entered a subheading and then put the link for my blog at the top of the board.

2.   Create the “pin”. Once your board is created, add the pin. Here’s how to do it –

♦  First, I save the image from my post (the quote shown here) on my hard drive.

♦  Next, I upload the image as a pin by clicking the Add Pin button.

♦  Then I add a description in the white space below that.

♦  Finally, (and THIS is where your traffic will come from) in the last section you’ll have to site the source, which is your blog. Just copy/paste your blog address OR the address to the specific post. I used the blog address just to save time but should probably start using the address to the original post.

surviving_the_specter_pinterest_002

3.   Enable Pinterest on your account. Follow this breadcrumb to navigate to the page under your Settings tab on your dashboard:

♦  Settings > Sharing > Enabled Services

I have the WordPress and Twitter buttons visible while all the buttons on the right are hidden under a “Share” button. A person can use any button shown below, it’s just the ones on the right are hidden – it’s a neatness factor for me and my ADD. Fo’ REyull.

Capture

Come check out how it all looks!

There’s several different ways to use Pinterest but the big thing is to get out there, experiment, and have fun with it!

So when it all comes together, here’s some examples of my boards that deal with mental health. You can follow a person’s individual boards, or you can follow all of their boards. I have 169 thus far…it’s really addictive. Especially if you’re a visual person.

Surviving the Specter

https://www.pinterest.com/clewis5039/surviving-the-specter/

Depression

https://www.pinterest.com/clewis5039/depression/

PTSD

https://www.pinterest.com/clewis5039/ptsd/

Codependence

https://www.pinterest.com/clewis5039/codendence/

Anxiety

https://www.pinterest.com/clewis5039/anxiety/

Here’s some other boards you might like-

Quotes (my most popular board)

https://www.pinterest.com/clewis5039/quotes/

Keeping the Faith (Faith-based, scripture)

https://www.pinterest.com/clewis5039/keeping-the-faith/

 

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I’m Getting Her PTSD. Pt. 4 [POEM]


How do you relate to the people in your life with PTSD?

This post is part of a series of poems dedicated to my girlfriend. She has PTSD and severe anxiety and you will understand her story with each post. Each time I learn something about the mental conditions she lives with, I add a “part” to the series. Please read the previous verses. Each can be found at these links – Part1, Part 2 and Part 3 of her story and the lessons she’s taught me.

Photo of abandoned girl with her legs crossed and her head in her lap.

Remembering all those children of fathers whom they have never had the chance of knowing. I am praying for the emptiness in your soul to be filled with peace.

Fatherless Day-

She sat next to me, as the fathers all stood,

And her soul crashed onto the rocks.

Because she’s never known hers, in all of her years,

Through all of life’s punches she blocks.

My soul is torn, as I stand up,

Next to my beautiful daughter of ten.

Through the pain and the hurt, the tears and the loss,

I’d throw down, I’d do it again.

I feel her pain, and it humbles my soul,

The feeling is so hard to take.

To be humble and proud, as I stand in the crowd,

When she’s sitting there in so much pain.

She doesn’t speak a word, but she rubs my side,

She is so strong and helps me along.

She tells me to keep fighting, to be there for her,

The daughter who I sometimes feel I’ve lost.

Her heart aches and yearns, for a father she’d know,

A man whom she could call dad.

And I want to take it, make it all go away

The abandonment and the sad.

So I’ll honor her, and her tenderly tough soul,

And the selflessness she always gives.

And hold her hand, through this painful day,

And the heartache through which she has to live.

She’s grown on me, and taught me her life,

My mouth hangs open in awe.

For I’m getting her condition, her PTSD

I’m beginning to understand it all.

Thank you for reading the fourth installment of this poem. Please pass it onto those who are missing their fathers today.

 

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Has Anyone Undergone Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy?


Image of eye

Next week I am starting EMDR with my therapist. My homework is to “think of the most painful time of my life”.

Has anyone participated in this form of therapy? I’m interested to hear thoughts. 

If your interested in learning more about EMDR you can visit the homepage by clicking this link. 

 

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For those struggling with demons.


You are not alone, my friend. Remember, we are perfectly imperfect. We may live with things every day that other people can’t even imagine.

poetry_demons_001

“Do you burn, do you bleed when they touch you?

Do you scream in your sleep while they cut you?

More than just pretty scars is what they want to leave

Sit in their tattoo chair they’ll leave the Markings of a Beast”

-Lyrcis from the song Outlaws, by the group Disciple

Image of demons torturing humans.

 

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What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? [INFOGRAPHIC]



Any thoughts on this infographic? The statistics are slightly outdated since it was published in 2011. See source beneath the infographic and at the bottom.

PTSD-Awareness-Infographic

SOURCE: http://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/national-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd-awareness-day/


 

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When you feel like God isn’t listening… [Image]



teacher remains quiet during the test_001


 

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Once a Victim, Now a Survivor [Award]


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Once a Victim ~ Now a Survivor Award

once a victim now a survivor award

I  would like to thank Rose with Thorns, who nominated my blog for this award. This award is for those who have gone through mental illness of any kind, abuse, trauma, and especially PTSD. Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the blogger that nominated you
  2. Nominate 7 or more bloggers whom you feel deserve the award
  3. Post 5 questions for your nominees to answer (you may use the same as these below)
  4. Inform your nominees and post a comment in their blog to let them know they’ve been nominated

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The questions for me were the following:

1.  What is your favorite post that you wrote? My most powerful post, the one that started this blog, is titled, My Story. It gives the account of my suicide attempt. I wrote this post because I want others who struggle with the same feelings, to know that they are not alone.

2.  How do you find motivation to write? My motivation to write comes from several sources:

♦   My experiences. I try to share as many of my own experiences as possible. Whether they be the struggles I had on weekends, or how I felt in my marriage, these are the fabric of my blog.

♦   Quotes. I like to use quotes to spread my message. I use a few original templates that I’ve created so there is a feeling of consistency and familiarity to my readers, and so people can focus on the message. All of these can be found by accessing the “Quotes” category on my blog.

♦   Music videos. I love music. If a song pertains to the theme of my blog I will use it in a post. All of these can be found by accessing the “Video” category on my blog.

♦   Poetry. Sometimes I’ll have a verse pop into my head when I’m reading or working on a current post. I’ll immediately start a new post and either finish the poem in a few minutes or come back to it at a later time. Sometimes the flow comes naturally and sometimes it needs to work itself out over time. “So whAt” is one such example. I was thinking of someone who was having a rough day and kept dropping things, or tripping, and whose day was just falling apart. In their clamor, they more and more felt that they were going crazy and I wanted to show that there were reasons for why this was happening…it wasn’t just coincidence. Stress, anxiety, PTSD, etc., all cause these things to happen.

I’ve also written saga-like poetry that reads over time. The Specter series was one such four-part installment that dealt with the personification of my depression and the struggle I face between the forces of despair and hope.

I also started a series dedicated to my girlfriend’s PTSD, called “I’m Getting Her PTSD“. It’s a play on words and I write a verse every time I “get”, or understand something about her PTSD. I used a play on words that may have suggested that her PTSD was spreading to me but the reader gets a different view by the end of each verse.

♦   Other posts. Sometimes I get inspiration from reading other people’s posts. “I Thought of You” is one such example. I was reading a post in my reader someone had written about facing the realities of suicide. A quick line jumped into my head and in a few minutes it had matured into the two-verse poem I posted. When writing these particular poems, I like to write about the situation in the first verse, and then use the second verse to speak hope. That’s a common theme I use.

♦   My Faith. I post faith-based quotes, scripture, and journal excerpts under the “Faith for Hope” tab. This has been a large part of my healing process and has been the one thing that has allowed me to live through my depression through a state of grace.

3.  If you could have any super power, what would it be? Being able to hold a conversation in public. I’m really an introverted person of few words. Conversations can be awkward for me.

4.  Who inspired you growing up? I had a high school history teacher and drum instructor who inspired me while growing up. My history teacher used these words that intrigued me and made me want to learn. My drum instructor was a mentor and father-figure to me. They both taught me so much about life and striving to be better.

5.  What makes you super excited? It makes me excited to know that at least one person has come away from my blog with hope. With feeling that they are not alone. With knowing that even though they may not feel like reaching out, there are people who will extend themselves because they’ve been where they are.

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Here are the inspiring bloggers that I nominate:

And here are their questions:

  1. When did you start your blog and what inspired you? 
  2. What types of blogs do you follow?
  3. How many revisions does it take before you push the publish button?
  4. What’s the best thing about you and what have you learned from blogging? 
  5. Do you have other blogs?

________________________________________________________________

 
 

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Hope Stays [Poem]

Hope Stays [Poem]

________________________________________________________________

You are surrounded by a community of hope. And each of us has two arms to hold you.

hope stays poetry

________________________________________________________________

 

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NAMI Workshop: Peer-to-Peer

NAMI Workshop: Peer-to-Peer

On Saturday I had the privilege to begin a free course offered by my local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The 8-week program is entitled the, “Peer-to-Peer Education Recovery Course” and runs for two hours each Saturday.

notebook showing National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Peer-to-Peer course

We had an energetic facilitator and there were 10 participants in the class. We each got a three-ring binder full of information and I was impressed by how organized the room was when I arrived – name tags, pens, binders, etc., at each seat.

The session started with an icebreaker activity to help us learn people’s’ names. We had to say the person’s name then toss a ball to them. After they caught the ball, they repeated the process by turning to someone else. Soon we were tossing the ball without first having to look at the person’s name tag like we were a few minutes earlier.

After we ended the activity and were seated, the instructor began reading out of his manual. This was the only aspect of the entire session that I thought could be improved because he read from the manual word-for-word. But it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because he engaged us while he read, looking up periodically and remaining full of expression.

The first thing we reviewed were the core values that were created the week before. I missed the first week but was able to copy them into my notebook, below.

wpid-pixlr_20150328205729015_20150328205805602.jpg

After a short 10-minute break we got into the instructional material for the day. Our discussion focused around the handout below and was based on the Bridges Consumer Stages of Recovery. This model illustrates recovery using three events: Crisis, Decision, and Awakening.

Here is what I took away from this portion of the session:

  1. Each event or crisis sets the stage on a person’s way to recovery.
  2. Each stage has a group of emotions and needs associated with it.
  3. The needs must be met before recovery can enter the next level.
  4. The stages of recovery –

♦  Stage 1 – Recuperation takes place after a crisis.

♦  Stage 2 – There is the decision to rebuild.

♦  Stage 3 – An awakening leads to recovery and discovery.

wpid-pixlr_20150328214326124_20150328214353150.jpg

wpid-pixlr_20150328214427269_20150328214439025.jpg

After we finished the portion of instruction, we did an activity called, “In the Moment”. I learned that this would be a regular component of each session and that it would teach us to focus our minds on the present instead of worrying about what was going to happen in the future. In the activity, the instructor placed a raisin on a plate, passed the plate around, and had us tell our thoughts on what we saw. It was an analytic task and everyone gave analytic answers such as “loneliness”, “courage”, and “death”. When the plate got to me all I could think of was a snack.

The instructor then put the rest of the raisins on the plate and repeated the activity, asking us to tell the class what we saw. This time I was able to think of something deeper than what my stomach was telling me to say. My response was that the raisin, though at the end of its life, still had something to offer. I also acknowledged that this raisin, for whatever reason, had gone down a different path than other raisins, which may have been processed into wine.

Conclusion

I enjoyed this session and believe that I am going to enjoy the rest of the course. We have a great instructor who is honest and transparent, and I am with a wonderful group of people who are willing to share themselves and learn from others. I encourage you to look into whether your local chapter offers this class and take it. You can go to the NAMI site and select your area to see what resources are being offered there. This link should take you the NAMI  page at the site. and allow you to select your state.

What resources can you share with other readers?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 03/29/2015 in NAMI

 

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So whAt. [Poetry]


poetry_so_what_002Thank you for taking time to read my notes here, as well as the poem. I hope they lend clarity to the design and the elements of style.

TITLE. I capitalized the letters in such a way so as to portray my disassociation with reality when I am in the throws of depression. When Specter has me in his grip.

DESIGN. The bleak, worn background speaks to my depression. I thought it would speak to the figure I wrote about in each verse. To each reader.

As usual, I had an image but decided to remove it so focus would be on making sense of the words, rather than how the image related to the words.

VERSES. I think this poem comes off as snarky and patronizing at first. I went out on a limb and kept it that way because I wanted the reader to make sense of it as they progressed.

For instance, the first two lines of each verse state a problem society might have with us (italics). A “harmless” comment made about how tired we look, or how we couldn’t handle something like everyone else.

Perhaps these are things we think. How many times have you and I felt like the speaker in the first verse? “This is not my day. I’ve never tripped so much in my life. WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH ME TODAY??!!”

================================================================

People never know what goes on behind our scenes. We deal with rejection by our parents; our own flesh and blood. We can’t sleep because the night terrors won’t go away. We are broken with the loss of a marriage. We each have our demons. We each have our skeletons. We each have our masks.

It is my hope that each of my readers may find a piece of themselves in these verses. And know that they are not alone.

Do you have a verse to add that reflects your experience with your mental condition (“illness”)? I’d love to see it added in the Comments section.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on 03/24/2015 in Poetry

 

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I’m Getting Her PTSD. Pt. 3. [Poem]


How do you relate to the people in your life with PTSD?

wpid-20150308_181529.jpg

This post is part of a series of poems dedicated to my girlfriend. She has PTSD and severe anxiety and you will understand her story with each post. Each time I learn something about the mental conditions she lives with, I add a “part” to the series. Please read Part 1 and Part 2 of her story and the lessons she’s taught me.

The Night Harpies of Terror-

The demons attack, when she’s sleeping at night,

I feel her twitching beside.

Their shredded wings spread, their chipped talons slash,

She always in terror to hide.

She awakens from choking, from a former attack,

That cut off the breath of her life.

And whispered to me to hold her tight,

So I roll over; I do what is right.

She cries silently, under muted sobs,

And doesn’t want me to hear.

Afraid that I’ll yell, or repeat it all,

I don’t blame her, from feeling her fear.

She lives in terror; an over shoulder attack,

That comes whenever it wants.

And I’ve learned to adjust, to help her with this,

She’s taught me to be the man that I must.

She’s grown on me, and taught me her life,

My mouth hangs open in awe.

For I’m getting her condition, her PTSD

I’m beginning to understand it all.

Do you have suggestions for supporting people with PTSD? Will you share them with us?

 
9 Comments

Posted by on 03/13/2015 in Poetry, PTSD

 

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I’m Getting Her PTSD. Pt. 2. [Poem]

I’m Getting Her PTSD. Pt. 2. [Poem]

How do you relate to the people in your life with PTSD?

wpid-20150308_181400.jpg

This post is part of a series of poems dedicated to my girlfriend. She has PTSD and severe anxiety and you will understand her story with each post. Each time I learn something about the mental conditions she lives with, I add a “part” to the series. Please read Part 1 and Part 3 of her story and the lessons she’s taught me.

Daggerous Words-

She came at me, in a tone that was harsh,

And I shut down and put up a wall.

I reinforced it with ego, and self centered-ness

I put up my guard, I let the gate fall.

I was angry, insulted, and wounded inside,

Her sticks and her stones had wounded my pride

I lashed back in defensiveness, with a little man’s heart,

I lost my bearing, I fell apart.

I fell short of the man, I needed to be

It wasn’t her, it was the PTSD

The years of bones that were broken and bruised,

The hate, and the lies, and the wrong.

Of kicks and punches, and choking and hate,

Is always present, ne’er gone.

Now she fights for her mind, and own sanity,

And I need to remember her will.

And support her with love, and uncommon valor,

And never say words that are ill.

She’s grown on me, and taught me her life,

My mouth hangs open in awe.

For I’m getting her condition, her PTSD

I’m beginning to understand it all.

Do you have suggestions for supporting people with PTSD? Will you share them with us?

 
13 Comments

Posted by on 03/08/2015 in Poetry, PTSD

 

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