I’ve been seeing psychiatrists — doctors whose purpose is primarily to examine and diagnose an emotional disorder or condition, then prescribe a plan of treatment, whether therapeutic or pharmaceutical — on and off for over half my life. The ratio of good to mediocre to bad experiences I’ve had with psychiatrists is roughly equal — the best psychiatrist I ever had listened to me when I disputed my diagnosis and insisted that I really didn’t want to take medications. He brainstormed with me about how to treat not a diagnosis, which is broad and can border on stereotyping a patient, but rather the actual, specific emotional experiences that I was having. He suggested a therapist in his practice who specialized in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and it was a godsend. It is a nigh-perfect treatment for me and has had significant positive effects that have served as a better long-term solution than medication. Keep reading »
A note: There’s a lot of trigger-y, very heavy material in this particular essay, including descriptions of graphic fictional violence (in nightmares) and mentions of sexual violence. I included it to paint as clear a picture I could of what it feels like to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. All respect given to those who wish not to read that sort of thing: You take care of yourself however you need to.
“Wild,” the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, came out this weekend and I know I’ll see it eventually, but it’ll probably be with a pretty heavy heart. I never read the book, either, although I read Tiny Beautiful Things and loved it.
I could just about write a eulogy for the 2014 that wasn’t. In February, I started making plans to quit my job and travel by plane, bike, train, and bus all across the United States. It didn’t work out. Right now, I was supposed to be in Florida visiting an old friend and her baby and trying not to get eaten by alligators.
That was all for the best, as long as “the best” is held to a moderate standard. I’m glad I got to spend my year with my lovely boyfriend and work on our relationship. I’m glad I got a therapist. I’m glad I got off of medications that were doing more harm than good. I’m glad I started writing and ultimately got a full-time job doing it. I’m glad I live in a nice new apartment and have a pretty good idea of what my boundaries are and how to keep myself healthy. That is a textbook definition of “a good life.” Keep reading »
I have shared with you all lovelies before that I have PTSD and, because of it, suffer from pretty crushing anxiety sometimes. I’m pretty much on top of it during my waking hours, but lately (i.e. increasingly since May) that daytime anxiety just feels like it’s getting pushed to the nighttime.
Here are all the things I’ve tried to make myself sleep better: Keep reading »
I’ve said it briefly before, but I want to say it again in more depth: I’m not ashamed of my emotional disorder. In the six months since I started writing for a living, I’ve had a rash of people — okay, trolls — on the internet writing e-mails, leaving comments, and even writing blogs about my mental stability, but specifically saying that there’s something “wrong” with me.
I mean, kind of. I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I don’t think I’ve ever said explicitly why: Because I was in a long-term, abusive relationship, and because six months after I left it, I was raped. On top of that, I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 13, and I’ve gone through a slew of diagnoses to figure out exactly why I feel emotions as intensely as I do, and my doctors and I have recently settled on it being sort of a generalized personality disorder — not exactly one or the other of those listed in the DSM-V. Keep reading »
I get behind on “Doctor Who” — being cable-less will do that to you — but this week’s episode was being widely touted as one of the best in years, so of course I had to make it a priority to watch. When “Doctor Who” is good, it’s really, really good; it is at heart a celebration of humanity, and as much as The Doctor’s companions can be cast as his accessories, he’s often also their foil, the vehicle by which they have the opportunity to express their humanness.
I’m not too cool to admit that I’ve taken life lessons from “Doctor Who” — I abide by John Green’s definition of “nerdiness” as “unironic enthusiasm about the miracle of human consciousness.” (I’m also not so pretentious that I consider my opinion on it invalid despite the fact that, no, I haven’t watched the original series, so there.) I named my blog for a quote from “The Power of Three.” I have “Allons-y!” tattooed on my leg. I think one of the show’s strengths is its zeal for adventure and discovery, not just in terms of travel to distant places, but in terms of introspection and self-discovery: see “The God Complex,” or really any regeneration. The show’s protagonist has to find out over and over who he really is. Keep reading »
When I got to my friend’s place for my self-defense lessons last week, he told me we were going to do basic self-defense techniques and toward the end, simulated assaults. The simulated assaults were walk-bys: We would walk across the room in opposite directions and he would either do nothing, or he’d very suddenly grab my throat and wrist. The purpose was to train me to react quickly and correctly if it were to happen to me in real life.
But it had happened to me in real life, and after the first or second walk-by, I wound up having visceral, vivid flashbacks to my former partner putting me in arm locks and finger locks, pinning me, kicking me, putting his hand over my mouth, pushing my head into the floor or the bed. I hyperventilated and cried, and my friend hugged me and helped me calm down. He also didn’t let me stop, because the things I experience will upset me sometimes and I still have to know how to handle it, especially when physical danger is involved.
Which brings me to trigger warnings. Keep reading »