Archives for dysthymia
This Valentine's Day, I wanted to take a different approach to discussing love on this blog. A Redditor named Ryan from Canada made a post in /r/getmotivated several months back that has really, really stuck with me. I'm going to share (most of) it with you today, but first, I want to ask you a big question. Do you love yourself? (Cue the cheesy new-age music and self-help vibe here, right?) But seriously, that's not what I mean at all. Let's think about the word "self" for a minute. Right now, you are...you. You are reading this blog post and existing in the present moment, right? (Obviously.) But there are other versions of yourself, too -- versions of you who aren't reading this blog post right now -- who also deserve your love and caring. (And no, I'm not trying to get metaphysical here with any parallel-worlds stuff. Read on; you'll see what I mean.)
Yesterday, I wrote this: a post about how it's okay to feel crummy sometimes. It's okay to feel crummy and to write about feeling crummy. In a way, I was responding to commenter Reader547 when s/he left this message on a recent post about how I was feeling the post-holiday blues: “While it is all too true that the lights come down and everything is put away in January, I feel the writer has no helpful perspective in her article on how people can think differently about it all! How about trying to view January as a “new start into the fresh and unknown future”? Now, I'm back -- to explain my rationale for refusing to tie a shiny bow around my woes.
I love my blog readers. (Hey, that's you!) I read each and every one of your comments -- even though I don't always reply to each one. Your comments are very meaningful to me -- I empathize with your stories of shared suffering and shared recovery. I truly love reading them -- they make me feel far less alone! One recent comment on my blog post called "The Post-Holiday Slump: The Presence Of An Absence", became a bit "stickier" than most -- and I found myself thinking about it quite a bit over the past 24 hours. The blog post was about how January and February basically suck and feel super dreary in comparison to the brightness and happiness of the Christmas season. Putting away the tree and the lights creates a weird void in not only my living room (where the tree stood), but also in my gut. The commenter pointed out my lack of positivity.
(This is the eighteenth post in a series called “Anxiety Society”, in which I interview everyday anxiety sufferers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) Last week, we met Sveta, a young blind woman who grew up in an abusive home. Now diagnosed with complex PTSD and dysthymia, Sveta still struggles as an adult with the effects of her emotional abuse. In this final segment of our interview, we discuss her methods for coping and discover exactly how the Russian language reversed her suicidal thoughts. SB: Tell me about how you use the four senses at your disposal to calm you down or improve your mental health. S: Wow. Well, in my purse I have a pocket of things that are soothing. I have a velvet cushion, about the size of a pin cushion, an aluminum guitar that my father made, some perfumes that are solid, and some stones. I love listening to music, especially music in Russian. I have some tactile Russian letters that I use as well. SB: I sometimes carry around peppermint oil because it helps me to reduce my perception of nausea when I'm anxious. I also really like the scent of Tiger Balm, too -- for some reason, it's grounding and it helps to calm me. What scents do you carry around? S: There is a company up in New York called "Aromadoc". They make perfumes that are solid, meaning they have a longer shelf-life than liquid ones and aren't messy. I usually carry rose, lilac and lavender with me. The rose is to remind me of summertime, the lilac is to calm me, and the lavender is to ground me. I also carry hematite, rhodinite and rose quartz stones with me. SB: Do the limitations of your disability affect your mental health at all? If so, in what way?
(This is the seventeenth post in a series called “Anxiety Society”, in which I interview everyday anxiety sufferers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) Earlier this week, we met Sveta, a twenty-year-old blind woman with complex PTSD and dysthymia. Today, Sveta shares the story of her emotionally abusive childhood. SB: I'm so sorry to hear about the abuse. What was the abuse like and how did it affect you as a person? What did you do, if anything, to cope? S: My parents didn't like me because I was blind. My mother was the main abuser, though Dad ranks a close second. He once told me he doesn't think emotional abuse is real. I assure you it is. SB: Wow. S: I was alienated from my brothers because my mother claimed I was a liar. I was home schooled by my mother who would punish me severely if I got anything wrong, stating it was a "reflection of her teaching skills". I was sent away to a boarding school, where the abuse from the students and restrictions by the staff only made things worse, and then Mom left and didn't even say goodbye to me. Heaven forbid if she was angry with me. SB: What happened if she was angry with you?
(This is the sixteenth post in a series called “Anxiety Society”, in which I interview everyday anxiety sufferers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.) Meet Sveta. She loves music, listening to bird calls, and reading. Although she's just in her early twenties, she's already been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and dysthymia. Her diagnoses follow a difficult and abusive childhood. What makes Sveta's story a bit different from most stories of PTSD and abuse is this: she's also blind. Although she can perceive colors and shapes, and distinguish between light and dark, that's the extent of her visual ability. The blindness affects everything from her ability to escape triggering situations to her anxiety coping strategies. Her parents still largely control the minutae of her everyday life, so Sveta finds herself struggling to carve out her own strategies for controlling her environment. Summer: Have you always been blind, or were you able to see at some point in your life? Sveta: I was born 3 months and 2 weeks early. I was put on oxygen because I couldn't breathe. The result was that not only could I breathe, but the blood vessels in my eyes grew too fast, forcing the retina and the eye apart. SB: And you suffer from an anxiety disorder, correct? Do you mind sharing your diagnoses? S: I have been diagnosed with dysthymia, also known as chronic depression and complex PTSD, which is like BPD but to a lesser degree. SB: Do you feel the dysthymia was always present, or did it develop at some point in your life? S: The dysthymia was always there for as long as I can remember. My parents used to make fun of my love for minor keys saying, "You only like songs where someone dies". This, of course, isn't true. I like the minor key, not the death. It happens, sometimes, that songs where someone dies are in minor keys. It also happens that in songs in minor keys, sometimes, someone dies.