I hate to share feelings unnecessarily, but maybe I should open up a little bit more about one of the greater reasons why I started this project: loneliness. I am so lonely I can hardly stand it. For the time being, I’ve moved past my desire for a significant other, and am solely focusing on the need for friendship. I’ve moved around so much in my life that I have no “core” group of friends. I go through phases of really making an effort to invite people places and/or forcing myself to participate in social gatherings, in an attempt to create this circle of friends. Then somewhere along the way, I get discouraged, or busy, or…self-centered. I find that when I’m lonely, I tend to only see my needs, which in turn, isolates me even more, because I can’t see past myself. Make sense? It’s a horrible cycle. And I don’t have the solution. It’s a fight to stay positive, but I know that turning my gaze inward will not lead me anywhere good. Thus, this project. I figure, if I can turn my attention outward, towards others, and their needs, and not on myself, that surely, a change will
Here’s a little trigger warning: depression, suicide, self-harm, that business. It’s how I roll. Also, I’m trans male, this happened years before I transitioned. I considered myself female at the time and realising I was male was a gradual process that began about 4 yrs ago. My hospitalisation didn’t have anything to do with my gender identity.
This story starts the beginning of second semester in undergrad. I had just come back from an un-fun Christmas visit in Texas, the location of one of the worst times in my life. It wasn’t Texas’ fault, really, just bad timing. In addition to having to visit a place with a lot of difficult emotions tied to it, I also stayed for what seemed like two weeks (including New Year’s) when I can barely handle about 6 days with my parents. Bad idea on top of bad idea on top of bad idea. When I got back home to New York, I almost immediately fell into a hole.
The first inkling I had that things might be bad was the second or third day I was back. I stayed in one of my friend’s dorm rooms with our tight group, getting fucked
It was the end of April. Police had stopped transportation on the busy road leading to Savar; a stream of people walked along the hot, dusty road. We were all going to the same place: the site of the former Rana Plaza factory. Days before, on April 24, 2013, it had collapsed with over 3500 workers inside. Now, six days later, the rescue operation had dwindled to the recovery of the 1,116 bodies in the wreckage. Nonetheless, onlookers streamed to the site. Some protested or brought donations. Others just came to witness the worst industrial disaster in the history of Bangladesh.
Outside the factory, women holding pictures of missing loved ones wailed. As a rare foreigner, they targeted me for attention, begging me to do something. I hugged two, one under each arm – and when a camera crew noticed, I was suddenly on live TV. A journalist asked in English what I thought should be done. “These people need access to mental health care now,” I said.
As a social worker who works full time as a psychotherapist in New York City, I had a thought about something that could really use some clarification in the world of mental health care.
“Social worker” can mean a person with a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), a master’s degree (MSW), or a doctorate (DSW or PhD). Each of these degree levels qualifies you for a different kind of work:
– A BSW can practice as a “generalist”, such as doing crisis intervention, or interviewing, or case work (like your guest, Ray). A BSW cannot, in any state, practice psychotherapy.
– With an MSW, you can choose to specialise in clinical practice – like a psychologist specializing in clinical psychology – which entails additional supervised training in diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Social workers must be at this level of education and training to become licensed therapists.
– A doctoral degree (sometimes called DSW, sometimes called PhD in Social Work) does not give you more clinical authority, but does give you additional qualifications for research and teaching in the field of social work.
This is from the web site of the National Association of Social Workers:
1. Is my relationship abusive or unhealthy?
-Firstly, if you’re asking this question, that’s a clue. If someone asks you if you feel safe in your relationship and you can’t immediately, uninhibitedly say yes, that’s a problem.
-An abusive partner will separate you, if not isolate you completely from your family or friends. There could possibly be an ultimatum, verbalized or otherwise, a threat about what might happen if you decide to hang out with anyone else. The more time you spend with friends and family, the less power your abuser has, so they don’t want that.
-An abusive partner will invalidate your feelings or reactions in order to maintain control. Phrases to look out for include but are not limited to “are you STILL upset about that?” “Why can’t you just let it go?” And “we were having such a good time, don’t ruin the good times we have.”
-It should also be stated that the best abusers will not be all bad, otherwise they’d have to get new victims more quickly. My abuser cooked for me, took care of me when I was sick, drove me to surgeries, held my hand at the dentist. These positive experiences make
Disorganized Attachment – An Explanation for Non-Clinicians
Many clients who end up in the therapeutic chair or couch are impacted by a disorganized attachment style. Disorganized attachment serves as a diathesis (risk factor) for many difficult psychological syndromes including depression, dissociative disorders, various personality disorders (especially Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders), PTSD, and Complex PTSD. I have found it useful to explain the etiology and manifestation of disorganized attachment to my clients as a way to begin understanding their confusing and dysfunctional coping methods and behaviors. However, my search of the web has yielded little information for the non-clinician. As such, here is my jargon free explanation:
Usually, when infants and young children are frightened or sad they approach their parent or caregiver for safety and comfort. When the parent or caregiver is able to empathize, soothe, and care for their children, it teaches them how handle their own uncomfortable emotions and be caring and empathic for others. They also learn healthy boundaries and know how to seek out and rely on others for help. This is the basis of healthy interpersonal relationships and is called “secure attachment.”
Applying for Social Security Disability with Mental Illness
The symptoms of a mental illness can make it impossible to work. For example, those who suffer from bipolar disorder may have days when it is impossible to get out of bed. Their frequent mood swings may make it impossible to maintain gainful work activity. Fortunately, if you are unable to work due to a mental illness, you may be able to get help in the form of Social Security Disability benefits.
There are two types of disability benefits that disabled workers may qualify for. These include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Qualifying for SSDI
In order to qualify for SSDI you must have earned enough work credits through your past work history. As of 2013, for each $1,160 you earn, you get 1 work credit. You can earn up to 4 work credits each year.
If you are under age 24, you will need 6 work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. If you are between the ages of 24 and 30, you will have need to have worked half of the time since turning age 21. For example, if you
Life in Both Chairs
I’ve been listening to this podcast for about a month now, and I’ve been so happy that one of my clients introduced it to me. It’s completely different to hear these incredible stories of pain, loss, and healing outside of my office and to engage with them as a survivor of mental illness, rather than a therapist. I don’t tell my clients about my personal experiences with mental illness (hence the anonymity), even though there are times when I really, really want to. Currently I’m a graduate student in a counseling psychology program, but five years ago I was depressed, suicidal, and hopeless. This is a (very) abridged account of how I went from client to counselor.
It’s actually a little surprising that it took me so long to seek therapy. I made it through two years of physical abuse (between the ages of 5 and 7, when my aunt looked after me) and several panic attacks throughout childhood and adolescence, but eventually it was depression that made me look for outside help. The symptoms of depression started in my last year of high school, and came to a head the summer before my first
There is a strange sort of unspoken theory that once a woman has been raped, sex is no longer a viable option for her. Sex has been replaced by trauma, fear, pain, and anxiety. I’m not saying this is never the case. Every survivor’s story and experience is different, but too often the assumption is that if you have been raped, you are sexually broken and forever unfixable. That sort of discourse is not healthy or empowering or even sympathetic. What I want to say is what I wish I had been told: rape is not a form of sex, it is a form of assault. Sex feels good. Assault is traumatizing. It is possible for sex to exist after rape because they are different experiences, just like it’s possible for you to still enjoy going out to eat even if you got food poisoning once. You might never go back to that restaurant again, but it doesn’t mean you will get food poisoning every time you go out.
Admittedly, I don’t know what sex before rape is like. I lost my virginity to rape at 14. People are willing to give