Tales From The Other Side: A Neurochemical Romance

Tales from the Other Side: A guest post series on www.bettysbattleground.com

Hello! Happy Monday! It really is a happy Monday because I have the honor of publishing this amazing guest post, and you’re here reading it 😉

Last month August did me the great honor of hosting my very first published piece about being queer on her collaborative mental health blog, Survival Is A Talent.  Today she has done me another honor: She has written a guest post for Betty’s Battleground, granting us readers intimate insight into her relationship. She discusses a topic that is dear to me: what it’s like to be in a romantic relationship with someone who has PTSD. What makes August’s story unique is that she also lives with a mental illness: bipolar type schizoaffective disorder. Neither she nor her now-fiance had their respective diagnoses when they first began dating. So this piece not only reveals the reality of life with a partner who has PTSD while combating her own symptoms; it also shows us what it’s like to discover that the person you love has a mental illness, while discovering that you yourself do too. This is a unique, beautifully written perspective on a very important topic, and I am proud to have the opportunity to publish it on my blog.

Before I share it with you, I have to make one quick plug! I want to invite any of you MH bloggers, whoever YOU are reading this right now, to join my Mental Illness Blog Share. Off-Fridays is in it’s second week; it’s my new project and it would make me happier than I can express without hogging all of August’s space, if you would help my baby grow! I’ve been able to promo Betty’s Battleground all on my own, but Off-Fridays is a collaboration and really does need your help. Will you help?

I know that y’all have posts that fit! It’s almost a rite-of-passage for mental health/mental illness bloggers to write self-congratulatory posts about mastering a new self-care technique, overcoming a physical, mental, or emotional barrier, or accomplishing some kind of personal, professional, creative, or spiritual feat. Which is wonderful. We should be writing these posts; modeling a positive relationship with self as a way of showing that it’s healthy and appropriate to others who may be struggling to do the same; we should be sharing what works and what doesn’t in our recoveries, so that others can get help with theirs. So thank you for writing these posts. Now…wouldn’t be it be incredible if they could all be gathered together in some kind of archive…or link library…or link-up party (wink-wink)??! I’ve created the platform; all you have to do in order to make this archive of awesome exist is add your link! And it would mean so much to me personally if you would help my project come to life. Read August’s post first! It is really fantastic! I’ll link you to Off-Fridays at the end 😉

Oh also…if you think the title is unbelievably cheesy…don’t put that on August. The superb article is all her; the corny title is all me. Now to August…

August Pfizenmayer is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media manager. A story about her life with schizophrenia has been published in the next volume of The i’Mpossible Project. It is available for pre-order and will be in stores November 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her personal blog.

A guest post about her relationship by August Pfizenmayer on bettysbattleground.com

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Off-Fridays Mental Illness Blog Share, Week 2: Celebrations

Happy Friday! Are you ready to help create a HUGE ONLINE STIGMA SMASHING COMMUNITY??

It’s the second Off-Friday since I started the NEW Mental Illness Blog Share. The first one started off a bit slow on Mother’s Day weekend, but ended up coming together to become an archive of nine incredible mother-themed posts.

This Friday also happens to be my lovely littlest one’s second birthday! I’m so excited to celebrate with my husband and his family this year. So far both girls have had a great time being pampered to oblivion by their grandparents. The birthday girl (and the birthday girl’s sister at that) even got a set of custom princess dresses, hand-sewn by their great grandmother, or as she is called in Argentina, “Nona.”

The Princessa de Off-Fridays Wk 2 on bettysbattleground.com

Happy birthday to my Birthday Princess Penelope!

 

In honor of la princessa de mi vida I have made the Week 2 theme “celebrations.” Don’t worry…the future themes will be a little broader and less specific to my personal life. But this one is actually pretty broad too. Celebrations can mean a lot of things. It can be a post about a birthday party, or one celebrating an important figure or figures in your life; it can be a guide to overcoming social anxiety during the holidays, a celebration of a personal accomplishment-big or small, an account of a time you relapsed because of a holiday, or a time you were proud because you came close but didn’t; even a complaint about celebrations fits here. Really: If you think it fits the theme, it probably does. This linky is less about adhering strictly to a theme, and more about mental illness bloggers around the world joining together to “meet,” read each other’s stories, form potential collaborations, and provide free communal advertising for our blogs. Plus, once it closes, we’ll have created another archive of mental illness posts centered around the theme of “celebrations.”

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The Great Trigger Warning Debate: Why I Don’t Use Trigger Warnings, Even Though I’m An Educated Liberal With PTSD

Why I don't use trigger warnings even though I'm an educated liberal with PTSD on bettysbattleground.com

I have had PTSD, the result of severe and prolonged domestic violence, for over nine years. I am actively in therapy; I attend both one-on-one counseling and a peer support group every week. I regularly engaging in mindfulness practices like yoga, exercise, intentional breathing, or mindful cooking and playing. I know how to use grounding practices to help myself out of a flashback. I am learning how to ask for help when I need it.

Nonetheless, I get triggered, at least slightly, almost every day. I expect this will be the case for the rest of my life. The experience of being triggered, for me, ranges from slight passing discomfort, to total day-long (or even week-long) debilitation.

The last time I was triggered was yesterday. My husband, in a fit of boisterous energy, slapped a paper cup that had been left on a garbage bin, knocking it to the ground. He wasn’t angry, and he wasn’t trying to trigger me; it was a benign, even playful motion. Just a random burst of energy that my husband, who used to train MMA religiously, turned into a moment of target practice. But it reminded me of a much darker moment when cups and cutlery were knocked to the ground.

I didn’t have a flashback; I guess the effects of this trigger could be categorized as an “intrusive thought.” I remembered, very suddenly, a date I went on with The Ex. We were having a late dinner at a Japanese restaurant. We’d ordered a fair amount of food, which amounted to a pretty hefty bill; Japanese-American food is not known for its low prices. About midway through the meal, a young waitress approached our table and informed us that the restaurant would be closing soon. I smiled, said okay, and resumed eating. She hadn’t kicked us out. As I recall, she didn’t even deliver the bill. But The Ex laid down his fork and began to stare. Not at anyone or anything; just a blank, inscrutable gaze. I would see it again, in my apartment, before he threw sour cream across my good friend’s hair and body just for the crime of holding my son. It’s the expression he makes when contemplating whether or not to give in to rage.

I have never seen him decide against rage.

After a moment of staring, of deciding, he swept his arm across the table, sending almost every cup, bowl, and plate shattering onto the floor.

“I’m sorry,” he said, in the bumbling ‘good-guy’ voice I’m now seeing him affect in court. “I’m sorry,” then sweeping what was left on the table to the floor. “I’m sorry,” the last few plates, the last cup, to the floor.

My husband didn’t mean to trigger me. And he hadn’t done anything wrong; the cup was discarded, empty. He put it in the trash after. He just wanted to practice his aim, to play around. Nonetheless, it triggered me.

And that’s one of the reasons I don’t believe in the use of trigger warnings.

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