Parenting with Mental Illness: Andolina (Major Depressive Disorder)

Meet Andolina-on bettysbattleground.com

Parenting with Mental Illness, a feature interview series on bettysbattleground.comI am honored to introduce Andolina as this month’s Parenting with Mental Illness interviewee. She’s a beautiful young mother who lives with Major Depressive Disorder and moderate anxiety. She also lost her father to suicide. I can only imagine what that kind of loss is like, and I thank her for her sharing her story here on Betty’s Battleground. It breaks my heart to hear about yet another woman whose birthday has been ruined possibly forever–this time by a tragic loss.

A person recently left a very interesting comment on my blog post about forgiving our loved ones who commit suicide. She (I’m actually not sure of the person’s gender, but am using “she” for the sake of clarity) noted that she had lost her spouse to suicide several years back. Then she asked me to re-write my post to exclude the term “commit suicide.” She informed me that there is now a movement to have people say “died by suicide” rather than “commit suicide,” due to negative connotations associated with the word commit, and the idea that suicide is an act for which the victim is not culpable.

I’m familiar with these kinds of language movements. There’s one also in place around the word “addict,” for which I’ve had several losing battles with editors on the titles and language within certain of my articles. My problem here is that I’m not sure I agree. I don’t agree that the word commit is inherently negative, nor do I agree that people who attempt suicide have no volition whatsoever. They’re ill, usually, but if we say they have no power, that can be dangerous to people struggling with suicidal ideations. Is our commitment stronger to the living, or the deceased? I do believe we should respect and honor those who lost their lives to suicide. I do believe in awareness. I don’t know how I stand on the language. Will you leave your thoughts in the comments?

And now, Andolina:

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11 Blogs + Articles You Should Be Reading This Week–8/28

Find out what you should be reading this week on bettysbattleground.com

I have sad news today. Simply-Linked, my linkup provider, has disappeared. It happened the same day major hosting network dreamhost had some kind of attack that sent several sites (including this blog) offline for a couple hours, so at first I thought it was part of that. But then it didn’t return with everything else. And it still hasn’t returned. I’m hoping for the best–that the developers will have an ounce of honesty and reinstate it with at least some kind of warning that will allow users to transfer their content–but I’m not feeling super optimistic. Until that happens, Off-Fridays, THE Mental Illness Blog Share is officially dead. Not just future incarnations, but also all of the amazing resource libraries we created together. I’m truly sorry. If I had been given any kind of warning, I would have at least transferred the past libraries to my own page. But I had no reason to expect this long-standing service to suddenly disappear. I sincerely apologize to everyone who dedicated their time and effort into building those libraries here on Betty’s Battleground.

I hope you’ll accept my apology, and this token of appreciation, which is a list of the best blogs and articles I’ve been reading this week. You can click through and read some interesting, uplifting, and generally well-written content. I’m truly sorry about our libraries. I will update you if they return.

Here’s the best content I’ve been reading, and what I think you should be reading now too.

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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 engage 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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