Writing Portfolio
Psychology, Mental Illness, and Substance Abuse

When Depression Shows Her Face | Argot Magazine

Screenshot of Article HeadlineHanging around in the pit of my stomach, a pulsating orb, a cancer re-emerging after remission. The sorrow is physically manifested in my gut. I feel a deep discontent. A piece missing or shifted into the wrong position. A heavy weight, crushing. Like soaking wet wool fabric, clinging to my skin and dragging me down. Why won't she leave me alone?

Drinking as Self-Harm | The FixDrinking as Self-Harm Screenshot of Article

In recovery, I have heard many stories about relapses that started because someone thought they could handle a drink at some joyous occasion. Turns out, they couldn't suddenly become a non-alcoholic, no matter how happy they got. Then there are others who found themselves craving a drink when their basic needs weren't met. Twelve steppers might know this warning as HALT: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Falling into the trap of grabbing a drink to take the edge off, to loosen the tight feeling of social anxiety, or to get cozy in uncomfortable circumstances.

Repealing the ACA Would Devastate the Mentally Ill | Wear Your Voice

Thanks to the ACA, 1.2 million more people received mental health and substance use disorder treatment. What will happen to them? Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 217 to 213 to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act. The AHCA now must go to the U.S. Senate for a vote. If it passes, it would radically shift health care coverage for Americans, charging them more for health care coverage if they have certain pre-existing conditions. Many of those conditions relate to mental health.

I Can't Stop Picking At My Skin | RavishlyScreenshot of Article Headline

I noticed how the new wallpaper curved in the corner. It didn’t lie flat against the wall; it didn’t meet the wall at the 90-degree angle of the corner. I was transfixed by that bit of wall, by that odd architectural detail — or rather, that slight design mishap. I didn’t think of it as a mistake or as off-putting, I was just interested in it. Interested in it the way you might be interested in watching white clouds pass by on a summer day. Or the way you might feel a little sore and find relief with a nice stretch. It was not an itch I had to scratch because it didn’t bother me. It hypnotized me.

Willpower Doesn't Keep Me Sober | The Fix 

When it came to 12-step programs, I was immediately turned off. I was not about to give up my self-will to some esoteric supernatural being. I've gotten a significant amount of side eye from acquaintances who hear I quit drinking the day after a binge. They think either I have immense willpower or didn't actually have a problem with drinking. The truth is, I have awful willpower and had a huge drinking problem.

Opioids, Dissociation, and PTSD | The Fix  

Screenshot of articleOpioids play a critical role in the biology of PTSD. Endogenous opioids naturally occurring in the human body are different in people with trauma disorders. Opioids, such as morphine, have been found to produce the same effects as spontaneous dissociation. In Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence, she says endogenous opioid regulation is altered significantly by trauma and that “traumatized people who cannot spontaneously dissociate may attempt to produce similar numbing effects by using alcohol or narcotics.”

Why I Won't Be Making New Year's Resolutions | The Fix

New Years - The FixNew Year’s resolutions are rarely successful. Research published by Statistic Brain, a non-partisan independent research group, found that only eight percent of people achieve their resolutions. That number is significantly higher for people in their twenties versus people over 50. The longer we maintain certain behaviors, the less likely we are to be able to change them with a simple resolution. Overall, 75 percent of people claim to maintain their resolution for at least one week, and after that the success rate plummets with each passing week. I have a difficult time understanding the eight percent who don’t fall off the resolution wagon.

Is Guilt Selfish? | The FixIs Guilt Selfish?

Since guilt is cited as a frequent relapse trigger, we need to uncover the layers of internal regret.

Generally speaking, we tend to think of guilt as a wasteful emotion. When I typed "guilt is" into Google's search engine, the first auto suggestion was "guilt is a useless emotion." Pinterest is flooded with inspirational memes telling us to have no regrets and to let go of guilt. Meme after meme gives the same message: “Focus on yourself, forgive yourself.” Guilt is painful, but letting go of it is not easy.

39 Excuses for Not Drinking | The Fix

Other people shouldn’t have a problem with you saying no to a drink. Unfortunately, as with many scenarios, "no" is not always accepted as a final answer. There may be people who, for reasons of their own, will pressure you to take that first drink. The fear of this pressure can discourage someone from attending events where their old drinking buddies are likely to be partying. I do not suggest using excuses as a way to manipulate someone, but I do encourage keeping a rolodex of diverse excuses to make people shut up when they won't stop pressuring you to drink..

Denial and Blackouts: A Vicious Cycle | The Fix

Denial and Blackouts: A Vicious CycleA blackout is drug-related amnesia. Binge drinking can lead to memory loss and make it difficult to form new memories. Someone in a blackout might turn into an incoherent version of Dory from Finding Nemo who won’t stop repeating the same phrase, but a lot of the time it is difficult to tell if someone is blacked out. They may appear coherent and less intoxicated than they actually are, but they will forget all about their promise to hike the Appalachian Trail with you next summer. The ability to store new short- and long-term memories is inhibited during a blackout.

What a Trump Presidency Means for Mental Health | Wear Your Voice

Article screenshot Donald Trump is the President-Elect, and it is not good news for mental health care. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who had a comprehensive mental-health-care program as part of her platform, it’s difficult to discern what Trump’s plan is — or if he has one at all. On his official campaign website, mental health is mentioned briefly. Trump will “reform our mental health programs and institutions” and support veterans “by addressing their invisible wounds,” increasing the “number mental health care professionals” and making mental health support available to veterans outside of Veterans Affairs.

Student debt made the domestic violence against me worse || The Guardian

Debt and Domestic Violence - The GuardianAmount of debt: $85,000

Source of debt: College

Estimated time till debt free: Decades

Debt wasn’t something I could talk to my boyfriend about. In fact, there were many topics that were too dangerous to broach – that was just one of them. The red flags had been popping up all over the place. A healthy person doesn’t snap at someone for chewing too loudly or too fast. Getting your hand slapped for trying to show a funny YouTube clip isn’t normal. And being in debt shouldn’t result in bruises. But it did.

Will Big Pharma Support a Non-Addictive Opioid? | The Fix

Will Big Pharma Support a Non-Addictive Opioid?Some researchers are unwilling to give up on the search for a non-addictive opioid and they may be getting close to finding one. A report in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" published findings on a new opioid only named BU08028. The drug was tested on monkeys and found to be as effective at managing pain as the most powerful opioids on the market today. The uniqueness of BU08028 lies in its lack of fatal side effects. It's non-habit forming, is believed not to bring on a euphoric high, and even at extremely high doses is not deadly.

In Defense of Trigger Warnings: Survivor's Perspective | Wear Your Voice 

Trigger WarningsI get it. Trigger warnings make some people roll their eyes, and the idea of safe spaces makes them gag. They just don’t get all these overly sensitive people who need to grow thicker skins and get over it. Being asked to consider the content of speech carefully and to let people know if you are going to be discussing sensitive subjects can feel overzealous. After all, what is a “sensitive subject,” and what is the purpose of a trigger warning?

If you think the use of trigger warnings on college campuses coddles students and stunts intellectual growth, you don’t understand trigger warnings.

How I Learned to Love Meditation | The Fix 

I've in the same city where I got sober. As much as I love the supportive community I’ve built here, I do not really enjoy living in the middle of a huge city. I grew up in the country, and it’s much easier to be an alcoholic in a city with 24-hour public transportation. Not to mention, a fifth of vodka could be purchased for cheap right outside my doorstep. Urban hubs were the ideal locales for this former drinker, they eliminated obstacles to the next drink.

Simple Ways to Cultivate Joy When You Have PTSD

Living with post traumatic stress disorder and her bluesy sister, depression, has drastically changed how I handle everyday life. PTSD changed me from a determined and self-sufficient tigress with a moody disposition, to a wimpy and terrified house mouse. There are days I can hardly rouse myself from the couch, let alone take life by the horns to fight for my keep. I have beat myself up about my inability to follow through. In the pre-diagnosed days of my PTSD, I turned to alcohol to ease the panic and dull the pain. Anxiety and lethargy applied for permanent residence in my body, and I thought I had to fight to have their applications thrown out. Turns out I didn’t have to fight, I had to give up and stop trying to control everything, including my drinking. My saving grace has been learning to cultivate gratitude, even in smallest measure. No matter how down and out you are, there are ways to access serenity during the darkest days of trauma.

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M. Night Shyamalan’s Newest Flop: Demonizing Mental Illness

Hearing there was a new M. Night Shyamalan movie coming out starring James McAvoy, I was cautiously optimistic.

Depending on which critic you ask, Shyamalan hasn’t released a good movie since either SignsUnbreakable or The Sixth Sense. Me? I love the twist endings and am always waiting for the next Sixth Sense. When James McAvoy, one of my favorite actors since he appeared in Wanted, signed on to play the bad guy, I didn’t see how it could lose. The optimism faded once I watched the trailer because there is nothing good about the premise of Split. Not even bothering to skirt around problematic stereotypes, the trailer plainly shows that this story demonizes mental illness.

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Scientifically Proven Ways To Become A Happier Person

It’s the holiday season and the new year is upon us. The holidays are not always an easy time of year—many of us are missing loved ones, while others are struggling with mental illness that stand in the way of feeling happy. This year, let’s explore 10 proven ways that we can all become happier and less stressed people. Now that’s a New Year’s resolution worth trying.

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10 Surprising Ways The Modern World Is Making Us Sick

Everything in moderation, as the old adage goes. As it turns out, that couldn’t be more accurate, as research continues to shed light on how the modern world is damaging our health. We might be living longer today than our ancestors did, but the current era isn’t as health-friendly as we might think.

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