Components of Resilience: Creativity and Adaptability

This is part four of a series of posts dedicated to breaking down components of resilience. The series is an elaboration on a post I made in 2015, continued now as part of the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on Resiliency. In part one of this series, I covered tenacity. In part two, I covered affect management and positive frameworks. In part three, I covered support network and discernment.

In this final post, I will cover creativity and adaptability. Compared to most of the other items, these two are fairly self-explanatory. Since I don’t have to focus on giving an overview, I’ll be focusing more on my own experiences this time. Warning: I will discuss parental abuse, including some major privacy violations, and invalidation/gaslighting. I allude to but do not mention other kinds of abuse, but mostly it’s just general trauma/recovery talk. Continue reading

Components of Resilience: Tenacity

In June 2015, for the Carnival of Aces I hosted on mental health, I wrote about resilience.  This year’s June Carnival of Aces is about Resiliency. I find it pretty awesome that discussion of mental health and wellness has not only not faded into the background, but that we’re officially returning to spotlight this topic one year later.

Note: This post briefly mentions transphobic bigotry, hate crimes, the mass murders in Orlando, using survivors as rhetorical devices, and abuse. These are mostly contained in a single paragraph (you’ll spot it), and I don’t go into detail.

Introduction

In my post last year, I gave an overview of a working concept of resiliency passed on to my by my therapist. Because, while “ability to bounce back” is a good nutshell definition, it’s not very practical when it comes to actually attempting to build up your own resilience. For that, you need to break it down into smaller components—and then from there, into concrete steps you can take to work on strengthening yourself in those areas.

Personally, I like to think of it in terms of video games, but that can potentially be confusing because some games use “resilience” as a simple, single stat. It’s actually more like a meta-stat, like how in Diablo III, Toughness is a calculation of your combined Vitality & Life (HP), Armor, Resistances, and any passive damage reduction you have to estimate the average amount of damage the player would have to take in one hit to go from full health to zero. There are lots of variables that this doesn’t take into account, but it’s just there to give players a basic idea of where they’re at. Continue reading

Blog Rants: The Early Ace Blogosphere

This post is part of a series and cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda; you can view the masterpost here. It also fits the theme of the July Carnival of Aces on Asexual History, although it’s slightly late!

Previously, I contextualized my personal history with both blogging and the asexual community leading up to my decision to join WordPress. Now, I want to talk about the formation and history of the Ace Blogosphere proper. Continue reading

June 2015 Carnival of Aces Round-Up: Mental Health

This past month we’ve had a lot of really important conversations about mental health. It is my hope that these will serve as a point to ground future attempts to educate therapists in the actual lived experiences of the aces who most desperately need their care. Too often, in their haste to de-pathologize asexuality, asexual activists say “We’re not broken!” and forget about those of us who really might be. No effort to educate health care professionals will be acceptable if in doing so we continue to minimize and stigmatize aces who do face mental illness.

We should neither have to pretend to feel happy and never distressed or confused about asexuality in order to convince the world it’s okay to be ace, nor play up our problems or say they are all because of asexuality in order to gain “oppressed enough” status.

So please read these entries with that in mind. I’ve organized them into three categories based on theme. Personal narratives and discussion of the asexual community were so often paired that I found it easier to combine them. The second most frequent theme was about therapy and barriers to treatment. Finally, we had some discussion of how we can cope and support one another.

Personal Narratives and Asexual Community Discourse

Laura (hella-non-mono) wrote about having Binge Eating Disorder. This post spawned a lot of good conversations (check out the notes), and then an entirely new blog specifically for the intersection of asexuality and eating disorders (as well as other body image-related issues).

Thicketofcomplication shared her story [tw: sexual assault mention, hypersexuality, mention of sex, self-harm, dissociation, drinking].

Laura P. wrote about how isolation, erasure, and invalidation have affected her mental health.

Jon wrote about the complicated tangle of asexuality, neurodivergence, and bipolar illness. [tw: abuse, suicide ideation, compulsory sexuality]

Aqua wrote about asexuality and codependency. [tw: sexual coercion, emotional abuse, invalidation]

Queenie wrote about what having PTSD is like. [tw: sexual assault mention]

Sara at Flying While Falling Down wrote about deciding not to talk about sexual assault anymore. [strong TW for rape, abuse, not being believed, self-harm, eating disorder, suicide attempts, pregnancy]

The Anonymous Asexual wrote about how assertions that “asexuals aren’t broken” hurt. [tw: gaslighting, ableism related to mental illness, brief mentions of trauma]

Tristefere wrote about the way that the asexual community’s respectability politics harm, and how the simplistic narrative around mental illness needs to change. [tw: depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, Oppression Olympics]

Soodalgwayeou wrote about identity crisis, self-questioning, and invalidation. [tw: brief mention of childhood abuse, corrective therapy]

Kria wrote about sexual self-harm, and a delayed realization of asexuality because of it. [tw: self-harm, sex discussion, depression, some abuse mentions—nothing graphic, however]

Maris wrote about neurodivergence, anxiety, and doubting their asexuality. [tw: mentions of abuse, sexual trauma, homophobia, suicidal implications]

Demisexual and Proud hosted a series of responses: 1, 23, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 [tw: Number 8 mentions sexual assault and victim-blaming.]

Morgaine has won wrote about how difficult it is to figure out whether or not identities were caused by trauma. [tw: emotional abuse mention, sexual abuse mention, grooming mention, emotional numbness, dissociation]

 

Therapy and Barriers to Treatment

An anonymous person offered a South Korean perspective on asexuality and mental health. [tw: erasure, invalidation, abuse, suicidal ideation]

Laura P.’s second submission dealt with obstacles to therapy as an asexual Muslim convert.

Stormy wrote about why it’s okay to refuse therapy. [tw: medical abuse, therapist abuse, rape mention]

Epochryphal wrote about CBT and the sneakiness of therapeutic abuse. [tw: gaslighting, abuse, self-blame, invalidation]

Alice wrote about relationship status and sexual orientation as gatekeeping for transition, and the importance of ace affirmative therapy.

Nicola wrote about difficulties finding competent treatmenttherapy that works and doesn’t work [tw: invalidation, ableism]

Writer Ace wrote about the need for therapists and schools to make spaces explicitly safe for asexuals.

Coping and Support

Elaine wrote about her mental health leaving her with few options other than marriage for financial security, and the bind that would put her in due to asexuality and Islam. [tw: compulsory sexuality, some discussion of marriage as prostitution]

I wrote an overview of components of resilience, which helps me to identify how I can fortify my own ability to cope. (Cross-posted to RFAS, where I will likely write a further breakdown in the future.)

Nicola’s third and fourth submissions were about community and coping, and support.

Hope for Aces, a “dedicated space for asexual spectrum, aromantic spectrum, and sex-/romance-repulsed people to discuss eating disorders, body dysmorphia, or other body-image or food-related issues,” was created. There have been a lot of good posts geared towards coping and supporting one another there!

 

July 2015

The next carnival will be held at Next Step: Cake, and the topic is “Asexual History.” If you’d like to volunteer to host a future carnival, please do so at the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.

You can still submit late entries until the end of July, and I will edit this post to add them in. After that, please continue discussing! You can send in links from before or after the carnival to Resources for Ace Survivors, and we will feature them on our Asexuality and Mental Health page. This blog and RFAS are both still open to hosting guest posts.

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything! Thank you all so much for participating. :)

Last call for submissions

June is now over! That means the Carnival of Aces is moving on.

I’ll post the round-up in the next couple of days. In the meantime, you can see what entries I’ve received here. If yours is not on the list, please resubmit!

Also, some of you go by different names and I’m not always sure which to use, so if you have a preference, let me know. I may have also missed a trigger warning here and there, so if you see something else that needs tagging, let me know.

This is a particularly difficult topic and I know some of you are still working on your submissions. That’s okay! I may even post a late one as well. I’ll accept late submissions through the end of this month. After that, you can still write on the topic and have your post featured at the RFAS Asexuality & Mental Health page—there is no deadline for that.

And you can still submit anonymous guest posts, or submit in a format other than text.

The July carnival will be held at Next Step: Cake.

Guest Post: A South Korean Perspective on Asexuality and Mental Health

This is a submission to the June 2015 Carnival of Aces on Asexuality and Mental Health by a South Korean person who wishes to remain anonymous. It has been very lightly edited and formatted for easier reading. I would like to thank the writer very much for sharing! It is not often that the English-speaking ace community gets to hear a perspective like this.

Additionally, if anyone knows of any Korean-language resources or communities for ace-spectrum, aromantic, or genderqueer people, please let us know about them in the comments!


[note: depression, OCD, forced outing, erasure/invalidation]

Hello, nice to meet you all. This is the first time I ever joined any Ace-related events. It is truly blissful that I found this event. Please pardon me if I make any syntactic, semantic, or lexical error, and if I ramble too much. English is not my mother tongue. What I want to tell you is that there are people like me in South Korea. My opinion does not and will not represent the general consensus about every Ace, Aro, and genderqueer issue debated in South Korea, but it might shed some light on it. Continue reading

What is Resilience?

This post is for the June 2015 Carnival of Aces on Mental Health. It is cross-posted to the Resources for Ace Survivors blog.

[tw: invalidation, gaslighting, vague mentions of abuse and compulsory sexuality]

If you spend much time around survivor spaces, you’ll see a lot of talk about resilience. What does it really mean, though?

Basically: resilience is the ability to recover quickly from really tough, painful situations. But there’s so much more depth to it than that. This isn’t the kind of thing that you either have or you don’t. If you’re dealing with PTSD, you may be tempted to blame yourself (as I did) for not being resilient enough, for not recovering on the timeline that others think you should, or for even having PTSD at all. But don’t. Or at least, try not to. Because it’s not your fault. And you are resilient. If you didn’t have resilience, you wouldn’t even be here at all.

Everyone has some degree of resilience. And it’s something you can always improve. It’s like how in World of Warcraft, you have a base percentage of the Resilience stat, and then you can add onto it. Unlike in WoW, however, it’s not as simple as putting on a different set of clothes.

Resilience is a complex abstract idea that doesn’t mean much until you break it down into the factors that make it up, and concrete practical applications of them. There are several components that are thought to contribute to overall resilience. Each of these is a skill that can be developed, or a practice that’s built up based on skills that can be developed.

In one of my first sessions with my current therapist, she gave me a little notebook, and had me write down these components of resilience:

  • adaptability
  • creativity
  • ability to manage affect
  • support network
  • tenacity
  • discernment
  • ability to develop a positive framework for life’s issues

Continue reading

June 2015 Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions

Update: This carnival is over! You can view the submissions here. I will still be collecting posts on this topic at Resources for Ace Survivors, so feel free to keep sending me links.


 

Hello, everyone! It’s time for a new Carnival of Aces! In case you’re new to this, the carnival is a monthly event for collecting blog posts (or vlogs, podcasts, comics, or other mediums if you prefer) on a single topic. At the end of the month, I will post a summary linking to everything submitted.

Last month’s carnival was held at Becoming a Person, and the topic was “Identity, Labels, and Models.

This month, our topic is Mental Health.

I was surprised that this topic has never been chosen before—it seems that someone had wanted to do it in 2014, but didn’t end up hosting a carnival after all. I think it’s a really important topic, especially since our community struggles with fighting pathologization so much. There is of course already a lot of writing on this topic! But for the most part, not so much a specific, organized push for it.

One of the major reasons I chose this topic—and chose to do it now—is that Resources for Ace Survivors has a project called the Ace-Competent Therapists Project (ACT Project), wherein we plan to create and provide educational resources to mental health providers about asexuality, and create a database of ace-friendly providers and organizations to refer the people who come to us seeking help. We’d like to serve the entire ace community with this project, not just survivors—although an approach that actively supports ace survivors is mandatory. We can use volunteers to help with this project—especially if you are involved with any other organizations that provide similar services which we might be able to affiliate with and learn from, or you are trained in a related field.

So what I’m going to do with this carnival is slightly different, this time. As usual, I will still be collecting blog/vlog/etc. posts created from June 1st through June 30th, and these posts will be part of this carnival. But I will also be linking these at Resources for Ace Survivors, and will continue to collect posts on this topic after the month is over. These will not be part of the carnival itself, but they will be posted at RFAS in an appropriate category so that therapists and researchers can learn from our experiences. You can also (please do!) send in links to posts on this topic that you’ve already written or any kind of educational resources, and I will include them on the site. Continue reading

On friendships, part 2: Ace culture and ideals of friendship

When I think of asexual culture, I think of a community that has come together in true joy and relief, of many isolated individuals finally discovering that they are not alone in their experiences—that we are not broken, not disordered, and not delusional. That we are normal.

Last week, I shared an exchange I had with my partner on twitter:

The context of this conversation is a little fuzzy and half-remembered by now, but it’s perhaps not quite what you’d think. Her meaning, when she said that, was along the lines of “yeah, asexual people do get depressed and struggle with friends… just like everyone else.” That we try to hold ourselves to superhuman standards in order to be accepted, because so many people unfairly assume that asexuality must be a defect caused by [insert BS here] and must be cured.

We have named that phenomenon: Unassailable Asexual.

When I think of the asexual community and the culture we’ve developed, I think of a group of people who share common struggles, and try to come together to help one another. I think of a group of people who, before we even know each other, often already have a sense of kinship or intimacy with each other, although not on an individual level—and also have names for that sort of feeling (community-based intimacy), because we are that interested in delineating different kinds of connections human beings can have with each other. Continue reading