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

Asexuality, hypothyroidism, and PTSD

This month’s Carnival of Aces topic is “living asexuality,” and since I saw this ask mention hypothyroidism, it’s been on my mind. I thought now would be a good time to explore it especially in light of this month’s topic. (Warning for medical talk, and brief mention of corrective rape, but mostly this is just focused on symptoms and treatments.)

I think I may have mentioned before that I have hypothyroidism, but I haven’t really gone into detail about what that’s been like—or, especially, its interactions with PTSD and how asexuality complicates both.

Laura also has hypothyroidism and wrote about her experiences here. It’s a pretty common disorder, and more common in cis women—I have met quite a few people who have had it over the years, both before and after I was diagnosed, and all of them by coincidence. 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

Resources for Ace Survivors Blog now live!

And it only took all of forever! :P

Check out our announcement post.

You can follow our RSS feed on Feedly or any other RSS reader you like. (Here’s a handy guide to RSS readers with startup packages of great ace blogs to follow!) Or, you can follow the Resources for Ace Survivors Tumblr, which will still be running alongside this new blog.

We will be integrating the new blog with the Tumblr in some fashion, and I’d like to make sure it’s comfortable for everyone, so please weigh in on what you think the best option would be. I’ll also be making a list of tags and trigger warnings for everyone to refer to when writing posts. If there’s one you want included (especially if it’s not typically included), please let me know!

We’re also still looking for moderators and writers to join our team. We’re still very short-staffed on the forum. Check out the post for more details!

Reminder: this month’s Carnival of Aces is on asexuality and mental health, and we will be integrating links to the submissions into a page on the RFAS site (unless you’d like us not to) to give these issues more visibility. We can host an anonymous submission for you on the site if you’d like.

We have a lot more pages we’re working on writing, and we have some great submissions to share soon.

Thanks so much to everyone who worked so hard to help me pull this thing together! :) You all are amazing. Be well!

Seven years

It’s been seven years now since I started this blog. And also that long since I cut off contact with my abusive ex.* (Not really getting into it in this post, though.)

These facts are not unrelated.

I threw this together pretty hastily, just as a place for me to rant where no one else would have to listen—or be able to connect the dots about who I even am. At the time, I felt like I was sifting through a dense gray fog, trying to catch barely-tethered thoughts before they completely disappeared into the wind. (This song is a very good approximation of that feeling.)

When I started this blog, I felt somewhat alienated from the ace community. I was frequently subjected to gatekeeping (which still happens today, but less). My experiences didn’t really fit anywhere. I didn’t expect them to resonate with anyone.

But, oddly enough, right from the very start I already had at least four readers. And that number steadily grew. I found a source of community-based intimacy. That was incredibly important for my recovery. And still is. So thank you, everyone, for reading and standing by me. It really makes a huge difference. Continue reading

Gentle Nuances

[TW: mention of (corrective) rape, gaslighting, denial, verbal & psychological abuse, mention of personality disorders (ASPD, NPD)]

Have you ever been serenaded? I have, many times.

Several members of my family are musically inclined, including my father. Once or twice he may have written a song about me. My grandfather on that side used to lead a country band, and the older generations on both sides of my family like that kind of music a lot.

So I grew up hearing a hell of a lot of country music, and very little else. It’s not really my style, though. I find it too whiny and woe-is-me most of the time, and too religious or heteronormative the rest of the time. It’s kinda like emo, but for conservatives. Besides that, it’s also just really formulaic, and too often feels like I’m listening to the same song over and over again.

Music is a big deal for me, though. I’m not patient enough to keep playing instruments myself, so I stick to vocals only—but almost never in front of other people. I tend to surround myself with musical people, some of whom are even professional musicians.

One such was my perpetrator. He was primarily a percussionist, but also played guitar and sang—and not badly, either. Occasionally he would share his own original compositions with me.

More than once, both in person and through Skype, he sang me this song. Continue reading

On friendships, part 1: feeling I am not entitled to friendship, and I am a burden

[tw: allusions to sexual violence, domestic violence, religious abuse; descriptions of bullying and abusive friends, invalidation of asexuality. Heavy warning for abandonment trauma.]

On some level, I know other people don’t feel that way about me. That these are just my own insecurities, formed from so much abuse, so many attacks from a lack of understanding both asexuality and trauma, and how they can coexist—how my asexuality is used against me by my abusers, and my trauma is used to invalidate my asexuality.

On some level, I know there are people who really like and respect me, and really do want to be my friend. And yet. Continue reading