The Mental Health Tag 2021 | #mhblogger

Ahahha, I know it’s a TAD big but I just made this today on my Canva account and I really love it! If you’re interested in details, I’ll describe it down below at the end of the tag. πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜™

Hi hi!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by on this post. I have two main things I want to say before we get started–okay, maybeeee three, ahaha.

Firstly: This post is inspired and predominantly follows the amazing Jenny in Neverland’s blog post for this tag which you can find via this long hyperlink! Her post originally existed back in 2017 and I am inclined to reignite the spark and carry it over into this year which is 2021!! Her post was also inspired by another blogger which you can find through her own links there. But on to point number two!

Secondly: If you don’t know and this is your first time on my blog, I used to write articles for my university’s student newspaper about my mental health recovery journey from spring 2016 – fall 2018. The most relevant article for this post is the one I did as an interview with my friend I named Naomi. It was about the impact of stigma upon the mental health community and how it can act as a barrier to receiving the appropriate help for those conditions. When I had asked my collegue from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness, USA) about how to conduct the interview, they suggested that I add in fun facts and other interests besides mental health that I want to carry over into THIS blog post. So, that’s how I’m going to be tweaking this post, my contribution to the tag, itself. I’ll add in comments about my hobbies, the types of things I like and enjoy and other factors that have contributed to my far more emotionally stable lifestyle and the hopes and dreams even beyond mental health that I plan to embark on and explore one day.

Thirdly: Within this vein above, I’d also like to describe the different factors that I highlighted and created in the associated thumbnail for this post. Just little facts or small discussions on each item shown and what the process was like coming up with this thumb overall. If I count them all up for both of us…there’s 12 so I shall space them out throughout this post! With that being said, let’s jump in!


QUESTION #1:

Who are you?

Hi there! My name is Raquel Lyons and I’m a blogger here on WordPress, while also managing multiple accounts throughout the Internet, some being:

My Loki centered Avengers fan fiction accounts on both fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own (AO3) where I write a lot about overcoming adversity, hurt/comfort, angst and the intersecting points between mental and physical health conditions. πŸ˜πŸ˜˜πŸ€— I put Loki through a LOT of shit but he manages regardless haha. My most popular stories are A Little Unsteady (fainting) and Distorted & Disordered (mental health fic set in high school and will be a trilogy). I do not shy away from hard topics like trauma, PTSD, suicidality, mental health, eating disorders etc. Another popular story I have would be Severed (waist down paralysis) and An Unseeing Shadow (a spinoff for Come to Pass before I started that story which is about differing forms of blindness). My account names on both sites with just a space at FFN vs AO3 is Unmasked Potential. So, if you’re curious and you’d like to read more of my writing beyond this blog, check those out! FFN and AO3. And leave me a comment or critique if you can and are interested!!! πŸ˜…πŸ˜Œβ˜Ί

My Youtube channel with the same name as here: RecoverytoWellness — where I make videos (I am ending a hiatus soon, within the next few weeks!!) about my recovery (life updates, Support Stands); my artwork (coloring, creative writing, filming (newly), photography, Ink on Skin, etc.); hauls (stationery, journals, books); art time lapses; room care; talking videos and more. I even have a couple of collabs but more so tons of other videos I have to edit and put together soon. I just got a new editing software so I’ll be tinkering with that very soon to see how that goes and hopefully return with a better uploading schedule!!! My most current videos I’ve filmed (but haven’t edited) include room care/reorganizing, a body positivity vid, hauls, going through my childhood stuffed animals, a multiple part Get to Know Me series! (To celebrate 100 subs).

My Twitter page: Recovery Raquel that I, for better or for worse, treat as my online journal, much like here and other sites if I’m honest, where I update about what I’m up to and what I’m creating or sharing some of my artwork or just what’s on my mind at that moment. πŸ˜ƒ

My old (but soon to be resurrected) deviantART account. I made this account back in Feb. 2010 and it’s seen so much of me and it’s where I came up with the name for this blog, even. I settled more into here for my writing and chatting but DA was definitely where I started at sixteen. It has my artwork ranging from creative writing, journals, photography, drawing, coloring, etc. I want to get back into it very soon (this year) but haven’t quite managed to just yet. I do aim to though.

Besides my online presences, I am a twenty-seven year old living at home with my parents with my four year old doggo Mocha (AKA Mokeys). I mention her often on Twitter and I actually did here, too, way back in the day when we adopted her in June 2017 with some blog posts and old photos. I actually just took a BUNCH of photos of her just yesterday but they’re all still on my camera’s SD card at the moment. Regardless, I’m an avid artist ranging from: adult coloring, photography, filming, graphic design (Canva; it’s where I make all my blog and Youtube thumbnails), creative writing (particularly fan fiction as of late, but also poetry and short stories (and more I’ll mention in just a moment); beaded bracelets, scrapbooking/collages; painting, water coloring and you get the idea.

I live in MA, USA and I love rainbows and rainbow lighthouses, even if they are technically only a thing in my imagination (a lighthouse with a seven colored rainbow as the base instead of the traditional plain white or white and red combo) — (I tried to include an image of a drawing of this but I don’t have them on this laptop at the moment and I’m not about to go digging any further than what I just managed for about 15 mins, do forgive me.) Any how, I love to read books and books provide me with SUCH a great comfort, even if my reading ability today is far behind what it used to be. I still love books. I also love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no surprises there. I love rainbows and I’m a small gay little bean. I enjoy my Disney+ and Netflix accounts and I love to create from a perspective of art therapy and mindfulness. I love falling asleep to an assortment of things like ASMR, creepypastas, horror stories and chiropractic cracking ahaha. I have a supportive family and many wonderful friends from all over the years. I love buying books, journals, art supplies and stationery.

This is the best I could find on short notice without my TB of all of my older files. IOS (Ink on Skin) 2017.

:=[[WHAT I’VE ALREADY ANSWERED ABOUT THE THUMB ABOVE]]=:

So, no surprises here, a few of my answers and lengthy about me and my online accounts should have already cleared up a few things from my thumb. Namely, the camera to represent photography (and filming!), the Love wins bottle because it’s aesthetically pleasing and also very gay of me, the cute rainbow because rainbows (they’re my fave color!! I do accept 5 colored rainbows but anything less than THAT isn’t a rainbow to me), the girl reading a book because books and reading and I am a woman (she/her pronouns, thanks very much)–I’d say that totals to about 4 things answered of the 12 thus far. Let’s keep going to see how that changes!

Question #2:

What is your mental health condition?

Aaaa, yes, we’re diving into the actual purpose and questions of this very mental health tag!! I live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on self-harm and suicide obsessions (intrusive thoughts in-congruent with my values; unwanted images and thoughts about these usually occurring these days in flashes I most often ignore), secondary depression (with genuine thoughts of hurting myself, urges mostly these days), trichotillomania (hair-pulling), dermatillomania (skin-picking), and this is a little complicated final one but technically Borderline Personality Disorder as of fall 2017 buuuut I don’t know how much I agree with it per se, because I fit at one point more under borderline traits because I didn’t hit five or more of the 9 symptoms so sometimes I just say BPD and sometimes I don’t. Depends how much I want to explain that day ahaha.

But yes, short technical version is: OCD, depression, BPD, trich and derm.

As a disclaimer, I will add that diagnosis in the US (though I imagine it’s applicable worldwide) is more for the purposes of insurance companies and treatment direction, knowing which to apply to what and so on. I also believe diagnostic criteria exist on a fluid spectrum where at one point I may have identified more with an OCD diagnosis and at another a BPD diagnosis. For me, luckily, it’s been over 3 years since I last self-harmed via scratching and it’s been about 3.5 years since I was last hospitalized. I do get urges still today and bad dreams about suicidality or self harm but I definitely don’t act on it as much as I used to. I’ve grown a lot and I’ve really changed in a lot of ways. But we’ll get more into that soon.

Question #3:

Do you take medication or have you had therapy?

Okay, Raquel, this question is a simple question and you’re gonna answer it more in-depth in the next one. Keep it simple. Think simple. BE the simple.

Short answer: Yes and yes. As for my current providers, I’ve had the same psychiatrist “Phil” since Mar. 2015 and my current therapist “June” since Feb. 2018. She began as my family therapist with sessions with myself and my Mom in that same stroke of time but became my main therapist at least in like Jan. 2020. Occasionally we still do family sessions but not as much anymore. Pandemic-wise, I was seeing my psychiatrist in the summer months in person with physical distancing (since winter, it’s only been over the phone and as of yet hasn’t reshaped at all yet) and I’ve been over the phone for the last year and a half with June. Soooo, yep.

Question #4:

What therapy or medication combination worked best for you? What were its short comings and what were its strengths?

So, a more complicated answer and question here.

I tried out various medications at different times and dosages over the years. Largely, I’ve been on my current anti-depressant since about Mar. 2015 (I don’t go into specifics of particular ones because my advocacy work discourages that so I just never have over the years) and I’ve been taking the current anti-psychotic since about Sep/Oct 2017. It took a lot of tinkering but I finally found the right ones that worked for me. I’ve been stable on both of these meds since, hmm, let’s say Feb. 2018. And by stable I mean, we haven’t changed them in any way.

Also, I want to preface my answer to this question in particular with the fact that I am only an expert in my own experiences and I can only tell you what’s worked for ME from my own perspective and I vastly encourage you to take your own liberties in your own treatment up with your treatment team and don’t necessarily spout off what worked for me in your sessions because we’re all very different and what works for me may not work for you! So definitely, advocate, advocate, advocate. Be the main person in your team that stands up for you and helps you get help because you deserve it, you’re worth it and life gets soooo much better!!!

I’ve had a lot of treatment over the years which I’ll spell out more down below, but to put it in perspective, I’ve been hospitalized for psychiatric purposes 12 times over 3 years. Here’s what helped me the most plus an overview of all treatment I’ve had in that length of time (which this will get clearer down below, sorry this is a strange jumble of stream of consciousness and also some parameters set in place for other more specific questions that come later in this tag!!!)

  • I originally began my treatment using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) at the Counseling Center at uni. I did this for maybe like 6-7 months before I transitioned to my OCD specialized therapist.
  • I saw my OCD specialized therapist twice weekly for about a year and half, approximately from Feb. 2015 – Nov. 2016
  • I stayed 5 weeks at the OCD-Institute in Belmont, MA in Sept – Oct. 2015. The main therapy I learned there was exposure and response prevention (ERP), family therapy, individual therapy and group therapies like introductions into DBT and mindfulness and more. ERP is used to treat OCD which is to essentially expose the person to the thing they’re most afraid of (predominantly as a hierarchy so small stuff first then leading up to bigger stuff; we want to avoid flooding ourselves!) and NOT engage in the compulsions that only make the anxiety or distress temporarily disappear.
  • I then saw my therapist April once a week for about a year. We did like maybe CBT and art therapy and crisis management work (I was still very unwell at this point)
  • I was hospitalized on and off through this period of time (fall 2016 – Jan 2018)
  • I began to attend a day program “Passages” from Feb. 2018 to June 2020. Here I would attend groups and activities during the day and then return home at night. I attended three days a week and did activities like group therapy, mindfulness, art therapy, socialization, psychoeducation, and the predominantly taught modality there that was Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT.
  • DBT is comprised of four main modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation. DBT is the therapy that really genuinely and honestly transformed my life to what it IS today. I began to attend the DBT-Intensive (DBT-I) program from May 2018 (leaving April to do so) to Jan. 2020. On Wed’s at the program I would attend the DBT-I session which was to review the last week’s homework assignment, offer an issue we had with the previous week via referring to our diary cards that tracked our moods and behaviors and then in the second hour we learned the next skill and received the next week’s homework assignment. On F’s I’d meet with my individual therapist there and talk about what was going on and all that jazz. I learned SO MANY skills of DBT that I still practice mostly unconsciously today and with many avenues I still have to update myself on and relearn (gwah).
  • My most used skills are probably opposite action, pros and cons and self-soothe. I’ll be honest though, I haven’t really been reading up on them or practicing them more again in the last year or so. However, overall DBT taught me how to tolerate my negative emotions and build a rather high pain tolerance. It also taught me to fall in love with other things and passions like music, fan fiction and Marvel movies. I learned how to sift through my emotions and went from triggers affecting me for 3 – 4 days like back in 2017 to instead having a very painful and uncomfortable 20 mins as more of the norm and the baseline of my existence. I also became super stable and just haven’t needed the hospital setting like I once used to.
  • I still struggle with catastrophizing, all or nothing thinking and avoidance but overall it’s gotten so much smaller and better than it first began as. I struggle more with avoidance, procrastination, denying anxiety and the hair pulling and skin picking these days
  • By Feb. 2018 I started seeing June for family therapy and then in about Jan 2020 I saw her individually once a week until probably these past 6 months where I was able to do biweekly appointments (which would have been unheard of back in the day!!)

Overall, my treatment has definitely taken bits and pieces and various varieties over the years. I am hoping to find myself an OCD specialized therapist again within the next year because I think I’m ready to do that and would benefit a lot more from that as well. Medications weren’t one and done, they took different amounts and unfortunate side effects like weight gain, irregular heartbeats, stiff jaw and the like. Therapy had always felt like something I’d be locked in for for life yet in the last year I’ve been able to play around with the idea that maybe it didn’t always have to be. I definitely still have my struggles today, they’re just different than they used to be.

:=[[Thumb Discussion Time]]=:

I’ll pick the unicorn this time!! I LOVE unicorns. Always have since I was a little girl ahaha I just think unicorns are great mythical creatures and I love their aesthetic and have drawn a few of them throughout the course of my art making days. I just liken them to rainbows and you know how much I love rainbows so it’s a perfect match!!!

Question #5:

How long have you been living with mental health conditions?

I was diagnosed first with OCD back in fall 2014 when I was 21. I was seeing my uni’s Counseling Center until, well, you already read that part. I was diagnosed with depression in Jan. 2015. I was then diagnosed with BPD in fall 2017. I was never officially diagnosed with trich but I’ve honestly had it since I was 15 and it pre-dates all my other mental health conditions, but it only became severe (enough that I was missing my eyebrow two or three times over the course of a year) in 2017. And derm is still new but that’s been since I started to manage my trich so probably 2018/2019.

Photos and discussion of my trich journey.

Question #6:

Do your family/friends know?

Yesssssss, my Mom is most active in my treatment with my Dad thereafter. My Mom is really the main parental figure that attended my family therapy appointments with June. My parents have been active parts in my treatment as I would need hospitalizations and crisis support, even if they were one of the last ones to find out about that stuff (sorry, Mom and Dad!). They would call me, visit me in the hospital, bring in my clothing or books or homework. They were through the original family therapy appointments at the OCD-I. They still carry me financially for the most part. They’ve been there to take care of Mokeys and put up with all of my bullshit (which is the avoidance for sure; I need to do more chores, I swear). I live in their house still and it’s been a hot spot of struggle for years and then just betterment in the last three.

As far as my friends, yes, they also know. Most of them also live with their own mental health conditions to be fair.

And beyond my friends, I do advocacy work with NAMI so tons of audience member/strangers know about my recovery too. And I was open about it via my articles at uni. And, relevant to here, I’m still open about it and I tell the entire world my shit. For better or for worse, haha. So yeah, probably the only people who don’t know might be extended family. But pretty much, everyone knows. I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of where I’ve come and all that I manage today, which brings me to the next thing:

Question #7:

What are some of your dreams for the future?

Technically not a question in the original post but I’m adding it, because I THINK this is what I was going to write about next (it’s been about 3 hours of work overall and I’m getting tired to be honest), but I’m definitely looking forward to writing my own fiction novel, a RecoveryHome workbook, my memoir and probably novellas or a series of short stories and poetry books. I also still dream of one day giving my own TEDtalk about my recovery journey. I also want to become a Certified Peer Specialist next in my career. I plan to continue watching the MCU movies. I plan to actually finish my fanfics, ahaha. I plan to become more involved with advocacy work, like with CPS and also just with NAMI in general. I would love to make my recovery art projects a thing (all the different R’s involved with that.) I want to get out beyond my bubble of comfort and into driving around the countryside and looking at homes and houses because I’ve always found that soothing. I can’t wait to listen to more and new and old music. I dream of my house’s front door and having rainbow lighthouses everywhere, haha. I’m starting to explore romance in my life and continually trying to let go of fear and let myself live. Existential awareness is still too strange for me but I’ll take it, and deal with it however I can at the moment. πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜ŽπŸ€— Okay, let me be honest, that was a necessary mini break that I needed right there!!!

Question #8:

What helps you to self-soothe?

I swear I won’t jump around too, too much in this post, haha. Here are the types of things I find self-soothing:

  1. Looking at houses and interior/exterior design. It shouldn’t be too much to wonder how I have an entire project set aside called Recovery Home, then, right? Looking at the different types of things people have out and in their homes just fascinates me. I love it. Storage boxes in neat rows and colors, art studio things, windows, types of doors, porches, banisters… I just love it
  2. Driving in the country-side. I definitely find this soothing, just roaming about and learning the road, finding new places. It’s nice. Simple and adventurous and nice.
  3. Libraries. God, I love libraries. Also, is this surprising? My idea of a good time is just being in a library. So fascinating
  4. Book stores and stationery shops, plus other shopping things. I don’t know, there’s something just so nice about to do lists and cute journals or finding nice, new or different art supplies and they’re always coming up with new stuff. I love it. Book stores are so great too. Dangerous to be in because of how much money I’ll spend but still it’s nice to look and write down into my journal which I’ve been doing more often now.
  5. Watching a movie or TV show. Like “Mom” or “Grey’s Anatomy” but you better bring the tissues to the latter! Even when I finally do get myself to watch an MCU movie it’s nice. Work, quite a bit, but it’s nice. Just getting lost in someone else’s head for a while
  6. Ink on Skin. Definitely a great self-soothing crisis type of coping strategy for me. Need I say more?
  7. Reading a book (even if it doesn’t happen as often these days).
  8. Watching a Youtube video but I have to be careful with this because I’ll over-distract and over-avoid.
  9. Creating art or listening to other art while I create art like music and horror stories, ahaha.
  10. Listening to music. Definitely a great skill that one is.
  11. Taking even just 10 mins for myself. If I need a reboot or a moment to just peruse a book, without or very few expectations, this helps. I’ve been able to get a little bit further in a book doing this before. So, this is a nice skill. Maybe falls under ‘brief vacation’ from DBT in the IMPROVE skill

Question #9:

What helps or what could you do when you get triggered to re-stabilize?

Outside of NAMI my longest standing employment is at Amaryllis a trauma informed residential for youth where I work with children aged 4 – 12 years old. I’ve been there almost 2 years now. It’s my more traditional 8 hour shift job (which I have all this weekend and once I FINALLY finish this post I’m gonna re-calibrate for that). I work only about once or twice a week. Regardless, if I get triggered (which does happen) at work I can usually take a quick 5 min or swap with a co-worker, get emotional support from co-workers or feedback of some kind, cry, listen to music, call a hotline or call my Mom about it later too.

Making plans is also really important for me so like coming up with parameters ahead of time of skills I can use and resources I can reach out to is important as well as self-care practices thereafter. So things like small mindfulness exercises help, listening to music, IOS, making artwork, blogging, filming a video, and the like. Sorry, I’m a little off now since I just spoke with my dating friend ahaha.

Overall I think having an idea for how to handle it before then after helps me a lot. I don’t always do my therapy homework though, to be honest, but doing like half hour or hour by hour safety check ins like what would happen in the hospital can be a great last resort. Even going for shopping or being around books helps. Getting out of the house or look at other people’s houses etc. Getting support from family or friends. You get the idea.

Question #10:

What is something you want others to know who are struggling?

It gets better. It really, really does. I could never have imagined this type of life for myself over four or five years ago. It won’t always hurt this badly, life that is and pain, too. My tolerance for pain has increased so much and the human body naturally adapts to new situations. The body and the mind can adapt and pain doesn’t last forever. It can definitely come in waves and it can be like a tsunami sometimes too, and at the same time, I think nowadays I’m only ever in a puddle in comparison to the bigger, more life-threatening things I used to deal with.

Know that it’ll get better. It’ll take a lot of work and effort and time and it will be sooo, so worth it. Build those reasons to stay alive, whether it’s looking forward to a new movie or a video game. That helped me so much when I struggled. Finding something, tangible or abstract, to hold onto counts so, so much. I’d cradle my teddy bear dog stuffie and hold onto the hope that it wouldn’t always be so dark or bad.

And it got better. It did. And now I have dreams and a life and new relationships and things I can now explore and imagine and create and that is so, so special. You will be okay again. And if you need hope, I can hold it out for you until you can carry it yourself. I believe in you. And I’ll believe in you until you can light that candle for yourself, too.

Stay safe and above all, love yourself. πŸ’œπŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ€

Question #11:

How would you describe your recovery in 5 words?

Optimistic, hopeful, persistent, determination and perseverance.

As for the final points about my chosen thumbnail:

  • The makeup palette: I’m slowly and gradually getting into makeup and it’s been fun so far and I can’t wait to explore more of it in the years ahead!! Most of my artwork of females has always featured makeup so it’s kinda natural this is where I’m headed πŸ˜‰πŸ˜š
  • Ipod: music is SUCH a big part of my recovery and mental health conditions journey. I’m still listening to music even just alongside this post (I’m on some Iron Man instrumentals now) though not what I started out with ahaha. It’s great though and I love to reference it in my art, which I’ll probably share in a future post this month, if you’re curious!!!
  • Kiss and profile woman: symbolizing love and romance, exploring that part of me that I’ve left abandoned and rugged for years. It’s nice though, something different to think of and maybe it won’t pan out or maybe it’ll be everything I always wanted and never knew I needed. I’m excited about it. πŸ‘„πŸ‘©β€β€οΈβ€πŸ‘©πŸ’Ÿ
  • A photo of me! An old selfie from about fall 2020 sporting my extra big extra glasses haha Just something nice to personalize and humanize this post!!
  • You Got This: because affirmations are awesome, helpful and I love writing cards and letters to people and giving them out which ALSO includes myself!! (though it’s been forever, I’ll be honest)
  • Journal: I feel like using the photo that I did from Canva for this project was perfect to create this little collage-like thumb. It was perfect and I got to create all over it even if no actual physical page was marked. It was great and worked out far better using this blank paged journal for me to spread out all my ideas! Yay!
  • Woman in a dress: I love dresses. I can’t wear them at Amaryllis but I love dresses. They’re just so cute and flow-y. But I’d be lying if I didn’t also mention how much I want to wear a men’s suit one day!! I’ve dreamed of it for years but they’re always too expensive for me. πŸ€”πŸ€¨

But yessssss, that IS ALL THE TIME I have for you and myself and for all of the peeps today.

This post took me many of the hours to write and I’m sick of it and can’t wait to move on to the next thing ahaha. I hope that you enjoyed it though!!!! And we’ll see what post I do tomorrow, honestly, probably celebrating hitting the 500 post milestone!! (at least that won’t wind up being 4k words long)

I lied…. it’s been 5K words long. *sobs internally*

But yeah, I have to go do something else now. I hope there weren’t any or many errors in spelling or grammar because I’m not reading this back over again but do check out the people I linked in this post and the things that I also linked and all of that jazz. Thank you SO MUCH for reading and let me know if you want to do this type of tag on YOUR blog or if you’re interested or want to create your OWN version of it, because I definitely took some creative liberties on mine ahaha.

Thank youuuuuuu. And let me know what you thought down below!! I didn’t do this much work for nothing. Kidding. Ahaha πŸ˜…πŸ˜‰πŸ˜Ά I will see you guys tomorrow. The amoutn of spelling errors at the vrey end of this post is concerning. Sigh.

πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š

Written from: 3p; 4-7p, phone break for 10 mins, 7:15-7:35p. All written May 7th 2021. Thumb created around 2p, I think, if I had to guess.

“As always, stay safe, take care and be well. Much love and light to you.” — Me in my tag line for the end of my videos. πŸ–€πŸ€πŸ’œπŸŒˆπŸŒž

“Online Danger” (2018) | BES: Mar. 2021


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Online Danger” (2018) by Dr. Eric Cole

((Nonfiction.))

BES 4 - 2.19, 3.13


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

“Crazy”, “[encouraging] a healthy dose of paranoia”, suicide method joke, obsession/compulsion remark.


THEMES:

Cybersecurity, servers, technical but watered down jargon, online, virtual world vs real world, dangers, improvements, security, tips and tricks, advice, people “being stupid”, trust and mistrust, safety, threats, viruses, cyber criminals, lies, adversaries, hackers, identity theft, cyber crimes.


SUMMARY:

Hello, welcome to this next installment of a Book Exploration Station. This post focuses on the nonfiction book regarding cybersecurity and the very real threats and online dangers that exist in this world of cyberspace. The book is divided into about ten chapters self-titled on different matters involving cyber crime and staying as safe as possible online. Our guide is author Dr. Eric Cole, an expert in the field of cybersecurity who is using his expertise in the field, his public speaking to corporations and his academic work to dispel the myths behind cybersecurity and safety for all those involved online. He manages this hefty task through his reflection on the things he has learned, been taught and continues to teach to all. Cole translates large, technical language into an easy to understand identification through a usage of pre-determined sections within each chapter aided with hip ninja illustrations every now and then in the corner of a related paragraph or page. He ends each chapter with a breakdown of tips and tricks regarding the material of the chapter as well as the big takeaways, which I’ve listed out down below as some of my biggest ones too. If you’re looking for a book regarding how to keep private matters like personally identifiable information away from the hands and eyes of the adversary, i.e. the cyber criminal, this may be the book for you!! The book is simplified for the average digital user and provides some advice towards keeping teens and children safe online as well as the adults that made them, which is wonderful! It’s a pretty easy read and I’ve outlined the types of things I had issue with coming from a mental health advocate and recovery based persona as well as what I gleaned as most important from the book itself, having gone through the book page to page with my own mind and eyes.

Something I wanted to name right off the bat is that within the introduction chapter there is a lot of typography changes and size differences that really were abrupt and gave me quite the headache. Luckily they did not persistent heavily into the rest of the book and when implemented at other times it was only done so as to provide emphasis on certain matters. Other minor mistakes like deadpanning what seemed like a question or a misuse of quotations direction occurred but were pretty mild. As with anything else, the book has its faults, which I’ll describe for me down below. Overall it’s a decent read. It wasn’t exactly about what I thought going into it so I had to level these different expectations on my own as I gave the book a fair chance. Let’s begin!


BOOK LENGTH:

160 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

2/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES OR REMINDERS FOR YOU AND ME:

A really big theme in this book is to not trust links, URLs and email attachments or other embedded links.

The problem with this, particularly relating to the blogosphere, is how do we continue to exercise such caution? Blogging relentlessly involves other links whether spelled out completely or hyperlinked via related text. And this book was released along the timeline (2018) that blogging has been popular but never once goes about answering this very, very large question. So, what is the etiquette there? What is the rule of thumb? I guess it would be to never trust a link again but is that truly practical when it comes to books, reviews, movie reviews, regularly inspired accounts, artwork, music, mental health posts and the like? What do you guys think? Do you trust links in blog posts or even in comments and how do you exercise caution and mistrust regarding them? I’ve become now skeptical of links but I’m also not sure how to go about changing my entire worldview and believable nature about them. Do I change my thinking the best of the people behind creating them and merely adjust my perspective via exercising caution and suspicion that anyone out there may be working against me (which really, arguably, isn’t the best practice to be engaged with in the first place) or do I fall prey to a system that is corrupt and unjust? I’m not sure.

In addition, I think it’s natural to be more trusting within the mental health community, which is not to say there are no predators within because we’ve been shown this to be false repeatedly across different fan groups, but overall I think because we’re more authentic and candid, we can forget these intrinsic rules of the Internet and safety regarding it and that not everyone has our best interests at heart. I think it’s more likely that people will be open to other channels of communication (email, texting, phone calls) and trusting who is behind the screens, where maybe more skepticism should be common place and continuing to entrust that layer of protection between the self and others. Just to be safe. One minute someone could be an ally and the next an adversary. Maybe, maybe taking these small risks could prove to be disastrous. Maybe it’s best to continue to enforce a level of uncertainty in order to protect ourselves, one another and more. It’s definitely something to think about and mull over more.

Another thing I would have liked to see discussed more than it was in this book would be a Virtual Private Network (VPN). I’ve definitely seen a bunch of ads on Youtube videos where content creators have been sponsored by Nord VPN for the usage of watching different Netflix area shows per countries around the world and I’ve been somewhat interested here and there but have never fully looked into it. I think this book lightly touched on it without really exploring it more which I think could have been beneficial. The book does warn a lot about taking off tracking locations on devices so maybe that is something worth looking into and disabling from various functions of apps and such. Personally, that’s not something that bothers me a whole lot but it’s worth looking into for sure.

Another big theme in this book is the notion that we cannot prevent ALL cyber attacks but rather limit their destructive natures and the impact they leave behind: “Reducing exposure can be done; eliminating it totally is just not possible” — Cole, 2018, p. 40.

Personally, I view this along the same lines as preventing all suicide deaths or all cancer deaths–in reality, it’s unlikely to happen although the effort behind it is admirable and worthy of pursuing. By working to help evade even just one death from these conditions matters and can have a positive effect rippled out. The reality is that it won’t be possible for various reasons to postpone death from either of these conditions but maybe we can make it hurt a little less or be a little more bearable for those left behind, like with what can be managed after cyber attacks and cyber crimes. The book later goes on to say that it’s more likely that cyber attacks happen on smaller scales and the media doesn’t report on them. It takes up to 22 months before suspicious activity like on banks and credit cards are actually discovered so it’s even more likely that little bits of money are being used and exploited and the average person never notices it until that two year length of time, which is terrifying!!! (Cole, 2018).

“In cyberspace [this premise of wanting to trust human beings] no longer works. Your high-speed wireless connection does not provide a window into the soul of the user on the other end of your communication. Because verifying electronic information is next to impossible for the average user” — Cole, 2018, p. 44

This, I imagine for anyone else in my position with a blog and especially within the mental health community where so many of us feel compassion and empathy for ourselves and others, is a very, very difficult idea to swallow. It absolutely needs to be said and it’s also incredibly heartbreaking. We have to strive to be more careful online because there are those people online who exist to hurt, damage and destroy one another. It’s very hard and exercising more caution is definitely necessary. I’d say giving out like a less personal email address* (like a public one) if you do at all would probably be best. Offer a DM on the social media where it has that but keep online stuff to online. I know, this is hard, and I’ve not done this in the past myself, but from here forward I’m gonna try and implement it more, or at least just weigh out the pros and cons before I do so. We have to be careful for our own safety at the end of the day and anyone who pushes against that or tries to finagle it doesn’t deserve us and our trust. Be careful out there on the Internet, my friends. 🀍🀍🀍 We don’t necessarily know what threat lies behind the next typed word. πŸ˜₯ (*We’ll talk again about email addresses later on.)

“Next time you share online, ask yourself two questions:
‘Am I comfortable sharing this with my friends?
‘Am I comfortable sharing this with strangers?” — Cole, 2018, p. 47

Personally, I gotta say, I think getting involved with advocacy for as long as I have now (since Mar. 2016), I’ve completely warped the way I think about this. Even before then, on deviantART and such I always used the journal features and descriptions of my artwork as like really public journal entries. I still do that heavily on Twitter and even just in the blogging world too. To me, I don’t really think about it when I hit send or publish–like once I do, it’s like it never happened even though I’m kinda aware that there’s a record of it somewhere. (By the way, does anyone have a good way to look back on original first tweets? You can’t really search through tweets, can you? I wouldn’t mind looking back on some of my tweets but they’ve just been so completely swallowed up by The Void that I just never look into it. Additionally, I am aware of some cringe from my past exists online but I kinda just avoid it and pretend like it didn’t happen, mmm, avoidance). I probably should think about this [the impact and the cataloguing that happens because I hit publish] more than I do, but I do treat what others might consider private and personal information as just super public information. Eh. *shrug* πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Maybe one day I’ll look more into this but for now I’m comfortable in it and don’t see a super big problem with it.

It does make me think that for purposes of safety in my videos that I will refrain from specifying specific places or companies and the like and just ask in the description of the video to not reveal these things if people do happen to know. Just in hopes I can limit being doxxed and such. Also, this feels a little meta because if I didn’t treat blogging as personal and sharing myself and my thoughts, I probably wouldn’t be doing so even on here. Interesting, isn’t it?

I guess ultimately, my point here is that what other people may consider private information, I’ve always, in terms of my mental health, treated as public information and I’m really open about it and don’t see the ramifications of why I shouldn’t talk about it, if that makes sense? Like, it has opened up doors for me and new opportunities and I choose to think of it like that rather than be shamed and limited in what I can accomplish and do. It’s about perspective. And I knew getting into this that I might be treated differently or be shunned from things and that’s okay because I know my speaking out matters so much more than that. So, I’ve accepted it and move forwards without thinking too much about it. πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

DO NOT i.e. NEVER OPEN ATTACHMENTS IN EMAILS

Honnnnnnnestly, for work purposes, I don’t see this ever being truly feasible and the norm. Like, I’ll definitely look differently at email attachments from unknown sources for sure but like if it’s work related? Ehhh, I mean. Nah. Nah, bro. Especially if it’s an email from myself to myself, like should I not open that either? It’s tricky. Again, strangers hell no. But potential strangers posing as people I know and that it’s super convincing, I don’t know man, that doesn’t happen to me or hasn’t yet, as this author would like to caution everyone–it hasn’t happened YET. I still don’t see that being something I can manage all the time across my accounts. I definitely won’t do links in like comments for instance, like if there’s something you want me to see you can mention the title and I’ll look for it myself but like not opening email attachments, that’s a little much. Sorry. For me and for you and for everyone. πŸ˜•πŸ™ƒπŸ˜–πŸ˜­

Also, don’t trust video links and playing videos either. Just when you thought the Internet was okay, it says not to do something else because people ruin a good thing!! I’m not sure how it works in any manner but it’s something to be cautious of as well. Trust little online!! Even this maybe? See, these are the conundrums I fell into, too.

Invest in a portable, physical back-up hard drive and Cloud-based backups for your various important information.

Be careful with storing things like personally identifiable information (credit cards, super secret numbers, license numbers, addresses) on Cloud based formats (leave Cloud based backups to things like family photos, creative writing documents, etc.) and utilize physical hard drive backups for things like those same personal documents, photos, videos and personally identifiable information such as taxes information, purchases, etc. Treat your computer like it could become ill and unusable at any moment and so keep things up to date on your hard drives with the photos and information you need there. Perform a careful balance between having too many copies of things and not enough copies of things. (Remember too that once it’s created it can potentially be brought back even if you ‘delete’ it!!! So make sure you get rid of your hard drives carefully when you’re done with them using things like magnets to break up the data.) Most backup drives can be encrypted or password protected and it’s important to keep them in less obvious places in the house like in a safe or secure place (something out of plain sight; don’t use it as a doorstop!). — Paraphrased; Cole, 2018.

Own multiple email address accounts (12’s a lot, 3-5 is better) designated for different, separate purposes only.

So, if you have things like banking information on one email, make a new one just for blog updates and another separate one for another area of your life. Right now, I have two: my public email address and my business email address. After reading this book, it’s best to try and scatter information in multiple places (kind of, some things shouldn’t be, again it’s that balance) so that if one thing goes down, not EVERYTHING goes down with it. (Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!) I’m not sure what I’ll name that email address (it should also change with providers so one Gmail, one Yahoo, etc.) though I have a couple of ideas. I’m not sure what I’d designate it as yet (types of content) so I have to think and consider this more. It may be something I definitely look into and establish soon.

If you want to file share with someone, try looking into file sharing platforms (think Dropbox) that are safer to engage with than simply email attachments that could carry viruses.

This is something I’m gonna have to look more into. It might be even easier if I make a Gmail account. Using things like the Cloud and sites similar to Dropbox might be a worthy investment. Speaking of investments:

Always update your software (virus protection; Windows/PC updates; browser updates) to the new, current models.

The reason for this, despite the hassle, is that new, updated software features patches to previous plot holes and instances where adversaries could take advantage/get past software protection and therefore means if you DON’T update, you’re more at risk to falling for a cyber attack from current loopholes and future continued ones that may appear. Software updates signal to cyber criminals that something was missing before and could be an opportunity for their next attack. Software updates will be lifelong because hackers are very smart and continuously find those holes and ways around a system. Software updates will keep you better protected than if you do nothing.

Shut your computer down for the night when you go to bed or are not using it. If you step away for a moment, lock it up to be password protected. If you’re going to sleep at night, shut it down.

The reason is because a shut down computer cannot be hacked or utilized in serving viruses and adversaries against you. If it’s not connected to the Internet, it cannot be accessed and even if it’s a hassle, it’s for your protection so it’s definitely something I’m allowing for myself more than I used to pre-reading this book–I have a bad habit of having too many documents or tabs open so I’d always avoid this notion of shutting down the computer, not realizing it was such a red flare!! (Phones and smaller devices it’ll be a work in progress for me).

Password vaulting programs may be something interesting, useful and safe to look into. They are programs that can remember various passwords of yours with a two factor authentication system to get into. They are a better alternative than having your browser remember your passwords because these are not as heavily guarded and are more susceptible to being found out. (Cole, 2018, p. 77).

If you’re in the USA like myself, you can (and should) use Annual Credit Report . com as the official government sanctioned website. (Without the spaces, of course.)

Airplane mode on your device can offer you some benefits more than just in-flight progress. It can help limit the location finding of your device when you’re say, going to sleep for the night. (Cole, 2018, p. 83)

I think I mentioned this somewhere else in this review, but I can’t remember now where (I know I mentioned it on Twitter too) but I am going to be shopping/looking for another tetrabyte related physical hardware back-up device to invest in. I’m pretty sure I have a 1TB one and that’s going to be getting full soon so I may line up a 2TB one from what I’ve found thus far via Best Buy. It’s a lot of money (it’s marked down for $60 from $110 but it’s important and will probably last me a long time). My current one has lasted since like 7 years or so. So, it’s worth the investment. I have to finagle between that and a new phone, not sure which one I’ll purchase first. But it’s on my mind and in one of my tabs now too.

P. 84 is where the author talks about “splitting” your personality, i.e. making multiple purposed email address accounts. I honestly couldn’t fathom this at first and like I said earlier or later than this point in time, I’m still trying to figure out what name I’d use, what account where (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) and what for but I’m definitely warming up to the idea and thinking of what it’d be in relation to. It’s definitely now on my mind when before it never was. Definitely something I’m taking away from this book!!

There’s never a clear identification system or protocol to tell fake adversaries links, hyperlinks, Twitter posts, videos, and the like from legitimate, real accounts which is too bad and blogging is never addressed either so I’m still wondering about these things myself now. Maybe having the virus protection software would help with this? Being able to see which websites are ‘green’ for being safe rather than being iffy? I’m not sure. We’re left to figure this one out of on our own.

“We live in a world where no one can make a mistake, because if you do, it will be recorded, monitored and tracked” — Cole, 2018, p. 90

This section where this quote ends from talks about how we have to do a mental pros and cons when posting onto social media EVERY time and that yes, this is the culture of the Internet: it does not forget and it does not forgive. It’s a wild one and it has its benefits and its imaginative parts and it can get very nasty, very quickly. Mistakes online are forever. It’s frightening and the reality for many. Myself included, I’ve definitely fucked up here and there. It serves as a reminder. It’s tough. Be careful, peeps!!

“The Internet does not forgive, does not forget and it punishes those that do not remember this” — Cole, 2018, p. 98

See, he even says so himself right here!!! Let this be a reminder for all who come across this review. Oooof, it’s got me biting my nails in anticipation and fear! And yes, maybe I’m trying to get this review done and over with, too!! I’m so close to finishing and it’s now 7p as I’m writing this paragraph right here. It’s been a while and I cannot wait until I’m free and have returned this book along with five others!! 🀩πŸ₯°πŸ€—πŸ₯³πŸ₯Ί

“If you need a camera or microphone on your devices, disable those features when you are not using them. Be sure to investigate security settings and limit the applications that can access audio-visual accessories” — Cole, 2018, p. 104

This is a HUGE reminder and important thing for me to notate. We’re always hearing horror stories about these things and for years on my old laptop I covered up the webcam with a sticker. I wound up taking it off as I started to film on my laptop and for my new laptop, which is where I’m typing this now, I haven’t done that because I do use the camera for videos and for Zoom support groups and presentations. But I definitely have to look into disabling it when it’s not in use just to get into better practices about that and stay safe for my own sanity, if nothing else!! I suggest you guys do the same or at least consider doing so!! We cannot control many things in life but this may just be one of the few!!! πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š

“Consider email a permanent record. You cannot control what a recipient will do with your emails. The same holds true for social media posts” — Cole, 2018, p. 107

Dammmmmmn that be true. I have to be more careful with my emails and who I trust. I remember one email I got from someone from Youtube and we spoke briefly about someone we were concerned about (actually, there’s probably a couple more of these that exist with other people that I can think of on the top of my head) but yeah, we only emailed like a couple of times and I never heard from them again but I think I may have over-shared a little and it’s been on the back of my mind ever since then, but I try to just let it go and maybe I can follow-up with my friend to see how they are, they haven’t posted lately either, maybe I’ll do that tonight, as a little check-in (I did manage to do this and they are doing pretty well, hooray!! Yay interpersonal effectiveness and managing odd attachments). I always think of these types of check-ins and I love myself for thinking and imagining them but then I forget to actually do them or I’m busy and put it off and then I forget completely. Anyone else have this issue?? The struggle, man. πŸ’”πŸ˜±πŸ˜­


THOUGHTS I HAD WHILE READING:

flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

Another question I had reading this book is whether or not there are viruses and malware that can effect things like files of documents, or photos and videos. If nothing else, I’m very likely going to be backing up my files again onto my Passport and also investing in another one because mine is almost full. Videos especially are big so I think I’m getting to the point where I’ll need to upgrade, and so I’m starting to look around for that a little bit.

The biggest thing I’m afraid of online these days is that my FFN and AO3 (fanfic sites) will be hacked or I’ll lose the passwords or be otherwise locked out and unable to update all my stories and such. That would suuuuuuck. And then just getting hacked in other social media accounts too. I’m pretty scared about that. Luckily it hasn’t happened yet. I do need to update some passwords and change some things around and I’m likely, though I’m not sure how or when or where exactly, going to create an additional email address, for what purposes I’m not certain of yet, but you’ll probably have read about this already in the previous section. I’m doing these very out of order ahahaha (It’s about 5p on Mar. 15th as noted here.)

On p. 65 I was reading about how modern day Trojan horses come across as seemingly legitimate virtual programs or people when really they’re big tricks in deception and it made me think of “Frozen” (having just watched it) and Loki particularly in my fic “Distorted & Disordered” but also just in general. It made me think of the Silvertongue he is and how he gets away with his mischievous deceit. πŸ˜πŸ˜…

I liked the concept on p. 74 about (responsible) parents explaining to their children where they’re coming from with their concerns about their child’s Internet usage and safety, and how this explanation can better guide the child in addressing their problematic behaviors or changing them for the better. There’s something about explaining things in an understandable way to children that helps in so many ways, and really is important in my work at Amaryllis so far, too.

On p. 75 is when the author officially backs up his claims towards an end of chapter footnote, which was what I was expecting from him since the beginning and luckily for him and myself, he did include something of this at some point in the book (though before would have lent him far more credibility and understanding from me and maybe I’d have given him more of a pass for his arrogant ass).

My next nonfic books I want to look into taking out include: home decorating, interior design, hobbies, gardening, cooking and online safety/social media (p. 87 thoughts).

On the discussion of never checking-in online: Hah! Jokes on you, ’cause I have no routine!! I also try to post after the fact or am careful with SOME things I say or don’t say. Look at me being productive and somewhat a responsible adult. 😜😝😲

p. 115: Reminded me, it was a paragraph regarding limiting screen time for kiddos an hour before bed because of the blue light effects, of when, as a teenager, I’d be on my bed, reading House MD fan fiction until like 2a or 3a and even pulling all-nighters and reading them for hours at a time. Ahahah Good memories, for sure. I’ve done it a small handful of times since I was a teen, usually until 1a or 2a but I remember even in 2014 I was reading fan fiction for days on end because I found such a compelling, great multi-chaptered one, like a perfect 50 chapter one ahaha. Those were great times. I should really read more than what I do nowadays. Something to improve on!!


THINGS I DISLIKED OR DISAGREED WITH THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK:

Another thing I noticed featured throughout this book are the little ninja related illustrations and how much the author, to me, came across as trying to be hip and in the “in crowd” with younger audiences via these ninja references. It seemed a little forced at times to me. He also was blatant with being snarky and I think he had a different definition of ‘stupidity’ than me because he would insult the average human repeatedly in the book and even blame the victim for their own ‘stupidity’ for doing something nonsensical online, which, granted while it’s somewhat reasonable it also probably isn’t the best thing when you’re catering to an audience and expecting them to be fair, respectful and give you a chance for a book of yours they’ve either bought or loaned from a library. It might not be the BEST monetary evolution relationship. Regardless, sometimes his attitude was refreshing and he did refer to his expertise only at the very END of the book (p. 159), which I think would have been more beneficial at the beginning because his calling out the average Internet user with truths and hard realities was difficult to face and that combined with his snark definitely made me tune out and off for a bit and I could have easily stepped away from this book without looking back. His questioning of the validity of my Internet friendships made me question the validity behind why I should be taking HIS word and changing my relationship with the Internet based solely on his own opinion. Essentially, a classic ‘why should I listen to you if you’re the one telling me not to trust people?’ If he’d been more up front early on and using references to studies and resources, it would have been more understandable rather than my having to have faith that he meant what he was saying regarding wanting the best for people and also for me to better understand his point of view and why I should give him a chance to speak. You know?

Again, I wished he had made references to other studies and media earlier in the book rather than only on just page 75. If it had been earlier, I think I could have been more fair towards him and would have better understood that he’s an academic and coming from that type of perspective rather than the equivalent of a “Jilly Juice” author. But his attitude was already off-putting and I was pissed off by page 13. Having read the full book I can see where he could have improved on certain areas and what he managed all right.

I think with the “being hip” kind of thing he was trying to appeal to a younger audience even though the content of his book is more so geared towards a young adult, average adult age group so I think knowing his audience better and tailoring to that would have been more appropriate. It was a little odd of a predicament.

Sometimes the author also sounded patronizing to me and like ‘better’ than others and when he would call people’s mistakes stupid he would never fully explain it or say how things could have gone about differently which I felt was stupid in and of itself. Like, if he could explain why it was wrong I think that’d be super helpful and teach the Reader at the same time. Later in the book he would even say not to blame the victim whereas his previous standpoints were to blame them for their own stupidity. So, this was frustrating.

As I already alluded to, by page 12 I was definitely disliking this “healthy paranoia” painting towards the Readers by this author. Yes, exercising caution towards trusting individuals online is important and definitely necessary. However, there’s a way to go about that and I don’t think the way this author did it is right. I think he’s trying to encourage skepticism but saying it like ‘paranoia is a natural thing every human possesses (yes) in a healthy way (not necessarily)’ and that simply isn’t always the case. Yes, paranoia as a feeling is something any human can experience. But as a symptom and a byproduct of a severe mental health condition it is not and I think he was getting confused between this line drawn in the sand. I think his efforts in emphasizing no one can be trusted could be dangerous for someone already susceptible to this level of thought and altered mental status and therefore is not something I agreed with in this book. Also, it just made me question why I should trust himself myself. At this point, there was only the brief introduction and his genuine credentials are only told on page 159 of the book, and he had no references to established studies and media until page 75, and because anyone can write and publish a book (think “Jilly Juice”) than that made me feel even more mistrusting and wondering why I should care about his opinion to start with. It made me defensive, basically. And that’s probably not the way he would want the Reader to feel if he wants them to read his book. Just saying.

Something else I disliked about this book was that it focused the most on opportunistic attacks from adversaries and cyber criminals (so think big corporations) rather than even exploring a little bit on the targeted assaults (like stalkers, doxxing). I think I thought reading this book would be focused more on social media (which it did cover a bit!!), Internet safety and how to combat against doxxing and people treating you unfairly (or fairly but in a repetitive and obsessive manner) when it was primarily focused on cybersecurity and keeping documents and personally identifiable information safe (super secret numbers, banking information, medical records etc). Like, it covered a little bit of what I wanted to read but it was more focused elsewhere than what I was expecting, which was a bit of a letdown. I would have liked to read about what protocol or advice can be taken after a doxxing for instance. But if he were the one giving me this advice, he’d probably call me stupid first and then explain what could be done, let’s be honest.

Dr. Cole does show synonyms for “paranoia” later in the book like when he uses the term ‘skepticism’ so it’s not like he doesn’t know that there are better and more fitting words to use. I just have a problem with him normalizing paranoia the feeling from paranoia the symptom of a mental health condition. He expresses at one point that we should treat “paranoia as a friend” and that could be really disastrous for a mentally unwell person who lands across this book. Like, a healthy dose of skepticism is better worded than paranoia. I don’t know if it’s just me on this train or not but it didn’t sit right with me and because he used a different word later that means a similar thing made me think he may have been being intentionally dense or just ignorant, ironically.

It definitely felt to me like Dr. Cole would insult me, the Reader, every twenty pages or so and his lack of defining what HE deemed as stupidity was super aggravating, stupid in itself and then also made him just increasingly unlikable. Luckily for him I can’t stop reading books no matter how much I may want to, I’m in them for the long haul (ride or die) so I kept giving him chances and it was a decent read altogether. Didn’t mean I liked it any better though. πŸ˜‰πŸ€”

It’s kind of impressive because in one instance of this book, Dr. Cole makes the giant leap from saying how sharing a soup recipe online then corresponds, somehow, to having that social media account hacked and your identity stolen. It’s SUCH a leap and is never fully explained and was soooo mind boggling to me. (Happened on p. 47)

“Obsession. Compulsion. Abduction. Even vengeance” — Cole, 2018, p. 67

IIIIIIIIIII just really hate the potential insinuation that this is a jab at OCD or similar mental health conditions and I can’t stand by it. Like, we’ve got two big factors seemingly involved with OCD (the OC parts) but they’re not used appropriately if they are being said to begin with. “Obsession” in regards to OCD isn’t the same definition in common place use. An obsession for OCD is an intrusive thought, word or image that a person doesn’t want to act on and is not aligned with their values and causes the person distress. Obsession in terms of Hollywood and more commonly thrown around is when someone is fixated on a particular thing, subject or person. And then compulsions, like in OCD, are things (behaviors, thoughts) that a person does to minimize or discredit the obsession. So, for instance if I had an intrusive thought that I was going to stab someone with a pencil, my compulsion might be something like checking I have all my pencils, moving the pencils away from someone so I don’t lose track of it, checking my memories for any intention or evidence that I did it, asking for reassurance that I haven’t hurt them with a pencil, etc. I just don’t like how he’s edging close to maybe saying something he doesn’t mean or doesn’t intend to mess around with.

I know even with like the “To Catch a Predator” show with Chris Hansen they sometimes implied the predator’s actions as compulsions which is not what like OCD is like. I hate that brain illnesses like those of people who abuse and destroy other people’s minds are lumped together with the most kind-hearted, compassionate and empathetic people. It sucks. And it makes mental health conditions more taboo and implies that they’re “dangerous” towards others and such. And that’s awful stigma. πŸ˜«πŸ€•

“Never mistake cyberspace as a beautiful and simple place, where unicorns drift through fields of daisies, while spreading fairy dust and rainbows in their wake. The Internet is not a safe place to work, live, and do business–evil is lurking behind every email and website, waiting to turn you into a victim. Cyberspace is complex and filled with disease” — Cole, 2018, p. 68

IIIIIIIIIIIIIII don’t know, man, I think it can be both.

Why does it have to be this extreme all or nothing thinking? Why can’t BOTH be just as true and valid?

The surface level Internet is safe-ish, kind of, most of the time. Going lower, some sites, yeah, it’s not good. But like, I don’t think it can be so easily defined as idolization and demonization, you know? I think there are certain approaches to the Internet world people get wrong or don’t always anticipate and I think part of that is forgetting where we’re at and becoming very comfortable in what you’re doing and treating everything really too seriously. Like, knowing people are going to post memes or be a little cruel here and there is understandable. Yes, some people have a lot more time on their hands and may enter levels of intense fixation that are damaging to their health, their minds and for others around them, and the person they’re fixated on. Still, there’s good people out there and people trying to better the world of this giant Internet place. I think both can be true. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like you and that’s okay. And being civil and having a conversation about that is respectable and awesome and if they’re not ready for that, handle it and put up some blockers or something and go from there. A lot of this lashing back out isn’t good and also it’s so huge to understand the difference between criticism and genuine hate.

There are definitely people out there who genuinely hate and we have to watch out for them for sure (safety issues for instance) but offering constructive criticism or just misguided wordings of criticism shouldn’t be lumped together as ALL hate. I see that happen a lot more these days and it’s infuriating and sad. I hope I never get to that point. Holding someone accountable is not the same as wishing them death, you know? It’s complicated for sure. But I think there have been some improvements made on the Internet since the early 2000s. Some people are just gonna shit post and use the Internet as their break from their real life and we just gotta roll with it a bit, find the humor in things, and go from there. That’s how I look at it, at least.


MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING; THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME; WHAT I’LL BE DOING DIFFERENTLY:

book-prints-thumb-2.19.21

Honestly, by the time I’ve made it to the end of this post, having finished off about 45 mins of editing, I’m sooo exhausted and ready to just fall over and fall asleep. Overall, I think you guys have already read what I got out of this review, this book and the whole process of it. I’m probably gonna have a new, additional email address; I’m going to change my passwords around; I’m disabling my camera feed on my laptop; I’m shutting down my computer; I’m backing up my files and looking into getting a new TB; I’m being more careful online and suspicious of links and posts and I’m just exercising more caution and a healthy level of ‘hmm, I don’t think so.’

From the book itself, I kept reading because I always want to give them a chance and the opportunity to redeem themselves. I’m glad I read it and stuck with it. I probably wouldn’t read it again but I’m ready for the next book and I’m grateful and happy that I was able to return it and 5 other books to the library (I didn’t read the other 5 though). But for now, that’s all I got. I’m exhausted. This is the end. I’m done and free.

See you next time. It’ll probably be another review–whether an MCU film or a book review, we’ll just have to see. I’m challenging myself to another novel and that will be very interesting (it’s been months).

Thank youuuuuu so much for tagging along and reading!! What books have caught your attention lately and which ones have you consumed in a record amount of time? Sending you all the best. xxx


TRACKING DATES I READ THIS BOOK:

2.19.21, 2.21, 2.26, 2.27, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8, 3.13.2021

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

3.13.21, 3.14, 3.15.2021


This review is brought to you by music featuring Billie Eilish, Dan + Shay, and a fabulous jamming inclusion of Fall Out Boy occurred as well. 😍πŸ₯°πŸ˜…

“Grief Is A Journey” (2016) | Book Analysis (Mar-June 2020)

Book Analysis - THUMB - 7.3.19

Edit: Aug 31, 2020; I changed this post from a “book review” to a “book analysis” so the thumb is now different and the rest of the post should reflect this change. This is a LONG post, I had a lot to say and I’ve been procrastinating on it for months. Bleh. It’ll be so satisfactory to end this analysis, publish the post and return the book to the library**. Happy reading!! ❀ xxx
**As it were, I finished all the quotes section and the wandering thoughts section on a time crunch because I wanted to return this book and 4 others (that I never read, yes, I know) to the library today, Sep. 10th 2020 so technically the rest of this analysis is being written without the book in my possession. But it’s still going to feel so GREAT publishing and finishing this after so, so long. πŸ˜€

Chosen Book:

“Grief Is A Journey” (2016) by Dr. Kenneth J. Doka


Trigger Warnings:

Emaciation, skeletal reference; grief; loss; disenfranchised grief; death.


Themes:

Losing and repairing relationships, legacies, anecdotal scenarios, grief, definitions, checklist, myths vs facts, finding meaning, adversity, triumph, grief is a process, changing relationships, inspiration in some aspects for me reading it at least, reminding the Reader that they are not alone, comfort, informational, a bit dull and boring at times.


General layout/Information Delivery:

I didn’t like at first the way the myths were spoken of and then the later descriptions as to why they were instead false. It seemed a bit redundant to me and didn’t always hold my attention well. To emphasize the myths and how they came about made me see how they seemed rational but then only paragraphs later Doka was dismissing them and that just rubbed me the wrong way and made it confusing. Like I think if the myth was stated and then the focus was emphasized on WHY it was inaccurate and like have it be like: Myth X; Reality Y would have been better, like right from the get-go have it be disproved, would have made more sense to me and would have improved my experience of the book, especially so early on. (For instance, in the way the book is styled itself it shows a Myth, explains all about it, THEN it says the reality and explains all about that at length too. It’s just a little wonky to me.)

Sometimes the general sentence structures would confuse me, too and I found that to be taking me out of the immersion of the story being told and made it really frustrating, too. It wasn’t exactly the cleanest read through I’ve ever had and it really seemed to draaaaag on and on for me and I’d get annoyed with myself multiple times so that I had to read it in little exposures here and there over the course of a few months.

It was a little overwhelming at times however once I did get into it, it wasn’t so bad. It gave me a bunch of inspiration for my fan fics, novel and other things. For that, I am grateful. It is a pretty dull and boring and at times, ironically, lifeless read and I did learn quite a bit from it either way. These factors will come into play in my final recommendation score. Also, it was pretty gender non-inclusive too, only ever referring to people with “he” or “she” so I think it could have been better in that aspect too (“they” is a good option).

The chapters were split up by general myths and facts on grief, what type/style of grieving the Reader may be, each type of loss from: adult siblings, parents, child, then into disenfranchised grief and each topic underneath that. I would have liked for it to go into more detail regarding homicide/suicide and what changes would have been explored in the case of abusive parents passing on, etc. but it never really goes into it. Also, celebrity deaths, it mentions it, but never really dives into it, which is what my expectation was of it, so if you’re looking through in from that lens, this probably isn’t the book for you.

But, before I say anything more, onto the rest of the analysis….


Summary:

This book carries with it a caring and delicate deliverance of realities and news regarding grief, grieving styles and grieving processes per individuals, circumstances and the relationships involved. Grief is not in stages, as is popularly referred to, rather death and dying is. Grief is more of: a continuum spectrum, where the loss of life or loss of the relationship isn’t the end of the story–instead, grief and loss is about having an unbroken bond with that relationship because the relationship is forever and it remains intact even when death or other circumstances (moving, divorce, separation, ending relations) take away the physical aspects. The loss itself is felt and shared throughout loved ones (family and friends) and even death cannot sever this enormous tie. So thinking otherwise or thinking that grief has an end date is particularly damaging and simplifying the large and intense complexity of the matter to a minor or dismissive state, which helps no one and can disenfranchise some people’s experiences with grief even more than society may already be doing so (suicides, homicides, AIDS deaths etc).

If you’re looking for a book to provide you with examples and information in the form of unrelated, pseudonym based characters, this may be the book for you! This book is rich in information and the necessary replications of repetition that go into handling these emotionally difficult matters. It also has a great source of resources and opening the door towards understanding more about this phenomenon than what I’m used to. I definitely read this book as an insight into grieving, to relate, to understand what I’ll have to deal with at some point in my life and it did get me thinking a lot and even was the reason I signed up for a Disney+ account! :O

While meticulous in some spots, this is a good informational book and a starting point to the topic of grief. Grief and loss will happen to each of us at some point in our lives–objects, people, pets, etc. It’s helpful to know what style of grieving you possess and how to manage that.

If nothing else, it was helpful for me to read about how reading books especially means I can control how much I expose myself to and I definitely used that for this book because it was just heavy and felt like a lot at times. I found that taking those breaks really helped me to come back at the book and attack it. It definitely has its faults and it also has its wins. I’m pretty stickler about finishing a book once it’s started so that definitely came into play here, however, I’m still glad I stuck it out and finished reading. πŸ˜‰


Book Length:

261 pages


Recommendation Score:

2.8/5 losses


Unforgettable Quotes and Comments I’d like to add:

1. “[Grieving] takes you as long as it takes. There are no rules that make one person’s response normal and another’s abnormal” — p. 5

I particularly think this is a nice quote and a fundamental part of the book as a whole. This book explains how there’s no true stages to grief as what is often misconstrued as existing (those are the stages of dying rather than grief), and it really drives home the point that grief and reactions to loss will be different for each person depending on how their relationship was, how the loss or death occurred, how that person has dealt with loss in the past and more. There’s no right or wrong way to deal with grief necessarily, and each process and each loss is different and unique to the individual. There can be circumstances that make it more difficult or engage the person into self-destructive behaviors which Doka encourages seeking professional counseling or group support for as adequately as possible, while reiterating the normalization of grief and that it’s a process we will ALL go through at one point or often multiple points in our life’s journey. Yeah, those are probably the biggest take-aways from this book that I received, which is great.

2. “There is no closure to grief. Grief is not about letting go of past relationships or closing yourself off from them. Even in bereavement, you continue your bond–albeit in a different way” — p. 6

Again, this helps to further reiterate the biggest take-aways from this particular nonfiction book. There is no real getting over part of grief, it can come and go and the emotional reactions can be caused by reminders or certain memories and while there do exist parts of it that can become unhealthy or disordered, it is an ongoing journey that you embark upon differently for each case and each death and there are ways to grow and learn from them as you continue onwards in your own life’s journey. You will find ways to grow in strength, to make peace with what was lost and what never was and so on. You will be able to survive it and you may be able to even thrive despite the nasty repercussions of that painful, painful bereavement. It’s not about moving on but moving through.

3. Be specific in what you can do to help (p. 9) i.e. instead of just saying “I’m here if you need me” or “Let me know if you need anything” mention specific ways you can help, like “If you want, I can pick up someone from the airport; I can bake you a cake; I can call you at X time” etc. Platitudes of generality are nice but if not followed up on or through they’re more like empty words. Plus these nice intentions when not followed through on can be lacking perceived care when it comes to the grieving individual, potentially accruing more pain onto them and their isolation, if they are doing so. It helps to name specifically what you can offer as they try and understand for themselves what they need during this difficult time. This is true as well for those struggling with their mental health conditions and wanting to best support them. Follow-through is HUGE. πŸ™‚

4. “The bad days will come less often, will become less intense, and will not last as long” — p. 13

As we move through grief and the grieving process it will become more manageable and if it doesn’t or the pain spikes again, then there may be other underlying issues beneath the surface that require professional help and support to identify, uncover and manage. This will take time. And again, there’s no real closure in grief, you carry on with the relationship in ways that the other person isn’t physically present to interact with you on but the relationship is still there. That cannot be severed and you have your memories and your feelings and your thoughts to sift through, as well as rituals to remember them by or legacies to unfold or other meaning making ways to celebrate them and grow from the experience.

5. “People we love become part of our own biographies. We cannot really separate ourselves from them. They have left an indelible mark on who we are and how we see ourselves” — p. 15

Again, this is the part of the chapter where Doka goes into labeling myths and then asserting their true realities. The idea that loss is about letting go of people or things or pets is inaccurate as really we still have a connection and a past relationship with them that is just now challenged by the metaphysical world and what our brains can imagine and see. The people we encounter in our lives all have a special place and we are so intrinsically interconnected that leaving them “behind” as you “move on” isn’t really true. You still have them even as you move through the pain of loss. It’s just in a different way. ❀

6. “One task of mourning is deciding how to carry those memories and feelings with you in ways that still allow you to reengage fully in life” — p. 16

Once again, the point driven home is the ongoing relationship regardless if the person is still on this physical plane or not. Part of the grieving process is finding ways to live with it and through it and memorialize the person or perform rituals in their honor or compact your feelings into a visual and significant process that makes the most sense to YOU and what you need, not necessarily what you think other people think you should be doing or acting or behaving. Your process is your process and you have to own it. How you choose to remember this loved one is up to you. Allow people to grieve as they will, unless it’s detrimental or harming themselves or others, of course!

7. “Even in grief, you are not without resources or devoid of any power. In acknowledging your grief and in recognizing that your emotions are normal and natural responses to loss, you can begin to cope with your feelings” — p. 31

I feel, as I’m now returning to this review turned analysis (although arguably it was always going to be an analysis) in August 2020, this particularly hits strongly now with the recent news of Chadwick Boseman’s (Black Panther/MCU) passing. It may actually do me some good to finish commentating on the content of this book not only for you guys who may still be grieving whatever you happen to be losing and for myself as well to come to some terms and baseline with it. It’s sad news indeed. I’m not sure how this year will get worse, but I’m prettttty sure it’s gonna find a way to do so. :/ Maybe it’ll help someone else out there too, if they’re able to read long and hard at my thoughts, ideas and that of this book itself. So, thank youuuu!! ❀

8. “Rituals of affirmation celebrate the life of the person who died and recognize his or her legacy or accomplishments” — p. 33

Relevant for today’s end of August truths. </3 As well as being potentially just as helpful while people are still alive, to appreciate and say that you love them more and more. We never know what someone else is going through by just looking at them, like how we can’t tell their story by their face today, yet we can learn. We can try to grow and get better. It matters to be as kind as possible, and critique constructively where needed. Overall, being kind is worth it. It is.

9. “‘I have come to terms with the death of my daughter… I have not yet come to terms with the loss of everything I believed'” — p. 43

Hot damn. That’s powerful and says a lot!!

10. “Our different ways of grieving may create conflict. Some grieving individuals avoid reminders of their loss, while others seek them. One person may want the home full of photos while another wants to put away all these painful photographs” — p. 46

Grief, however it is felt, thought of and expressed, is never either “right” or “wrong.” Grief just is. Allow yourself as much as you can to feel your emotions and express them towards those you trust. And if you’re still struggling much time later, get help from a professional. It’s okay. The grief will subside somewhat, at least in its frequency and intensity, even though the relationship will always remain intact, just in another way. Sometimes it comes back in smacking waves, sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes it is loud and painfully felt, it all depends on the relationship, when you heard the news, how you heard the news, if it was a singular death or multiple at the same time, what else was going on, if you’ve dealt with other losses before this one, and so forth. Additionally, if it’s been unclear from before this point: Grief/Loss can happen with any one or any object. Loss is still loss. ❀

11. “You are having these [grief] reactions because you lost someone–or something–you loved. You are grieving” — 50.

So be kind to yourself!!! ❀

12. “The intense pain of grief will not be forever, but grief is not something you get over. It is a process that becomes part of a new, meaningful life. Certainly the pangs of pain will continue. But you need to mindful that, over time, it is not helpful to the deceased for you to live in a state of chronic loss” — p. 65

And promises you made to the deceased prior to their dying don’t necessarily have to be something you’re locked into for life. Like, if you swear you’ll never love again, your significant other probably never wants that misery of loneliness for you. If it would make you happy to love again, they’ll be glad that you’re enjoying your life and moving along as steadily as possible even when–and especially when–it hurts.

ALSO: This reminded me of Thor in Endgame and Tony Stark. And my avoidance of all of that. And how fics work. XD I keep wanting to rewatch the MCU movies but I’m getting bogged down in the perfectionistic bubble that I should watch them in order and review them all. Gwah. I do have Disney+ now so that’s a start. I don’t know, I’ll have to work on it and challenge myself. Maybe I’ll watch one or two out of order to just get into it again, you know? We’ll see. I am listening, at the time of writing this part on Aug 31st, to an MCU soundtrack/instrumental music video that’s about an hour long, so I mean, progress! Baby steps, ahaha.

13. “The good memories or life lessons that a person left us create a legacy that lives with–and within–us” — p. 72

A true point. This also reminded me of Luna but in general to other grieving relationships as well. Sometimes, as is mentioned after this quote, the memories of the illness can become more prominent however it is possible to work on bringing the lighter moments back into the forefront. They will always be with us, some even standing the passage of time like through photos or videos. ❀

14. “After all, the greatest legacy your loved one can offer are the memories and life lessons you can take from them as you learn to live without their physical presence” — p. 74

An emotional roller coaster of a quote. </3

15. “Sometimes you may feel you are not getting support when, really, you are asking people for support they cannot offer. It is good to remember that some people are good listeners; others are doers, while still others offer respite–or time off from your grief. Use your support system wisely” — p. 96

I feel that this quote is ESPECIALLY important and critical to keep in mind and is a fabulous take-away from this book if nothing else is. Or at least with newly frame grief experiences alongside it. ❀ I also think it applies well to even physical health and mental health conditions. xxx

16. “You may be giving mixed messages–saying you are all right when you really can use support. You cannot expect people to read your mind and guess your intentions. If you need others’ support, you have to ask for it. Only then can you know if it is available or not….. Sometimes people may offer help so generically–for instance, saying ‘Call me if I can help’–that you really do not know that they are willing to follow through with their offers. If someone offers to help, ask them for something [specific/] tangible” — p. 96

So this is actually two quotes I wanted to get through. For the first: advocate, advocate and advocate. You have to advocate for yourself in your treatment, relationships and life in general. People can’t know how to help you if you don’t ask for what you need. So yeah, that’s HUGE. For the latter: it’s so, so, so important to follow-up after the initial message is sent. I know we get busy and everything and that’s okay and if we really want to be a part of the solution for that person we’re trying to help help themselves, we HAVE to follow-up. If you say you will, follow through! And be specific too. Like the previous quote, ask for what you need and if you’re not sure, try and do some soul searching to come up with some idea, or try out what you think you need and depending on how you feel about receiving it, adjust your expectations from there. Good luck!! ❀

17. “Book services such as the Centering Corporation (centering.org) and Compassion Books (compassionbooks.com) [may be helpful resources]” — p. 97

Just spreading the word on a couple of the good amount of resources mentioned in this book. ❀

18. “While there is an inherent loneliness in your journey with grief, you do not have to journey alone” — p. 101

Just a nice reminder. ❀ There is help, there is support and you have to do a lot of work to manage it. It’s a process. Never-ending, always there. That doesn’t have to always be a bad thing. :3

19. “In other cases, you may overwhelm your support system. Sometimes neediness can drive away other people…You may be expecting too much from those around you” — p. 114

Oops, can relate to what all went down in 2017, my codependency and a friend I tried to reconnect with this summer who wanted nothing to do with me. Whoops. :/

20.Β  “You may never have the opportunity to respond [to an invalidating comment on your grief] but just thinking about what you could have said reaffirms a sense of control and empowers you not to be a victim again” — p. 118

I thought and think this is an important and nice comment to refer to. Sometimes doing role play for the future or the past can be really therapeutic and prevent future issues or at least prepare you in case they happen again and you have a template on how to deal with them. :3 ❀

21. “Acknowledge to yourself that some days may be more difficult than others. Flexibility is important. When you have a rough day, you may not be able to accomplish all that you wished. Other days will be more productive. Be gentle with yourself” — p. 119

This is relatable not just towards grief but to mental health conditions and life itself in general, too. I think this is a very important and critical lesson to be reminded of. We all have bad days, with or without health issues. And it matters to self-validate and remind ourselves (and our loved ones) that sometimes days are off and it’s okay and we can work towards making tomorrow a better one. ❀ πŸ™‚

22. “It is important to remember that there is no single, right way to experience grief. Nor does grief have a timetable. Your experience of grief is what it is and comes from who you are. You cannot compare your loss to the losses of others, or your reactions or responses to those of others. Differing experiences of grief have little to do with how much you loved or cared about your loved one (or thing)” — p. 132

Just a really important thing I wanted to highlight, have you focus on and remind myself of, too. I think lately with my mental health conditions I’ve been struggling with this notion, the whole comparing myself to others and it’s important to notate for myself even in an analysis that those types of depictions aren’t reality and aren’t comparable. It’s also nice to be reminded what grief really is and how it takes its course is how it takes its course. ❀ :3

23. “You do have choices within your grief. You could choose to live your life in perpetual mourning for your child. Or, as difficult it is and may seem right now, you can choose to live a now different life–but to live it fully, keeping alive the memories of your child and lessons that, however long or short your child’s life was, you gleaned from them” — p. 149

Honestly, this is just beautifully stated, worded and conceptualized. ❀ xxx

24. “Family holidays offer an opportunity to name the elephant in the room and to acknowledge that someone who was so much a part of your life and other lives is now missing. It can be as simple as a toast that allows the name to be spoken, stories to be shared, and the cloud of silence to be lifted” — p. 181

I think this is so beautifully and poetically stated. ❀ πŸ™‚

25. “Sometimes you have to have the courage to share with others what you are feeling and to ask for the support you need. This may mean that you educate your community about the meaning of your loss. Sometimes you can be your own best advocate” — p. 195

Vulnerability is a strength. ❀ Advocacy is crucial, even when, and especially when, it’s hard and exhausting and you’re tired of it. You have to tend to your reserves until they’re recharged and use your support network appropriately and as healthily as possible and then go from there! ❀

26. “A loss of functionality tests your sense of self. Your identity is challenged when you lose the ability to do things that were once important to you” — p. 208

I think this can relate especially towards disability as a broad term and also with the cognitive impairment of mental health conditions and also apparently I’ve severely limited my capacity and ability to read books as effectively as I was once able to do. Grrr. Each page and paragraph and book done is a test to the amount of concentration and mental gymnastics I had to uphold to remember what happened, who was involved and all the information I feel abounding my soul because of all the commentary I have to say about it and the experience of reading it as a whole. Phew. That was a lot. πŸ˜›

27. “‘Anything that you have, you can lose; anything you are attached to, you can be separated from; anything you love can be taken away from you. Yet, if you really have nothing to lose, you have nothing‘” — Quote by Richard Kalish p. 211

I thought this was particularly interesting and worthy of being mentioned in this analysis. :3 Blap!

28. “You may even find that your loss generated significant changes that in some way made the world better–creating new laws, or something more local such as a safety rail or traffic light where none had been before. However significant such changes are–in yourself or in society–they do not bring the person back. Yet that is not the choice. The choice is how you deal with the loss you experienced” — p. 254

This important quote is something I referred back to and referenced in my #SummerComer poem entry #4 HERE.

29. “Grief, too, takes time. Sometimes you want to get over it so rapidly that you lack the patience to let the process unfold. You expect to wake up one day and be “better”. You need to give yourself time to grieve, but like watering a plant, you can sometimes test how far along you are in the process. You can experiment by testing yourself as to what you can do” — p. 259

So this final quote is a testament to the idea that we take grief as a moment by moment kind of thing, a process, and some days the thought of doing one little action can feel too insurmountable and so when that happens we know to back off and try again another day. Then, each day we find ourselves getting closer and closer to actually and actively acting on the thought. Like, for me, I’ve been getting closer and closer to watching various MCU movies or working on a journal entry in a guided journal or things like that. Each day and moment I’m getting closer and I’m warming up more and more to the idea, it just hasn’t quite fully happened yet. But I know it will. I know it will. ❀ πŸ™‚


Wandering Thoughts or Ideas I had while reading:

  • p. 7: I used to be really stickler about keeping my artwork and dating it properly and having trouble letting go of it. Nowadays, I still date religiously but I’m also able to give things away and let go of other things that at one point were mine but no longer need to be. I found this a fascinating thing to come into awareness of as I read this book myself. And the way that I related to other parts of the book itself, seeing how I could incorporate certain concepts into my creative writing, how I’ve dealt with loss in the past, what techniques I can try in the future, etc. I still struggle letting go of physical things (pieces of clothing, lists, tracking things) but it is becoming more of a natural pace for me to save some things and share others elsewhere with the world or with those I come into contact with. πŸ™‚
  • p. 24: Here I had the idea that I could incorporate the ideas that whatever we grow attachments to and love can be lost and when those ties are severed we will grieve. I think this could be especially relevant to some of my fanfic stories, including “Severed,” as there is a loss of health in that fic (and honestly most of my stories) where Loki has to come to grips with things he’s unable to do now and grieve that loss, while also building ways he can soothe himself and still carry on forwards. Just a thought I had. πŸ™‚
  • p. 27: Doka explains the physical symptoms that grief can ignite in the human body and this made me think of my fiction novel I wish to write and how I can incorporate some of these symptoms into my story’s main character and sibling relationship. πŸ˜€
  • p. 31: “[Causation guilt, something we did or didn’t do caused the death] We may be fixated that if only we had taken the person to a doctor or recognized a symptom, death could have been avoided” — This is a great inclusion I’d like to make in my fanfic “A Little Unsteady.” ❀
  • p. 34: I really want to focus in on a “Distorted and Disordered” alternate universe spin-off where Loki actually does die from his suicide attempt and how that impacts his family and tears them apart, really. It would be multi-chaptered, focusing on each family member. Thor would be like how he is in Endgame and develop a difficult and harrowing drinking problem. Odin would leave and grieve to himself, pushing everyone away and Frigga would be trying to find meaning and purpose through her life’s work in the nonprofit and probably dedicate something within it to her son. I think I could even explore the side characters/the other Avengers as they react to the death. It’d probably be each character as a chapter, I think. But yeah, this page here discussing anger in grief made me think of this at the time.
  • p. 35: On the topic of constructive ways of channeling anger, it reminded me of how I got started writing in my uni’s newspaper on mental health and my recovery journey. :3
  • p. 35: “Fantasies can be an effective way to cope with anger” — This made me think of my own travels with art and fanfics/writing in general. It makes me think of how I transform my grief. I wonder how many T’Challa related fics there are out on FFN and AO3 right now. Maybe I will look into this. I feel like I don’t know his character well enough to write about him but it would be cool to see like Black Panther and Chadwick meeting on the other side. I know FFN doesn’t allow you to write about real people though, I guess maybe Black Panther leaving behind his family instead? Like his ghost seeing each of his family members one last time as he moves from this plane to the next? I don’t know, it’s an idea, at least. ❀ [AIwFF: 8/31/20]
  • p. 42: Reminded me of the movie “White Noise” (2005) that I watched a summer ago and am still in the middle of a film review notes section on. πŸ˜› I’d have to take it back out again though too. (Which won’t happen until I bring more books back…. Like this one. Sep 20: Now I’ve brought it back but haven’t got out any movies. :3)
  • p. 75: There’s no option within the talk of spirituality for what to use religion/prayer with grief when you happen to be an atheist. D: It’s never explored in the book, either.
  • p. 87: What style out of four is Thor through my fic D&D? (Head grievers are impacted most by the cognitive impairments that arrive from loss) In D&D he’d be fixing Loki’s bed sheets etc. What about in “Lead Me Home, Brother”? Or in Endgame?
  • p. 88: “[Reading books about grief] may appeal to your mind and allow you to “dose” your grief. A book after all can always be put down for a while…. John Gunther’s book Death Be Not Proud
  • So for the above statement: I’m pretty sure I read that book in high school and absolutely LOVED it. Also just in general, I feel the former is very true. When I get frustrated or upset by a book I can take space away from it for a while unlike some other things. I did that a few times with this book (it’s just lengthy, informational and boring. Deathly boring, ironically enough). But yeah this just reminded me of what I was doing with this book itself and researching for my fanfics even. πŸ™‚
  • p. 93: I would like to rewatch “Being Human” (US) version, find “Saving Hope” and watch that too as well as get Disney+ and watch MCU movies. Which, I have had the account for for the past few months (D+) and it was actually reading this book that brought that into existence, so, thank youuuu, book! ❀ I have seen a couple MCU movies on TV at least, so that’s some re-watching. πŸ˜›
  • p. 117: Estate and yard sales are pretty cool. I got a few books and a couple paintings and such from an estate sale my Mom and I went to a couple years back. So that’s nice. :3 (About re-purposing items left behind from loved ones for other people to cherish and enjoy. πŸ™‚ )
  • p. 130: In my AU spinoff from D&D where Loki does die in his suicide attempt, Frigga would find some relief in the notion that he wouldn’t be in pain anymore and that even though that painlessness meant he was taken from her too soon, it would also comfort her in the smallest of ways. Odin would leave them and Thor would, as I mentioned earlier, would dabble into alcoholism to bury his own pain. 😦
  • p. 132: [Parents having lost a child can sometimes reach a state of renewal where…] “They choose to move forward, to live a meaningful life despite the loss. They find a meaning that makes their lives a tribute to their child”
  • Commentary on this quote: I really liked this and again I think it conveys a sense of pain and rebirth to a very tragic and unfortunate situation.
  • p. 132: Yes, your memories of your child (or any other loved one) will always be with you…unless you die or you get dementia of some kind. :S
  • p. 144: I was raised in a Christian household but in my teens I turned more towards atheism. I don’t know exactly what I believe now, maybe agnostic, but I do like to think of “god” as the Universe. That is comforting to me. Also, ironically, for someone who didn’t believe in an afterlife, I wrote and still write a LOT about it ahaha. This ‘rebuilding faith’ section made me think of this and reminded me of my plot for my fiction novel. ❀
  • p. 144 cont: For that novel, I’ll list out a couple of themes mainly for myself to remember and jot down into the future (and which probably will make no sense to you ahaha) – RxR, breakdown, remembers decisions to stay after 1/2 through, afterlife. ❀
  • p. 147: Again for that D&D AU of which I don’t yet have a title for: Focusing each chapter on the immediate family, then to the Avengers as would have been friends and then other characters as the people Loki had yet to meet and how his absence impacted and changed them. ❀ :3
  • p. 148: “Your child’s death will affect not only your spouse and children but also other relatives and friends. Your parents have lost a grandchild, your siblings grieve the death of a niece or nephew. Neighbors, coaches, teachers and friends all experience that loss. Their own ways of dealing with that loss may influence their own abilities to offer support” –> This is exactly why I want to do that additional AU fanfic where this is explored properly and fully. I hadn’t even thought of the further ramifications and how plenty of other people would be impacted by Loki’s suicide. So, yeah, super important! If only I could actually do some D&D writing for what’s happening now and then come up with a title and start working on it. I have a title for the AU where he gets help instead of attempting first, too (“Failure to Pass A Psychiatric Evaluation”.)
  • p. 168: “As parents age, we realize that they are not the awesome or awful powerful figures we once imagined them to be” –> This also, once again, reminded me of the relationship between Loki and Odin (both in D&D and in general). 😦
  • “(Your parents’ deaths reminds you…) of a central truth. Your parents left their mark on you–left you legacies and perhaps liabilities–not only in their lives but also in their deaths” — p. 169 I thought this was particularly poignant and necessary to be brought into the discussion of this book analysis. :B
  • p. 176: The name isn’t said here but I do like for one of my future characters somewhere to be named “Nardia”.
  • p. 205: “Experts recommend open and ongoing communication between adoptees and adoptive parents to allow information, thoughts, and feelings to be acknowledged and processed. This is unlikely to be a “one time tell all” but rather an ongoing process” –> This reminds me of the Thor movies where Odin pretty much did a one time tell all and how it’s referenced in the movies thereafter. Also makes me think of my sequel for D&D. :3 BUAHAHAH
  • QUESTION: p. 207: (How visiting within the prison system can be humiliating for the search of property and person) Can psych hospital admissions be grief provoking? And related, can you grieve what no longer is (like for me it’s been 2.5 years hospital free, can I grieve times I was in the hospital or times I’m not in it now? Like, mainly for “free” meals or meeting friends etc. I don’t know, it’s an interesting thought. :3
  • QUESTION: p. 218: Does a positivity bias [“in those with intellectual disabilities they may have positive bias where they have a sunny disposition that masks their deep sense of loss”] exist in other realms and contexts too? Because I think I can be like that sometimes too because of my optimism and positivity and kindness whereas it’s there because I’ve been through pain, you know? I thought this was interesting and I was curious about it. :3
  • p. 257: Exercise on life imprints by asking how a person we’ve lost affected our mannerisms, way of communicating/speaking, hobbies and pastimes, basic personality and values/beliefs can be like sea shells making indents in the sand–we can have imprints from people’s legacies placed on us, liabilities from them, and just imprints in general. This could be a good group activity for my work at Amaryllis. I may need to flesh it out more or research a bit more but it could be excellent. ❀
  • p. 258: Strengths group for work as an art activity. What strengths have gotten me through hard times before and what can they do for me now etc.

What Kept Me Reading, How I Read it & The Impact of It All on Me:

There are sweet moments within this book that made me cry, smile and laugh. Ahaha. Also I have rules for myself and while I can change them, I just don’t yet. (Like if I start a book I have to finish it. If I read or consume something (books/movies), I have to review them, etc.)

Overall, what kept me going was that I was closer and closer to finishing it. I knew that I had to get through it to get to all the other books I really, really do want to read so that helped. I found that putting on perfume or lotion helped too, ambient music like train sounds on Alexa and Calm app scenes like the mystic water fountain, sunset on the ocean, gleaming sunshine, etc. Even just reading on my bed or curled up on the floor. Definitely having a view of the stack of books helped, too.

So yeah, once I was reading it I wanted and knew I’d be in it for the long haul. I’m so glad and relieved I’m almost completely finishing off this post and everything about it. I’m excited for my next review or analysis. I think this book overall served a great purpose for me and that’s reflected in its score as well as the fact that I made this review and stuck with it, regardless of all the procrastination involved and finally it is done and I can wipe my hands clean.

I’d say it made an impact on me and definitely got me thinking and trying to find ways to relate it to my stories and everything, so that was really nice!

Lastly, thank you so, so, soooo much for reading!!! Leave me your thoughts down below and if you have a post you’d like me to read and review, leave it down there, too! ❀ ❀ ❀

As always: stay safe, take care and be well. Much love and light to you. xxx


Dates I read this book:

3/23/2020, 4/8, 4/23, 4/24, 4/26, 5/16, 5/18, 5/19, 5/27, 5/29, 6/11, 6/12, 6/15.

Dates I wrote this review:

6/15/2020, 8/31/20, 9/1, 9/10/2020.


Join Me in a National Day of Hope | #NAMIWalksYourWay Virtual Event

NAMIWalks THUMB revamp - 5.14.20

Join me on my Youtube channel on this date/time slot and we’ll have some fun!! See more information in this post down below! ❀ xxx Thumb revamped 5/14/2020


Hello and welcome back to my blog!!!

I have some exciting news to share with you all today, and I apologize for the fact that this post is coming at you guys a bit later than I had originally planned. I’ve been wanting to share this for over a week, but this past week has been tough for me mentally as I’ve been struggling with some ruthless depressive symptoms.

I’ve been sleeping A LOT more than usual (as opposed to last week where I was awake throughout the day, motivated a lot of the time, creativity was pouring out of me and I was interacting with other blogs and writing up a bunch of posts too) and have just been face to face with a lot of lack of motivation, lack of energy and lack of overall interest. Today and yesterday I’m beginning to come out of it, oscillating back and forth if nothing else, and I’m trying to make the most out of it in the best way I know how.

So, really, what I had to do was revamp this blog post! Something new, something fresh, something without old tied knots of forgotten wishes and dried up dreams, something that wasn’t attached to old feelings and past regrets, something refreshing and spontaneous mixed in with creativity and fun colors!

Thus, here we are. ❀

NAMIWalks THUMB 2 = 5.14.20

I am running my OWN TEAM that YOU can join here:

RecoverytoWellness Beacons Team Page

If you would like further information on who I am, what I’m about and more of my own story, you can check out my individual page here and donate either to my singular page or donate to the team page itself:

My Participant Page

Either way, ALL the money raised is going DIRECTLY to NAMI Massachusetts. I will get 0% of the money I gather, so just remember that! If you want to donate, please do, or if you can spread around the message, that works too. If you’d like to join my team, feel free to sign up, or if you’d rather join or donate to other people’s teams/pages, you can do that, too!

Ultimately, the NAMI Walks Your Way MA event is going virtual this year because of the state of the world and the pandemic which opens up the ways we can all participate in this national day of raising mental health awareness for the variety of conditions that encompasses by spreading hope, fun and light to topics society so very often wants us to hide and be ashamed of.

This is OUR DAY to make a difference, our day to celebrate each other and all of our successes, celebrate our triumphs and celebrate one another. I am very excited for it!

I still have yet to completely decide if I want to take up more of the day (Saturday May 30th 2020) for the event by calling off my work shift at Amaryllis or if I want to still attend work that day after the event (which is why I’ve tentatively named the event occurring for me between 11:00a and 1:30p EST).

That’s actually, probably, important:

This event is running from 11a – 1:30p EST

I will be doing a:

Youtube Live Stream on my channel (RecoverytoWellness)

on the day of the walk, to help spread mental health awareness, share my recovery story, ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE, and share artwork that I will be creating during that time.

I am thinking I will do:

– Some origami (from watching tutorials on my iPod)

– Some painting/water coloring (new pieces or old, possibly)

– Some coloring

– Some creative writing or journaling if the Muse participates willingly

– Some photography or outside time (depending on the weather!)

– Some scrapbooking

– Beaded bracelets

– and possibly a little more!!

 

I NEED YOUR HELP!! THUMB 3 - 5.14.20

RecoveryRaquel is my Twitter handle; RecoverytoWellness is my WordPress and Youtube channel!

I would like for you to send me in some of your questions, ideas, topics or things you’d like to see me discuss! I can talk freely about my journey and what treatment has been like for me and why advocacy is such a big part of where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going!

But first,

I need you to share this post! I need you to spread the word as LARGE and FAR as possible! Share on social media, donate even the smallest bit to my page for the NAMI Walk, interact with me, leave me your thoughts and questions, and be there with me during the support of the walk on Saturday, May 30th 2020 11:00a-1:30p EST!!

My personal page’s goal was to reach $175 and my team’s page goal is to reach $250, which we’re NEARLY there at so far being at $200. I put in some money towards the cause, myself, too. I will probably talk more about NAMI and how it’s supported me in my recovery, life and advocacy on the day of the walk, too. We are so close to reaching our goal and I KNOW we can do it!! If you donate at all, I will send you a personalized thank you message! Just leave me your contact info or email me at my public email address (which you can connect through my Contact page here on WordPress) or more simply at this email:

recoverytowellness@hotmail.com

All right, that is it for this post! If you have any further questions, comments or concerns, you know where to find me! Have an amazing May day and I hope to see you around again.

Thanks a bunch!!!!

❀ ❀ ❀ xxx

All thumbs in this post were made with the love and care of Canva. Thank you!! ❀