Archive | March, 2013

“Free PTSD Webinars Help Families and Friends Cope”

31 Mar

“A free webinar is available to military families and friends with information about ‘Family of Heroes,’ an avatar-based resiliency and post-traumatic stress disorder training simulation.

It’s hosted by the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program and the Virginia Department of Health. The Family of Heroes program is free to all vets and their families in Virginia through June 30.

Webinars will be held from noon to 1 p.m. April 9 and 9 to 10 a.m. April 24. Sign up: www. For information, call: 212-675-9234 or”

“What Is Bipolar Disorder? As lived by MB at Living as a Bipolar Mom” from “My Daily Jenn-ism”

23 Mar

The next time someone asks you what bipolar disorder is or why you can’t just shake off your moods, make them read this. It sums it up nicely.

(Yeah, I know, I’m posting a link to a guest blogger on someone else’s blog. Welcome to the wubulous World Wide Web.)

Sharing the Trauma: Steubenville Aftermath

20 Mar

When I first learned of the convictions of the two high school football stars in the Steubenville rape trial, I felt a bittersweet sense of relief and victory: justice had been done. A precedent had been set. Our society is finally moving in the right direction. Feminist happy dance.

Then everything went to hell.

First, CNN validated everyone who blamed the victim by spending the immediate aftermath of the trial bemoaning that the rapists’ lives were ruined by the verdict. CNN’s facebook page resounded with angry demands for an on-air apology, which the network tepidly acknowledged in an evening follow-up segment in which their talking heads focused on the victim’s suffering and repeatedly stressed that obviously, their sympathies lay with the victim and not her attackers. Online petitions boasting hundreds of thousands of signatures are demanding on-air apologies by both Candy Crawley and Poppy Harlow. So far, the network has not responded.

Then came the news that two teenage Steubenville girls had been arrested for threatening the victim online. One of them  threatened to kill her. The police department has had to assign security to the victim and her family. Other Steubenville classmates took to social media to denounce the victim for ruining her attackers’ lives.

This morning I learned that a thirteen year-old girl  is pressing charges of sexual assault against two eighteen year-old high school football stars, this time in the town of Torrington, Connecticut. Twitter is already inundated with Tweets condemning the girl as a “whore” and “young ho” who got what she deserved for hanging out with older boys.

I’m a female, a feminist, and a survivor; I know that sexual assault happens all the time in high schools. I know that no girl is too young to be safe from sexual predators. I know that classmates tend to blame the victim. What has caught me off-guard is the fact that major news networks and a chorus of adults’ virtual voices hold the victims responsible. I’m especially galled by the people who try to hide it by first saying the victims’ parents are also to blame and then throwing in something about how the attacks wouldn’t have happened if the girls hadn’t “acted stupid.” If you’re going to be a rape apologist, I’d rather you be honest about it.

Last week, a feminist activist named Zerlina Maxwell went on Fox News to dispute the argument that the best way to prevent rape is for women to arm themselves. She said that rather than telling women to carry firearms, we should be teaching boys and men not to rape. She subsequently was targeted online with misogynistic, racist invectives. People called her a bitch and a nigger. They told her that they hoped she’d be gang raped and killed.

It’s been a very triggering week thus far. I’m compelled to stay informed, to add my voice to the discourse to defend the victims and denounce those who would hold them accountable. My husband keeps telling me I need to unplug. I keep agreeing with him and wading deeper into the virtual firestorm. I’ve spent decades keeping my mouth shut, both about things that happened to me and to people I loved who didn’t want to publicly accuse their attackers because they knew that in all likelihood they were the only ones who would be punished if they did. Fuck keeping quiet. This violence thrives in silence. I’m going to yell.

My PTSD is rattling the bars, testing the barricades. I squeeze my eyes shut and will it back. I try to detach. I imagine closing a box and placing it on a shelf. I know that when my recovery group meets tomorrow we will weep for ourselves and for all the damaged, terrified girls and women out there whose fear to speak up is being continually reinforced by the news and social media.

I know that grieving is necessary, but that it also needs to lead to something productive. Because I cannot bear to just sit here wallowing in despair. Not after an adolescence in which I was repeatedly assaulted and blamed myself. Not after so many of my friends and loved ones have been victimized and I could do nothing but comfort them and hope it wouldn’t happen again.

I used to lie awake at night and visualize how I would torture and kill my foster sister’s stepfather, my friend’s boyfriend, those asshole club guys who raped my friends in a car on a night I couldn’t go out because I was grounded. I still think, if only I hadn’t been grounded, I could have saved them.

I try to focus on the silver linings: so many people have spoken up to support the victims and castigate those who blame them. This issue is now in the limelight, which could result in policies and educational outreach to address the problem in middle and high schools.

I try to keep my trauma in check. But I can’t just tune out what’s happening. I can’t try to ignore it.

I don’t know what to do.

New Study Finds High Rate of Bipolar Disorder in Postpartum Depression

19 Mar
from NAMI’s website; by Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations:

The largest study to date of postpartum depression has found that one in seven women experience symptoms of depression after childbirth.

Published in JAMA Psychiatry by theAmerican MedicalAssociation, the basic finding is consistent with past prevalence estimates however, the study’s follow-up evaluations of women at risk revealed especially serious symptoms.

Approximately 20 percent of the mothers with depressive symptoms were experiencing suicidal thoughts. Among those who were followed for a full year, 22 percent experienced severe depression.

In the study, 10,000 mothers who gave birth at a Pittsburgh hospital were contacted by telephone and screened six to eight months later for symptoms of depression. Fourteen percent were identified as being at risk. Approximately 60 percent of the at-risk group received follow-up home visits. Another 11 percent completed diagnostic interviews by telephone

Forty percent of the women’ symptoms began postpartum. Thirty-three percent were assessed as having begun during pregnancy and 27 percent beforehand. Follow-up evaluations most often resulted in a diagnosis of depression with a co-occurring anxiety disorder.

“A striking 22.6 percent had bipolar disorder,” the study warned.

The study calls for all pregnant women and new mothers to be screened for depression, beyond what current medical practice requires. It also emphasizes the need for “strategies to differentiate women with bipolar from unipolar disorders.”

Sharing the Trauma: Convictions in the Steubenville Rape Trial

17 Mar

As I read about the convictions of the two teenage boys in the Steubenville rape trial, I’m filled with sorrow, relief, and appreciation. I am inspired by the sixteen year-old girl who after months of being pilloried in her community, on social media, and in the national news, faced her assailants in court and testified for two hours about her ordeal; I doubt they would have been convicted otherwise, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for her bravery and for what her actions have done for other victims of sexual assault.

The Christian Science Monitor ran a great article about the reactions this case has stirred in sexual assault survivors. So many people’s trauma has been awoken by this case. I couldn’t bring myself to completely read many of the articles about it, and broke down crying more than once as I learned about not only the cruel brutality exhibited by these boys, but of the complicity of her classmates who saw a young girl’s victimization as sport and the adults who held her responsible  because she had the audacity to drink alcohol and “boys will be boys.” An individual’s cruelty is one thing, but the social acceptance and support of it, the willingness of adults and the media to excuse the perpetrators and blame the victim, are more than I can bear, in part because it hits so close to home; when I was fourteen, my father told me that I shouldn’t hold someone accountable for what he did because he was from another culture where such behavior was accepted.

I hope this serves as a wake-up call that we are not so different from India, that we obviously have a lot of work to do to educate our children, peers, and ourselves about the ramifications of sexual assault and what constitutes consent. I pray that that sixteen year-old girl achieves a measure of peace after this nightmare. I pray that her assailants come to appreciate what they did and use their experience to educate others. And I pray for the strength of all of us who understand too well what she’s gone through. Take care of yourselves: don’t isolate when your trauma resurfaces. Reach out to friends and resources–a list of hotlines and organizations appears at the bottom of the article. Remember that by working through our trauma towards healing, we make it easier for others who’ve been victimized to realize that it’s not their fault, that they can reclaim their lives, and that they are not alone.

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