The Haven: Mental Health Peer Support on Discord 18+

The Haven Support Network consists of two servers: The Haven and Haven Retreat. Both offer first-person general mental health support. We are also a nonprofit organization 501(c)3.

The Haven is 18+ and you must be living with or suspect you are living with mental illness.
Haven Retreat is 18+ and everyone is welcome to seek emotional support.

We are heavily modded and aim to maintain a safe space. We have an active community with diverse interests and diagnoses. We do not allow mental health professionals to “treat” folks in our servers.

Our focus is on support, so we have many support channels in which you can talk 1:1 with a support volunteer. We have topic channels for creativity, physical health, meme-spam, group support, and a daily-prompt for writing exercises.

We are now partnered with PsychCentral. You can find us at: https://forums.psychcentral.com/the-haven/

The Haven: Care when you need it, care for others when you can.

https://www.thehaven.support/

https://discord.gg/phtubQC: HAVEN RETREAT
https://discord.gg/qQVZAKJ: THE HAVEN

Dissociation

Where did I go?

One of the most frustrating symptoms of my disorders is called dissociation. It is mainly associated with borderline personality disorder, but it is present in others as well and is often a response to trauma. Dissociation is a feeling of disconnect or unreality, where the person is detached from their present moment and body, often viewing things form the 3rd person.

In psychologydissociation is any of a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experiences. The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis.

I started dissociating when I was very young as a response to stress. I would zone out and appear totally detached, often needing someone to draw me back into reality. I would become numb and shut down, which as a teenager often led me to self harm just to jar myself back into the real world, to feel something, anything. For me dissociation can be both comforting and excruciating, depending on the moment. When all you want to do is be present but you can’t, it’s infuriating. When you want to snap out of it and you can’t find the words to ask for help, it’s depressing. When I want to escape from a situation into a numb cocoon, it’s wonderful. Sometimes when I’m manic I dissociate a little bit because I become so wild and detached, but it happens more when I’m low. Typically when I get into severe depressions I dissociate to pull away from the pain, it seems.

Being dissociated is like living underwater. You can see people moving, hear them talking, but it’s so blurred, slow, and muffled that even your underwater reactions can’t get there in time. For me, it’s like floating through this murky underwater-scape, not always able to successful direct where I’m swimming and unable to swim up and out of the water. If someone is above the waterline forget it, nothing is getting through from them except vague motions and sounds. In these moments it’s hard for me to form memories, react properly, act properly, or even feel at all. Sometimes I find myself absolutely paralyzed and stuck in this world in my head, sitting motionless and silent for long stretches just…stuck. Honestly, it’s always hard to stay away from addictions in these modes because it’s easier to live with a forced unreality, like from drugs, than an organic unreality, as from dissociating.

An account from a Haven member:

“Dissociation, for me it’s both a blessing and a curse. The ability to slip away from such intense emotion into a pit of nothingness and lost time can make a painful memory or day pass with a little more ease. It can be one of the only coping mechanisms that works, but, at the same time, it can be one of the worst too. Although, for me, dissociation is a method of my brain switching off when everything’s a little too much to handle, it can also do quite the opposite. It’s something that I’m never really sure how to put into words, not that I’ve ever actually tried. I can feel physically lost, but mentally present. As if my mind is still working but my connection with my own body has been disconnected. I can’t feel, but I can think. And the only way to make things manageable once again, is to disconnect that thinking wire. The only way I know how to do that is to hurt… To self-harm. So for me, dissociation is a way of my mind to take time off and give itself time to adjust and repair the things too intense for it to handle. A way of my mind telling me it’s had enough. It’s just a shame that this ‘brilliant’ coping mechanism, comes with so much self-destruction and pain.”

The following is MHA’s description of dissociation.

What is Dissociation? (By Mental Health America)

Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. Dissociation seems to fall on a continuum of severity. Mild dissociation would be like daydreaming, getting “lost” in a book, or when you are driving down a familiar stretch of road and realize that you do not remember the last several miles. A severe and more chronic form of dissociation is seen in the disorder Dissociative Identity Disorder, once called Multiple Personality Disorder, and other Dissociative Disorders.

How Common is Dissociation?

Transient and mild dissociative experiences are common. Almost 1/3rd of people say they occasionally feel as though they are watching themselves in a movie, and 4% say they feel that way as much as 1/3rd of the time. The incidence of these experiences is highest in youth and steadily declines after the age of 20.

7% of the population may have suffered from a dissociative disorder at some time. But these disorders are difficult to identify and may go undiagnosed for many years.

Other Forms of Dissociation

Other dissociative disorders include “psychogenic amnesia” (the inability to recall personally significant memories), “psychogenic fugue” (memory loss characteristic of amnesia, loss of one’s identity, and fleeing from one’s home environment), and “multiple personality” (the person has two or more distinct personalities that alternate with one another. This is also known as “Dissociative Identity Disorder” or “Multiple Personality Disorder”).

FOR PEER SUPPORT:

The Haven Support Network consists of two servers: The Haven and Haven Retreat. Both offer first-person general mental health support. We are also a nonprofit organization 501(c)3.

The Haven is 18+ and you must be living with or suspect you are living with mental illness.
Haven Retreat is 18+ and everyone is welcome to seek emotional support.

We are heavily modded and aim to maintain a safe space. We have an active community with diverse interests and diagnoses. We do not allow mental health professionals to “treat” folks in our servers.

Our focus is on support, so we have many support channels in which you can talk 1:1 with a support volunteer. We have topic channels for creativity, physical health, meme-spam, group support, and a daily-prompt for writing exercises.

We are now partnered with PsychCentral. You can find us at: https://forums.psychcentral.com/the-haven/

The Haven: Care when you need it, care for others when you can.

https://www.thehaven.support/

https://discord.gg/phtubQC: HAVEN RETREAT
https://discord.gg/qQVZAKJ: THE HAVEN

What is self harm?

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I have struggled with self harm since I was 13 years old. I started out as a cutter, using just small razors and other household things, added burning a few years later, and eventually started punching things to try and break my hand a few years ago. I do it because I’m in pain, and I am far from alone.

In 2013, about 3.3 million cases of self-harm occurred globally.[19] Self-harm is most common between the ages of 12 and 24.[1][8][9][20][21] Self-harm is more common in females than males with this risk being fives times greater in the 12-15 age group.

Self harm is a false friend. It provides temporary relief and permanent scars. It is something many of us obsess about, for different reasons each, and the act of self harming becomes compulsive. There are a variety of precursors to self harm.

The basic cycle of self harm goes like this:

Image result for self harm

And there are many precursors.

When I am struggling, I end up self harming for a variety of reasons. The first is usually that I’ve been having a hard time emotionally, so I get overwhelmed and suddenly don’t know how to cope with all the feelings that I have. The thing I know will help for at least a while is the self harm. At least the pain will be real instead of in my head. The pain will be visible to me and others (though I try to hide as much as I can). The physical pain distracts me from the emotional pain. Second, sometimes I am so dissociated that I cannot bring myself back down to the ground so I want something physical to shock me out of the fog, to ground me. It usually helps for a while, but then I just feel that shame/guilt/grief about giving in. Third, I use it as punishment. When I feel badly about myself, I feel like I deserve the pain. I deserve the scars. I deserve the shame associated with it because I’ve done something wrong or bad.

What my therapist and I discovered recently is that I have some form of OCD, which I think plays into this cycle quite a bit. Below is an OCD cycle but it is very, very applicable for me with my self harm.

I obsess and obsess and obsess about self harm, day in and day out. Some days are easier than others but man, sometimes it’s literally the only thing on my mind and I sit here in agony hoping my valium will take me to a different plane of existence. These are my obsessive unpleasant thoughts, usually following some kind of other emotional turmoil. So then I turn to the self harm and I act on it compulsively, hurting myself often on and off for hours at a time, to the point where I desperately want to stop but I can’t or don’t know how. This compulsion and action gets the obsession out of my head for a while, providing some kind of relief. That is, until the emotions build again and I become obsessed, ruminating about it for the better part of each day, and I need to give in to the compulsions.

What constitutes self harm?

People self harm in an almost infinite number of ways, though there are some common forms that are found through the world.

Eighty percent of self-harm involves stabbing or cutting the skin with a sharp object.[8][35][36] However, the number of self-harm methods are only limited by an individual’s inventiveness and their determination to harm themselves; this includes burningself-poisoningalcohol abuseself-embedding of objects, hair pulling, bruising/hitting one’s self, scratching to hurt one’s self, knowingly abusing over the counter or prescription drugs, and forms of self-harm related to anorexia and bulimia.[8][36] The locations of self-harm are often areas of the body that are easily hidden and concealed from the detection of others.[37] As well as defining self-harm in terms of the act of damaging the body, it may be more accurate to define self-harm in terms of the intent, and the emotional distress that the person is attempting to deal with.

The thing about self harm that many people don’t understand is that self harm, though often related to suicidal thoughts, is not about being suicidal. It is about all of the reasons mentioned above and more, but it’s not an act of suicidality. It is harmful but not deadly unless you make a really big mistake. However all the people I’ve met don’t do it as a means to kill themselves, just to provide relief. Wikipedia has this to say:

Self-harm, also known as self-injury, is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue, done without suicidal intentions.

I have been held in hospitals for chronic self harm, the worst experience at 14, when I was pulled out AMA because they wanted to keep me just because I was finding ways to cut, though I was stable and no longer suicidal. For me, self harm has never been related to suicide.

Who suffers from self harm?

I have borderline personality disorder, and one of the hallmark symptoms of BPD is self harm. In fact, even I always suspect BPD in someone who mentions self harm but hasn’t been diagnosed. If you’re interested in some scholarly reading about BPD and self harm, check out this article. It is common amongst many other mental illnesses and even in some individuals who do not have underlying mental health issues. It is a flawed coping mechanism often used by people who have experienced abuse or emotional/physical trauma in their earlier life, as well as people dealing with grief or other major emotional upheavals.

How do you cope with self harm?

It’s not easy to live with self harm. For me it rules a great proportion of my life, filling my days with rumination and my mornings and nights with compulsive release. I can go for days, weeks at a time, but lately not more than that. What I have figured out along the way are a few positive coping mechanisms.

For me, cold showers and standing out in the cold are the most effective ways to jar myself back into reality and out of the compulsions, though it doesn’t always help, I’ll be honest. I used to hold ice cubes but it’s not the same. I do like drawing on myself with red sharpies. For whatever reason that really helps. What I have learned to do is to put my weapons out of reach because I get attached to particular items. Currently, I have something frozen in ice in my freezer so that I have to melt it to get at it to hurt myself. I think for me the key has been to build in barriers for myself when I’m feeling better, so that when I don’t feel great or I feel impulsive, I cannot immediately reach for something sharp or on fire. I would recommend this to anyone in the same position.

Resources

Crisis Text Line  : Text 741741 anywhere in the US

*1-800-DON’T-CUT – More info on self-injury

*http://www.selfinjury.com – Referrals for therapists and tips for how to stop.

*1-800-273-TALK – A 24-hour crisis hotline if you’re about to self-harm or are in an emergency situation.

*To Write Love On Her Arms (http://www.TWLOHA.com) – A non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.

*1-800-SUICIDE – Hotline for people contemplating suicide.

*1-800-334-HELP – Self Injury Foundation’s 24-hour national crisis line.

*1-800-799-SAFE – Domestic violence hotline.

*1-877-332-7333 – Real Help For Teens’ help line.

Join us in The Haven, an 18+ mental health chat on Discord!

The Haven Support

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I disappeared and stopped writing in 2017. Part of the reason for that was I fell into a major depression after my grandfather died, school got stressful, and I was preoccupied with my latest project.

Earlier in the year I had begun volunteering in a Discord server aimed at discussing and supporting people with mental illness. I became a supporter and then a moderator, learning along the way. Eventually I decided I didn’t like how the server was being run so I left and a friend suggested that I make my own server. I thought, hey, why not, it can’t be that hard.

Little did I know that a year and a half later I would still be invested in this project.

The Haven is an 18 and up Discord server for people living with mental illness. We rely on volunteers who offer to support others through their trials and tribulations. It was important to me that the space remain focused on peer support, because I think it is essential to foster a feeling of camaraderie for people who so often feel unheard and misunderstood. So far we have been able to keep up with that goal.

Today The Haven Support is also a 501(c)3 organization, the focus of which is to raise money for people to receive private care when they need it and don’t have timely access to other resources.

I’ve also gathered 12.5k Instagram followers. 
The server has 4k+ members.
Retreat has nearly 500 members.

The other neat thing is that my whole family seems to be involved. Mom has been very active on Retreat, helping to moderate and making friends and supporting. Dad is on the board and helped me get a pro bono legal team. Aunt has been helping with all the paperwork from the beginning and will also be on the board. I would like sister to be involved too.

The hardest part about running the Haven is not the operational stuff, but the fact that for the most part everything is anonymous. I’ve encountered more suicidal people than I can count at this point, and it’s heartbreaking to know we can only do so much to help, and beyond that…

Learning to distance myself from these events took the longest time. I now have a little bit of a clinical approach: I don’t take everything to heart. I can’t, or I’d get so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t be able to function.

I am so lucky to have had so much support from so many people. Thank you all.

And especially thank you to my Team on The Haven, who work tirelessly to make sure the server remains a safe place for the greatest number of people possible.

Therappy II: Motivation

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We all know the saying, “Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today!?” Maybe it was thrown at you by an older relative or family friend, sincerely, as a piece of golden wisdom. But honestly, when you have mental illness, sometimes you have to put things off until tomorrow because you’ve momentarily gone crazy. One night recently I was supposed to be studying but just couldn’t because I started to cry uncontrollably and then had a panic attack. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a minute, because our bodies have chosen to function this way, and we have to learn how to deal with it. In college my advisor said to me once, “Just get it done.” I was struggling with depression and addiction, among other things, and that dismissive sentence hurt me. Sometimes I can’t “just do it,” as Nike so eloquently puts it. But in an effort to better my life through bettering myself, I have been figuring out ways to give me the incentive to take better care of myself through the help of apps, journals, and household items. Fair warning, I will list products that I reviewed as the best option in my opinion. Equivalent products can be found for most of the following suggestions. Ok, now to therappy. Continue reading “Therappy II: Motivation”

Thanksgiving Affirmations

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Happy Thanksgiving fellow Americans. Happy Thursday to everyone else around the world. This year I find myself most thankful for having had a wonderful relationship with my Grandpa, for being lucky enough to find myself the target of so much love and understanding. Today I am wearing Harvard crimson in his honor.

I thought on a day of giving thanks, I might take a moment and share a list of affirmations that I use when I’m feeling low or hopeless or simply depressed. It’s ok to give thanks for yourself; you are worth it. You are a unique being with flaws and insecurities, but we can combat the negative thoughts with positive self-talk. Here’s a list I encountered on the interwebs of things to say to yourself when you’re uncertain or pessimistic about life.

Continue reading “Thanksgiving Affirmations”

Therappy: Mental Health and Apps

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Before I delve into my major topic, I wanted to acknowledge the passing of my Grandfather, who supported me my whole life with effects that he couldn’t have known. He read my blog avidly, as he was a driving force behind me writing anything publicly. He was a sailor, a Harvard man, a lawyer, a problem solver, a caring father, a doting grandfather, a loving husband, an intellectual, a renaissance man. He loved to learn and always had something interesting lined up. Now, as I sit here in my Harvard sweatshirt (an ode to the great man himself), I want to take the time to write something, because I know he would support me in this too. Thank you Grandpa, you will always be a part of me. Continue reading “Therappy: Mental Health and Apps”

Where have you been

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I have been nowhere. Sometimes I fall into severe bouts of agoraphobia, and to be honest, it’s fairly sad and gross. I’m not ashamed to talk about it, but just as a warning, it’s not a pretty picture. I have a hard time writing about things when they’re actively happening to me because my brain is scrambled and I don’t like when people worry about me. It makes me uncomfortable. So I wait and then the episode passes and I can talk again. And this time I want to talk about what it’s like to become trapped in your own home.  Continue reading “Where have you been”

Fear of the Month Club

freedom-of-fear

I feel like I am always nervous about something. Whether it’s “simple” like going outside or complex like getting into nursing school, there’s always something weighing on my mind. Today is a good day because my piece was actually published on Bring Change 2 Mind. I’ve spent the last couple of hours talking to people and tracking it on social media to see how it does. I’m pretty proud of it. But there’s still a nagging feeling that I’m missing something, that this is an illusion, that I shouldn’t actually feel good about it happening. I was so happy I could cry and then I realized I was overwhelmed and actually wanted to cry. I have such mixed feelings when things go well for me (I actually typed when things go badly first, if that says anything). I feel like a fraud, I feel like no one should actually be reading what I write, I mean, who am I to speak out about this stuff? I’m just a bipolar, borderline, depressed agoraphobe sitting at home in her pajamas, too afraid to go outside because I might have a panic attack.  Continue reading “Fear of the Month Club”

Bring Change 2 Mind

I wrote a post for Bring Change 2 Mind, Glenn Close’s mental health charity, and it got published! Now you all get to know who I am. I am conflicted about this but I’m proud of this piece so I’ll share it anyway!

http://bringchange2mind.org/2017/08/07/invisibility-mental-illness-jess-bick-law/