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In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are some important self-care tips for when things become too much.

For those suffering from acute or long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, there are often times when these become so overwhelming that it can be difficult to even accomplish the basic functions of daily living. Often we end up in such vicious cycles post-trauma that we are unable to do simple things for ourselves like bathing or cooking, so we end up feeding and prolonging our bouts of PTSD and/or depression. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are some important self-care tips for when things become too much.

1) Get some rest

Notice I don’t say get sleep, because sleeping can be tricky during these times, and we can get upset by the fact that we can’t sleep. Instead of worrying about sleeping, make sure you spend a few hours everyday in a dark room with your eyes closed practicing some deep, soothing breaths. Even if you aren’t asleep, doing this gives your eyes and body a small break. I also find that melatonin or valerian supplements can help me get at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Weighted blankets are also a great investment.  

2) Drink water

We cannot survive without water, it is essential to stay hydrated. I know that the simple action of making the effort to get a glass of water can be enough to not do so, so I recommend keeping bottles around your home, in different rooms. Set a timer to go off at least every hour to remind you to have a glass.

3) Add extra fiber to your diet

Depression and stress mess with our digestive system big time. Comfort foods can also be difficult to digest. Daily fiber supplements like psyllium husk and probiotics can help keep things moving. Also, green smoothies made with protein powder and nut milks can give you a great boost of fiber, phytonutrients, enzymes, and protein so at least your insides can run smoothly. Being constipated only makes emotional issues worse. Let that shit go. Literally.

4) Plan your meals

Whether this is using a delivery service (if you can afford to) or doing a big round of shopping to prep your meals for a week, having food in the house that requires minimal preparation can be a godsend. It only requires that one day of cooking or prep, and it takes out that element of worrying what you will have to eat. Depending on your stress-relievers, the act of prepping and cooking can be quite relaxing. 

5) Cleanse yourself

Like being constipated, being dirty can add to our feelings of hopelessness and despair. A long hot shower or bath can help us wash away not just the grime of the day, but it can also wash away layers of emotional upset. Still, and especially if it’s really cold, the idea of getting soaked feels like a nightmare. Basic bathing, with gentle and non-toxic wipes or a hot washcloth can be the next best thing. If you notice that this is one of the harder things for you to manage when your PTSD/depression is flaring up, consider installing a bidet on your toilet so at least your nether regions stay clean. These bidets can fit underneath your toilet seat or can be a handheld attachment you stick to the wall next to the commode. They aren’t expensive or difficult to install, and can make a world of difference.
Related: POST-RAPE RESOURCES DON’T HELP TRANS WOMEN, BUT THEY COULD

Listen to trans women who come forward and give us the resources we need to heal.

[TW: description and mention of r/pe, PTSD and transmisogyny.] The weekend of August 24th, 2018 marks 5 years since I was raped in my dorm room at Temple University in Philadelphia. My life was completely turned upside down by the assault, my dreams shattered and I’ll never get to achieve them. Everything I wanted to happen, won’t. Is it possible to reflect on something too much when it completely reshaped my life and the dreams and vision I had for it? No, I don’t think so. When I first reported what happened, it wasn’t by choice—no, a bureaucrat in Temple’s Residential Life office had forced me to tell that story. They caused me to go through something that was a violation in its own right, for me. They forced me to relive—multiple times—one of the most violent experiences of my life. I remember that day in the bureaucrat’s office like it was yesterday. It’s painful to be able to relive the experience, I relive the trauma that was dealing with reporting the rapes every day; although the rape itself has fortunately slightly faded from my memory. I still remember it, I still weep and mourn that day, yet I don’t feel its pangs as much anymore. I hope that, one day, I can even stop mourning. Is it possible that my life wouldn’t have been completely overturned by the rape if I was given the proper treatment? Yes. I don’t simply guess at the idea that my life would have turned out differently had I been given the proper resources, I know that it would have been. Colleges—despite their legal responsibility— aren’t equipped with the tools to provide adequate rape treatment and, trans women are not served as a population by rape counseling services. It’s known that rape survivors who get treatment, whatever that treatment may be, have better chances of recovering from their rape and have reduced PTSD outcomes. However, I didn’t receive that treatment. My school didn’t provide resources that actually met the needs I had post-rape, it also never provided the resources I needed to deal with unrelated stalking incidents either, it just didn’t have me on their radar. They made this clear when they told me that they didn’t provide services to survivors of rape and stalking with me later finding out that, in fact, they did. Another, more helpful, bureaucrat in the college let me know that they’ve helped people before.
Related: DON’T BE A TERF: TRANSMISOGYNY 101

Sex addiction is a serious mental illness that makes the lives of people who suffer from it difficult.

[TW: sexual assault and addiction] By Sami Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, among dozens of other powerful men, are being exposed for  sexually harassing and abusing people. Each have left a trail of victims and tears. Survivors of their violence have come forward and risked either their careers, a peaceful life, their privacy, or all three to speak up. It takes courage for a survivor of sexual violence, whether they’re victims of famous people or not, to speak their experiences. To name and challenge your abuser is to upend your life and risk any semblance of peace you may have. For the first time, powerful men are being held accountable for their actions. Harvey Weinstein has been stripped of his positions and some of his power; Kevin Spacey has lost roles and House of Cards may go on without him. They’ve lost their shine across the globe. Further, they may even get criminally charged for their actions. To be expected, though, they’ve tried to trigger their own redemption arcs. In their effort to make themselves look like hapless victims, what they’ve done is try to hide behind the very real issue of sexual addiction. Sexual addiction is a serious mental illness that makes the lives of people who suffer from it difficult. In fact, research has shown that the brains of the sexually addicted when exposed to sexual stimuli, were seen to “light up” in the same way that the brains of drug addicts lit up when they used drugs, despite no chemicals being used in the study. But what these men have done is turned it into a justification for sexual abuse and violence, when previously it had been stigmatized as a joke among men and a “daddy issue” amongst women.
Related: STOP STIGMATIZING HOW WE RECOVER FROM DRUG ADDICTION

Filipino culture holds a heavy stigmatization towards mental health — it is either ignored entirely, or minimized and mocked.

“Why, are you mentally ill?” My mom asked, the sarcasm dripping and oozing from her voice. I’d just handed her an article called “Cats Are the Unsung Heroes of Mental Health” to support why I wanted – no, needed to adopt a kitten into our household. “Yes, mom, I am mentally ill,” I bit back, looking her dead straight in the eyes. She knew that I was on medication for my sexual violence-related PTSD and that I’d been seeing a counsellor for over year to treat it. In the version of Filipino culture that my parents raised me on, we dealt with our suffering with laughter and resilience. Naturally, my mom’s ignorance was unsurprising. Filipino culture holds a heavy stigmatization towards mental health — it is either ignored entirely, or minimized and mocked. Anxiety? It’s all in your head. You’re making excuses. Depression? Sleep it off. You’ll get over it. While mental illness in the Philippines is legally protected against discrimination under the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, the law itself further perpetuates the stigma, using “insanity” as a blanket term to encompass all disorders.
Related: CRAZY TALK: SHOULD I GET AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH?

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