Rachel Thompson on RachelintheOC

About Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places and the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

#MondayBlogs Giveaway March 2015

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Who doesn’t want more blog traffic and a free feature? #MondayBlogs

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger February 2015
Pavarti K Tyler

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Please note that due to the popularity of Indie Book Promo guest posts will be scheduled according to availability. If you cannot wait for your post to be up you may decline the prize.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo).

Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today!

M is for Munchers by guest Alexandria Constantinova Szeman (@Alexandria_SZ)

Post image for M is for Munchers by guest Alexandria Constantinova Szeman (@Alexandria_SZ)

Please welcome author of several award-winning books, Alexandria Constantinova Szeman as she shares her story. Warning: May Contain Triggers

 

“The first time I realized someone was trying to kill me, I was four years old.”

Thus begins my memoir, which, unhappily, is about a certain category of female serial killers, of which my mother is one. Female serial killers are usually more successful than their male equivalent, sometimes termed “sexual predators,” if only because the females tend to prey on people already known to them, and to use methods of killing that are rarely discovered, such as suffocation or poison. To date, there are 4 recognized categories of female serial killers, not including Team Killers, who work with partners and are most like male serial killers in other aspects.

Black Widows, who kill for insurance, social welfare, or inheritance monies;

Medeas, who kill their own or adopted children to punish or otherwise manipulate the men in their lives;

Angels of Death, who are often in hospitals or Nursing Homes and kill in ways that are undetectable during autopsy or in ways that are ultimately considered part of their victims’ disease process; and

Munchers, who practice Munchausen’s by Proxy (MBP), an untreatable and incurable personality disorder where the women intentionally and repeatedly abuse, torture, sicken, injure, and sometimes kill their children (or other people dependent upon them for care), attempt to “save” the child if there is an audience present, rush the child to the hospital or doctor in order to acquire said audience if none is available in the home — all so the MBP women themselves can get attention, praise, love, and respect for being a Good Mother.

M is for Munchers cover w mask webMy mother is a Muncher.

MBP is not a new phenomenon, though it has only been officially recognized and named in the last 40 years, nor does MBP simply “appear” after these women become mothers. Just as male serial killers do not suddenly begin raping, torturing, and killing others when they become adults, MBP women – often called Munchers by the medical community and law enforcement officials who have discovered the abuse and killings – do not suddenly begin hurting children after they give birth.

Munchers’ childhood histories reveal that they originally got the attention and “love” they so desperately crave by practicing its precursor personality disorder, Munchausen’s, which is also incurable and untreatable. A person who practices Munchausen’s intentionally sickens or inflicts injury on himself in order to receive medical attention as well as intensive care from family members. Both men and women practice Muchausen’s, at about the same rate, but males very rarely transfer their violent, self-destructive, attention-seeking behavior onto one of their children.

94-98% of female Munchausers, however, discover an easier way to get the “love” they so desperately seek. They use a “proxy” – sickening or inflicting injury on someone else, usually a child, attempting to “save” the victim when there is an audience, and then seeking extensive medical attention for the proxy – in order to gain admiration, respect, and love for themselves in their own role as selfless caregiver. Munchausen’s by Proxy is always preceded by Munchausen’s, and, if the children are taken away from the MBP mother or if they simply leave home, the MBP mother returns to her self-destructive Munchausen’s behavior.

My own mother killed at least two children before I was born. Within the family, these incidents were called a “miscarriage” and a “stillbirth.” Both occurred at the home of her parents since they happened before she ran away to Kentucky and got married when she discovered that she was pregnant for the third time. My biological father, who was also the father of the previous 2 babies, was himself 31-33 at the time. I was born when my mother was 12. I got all of this information from my own medical records — not from my mother herself — as well as from her family members, who often argued about these things amongst themselves when they thought they were alone.

My mother tried to kill me before I was born by insisting that the doctor induce labor when she was approximately 5 months pregnant. She told him that he’d gotten her due-date wrong. (She told me this story herself many times when I was growing up, though she omitted the part about her age, the fact that she was less than 5 months pregnant, and she insisted that she’d been trying to “save me” because she’d been “past her due date.”) The doctor resisted her request for 6 weeks before finally surrendering and inducing labor, only to discover, to his horror, that I was at least 2 months premature upon birth.

While I remained in the hospital after birth, my mother tried to kill me with an unidentified poison — hospital records indicate an additional ¼ ounce of fluid in my formula whenever she fed me. The nurses noted the additional amount of fluid in my records on the nights my mother visited as well as the fact that, after she’d fed me, I projectile-vomited, lost a drastic amount of weight, was listless and lethargic, and had to be “forced” to take the formula from my mother on future occasions.

The nurses eventually requested that the doctor be present at my mother’s evening feedings, but only after they discovered a large lump and severe bruising on my head after one of her visits. Once the doctor was present when my mother fed me, the amount of formula did not increase, and I stopped being ill during my remaining stay in the hospital.

My MBP mother was trying to kill me before and after I was born — a pattern which never stopped as long as I lived at home with her, and which I first realized when I was 4.

I discovered my own pre-memory MBP abuse when I was an adult, from my medical records, which were difficult to find not only because of my age but because hospitals and doctors’ offices simply do not follow the laws requiring them to retain medical records. Once I gathered as many of my records as I could, however, it was obvious that, in every instance, my mother was doing something very wrong to me, and that the medical personnel knew it, though they weren’t sure exactly what she was doing.

Each doctor and medical facility where I received treatment as a child eventually refused to continue seeing me, thereby absolving themselves of the moral dilemma about how to handle my Muncher mother. This contributed to the difficulty in locating my own medical records, and many MBP victims experience this difficulty in confirming their mothers’ suspected MBP abuse because Munchers “doctor-shop” whenever a doctor or hospital refuses to do invasive, painful procedures – often suggested by the MBP mother herself – or when they begin to suspect her stories about the child’s injuries and illnesses.

I always knew there was something wrong with my mother, though I didn’t know what it was. I just thought she hated me and my siblings. She certainly told us that often enough. She also claimed we were stupid, ugly, fat, clumsy, retarded, and [insert any other insult that would permanently damage a child’s self-esteem]. That’s an aspect of MBP abuse that’s often not recognized: the constant emotional and psychological abuse that always accompanies the physical abuse and attempted killings.

Szeman_1956So, from at least the age of 4, I knew something was wrong with my mother, yet I thought I deserved everything she did to me because I ruined her life by being born (that’s what she always told me) and by being too stupid to know when to die (which is what she said whenever she “revived” me after drowning me during my bath, or smothering me with my pillow).

Of course, I didn’t realize that she meant the latter statement literally. I thought her “wanting me to die” was her obviously inappropriate way of saying that she didn’t want children. Therefore, I constantly ran away, beginning at age 4, seeking a new mother. I also told every adult in my life, from family members and neighbors, to teachers and medical personnel, exactly what my mother was doing to me and my siblings, while begging them to find me another home.

No one listened.

Actually, I suppose they did listen. They just always insisted that mothers don’t do things like that to their children. Then they’d contact my mother, tell her what I’d revealed to them in the strictest confidence after eliciting their promise that they would not tell my mother, listen to her weeping protestations of innocence and her insistence that I was such a liar and the biggest storyteller [she’d] ever met, then send me home with her, where I would be subjected to even more severe abuse for not keeping my “big mouth shut.”

It’s rare for Munchers’ victims to be aware that their mothers are intentionally hurting them. For one thing, it’s incredibly emotionally painful to realize that your own mother is repeatedly seriously hurting you or constantly making you violently ill on purpose just because she wants attention for herself, because she’s bored, because it excites her, because she can, or because no one will stop her. It’s not a surprise that such information gets repressed by the victims, most of whom are children.

More integral to MBP abuse and to the victims’ inability to “recall” such abuse, however, is the Muncher’s role of “The Good Mother.” If there’s an audience, be it family members or strangers, the Muncher will be the most affectionate, caring, concerned person imaginable. If the audience is comprised of medical personnel who are attending her sick or injured child, her Good Mother performance becomes Oscar-worthy. This discrepancy between the private and public personae of the Muncher — violently abusive in private, but incredibly loving in public — causes most child-victims to repress the abuse, though studies have demonstrated that even MBP victims who cannot actively remember the abuse never feel safe around their mothers, and do not believe that their mothers ever loved or cared for them.

How does a Muncher get away with constantly taking her children to emergency rooms with severe injuries or to doctors for treatment of bizarre illnesses?

By making up stories about what happened to the victims, and by constantly insisting that if she herself hadn’t been there to “save” the victims, they would, no doubt, be dead. Being a Saviour is an integral part of the Muncher’s Good Mother role, so she tells these stories over and over, receiving praise from her listeners, and it is these stories of what happened to the children that her victims eventually begin to believe.

A Muncher also gets away with her repeated, violent abuse because she tends to marry or be in relationships with men who are emotionally unavailable and sometimes physically absent (traveling for work, for example). When present, the men simply ignore what is happening to the children.

In homes where the adult male — be he father, stepfather, or boyfriend — is sexually abusive to the children, the MBP abuse significantly increases in severity and number of occurrences. My father first raped me when I was 3, and my mother walked in while it was happening: she blamed me. My stepfather raped and sodomized me, and forced me to perform fellatio on him, from the time I was 5 to 18. He repeatedly raped my siblings until each ran away from home. My mother’s MBP abuse increased each time she discovered another instance of his sexual abuse. (My mother raped me herself, with implements, when I was 11, but she did not take me for medical treatment of my injuries.) None of us children were ever taken in for treatment when we were sexually abused or raped. Whether Munchers view the male’s sexual abuse of the children as “permission” for the MBP woman’s own increased violence and abuse of the children, or as retaliation against their spouses or partners for “infidelity” is not known, but studies support the evidence of increased MBP abuse in homes where the adult male is also sexually abusive to the children.

Because I knew, from an early age, what my mother was doing to me and my siblings, I am one of the rare MBP survivors. As far as I can determine, I am unique among MBP survivors because, from the time I was 4 years old, I also constantly told people exactly what my mother was doing to all of us. No one ever believed me — not even when confronted with physical evidence like X-rays of multiple, now-healed, broken bones — but that never stopped me from telling everyone I could.

I wanted her stopped.

I want all women like her stopped.

We can only stop women who practice MBP by becoming more educated about the components of this incurable, untreatable personality disorder.

First of all, self-destructive Munchausen’s behavior always precedes Munchausen’s by Proxy, so if MBP is suspected, the woman’s own childhood and pre-motherhood medical history should be investigated.

Once she has children, the Munchauser transforms into a Muncher by injuring and sickening a proxy instead of hurting her own body to get the attention she needs. Sometimes, these women will hurt pets if no children or other dependent family members are available; in fact, veterinarians were reporting this suspicious abuse and confiscating pets before medical doctors acknowledged it.

Additionally, the Muncher will virtually always attempt to “save” the victim in front of an audience. If no audience is immediately available, she will take the victim to a medical facility or call 911 herself in order to obtain that necessary audience, for which she will “perform” the Savior and Good Mother roles.

Intense medical attention for the victim — into which the Muncher inserts herself, by insisting on administering medications herself, for instance, even in a hospital environment, or by suggesting invasive and dangerous medical procedures — is an essential component in this personality disorder, though no one knows the reason for this.

Munchers will not take a child in for treatment of any injuries caused by the father, even if it is rape, sodomy, or other sexual abuse. They will not seek medical treatment for normal childhood illnesses, such as chicken pox, nor for injuries resulting from accidents which they themselves did not cause, such as a fall from the swing-set.

Munchers will not obtain medical attention for a child’s illnesses which they did not induce themselves, such as strep throat or appendicitis, since not getting immediate attention will increase the severity of the illness and risk the child’s life. Only when the child is in crisis from something like a burst appendix will the Muncher “suddenly” recognize the “danger” and “save” the child by rushing it to the Emergency Room or calling 911. My own mother did these things with my siblings.

Respect, admiration, and “love” from medical personnel, family members, neighbors, colleagues, and even strangers is the Muncher’s “reward” for being such a Good Mother (or caregiver of an elderly parent, for example) and is a necessary component of this personality disorder.

Posing as ideal mothers and self-less caregivers, women who practice Munchausen’s by Proxy are one of the most dangerous female serial killers yet identified. Many of their victims survive and escape, however, as I did.

If you believe that you are or have been a victim of MBP, you should gather as many of your medical records as possible. Then you should seek professional help immediately.

If you suspect that someone else is a victim of MBP, do not confront the child or the suspected mother as this will often cause the Muncher to disappear with the victim. Instead, contact your local law enforcement agency or Children’s Services (but be sure they are aware of MBP). I have listed some sources below.

As for me, I have many physical injuries which can never be healed. I was unable to ever have children, for example, because of that especially violent act of sexual abuse on my MBP mother’s part. She did not seek medical attention for me after that incident since her own severe abuse of me would have been discovered, and, besides, it was not MBP abuse. I have been through many years of therapy to help heal the emotional damage. Writing a book about my mother and women like her helped me grieve and heal.

My goal now is to prevent other children from dying and from being irrevocably damaged, as were my own brothers and sisters, by shining a glaring light on this most hideous type of child abuse and the serial killers “next door.”

 

Resources & Help For MBP Victims

If you believe that you are or have been a victim of MBP, then you should seek professional help immediately. The Resources listed here may be able to direct you to therapists or doctors in your area who can provide assistance. If you suspect that someone else is a victim of MBP, you should immediately contact one of the resources below, or your local Children’s Services, or Law Enforcement Agency. Do not, under any circumstances, confront the suspected MBP-woman yourself as such action may precipitate the Muncher’s (and child’s) immediate disappearance.

  1. Childhelp USA
    800-422-4453
    480-922-8212
    in DC 703-241-9100
    (they can also provide toll-free numbers for each state)
  2. American Psychological Association: Locate A Therapist
    800-374-2723
  3. National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
  4. Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN)
    800-656-7233
  5. ABA Center on Children and the Law
    800-285-2221
  6. American Humane Association, Children’s Division
    800-227-4645
    303-792-9900
  7. American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children
    312-554-0166
  8. American Public Human Services Association (APWA) State Contacts
    202-682-0100
  9. National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
    800-879-6682
    202-232-6682
  10. Prevent Child Abuse America Crisis & Support Contacts
    800-244-5373
    312-663-3520

About the Author:

Alexandria Constantinova SzemanAlexandria is the author of several award-winning, critically acclaimed books, including The New York Times Book Review‘s “Best Book” and Kafka Award Winner “for best book of prose fiction by an American woman,” The Kommandant’s Mistress.

M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door | Website | Blog | Twitter | Pinterest 

 

 

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.

What Happens When You Walk Through The Fire

burningWhen I finally decided it was time to tell my (almost-ex) husband I wanted him to move out, that I wanted a divorce, I wasn’t ready to walk through the fire. I’d skipped around the burning coals for years, dancing past the cinders, dropping hints through smoke so thick, it choked my ability to be honest with him.

So I drifted further into myself, the cloud of silence growing, the fire building.

When silence didn’t work, we had conversations about what needed to change, what we both needed to work on. I loved him. It wasn’t that. It’s still not that. He’s a good man, a good father. I’ve known him almost half my life. My god, how is that possible?

My feet continued to burn.

I blurted it out one day, “You need to leave!” in a rush before I lost my nerve, my soles on fire. I couldn’t breathe with his booming voice, his anxiety vibrating, snapping at the very air of his slamming door, slamming drawer, clutter-filled presence. I needed peace. I wanted counter space. To breathe in my own clear air.

My soul burning.

So he left. Not without some protest, a mountain of bills, and the upheaval of our now suitcase-carrying, back and forth children who think I’m being selfish. And that’s okay. I see their point. They are too young to understand that breathing isn’t selfish. It’s more important that we do this thing together, focusing on co-parenting them, and we are. We are friends. He still calls me “Hon,” after twenty-two years together, which is sweet and only slightly strange, as when a child calls you by your first name.

It’s been easier, and harder, to go through than around. There is no detour when it comes to ending a marriage. “You will have to walk through the fire,” my therapist told me, and she’s right. Nobody does this for you. It’s a grown-up thing, this divorce business.

You dig through the ashes for answers, and realize that you are just as imperfect as you fear, that all those cliches about change are so fucking true. I don’t blame him. I don’t blame me. I don’t even blame change. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but taking a Zen approach to it all has helped immensely.

I realize control is an illusion. We can’t shape a tattered love that’s no longer there, yet I can choose to cherish memories, and be thankful for happy times and amazing kids. That we’ve salvaged enough of it to still care about each other and our family makes me if not happy, at least grateful for this solo walk.boots

I’m damaged. I’m healing. I’m tending my scars.

The way it is with any kind of burn.

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash.com

This Is the Reason Migraines Affect Sex Abuse Survivors

blue-215942_1280I’ve had migraines since well, my teens — more intensely since my late twenties. I’ve seen neurologists. I’ve had MRIs. I’ve tried chiropractics. Alternative therapies (acupuncture, massage). Dietary changes. Botox. Behavioral therapy. EVERYTHING. I’m fifty-one now and as I write this, I’m on a preventive treatment that includes medication and diet, exercise, meditation, and therapy, and I still get them. In fact, I’m in a stretch right now that’s lasted about a week and it’s just as awful as you can imagine.

But I function. I’m luckier than most, though on bad days I feel like crawling into a cave of soft blankets and binge-watching Scandal reruns for hours and hey, sometimes I do. I may not be a gladiator, but I can watch them on TV.

Meds like triptans (Imitrex, Relpax, etc), aka serotonin receptor agonists, are the most effective in terms of treatment because they are non-addicting and work quickly. Triptans narrow (constrict) blood vessels in the brain and relieve swelling (Source: WedMd). They are also expensive if not covered by your formulary, and don’t come without their own side effects (sensitivity to hot and cold, nausea, sleepiness). Like any medication, you can only take so much without experiencing rebound (aka, a form of dependence), so you have to mix in anti-inflammatories along with stronger meds, if needed. Occasionally, I’ve had to go to an urgent care for a Toradol (anti-inflammatory) shot or even the ER for a shot of Demoral when the pain has been THAT bad.

What’s interesting to me is that nobody, not one physician or health care specialist, ever once suggested that my migraines could in any way be tied to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. It’s only through my own research and connection with the amazing community of survivors (in #SexAbuseChat that I started last year with therapist/survivor Bobbi Parish, every Tuesday on Twitter at 6pm PST — join us — all survivors and families are welcome) that I realized how commonly migraines occur in survivors.

Let’s deconstruct.

PTSD IN SURVIVORSsad-468923_1280

Take a look at the research. Here’s just a quick sample:

“Several studies demonstrate that childhood injury or abuse makes it more likely to develop migraine later in life. The more severe the abuse, the stronger the link grows. These headaches are also more likely to be frequent and disabling. Severe abuse is also linked to other conditions, including chronic pain, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel disease.

Chronic maltreatment early in life alters the brain’s response to stress. This may make it more likely to have migraine. A study of inflammatory blood tests suggests a mechanism for the link. In this study, adults showed higher levels of biomarkers in the bloodstream when exposed to abuse in childhood. Genes are also important in this process. Genes are responsible for how a person and their body respond to early stressful experiences. It is also possible that early stressful experiences may become hard-coded into DNA. This creates a memory of events that leads to impaired health at a later date.” (Source: American Headache Society.)

I’m honestly thankful to know this. It explains so much! To say that finding this out has been life-changing for me seems almost trite at this point.

There are people who say that knowing this is a crutch of some sort — that because someone told me that my migraines are due to the PTSD from the abuse, I now have an ‘excuse.’ Whatever. I’ve had these things for twenty-five years. I’ve seen the top experts and they don’t even know or understand the causes of migraines or how the brain works. So, good luck with your rationalizations. (Here’s more information on how abuse affects the immune system, which can also lead to migraines and other diseases. Source:  American Nurse Today.)

People are well-meaning in the advice. I’ve heard everything from using lavender (done it), to Vitamin D (use it), to garlic (love it), to gluten-free (tried it, didn’t help). You may recall, I was in Big Pharma for seventeen years. My company made migraine meds (nasal spray — hated it, awful taste). I’ve bought and sold these meds. I have spent A LOT of time with neurologists and scientists. I don’t claim to be an expert — far, far from it. The brain is this crazy thing that almost defies explanation. But I do know that what works for one person may not work for another, yet sharing information is crucial.

This explanation about PTSD makes sense to me, but it doesn’t take the migraines away.

And that’s okay.

MEDS AND THE STUPIDNESS OF HEALTHCARE

One of my doctors told me something that has stuck with me all these years — there are no long-term physical negative side effects of having migraines. You have one, it goes away (eventually), and you get on with your life. Sure, psychologically, a migrainer, as we are called, lives in well, if not exactly fear — it’s more like dread — of getting one, at least we know we are actively living our lives and doing what we can to prevent them.

Some people don’t, though. They become addicted to prescription pain meds — Vicodin, for example. There’s a reason for that.

I have a prescription for it myself, for when the pain is really bad. My doctor can only write thirty (I’m in California, and since Vicodin is a controlled substance, a prescription must be picked up in person with ID, written in triplicate, and presented at the pharmacy by the patient, no more than once per month). I only take them when the pain is unbearable and none of the other meds help. I don’t drive when I take them, and it makes it hard to write or function, which is why I avoid them until I just give in.

Triptans work differently. You take them at the first sign of a migraine. Some people aren’t aware of triptans, or simply can’t afford them. Get this: one prescription of six tablets of Relpax, the triptan that works best for me, isn’t covered by my PPO (Anthem/Blue Cross). The price: $250. FOR SIX TABLETS. I can only take two in twenty-four hours. If my headache lasts a week, that’s only three days worth, and I can’t get more for another month. So my options are to take Advil (which can cause rebound — take more Advil, which causes more headaches, which means I have to take more meds, which causes more pain, and on and on it goes), or take Vicodin, and the same cycle begins.

Vicodin (or other controlled pain meds) are available in generics, are covered by insurance, and cost about $5. Despite it being more difficult now to get filled, it’s still an easier and more affordable option for people on a budget and in pain. It does not cost more to make a generic triptan than it does a generic Vicodin. Of course, there’s always the ‘street’ option, not something I’d ever consider, yet people do, because of what I mentioned above. But that’s a whole other post.

OTHER OPTIONSwoman-228176_1280

To avoid rebound headaches, I do natural therapies like vitamins, meditation, yoga, and behavioral therapy. I also take preventive medications like Topamax and Cymbalta (and anti-depressant which is also indicated to help prevent pain). I also get Botox shot into my temples and jaw (yes, TMJ is part of my issue, too — isn’t this fun?) every three months. And though migraine prevention is a covered and FDA-approved treatment for Botox, my insurance company, in their infinite financial wisdom, refuses to pay for it. Don’t get me started.

Listen, this is my story. Knowing that migraines and PTSD are closely linked has been eye-opening for me, because it’s a partial answer to a complicated question that has dogged me for years. People want to relieve my suffering and the symptoms of my migraines and give me a ton of advice. I appreciate the love and support from so many caring individuals. I do, truly. What I’m doing usually works, and sometimes it doesn’t, which is why I’m here, sharing what I’ve learned.

I’d love to hear your stories about what does or doesn’t work for you, or those you know and love. Please share below!

Broken Places is available NOW — yay! from Booktrope. It’s already hit #1 on Women’s Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. 
Enter my Valentine’s Day Godiva Truffle giveaway — a $50 value — and win a free eBook of Broken Places, too!
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo). Enter the free feature giveaway here! 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com  

 

#MondayBlogs Giveaway February 2015

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Who doesn’t want more blog traffic and a free feature? #MondayBlogs

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger January 2015
Richard Flores IV at Flores Factor

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Please note that due to the popularity of Indie Book Promo guest posts will be scheduled according to availability. If you cannot wait for your post to be up you may decline the prize.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo).

Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today

Valentine’s Day #BrokenPlaces Sweepstakes!

pink flowers

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, so to celebrate I am giving away a 24 pc. Ultimate Dessert Truffles Gift Box from Godiva ($50 value) and an ebook of my latest book Broken Places (the second book in the Broken series) to one lucky winner! Enter using the form below. And please share!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Broken PlacesAward-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

Purchase: Amazon

Photo courtesy of Public Domain Archive

Inside Schizophrenia: ‘I Could Be AWOL Right Now’ by @allieburkebooks

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Please welcome my amazing friend and talented best selling novelist, Allie Burke! Allie is quite open with the fact that she is schizophrenic (she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2011) works two full-time jobs, and has a thriving literary career (she just finished her eighth book). Allie is signed with Booktrope. More here:

Allie is an American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.

Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.papersoulscover

From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.

Visit Allie at http://wordsbyallieburke.com and look for her outstanding latest, Paper Souls, on Amazon. 

I Could Be AWOL Right Now

I think a lot about that one time I outsmarted the mental health industry and used the intellect I didn’t even know I had to break free from one white walled prison we call a hospital.

The very act of it epitomizes the ideal that we must be crazy enough to tell the whole world to fuck off if we’re ever going to survive.

Excuse me. She smiled sweetly, knocking on the station window.

A large man with a shaved head emerged, dressed in white. Yes?

I would like my purse, please.

I’m sorry?

My purse. You confiscated it when I arrived here. I would like it before I leave.

You can’t leave.

Excuse me? Emily asked incredulously, her eyes bulging out of her head. I’m sorry, am I…a prisoner? Have I committed some sort of crime and am being held against my will now?

The nurse stammered. I…I…

If I walk out that door right now, past that red line, Emily pointed to the two-inch-thick red line painted on the floor six feet from the door, are you going to chase me?

No, but if you don’t sign out, with pre-approval from Dr. Talen, then you will be considered AWOL.

Do I look like fucking Rambo to you?

The nurse didn’t answer.

I haven’t seen the doctor yet. Let me speak to him, please.

He’s not here yet.

Emily’s stare at the nurse was intense, but in reality, she wasn’t staring at him but the stupidity his body reeked of.

Call him. Now.

-Paper Souls

I didn’t ask him for my purse, even though I wanted to. I had never been as appalled as I had been in the moment six hours earlier when they had confiscated my cell phone. Though I was thinking all of this, and it would actually make for a really good story, I never referenced Rambo. My mental age was so much younger than it is now; I was so scared. I would have welcomed a thousand years of psychosis in that moment and took it like a boss if it meant I could walk out that door unscathed by the disgusting reality that is our mental health system today.

What I had done, though, was spend six hours in a mental institution without any means to communicate anything to the outside world and without actually seeing a doctor.

The presence of my now ex-husband in that tiny visiting room with another nurse watching our every move, his tears, the fear bleeding from his pores, struck something in me. He wasn’t working and I was the only one paying bills. Clearly I hadn’t thought this through the moment suicide crossed my mind and convinced me that I wasn’t getting any better. My life would be in shambles if I didn’t get my ass out of there and get it to work on Monday morning. If I had a second chance at that afternoon, I would not have checked myself into a fucking mental institution. I would not have told them that I was hallucinating and afraid of harming myself and that I was off my medication.

So I told them that. That was after they nearly had me sedated and straitjacketed for stepping too far into their nursebox. But I did tell them the truth. I told them that this place was going to do nothing for me but ruin my life, and I needed out. They told me that I should stay because they could help me. That they would recommend it. It was such a passive-aggressive fucking way to control my life. You are mentally ill and therefore we cannot trust you to function properly in society, but here, have a cookie.

There really was a red line on the floor. That wasn’t something I made up for the book. I’ve never liked the color red, and maybe this is why. The ideal that a color can instill the fear of imprisonment is pretty psychotic in itself, but I am psychotic. Technically. According to the State of California.

So I asked them. Are you going to arrest me if I just walk out?

I still don’t know what they meant by AWOL. Like is that a real thing? What does it mean if you are AWOL and not in the military? Do they take away your driver’s license? Refuse to hire you at a job? Call the credit reporting agency? I can’t even with this shit.

Either I am really smart or the doctor was in a good mood that day. He just got a blow job by his assistant, I don’t know. They let me go. Like, legally. Without the AWOL part. It was really fucking weird, but every day I thank whatever higher power we are thanking for this kind of stuff now. Regardless of the number of times I did go back, I really do believe that that experience of questioning authority as the prisoner and not the jailer set the tone for the healing process that I would force on myself in the years after. It was my fuck off to the people bigger than me. And I’ve been telling people bigger than me to fuck off ever since.

It works for me. Me specifically. Paranoid Schizophrenic or not, I’m still a real person.allieburkehs

“The only difference between the sane and the insane is the sane have the power to lock up the insane.”

–Hunter S. Thompson

Exciting news: Broken Places is FINALLY out (via Booktrope)! Pick up a copy today (eBook or print) on Amazon or your favorite retailer, Broken Pieces is still going strong, and my two humor books, A Walk in the Snark and Mancode: Exposed have wonderful new covers and are now available in print!
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author. 
Picture courtesy of Pixabay via CCA Public Domain license

Speaking Up About Rape: Brave or Foolish? by Guest @SbethCaplin

 

snowy trainPlease welcome author and blogger Beth Caplin to the blog today as she shares her brave story about speaking up.

*Trigger Warning*

The lyrics to “Brave” by Sara Bareilles hit me hard and personally:

Your history of silence won’t do you any good/Did you think it would?/Let your words be anything but empty/Why don’t you tell them the truth?

That’s exactly what I’m ready to do.

Tell the truth.

But first, here’s the back story:

THE BACK STORY

When I was seventeen, the summer before my senior year of high school, I met an outgoing, attractive, and charismatic twenty-one-year-old man about to enter his senior year of college. It was the kind of relationship where I dove in headfirst, as only a headstrong teenager can.

Fast forward two years, when I am nineteen and visiting him at his college over spring break. We’d been having the “Should we or shouldn’t we?” talk about sex for some time, but ultimately it was decided that we couldn’t go all the way, as that would be a violation of both our religious beliefs. But somehow, for him, that conviction did not rule out everything we could do before that final step. When I refused to even go that far, he raped me (I’ll spare you the details).

I didn’t know it was rape at the time. For years afterward, I became easily preyed upon by the words “You know you want it,” “I thought you loved me,” “You owe me this,” and similar sentiments. It didn’t take long for force to become unnecessary: I was damaged goods, and this relationship was as good as I could hope to get.

PRESENT DAY

Fast forward another seven years to present day, when I am married to the love of my life: a man who treats me better than I ever thought I deserved. It truly stunned me that he respected my concerns about boundaries, when that should be a normal expectation of any healthy relationship. In many ways, his kindness continues to surprise me.

Clearly, this is not okay. Only now, seven years later, am I considering the ramifications of speaking up, because fear held me captive for so long. Problem is, the option of speaking up in a court of law has long passed due to the statute of limitations (not to mention a complete lack of physical evidence).

What choices am I left with? If I can’t have a lawyer speak on my behalf, I’ll have to use my own voice. And instead of a jury, my audience will have to be the people who know me personally. People who know us both.

And yet I hesitate. For many people, contacting their abusers or raising any kind of hell could have serious ramifications on their safety. Now that we are several states away, my physical safety is not a concern. Instead, there is my public image to think about. I think it’s extremely admirable to not care what others think, but as an aspiring writer with a growing audience, I cannot afford to completely embrace that mindset. I am building a reputation, and few words that are projected into the cyber world can ever be taken back.

TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL?

In my most lucid moments, I tell myself this is about justice. Who cares about the consequences, if telling people is the right thing to do? This concerns the safety of all the women in his life. But there is a part of me that desires vengeance, and it’s unclear how much of that desire is righteous or vindictive. I cannot deny that, as a human who has been deeply hurt, part of me desires to witness a public humiliation, a virtual flogging, if you will.

Sorting through these conflicting feelings also requires evaluating the person I want to be. In the novels that shaped me growing up, the heroines who faced adversity always took the high road. Even Jesus, the center of my religious faith, advocated turning the other cheek. I want to be remembered as someone noble, righteous, and compassionate. At what point does my pursuit of justice conflict with that sort of character?

Perhaps you or someone you know has been in a similar situation. I was fortunate to move away from the place where the abuse occurred, but some people have to see their assailants on a regular basis; perhaps because they share custody of children, work together, or are related. There are so many complicated factors that influence the way justice will be enacted, if it is to be enacted at all.

So long as one’s pursuit of justice does not involve harmful behaviors – stalking, further violence, harassment – perhaps there are no right or wrong answers. Ultimately, the question of self-care should be the most important. Ask yourself, and be willing to be honest: How will this affect me? What are the potential consequences? Am I willing to sacrifice a few relationships in the process? How critical is justice to my journey of healing, and am I willing to accept that not even justice will erase the damage that has already been done?

Regardless of whether justice is served, I won’t let that stop me from moving forward and reclaiming my life. At the same time, I am left wondering if speaking up about what happened to me is brave or foolish.

SarahbethBeth Caplin is a Denver-based author and blogger. Her first novel, Someone You Already Know, follows two teenage girls on their journey to heal from rape culture. Find her on her website, sbethcaplin.com, or engage on Twitter @SbethCaplin


someonecoverTwo teenage girls, two experiences with sexual assault: one committed by a stranger, the other by a relationship partner. Neither girl quite believes the other when she shares her story: wasn’t she ‘asking for it’ by walking home alone so late at night? Why didn’t she just end the relationship if he really treated her that way?

Someone You Already Know is a raw, emotional book that explores the impact of rape culture on modern society. Told in alternating perspectives from two survivors, it unpacks the common myths of sexual assault, revealing important truths that every woman needs to know.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. Broken Places will be out after New Year’s from Booktrope.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author. 
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

#MondayBlogs Giveaway January 2015

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Who doesn’t want more blog traffic and a free feature? #MondayBlogs

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger December 2014
Leetah Begallie

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Please note that due to the popularity of Indie Book Promo guest posts will be scheduled according to availability. If you cannot wait for your post to be up you may decline the prize.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.

Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today

Top 3 Writing and Marketing Tips For Any Author

As we head into 2015, I thought I’d share some thoughts on writing and marketing books. Many authors tell me they just don’t have time to do both, that they think marketing is stupid, or that social media and author platform seem like options they’re not convinced are worth learning about or spending time on.color salad

I’m not here to convince anyone otherwise, though I find those questions ludicrous because being an author is no different than being a small business. Think of it this way: if you opened a restaurant and did no advertising — told nobody about it, did no social media, ran zero ads, didn’t even put up a sign — would you be in business for very long? No way. So how is releasing a book any different?

Let’s deconstruct.

MAKE TIME FOR BOTH — here’s how

It is difficult to find time to write and market. I totally understand that. As a busy working mother of two demanding kids, I empathize completely. I not only have (almost) four books out, I’m also under contract now with Booktrope to write more. I also own BadRedhead Media, helping authors and small businesses with social media, branding, and marketing. Fitting in time to write and market my own work is challenging, to say the least.

But not impossible. I use social media management tools like Hootsuite and ManageFlitter (some people prefer Buffer or Pluggio) to schedule and grow my accounts. They cost money, but not exorbitant amounts. What they cost in money I more than make up in time spent on other things.

I schedule in some content (mostly articles or blog posts) across my various social media channels, and live interact when I can. I grow my account every few days using targeted keywords, unfollow people who don’t follow back (I give people thirty days — that’s plenty of time), and block fakes. It’s easy and effective.

Scheduling allows me to work on my next books, as well as work on client accounts, and be a mom or do laundry or you know, burn a meal. We all have real lives to lead — there are plenty of tools out there to make it work. You have to spend a little bit of time to set them up, and time to find and schedule in content, but it takes only minutes. Surely, you have minutes.

SOCIAL MEDIA/MARKETING IS STUPID — notold typewriter

Get with the program, folks. Marketing has been around forever, and social media has made it easier than ever to connect with readers. Even without marketing experience, you too can learn without paying a dime by doing what writers do best: research. Google stuff, read my biz blog, check out BookPromotion.com for great suggestions and tips, or look at top blogs like CopyBlogger or Social Media Examiner to find tidbits. Is there a writer you like? See what they do to market their work and copy their methods.

Regardless of whether you think Twitter is for your teen girl or what you ate for lunch (please, that’s so 2005), your readers don’t think that. They are there, interacting with thousands of writers daily. You are missing out on opportunities!

Check this: Some 73% of online adults now use a social networking site of some kind (Source: Pew Research, December, 2013). Facebook is still the dominant social network of choice, but Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have risen in popularity within many demographics, particularly women. Keep on thinking it’s stupid. The rest of us will be over there developing relationships with readers.

AUTHOR PLATFORM — what it is and what it’s not

What is an author platform anyway? Many writers are so confused by this seemingly nebulous concept that they cower in fear at the very mention, or make derisive comments to hide their ignorance. I get it. When I started in 2009, I had no clue what a platform was. My background was in selling, advertising, and marketing Big Pharma, not books! But instead of making fun of it, I researched, asked questions, and learned.

I really like Jane Friedman’s definition of author platform, because it has four key components of what a platform is and also what it’s not. What a platform contains:

  • Visibility
  • Authority
  • Proven Reach
  • Target Audience

What it’s not:

  • It is not about self-promotion.
  • It is not about hard selling.
  • It is not about annoying people.
  • It is not about being an extrovert.

‘Platform is not about bringing attention to yourself, or by screaming to everyone you can find online or offline, “Look at me! Look at me!” Platform isn’t about who yells the loudest or who markets the best.’

Here’s a simple breakdown of what any author needs for their platform:

  • an optimized website
  • a blog with fresh content (minimum once weekly)
  • social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Facebook page, Google+, Goodreads, and either Instagram or Pinterest)
  • reviews when your book is released
  • a newsletter
  • advertising
  • most important of all: a spectacular, professionally edited, designed, and formatted, book!

You can’t create your platform overnight, and it’s not a race. If you don’t know how to do all these things (I didn’t. Most people don’t.), hire people to help you, or trade services with pros. If you can’t afford it, don’t just throw up your hands and say, “I can’t afford it, so I’ll just copy and past my book into a Word doc, upload it, and see what happens,” because that’s not a book; that’s a school project. That’s what gives self-published authors a bad name.

Raise the funds. Go to Pubslush.com, start a crowdfunding campaign (anything you raise, you keep except their small cut), even if you don’t fulfill your goal.spark

FINAL WORDS

Social media will not sell books. Get off the “Buy my book!” link dump if that’s how you use it. Instead, spend time interacting with people. Why? Because social media leads to relationships with readers, which then leads to selling books. And start early, at least three to six months before you release your book. Develop relationships with readers as well as book bloggers and reviewers. Create electricity, some buzz, so when you do release it people are interested.

This is why you have to write and market. Remember, change your expectations: it’s not about one-way broadcasting or link-dumping. That’s lazy and ineffective. Think like a businessperson, set goals, and be smart.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. Pick up a copy today, on sale for just 99cents, or one for a friend. Broken Places will be out after New Year’s from Booktrope.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2014 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash.com

Insider Story: Living with Complex #PTSD by guest @A_K_Taylor

unsplash lone girl

Hi everyone, I am glad to be here even though I am going to be talking about very dreadful subjects. I felt empowered to share some info about Complex PTSD (CPTSD) and Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD).

CTSD and CPTSD are very closely related to each other and they can evolve between one another like the swinging of a pendulum–this is something I know because I have experienced it first-hand. To keep things simple, both are repeated exposures to trauma over time. They are considerably more harmful and detrimental to a person than PTSD (not that I am trivializing it at all). It’s basically developing PTSD over and over again. The more it happens, the worse things become.

Of course, any source of trauma that one suffers repeatedly can lead to CTSD/CPTSD.

My source of trauma was long term bullying of over 20 of my 34 years I have been alive. I have a couple instances that are unrelated to bullying that also developed PTSD: a natural disaster (tornado) and a very bad visit to a gynecologist.

The Dirty Laundry List of Symptoms

In addition to the related symptoms that CPTSD has with PTSD, it also has:

  • interpersonal and social problems, emotional deregulation, loss of faith, inability to experience joy or happiness, increased hostility and anger management issues, highly volatile explosive anger and rage, increased despair, more extreme isolation, apathy, avoidance, feelings of vengeance, the need for a cause to help others not experience the trauma, need of a rescuer, and attachment issues (especially insecure attachment).
  • In some scenarios, a person can feel persecuted, unwanted, hated, despised, and that they are different from other human beings (“Why me?”).
  • Sense of self, self image, and self esteem is down the toilet. There is even further anxiety problems including what is called anticipatory anxiety where a person “anticipates” or expects trauma. To make things even worse, a person with CPTSD becomes desensitized or numb to trauma without realizing it. In addition to the emotional, mental, and psychological issues, a lot of physiological issues can develop from these: migraines, chronic fatigue, PMDD (women only), joint and muscle pain, issues with weight, burn-out, insomnia, and hypersomnia.
  • To complete the set, a learned helplessness develops. People with CPTSD are very prone to re-victimization.

When CTSD comes out to play, the entire laundry list of PTSD and CPTSD swells to the extreme and becomes hard-wired. It can also cause:

  • loss of faith in the good of humanity and the world, loss of sense of safety and security, extreme fears of conspiracy, the near or complete inability to trust, and even more extreme social and interpersonal anxiety and fear.
  • To make this even worse, trauma seems to become the norm to the sufferer (this is my lot in life; it’s never going to get better or change).

CPTSD that has evolved from CTSD is even more damaging. As I mentioned before, things can easily swing the other way, so there is an extreme risk of relapse or re-victimization {Ed. note: this is a legal term, as definite by the criminal justice system}.

For further reading you can put these terms into your search engine of choice: Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder, Complex PTSD. There are tons of great material to be found!

A Life of Dark and Gray

Bullying, betrayal, and being ostracized became commonplace for me, and after a time, I felt like the rest of my life was going to be this way, slugging it out in a dog-eat-dog world for even a meager existence.

I wondered why everybody hated me so much or what it was about me that they found so offensive. Just existing and breathing the air seemed to be enough. I couldn’t be myself without suffering consequences. I had to hide who I was and guard it well. People just waited to knife me in the back, if they had the chance. I walked through life with a target on my back. Just saying hello would end in imminent attack and ridicule.

girl alone

Why could some people be themselves without consequences? Why was just one true friend forever in the world too much to ask?

At times, I felt like I was an alien. Was there something wrong with me? Why were people so mean and cruel to me? Why was everyone against me? I got to where I didn’t want to come to school anymore and wanted to do my learning at home. It’s not like anyone would have noticed if I never came back. Actually, they would probably throw a party.

There were times I would reach total breakdown. I had unimaginable pain on the inside that would ache worse than a broken bone. I felt crushed by a torrent of loneliness, but I was reminded that I was unwanted and unloved by everyone outside of my family, and there was nothing I could do. I became so angry and volatile, but I didn’t know why. Sometimes, I felt about as stable as nitroglycerine, just ready to go off without warning. I indiscriminately hated and resented everyone, the entire world, because they hated me for no reason. I didn’t know why I didn’t seem to belong among the human race.

The waterworks would turn on by themselves no matter how hard I fought them, and I would weep in the middle of the woods. Nobody should see me like this, so I better get over it fast. If I played the part of a baby at school, the bullies would tear me apart.

There were times I seemed so numb I didn’t feel anything at all. I wasn’t happy, or was I sad? I was tightly closed off from the world like a box turtle. Since it happened almost all the time, I expected disaster, failure, or attack. Everything I would ever do or not do was going to be hard since the world is against me. I tried to excel in tasks and gain merit, but when popularity was involved, I was out of the race. Then I just wouldn’t bother.

Then it was just about surviving–clawing my way through. For what? Why? This is what my life is going to be like until I die? My life seemed to lose meaning. I began to lose sight of who I was, what my purpose was, or if I even had one. Purpose, as well as my hopes and dreams, seemed impossible. Finding friends or even someone to love is far too risky and dangerous to me since I felt so fragile that I would shatter at any moment, and my world would implode.

So then I became afraid to believe in anything. I was afraid to trust anyone. I was afraid to get too happy about anything. I got tired of being let down or being thrown to the wolves or left to drown. There is only so much disappointment I can take. After a short amount of time, I would be quickly reminded of why this was so, and I would scold myself for opening myself up to it again. When would I just stop?

I had a hunger deep inside of me that wouldn’t go away. Isolation and withdrawal just made it hurt even more. If I had a positive interaction with a person, I was reminded of it more, and it seemed to be what I longed for. It just didn’t come often enough. Everything would be like it was tomorrow, and it may be another long while before someone would be nice to me again.

Once in a while, I would attend a social gathering, but it seemed as if I was on high alert the whole time. I wouldn’t approach anyone; I waited until they approached me–apprehensively. Afterwards, I would go home and sleep for two hours since I was so exhausted. I didn’t really know why. Before the gathering, I would be excited but stressed out at the same time, even for a week before. Sometimes, I contemplated on chickening out, but then it may be a year before I was invited to another.

Survival and Recovery

During the years, I never really had a normal life and it was a struggle to make it through the day before I had to do it again tomorrow. As a child, I created imaginary friends, had animal friends, connected with my Creator, and created elaborate fantasy worlds where I had many, many adventures. The only problem with my animal friends was that they didn’t live forever, and when they died, I lost my best friend. That was hard. I had to leave almost everything I had at home before I went to face the world that waited to pummel me.

When I became a teenager, I had to find different ways to enter into my fantasy worlds. I was at the age where I couldn’t play anymore, but I tried to stick it out as long as possible.

Then, I discovered writing.

I would write myself back in to my realms and discovered new ones. I taught myself how to write novels, and flourished. I never intended to publish, but that’s another story. I also shared this with a younger cousin and we had some awesome adventures too. No one else at school knew about my “Top Secret Novel” that later became novels. The only reason why my parents knew was because the computer was in their room and I kept them up all hours of the night to write, or we would fuss over who was on the computer next. The writing carried on into my adulthood and hasn’t stopped since.

My family was the other bright spot in this dark, gray world. They loved me and provided a safe haven for me after being battered daily by the world. Only to them, and my Creator, was I not worthless, and that my thoughts and feelings mattered. I was wanted and loved. They would also take me fishing, hunting, and all that kind of stuff. They let me go on hikes in the woods and gave me things for some backyard fun.

woods

Recovering from CPTSD of any kind is difficult, long, and takes work. After losing my job in January of 2010 due to the recession, a long tenure of isolation that wasn’t self imposed, began. I tried to regain my footing, but it seemed as society didn’t want me, and I was left to wallow in my pain and isolation. I began writing full time and learning a lot of other things, but I became a complete social recluse, a total hermit. My computer was my only window to the outside world and writing was my preferred method of communication. This is not common knowledge until now.

My family became extremely concerned about me, and little did I realize that I was in the middle of a stark breakdown and depression. I was, more or less, a dead person walking. I thought that depression looked differently than what I felt, so I didn’t believe I was depressed. I thought depression was sadness and crying all the time. I was mad at the world and wanted to be left alone. I didn’t really trust anyone. I had bad migraine headaches a lot, joint and muscle pain, felt tired all the time, and some days, I didn’t feel like doing anything but laying in bed and sleeping.

In the later part of 2011, I met people who would become my best friends. They were the first real friends after a fifteen year wait when I had none. Having people outside of family who really love and care about me, are happy to see me, and who want to give me a hug has been the biggest key to my recovery. Just having a friend I can call and talk to if I need it is something so many people take for granted. It means the world to someone who was hated as much I had been. I had to go on the radical notion to try to trust one more time; maybe it was because I didn’t really have anything to lose and all to gain if it worked out.

bar

Over the next three years, I connected with these people and fixed the many parts of me that were broken, and the deep, painful scars were finally able to heal–there was a lot of me that was broken that barely worked, if at all. I began to read material about leadership and social skills–things I never learned due to my tormented childhood.

I am a Survivor!

On November 8, 2014, I declared myself survivor and not a victim. I want to start a new life with a clean slate and only share this and help others–which will also be helpful in my continuing recovery.

I had to bandage up my inner child and fight free from the grips of the past. It has taken quite a process. Nearly every day, I continue to tell myself that my past doesn’t dictate my future. There are still days where it doesn’t feel like it, but I have to muscle through.

I have never taken any medications since I had serious fears about it altering my brain chemistry and the side effects, especially with increased risk of suicide. I had an aunt, stricken with CPTSD due to a long history of domestic violence who took antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and Ambien, who later killed herself. No one ever thought she would do this. I have been taking vitamin supplements and natural alternatives to meds. They help with a lot of the physical and chemical symptoms related to CPTSD, minus the risks and side effects. Meds only help with the anxiety; they don’t do so much with the stuff that causes that anxiety so much.

Some periods of healthy isolation is good for me since I am an introvert by nature, but too much of it is bad. Connecting with nature, meditation, prayer, and reflective thinking also help, but this may not work so well with extroverts. Finding solitude, a place to be at peace, helps with the nightmares, intrusive emotions, and triggers. Avoiding environments that are stressful and full of the triggers, unless necessary, also help.

Talking with my parents and my new friends about what really happened to me for the first time has been another big key. I couldn’t talk about it years ago due to the pain of reliving it, but I should have. Only do this with people you really trust. Talking about it when you are ready, despite the pain, is part of release and recovery. Some of my stories have been hard for people to hear or believe.

I am slowly and systematically trying to reconnect with people as I come out of “hermithood.” In case you are wondering, becoming a hermit for the rest of one’s life isn’t necessarily a good thing, nor will it help with overcoming CPTSD. It’s actually extremely harmful. Extended isolation over a long period of time hurts more than it helps, so don’t do it to yourself, if you can help it. Even introverts and shy people need positive human contact–even if it’s just a little when they need it.

I feel empowered and compelled to take back something I have been deprived of. I now feel more apt to chase after the dreams that I once felt were unreachable. I never went to see a therapist or a psychologist. One reason was that I felt I was paying for someone to be my friend or to care about me until the money ran out. To me, it’s almost as bad as having to pay for sex, because I don’t have a prayer for getting laid. My insecure attachment and history with betrayal had a lot to do with that notion. There were some other reasons as well.

I have not recovered 100% yet, and I am still on my way. I just have to take one day at a time and resist frustration since it is a slow process considering the damage and the length of time.

Have questions or comments? Please share!

If you want to connect with me you can find me on my website or on Twitter: @A_K_Taylor. All my other links are on my website. After a long and still-ongoing recovery, I have a new WIP: Overcoming and Combating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

 

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. Pick up a copy today, or one for a friend. Broken Places will be out by Christmas from Booktrope.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2014 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Images courtesy of unsplash.com

Where To Find Content When You Just Don’t Care

fall benches

 

Shocking news out this week: we are not perfect beings. I know. What the fuck? I want to speak to the manager.

We have meltdowns, some more publicly than others (see my latest Huffington Post article on NYTimes bestselling author Ayelet Waldman’s most unfortunate Twitter rant because they failed to choose her for their 100 Most Notable Books of 2014), and hopefully some of us learn, or at least learn to move the hell on. Want to know what helps me focus when I just don’t care? Let’s deconstruct.

THE FOUR AGREEMENTS

In working with authors and clients, I recommend reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz — it’s a short little book full of practical wisdom. For writers (or any kind of artist-person or well, person-person), the most important agreement is this: don’t take anything personally. People think I have a third eye when I say that. Crazy woman! How can we not take it personally when someone calls us stupid or says our book is awful?

But I don’t. Because it says so much more about that person and their perceptions and life experience than it does about me. Maybe it’s a way to fool ourselves, but so what? It works. Maybe it’s the same as Madonna’s blunt lyric in Human Nature: “I’m not your bitch, don’t hang your shit on me.” All I know is, it’s a way to cope with the sting and move on, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

four agreements

QUOTES AND SHIT 

I avoided sharing quotes for THE longest time, because I felt that inspirational BS was just that — a bunch of rainbows and unicorns that amounted to jack. And for what it’s worth, I still think that. However, I now share poetry quotes and the occasional empowerment or feminism quote that resonate with me. Quotes that you don’t see very often (I hope). I also share quotes from my own work, or from other writes that I enjoy. Call it ‘soft marketing’ or whatever — mostly it’s about sharing my work and the work of others — quotes that makes us think.

I’ve found the best quotes on Pinterest and Goodreads — Pinterest is easy because many quotes are already in a visual format. Simply pin and share, or schedule them in using Hootsuite or Buffer. However, you do have to be careful. Sometimes, a quote is mis-attributed or not attributed at all which, as a writer, is a total no-no. I only pick quotes that are given attribution, and heads up, if it sounds too modern for say, Einstein or Darwin to have said ‘hustle,’ it is. Skip it.

VIDEOS 

Facebook and Twitter love videos. You’ll get more shares from those than just about anything else. But what to share beyond a cat video?

I don’t like sharing what everyone else is sharing. Everyone loves Buzzfeed and Upworthy and they are great sites, no doubt. But I want cool stuff, things that 50K other people haven’t already seen. Where to go?

Here are some cool alternative sites with neat stuff (I especially like aplus.com):

http://www.tubesurfers.com/

http://www.viralnova.com/

http://news.distractify.com/

http://aplus.com/

So on those days when you’re not feeling perfect, visit a few of these sites and feel good, get tingly, and share something that makes you focus on something besides that zit the size of Mount Rushmore on your chin or the fact that your boss is a jerk. None of that will matter next week, right?

Keep moving forward and stuff.

 

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. Pick up a copy today, or one for a friend. Broken Places will be out by Christmas from Booktrope.
Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  And don’t miss it: special ‘CRASH COURSE’ Webinar with Rachel on Thursday, 12/11 at 6pm PST. Get your book ready to sell for the holiday. Sign up here now! Just $57.
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2014 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Image: Unsplash.com

#MondayBlogs Giveaway December 2014

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Who doesn’t want more blog traffic and a free feature? #MondayBlogs

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger November 2014
Kathy Sharp

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Please note that due to the popularity of Indie Book Promo guest posts will be scheduled according to availability. If you cannot wait for your post to be up you may decline the prize.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.

Don’t miss Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today

Giving Back

We take a lot from each other throughout the year:raspberries

  • Can you buy my book?
  • Review my book?
  • Tweet this for me?
  • Share this post?

It’s all part of ‘selling’ in this new virtual world. Well, now I’m turning all that upside down and giving something back. How? Let’s deconstruct.

#MondayBlogs 

If you don’t already participate, #MondayBlogs is a blog sharing meme I started back in 2012. It’s free to participate — just share a blog post on Mondays, retweet others, and don’t share any kind of book promotion or ewwww, porn cause, ick. That’s really it. If it’s Monday where you are, share a tweet with the #MondayBlogs hashtag.

Easy.

If you want, you can follow the @MondayBlogs Twitter stream, but it’s not required. We don’t guarantee we will retweet you, but we do try. With thousands playing, we can’t get to every single tweet, but we certainly do our best! The whole point is to increase traffic to your site, meet fellow tweeps, and increase connections while building relationships.

I also have a #MondayBlogs monthly free feature giveaway — feel free to enter and share the love!

#SexAbuseChat and #NoMoreShame 

With the release of Broken Pieces in December of 2012, I was overwhelmed by how many people contacted me with their own stories of surviving childhood sexual abuse, and I knew I had to DO something, anything, to give them some kind of platform to share their own stories. I connected with the amazing Bobbi Parish (@TruthIsHers) and we started a weekly Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, every Tuesday at 6pm PST/9pm EST, where we discuss publicly, with whomever wants to participate, topics to help survivors learn about subjects like PTSD, the abuse cycle, forgiveness, and more. Our group grows weekly and I’m amazed by the courage and love of this chat.

Taking it further, Bobbi and I connected with survivor Athena Moberg to create the #NoMoreShame Project, and our first anthology volume, Discovering True, released last week! This volume focuses on stories and poetry by survivors about surviving and we encourage you to purchase a copy for the strong survivors in your life — 10% of the proceeds goes to survivor charities. Please visit the site also — chock full of resources, FAQs, and amazing articles pulled together by Bobbi and Athena. They’ve worked so incredibly hard on this site — I hope you will visit soon.Discovering True-HIGH-RES

Author Social Media Boot Camp 

As the owner of BadRedhead Media, I consult one-on-one with all kinds of authors and small businesses, and I realize that many people cannot afford my normal $150/hour rate, so I created group sessions, aka, boot camp (four group sessions for $400) to appeal to every budget.

With the holidays getting close, time is of the essence. Is your book marketing ready for the holidaze? :) Let’s do this thingy. While I can’t offer the course totally free of charge (damn rent), I’m offering a one-hour social media crash course for a ridiculously cheap price: $57 for a one-hour crash course on Thursday, December 11, 6pm PST. When you leave, you will be ready to sell books! Book here now. Tell a friend! timex watch

This is how I give back. How about you? Please share below.

 

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.
Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list. Pick up a copy today, one for a friend. Broken Places will be out by Christmas from Booktrope.
 Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here!  (It’s not to late to sign up for the November sessions, currently 20% off!) 
All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2014 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.

 

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