The New Face of Accessible Online Therapy



In the past few years, the therapy field has grown significantly in the online world. In the past, therapy was widely experienced with a therapist in person talking face to face. While this was an effective format, many individuals weren’t able to access therapy due to issues with cost, insurance, or location, and marginalized populations were often maltreated if they did have access to help. However, with the new online format, therapy has expanded to reach populations that might not otherwise have access to therapy through video sessions as well as chat sessions. Online therapy provides a range of cost-effective services that reach more people than ever while presenting various forms of therapy rather than just traditional talk therapy.

AYANA is an up and coming online therapy community built specifically to serve marginalized and intersectional communities. Every therapist is licensed and knowledgeable of the issues facing individuals from marginalized and intersectional communities. AYANA is accessible through an app, and individuals can complete a questionnaire to be matched with an appropriate therapist. What is great about AYANA is that they believe that receiving help is a right, not a privilege, and they aim to make care accessible for all through video calls, phone calls, and text support.

I am so excited to see how the therapy field is expanding through our increased technology, and how therapists are working hard to break the barriers that individuals from marginalized and intersectional communities face. Mental health is so important, and help shouldn’t just be offered to those who have the financial or location ability. AYANA is a huge step forward in ensuring that therapy is accessible for all, and I look forward to seeing the impact that AYANA makes in the mental health field.



On the Outside – A Poem About Borderline Personality Disorder

On the Outside

A Poem About What It Feels Like to Have Borderline Personality Disorder

By Ashley Nestler, MSW

On the Outside
I am Serene
I’m Put Together
I Can’t Be Seen

On the Outside
They Say I’m Calm
I Can Do Anything
Nothing Can Be Wrong

On the Outside
They Cannot See
My Scars and Tears
That Lurk Inside of Me

On the Outside
I Have It All
You Can’t See My Illness
Or How I Feel Small

But Inside
I’m at War
Fighting Tooth and Nail
A Constant Chore

You Can’t See My Struggle
Because I Don’t Let You In
Sometimes I Lose
Sometimes I Win

Each Day’s A Battle
I Fight In My Mind
I Fight for My Life
I Don’t Know How to Unwind

But On the Outside
I am Still Serene
I’m Put Together
I Can’t Be Seen

The Most Important Thing Someone Told Me in My Addiction Recovery

How many times have you beat yourself up over something that happened in the past or behaviors that you previously had? How many times have you wished that you did something different, or that you could go back and change those circumstances?

I have a history of constantly beating myself up over mistakes that I have made, or things that I have done in the past. Sound familiar? I have always cast blame on myself for things that may or may not have been my fault, because I struggle with perfectionism and I want to make sure that everything I do or say is perfect. However, I have also struggled with substance abuse and a shopping addiction, both of which have impacted my private life. These addictions and behaviors put me into immense debt and took a toll on my personal relationships, which caused me to obsessively beat myself up and wish that I hadn’t made so many devastating mistakes that negatively impacted my life and my future.

However, in the midst of this toxic push and pull I felt inside of me, someone told me that in order to stop blaming yourself and move on you need to understand and believe that you did the best that you could with what you knew at the time. Upon hearing this, something clicked inside of me. While it wasn’t immediate, I began to see my past actions and behaviors in a new light.

Through self-exploration, I realized that my addictive behaviors came from a lack of healthy coping skills. I was using substances and shopping as a way to soothe and help me handle some of the things that I was going through. While I am still battling these addictions every day, and I now know that these addictions were detrimental to my health and life, I have come to accept that at the time I didn’t know any other way to soothe myself through my challenges, and I was doing the best that I could to cope. My addictions became my coping mechanisms, and seeing them in this way has helped me to be more compassionate with myself and pursue building healthy coping mechanisms to ensure that I am in a healthier, more positive place.

Understanding that you did the best that you could with what you knew at the time does not mean that you have to approve of your past behaviors or mistakes. It simply means that you are choosing to accept that your past behaviors were the only coping skills that you knew to be able to handle whatever you were going through. Or it means that you made mistakes because you didn’t have the knowledge that you have now. By choosing to accept instead of rejecting your past, you can learn to forgive yourself for not having the necessary tools or knowledge you may have now or are working to acquire. You can use your past as a launchpad into changing your current behaviors or avoiding future mistakes, and you can stop dwelling in the past by promising yourself that you will do better in the future.

Perfection isn’t possible, but transformation is. You can always improve yourself by learning from your mistakes, and growing through your new knowledge and circumstances.

I challenge you to catch yourself the next time you begin to think about things that you wish you could have done better in the past, and change that thought with the thought that you did the best you could with what you knew at the time.

By changing the script inside of your mind day by day, you can get that much closer to self-love and self-acceptance. Keep doing the work – you deserve your love and acceptance more than anyone else.

Do you feel like you are stuck thinking about the past more than you think about the present?

Are your emotions controlling you more than you are controlling them?

Do you long for more meaningful connections with the people in your life?

Are you unsure of what your purpose in life is?

Then The Ignite and Rise Academy is for you!

It is no coincidence that we are meeting right here and right now. The time has come for you to embrace transformation and create the life that you deserve.

The Ignite and Rise Academy is designed to give you the necessary tools to:

  • Heal from your past
  • Manage your emotions instead of them overwhelming you
  • Rediscover the joy in every day
  • Ignite and actualize your soul purpose
  • Create a life that fully complies with your values and passions
  • Have stronger and more positive connections with others

Each skill you will learn through the academy will help you to tackle the obstacles you are experiencing, as well as any obstacle that you are faced with in the future.

You deserve to live life to the fullest, and I am dedicated to ensuring that you have all of the resources you need to ignite your soul purpose and become your highest self.

Take the plunge and dare to transform with The Ignite and Rise Academy. You, more than anyone, deserve your utmost time and attention.

 

5 Truths About Trauma You Need to Know

Trauma. How many times have you heard or been told what trauma is, or what counts as trauma and what doesn’t? Everyone has their own perspective of trauma based on what they know, think they know, or what they have experienced; however, trauma affects each person differently. The following are five truths about trauma that I have learned from my personal experience, and from my experience in social work.

  1. Trauma is Not Limited to Specific Experiences
    • I have had people belittle my personal trauma by saying that what I experienced “wasn’t that bad”. I have also heard this being said to others about what they have experienced. There still seems to be a belief about trauma being limited to severe circumstances such as experiencing war, surviving a car accident, or surviving a natural disaster. But trauma is anything that makes you feel threatened, in danger, or having no control. This leads me into the next truth:
  2. Trauma is Perceived
    • Everyone’s experiences are different, and no one reacts to any situation the same way. Trauma occurs when an individual is unable to regulate their emotions or have control over a situation, and they experience a threat to their bodily integrity, surrounding environment, or loved ones. If someone experiences a threat, but they have more control over the situation and their emotions, they may not experience the situation as trauma like someone else might. Because everyone is different, it is important to validate what anyone perceives as trauma. Loss of control over emotions, one’s body, and/or the experience of a threat is what defines a traumatic experience – not specific circumstances.
  3. All Trauma is Valid
    • This pairs with the above truth. Trauma compromises one’s sense of security in their body, environment, or society. Trauma is NOT defined by circumstances, but one’s experience in response to the circumstances surrounding their situation.
  4. The After-Effects of Trauma Differ from Person to Person
    • The after-effects of trauma may appear in days, weeks, months, or years following the trauma. They can also be sporadic and reappear from time to time. Trauma doesn’t heal after a set amount of time, and the after-effects of trauma can resurface years later. Trauma has a lasting effect on the individual; however, learning skills to cope with the trauma and regain control over one’s emotions can help relieve or lessen the after-effects of trauma.
  5. TRAUMA IS NOT THE SURVIVOR’S FAULT
    • “Trauma is not your fault, but healing is your responsibility”. I have seen this quote in various formats across the internet, but it is so harmful to survivors of trauma. Even though it states that trauma is not your fault, it connects back to the blame game that often goes hand in hand with trauma. Trauma is absolutely not the survivor’s fault, and how the trauma affects them, and how they react to the trauma, should be acknowledged with empathy. Healing is a process, and how one heals from trauma is their choice based on what they feel is right for them. Healing is also dependent on the resources available to the individual, such as mental health care services; however, a lack of insurance coverage and associated costs can negatively impact an individual’s ability to seek mental health care.

There is such a stigma surrounding trauma, and those who experience it, that the true definition of trauma seems to have gotten lost. It is important to remember that trauma relates to a threat that someone experiences to their well-being, as well as having a loss of control over one’s emotions, coping strategies, and circumstances. Trauma is not defined by specific circumstances, and everyone perceives trauma differently. By understanding this clear definition you can treat others with empathy and understand how trauma has impacted their life. I challenge you to open your heart and listen with empathy to others to expand your knowledge and understanding of trauma and its effects.

Do you feel like you are stuck thinking about the past more than you think about the present?

Are your emotions controlling you more than you are controlling them?

Do you long for more meaningful connections with the people in your life?

Are you unsure of what your purpose in life is?

Then The Ignite and Rise Academy is for you!

It is no coincidence that we are meeting right here and right now. The time has come for you to embrace transformation and create the life that you deserve.

The Ignite and Rise Academy is designed to give you the necessary tools to:

  • Heal from your past
  • Manage your emotions instead of them overwhelming you
  • Rediscover the joy in every day
  • Ignite and actualize your soul purpose
  • Create a life that fully complies with your values and passions
  • Have stronger and more positive connections with others

Each skill you will learn through the academy will help you to tackle the obstacles you are experiencing, as well as any obstacle that you are faced with in the future.

You deserve to live life to the fullest, and I am dedicated to ensuring that you have all of the resources you need to ignite your soul purpose and become your highest self.

Take the plunge and dare to transform with The Ignite and Rise Academy. You, more than anyone, deserve your utmost time and attention.

Stigma and Mental Health

The word “stigma” has been used in the mental health world to acknowledge the prejudice that surrounds mental illness; however, many individuals and professionals find the word offensive or unprofessional. As a social worker with a history of Major Depressive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Bulimia, Complex PTSD, and substance abuse, I choose to use the word “stigma” when addressing mental illness because it is applicable to my personal experience and experience in the professional field. Using and addressing the word highlights the negativity that continues to surround mental health and allows it to be addressed and fought. However, it can be a sensitive topic with individuals and professionals alike, and it needs to be used with caution.

Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others” (Government of Western Australia, 2019). It is also connected to prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. Since stigma creates a sense of shame, it negatively impacts the self-image of individuals with mental illness. Mental health and mental illness have long been connected to stigma due to a lack of education and experience that leads to negative interactions and a lack of help or services. Despite the great strides that have been made in mental health, it is still lacking. Education and empathy are essential when fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness, and disconnecting mental illness from an individual’s personality is important. Mental illness is not the fault of the individual, and it does not define one’s personality. Mental health and mental illness continue to develop as research expands diagnosis and treatment options, but with this development, continuing to learn and grow is necessary.

While stigma is seen as a negative word or topic, it is necessary to address when identifying the experiences of those who have experienced mental illness. For so long, mental illness has been tied to one’s personality or shortcomings. By identifying that negative experience through the use of “stigma” we can better educate those who don’t have firsthand experience with mental illness to gain allies and fight the injustices that surround mental health.

References

Government of Western Australia. (2019). Stigma, Discrimination and Mental Illness. Government of Western Australia Department of Health.

Do you feel like you are stuck thinking about the past more than you think about the present?

Are your emotions controlling you more than you are controlling them?

Do you long for more meaningful connections with the people in your life?

Are you unsure of what your purpose in life is?

Then The Ignite and Rise Academy is for you!

It is no coincidence that we are meeting right here and right now. The time has come for you to embrace transformation and create the life that you deserve.

The Ignite and Rise Academy is designed to give you the necessary tools to:

  • Heal from your past
  • Manage your emotions instead of them overwhelming you
  • Rediscover the joy in every day
  • Ignite and actualize your soul purpose
  • Create a life that fully complies with your values and passions
  • Have stronger and more positive connections with others

Each skill you will learn through the academy will help you to tackle the obstacles you are experiencing, as well as any obstacle that you are faced with in the future.

You deserve to live life to the fullest, and I am dedicated to ensuring that you have all of the resources you need to ignite your soul purpose and become your highest self.

Take the plunge and dare to transform with The Ignite and Rise Academy. You, more than anyone, deserve your utmost time and attention.

The Danger of Misdiagnosing Discouraged Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is often categorized – in short – as a mental illness where the survivor exhibits explosive anger, impulsive behaviors, and unstable relationships – with romantic partners, as well as friends and family. Due to the destructive nature of these symptoms, BPD has almost become a bad word in the mental health community. As an MSW, I have come across professionals who won’t work with individuals who have been diagnosed with BPD due to the stereotypical “abusive” nature of the disease. However, the symptoms listed above provide an overgeneralized assumption of the disorder based on only three out of nine possible symptoms – and all symptoms are frequently linked to trauma. This overgeneralization of BPD marginalizes survivors of the illness by belittling or oversimplifying their experience – particularly those who don’t fall under the assumed criteria. Furthermore, it makes finding help extremely difficult, let alone receiving an appropriate diagnosis. There are four types of Borderline Personality Disorder that all exhibit differently, and to be diagnosed with BPD, one must exhibit five out of nine possible criteria. The variation of symptoms then puts the survivor on a sliding scale of 256 possible representations of the disorder. Because of this, no one person fits 100% into any one of the four categories of BPD due to the number of possible variations. Survivors often exhibit symptoms that put them in more than one category – and sometimes all four – but the categories help survivors, loved ones, and professionals better understand Borderline Personality Disorder, possible causes, and treatment options.

The 9 Criteria of Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by extremes between idealization and devaluation (also known as “splitting”)
  • Identity disturbance: Markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive behavior in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)
  • Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-harming behavior
  • Emotional instability in reaction to day-to-day events (e.g., intense episodic sadness, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

(Taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fifth Edition, 2013)

The 4 Types of Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Discouraged (or Quiet) BPD
    • The trademark of Discouraged BPD is “acting in” rather than “acting out”. Individuals within this category don’t often exhibit explosive anger or manipulative behavior; instead, they often come off as calm and high-functioning and implode by bottling their emotions or dissociating (OPI, 2018).
  • Impulsive BPD
    • Impulsive BPD is linked to a charismatic personality trait and attitude. Those with Impulsivle BPD are often flirtascious, outgoing, dramatic and manipulative (OPI, 2018).
  • Petulant BPD
    • Petulant BPD is characterized by a need to control others, using self-harm/suicidal tendencies to manipulate others, intense mood swings, and being dissatisfied in relationships (OPI, 2018).
  • Self-Destructive BPD
    • Self-Destructive BPD is linked to self-hatred. Sufferers under this type are subject to self-harming behaviors, and they will often sabotage their well-being and/or happiness due to a feeling that they are undeserving (OPI, 2018).

My Story

I was recently diagnosed with Discouraged (or Quiet) and Petulant Borderline Personality Disorder following a suicidal episode and inpatient stay. As a social worker within the mental health community, and knowing the negativity behind Borderline Personality Disorder, my world came crashing down with my diagnosis.

I began to think, “What if no one wants to work with me because I have this illness? What if my friends and family will no longer see me the same? What if no one will understand?”

I have always been an introverted, quiet person, and I didn’t see myself as exhibiting the stereotypical criteria of manipulation or explosive anger. The anger I have experienced has always been towards myself. I have a history of self-harming behavior and suicidal ideation, but I had never connected Borderline Personality Disorder to my symptoms – possibly out of the negativity I have witnessed surrounding the disease. When learning about mental illnesses in school, I wasn’t taught the different types of BPD, which added to my confusion and feelings of self-hatred and failure. Along with BPD I was also diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and having three new diagnoses was overwhelming and hard for me to grasp. However, I felt extensive shame with my BPD diagnosis that I did not feel with the C-PTSD or MDD, and that called me to look further into the illness.

Being the natural scholar that I am, I followed my treatment with extensive research into BPD, and I discovered that Discouraged (or Quiet) BPD is the most misdiagnosed form of BPD due to the symptoms correlating with depression. Many professionals aren’t taught extensively about the subtypes of BPD, which can lead to a general lack of knowledge in the mental health field and a line of misdiagnoses in a person’s timeline, which is most likely why it took me going inpatient to be properly diagnosed. D-BPD is the most dangerous form of BPD because its sufferers don’t often reach out for help due to a feeling of inadequacy and lack of self-care, and self-harming or suicidal behaviors can often go unnoticed. I learned that intense relationships are also a factor with D-BPD, but those with the illness often sabotage their own relationships due to a belief that they don’t deserve to be loved. All of these factors hit a cord with me and they made me look at myself like I never had. I had to confront my history of intense and dysfunctional relationships as well as my isolating behavior and inconsistencies with my mood.

Broadening my knowledge made me more aware of all forms of BPD, especially understanding that the diagnosis is often connected to past trauma that the survivor couldn’t control. While BPD can come off as aggressive, it is linked to trauma and feeling defenseless, which is often overlooked. Empathy is necessary for anyone to understand what a person with BPD has gone through, especially in the mental health field. Following my experience and my research, I was relieved to know that there is a reason behind why I am the way that I am, and that there is help for all forms of BPD through Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

I have since been certified in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and I am extremely passionate about helping others who have been affected by BPD and/or PTSD, or those who would like to learn more about either illness. Understanding my diagnosis not only helped me to better understand myself, it helped me to understand all affected by the disease and to realize that there is help. Survivors of BPD shouldn’t suffer due to misunderstanding and lack of knowledge, and it is my mission to ensure that BPD education and treatment is highly accessible for all. I will be exploring each form of BPD more in depth in future posts, as well as C-PTSD and PTSD.

References

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2013

OPI. (2018, October 3). Understanding Self-Destructive Borderline Personality Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.optimumperformanceinstitute.com/bpd-treatment

Do you feel like you are stuck thinking about the past more than you think about the present?

Are your emotions controlling you more than you are controlling them?

Do you long for more meaningful connections with the people in your life?

Are you unsure of what your purpose in life is?

Then The Ignite and Rise Academy is for you!

It is no coincidence that we are meeting right here and right now. The time has come for you to embrace transformation and create the life that you deserve.

The Ignite and Rise Academy is designed to give you the necessary tools to:

  • Heal from your past
  • Manage your emotions instead of them overwhelming you
  • Rediscover the joy in every day
  • Ignite and actualize your soul purpose
  • Create a life that fully complies with your values and passions
  • Have stronger and more positive connections with others

Each skill you will learn through the academy will help you to tackle the obstacles you are experiencing, as well as any obstacle that you are faced with in the future.

You deserve to live life to the fullest, and I am dedicated to ensuring that you have all of the resources you need to ignite your soul purpose and become your highest self.

Take the plunge and dare to transform with The Ignite and Rise Academy. You, more than anyone, deserve your utmost time and attention.

Ashley Nestler, MSW

My name is Ashley Nestler, and I am a woman living with Major Depressive Disorder, Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder, and Complex PTSD. Following years of trauma including sexual and domestic abuse, bullying, and harassment, I found myself in the midst of a severe mental health crisis. Having nowhere to go but up, I had to rebuild my life by facing my demons and rediscovering my identity. Through this process I had to rediscover my personal power and draw on my inner light to create a life that I love; a life where I can help people like you rise from the ashes of your past towards a more brilliant tomorrow! 

Throughout my recovery, I felt a strong calling to help men and women like me who want help navigating life, but also want to have control over their healing process and improve control over their minds and their relationships with others. It is because of this that I have made it my mission to help you discover your personal power and take control of your mind, body, and spirit. My purpose is to assist you in reclaiming your power while fighting the stigma that surrounds mental health in today‚Äôs society, and teaching you how to reclaim your life following destructive events, thoughts, or a mental health crisis and/or diagnosis. 

I am a firm believer that we are all precious, and each of us brings a light to the world for a specific purpose. I am here to help you discover and explore your purpose so that you can live life to the fullest. I look forward to helping you discover your light so that you can rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and conquer not only everything that comes your way, but also conquer yourself.

Do you feel like you are stuck thinking about the past more than you think about the present?

Are your emotions controlling you more than you are controlling them?

Do you long for more meaningful connections with the people in your life?

Are you unsure of what your purpose in life is?

Then The Ignite and Rise Academy is for you!

It is no coincidence that we are meeting right here and right now. The time has come for you to embrace transformation and create the life that you deserve.

The Ignite and Rise Academy is designed to give you the necessary tools to:

  • Heal from your past
  • Manage your emotions instead of them overwhelming you
  • Rediscover the joy in every day
  • Ignite and actualize your soul purpose
  • Create a life that fully complies with your values and passions
  • Have stronger and more positive connections with others

Each skill you will learn through the academy will help you to tackle the obstacles you are experiencing, as well as any obstacle that you are faced with in the future.

You deserve to live life to the fullest, and I am dedicated to ensuring that you have all of the resources you need to ignite your soul purpose and become your highest self.

Take the plunge and dare to transform with The Ignite and Rise Academy. You, more than anyone, deserve your utmost time and attention.

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