I’m Dani Kelley,

and I do lots of things.

Tag Archive for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

As dumpster fires go.

I’ve been sitting here for a good 10 minutes, just staring at the screen. Occasionally typing a sentence or two, then deleting. The words I want to say aren’t words I feel I can say yet, and so I choose to be silent. Much like I have most of this year, if you’ve noticed. On January 18, I left my…

Cognitive distortion and taking up space.

My brain is spinning with thoughts and conversations over the past weeks, the culmination of almost a year’s worth of introspection and mourning. “I looked through the journal section of your blog and noticed you haven’t really written lately,” a friend noted. No. I haven’t. I’ve been afraid, frankly. With some good reason and probably with some over-reaction. But sharing…

Haikus With Dani: JerkBrain Edition.

There’s a lot going on in my life. I’ve deactivated my Twitter for a little bit. Vulnerability is terrifying, but it’s easier to be vulnerable to an amorphous mass of people than talk to anyone in particular about what’s been happening, even the things that are only happening inside my own head. Therefore, you’re getting more of my depressing fragments of dialogue, this time brought to you by my very own JerkBrain.

On being kind to myself.

It’s New Year’s Eve, so of course I must write.

Y’all, this year has been hard.

I started the year planning to write more, letter more, draw more, do more. Instead, I started the year barely being able to breathe, and it’s honestly been one health crisis after another.

On the one hand, I’m getting medical care. I have access to good care. That’s amazing.

On the other hand, I’ve been cycling through new meds AT LEAST monthly since the summer, almost ALL of which have had drastic affects on my life. (At least 2 of them made me suicidal, and this latest one has helped my depression but increased the intensity of my migraines. I haven’t been able to be present in a fully-lit room for weeks.)

I feel like I can’t complain. After all, I am getting help. I’m doing a lot better than I was a year ago or two years ago.

But I feel like a failure, honestly.

I haven’t written the way that I want to, because I’ve just been emotionally incapable. I haven’t created nearly as much art as I’ve wanted to, and I’ve only been able to do it in spurts. Most of my days look like me barely making it through the work day before I come home and collapse.

I’m a writer. I need to write. I’m an artist. I need to art. I’m a designer, I’m our only source of income, I’m dealing with a lot of personal life things that are so, so draining.

And it’s December. December is terrible, and historically the month when I am the most hopeless.

I’m trying to be gentle with myself. I’m trying to be kind. But it’s hard. I look and sound healthy, but I’m not. I’m just not. And I don’t know how to manage being kind to myself without driving myself sick with worry over how others will perceive my inactivity and sporadic creation of words and art.

In the words of wise old Bilbo Baggins, “I feel old. Thin. Like butter scraped over too much bread.”

So maybe, in 2016, I can work on beating myself up less for things that aren’t my fault in the first place.

I have chronic migraines. I’m allowed to ask for less noise and fewer lights.

I probably have fibromyalgia. I’m allowed to say that I can’t do activities that require I put myself in a position of being bed-ridden the next day.

I have anxiety, depression, PTSD. I’m allowed to care for myself when these problems arise.

I’m allowed to ask for help, like when I texted Paige at midnight the night I realized one of my medications was driving me to suicide, and when I called my parents the next day telling them something was horribly wrong and they and Paige both took care of me.

I’m allowed to be alone, for my introverted sanity.

I’m allowed to cry when things hurt or are scary. I’m allowed to laugh when things are funny. I’m allowed to not participate in activities I don’t want to do, and I’m allowed to give myself time and space to just be and breathe and recover.

May 2016 be a year in which I choose to be kind and gentle with myself, and therefore give others like me permission to love themselves, as well.

I love you all, so very much. My online communities breathe health and care and love into my life. Your presence, your words, you care and love…they all keep me going. I’m so grateful for you, and I hope to grow closer to you all in this new year as well.

The journey in and out.

There had always been a disconnect between what I was taught and what I observed and experienced, between blind faith in invisible things and repeatably testable evidence. But as a child, as a teen, even into early adulthood, I wasn’t given the words to recognize the disconnect, or even the tools to inspect or deconstruct my beliefs to see if there was any merit to them outside of wanting them to be true.

No more faith: the whys and why nots of my deconversion.

It’s really rather rare for people to ask me why I deconverted from Christianity. Like, really rare. It’s far more common for them to assume they already know, whether they’re talking to me while they’re expressing this assumption or not. However, in a single week, I’ve had two separate unaffiliated people ask me a variation of the same question about the role fundamentalism had in my deconversion. Of course, I’ve been trying to figure this out for myself on a less-specific scale for the better part of two years, though much of it has been in my own head. Perhaps it’s time for me to work out of my thoughts here with you.

Without GRACE: Secular vs. Spiritual Authority and An Incomplete, Discrepant History.

Last time, I gave some rather brief introductory thoughts to the GRACE report and explained what my intentions are for doing such a thorough and critical review. This time, since I’ve covered the first few pages, I’m jumping in just past the beginning of the introductory chapter and providing commentary through the end of the introduction. I’ll give an overview of the sections I’m addressing, along with direct quotes, observations, and thoughts. You can read the pdf file of the report along with me if you like. As always, your input and observations are welcome.

Without GRACE: Introductory Thoughts

Bob Jones University, self-identified as The World’s Most Unusual University and the Fortress of Faith, has a very public history of many atrocious things. Racism and homophobia have topped the list thusfar, but now, thanks to the 300 page report from the Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) that is gaining national attention, mistreating victims of sexual abuse is another claim BJU can make to fame.

Forgive my cynicism. As both a survivor of sexual abuse and a former BJU student who got expelled for consensual sex, I think it’s pretty well earned at this point.

Frankly, I’m thrilled that the report has been released. I’m pleased with how thorough it is, and I’m even more thrilled with the press it’s getting. Please don’t mistake my joy that the voices of my brothers and sisters and me are finally publicly vindicated as rejoicing in BJU’s public censure. I wish more than anything that they would take to heart the criticism they’re receiving, offer a sincere apology, and make their campus and staff safe places for victims of abuse. However, I’m simply not hopeful to that end.

While I’ve skimmed through two thirds of the report already, I’m currently undertaking the task of reading through every page and footnote. Clearly, I’m personally invested. I actually gave GRACE a written statement, though I’m not sure that it was used in this final report or not. (More on that later). I just need to read it myself, think through it and analyze it myself. And I’m going to provide my exhaustive notes and analysis here, starting today.

These thoughts are my own. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my perspective, but I think it’s valuable to share my thoughts as a survivor, former student, participant in the investigation, and skeptic. Every quote that I reference will have the page number (and footnote number, if applicable) relevant to the report.

And so I begin.