Daily Archives:

Normal in Training – The Battle Against Depression

Today was another day that was filled with sleep. It makes me feel like such a failure. My colleagues don’t struggle to make it to work because they can’t get out of bed. The physicians in my family never even take a sick day. Some depressed people manage to take care of their families. I can barely take care of myself. What is my excuse for my weakness?

Then I thought of physical conditions that leave people debilitated. Migraine headaches. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Lyme disease. Do the people who suffer from these conditions feel paralyzed with guilt and shame when they can’t get out of bed? Or do they accept their fatigue as being part of their illness rather than a personal failing?

I think about the recommendations I give to clients who are depressed. Exercise. Get sunlight. Be social. Regulate your sleep cycle. If someone had the flu, you would tell them to rest. Listen to your body. But with depression, we tell people to ignore what their bodies and minds are telling them and to do the opposite. Fight it! Don’t give in!

Don’t get me wrong. I do all of these things when I can, and they work. After sleeping most of the day, I forced myself to do laundry, get some lunch, wave at my neighbors, put together my tennis schedule for the new league, and play tennis for 3 hours to make up for my lack of steps from yesterday. And I’m writing this blog post now. . .

There is an article circulating on the internet about how for some depressed people, positive reframing doesn’t work. Telling the person to be positive actually makes them feel worse. That it’s better to support them by expressing empathy for their feelings.

Perhaps someday, researchers are going to find that listening to your body when you are depressed is sometimes more effective than fighting it with wakeful activities like forced exercise and socialization–two things that can be difficult to do even when you’re not depressed.

Read the rest of the story! Visit Normal in Training: The Battle Against Depression.

Bravely Bipolar – Misperceptions

Why is it that we (those of us with mental illness) have to try to bring each other down? Why can’t we truly support one another even when that support isn’t what we want to hear? How are we to ever come together as a cohesive unit for change? Is it even possible? . . .

I refuse to go on the attack myself. It’s a waste of my energy and time. I would much rather focus on the task at hand: Bringing about meaning change in the government (both national and local) and bringing about change in this pervasive stigma on both our parts and those that don’t have a mental illness.

Stigma is going to be our downfall. Education is going to change that. In order to educate, we have to accept what we have been given and be willing to talk about it. We can’t hold it inside and be ashamed of it. We have to be of one voice, one LOUD voice…and don’t forget gentle. We have to finess this. Stigma and prejudice won’t go away on their own. We have to be willing to stand up and be noticed, to get out from behind the shadows, to shed light on these illnesses.

Read the rest of the story! Visit Misperceptions | BravelyBipolar.

Pepper Hadlow – Does secrecy reinforce stigma?

Doesn’t it seem as though hiding something makes it appear to be something you should hide?

If we’re all going around not telling people, then we’re sending a message to ourselves and everyone else — those who know, and those who don’t — that it’s bad, that it’s shameful, reprehensible, something to be embarrassed about, something to apologize for. At least, that’s how it looks to me.

All those shiny, happy “normal” people won’t know how common, and actually not terrifying, mental illness can be.

High-functioning mentally ill folks can kind of keep it under wraps, so the only mental illness that’s really visible is the kind that lands people in the hospital, which is the scary-looking kind of mental illness.

For many people, it has to be that bad before they will even seek help. That’s obviously problematic on multiple levels.

Why is it the case, though? Partly, I think, it’s this secrecy thing.

If something’s off, you might not want to let on to anyone or find a doctor, might not want to even acknowledge it yourself, because you don’t know how actually normal it is for people to be a bit off.

In my opinion, everyone should be in therapy, because everyone has issues, and no one is perfect enough to be able to handle all of theirs.

People hide it, though, because they don’t want anyone to know, and don’t want to think they are “mentally ill,” which is a phrase with all KINDS of bad connotations.

With no intervention, something a little bit off can get way, way off. Then you end up in the hospital, being the kind of extreme example that scared you away from being honest with yourself in the first place.

When I look at things this way, the whole “what will people think of me?!?!” line of thinking seems a little silly and self-defeating, and not super helpful to the whole “erase the stigma” cause.

Read the rest of the story! Visit Does secrecy reinforce stigma? | Pepper Hadlow.

Bravely Bipolar – Politics and Politicians

I met with one of my local legislators today to discuss possible legislation regarding quality of mental health care and the severe shortage psych beds in our state, among other things. It was quite an interesting experience sitting in this local coffee shop talking budget concerns vs. the quality of a person’s life. I get it. It’s difficult to pass a state bill with funding attached to it, especially when it comes to mental health. So I then switched gears to things I thought could be done that wouldn’t add the burden of funding, like CIT training for first responders. This program puts first responders with those us with mental illnesses together so they can ask questions…in a sense pick our brains on how best to handle the situations they run into. How to diffuse a situation rather than make it worse. I thought, what if we could take this state-wide? Apparently this takes funding as well. They have to pay the first responders for their time. My ultimate goal is to put lawmakers and those of us that live with mental illness at the same table. If we can sit down and talk with them, tell them of our experiences in the “system”, tell them our stories, make it more real to them, put an everyday face to mental illness, we may have a chance of passing some meaningful legislation. We may stand a chance of passing some legislation that will actually work and help. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I still think this is possible.

Read the rest of the story! Visit Politics and Politicians | BravelyBipolar.

Toss the Typewriter – What You Might Not Know About Your College-Aged Child

Your child is off to college tomorrow. How exciting! What adventures to be had! I’m sure that you will be lonely, but then you will think about how happy your child is.

But what if your child isn’t happy? How do you tell if it is the normal freshman blues, or something more serious? What if your child’s unhappiness is more like depression or anxiety?

Please, why are you walking away? Oh, I understand. You don’t need to hear about mental illnesses. Your child was top of his high school class, popular, participated in sports and clubs. You and your child have a wonderful relationship. You’ve spoken openly about drugs and alcohol. You expect a little experimentation, but your child will be careful.

Please, don’t leave. Your child might never have an issue, but her best friend might need your child’s understanding and help.

But, before we help your child’s friend, consider this: is there is someone in your family who struggles with addiction or mental illness? If so, then your child is at risk. It doesn’t matter what you have discussed, or what promises your child has made. Being an addict or having mental illness is not a choice. Often, it is in college when the first symptoms of addiction and mental illness appear.

Here are some things you can do. . .

Read the rest of this very helpful and timely piece! Visit What You Might Not Know About Your College-Aged Child | Toss the Typewriter.