26 Little Signs You are getting over Depression
~ Thank you to themighty.com
To get a sense of how people with depression knew they were starting to feel better, we asked our mental health community to share little ways they knew they were recovering from depression.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. “When I can wake up and get ready for the day. I shower, cook, clean up the house and just face the day like a ‘normal’ person…” — Amanda T.
2. “When I start cooking my own food again instead of wasting money on fast food. When I start showering and brushing my teeth on a more normal basis. When I start to laugh with meaning again. When my hobbies become enjoyable again. When I can get myself to work on time. When I sing. When I cuddle my significant other to enjoy his presence, not just to try and feel better. When I start enjoying the little things again, like a full moon or beautiful sunset.” — Stephanie F.
3. “Laughing, really laughing and realizing in that moment you are actually happy, and you forget everything else for those few seconds and relish in the moment because it’s been so long.” — Rebecca M.
4. “When I can start reading again. My concentration and focus improves.” — Sharyn H.
5. “It’s little things for me, and it usually happens without me noticing. Caring about what I put on in the morning, wanting to cook dinner, remembering and wanting to watch my favorite TV shows, actually laughing instead of saying ‘that’s funny.’ I’ll catch myself making the bed or washing my face in the morning and realize I am actually feeling better.” — Nichole H.
6. “When I no longer go to bed praying I don’t wake up and instead go to bed smiling because I feel worthy of life and happiness.” — Megan E.
7. “When my eyes get the life back into them. (When I smile with my eyes.) Becoming productive again. Spending less time in my room.” — Amanda A.
8. “When I start doing the things I love, no matter how skilled or unskilled I am: singing passionately; dancing as though my life depended on it; baking while licking the batter off the mixing spoons; and even laughing, and going outside, taking in just how beautiful the world can be outside of my windows.” — Ashley H.
9. “When I start noticing the beauty in the sunrise, how the clouds have different colors, actually seeing the leaves on the trees instead of them just being there. When I get motivation and energy to do stuff like housework, socializing, taking a walk. When I manage to enjoy a cup of coffee, not just drinking it to kickstart my level of energy.” — Rita O.
10. “Either of these, which will seem like the easiest things in the world for some people. 1. When I find I still can and do find things funny. 2. Getting up without feeling I’m about to explode from the pressure in my head or the need to immediately get back under the safety of the duvet.” — Louise F.
11. “I become more present during the day. Instead of feeling like I am just going through the motions, I begin to feel like life isn’t a hassle. To sum it up I look forward to my days and getting out of bed.” — Anjelica M.
12. “When I’m able to look past the present. When I am able to make future plans and further be excited about them. When I can see myself accomplishing more.” — Caroline S.
13. “When I feel like I can support those around me, like my husband and my mom. Like I can carry them on my shoulders rather than being crushed by the weight.” — Emily M.
14. “The days I accomplish something — anything — that’s when I feel like, ‘I can do this.’ After a year-long battle and months of therapy, I surprised myself when I not only played music but sang along! I imagine the true sign of getting better is when I can read, clean house daily, shower more than once or twice per week, and make a real meal more than once per week. It’s amazing how much of your life depression affects that others simply see as ‘normal.'” — Jazmyne F.
15. “Wanting to take care of myself. Simple things like taking a shower, brushing my hair, even putting make up on. Not because I have to but because I want to.” — Andrea B.
16. “When I actually try and make plans with the few friends I have left. Or I finally do household things I’ve been putting off for over a month because I don’t have the energy to get out of bed.” — Alexis M.
17. “I feel lighter. Like something has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel a warm burst of sunshine in my chest. I also feel relief.” — Sarah V.
18. “I start singing again, just humming while walking or doing things. I stop singing completely when depressed. First sign of light at the end of that dark tunnel is music back in my head and heart.” — Gaia F.
19. “When my sense of taste and smell improves and I can have lights on in the evening. (I normally live in the dark.)” — Julian N.
20. “When you can eat a meal willingly without your stomach feeling like there is a weight inside of it.” — Ashley B.
21. “Leaving the house to do things because I want to and not because I’m obligated.” — Alyse W.
22. “Singing in the car.” — Lucy D.
23. “When I wake up and don’t feel like I want to cry anymore.” — Adam B.
24. “When I no longer get angry at everything and everyone.” — Ceri C.
25. “I don’t have to force myself to smile.” — Hailie H.
26. “Colors get a little more vivid, and the world looks a little less hopeless.” — Michaela R
About Your Friend With Depression Who Hasn't Text Back
The Mighty, March 2017
When depression hits, it can hit hard. It might take all the energy a person has to go about their daily routine, if they can even manage that. So when a friend texts, even a simple “What’s up?” can be too much to answer. The person might be worried about what to say or might simply not be able to muster the energy to write a response.
When people currently dealing with depression don’t respond to their friends, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in maintaining that friendship. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. It means they might momentarily need a bit of extra understanding and love — even if that means patiently waiting for their reply.
To find out what people with depression wish they could tell their friends when they can’t text back, we asked people in our mental health community to share what they wish their friends knew.
Here’s what they said:
1. “I really want to talk to you, honestly I do. But some times I just don’t feel like talking to anyone. Please don’t take any offense to it. I still love you. And I’ll be back once my head clears up.” — Kelly B.
2. “I’m not flaking, ignoring you or mad at you. I cannot get myself to be levelheaded or even just stop overthinking or worrying. Please be patient with me and know when I figure this out or can control this feeling I will reach out. Be patient with me.” — Ashly D.
3. “I love you, but it just takes too much energy to text, and I’m feeling so frail and so much like a disappointment that I could crumble at any second and don’t want to burden you. But I care and love you.” — Kasey M.
4. “I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the energy to talk to you right now. And I’m terribly afraid I might say the wrong thing and hurt you… Things are too twisted in my head right now, and I don’t want to inflict this on you.” — Afreen Z.
5. “I am so, so sorry for never replying to your loving messages. Even more so, because I know you see I’m active on Facebook. For some reason, Facebook is easy, but replying to real people with real love and care for me just takes so much energy.” — Alice H.
6. “I’m sorry, but I’m really just not up to talking right now. It’s not your fault, I’m just very depressed today and need some time to collect myself.” — Stephanie F.
7. “I want to talk, but I need some space. Sometimes I just don’t know how to reply. Sometimes I type out a message and then retype another again and again until I think there’s no point and delete it all.” — Nicola B.
8. “I feel horrible, I really do. I just don’t want to hurt you because every little thing is setting me off right now. I don’t like hurting people, and I definitely don’t want to hurt you.” — Ashley H.
9. “I wish you knew I’m not intentionally ignoring you. Please don’t stop texting me. I will respond. Sometimes, it takes longer than expected to say what I need to say because there are days I feel like a burden if I tell you I’m not OK, even if it’s true or not.” — Tatauq M.
10. “I haven’t got anything interesting or positive to say. I don’t want to be falsely positive. Because then you won’t know. But I don’t want to miserable in case I scare you off with being ‘down’ again. I just want to be held while in bed and sleep. And wake up with you still there. But I’ve got nothing to make you want to come over. Because I can’t stop crying.” — Robyn C.
11. “I would love nothing more but to talk to you. But right now I don’t have the mentality to deal with myself, and I need to focus on that. I will get through this, and I love you so much.” — Adriana R.
12. “Just bear with me and know it has nothing to do with how much I care about you… but absolutely everything I have is going into me getting through this right now. If I could change this I would. If you don’t understand it or can’t handle it, it’s OK and I would never be upset with you.” — Eowyn T.
13. “Thank you for texting me. I’m so happy you still talk to me even though I go through a roller coaster of emotions weekly. Thank you for still trying. I just can’t lie and say everything’s going well right now. I’m a little resentful that you can live life so effortlessly, but I admire that about you as well. So if I don’t respond, it’s just because I don’t want to bring you down. Because I love you.” — Ashley E.
14. “It’s nothing you have done, but right now even a conversation is too much for me. It exhausts me. But thank you for reaching out and being here for me. It means the world, you mean the world. I’m just sorry I can’t show you right now.” — Georgie R.
15. “I know I am a bit useless at replying, but just going through a hard space at the moment. It will pass, and it will get better, and I will get there, but it will take time. Please bear with me, and know I love your company but just can’t be ‘peopley’ at the moment.” — Arlene G.
16. “I would love to talk, but right now not talking is my way of taking care of myself. It’s a waste of my limited energy to text back and worry for the rest of the week if I said the right thing and be upset waiting for a response. I just need time.” — Ainsley H.
17. “Please don’t give up on me. I’m lonely and want to talk to you, but I just can’t right now, but know I love and appreciate you.” — Elizabeth I.
18. “Hey. I’m sorry I sometimes don’t reply or reply with one-word answers to your well-thought out and caring messages. I’m sorry I cancel plans. I feel like I have nothing interesting to contribute to conversations and feel tired and depleted by interactions with people. Sometimes I just need to retreat to the place where I feel safest — my bed. Know I do love you and care. I’m sorry, dear friend.” — Caitlin C.
19. “Sometimes communicating with anyone just depletes me. I have a family to take care of, and at the end of the day I just feel like I don’t have much more to give to anyone else.” — Jerri S.
20. “Sometimes it takes it out of me to pretend I’m OK. I love talking to everyone, but I also don’t want them to worry about me, so when I talk to people, I always like to act as though I’m great, even when I’m not. I’m scared of being a burden, and I know that’s ridiculous, especially with family as they want to help, but something about me doesn’t want to let them. The effort it takes to keep up that happiness and love for life is exhausting though, and I can rarely find it in myself to do it. I want to, I just can’t because it makes me feel worse knowing I’m essentially lying.” — Hayleigh W.
21. “I used to simply ignore people and wreck my friendships, but I have learned my real friends will understand. Sometimes I need to give myself some space before talking to them, but I text back as soon as I’m up to it and I say, ‘I’m having a hard time, and it’s nothing personal, but I need some down time and some space for the time being. I love you and thank you for being patient with me.’ I wish I was able to tell them how hard it really can be, but sometimes even that is difficult when I’m depressed. Some people won’t understand, but many will. I give them the chance to be understanding, and if they aren’t, then it can’t be an incredibly valuable relationship to them if they won’t try. It helps me determine who is good for me and who isn’t, and for that I think this is a good way to handle it.” — Manda W.
22. “No, I’m not mad at you. Yes, I still love you, and I really do care about what’s going on with you… but I just don’t have the energy to battle with myself about whether my reply is going to be OK. Sometimes I don’t even have the energy to think of something to say. Please be patient with me. I won’t feel like this forever!” — Sarah B.
23. “I honestly just don’t know what to say. It’s hard for me to focus on what you’re saying, and I want to tell you what I’m going through. I want to communicate all of the pain, but I feel as if I’d be bothering you by laying it all out there. So instead, I just don’t say anything.” — Jen D.
24. “I’m OK, honest, I am. I just have to ride out this wave in my own way. Should I become not OK, I’ll reach out to whom I need to.” — Julz T.
25. “I’m struggling so much at the moment. I just can’t communicate with myself, let alone any one else. But I appreciate you being there more than you will ever know. Thank you for not giving up on me.” — Sonya H.
26. “I am to fuzzy-minded to talk to you right now. Trust me, I really want to talk to you, and this isn’t because I don’t like you, it’s just because right now I don’t have the energy to keep a conversation.” — Madolin G.
27. “Please, hold on. I’m going through a really tough time, but I love you. Thank you for checking up on me. I promise I’ll get back to you once the demons leave me alone.” — Nora J
Undoubtedly, the level of happiness I enjoy today I attribute to years of practicing gratitude. I simply go about my day in a state of mindfulness. In that state, I acknowledge things in my life, in my day, in the people around me that I appreciate. I whisper a prayer of gratitude as I bring these things to the fore of my mind.
Expressing gratitude can be just that simple! However, it simply works. And because of that, one continues the practice in expressing gratitude.
Why Grateful People Always Succeed
Feb 7, 2018 @ 10:23 AM, Forbes.com
Why Grateful People Succeed
To begin I’d like to preface with the idea that gratitude is a choice, not a result. I hear all the time that it is so easy to be grateful when you've made it to the top. It is easy to be grateful when your career, mission, relationships and finances are all going exceptionally well. Yes, that is true but contrary to popular belief it is also easy to be grateful during a time of struggle or during a building phase of life where you are trying to improve in all sectors. In fact, gratitude is the key factor in achieving ultimate success and happiness.
Don’t Believe Me? Learn From The Experts
Oprah Winfrey is a prime example of practicing gratitude because not only is she known for her humble beginning but also for her dedication and consistency in her gratitude journaling. She has produced an overwhelming amount of content on gratitude and its effect on her own personal life and she even said she has journals that date back every single day for over a decade.
“Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.” — Oprah Winfrey
Gratitude Creates Happiness
David Steindl-Rast, in his Ted Talk on happiness proposes a question: ‘Does happiness cause one to be grateful or does being grateful create happiness?’ He concludes his talk explaining that gratitude is the sole creator of happiness. We all know people who have faced devastating adversity and challenge but have managed to persevere with gratitude and happiness. They are the perfect example of creating happiness through practice of gratitude.
The Importance Of Focus
Tony Robbins speaks a lot about the importance of focus. As he says where focus goes, energy flows meaning that the brain sees and feels whatever you focus on time and time again. Whether your focus is positive or negative, thoughts and feelings are manifested based off of your initial focus. You better make sure you’re focusing on the right things!
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” — Tony Robbins
I’m grateful that I have positive modeling in my life. Closest to me is my husband, Noah Flom. He is the most positive person that I know. Noah’s outlook and positivity is incomparable and I learn something new from him every day. He believes that how you think on the inside, whether positive or negative, will manifest on the outside — and this approach will affect your life, your business, your attitude and your personality. Ultimately, people don’t really want to be around someone who is constantly negative and looking at the glass half empty.
Noah has taught me to always look at the glass half full and find the positive aspects in every situation, challenge, opportunity, and trial regardless of how fair or unfair the situation may seem. Through him I have discovered that attitude is contagious and although we all can’t have the world’s best attitude (like I believe he does) we do have a choice. Regardless of the circumstances, we can always choose to approach any situation from a positive and grateful place. He often says it takes just as much effort to be negative as it does to be positive, so choose wisely!
Hard Days, We All Have Them
All of our days are filled with micro and macro ups and downs and life is constantly testing our abilities, our strength and most importantly our perseverance. Our attitude, focus, and level of gratitude is in direct harmonization with our level of happiness. You cannot be happy without being grateful. Whether you are grateful for a good meal, a smiling stranger, or a brand new car all happiness is stemmed from being genuinely grateful for all opportunities, people, experiences and challenges.
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, oh which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens
How To Take Action And Choose Gratitude
If you struggle to find the positive things in your life and something to be grateful for try to improvise and stimulate your mind by listening to a podcast or perhaps a video of someone else showing gratitude. A great example of this is Will Smith. He is known as someone who is not only grateful but also someone who is extremely positive and always faces a challenge with a smile. We could all learn a thing or two from him!
To choose gratitude we need to substantially show effort in practicing this skill. Whether that is writing it down in a journal or on a notepad in your phone or even just taking five minutes to think in your head what you were grateful about that day; gratitude begins with action. It takes conscious effort to be grateful but just like any skill you acquire, it not only becomes stronger over time but it also becomes effortless as it becomes a habit it your daily routine.
When you begin to change the lens you use to view the world and you come from a place of gratitude, you begin to see the things differently. Give it a try! Let’s start by commenting five things you are grateful for today!
So many folk living with a mental health challenge lost so much along the path of recovery. At times, wellness seemed impossible. I say, we must keep moving forward, don’t give up, and find inspiration everywhere that you can. Read. Take walks in Nature. Pray. Meditate.
I know folk that depend on their health care to live from day to day - the very health care that is targeted by Congress. I want these folk to live.
The following I copied and pasted:
Congratulations! Snopes has verified that the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) enrollment period has been shortened (from 3 months to 6 weeks) and funding to advertise the deadlines has been cut by 90%.
Spending on in-person enrollment assistance is also set to be cut by 41 percent from 2016 levels.
Trump and the GOP are sabotaging the ACA.
Enrollment for 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA / Obamacare) starts November 1 and ends December 15.
Get the word out! Please copy and paste to circulate.
I believe her. It is so that she is where she is in her life! Congrats !
Creating healthy expectations and successfully communicating them can go a long way to keep a cherished relationship alive. However, unmet expectations can end a relationship.
One man's take on the silent killer of relationships: unmet expectations.
What's the secret to a winning relationship? This guy thinks he knows.
Derek Harvey -- Upworthy, Nov. 2016
During one of the presenter’s talks, he asked the audience what the biggest cause of divorce was.
Because I had just been through premarital counseling, I pretty much felt like an expert at marriage. I shot my hand up quickly to answer the question and blurted out, “Sex, money, and communication!” Then I looked at my wife next to me and grinned. Too easy.
“Wrong,” the presenter barked back. “Those are symptoms of the real problem.”
Ouch. Not only was I given a sharp lesson in humility, but what followed changed my life. I was about to be told the best piece of marriage advice that this young, prideful, newly married manboy could’ve ever asked for.
“The reason marriages end in divorce is because of one thing," he said, "unmet expectations.”
My newly-married manboy brain couldn’t handle the revelation. I don’t remember much of what was said after that. I was too busy thinking of all the unmet expectations I was experiencing after being married for just a month.
But having unmet expectations isn’t just a marriage problem. It’s a life problem.
Since that seminar six years ago, I have seen the pain and frustration that plays out from having unmet expectations — not just in marriage, but in all relationships. It’s a deadly venom that flows to the heart and wreaks havoc in relationships.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re single, married, working, unemployed, old, young, or [insert demographic here]. Having unmet expectations is lethal to everyone. No one is immune.
So ... what’s the solution?
I’m a math guy. I love equations. I love crunching numbers, and I thoroughly enjoyed algebra and calculus in high school (although I probably couldn’t do a calculus problem to save my life now).
So after lots of searching, I came across an equation for this that helped me understand the whole issue:
EXPECTATION – OBSERVATION = FRUSTRATION
Here’s what that means: Below are two hypothetical versions of one situation played out.
Situation #1: Expectation
When I come home from a long day at work, I EXPECT that my partner will have dinner prepared and ready for us, so we can sit down and eat as a family. She’ll be wearing an apron with no food stains on it (because she’s perfect like that) and her hair will be perfectly done up.
Meanwhile, my 16-month-old daughter will sit in her high chair and eat with utensils ... never missing her mouth, which makes cleanup a breeze. After we all finish eating at exactly the same time, we’ll head out into the Colorado sun and go for a nice family stroll, while the butler (you read that right ... butler) cleans up the kitchen and prepares our home for evening activities.
Situation #2: Reality
Really, I come home from work 30 minutes late, and dinner hasn’t even been thought of ... much less started. Because of this, my toddler is screaming her head off, signing, “More! Please! Eat!”
When I search for my wife, I find her working on a design project, trying to meet a deadline that’s technically already past due. When I ask what’s for dinner, she glares at me the way only an overworked, overtired, work-from-home parent can glare.
After picking up my toddler, I make my way into the kitchen to find an abundance of no groceries. So, being the manly chef that I am, I set my eyes on cheese and bread. “Grilled cheese!” I exclaim. I put my daughter in her high chair as an influx of rage bursts from within her. I quickly grab the applesauce pouch to appease her. It works ... for now. I get to work on my grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone eats. The kitchen is left a mess. Toys are scattered throughout the living room just waiting to break someone’s ankle. My wife and I collapse on the couch, avoiding eye contact and avoiding volunteering to clean the kitchen. I could keep going but you get the picture.
Frustration is the difference between these two scenarios.
It's quite an elaborate illustration, I know. But I’m trying to paint the picture of what our expectations can be like versus what life is actually like. Antonio Banderas says it best: “Expectation is the mother of all frustration.”
The fact of the matter is this: In life, we often have expectations that go unmet, and we’re often frustrated because of it. But we don’t HAVE to be.
What can you do? Let your observation take precedence over your expectation.
In other words, go with the flow.
Some would say to not have any expectations at all. But I wouldn’t go that far. I think healthy, realistic expectations that are communicated are good to have. They’re something to reach for.
But when you come into a situation and your expectations aren’t met, let your observation take the lead. Discard your expectation in the moment and deal with the reality at hand.
In my position, I've heard the rumblings of the crisis revealed in the research of these professionals. I encourage you to come and learn why West TN is the center of the rural healthcare crisis and hospital closings in the nation.
I hope some of you can make out.
Stigma, external and internal, is the source of much guilt for folk living with mood disorders. It is important to learn various coping techniques to reduce the amount of guilt. And, my brothers and sisters - remember to be gentle with yourself.
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Stigma can eat away at one's self esteem. I came across an article in Psychology Today that I found beneficial. ~
5 Ways to Boost Your Self-Esteem and Make It Stick1. Skip empty "affirmations."
John was 25 when he came to see me for psychotherapy. The previous year he had quit his “boring office job” and moved back in with his parents to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He now had a part-time job as a barista, played video games, and saw friends on weekends. As for figuring out his life—he wasn't.
“I think what’s holding me back is my self-esteem,” he said during our first session. “I just don’t feel good about myself—in any way.” John had tried to improve his self-esteem by repeating positive affirmations several times a day: I’m going to be a big success, and I can do anything I put my mind to.
“The positive affirmations you’re using are not good,” I explained to John, “both grammatically and psychologically. But the bigger problem is there seems to be nothing in your life that is nourishing your self-esteem—you’re not doing anything that would make you feel good about yourself.”
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Indeed, we have to nourish our self-esteem. If we want to feel good about ourselves, we have to do things that actually make us feel proud, accomplished, appreciated, respected, or empowered, or take steps that make us feel that we’re advancing toward our goals. John was doing none of these things.
5 Steps to Nourishing Self-Esteem
1. Avoid generic positive affirmations.
Positive affirmations are like empty calories. You can tell yourself you’re great but if you don’t really believe it, your mind will reject the affirmation and make you feel worse as a result. Affirmations only work when they fall within the range of believability, and for people with low self-esteem, they usually don't.
2. Identify areas of authentic strength or competency.
To begin building your self-esteem, you have to identify what you’re good at, what you do well, or what you do that other people appreciate. It can be something small, a single small step in the right direction, but it is has to be something. If John were a champion video game player, that could have done the trick. But he wasn’t that dedicated. As a result, the hours he spent playing did not provide his self-esteem any emotional nourishment.
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3. Demonstrate ability.
Once you’ve identified an area of strength, find ways to demonstrate it. If you’re a good bowler, join a bowling league. If you’re a good writer, post an essay to a blog. If you’re a good planner, organize the family reunion. Engage in the things you do well.
4. Learn to tolerate positive feedback.
When our self-esteem is low we become resistant to compliments. (See Why Some People Hate Compliments.) Work on accepting compliments graciously (a simple "thank you" is sufficient). Hard as it might feel to do so, especially at first, being able to receive compliments is very important for those seeking to nourish their self-esteem.
Once you’ve demonstrated your ability, allow yourself to feel good about it, proud, satisfied, or pleased with yourself. Self-affirmations are specifically crafted positive messages we can give ourselves based on our true strengths (e.g., I'm a fantastic cook). Realize it is not arrogant to feel proud of the things you are actually good at, whatever they are, as when your self-esteem is low, every ounce of emotional nourishment helps. (See The Difference between Pride and Arrogance.)
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Self-esteem is not fueled by hope—“I’ll be successful any day now”—or by false beliefs—“I’m the greatest." It's fueled by authentic experiences of competence and ability, and well-deserved feedback. If those are lacking in your life, take action to bring them into your daily experience by demonstrating your abilities and opening yourself up to positive feedback (from yourself as well as from others) once you do.
Here' some great info for family and friends of folk living with bipolar disorder. I hope you find it of great benefit.
What I Wish Family & Friends Knew About Bipolar
Unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, there’s no way you will ever be able to understand what it’s like to have bipolar.
By Jess Melancholia
I don’t know a single person with bipolar disorder who doesn’t have that one friend or family member who just doesn’t get it. They either have no idea about mental illnesses in general or believe they are something you can “fix.”
For me, it’s more than frustrating; it’s downright cruel. You would think your family and friends would be there to support you. Unfortunately, you get the usual confusion and apathy. Or you get the anger.
Here are three basic premises that I wish they knew:
You can’t understand my bipolar and you never will.I’m sorry this sounds harsh, but it’s 100 percent true. Unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, there is no way you will ever be able to understand. My depressions are so dark and morbid that they drain me of all my energy. The thought of taking a shower or even just getting out of bed is overwhelming. Depending on how low I get, I honestly contemplate suicide because I can’t bear to go on like this. My manias are so wild and unpredictable that irritability and insomnia cause major health issues. Sure, it’s nice to have more energy—but not when I can’t control my actions. Overspending and grandiosity can get me into major trouble in my financial and social life.
Bipolar depression and mania are far more extreme levels of emotions than you have ever experienced or can even conceive of. Trust me when I say you don’t—you can’t—understand. So don’t even try. Just be there.
When I’m manic or depressed, that’s not the real me.Everything is amplified when I’m in the middle of an episode, so it’s much easier for me to say or do things that I wouldn’t if I were well. This doesn’t by any means excuse anything—bipolar is an explanation but not an excuse. A lot of outside stimuli are attacking my senses, and it’s hard for me to hold back the things I feel compelled to say and do. The fact is, my bipolar affects my ability to react “normally” to the world around me.
The last thing I need is anger and criticism while I’m trying to deal with my symptoms the best way I know how. My personal catchphrase is, “Don’t be ashamed of your actions; learn from them and grow.”
Your coping skills won’t “fix” me.While there are plenty of good tips out there for living a well-balanced life, like doing yoga or eating healthy, they do very little if anything to help when you are deep in the throes of depression or mania. Logic and reason go out the window. I fully believe in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as useful tools to help manage bipolar disorder, but these will not cure it. They just won’t. So for someone to tell you that you just need to do this one thing (practice the Tree pose, boost your omega-3s) and you won’t be depressed or manic anymore is absurd and irresponsible. It perpetuates the stigma that this is “all in your head” and you should be able to “just get over it.”
Here’s the bottom line: My brain doesn’t function the same as everyone else’s, regardless of public opinion. But that doesn’t mean I am weak. In fact, it means I am much stronger than you think. It takes monumental courage and strength to live life battling bipolar. Every moment I continue breathing, I am winning this fight.
And I will never stop fighting. Having my friends and family stick by my side gives me hope that I can manage whatever happens. Through their strength, I know I have a reason to keep on going.
If they only knew how much their support means to me.
Printed as “What I wish family and friends knew about bipolar”, Winter 2017
The Mental Health Misconceptions That Flood Us
Richa Gupta, Contributor Teen Poet and Blogger, Founder/Editor-in-chief of Moledro Magazine
Image Credit: http://www.witsu.ie/welfare/health-a-z/mental-health/
Several years ago, I had thought that OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) was like a personality trait that made people neat, tidy, and perfectionistic. I had thought that OCD made people arrange their wardrobes in creative ways and have a predilection for blue, as opposed to black, markers. The people around me would use the term “OCD” not as a noun, but as an adjective (and a rather flattering one, at that): “I’m so OCD about the way I arrange my books on my shelf,” or “Stop rearranging the desks, how OCD are you?” Little did I know that I had given in to one of the most prevalent misconceptions in the world of mental health and illness.
Those misconceptions were shattered over a year ago, when a girl exceedingly close to me started exhibiting strong symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. And that’s when I saw this illness for what it truly was: not a quirk, not an idiosyncrasy, but a serious condition that can tear down one’s life if left ignored and untreated. I saw that girl suffer, struggle to combat inner demons and conflicts, and succeed only after numerous attempts at trying. That was the true face of OCD.
I never use mental health terminology facetiously, and never have. That said, the realization immediately made me regret the times I hadn’t stopped my peers from using the term “OCD” flippantly and unknowingly. It makes me regret the times I had given a tight smile to those comments, dismissing them the next moment and letting the misconceptions stagnate and fester in the air. And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to sound patronizing or digress from the topic of our conversation. It was because I didn’t know.
But now I do. And from conducting research, reading books and elements of popular culture, and talking to different people, I’ve realized that these misconceptions cover almost the entire spectrum of mental disability. They may be glamorized, romanticized, demonized, or trivialized, among others. But one thing is certain: mental illnesses are rarely understood in their true form, thanks to the stereotypes and misconceptions that inundate them. And we may not realize it, but such fallacious beliefs can have a deep impact on those struggling with these illnesses every day (I only need to look at that young girl to know).
So let’s talk about other prevailing OCD misconceptions. As written by Beth W. Orenstein in her article in Everyday Health, OCD is not about cleanliness, or a desire to see everything immaculately organized on a tabletop. People with OCD may struggle with obsessions, compulsions, or both. As written by the National Institute of Mental Health, obsessions usually consist of anxiety-provoking thoughts and mental images, whereas compulsions are characterized by repetitive behaviors and the performance of rituals in order to curtail the anxiety. Compulsions can include repeating the same words or motions, entering and exiting a room, or repeatedly checking on doors to make sure they are locked. There are more, such as hoarding, compulsive counting, and excessive cleaning, but these are the ones that I clearly saw in that little girl with OCD. From what I’ve learnt and heard, people with OCD do not wash their hands because they like to be clean; they wash their hands in order to dispel the intrusive thoughts, emotional distress, and anxiety. They do not enjoy performing cleanliness rituals, but often feel like they are left with no choice. And not everyone with OCD washes their hands—that’s just the stereotypical image that has been embedded in society. As written by Courtney Lopresti in her article in Psychology Today, OCD is a heterogeneous disorder that manifests differently.
I’d also like to talk about a mental illness that is often glamorized or romanticized in popular culture: depression. On social media (especially Tumblr and Instagram), we find recurring images of attractive girls with melancholy expressions, listening to supposedly mournful music. The image it evokes is poetic, romantic. The word “depression” is used so loosely and airily that I doubt that anyone takes the phrase “I’m so depressed” seriously anymore. It has become so easy for people to say that they’re depressed because they had one bad day or week… to the extent that the real nature of this mental illness has been shrouded by layers of ignorance. As said by Dr. Pooky Knightsmith in Lifehack, her experiences with depression left her unable to connect with the real world, fearful of the future, detached from her emotions, and guilty when she did occasionally have a happy moment. It affected her relationships, and left her donning a “happy mask” that concealed her true emotions and struggles.
That’s distinctly different than the romanticized versions of depression that pepper social media websites. And that’s only one story among millions.
I’d like to address the misconceptions surrounding other mental illnesses, but will save that for another article. But one thing is definitely clear: these misconceptions largely arise from ignorance, and can have highly negative impacts on those who are struggling with these mental disorders. For instance, I know a girl who told me that she’s unwilling to tell people she has depression—for in the past, people have told her to “snap out of it,” or had responded with “I was really depressed a few weeks ago too, I know exactly how you feel.” And, well, OCD is an illness that is predominantly misunderstood, and whose image seemingly embodies the tiniest fraction of what it really means to have it.
It’s time that mental disorders are put on the same pedestal as physical illnesses. Why is OCD trivialized to quirks or idiosyncratic mannerisms, when cancer is universally respected for being the debilitating disease it is? Why are depression and eating disorders glamorized, while diabetes is portrayed for what it truly is? As I’ve extrapolated from my daily conversations, some people subconsciously believe that mental disorders can be effectively combatted by “thinking differently.” But it isn’t, and will never be, that straightforward. Mental illnesses are extremely real, are evidently veiled by misconceptions, and consequently carry a swathe of stigmas with them. But that doesn’t mean that these false impressions can’t be corrected. It only takes a few minutes to completely alter an ignorant person’s viewpoint on a topic of extreme significance. And so, as the young leaders of our world, we have an obligation: to make the world a more understanding and aware place for those struggling with mental illnesses, so that we can all be ushered into a world where each person gets the support and encouragement he/she deserves.
Having a diagnosis of a mood disorder is not the person. And the diagnosis is not a label to place on the person. Most people living with a mood disorder continues with their lives of work and family. In fact, many people living with depression and bipolar disorder are valuable contributors to society, in all fields of work and service.
S.L. Brannon D.Div..