Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Onion Mocks Therapy, We’re Not Happy About It

Sarah:

Normally I’m a big fan of the onion, but this was a tad upsetting. When does joking about mental health go too far?

Originally posted on Girls Can't Resist:

In an article titled “ Supposed Adult Pays Man To Sit In Room And Listen To Him Talk About His Feelings, ” the Onion mocks therapy and in doing so makes mental illness seem like a joke.

Here’s the piece in full:

BRIDGEPORT, CT—Reportedly going twice a week to his special safe place where he’s told he doesn’t have to be afraid, local accountant and supposedly grown adult Carl Rowley confirmed Wednesday that he pays a man to sit right next to him in a room and listen to him talk all about his feelings. “It’s really helpful to talk through my issues out loud with someone who has an objective viewpoint,” said the feeble approximation of a mature self-respecting grownup, describing the hour-long sessions in which he nestles himself on a big comfy couch with a soft pillow and tells the nice man how he’s sad and lonely and…

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How to create a self-harm safety box…

Sarah:

An extremely insightful post about one method to avoid self harm, I love this idea!

Originally posted on All that I am, all that I ever was...:

Once upon a time, when I was much a much younger (and sexier) man than I am today, I used to own a box. On a purely aesthetic level, there was nothing special about this box. It was just a run-of-the-mill shoebox decorated with Doctor Who stickers, newspaper cuttings and images of the great Australian actress, Toni Pearen.

What was special about this box was on the inside, for I’d filled it with colouring pencils, rubber bands, bath salts, candy, a mini-colouring book, a couple of novels, a DVD and some (slightly more) risqué images of the great Australian actress, Toni Pearen.

For this box was my safety box; a box I could turn to when my self-harm urges grew so intense that I needed some serious distraction to stop me from injuring myself.

Over the years I owned this box I lost track of how many times it prevented…

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Let’s Talk: The Language of Mental Illness

Sarah:

Shout out to my Canadian friends, we’re all in this together!

Originally posted on climbing the crazy tree:

“Bad enough to be ill, but to feel compelled to deny the very thing that, in its worst and most active state, defines you is agony indeed.”

― Sally Brampton, Shoot The Damn Dog: A Memoir Of Depression

So today is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day (There’s also the Time to Talk Day based in the UK on February 6th, not sure why we didn’t all join forces). I firmly believe that talking about mental health is a critical to improving the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. We have gotten a lot better about talking to mental illness and becoming more accepting of those with mental illness, but there’s still an echo of the belief that individuals with more common disorders such as depression and anxiety are “making it up”/”making a problem for themselves” or that they just need to “cheer up” and “stop worrying.” So we have all…

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Mental Health Bloggers Widen Their Support Systems on WordPress.com

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

When we start a blog instead of simply keeping a private diary, it’s because we want to connect with others. When you start to blog, you join a community.

It comes as no surprise that many bloggers are drawn to online communities as a place to work through challenges — to heal and process, find others with similar experiences, and seek (or offer) support. There are lots of supportive communities around WordPress.com: women dealing with breast cancer, people managing diabetes, parents of children with unique needs, and many, many more. Throughout January, we’ll be zooming in on how bloggers use WordPress.com to support their health and wellness.

Today, on the heels of the Blog for Mental Health 2014 kick-off, we’re focusing on mental health. Read on for a look at the many ways WordPress.com bloggers use their sites to improve their own lives, and the lives of others who have…

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SSDI Prep – A Doctor’s Testimony

I got a call from my SSDI lawyer this week. Basically he wants to add the testimonies of at least one doctor to my case files, preferably the psychiatrist I’m currently seeing, if not another as well.

The trouble with this is that 99% of doctors will not do this for free. And when I say not for free, I mean it costs several hundreds of dollars for each doctor.

My lawyer assumed (correctly) that I have virtually nothing in terms of money but told me my chance of being awarded a favorable verdict will require more proof from a doctor. 

Obviously, I believe him, and though I often scrape by doing whatever it takes to survive, this is a situation where I need to do whatever I can to win. At this point I’ve put over a year of my life into this process, and it is important for me to feel like I’ve done everything I could do to increase my chances of coming through it on top.

(Ok, so I’ve been watching too much survivor, and clearly that doesn’t mean things like lying or cheating or stealing, just the general sort of MacGyvering I do to figure out how to solve the (there isn’t enough) money problem.)

As of right now, I am waiting to hear back from the attorney about how much it would cost for my doctor to do the review I need, and then I will figure out from there weather I can make that work or need to find another solution.

Ultimately the answer will probably be another form of deprecation. Giving up my phone to save what I need to, or not eating out for the next six months, or whatever. Realistically, this is the sort of thing that comes standard with my life, and it isn’t something I’m complaining about, just stating. Of course, if I can figure out a way to have my cake and eat it too, I will.

I think the point of all of this is really to convey how much our current social security disability system requires one to give up before offering them a chance to be taken care of. I mean, I would gladly give the doctor everything I have if it guaranteed me a social security award, but that isn’t the case. When applying for social security means living for over a year without any income and relying on the people around you to take care of you simply for a chance to make your case to the government, I must say it is a very hard road to go down.

I realize that people say that if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it… but is this system causing the people with the most need extra unnecessary hardship?

In any case, I knew this was what I would be getting into when I started this process a year ago, and that is why I waited for so long to give it a go. I wanted to be sure that this was the right road to be going down, and despite the hardships I am still sure. Still pressing forward, figuring it out as I go.

Five Ways to Support Someone With Mental Illness During the Holidays

The holiday season can be stressful for the best of us, and for those (like myself) living with mental illness it can be extremely challenging. I feel like one of the questions I hear most is, “how can I be supportive of my friend or family member with mental illness during the holidays?” Here are five great places to start!

5. Invite them over

Many of the people I know who are struggling this time of year don’t get along well with their families, and therefore have no place to go during the holidays. If you can invite them over for Christmas dinner with your family that would be swell, but even just inviting them over to spend time together one on one or in a small group around that time can be incredibly uplifting when it can be hard to get out of the house. That said,

4. Don’t take it personally if they don’t make it over

Many times, just the invitation of having someplace to go is nice, but sometimes this prospect can be overwhelming or our current mental state isn’t exactly polished enough to feel comfortable in a large social setting. Our discomfort often arises from our moods, anxiety, or medications, not the person kind enough to invite us over. If you’ve invited someone over to your party, gathering, or other social event, please remember that if we say no, it isn’t a reflection on you.

3. Encourage them to arrive late, leave early, or take a breather from the party

I know I’ve often felt pressure from folks at parties when I expressed that I needed to leave early (often because of mood swings or side effects from medications) and being encouraging of your friend or family member during a social gathering to arrive or leave when they need to, or even to take a breather outside to get out of the crowd can be extremely helpful. When I know people are grateful that I came to an event, even if just for a little while, I’m much more likely to feel comfortable enough to go again.

2. Try to avoid the pressure of gift-giving

While many people with mental illness do perfectly fine for themselves monetarily, there are also many of us who can’t work because of our situation. Though it is always nice to receive a gift, it can feel very stressful knowing you don’t have anything to give in return. My family has done something this year that has really, really helped me with this; they’ve expressed they’re more interested in spending time with me than receiving gifts. Putting focus on being able to spend time with someone that you love or care about instead of the gift-giving aspect of the holidays can be a big stress relief.

1. Let them know how much they mean to you

Maybe the person you want to feel supported is someone you see regularly, and it is easy to tell them how much they mean to you. If not, a phone call is a great option, or even sending a card with a note inside in the mail. Personally, I shy away from messages through electronic means (email, text, and facebook) as I find they feel more impersonal and actually make me feel more isolated and depressed. If you’re sending a message of love, why not make it feel as personal as possible!

Happy Thanksgiving

For the last couple days I’ve been meaning to write this post, on Tuesday I went to bed with hundreds of ideas swirling in my head about what I was thankful for and what I wanted to write about. I woke up the next morning feeling entirely crotchety and not thankful for anything, so here I am today.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for a real plethora of things when it comes to my mental health, my team, my support system, you blog readers… but I determined the thing I am most thankful for this thanksgiving is the change I have seen in our culture toward the concept of mental health.

I realize the change doesn’t seem huge, especially when you are someone having to deal with discriminating employers, the cost of having an illness like bipolar disorder, and the feelings of isolation that come with depression, but it really is getting better.

In the last few years I’ve seen numerous actors, professional sports players, and even politicians come forward to say that they have been living with bipolar disorder. Books have come out speculating the state of the mental health of many past American leaders. I’ve seen young, naive pop stars offend thousands of social media followers by using the word bipolar incorrectly, or using it as an insult.

On a more personal level, I’ve seen every person in my close personal life strive harder to learn more about bipolar disorder and depression and what we can all do to treat each other with more support and dignity.

In the short time of, say, the last five years, the ball has really been rolling. It is starting to pick up speed, and that fact makes me both feel incredibly thankful and hopeful that things will continue to get better. Cracks are showing in the stigma of mental illness, signs of weakness. All we have to do is keep moving forward.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

SSDI Update – Hearing Date Set

Friday was my 28th birthday. Last week was really a flurry of friends, family, food, walking through the streets of Seattle at sunset, and for many reasons, one of the best birthdays I think I’ve probably ever had.

Upon checking my mail on Friday I found a letter from my disability attorney. Excited, but skeptical, I opened the letter and found that my court hearing date has finally been set. February 13th, 2014.

This may have been the best birthday gift of all. After all, I applied last December, and ever since the game has been one of waiting and not knowing what would come next. Little did I know, I would be reminded of this important looming decision (one totally out of my hands) every time I saw a commercial for insurance. Every time I talked to a member of my family. Every time I sat down to write a blog post about having bipolar disorder.

This new news set my mind at ease, even if only for a month or two before the real anxiety of the hearing itself comes to fruition.

I know I didn’t have anything to do with this letter coming in the mail, but I feel inclined to pat myself on the back. After all, I made it this far. Happy birthday to me!

The Question “How Are You?”

I think probably anyone with mood swings or depression or who has had a particularly crappy day can relate to this, one of my biggest pet peeves.

In today’s culture a very common greeting begins with, “hi, how are you?

The thing I find disturbing about this is that most of the time people say it, they don’t actually want to know how you are doing or feeling.

The most acceptable answers to this greeting are something along the lines of “good,” or “fine” or “great” whether one feels great or not. Answering with anything else (miserable, stressed, anxious, depressed) often leads to a very confused greeter.

For anyone who has answered truthfully to the question of “how are you?” and received that blank, icy stare in return… it can be easy to fall into a pattern of always answering “good” or “fine” whether they’re feeling it or not.

Personally, I think it would be a lot easier for people to share how they’re feeling (and if they’re not doing alright) if there were less trick questions like this one. 

The solution?

Let’s stop asking people how they’re doing unless we’re prepared to listen to whatever (honest) answer comes next. Maybe retail employees and acquaintances and distant co-workers should stick to greetings like, “what’s up?” or “good to see you,” or “did you watch the Walking Dead last night?”

Seeing the Effects of Suicide First Hand

It is Monday, and frankly the most beautiful day I’ve seen in Seattle for weeks… honestly this isn’t what I wanted to start my week sharing, but it is all I’ve been able to think about.

Over the weekend my boyfriend and I found out that someone in our lives has commit suicide.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a first for us, and I remember the feelings of shock and confusion all too well when this happened with another friend last year.

As someone who has bipolar disorder, it can often feel like I spend most of my time feeling suicidal, and being so familiar with this trick of the mind coming from pain or mental illness or stress makes it easier (but not easy) to understand these situations.

I also feel, however, that being someone prone to suicidality, that one of the best preventative measures I’ve ever experienced is seeing the effects suicide has first hand on someone I truly care about. Witnessing my boyfriend’s reactions to this whole situation really puts into perspective what might happen if something were to happen to me. He isn’t someone I would ever want to hurt, making the fight for life that much more important.

In the end, these moments always remind me how important it is to remind people that they can ask for help, that they aren’t alone, and to share your experiences with the people around you. We don’t always know who needs our help the most, so being willing to give it at any time is the most important thing of all.