Removing the mental health stigma without ‘normalizing’ it:

I’ve thought two very contradicting thoughts lately. One being that mental illness is still stigmatized and people are still afraid to talk about it and the other being that we’re making mental illness too normal.

I think both are true.

Let me phrase this a different way, my bipolar, your anxiety disorder, or your best friends depression aren’t uncommon and they are definitely not something to be ashamed of. We need to be open when it comes to our illnesses and our health, so that we can get better and we won’t end up another suicide or addiction statistic. It is insanely important that we feel comfortable seeking help and speaking up about these things. Stigma still stands in many people’s way of achieving this.

To counter that stigma people have tried to talk more and more about mental health, but I feel like somewhere along the way we’ve run into something we weren’t planning on, and that’s people thinking their mental illness is normal, and therefore, unimportant, something they just have to make peace with.

Continue reading

The most helpful thing you can do for a loved one with bipolar:

20180608_174912

I was talking to a friend the other day about how lucky I was that my boyfriend is just as good as my parents at doing the one thing most important to my mental health: Keeping me in check.

There are lists upon lists out there about things you can do for a loved one suffering from Bipolar disorder. Most of them are really good tips, but the most important one for me normally doesn’t show up on those lists, because it’s not always pleasant, and newly diagnosed people sometimes don’t react to it well and therefore it doesn’t always seem productive.

You see, I’m aware of my big mood swings when they happen. It’s hard not to notice when you nose dive or are suddenly ten times more active than you normally are. It’s those small ones that get me, the ones that I think are triggered by daily events because I can’t see it as clearly as someone watching from the outside. I don’t always consider all the facts, because the change felt natural from the inside, and after all, I still got everything done that I needed to do.

Those smaller mood swings are important though, if your swinging that much it needs to be addressed and your medications need to be adjusted. They might not feel like a big deal on the inside, but they can be long term, and they can also be a big deal for those around you. And those around you are normally the ones who notice them first.

I used the words “keeping me in check” at the top of this post, but that sounds harsher than it really is. It’s a gentle nudge, a firm yet kind acknowledgement by your loved ones that something is off.

Continue reading

Outrage is all the rage:

I’ve noticed something happening over the past few years. Outrage is in style. I should have noticed it sooner then this year, the viral “what are ya’ll mad about today” tweet that made its rounds everyday, opinion pieces losing their journalistic standards and gaining more explanation points, people creating anonymous accounts just to leave untraceable slurs. I was blind to it though, because I was busy being angry like everyone else. The end of that started when I detoxed my social media six months ago, but really, me deleting that only opened my eyes to how much anger there was, and how much people enjoy being enraged.

When I deleted all the politics and anger from my feeds I noticed that I had problems checking the accounts I had unfollowed. It wasn’t because I was uninformed, I was still keeping up with the news by following sites that reported facts without the slant. It was because I missed the raging opinions. I missed the hot takes.

I thought I missed the passion.

It’s a really interesting situation, being enthralled in anger makes us feel like we’re doing something about the issue, even if we’re just ranting online or to friends who in turn rant back, but in reality all we’re doing is stoking fires that burn out of control.

Continue reading

Untreated Metal Illness, The Silent Killer.

20180328_100537

The news of Kate Spade’s suicide has rocked the internet this week. It rocked me too, because like others, I associated her with the happy, quirky, and glittery line that shares her name. It struck a lot of people because she had the fame, the fortune, the family and could still bare such sadness that she wanted to end her life.

I don’t want to write a think piece on a families tragedy, so I won’t, but I did want to talk about a topic that this tragedy brought to my mind, and that’s untreated mental illness.

There is a strong stigma around mental health treatment. Some of it has to do with the fact that there is still a stigma around mental health, but some of it has to do with the person who should be seeking it.

I often hear the pitch about how we don’t think negatively about blood pressure medication so we shouldn’t about anti-depressants, and I agree with it 100%, but what I keep hearing from individuals is “I think anti-depressants are great, I just don’t need them. I’m just a little sad.”

We downplay our own problems and dismiss them, because they’re inconvenient to face. It’s scary to say we’re not okay, to have to step back from things so we can take care of ourselves. So, we push through and things get worse and worse, then suddenly, there is no return.

Continue reading

On facing our anxieties instead of nurturing them:

20180415_193534.jpg

I read an article recently about the huge increase in prescriptions for medications like Xanax. That we’re prescribing 5xs the amount that we were just a decade and a half ago. I then went on Twitter and saw a huge debate on why you should never call someone on the phone and should always text them instead.

The tweet with the most likes was one that just read: I HAVE ANXIETY, KAREN.

I’ve thought for a while that we’ve been creating the kind of culture that nurtures anxiety instead of cures it. I understand why we’ve done this. I hate when I email someone and they call me instead of replying back. There is so much less pressure over email or text. But you know how you get rid of that deep dread that happens when you talk on the phone?

You talk on the phone.

Continue reading

Life Updates: The First of May

IMG_20180224_210325_768

I know post grad is complicated for everyone, but I feel like I’ve done a number on it these last two years. Between becoming deathly ill with Lyme Disease, changing up my bipolar medications, and trying to tackle normal post grad activities, it’s gotten a little crazy at times.

My battle with Lyme is not over, I don’t quite have it in remission yet, though I’ve been doing so well that we’ve finally started cutting back my antibiotics. I’ve been thrilled about that because being on antibiotics for a year and a half is really brutal on the body. I’m also excited because my activity level has returned to normal. I feel like I’m finally able to live my life instead of watching it fly by me while I sit unable to move on the sofa.

Health really is something you don’t truly appreciate till its gone, but I don’t think that’s a mistake I’m going to make again. After losing a year and a half to this disease and having another six months slowed by it, I can proudly say that I’m going to enjoy any health my body can manage to give me, because there is so much I want to do and see, and I didn’t realize how lucky I was because I got bit by that horse fly.

Continue reading

I blocked all toxic media from my feeds and its almost left them blank: A social media realization.

IMG_1613.JPG

The original title for this post was why I left Twitter, but I ended up not leaving it for good. So what have I done? I’ve muted all slurs, all dramatic accounts, all political buzz words, all political accounts, all accounts that spew hate. I deleted them all from my Twitter feed. I downloaded a news app called Smart News to get actual articles instead of hot and angry takes. I had already blocked this all from my Facebook and Tumblr accounts.

And it’s made them completely bare of content. The amount of posts on my feed is alarming. I didn’t realize the amount of negative and toxic hot takes I was taking in a day. It was most of my media intake. I was feeding on toxins. Posts from publications I like have been removed because of muted words. I’ve lost entire accounts. My twitter feed is so dead that I don’t feel the need to check it that often.

So, I did the same thing with my youtube account. I cleared out my watched history and liked videos. I just removed all of the angry and toxic media I was consuming.

And with it gone I find myself wanting to read and create more, because I had to find new things to consume. Trying to find accounts without toxins seems to be impossible on Twitter and Facebook. Instagram and Tumblr I’ve managed fairly well. But it’s had me thinking about what kind of content needs to be put out and along with that what kind of content should we be reading. I’ve talked about this before but the serious lack of that content is becoming disturbing.

We live in a world that thrives on differences, divides, and drama. How do we go about correcting that? How do we counter it in what we’re creating?

Continue reading