Why it’s okay for people to call mental disorders gifts:

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There was a post going around Tumblr and Facebook recently about Vincent Van Gogh and his mental illness. The post was saying that we shouldn’t say that his artistic mind was a gift from his mental illness. It’s argument was that nothing from a disabling illness (that lead to his death) was a gift, and that he would have completely thrown away his art if he could have a cure for his illness.

Van Gogh is one of my favorites, not only because he is a great artist, but because he was bipolar, just like I am. I wrote a huge research project on him while I was in college, and I got invested in who he was as a person. And I have a problem with posts like these.

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An Open Letter to those Struggling with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts:

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I wanted to start this letter with “you are loved” and “it will get better” but those are messages you read all the time and right now it doesn’t matter how many times you read them you will not believe them, it’s not just hard for you to, it’s almost impossible for you too. That is what illness does to your brain. It makes it impossible to see the good.

I’ve been really depressed twice in my life, both for different reasons. The first time was in middle school, after three years of social torture and a ton of bullying I was so depressed my parents pulled me out of the 8th grade because I was suicidal. Then again, when I was 16, because my medication for my bipolar disorder was bringing some serious health issues along with it. I was removed from the medication and fell into depression because of my disorder. So, one was triggered by events and one was triggered purely by my brain. One kind is not better than the other.

Instead of telling you about your situation I’m going to tell you about mine. I would have missed proms, weddings, graduations. I would have missed reuniting with one of my past best friends. I would have missed saving three different lives from taking themselves. I would have missed two different years that at the time I proudly proclaimed “I’ve never been happier in my life.”

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The Dangers in Media Consumption:

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While I’ve been sick I’ve been spending a lot of time online. I’ve been checking out all corners of the internet. I’ve read deep into both sides of politics, I’ve read about science, and I’ve watched some teen YouTube stars. When you dive into each of these universes it’s a bit like falling down a rabbit hole. You get consumed by it for the few hours your online.

What we don’t think about that much is what it does to us when we log off. Certain ideas stick with us and we’re not blind to them, but what we tend to miss is the fact that our mental vocabulary changes to meet what we’ve been consuming. The ideas overcome us.

A good example of this was when I was reading extreme feminist Twitter accounts. A few days after I was in my car and this song came on and I thought “this song is really good and so emotional, how is it even written by a man?” It took me back because I couldn’t believe what I just thought. I had been reading about emotionless men and “toxic masculinity” that I accidentally started to internalize it. There is no reason for me to think of men this way. All the men I’ve been in relationships with have shown emotions to me and their masculinity never was toxic. I actually enjoy masculine traits in men. I knew men could be emotional, so why had I forgotten it? Continue reading

The Past and the Matter of Perspective:

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When I have something bad happen to me my mind changes the way it looks at things, and it changes for the worse. One bad thing leads my mind to all the other bad things that I have had happen in my life. It makes me look back at my pain and think: this is more than normal. Or worse it makes me think: there has been more of this then there has been of the good.

It gets dangerous when that second thought surfaces, because it leads me into the kind of sadness that lasts for days. A kind of self-pity and resignation that just isn’t healthy. It changes my perspective and makes a single negative worth a life time of negatives. It’s a kind of mindset that can alter your life if you hang onto it for too long.

I’ve been in and out of this state for the last few months. Recovering from Lyme and Mono hasn’t been easy, and sometimes it drags me down emotionally.

So how do you shake it? It seems almost impossible when you are sitting under it.

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I’m Not Offended by my Bipolar Jokes. You Shouldn’t be Either.

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A post about real personal things calls for an unstaged picture. The “real” Anna.

My favorite one liner is “You know North Carolina, the weather is more bipolar than I am.”

I think it’s funny, it makes fun of both myself and my favorite place on earth. I said it while walking across campus last year with a friend and I had some random guy stop me. He told me I shouldn’t say that because it’s insensitive and offensive. I calmly explained to him that I was bipolar and I didn’t really think it was insensitive or offensive at all.

Have you ever had someone lecture you on why you should be personally offended by your own joke? It was really strange and it has happened to me more than once while at Guilford college. The strange part was that the people who were offended by me tossing the word around were never bipolar, nor were the people they were close too. They had just learned it was offensive and were trying to protect whoever it might offend.

The only problem was that I wasn’t offended. I thought it was funny and I’m going to explain why I think it’s okay to use the word bipolar when not talking about the disorder. Continue reading

Let’s Talk: Mental Health

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I’ve found myself in a bit of a panicked rut lately. I mean panic attacks and record breaking down swings in my mood. You know what I’m talking about, we all have those weeks, and sadly, sometimes they last much longer than that. We feel powerless, but if I’m being honest, I don’t believe it when people say that the only cure is medication and a good nights sleep.

So let’s talk about it- it’s not depression, but you’re afraid if it keeps going downhill it might become just that. That’s scary guys, I’m not going to dismiss it. Instead I’m just going to talk about the choice you have to make.

When it comes to your mental health are you all in?

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Depression, why you should talk about it:

In the eighth grade, I tried to kill myself. I was bullied to the point I believed them when they said I was a waste of life. There’s no nice way to say that. I say it casually now, because it’s made me so much stronger and I’ve a hundred percent accepted it for what it was, a terrible trial, that had to happen in order for me to grow. I’m not afraid to talk about it, and I don’t think we should be. We live in a culture that doesn’t want to talk about depression, we want to give people the answer they are looking for, we want to avoid the long talks.

How are you? Fine.

We always say fine, even if we are crumbling, even if we are falling apart and don’t know how to stop it. We don’t want to bother people, we don’t think we have reasons to be sad. The internet world (tumblr, per-say) are trying to take this by storm. They’re trying to revolutionize the way the world looks at depression. The problem is they’re trying to diagnose people with depression. They’re trying to set a normal and not normal scale to happy and sadness, and it doesn’t work like that. Everyone is different, and everyone who is sad is not depressed.

Having said that, they do have one thing right, and that that we shouldn’t live in fear of “bothering people” with our emotions, we shouldn’t hide them in a corner and never show them. You shouldn’t say “I shouldn’t feel this way” because guess what, whether or not you should you do, and that means something. There are big problems with hiding emotions, and here are the biggest one:

Nobody can help you if they don't know you are struggling.

Had I not told my mother I was depressed I’d be dead at this very moment. I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life, and this empire, this great thing that I have created of myself wouldn’t even exist had I not asked for help. Realize will you, that I hid the fact that I was depressed and being bullied for three whole years. I didn’t want to bother people and I was ashamed.

Which is more important, I ask you: your life or your pride. Your life. Your life. Your life. You can’t have pride if you aren’t alive, and the people who you wished not to bother, they will be more bothered by your death than by your depression. Even if you feel like nobody will notice, you should know that you’re lying to yourself. Everyone has something. You know how when someone dies everyone says “she deserved so much more” or “she will be missed so much” or “she meant so much to this community” or “the family will never be the same”. You hear it every time someone dies, and that includes those who end their own life. After I told people about my attempt their first response was “thank God you didn’t, you’re such a great, talented, beautiful person who deserves the world, and I don’t know what I’d do if I’d lost you.” and my first response when they said that used to be nothing, but now it’s “I know.”

And if your depression doesn’t end in suicide?

You’re left with a big dark secret that is liable to haunt you and return. It’s been proven that most people who have been depressed to the point of being suicidal will be quicker to turn to that option if ever depressed again. So its important that we let people know, so they can help you notice the signs if it ever stops coming back. It’s important to let people know so that they can make you do what helped you last time even if you feel like it won’t this time.