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I was in third grade and I still struggled with reading. Every single night my mom and I would climb in her bed with a Judy B. Jones books and I would sputter and stutter my way through page after page in agony. At school that had already labeled me as “slow”. I was in every remedial class there was.
My mother was livid.
Maybe because she knew her child was NOT going to fall behind; maybe she felt like the teachers were not living up to their end of the deal (because Lord knows we were doing hours of work at home.) Or, quite possibly she was just frustrated and didn’t know what to think.
Honestly a lot of it had to do with labels. My mom did NOT want me labeled as anything other than my name “Erin Elizabeth Casey.” Oh, and you better believe she fought tooth and nail to make sure that I wasn’t.
Thankfully (for my mother’s sanity), as a third grader my biggest issue was that I liked to run around in school and I got very easily distracted by my peers. Those things were quickly remedied when my parents began paying me and my siblings for high grades (well let’s just say I liked money more than having fun at school). I quickly became a straight A student, and a very high achiever in general.
But, not everything can be fixed with a bribe.
When later, my depression darkened the rest of my life, no amount of money could have gotten me out of that one. It didn’t work that way. There wasn’t a quick fix. There was not an escape button to push. I suffered severely from depression and that more than anything needed to be acknowledged and treated so that I could get better.
It’s hard to admit the truth though when it’s not what you want it to be. I couldn’t snap out of it. I wasn’t going to grow out of it. I had to admit I was sick and ask for help.
Today we look at mental health as
“I’m messed up and they are not.”
“I’m crazy and they are not.”
“I’m broken and they are not.”
It’s not that black and white. It’s much more like “I’m struggling right now so I need support.” We all have mental health so at different times we all need support in different ways. Understanding that needing and asking for help does not mean you’re in a different category or that you have a label of your forehead.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.
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“We are Beautiful.”
By: Erin Elizabeth Casey
We all have walked our own journey
stumbled on our own two feet
These very things cause a variety of emotions, fears, frustrations
We feel shame, anxiety, depression,
guilt and regret, hurt and distress
So what do we do?
We hide and lie
pretend and mask
run to or from
We convince ourselves that we are alone, while everyone is….
Streaming through our brains
reasons we are unfit, unwelcome, ugly
“They will never understand…”
“….so different; so broken.”
But listen for a moment
This very journey will shape you,
Give you your passions, your convictions
teach you right from wrong,
show you to get up when you feel down,
foster compassion for those who
have fallen…. again.
On this journey open your eyes
you may feel all alone
We are actually beside you.
We are your fellow travelers,
navigating this life,
our own path.
You are not alone.
So when we feel the shame
the anxiety, depression
the guilt and regret,
hurt and distress
What do we do?
We share; we say “I’m not Ok”.
We tell the truth,
we take off the mask;
We grab someone’s hand and…
I will tell you this:
We will not always understand each other,
all different and broken,
but that does not make us ugly at all.
That makes us beautiful.
“We are Beautiful.”
#survival, addiction, Albert Einstein, awareness, college mental health, dawn, Disease, Eating Disorders, Education, feelings, fight for health, Fight for Light, hope, keep going, mental health advocacy, mental health america, mental health awareness, mental health concerns, mental health conditions, mental health consumers, mental health depression, mental health diagnosis, mental health issues, mental-health, recovery, Self-harm, where I Stand
Through out my life I always kept the way I truly felt about things to myself. I thought that was what I was supposed to do because no one ever talked about the way they felt. I got the feeling that feelings were not meant to be shared. So I buried my feelings so they wouldn’t emerge, I buried them so deep that sometimes it was difficult to show any emotion at all. Some days I felt all the built up emotion may burst, but it never came out. I was screaming on the inside but no one could hear me. I began harming myself because I was unable to express how I truly was feeling and I disliked me. Why was I having suicidal thoughts? Why did I hate myself so much? Why was I so afraid and confused?
As I got older I tried harder and harder to not feel. I abused substances to become as numb as possible. In doing this I lost so much, my identity, so many years, people who were near and dear to me, I had stopped caring and fighting for what I believed in. I became a shell that was hollow on the inside. I was existing, not living because the disease had taken over and I didn’t even realize it.
Which leads me to these questions; why as a society are we afraid to let others know how we are feeling? Should there be some type of disclaimer involved before we speak so that our fear of hurting another with out words is taken away? Why aren’t we taught about feelings?
I understand that my feelings could probably be different than others because I suffer from a disease that has tormented my life, but I often wonder what it would be like if we were taught it is ok to feel. If we were allowed to not be afraid of the thoughts in our head and were able to express them to others, not to hurt them but to show we are human. Would we find out that others have similar feelings, that we are not alone in our thoughts. It has taken me months to be able to say who I am and how I am feeling. To let people know when I am not ok, or when I am upset or need help. Instead of crying alone I now cry in front of others if I have too. It is liberating to be able to express myself and let my feelings be known.
To allow yourself to feel is to allow yourself to really live.
When I first began trying to express my feelings I was afraid to let others know, I didn’t want to be judged for who I was, so I took baby steps. It wasn’t something that came naturally or overnight. I carried around a feelings journal and whenever I felt something that was uncomfortable I would write it in the journal. Even the act of writing the feeling down helped so much. It can be just a word or a doodle anything at all. I discovered that once the word was written it took away its power and I was able to reflect and see what triggered the feeling and why. The act of allowing myself to feel was huge in my recovery.
My name is Dawn and This is Where I Stand.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. – Albert Einstein
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I don’t know about you but my mind is ALWAYS full.
For the past few years I’ve been challenged by my treatment providers to practice mindfulness. Google gave me a pretty good definition. Here it is: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Easy right? Um No.
For those of you who are like me words like focusing, present moment, calmly, and accepting might send you running in the opposite direction. I’m more of a live ten steps ahead of the game and try to distract myself away from the 3,000,000,000,000 things running through my brain at any given second (or so it seems).
But the truth is mindfulness is really powerful, useful, and helpful in the day to day for those recovering from and managing mental illness and those just seeking more peace in their lives (wow – I can’t believe I just said that shhhh don’t tell my therapist)
But I, of course like everything else, have had to adapt it to work for me. There is no way you are getting me to participate in an hour long body scan and not feel more anxious after than before. For some people that might be really helpful but not this girl. Below are some tools, tips and tricks for incorporating everyday mindfulness into your life (it’s how I do it at least)
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand
In the spring 2011 Melissa Ann Hopely told her story at the very first Where I Stand event to ever come to life. Since then she not only has published her first book (The People You Meet in Real Life) and continued to speak to audiences around the United States, she has also continued asking a question we asked our (rather small) audience that night: What do you stand for? In an effort to inspire to people to realize that their purpose and worth is far greater than they can comprehend. Today we ask you: What do you stand for? #whereistand #hopestrong
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Written by Anonymous
A few months back I wrote about my teenager with depression and dating. Having a teenager dating is scary no matter what but having a teenager with mental illness dating is even scarier. You never know how the mental illness will affect your child’s decisions and adding another teen with their own agenda into the mix can complicate that even further. Yet, despite that I feel lucky and blessed because my child made a good choice in who to date. Not only has her boyfriend not pressured her to do anything but he also is trying to understand her and her depression. She’s lucky to have someone who is willing to learn about her and tries to understand her. But that’s a lot to ask of anyone let alone a 17 year old.
She had a huge setback this winter, she had been doing pretty well and then she got ill and behind in school and overwhelmed. She finally admitted that she felt like she was standing on the edge of the cliff and could see herself falling and felt unable to stop it. And sure enough she fell back into a major depression. At which point most teenage boyfriends would have left. But he didn’t. Instead she talked to him and tried to explain what was happening and what she needed, which for her is “bubbling” herself off from other people to focus on herself. So he said okay, just tell me that and I will leave you alone. So throughout the winter that was how it went. He gave her the space and time to focus on her, and let her have the opportunity to cope without the pressure of a relationship when it was too much for her to handle. And now, she seems to be coming out of her depression. And entering what I refer to as the danger zone. So now this teenage boyfriend now has to learn about this and trying to explain this is hard. I refer to the danger zone as the period when you aren’t quite back to “normal” but aren’t deep into the hole of depression. It where you are climbing out but if you grab one wrong rock (or someone says one wrong thing or something stressful happens) you can easily slide back in. It’s easy to have setbacks here. So as a parent you are cautiously optimistic at this time. As a person with depression, you have to be careful during this time because your mood may change moment to moment. And there are still days when she needs to bubble not necessarily to focus on herself but to protect herself from saying something wrong or mean or hurtful to people she cares about. So now it’s a whole new scary situation for everyone again. And in many ways it’s a new chapter in their relationship.
If he can cope through all this, he’s a pretty strong individual because it’s a lot to handle as a parent who has loved her for her whole life. In the meantime I will just continue to do my best to support them both on this journey.
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By: Erin Elizabeth Casey
Do you ever feel the world on your shoulders by day and by night?
Do you have days when you ask: “Will it really actually for honest truth be alright?”
“People need me.”
“I have things to do, places to be.”
Close your eyes
Or look to the skies
Breathe in deeply now
The world will continue on somehow
It may feel the world is on your shoulders – but it’s not
That is just something dark in our brains causing pain and distraught
The world will continue regardless of this decision or that
Life is a journey – not something we “arrive at”
When you ask yourself “Will it really actually for honest truth be alright?”
Say out loud: “I stand for not darkness, but light.”
When we fight for light we get joy, love, and hope in great measure
And those things are our greatest treasure
You are needed that is true
But you are needed to be your beautiful you
So that you can do what God has inspired you to do
And go to the place you are supposed to be too
Don’t be burdened by this world, this life, this treasure you’ve been given
Take what inspires you – and become driven
Remembering in your heart that you have been forgiven
Freed already from that burden on your shoulders by day and by night
And now you know it really actually for honest truth will be alright
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Bitterness is a poison that destroys lives.
I’ve been bitter. We all have. I’ve made lists and held dirty laundry against people that I struggled to get over. Tonight as I sat in the sanctuary of a church listening to the pastor talk about relationships, confrontation, taking initiative, being passive aggressive ect. All I could think about was how much energy all of it takes.
Exhausting right? There is too much good to fight for and too many beautiful things to see. When it comes to mental health and relationships things usually get complicated…. fast. I know things did in my family and for my friends and I. I’ve been blessed with gracious friends and family that have learned a lot along the way; but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of crap happened. So what do I do? What do you do? What do we do?
We forgive. We say “I was wrong” if we were. And we move on.
Easy? No. Necessary Yes.
….Unless you want to spend the next 20 years hurt, angry, frustrated and unable to smell the roses or appreciate the people coming and going right before your eyes.
Remember: Forgiveness is not a one time deal… its a daily act of love, self-love and love for others.
Today I’m forgiving myself for wasting any time in my life feeling or being bitter.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.
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Excuse the tone of this blog post, but I’m a little frustrated.
Mental illness is not something that is relative, subjective, grey. It is an illness that impedes the function on daily living. It’s causes are both biological and environmental. The idea that “everyone feels sad” is said to someone who has clinical depression is the same as saying “everyone feels sick sometimes” to someone fighting cancer. It’s insensitive to say the very least.
We can all agree that there is no universal “normal” in the world. My grandmother told me once – normal was just a setting on a dryer. But we each have our own “normal”. We each have our own ability to function; and just like with our stomachs, backs, eyes and ears, we can tell when something is not right with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
So yes. There is no universal “normal”. But there are globally accepted signs, symptoms, diagnostic criteria and treatments for mental illnesses.
Mental illness is not grey.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.