Personally, my anxiety begins long before I arrive at the airport. I worry beforehand about all the people I’ll be encountering, how I’ll be rushing to get to the airport on time, how clogged airport security will be, etc. Once I arrive at the airport, I have to check luggage, go through my (highly despised) airport security checkpoint, and find my terminal. Then, there is always the normal wait for the plane to arrive, plus any flight delays. Also, while in the airport, I must confront my eating disorder while I search for and eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner while waiting to board the flight.
Once I arrive at my destination, I get my baggage at baggage claim, and either get a taxi or my family rents a car to get us to our hotel, which entails even more anxiety-provoking waiting, though at this point, my adrenaline and excitement helps calm my anxiety.
Throughout the vacation, I deal with my eating disorder at mealtimes, my anxiety around other people and new experiences, and my depression when I get homesick or when the nighttime blues hit like they tend to no matter where I am.
In order to combat my ED thoughts, I try to enjoy the opportunity to eat foods that are available at my destination that might not be as readily available at home. I also try to pay more attention to my surroundings and use my environment to distract me from my anxiety about food and my body. I use the same technique to help with my social anxiety. I’ll pay more attention to the surrounding scenery and to my family than to the strangers around me. When my depression hits, it’s usually at night, which is good because I’m usually able to be in my hotel room listening to music and browsing the Internet. I’m also able to text my friends for support and sit on the bed and mentally process my emotions. Keeping connected to friends back home while on vacation is always a huge help to me because it reminds me that, no matter how many miles away I am, my friends still care and will always try to help me if they can.
No matter what my mental illnesses are trying to tell me, I still do my best to enjoy my vacation and to have fun with my family. I do everything I can to help myself stay present in the moment and cope appropriately with any emotions or urges that might come up. I remind myself that emotions and urges are temporary and that I will make it through whatever I’m feeling at the time.
Vacations are a wonderful time to get away from home and have some fun, no matter how far or close your destination may be.
Stay Strong & love yourself!
My name is Hollyn and this is Where I Stand.
Anxiety, depression, Eating Disorders, family, growth, lessons, life lessons, mental illness, mental-health, negative stigma, power, school, stability, stigma, Substance abuse, think before you speak, Words, words matter
After being in recovery for almost two years I think of myself as somewhat stable (we all have our days). But something that happened recently made me question my strength and stability. I was used as a reference for a negative role model in a psychology class at the college I attend. I have never met this student personally, but from what I understand she had overheard me talk about my battle with mental illness/addiction/eating disorder with a fellow classmate who happens to be in her class and thought that I was the perfect model of what not to be. I found it amazing and frightening that even after working hard at my recovery for so long that I could be triggered into feeling some of the guilt and hatred I had once felt towards myself yet again.
I have a very hard time understanding why as a society we feel the need to talk about people we do not even know. Words can be very powerful and without knowing someone we can never be sure how the words that come out of our mouths will affect them. I was taught by one of my elementary school teachers that we are all fragile beautiful beings and we need to embrace our differences not discourage them. Society has somehow taught us if someone is different than the “social norm” that group or individual should be shunned. Is this really an okay thing to do? Are we really that self-centered as a whole to not see that we are all human beings. Somehow somewhere something needs to be done to erase these negative stigmas because everyone is deserving of a chance. We need to remember to think before we speak because there is no way to tell if the negative words coming out of our mouth will send someone to a dark place. When I am responding to a situation verbally I often hear my moms voice in my head reminding me that if I don’t have anything nice to say to not say anything at all.
Before I entered into recovery I had decided that it was not ok for my brain to be sick. I think this was mainly due to societies negative response to mental illness. I fought hard to hide my illness and treatment from others because I believed I would be treated differently once the word got out. Silently suffering only caused me to feel very alone in my fight; and that no one would understand what goes on in my head. This all changed when I began treatment, I found others of all ages struggling with very similar illnesses. I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone that others had silently suffered from the same diseases and I began to have hope.
Through the last two years I have found my voice, I am no longer afraid to tell people who I am and the diseases I suffer from. Mental Illness is a disease and should be recognized in society as one. I hope in the future that we don’t have to be afraid to be ourselves. Together we are strong and can work towards erasing the negative stigma that surrounds us.
This is Where I Stand
College, college experience, College Life, college mental health, college survival tips, Colleges and Universities, eating disorder, entire college tuition, going to college, mental health advocacy, mental health america, mental health awareness, mental health care, mental health depression, mental health diagnosis, mental health issues, mental illness, mental illnesses, mental-health, seeking help, where I Stand, You are not alone
I could probably pay my entire college tuition if I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase,“this is going to be the best four years of your life.” That line is repeated so often it becomes engraved in our heads as a societal norm. For me, this became unnecessary pressure. After my freshman year, I was angry at all the people who told me this slogan with a big grin on their face.
Everyone else has an amazing time in college and I feel absolutely miserable. THESE are the best years of my life??
As many of us know, the responsibility, stress, and new environment that comes with our first year in college can exacerbate or even initiate mental health issues. Yet even though many people experience this, we often end up feeling alone. I believed for a long time that something was wrong with me because college wasn’t the greatest experience of my life. I thought that something I was doing must have been holding me back from what everyone else had. In some ways it had- my eating disorder and depression took an entire year of my college experience away from me. However, looking back I now realize I have gained so much more than I ever lost. Through my experiences and my recovery I have learned that you don’t just go through college, you grow through college.
College may not be the best four years of your life, and that is okay. College is a time to figure out who you are. You will learn about yourself, your values, your personality and the way you handle responsibility as well as stress. Not everything that happens is good, but it’s also important to remember that not everything is bad. My favorite way to think of mental illnesses and the recovery process is to see it as a flower, more specifically a lotus. This flower grows through murky water and blossoms on the surface, emerging beautiful and clean. In my situation, college is the murky water. It has tested me in more ways than I can name, but I know that I will make it to the surface knowing more about myself than ever before.
Although life without challenges seems perfect, I firmly believe that everything we go through can be used to propel us forward. I can use my experiences to connect with and help others, and I can also use them to motivate myself. It may not always be easy, but finding the positives has made my life so much better. So while I may not always look back on the “glory days” of my college years, I will look behind me with a smile at all the reasons why I stand here today, the woman that I am.
I want you to know that college will NOT necessarily be the best for years of your life and that’s okay. If you think you’re struggling with a mental health issues seek help; you’re worth it.
When I first saw a commercial advertising for ABC’s newest drama titled The Black Box my heart sank; I could tell even from those small clips that they were creating a series about a successful woman, a doctor no less, with bipolar disorder.
My hesitation of mental illness portrayed in television echoes a lot of things others have written about: falsifying, glorifying, creating mass assumptions, and increasing the stigma associated with mental illness. But this time it felt personal. This time it was personal to me.
I’m diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I also work tirelessly to reduce the stigma associated with the disease, and mental illness in general.
The show’s main character: Catherine Black, played by Kelly Reilly, is shown to be caught between two versions herself, and unable to control her disease, no matter what she does. While medication appears to be effective she doesn’t stay on the prescribed drugs. She soars into mania and then lunges into depression without any time passing. All this occurs while holding her job as a world famous neuroscientist, and the world is none-the-wiser. Her therapist appears distant and cold. And the way this student of the brain describes herself and her disease is disappointing and discouraging.
She separates it from the physical side of medicine, she states that it is part of her, inside of her – in her personality. To say she was embarrassed about her diagnosis would be an understatement.
Between the onset of my symptoms and when my array of doctors and therapists had figured out an effective treatment regime that was effective for me my ability to hold myself together to get through my undergraduate work was seemingly impossible. I was not dependable to any degree. I was unstable to the point where holding down a job at a local bookstore was a challenge; I don’t know how being a neuroscientist would have been possible by any stretch of the imagination while I was not properly treated.
Now, well since having discovered and rigorously implemented an effective treatment regime for my symptoms and maintaining proper support with mental health professionals my life is full in just about every way possible. I don’t “feel” bipolar and it does not hinder my day-to-day. It is a not part of me that I cannot control, because with proper treatment, I can.
Mental Illness is not a character flaw. It is not an absolute life ending disability. Mental illness is not shameful; it just is. It’s not fun, it’s not exciting, it’s not something you want – but neither is a broken arm, heart disease, auditory problems, or bad vision. You don’t see new hit TV shows about the doctor who went off his cholesterol medication.
It’s exhausting, educating person after person, who each think they know all they need to know about mental illness after watching the movie Sybil.
25% of all adults will experience symptoms of mental illness during their life time. Bipolar Disorder is not as uncommon as you might think. It’s also very treatable.
TV stations and producers are never going to stop dramatizing mental illness because, pain sells, emotion sells and most people in the world are looking desperately for something to connect to – even if it’s not real, but you have to question what at what cost are these messages being sent?
Maybe there isn’t one.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand
#believe, Anorexia, Anxiety, awareness, be you, beautiful, beauty, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, Bulimia, depression, Dialectical behavior therapy, mental illness, mental-health, understanding, where I Stand
So often in the world of mental health we find ourselves in the midst of relationships with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, roommates and the like that don’t want help. They don’t want support for their illness. They don’t want recovery. This can be a distressing place to be. I’ve been both the person who has not wanted help and the person trying to get help for someone who doesn’t want it. Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse. Talk about hopelessness, restlessness, frustration, anger, sadness, fear and hurt – helping someone who doesn’t want it is a rush of all those things.
The hard-to-swallow truth is though that there is a very limited amount of things we can do for those we love and care about who are not accepting of help or open to support. Admitting that can be the hardest. It’s almost like admitting defeat. We feel like a failure because “there has to be something else I can do” keeps running through your head. Sometimes though, there just isn’t, and in that continued, strained, exhaustive measure while that thought is running through your head over and over; you are withering away.
Now, I am in now way shape or form telling you to give up hope, or prayer, or keeping lines of communication open with those that we care about. But, just like you can’t change someone’s favorite color, or make up someone’s mind to learn to walk again after a car accident, you cannot make someone seek help while drowning in a mental illness. That pressure is not on your shoulders (even if it feels like it is). All you can control is what you do. The rest is up to them.
Mental illness is serious and life threatening, it can be devastating in nature and it takes a toll on both the sufferer and the family, friends and community surrounding them. At the end of the day though the person suffering, struggling, hanging on by a thread – that person is responsible for their own recovery. Usually that means for asking for help and leaning on people, being willing, trying new things, learning about their illness and having a set back from time to time. Until the individual is ready to make that choice, the choice to fight, to try, to be willing, there really isn’t much you can do except hope, pray, listen if they’ll talk, and take care of yourself.
This post may sound somber today. But the realities of supporting someone with a mental illness are often left unaddressed. And yes – you matter too.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.
Anorexia, Anxiety, awareness, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, Bulimia, Christianity, depression, Dialectical behavior therapy, disorders, eating disorder, encouragement, health, lifeline, Lifeline team, mail, mental illness, mental-health, recovery, support, together, treatment, understanding
We always love starting new programs at Where I Stand, but this program I am particularly excited about. It’s called LifeLine: Letters of Love. The purpose of the program is to create a team of people who send hope and love filled mail all over the world to individuals in treatment for mental illness.
We’ve already begun receiving requests and forming our team – and my heart could not be filled with more hope.
Everyday in treatment when the mail arrived was some of the happiest moments, because connection with the outside world is limited while you’re focusing on getting better. I was sent postcards, drawing from kids I looked after, bookmarks, stickers, encouraging quotes and lots of love. All of this reminded me that people were thinking about me.
Not everyone had the support that I did though – and Where I Stand wants to offer that support to ANYONE and EVERYONE in partial, residential or inpatient programs for addiction and mental illness. To sign up to receive the LifeLine: Letters of love Click here and fill out the form!
If you want to join Where I Stand’s Lifeline team and make hopeful cards and letters to send to people during their time of need email email@example.com! We’d love to have you on board!
After all, everyone needs a lifeline from time to time.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.
#believe, Anorexia, Anxiety, art, Arts, awareness, be you, beautiful, beauty, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, Bulimia, Christianity, dating, daughter, depression, Dialectical behavior therapy, disorders, eating disorder, Education, encourage, encouragement, family, friends, God, health, hope, inspiration, inspire, jesus, keep going, life, love, major depression, medicine, Mental disorder, mental illness, mental-health, mother, Music, Poetry, recovery, strength, support, teenage boyfriend, teenager, Teens, treatment, truth, understanding, United States, where I Stand
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.
#believe, Anorexia, Anxiety, awareness, be you, beautiful, beauty, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, Bulimia, Christianity, depression, Dialectical behavior therapy, disorders, eating disorder, Eating Disorders, Education, encourage, encouragement, God, Mental disorder, mental illness, mental-health, Music, recovery, strength, treatment, truth, understanding, United States, where I Stand
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.
#believe, Anorexia, Anxiety, anxiety disorder, awareness, be you, beautiful, beauty, bipolar, borderline personality disorder, Bulimia, clinical depression, depression, Dialectical behavior therapy, disorders, eating disorder, Eating Disorders, Education, health, hope, inspiration, inspire, Mental disorder, mental illness, mental-health, Music, Poetry, understanding
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.