Even though we don’t want to admit it – the summer is slowly coming to an end. Students are taking over local Targets, jobs that had a summer vacation are starting back up and the season is slowly changing. Some people see the changing of seasons as being an annoying and stressful time to handle (especially if those people never want the summer to end).

Change is not always easy to grab onto and ride out calmly. For those who are ending summer jobs, financial burdens could quickly put nerves into overload. Money isn’t the only change that causes stress. Just the idea of the summer routine being disrupted can easily affect an individual who is struggling with mental illness.

That disruption could create overwhelming emotions and lead to self-harm as a coping skill, one we know to be unsafe. Keep reading »

There is a certain underlying stigma in society that is strong, impactful, and often devastating for many people who live with a mental illness in the workplace. Not only are particular professions extra stigmatizing for the person involved, but there is this false idea lingering out there that the person employed is somehow unworthy, their skills are questionable, and they are often pushed out of their position.
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Confidence in the workplace can be a challenge for many people. Thinking and feeling insecure about your performance, job security, picking up on others’ anxiety about work, or even interactions with co-workers can send many people into a negative mindset about themselves. Insecurity at work doesn’t just affect you at the office, it can take over your entire life. Keep reading »

Tim has announced that when he turns 21 next summer he wants to move out. I can’t begin to explain all the ways that frightens me. Except for this past February when he knew he needed a few days inpatient, Tim has been stable for just over a year. I never, ever thought we would get to this place. He even spent two straight weeks alone with my parents in July, helping them with chores around the house and playing miniature golf. He hasn’t been able to do that since he was nine. Moving out means Tim will have to be responsible for all the things he doesn’t realize he relies on us for, and for all the things he is responsible for now, but I remind him about almost daily. We can teach him these things, yes. But what we can’t teach him scares me more, namely, how to keep him safe out in a world that may automatically assume he’s dangerous, and may be dangerous to him because he trusts too much. Keep reading »

About five years ago, my friend Tuck married a woman with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prior to the wedding Jane (not her real name) worked on her recovery just enough to stop her nightmares and flashbacks. With those big problems eliminated, Jane decided she didn’t want to continue with PTSD recovery work even though significant issues still remained. Tuck, wanting to respect Jane’s decision, didn’t press the matter. Instead, he set up a lifestyle that expected, accepted and supported Jane’s symptoms. Keep reading »

To have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is to worry — a lot. While true, this is an oversimplification. “Worry” doesn’t really begin to describe what happens in GAD. Everyone worries; it’s part of being human. It’s a given that people will worry about their grade on a test, for example, worry about their job security when downsizing is taking place, or worry about their child’s safety when he or she is away. But in GAD, the worry becomes all-consuming and typically isn’t limited to a single situation. Rather than having worries in one’s life, for someone with GAD, life itself is a constant worry. Keep reading »

Recently I found myself feeling depressed. As is usually the case, there were different triggers involved. Some were hormonal as I was pre-menstrual. Others were personal as my parents are in the process of splitting up and it’s been an emotional time for all involved. Like so many, I was also surprised and hit hard by the suicide of Robin Williams. Add in my wonky brain chemistry, and I was off to the depression races.

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Schizophrenia is an illness that causes intense pain and distress for its victims. In our suffering, we can seek solace and relief in ways that can worsen our symptoms. Some of us will turn towards drugs and alcohol in a desperate attempt to dull our pain. I, myself, was one of those individuals. Initially, I used alcohol as a way to cope with the pain that I experienced due to my schizophrenia symptoms. This temporary relief came at a great cost, however. Inevitably my illness worsened and my path towards recovery became more difficult. Keep reading »

Images of impossibly thin women with micro-waistlines and not a pucker of cellulite swamp the media. Luckily, we’re getting better at spotting the fakes. Thanks to widespread awareness campaigns, we know that, because of Photoshop’s “enhancing effects,” the models we see on posters and in magazines whose physiques seem too good to be true are just that—not true.

But if we are more aware of magazine myths and are getting behind positive body image campaigns like Dove’s, why does the “thin ideal” still reign? Keep reading »

The past week has been quite an emotional one for many, especially many in the mental health community. The death of beloved actor Robin Williams by suicide on August 11, has shaken our community to the core.

Why? What is it about Williams and his manner of death that touched so many of us? Many of us understand depression. We get being suicidal. We understand what it’s like when our kids or grandkids ask us to play and we must say, “No, I’m sorry honey. I just don’t feel up to it right now.”

That terrible mix of guilt and fear, blended with the self-loathing because we feel like we have no energy, yet refuse to stop beating ourselves up over the very depression that is making us feel that way.

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