Stigma is one of the most challenging aspects of mental illness. A report by the President’s New Freedom Commission states:

Stigma refers to a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses. Stigma is widespread in the United States and other Western nations . . . It leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking and wanting to pay for care. Responding to stigma, people with mental health problems internalize public attitudes and become so embarrassed or ashamed that they often conceal symptoms and fail to seek treatment.

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As a voice for eating disorders awareness, education, and advocacy, I am glad to have a platform such as this blog where my voice can be “heard.” Too often, popular media portrays a one-dimensional view of eating disorders. That said, I struggle with the fact that I am the exact stereotype that you see on television and in movies. I am a Lifetime Movie or After School Special waiting to happen. I am white, female, young, heterosexual, intelligent, middle class, and anorexic.

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Before heading back to school in 2012, I spent about seven years in the workforce. I was a real adult. I paid bills on time; bought and sold a car; and, rode public transportation. I had relationships. I lived in Houston, Texas on Cape Cod and in Boston — totally a real adult. Also, oh yeah, like I’ve told you all a thousand times before, I did all this while having adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which made everything just a little bit more difficult than it needed to be. I was honest at each of my places of work regarding my diagnosis. Though I had no formal accommodations, steps were made at times (intentionally or naturally) to make life a little easier for me.  Keep reading »

Sometimes it is hard to stay in one spot for so long. The same old routine could bring on boredom, which could turn into anxiety and frustration. Nobody likes to be in the same place, doing the same thing for a long period of time. While a schedule is good to have, it can become something you are so dependent on that when it changes, you too could begin to change in unsafe ways.

Some people do not have the opportunities that others have when it comes to traveling around the state or to other countries. Some people may go their whole life without witnessing other cultures and learning from their traditions. However, if the opportunity does come, jump on that adventure.

Because that adventure could be just what you need to clear your head and start a safer life for yourself and avoid self-harm. Keep reading »

Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person. ~ Albert Einstein

Mastering Your Life, Unveiled

What does mastering your life really mean? It means visualizing the life you want, mapping it out, and taking intentional steps to create it. I often ask people: what are your interests? What do want out of your career? Where would you like to retire? What brings you joy? Most people respond, “I really don’t know.” More often than not they are struggling emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The prevailing desire is for inner calm, peace and focus. Keep reading »

The moment my 12-year-old son ran out the front door, I locked it. The temperature that evening was 17 degrees. Bob was wearing basketball shorts, a tank top and no shoes. Earlier he was playing with knives and making threats. My mind struggled as he banged on the door begging me to let him in. Finally, I unlocked the back door to the basement and told him to go around the house. He slept downstairs (behind a locked door) while my family slept safely upstairs. The next day Bob was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Keep reading »

Stop lying to yourself, avoiding the thoughts that hold you back, and get honest.  If you’re sick and tired of succumbing to the self-defeating thoughts, feeling unhappy or not good enough than this video is for you. If you want to develop self-esteem and confidence for life, that means you’ve got to become aware of whats holding you back. What patterns are you continuing to engage in, even when they make you feel bad? Do unhealthy relationships or behaviors continue to run your life? Learn how to get honest with yourself with this video, it will show you how. Keep reading »

In childhood I really believed the phrase, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

I learned to smile all the time so that people liked me. I rarely ever complained, since I knew that so many people in the world had things in their lives far worse than I could imagine. It’s no wonder that my family and friends only learned about my depression symptoms and feelings when I became actively suicidal.

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Throughout my life, I’ve been known to be a worrier. To be honest, “worrier” is a bit of an understatement. Better descriptors of my worry are generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. I’ve lost countless hours of sleep and taken enjoyment out of the most joyful activities simply by worrying and ruminating. Why didn’t I do this? Why did I say that? What if this happens? What if that doesn’t happen? At one point in my life this was quite problematic for my well-being. Happily, I’ve overcome this. Of course anxiety flares, and it does it pretty frequently. What’s different now is that I’ve learned to use anxiety to my advantage. It’s a very effective strategy that you might want to have in your anxiety-fighting toolbox. Keep reading »

Unfortunately combat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders go hand-in-hand for many people. In 2008, almost 22% of Veteran’s Administration (VA) patients were also diagnosed with a substance use disorder and in those hospitalized for PTSD, 70% also had a substance use disorder. And research shows that those who are diagnosed with both disorders have poorer long-term outcomes than those who are diagnosed with either one alone.

However, there are treatment process recommendations that can improve the outcomes of combat PTSD and comorbid (co-occurring) substance use disorders. Keep reading »