Dear Senator Paul:

I understand that you think I and people like me are “gaming the system” because we’re receiving disability benefits for mental illness. I also understand that you claim you were quoted out of context and that some people do deserve disability, but the able-bodied don’t. I’ve seen both videos, and you didn’t say anything about mental illness. Logically, that means you think people with severe mental illness should not receive disability. Let me inform you about the realities of mental illness and disability benefits. Keep reading »

I used to lie all the time. In my addiction, I lied constantly to cover up my drinking (not that it worked). Even before I started drinking, I lied about my mental health issues because I thought if people knew what was going on inside my head, they would think I was weird (they still did). It wasn’t until I got sober that I realized how dishonest I had been on a daily basis and the importance of honesty in addiction recovery. Keep reading »

When my COBRA expired, I sought insurance (particularly to pay for mental health services), only to be denied because my mental illness was considered a pre-existing condition. Desperate, I turned to a Christian health pool, and asked if they covered mental illness. I was told that everyone has a bad day and that I should use herbs. I bit my tongue to avoid saying, “On my bad days I hallucinate.” Mental illness is not a “bad day.” Keep reading »

It’s exceptionally hard to celebrate when you have depression. I just turned 30 this week and I’m proud to have survived my birthday because I was so scared up until its arrival. As it turned out, it was easier than ever for me to celebrate my birthday this year because I figured out the secret to surviving my birthday (or any holiday) with depression.

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After using drugs or alcohol for a prolonged period of time, your body needs time to adjust when you quit a drug. Your body chemistry changes and that impacts your mental clarity, balance, and even your sleeping patterns. While post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is not officially recognized as a medical condition, the effects are commonly experienced by men and women in early drug and alcohol recoveryKeep reading »

When you suffer from a problem like binge eating disorder, you never really conquer all of your demons, particularly those of intrusive thoughts. As hard as you try to keep your thoughts positive and not focus on your body and weight, sometimes there is a spontaneous recurrence of  your previous toxic ideas (intrusive thoughts). But when these things happen, and I promise you, they will, you have to take it in stride, realize that these thoughts are not correct and don’t need to be considered. Then you have to tell yourself what is actually true. Keep reading »

Anxiety can be difficult to live with; indeed, some might argue that is a huge understatement. There are different types of anxiety disorders, and each comes with its unique challenges and obstacles. All of them fall under the umbrella of anxiety because they share certain commonalities, such as excessive worry and fear, disruptive thought patterns, and a host of physical and emotional anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorders share another trait: anxiety, in general, has two sides. Keep reading »

When our son was a teenager, like many teenagers, he was an avid music fan and, eventually, a musician in his own right. I also enjoyed the music he listened to, so we sometimes bonded over screaming until our vocal cords were bruised. Since it’s a known fact that mental illness runs in families, we weren’t too surprised when our son started showing signs of a depressive disorder. But his disorder and his music choices unearthed some mental illness, depression stigma in our home.

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Regardless of any mental illness I have, I am still a regular person with fears and doubts common to everyone. But because I do have an anxiety disorder, I’m able to use it as an excuse when I doubt myself or am afraid of something. And I often do.

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In my experience, I have found that the diagnosis of a mental disorder can be almost as difficult to deal with as the illness itself. In fact, it can be enough to throw your whole life off kilter and send you spiraling down into the blackest abyss – scrabbling at mass segments of misplaced sanity and reason. Or at least, that’s how it was for me. Being diagnosed with anorexia as a teen — 13 — evoked a conflicting quantity of emotions. I was hit with a sense of surrealism, fear, confusion and even a barely formed hint of masochistic pride. Because the verdict literally happened overnight, one moment I was a young, active and apparently healthy teenage girl – and the next I was anything but. I was anorexic – malnourished, insensible and broken. I was a pariah.
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