My trauma happened in childhood and completely severed me from any healthy sense of self. Later, one of my biggest problems in recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was this: I felt completely disconnected from who I had been before my trauma and who I had never had the chance to be because of my trauma. I grieved that lost girl and the woman she might have become. In fact, the grief I experienced was so vivid it felt like a jab in my soul. I resented that trauma had taken from me so many opportunities at the same time that it turned me into someone I neither liked nor completely understood. Keep reading »

I hear voices. They’re different than the voices of a psychotic disorder. A person living with schizophrenia, for example, can physically hear voices as if they were real. There is a sound to them in the brain. There are other ways to hear voices that do not involve psychosis. I happen to have a voice in my head, and it speaks to me loudly and clearly. The voice, in my case, belongs to anxiety, and it never seems to shut up. Keep reading »

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you are more than familiar with the complications that arise on a regular basis. The extreme shifts in mood, ranging from mania to depression, can be exhausting and, if not properly managed, can pave a path of destruction in the individual’s life. In general, the goal of bipolar disorder treatment is to stabilize mood swings and prevent the highs and lows associated with bipolar disorder that put the patient, and those around him/her, at risk. But what happens when things go awry? Keep reading »

Many years ago, when a friend was a bit down or depressed, I thought, “Suck it up princess,” or “Have a cup of concrete” were appropriate responses from one man to another. After living with depression for the last 14 years, I realize what a jackass I was. Keep reading »

My name is Gabe Howard and I have bipolar and anxiety disorders. As a public speaker and writer using my lived experience with mental illness, I say that sentence often. Some version of that is on my business card and website and it is how I start most of my speeches. But, is that my identity? Is a set of diagnoses really who I am?

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As a person who identifies as pansexual, I’ve met my fair share of ignorance and discrimination when it comes to my sexuality. I have rarely seen positive depictions of bisexual people; instead, we are seen as chronic cheaters who have sex with anyone. This is extremely problematic because it directly affects the bisexual/pansexual community. Even within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) community, bisexuals often meet resistance and ridicule. We don’t fit in with the straight world, yet we find isolation within the LGBTQ community, too. Where do we truly belong?

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A person’s self-worth or self-value, is the key to a healthy self-esteem. People with low self-esteem don’t value themselves highly enough. They may believe they don’t deserve the best or that others are more important. Their low self-worth prevents them from speaking up or doing the things they want to do. Their own needs are neglected and it impacts on their quality of life. Keep reading »

People with bipolar display emotion perhaps more than most. For example, there are few places in this small city in which I haven’t cried. And some of those displays of emotion are entirely linked to bipolar disorder. If I wasn’t bipolar, I wouldn’t have had them. However, some displays of emotion are not tied to bipolar at all, and yet, no one seems to understand this. Keep reading »

My diagnosis varies, depending on who you believe. I remember one nurse practitioner told me I was too meditative and introverted and must have narcissistic personality disorder–no one backed up that “diagnosis,” but it’s in my file. I’d love to be able to get it removed. But as a borderline personality disorder patient, I have no right to see my file without my psychiatrist’s permission. The same applies to past practitioners’ notes. Which leads to an interesting question–should psychiatric patients have the right to see their file? Keep reading »

Most people who know me today know that I’m a food enthusiast — I love food in eating disorder recovery. When those people become aware of my past and try to reconcile those two experiences, they tend to be confused. How can someone both be enthusiastic about food and also have suffered an eating disorder? From my perspective, this is actually quite a natural progression. Though I may have some anxiety around food, my eating disorder recovery taught me that confronting that anxiety head-on and embracing food as nourishment is part of recovery. Keep reading »