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If you have bipolar disorder, do you have a broken brain? This depends on a lot of things, such as your definition of "brain" and "broken." I feel that I have a broken brain with bipolar disorder, and, more importantly, I find that perspective very helpful in battling bipolar disorder.
When my phone lights up with a notification from Instagram, I immediately open the app and start scrolling. Scrolling on Instagram is quite addictive, and I cannot seem to stop once I start. This doesn't just waste my time but also has detrimental effects on my mental health. From body image issues to low self-esteem, using Instagram is anxiety-inducing. 
Here's the thing: depression is a mood disorder that impacts all areas of one's life. I am not saying this to be dramatic or bleak. All I am doing is stating a fact as a 31-year-old living with depression since the age of 13. Anyway, just as no amount of money can make up for a toxic work environment, no amount of ambition or purpose can make up for the havoc of depression. Therefore, it is crucial for people with it to redefine professional success.
Every time I hear of gun violence in the news, I wonder how soon after the conversations about mental health, and mental illness, in particular, will follow. It’s usually not too long. With the recent stories of gun violence in the news, it’s been no different. People were quick to blame mental health issues for the actions taken by these individuals.
I've recently, painfully, discovered that stress increases anxiety to interminable levels. Stress, of course, worsens one's mental health in many ways, but the way that I'm primarily feeling it is through anxiety (and probably depression; anxiety and depression being knitted together as they are). Previously, I didn't have the anxiety problems I do today, and I didn't realize just how bad anxiety could feel until this latest bought of stress increasing my anxiety.
A couple of weeks ago, I volunteered to distribute sanitary products and a hot meal to the unhoused community of Washington D.C. through the impactful and committed organization, The Distant Relatives Project. The experience produced a mix of emotions. I felt heartbroken to see so many individuals in need; the worst of it was learning that a large number of unhoused individuals who struggle with mental health issues do not have access to professional help. It is a crisis.
For many verbal abuse victims, like myself, one of the most challenging aspects of moving forward is accepting the reality of the situation. I had an extremely difficult time in my healing journey until I realized that I could never have the relationship with my abuser that I wanted. 
It's not uncommon for those who self-injure to use self-harm to regulate emotions that may be overwhelming or difficult to cope with. But it's a temporary solution, one that does more harm than good—there are better ways to process and manage your feelings.
Over the years, I have learned so much about my anxiety, not only through formal education but also simply through taking the time to analyze what I am going through. Some might say that this is just a part of dealing with anxiety -- the overthinking and the constant overanalyzing of what you feel, think, and do. But I think it has also been helpful because it has helped me recognize my triggers and anxiety symptoms. It has also helped me figure out things I can do that are helpful for me. One of those things is leaning into my anxiety and accepting the anxiety instead of running away from it.
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, a little over two years ago, I survived a catastrophic apartment fire. Among other things, the experience left me with the fear that something bad will happen to me in the future. I have not been able to shake that feeling. In this post, I want to briefly discuss that.

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Kim Berkley
Hi,

To begin with, I have to emphasize that I am not a doctor of any kind, and am not licensed to do any official dream analysis. However, personally, from what you've said, I would guess your dreams are connected to that "trapped" feeling you've been coping with and a (very natural) desire to be relieved of that feeling. Since you felt better after hurting yourself in your dream, it seems like you associate self-harm with relief, even though you've never hurt yourself.

It's good to recognize this early—it gives you a chance to change that narrative without falling into hurting yourself for real. I would definitely suggest trying some things now, rather than later, to find some healthy ways to cope with your negative feelings that will help you feel better. One thing I've done in the past when I felt trapped in a situation was to sit down and write out every single possible solution, even the ones that seemed farfetched, as long as they were even a little possible. Just seeing that list helped a lot more than I expected. And sometimes the creativity involved helped me see options I didn't recognize before, and sometimes these were the options I chose in the end.

Journaling in general can be helpful too, as well as any kind of creative outlet you might enjoy. Self-care, too—taking good care of your body can improve your mental state more than you might expect. It can also help alleviate sleep disturbances, including nightmares.

If you're struggling with your dreams, or if you start to feel like you're struggling with self-harm urges—or honestly, if you're just struggling in general—consider asking for help. Commenting here is a great first step, but is there someone you can reach out to and talk with? A therapist or counselor might be a good idea, but if not, see if you can think of a close friend or family member who could help you through this. It's not selfish or weak to ask for help; if anything, it's brave. And it can help so much, both now and in the long run.

I hope that helps. If you have further questions, comments, concerns, etc. feel free to reply here or elsewhere on the blog. I'll reply as soon as I'm able.


Sincerely,
Kim

PS: I appreciate the Stranger Things reference in your name. :)
Kim Berkley
Hi Alice,

I'm so glad that you've begun to heal and that your parents at least know of your situation, if not all the details yet. Even so, I can imagine it's difficult to broach a topic like this—I came out about it to my parents when I started writing for this blog, and it was so hard to start talking, even when I knew they would be understanding about it all (and it was all many years behind me at that point).

I think the best place to start is an honest place. Maybe start by bringing up swim camp generally, and then explain to them what you're worried about and why. I am hopeful that if they know already about your self-harm, that they will understand why you're concerned. You may not need to show them your scars at all, unless they ask.

Also, if you need any ideas for cover-up options beyond long swimwear, here are some posts that might help:

https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2022/3/hiding-self-harm-scars-in-swimsuit-season
https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2021/9/self-harm-scars-in-the-summer

I hope that helps. Feel free to reply here or elsewhere on the blog if you have any more questions, comments, or concerns. I wish you the best of luck with your recovery, and with swim camp!

Sincerely,
Kim
Kim Berkley
Hi Trin,

I believe this, too. Some people may struggle to understand self-harm if they've never had personal experience with it. But even if they don't understand, part of friendship is being willing to TRY to understand, and to accept, and most of all, to do what you can to help your friends heal when they need to. :)

-Kim
Kim Berkley
Hi,

I apologize for not replying sooner, but in case it's not too late, I wanted you to know: the dark things your mind believes in when you're feeling low aren't necessarily true. Recovery IS possible; it's true for others, and it's true for you. It takes time, and patience, and effort, but it's possible. I have no way of knowing if your death is imminent, but I certainly hope it is not.

And as for your last statement—it's definitely not true. It's likely there is at least one person in your life, probably more, who do care, even if they're bad at showing it. Even if you're unaware of it. But even if that is somehow not the case—and I'd be really surprised if it was—it's still not true. Because I care. And I hope you find the support you need.

Here are a few pages that might help:

https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources
https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/self-injury/self-injury-homepage

And if you have any specific questions, concerns, etc. you'd like to share, I'll be reading. I can't always reply right away, but I will as soon as I can.


Take care,
Kim
Kim Berkley
Hi,

I hope things turned out all right; I'm sorry I wasn't able to reply sooner. Please take good care of your wounds; keep them clean and avoid disturbing them more than necessary to keep them from getting infected and minimize the chances of scarring. Would it be possible to talk to your mom about what you're going through? If not, I hope there is someone else you can reach out to, whether a friend or family member and/or (ideally) a medical professional, to help you through this.

Here's a list of resources, including some hotlines you can call, in case it helps:

https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources

If you have any further questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to share them here or elsewhere on the blog. I hope this helps, even a little.


Sincerely,
Kim