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A few months ago I underwent eye muscle surgery to better align my eyes. This is a problem I have struggled with since birth, so it really gave my confidence a boost to look in the mirror and see straight eyes. The surgery was elective and something I really had to ask for.
This post was particularly difficult for me to write because mental health hospitalization is not easy to talk about thanks to mental health hospitalization stigma. This stigma is profound, and both the stigma and the hospitalization itself places great strain on both the individual requiring treatment and their loved ones. I struggled with what to write, who to write it for, and if I should even post at all. If you know me or have read my page, you will know that I write for HealthyPlace because my husband has a mental illness. He has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. He also writes for HealthyPlace as a coauthor of "Creative Schizophrenia." Since his last hospitalization, we moved halfway across the country, had our third child, bought a house to renovate, found good jobs, and learned to work through his minor relapses. A couple of days ago, his condition deteriorated. He suffered a significant relapse and displayed signs of dealing with a significant psychotic episode. Even though I blog about coping with a family member's mental illness, I dreaded what came next and the response from those around us. As I drove him to the hospital, I felt the sting of stigma over his mental health hospitalization.
You've probably noticed that you feel good when you are kind to others, but did you know that regular acts of kindness change your brain over time? There is a lot of fascinating research out there on the health benefits of kindness. Let's explore how kindness changes the brain, so we can all be kinder, healthier, and happier.
Most mainstream eating disorder films offer stereotypical representations of people with eating disorders. It’s important for our storytellers to start offering honest and responsible portrayals of eating disorders that speak to a wider spectrum of people.
Being honest in therapy is much easier said than done. Even though we go to therapy because we want help, there may be certain things we've never discussed with anyone, let alone a complete stranger. Or if you're like me, it's not that you don't want to be honest, it's that you get all turned around in your head the moment you walk into the office and completely forget what you were going to say. For others, you may never have had a person you could truly be honest with, and now you aren't sure how to go about it.
It's 3:00 a.m. and I can't sleep. I'm sitting in the commons area of an eerily quiet psychiatric hospitalization unit while I recover from a relatively severe psychotic break. I wasn't going to blog this week because, well, the obvious. On top of that, all I have is pen and paper, no Internet access. But my wife still managed to post this week despite taking me to the hospital and picking up the slack in my absence. It is good to emulate one's heroes and I can think of no greater hero than my wife. I just wish I were a little more like her. But I have to remember that psychiatric hospitalization does not denote weakness.
While there are many people in the world who continue to stigmatize mental health, sometimes the most trying situations come from dealing with the people in our immediate lives who continue to spread stigma. There are a number of ways to handle people who approach mental health from a perspective of stigma, but here are 2 easy ways that you can deal with the people in your life.
Does anxiety define you? Do experiences determine who we are? These are questions that have been bugging me for the past week as I've talked to friends who experience anxiety and read about others who do as well. For many, reaching out to a therapist or even just feeling anxiety frequently leads them to define themselves by anxiety. Anxiety shifts from an experience they have to a label that globally identifies them as "disordered" or "messed up," and these negative labels, in turn, can exacerbate anxiety.
There is this myth of a "nervous breakdown." We see this term in news report, press releases and even in our own families -- "Oh, you know Aunt June? She suffered a nervous breakdown." But what are people talking about when they say someone had a nervous breakdown. Clearly, something happened but the truth of the matter the idea of a "nervous breakdown" is a myth.
Do we have to conquer fear? I've gone through some changes in my life recently that have me thinking about fear. In particular, how we react to feeling afraid. Why are some fears considered perfectly acceptable, while others fill us with shame and demand action? Being afraid of an aggressive animal, an impending surgery, or a loved one experiencing harm are all considered rational and acceptable. Yet we tend to hide our fears of social interaction, object/behaviors that feel uncomfortable, or people who affect us. So, what makes certain fears unpalatable? What makes us decide a fear is unfounded or embarrassing? Why are some fears allowed, while other fears must be conquered?

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Comments

Marni Charm
I too have suffered from an eating disorder (binge eating/restricting) and depression for over 20 years. I’ve also had diabetes, failing kidney, dialysis, 2 transplants, ADHD and a son with serious behavioral issues, I hope to find recovery in my near future. It all has just beaten me down and makes living exhausting,
Val
My son is 33, diagnosed 2 weeks before his 24th birthday with schizophrenia. He has his own apartment, is on SSD, has medicare, supplemental insurance paid through the state and he has EBT. He lives in St. Louis, MO. I fought for everything he has... he also gets an injection of Invega Trinza 4 times a year... he won't take pills so no anxiety or depression meds. He drives, buys his groceries, smokes like a chimney, hardly showers or brushes his teeth, sleeps in his clothes and shoes during the day because he paces at night. It's been rough, but we are making it with family support. It's hard to believe that there is so little help out there... thankfully Missouri is a pretty good state for him to live in.
Elizabeth Caudy
Dear Juan,
Thanks for your comment. I am glad you are stable on your medication. You should really ask your doctor for tips on how to sleep less since he/she knows you and knows your lifestyle.

Thanks again,
Elizabeth
Natasha Tracy
Hi Susan,

That is such a hard question. I feel like you never accept crippling illness. I feel like there are always more choices. I feel like there are always new medications coming out and there are always new combinations to try. I know seven years feels like forever -- that's very reasonable -- but you still have so much life left. Don't give up on getting better. Find a new doctor. Find a new treatment. Find a new combination. There is always the chance of getting better. Always.

- Natasha Tracy
Kristen Milstead
Hi Peggy: I'm so sorry that you've experienced this. You're definitely not a failure because of the things that have happened to you that aren't your fault and you had no control over. I do understand what you're saying about feeling as if you have failed or having sabotaged many things in your life. I still find myself doing this at times. I think awareness of why is the first step and you're already there. Kindness for ourselves unconditionally (which we never had) is a big part of helping to get rid of the messages we received--but it takes a long time to relearn it, as you know. It sounds as if you are working through this and are on a path toward getting somewhere but I agree, it is a struggle! You're definitely not alone. Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. Stay strong! Kristen

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