We Can Only Heal When We're Ready

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Countless times, people have told me that a person can only start to heal if they are ready to do the work themselves. They can't be forced into improving their lives. Despite hearing this message over and over, part of me really thought I could convince other people to heal and "get better" if I just said and did the right thing. This probably comes from a history of being responsible for co-regulating my parents' emotions. I grew up having to say and do the right thing to maintain my worth, and for a long time that felt normal.

Recently, I've been trying to unlearn this. A big breakthrough came for me when I realized there were times others had tried to push me into healing certain areas before I was ready.

Healing Is a Process

I have been actively working on my mental health for almost a decade, and in that time, I've noticed a kind of pattern. In my reading about mental health, I will come across something that other people find useful in their healing journey, and I can't help but snort because it seems so useless. Then, a few months later, or sometimes years later, all of a sudden that exact same thing makes so much sense.

This has happened with probably hundreds of things, but most recently, I feel like I've finally understood the idea behind setting intentions. In the past, "setting intentions" felt like the same thing as setting goals, which has always been difficult for me. I have some issues with perfectionism, so when I set a goal and don't reach it, I feel like a complete failure. Instead of dealing with my perfectionism, I've simply stopped setting goals.

For a long time, setting intentions seemed like another version of goal-setting that was only going to cause me more anxiety. But then, after years of turning up my nose, I had a breakthrough. Setting intentions is different from setting goals because the focus is on being intentional. It's about intentionally focusing on something in your life instead of just letting it happen to you.

This is a mindset I wasn't able to see for a very long time, even though plenty of people, including friends, family, and therapists, have tried to explain it to me. I simply wasn't ready to hear it yet.

Take Your Time Healing

It can be frustrating to realize that something you've been rolling your eyes at for years can actually be a really helpful way to heal from trauma and mental illness. I know I've struggled with feeling guilty and stupid for doing this. But the truth is, I'm just human and I can't magically heal everything at once. Healing takes time, and that's okay.

What healing tools have you dismissed in the past, but now find yourself embracing? How did you feel when you realized this tool could actually help you? Share your story with our community in the comments.

5 Tips to Help Your Child Cope with Autistic Meltdowns

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How to help your child cope with autistic meltdowns is the desire of many parents. Recently, on a message board for autistic adults and allies, a parent asked for some advice on helping her child with his autistic meltdowns. While these sorts of groups and message boards weren’t around when I was young, I sure wish my mom had done this sort of thing when I was a kid.

For parents of autistic children, there can be loads of misleading information online about how to deal with meltdowns. Here are some helpful tips to support your child before, during, and after a meltdown. 

How to Help Your Child Cope with Autistic Meltdowns

Preventing a Meltdown

One key to helping you child cope with autistic meltdowns is planning, planning, planning. Try to isolate what triggers meltdowns, and try to avoid them. This is something a child can even work on as well. Identifying triggers and removing them as best as you can can be helpful. 

For example, sensory overload or overwhelm can trigger a meltdown. Even something as small as a ticket in their shirt might be bothersome enough to cause one. Understanding a child's specific triggers can help reduce the number of meltdowns.

To avoid meltdowns in public, I like to bring noise-canceling headphones wherever I go. I can unplug from the world for a bit, and that can help me stay calm during times of stress. Bringing sensory toys can also help distract from the situation. 

Anticipating and Preparing for a Meltdown

Not all meltdowns can be avoided. Identifying when a meltdown is coming while it is still in its early stages can help mitigate discomfort. 

The “rumbling” phase, also known as the anxiety phase, will signal that a meltdown is about to come.1 A child might express their discontent by hand flapping or rubbing their eyes. I personally do both of those things. Not every autistic person is the same, and a the warning signs might look different depending on the situation. Other behaviors such as face rubbing, hand wringing, or intense rocking can also signal that a meltdown might occur.

Identifying a meltdown early allows a child or parent to find a more comfortable space, or simply get some distance and alone time. 

Creating a Safe Space 

Separation and removing stimulation can help end a meltdown faster and easier. I would highly suggest that autistic children have a safe space to retreat to when they feel a meltdown might occur. “Cozy Corners” have become very popular, and using them in my preschool classroom was immensely helpful. 

Your child can help you! Their safe space should be tailored specifically for them. Blankets, sensory items, and pillows can all be helpful. Really pad the area and make it comfy. 

Getting the emotions out and letting a meltdown happen is good. Tell your child they can bite the pillows, scream into them, punch them, or simply snuggle them and cry. 

This area should not be a place a child is sent for punishment, but rather a place of relief. When this area is not available or the family is out, try bringing your child outside of a crowded space during their meltdown. Try asking if they would like to sit in the car or in a patch of grass for some quiet time. 

When I'm having a meltdown, I love to be reminded that someone is there for me. Reminding a child that they are not alone can make a huge difference in recovering from and coping with an autistic meltdown.

Communicating Coping Strategies for Autistic Meltdowns

I know it may seem impossible that a child can affect their own mental health, but children are far more understanding of their own minds than we give them credit for. How we frame the situation for them is monumental. 

A fun idea to teaching your child could be designating an entire month as “emotions” month. Spend time working on identifying emotions and talking about what can be triggering meltdowns. 

Have conversations regularly about meltdowns, but not immediately after they happen. Avoid teaching or redirecting during a meltdown. A child's reasoning skills are greatly impared during a meltdown, and they will have trouble understanding. Strategies during this stage should be centered on protecting, planning, prompting, and the use of timers.*

Reach Out to Autistic Adults to Learn How to Cope with Autistic Meltdowns

I always glad when mothers ask our group questions when there is so much misinformation on the internet. For a parent of an autistic child, a meltdown can be a stressful experience. Every parent wants what is best for their child. Parents should be mindful of what the child is going through, and minimize as much stress for them as possible. 

The autistic communitity is often against the practices of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.3 More forceful tactics, such as restraining a child during a meltdown, can be quite traumatic. I am glad more parents are willing to be open with autistic adults about which treatments and strategies work, and which have potential harm. I love sharing the tips I have spent my life learning. Don’t be afraid to ask an autistic person what worked for them, and be open to suggestions from those with lived experience.4

How do you help your child cope with autistic meltdowns? Share the tips that work for your child in the comments.


1. "Meltdowns." National Autistic Society, March 2016.
2. Armstrong, R., "Sensory Behavior and Meltdowns." Parent to Parent, 2020.
3. Oswin, "International Day of Protest Against ABA: Gentle ABA is Still Abuse." Autistic Spectrum Parents, August 2018.
4. Kat, "Autistics Against ABA." Celebration of Kat, May 2020.

Speaking on Behalf of Someone with Mental Illness

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When we were little, I spoke on behalf of my brother a lot because he had a speech delay. He would regularly mix up or mispronounce his words, and I would find myself acting as some sort of amateur translator when he spoke to anyone outside our immediate family. My most commonly used phrase was "what he's trying to say is..."

My parents would often scold me for intervening. They'd explain that if I always stepped in to speak on behalf of my brother, he'd never have the opportunity to develop communication skills for himself. This was a lesson I had to learn all over again when my brother became acutely unwell with anxiety and depression in 2014.

When Good Intentions Cause Harm

Speaking on behalf of someone with a mental illness may come from a good place -- for me, it was always because I wanted to protect my brother. I was so hurt by all the ignorance in the wider world about mental illness, and I wanted to shield him from it. When conversations about mental illness got heated, I would swoop in and nip them in the bud with the speed of the little girl who once spoke over her brother in the playground to stop other kids noticing his speech impediment.

I see now that I knocked my brother's confidence in both situations. In both situations, I was inadvertently teaching him that his voice wasn't strong enough -- that he needed me to speak on his behalf in order to be heard. 

The truth is, he doesn't and he never has. When I stopped translating for my brother as a kid, he quickly learned the changes he needed to make to be easily understood. When I shut up and let my brother speak on his own behalf about his experience with mental illness, I was stunned by his patience, coherence, and wit.

You Can Still Advocate

I believe there's a very important difference between speaking on behalf of someone with mental illness and advocating for someone with mental illness. I still advocate for my brother sometimes -- in situations where people are discussing his condition without him being present (this really annoys me), in wider discussions about mental illness (something the unfortunate friend who described Kanye West as "crazy" learned the hard way), and in very particular situations where he is so deep in crisis that he can't verbally communicate (this is something we've discussed in advance and is in line with his wishes). 

The key difference is that all of these conversations are now relayed back to my brother so he can give me feedback on how I did and what to change next time, rather than me trying to shield him from the conversations. It may be my mouth that the words are coming from, but it's now him driving the message. 

I'm interested to hear what your journey with speaking on behalf of someone with a mental illness has been like -- leave a comment!

Psychiatric Medical Consensus: Importance Over Patient Opinion

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Medical consensus in psychiatry is critical. Many people do have many opinions, of course, but understanding psychiatric medical consensus is what makes all the difference. If you have 1000 psychiatrists in a room, after all, you can be guaranteed someone is going to disagree on any subject, but who do you believe, the 999 or the one? And is a medical consensus in psychiatry worth more than the opinion of psychiatric patients?

What Is Medical Consensus in Psychiatry?

According to the Medical Dictionary,1 a "consensus statement" is:

A comprehensive summary of the opinions of a panel of experts about a particular scientific, medical, nursing, or administrative issue. Its purpose is to provide guidance to health care professionals esp. [especially] on controversial or poorly understood aspects of care.   

So a psychiatric medical consensus, then, is a summary of opinions about a topic relating to psychiatry. As the above definition says, this is typically issued for controversial or poorly-understood subjects. A medical consensus may lead to a formal position or policy for an organization and typically drives practice guidelines.

For example, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published the following in 2015 as their official position on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT):2

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a safe and effective evidence-based medical treatment. ECT is endorsed by the APA when administered by properly qualified psychiatrists for appropriately selected patients.

This is the conclusion all the available evidence has led to, even though ECT may be considered controversial by some.

Why a Psychiatric Medical Consensus Matters

Often, doctors look to a medical consensus for information on how to treat someone. That is because doctors don't have the time to read all the research on every topic. It's impossible to keep up with every study in every journal. Moreover, all doctors, even specialists like psychiatrists, must treat things in which they have not analyzed all the data. (The more refined the subject area of a specialist, however, the most likely they know all the literature on it.) That's why experts in a particular area of medicine, those who do understand the technical details behind all the studies on a given subject, are the ones who shape the medical consensus. Consensus indicates a broad acceptance.

For example, for the above, the APA Assemply plus their Board of Trustees had to sign off on the written official policy.

Don't Patient Opinions Matter in a Medical Consensus in Psychiatry?

Whether or not a psychiatric medical consensus matters more than the opinions of patients depends on how you look at it. Any patient's opinion matters to that patient and, hopefully, his or her provider. However, does a patient opinion matter to the medical consensus in a field like psychiatry? Probably not.

For example, there are special interest groups out there who will tell you that ECT is evil and should be outlawed. There are also people who have had bad experiences with ECT. But as I said, in any room of 1000 people (like patients), some are going to disagree (and in the case of patients, most aren't going to understand the scientific literature).

And if you research ECT on your own, you may be very scared by the bad experienced and/or swayed by special interest groups. These things may form your opinion on ECT.

Why Medical Consensuses in Psychiatry Matter More Than Your Opinion

And this is where the importance of a psychiatric medical consensus comes in. During your research, you may have found scary stories, but those stories are by one person on the Internet, and you don't even know if they are real. And if there is a group that collects these stories, they may look overwhelming. Moreover, you may have found a study that appeared to support a scary position. But the psychiatric medical consensus on ECT should be weighed more heavily than any of that because actual experts drove it. Actual experts who really run studies and treat patients every day and understand neuroscience drove that consensus. That makes it infinitely more meaningful than random anecdotes on the Internet. It also makes it more meaningful than any one, single study of which you don't understand the mechanics.

I get asked all the time what my opinion is of ECT, and I get asked whether an individual should get it. My answer is always the same: Electroconvulsive therapy can be a very effective treatment for some conditions (like treatment-resistant depression) and is a good choice for some people and not others. The only way you will know which one you are is by talking to your psychiatrist.

I can confidently say that because my opinions, too, are evidence- and consensus-driven. I know that some people don't agree with that, and that's okay. Psychiatric medical consensus is more important than those patient's opinions. And that's okay.

(Note that I am not saying you have to do something just because there is a medical consensus in psychiatry. As I mentioned, each person is an individual, meaning that some things will be right for you while others won't. That's okay, too.)


  1. Medical Dictionary, "consensus statement." Accessed August 1, 2020.
  2. American Psychiatric Association, "Position Statement on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)." July 2015.

Healthy Boundary or Manipulation? How to Tell the Difference

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Healthy boundaries can be hard to recognize. For example, have you ever had someone set a boundary with you but it didn't feel right? Maybe they stated in such a way that it was hard to know if it was a legitimate boundary or a manipulation. Perhaps you have been manipulative with others but framed it as setting a boundary. This can be a confusing dynamic in interpersonal relationships and I've certainly struggled with it myself at times. Let's take a look at how you can tell if someone is setting a healthy boundary or being manipulative.

Healthy Boundaries are Respectful to Both Parties

Understanding that healthy boundaries honor both parties was the most helpful tool for me in assessing whether a boundary was legitimate or not. Imagine your romantic partner says to you, "I need to have sex every day. That's really important to me and if you love me you will be willing to meet my needs." Now imagine you aren't comfortable with that at all. Your partner is framing it as a relational need but you would have to dishonor your own needs and body to meet the demand. In this case your partner is not setting an appropriate boundary because they are asking you to abandon your own needs. Here are some other ways to know when you are dealing with manipulation and not a healthy boundary:

  • You are being asked to do something you feel is immoral.
  • You are being asked to do something that could have major consequences.
  • You are being asked to disrespect yourself or someone else.
  • You have already said no but you're still being pressured.

Healthy Boundaries Improve Relationships

I used to think of boundaries as a way to protect myself from others. Over the years, I have learned that healthy boundaries actually serve all parties involved. For example, if I set a boundary with my boss that I will not tolerate being yelled at when he is upset, I'm not just protecting myself. I'm protecting the working relationship and the overall environment of the workplace for my coworkers as well. I'm even helping my boss to be a better leader. It's a win-win-win.

For me, understanding the difference between boundaries and manipulation has helped me be a more assertive, and respectful person in all my relationships. I especially appreciate the value of setting boundaries with myself to ensure I treat my mind, body, heart, and the people in my life with care and consideration.

How do you determine if a request is a healthy boundary or attempt at manipulation? Put your answer in the comments below.

Dental Anxiety: Feeling Anxious Over the Dentist, Procedures

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Does the thought of going to the dentist or having dental procedures done cause your anxiety to skyrocket? If so, you're not alone. A whopping 50-80 percent of American adults report having some degree of anxiety about going to the dentist, and a study published in 2017 indicated that 19 percent of people showed moderate to severe dental anxiety and almost seven percent indicated a high degree of such anxiety.1 

During the study, participants took an assessment called the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS). The very fact that this assessment exists indicates that dental anxiety is a problem for many. Because it can be such a problem, let's look at dental anxiety and what to do about it. 

The Nature of Dental Anxiety

Anxiety about going to the dentist or having dental procedures done, while extremely common, is different for everyone. It can involve such experiences as

  • fear of pain
  • worries about expense
  • discomfort with the sight and sound of instruments and equipment
  • feeling unsettled due to confinement and the inability to move freely or talk
  • unease with having others invading their personal space, working closely and in their mouth
  • lack of control over what will happen or procedures you'll need 
  • anticipation of future problems that will involve more pain, time, and money

Two days after writing this, I'll be having two root canal procedures done, one on each side of my mouth. Two weeks after the root canals, I'll return to the dentist for crown placements. My own anxiety isn't about fear of pain, the professionals, or the procedures. My anxious thoughts are related to the reason for needing these root canals in the first place.

I have Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune condition involving, in large part, dry eyes and mouth. Because of a lack of any decent amount of saliva, I acquired two large cavities and now need these root canals. My initial anxious thoughts involved catastrophizing the situation and jumping to the conclusion that I'll have numerous, expensive dental procedures to face for the rest of my life. Because I have some other autoimmune and digestive disorders, my mind leapt to general health concerns and imagined negative consequences, expensive and time-consuming.

Regardless of the reason for dental anxiety, the anxiety can cause great misery and have potentially damaging consequences if worry and fear keep you out of the dentist office, either cancelling appointments or simply choosing not to make them in the first place. Oral health, though, is important. There are things you can do and that I am currently doing to minimize or deal with dental anxiety so you can attend appointments and have needed procedures without the added agony of anxiety. 

How to Deal with Dental Anxiety 

Like all types of anxiety, dental anxiety involves our thoughts and feelings about the situation. Ruminating is common in dental anxiety, and this act of thinking about our worries and fears over and over contributes to heightened anxiety. It can be helpful to gain a sense of control and shift thoughts away from dental concerns by changing perspective and intentionally paying attention to something else. 

Try these strategies to prevent dental anxiety from overwhelming you:

  • Focus on your reason for going to the dentist and remind yourself that the ultimate outcome of any procedure will be positive (such as easing long-term pain, maintaining a healthy mouth, or taking steps to keep your heart healthy as oral hygiene can play a role in cardiovascular health2)
  • Brainstorm examples of times when dental visits have gone well and/or times when you've faced anxiety and survived, and repeatedly remind yourself of these examples 
  • Use visualization to distract yourself during the procedure, closing your eyes and calling to mind a peaceful (and spacious if you don't like the physical restrictions of dental work) scene and be fully engaged in the image, envisioning sights, sounds, smells, sensations on your skin, etc.)
  • Practice meditation regularly before your appointment to help your mind and body calm down and focus on one thing (such as your visualization) rather than on all of your worries and fears
  • When you catch yourself thinking anxious thoughts, gently and intentionally change your focus to your present moment (this is known as practicing mindfulness)
  • Ask a loved one to accompany you, and request permission for them to be in the room with you for support

Above all, remember that a dental appointment or procedure is temporary. Congratulate yourself for doing something for your health, and celebrate by doing something fun or relaxing when it's over. You're not just celebrating the end of a procedure; you're empowering yourself by acknowledging your triumph over anxiety. 

I invite you to tune into the video as I share what I'll be doing about my own dental anxiety. 



  1. White, A.M., Giblin, L., and Boyd, L.D., "The Prevalence of Dental Anxiety in Dental Practice Settings." Journal of Dental Hygiene, February 2017. 
  2. Salinas, T. J. D.D.S., "Will Taking Care of My Teeth Prevent Heart Disease?" Mayo Clinic, January 2019.


More on the Importance of Empathy

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I’ve talked in previous blogs about the importance of empathy, and how it’s essential for anyone with anxiety. Or any other mental illness. Or any other member of the human race.

In this video, I want to go into a bit more about that.

Can Fitness Trackers Worsen Eating Disorder Behaviors?

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Just this morning, I opened my email inbox and noticed a subject line which read, "How many steps should you take to lose weight?" As someone who continues to battle thoughts of anorexia on a daily basis, my first reaction to seeing this was to click the email thread, so I could know the answer. I was even tempted to scroll through my mobile fitness tracker to ensure I habitually reach the step count required.

But since I am also in committed recovery now, this initial reflex was supplanted by another, more constructive question: "Can fitness trackers worsen eating disorder behaviors?" Could monitoring the number of steps taken, floors climbed, miles run or walked, and calories burned increase the obsessive patterns which eating disorders thrive on? Based on my own experience, I think that answer is, "Yes." 

My Relationship with Fitness Trackers in Eating Disorder Recovery

This might seem ironic, but I never used fitness trackers while in the depths of anorexia—in fact, I did not encounter these devices until I was in recovery. I felt anchored enough in the healing process to reintroduce exercise back into my life after a long hiatus, and I wanted some kind of tool to moderate my exertion levels, maintain a healthy range, and not become addictive. While this original intention was useful, over time, it contributed to those same eating disorder behaviors I had chosen to heal from.

Instead of scanning my fitness tracker to confirm I had not over-exercised, I started relying on it as motivation to run longer distances and push my body harder to beat a previous record I set the week before. This compulsion was intoxicating—I craved the satisfaction of watching my fitness tracker calculate the number of steps as I walked across the room or down the stairs. However, I did not realize how dependent I was on that device until just a couple months ago. After dinner one night, my husband turned an episode of The West Wing on, and we both settled in for a Netflix marathon together.

He sprawled on the couch under a blanket, and I paced in front of the TV, wearing my sneakers and examining my fitness tracker every few minutes. This ritual continued for awhile, but halfway through the episode, my husband clicked pause, turned to me with a raised eyebrow, and challenged, "Is this your new method of burning calories?" Disarmed—and defensive—at his question, I stammered, "Of course not! I would just rather not be sedentary when I can move instead."

We stared each other down, as a wordless argument passed between us. He had seen me in the throes of compulsive exercise before, so he understood which signs to look for. Finally, I joined him on the couch and faced an admission I knew on some level already. The fitness tracker had worsened my eating disorder behaviors. To be honest, this is still an area of temptation, but my goal is to phase out fitness tracker use entirely, so I can focus, without distractions, on eating disorder recovery.               

A Connection Between Fitness Trackers and Eating Disorders  

Embrace Change to Build Self-Esteem

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Learning to embrace change will build stronger self-esteem. Instead of spending energy trying to keep things from changing, I have learned to focus on adapting to change for a healthier self-esteem. To do this, I rely on routines and regular prioritization of my needs.

There is a value in creating repeatable routines. They add structure to life and help you take care of yourself and your responsibilities in the most efficient and stress-free way. I thrive on routine, but I have learned it is possible to also thrive during a period of change.

I do this by checking in on my priorities as one of my routine activities. I look at my life as if I'm in charge of triage in a MASH unit or emergency room. I always deal with critical issues first. Deciding if anything is currently critical is a process that repeats so often it almost seems continuous. Here's how I used this skillset this past week to embrace change and keep my self-esteem from plummeting.

How to Embrace Change for Healthy Self-Esteem

  1. Reprioritize regularly -- I have a set of life goals that give me direction, but things will happen that can throw me off track. When one of my kittens developed a digestive issue, I had to drop my regular routines to devote all my time and energy on nursing duties and repeated house sanitization. I've learned that it's okay to stray from my routines when there are pressing priorities that threaten health and safety, which are always primary goals. I allowed myself to skip the gym and to order takeout more often than usual. Check in with your priorities regularly and embrace change when it makes sense in the current situation.
  2. Attitude is everything -- About a year ago, I dropped my life-long goal of losing weight as a measure of my health and replaced it with functional fitness goals. It was a major attitude change because trying to lose weight made me feel like a failure. This helped me today when I saw the photos from my daughter's wedding. I was so surprised that I was fat! I don't think of myself that way anymore. It's true that I'm obese, but it's become less important and not a factor of my self-worth. Instead of falling into depression, I enjoyed reliving the memories and felt great because I love my new hair color and how my eyes sparkle and that I was able to do all the walking the large outdoor venue required. Think about how your goals make you feel. Create an attitude that supports self-love rather than one that makes you punish yourself. This will help you adapt to surprises in a positive manner.
  3. Control what you can -- You can't control everything, but you can control how you react to change. My recent depression caused by lockdown loneliness lifted when things seemed to be better enough to plan a weekend visit from an old friend. Then the news changed, and virus numbers started spiking again. This made me uncomfortable and I was torn between wanting company and wanting to be prudent. We had a great discussion and decided to cancel the visit for now. When you are honest with yourself and your loved ones about your needs and desires, your goals and priorities, things are more likely to change in a way that is best for you. Conversely, if you hide your true feelings, you relinquish any control over getting an outcome that pleases you. There's almost always a choice you can make to help you manage change. It's often about being honest, letting go of expectations, and adjusting your attitude because that's what we have the most control over.

Start Embracing Change to Build Self-Esteem

My self-esteem grew when I stopped fearing change and accepted it as a fact of life. You can allow yourself to feel momentary regret, anger, or disappointment, but don't spend too much time on it. Focus on keeping yourself safe and healthy, and then on how to keep yourself on your chosen course as best as possible.

This is easiest to do when you have your goals and priorities in order and understand that change is inevitable. You become a surfer on the waves of change that buffet you every which way without ever spilling you off your board.

When you embrace change as an inevitability, you will build stronger self-esteem. You can let go of fearing the possibilities of a new situation because you know that too will only be a temporary state.

What changes have you gone through that were difficult to accept? How can you make yourself readier for change right now? Share your stories in the comments and we will all grow strong together.

Does Mental Illness Make You Hard on Yourself?

Here's what's happening on the HealthyPlace site this week:

It’s not unusual for people with mental illness to beat themselves up. Get concrete tips for dealing with negative thoughts and feelings about yourself.

Does Mental Illness Make You Hard on Yourself?

Living with mental illness can be challenging enough without your own negative thoughts and feelings about yourself further beating you down. You don’t have to believe what your illness tries to tell you.

Mental Illness and Negative Thinking

Everyone has automatic negative thoughts, thinking errors that influence our emotions and actions. In people with mental illness, these thoughts are more pronounced and persistent.

Some thinking errors that might be damaging your self-esteem include:

  • Labeling—using harsh, negative labels to describe yourself
  • Emotional reasoning—letting your emotions take the lead, shaping your thoughts and actions
  • Discounting the positive—zeroing in on negative beliefs about yourself and dismissing anything positive as a fluke

Breaking Free from Negative Thoughts About Yourself

Thinking about yourself more realistically is a gradual process that takes practice and patience. These steps can help:

  • Awareness—rather than letting your negative self-talk run rampant, start catching the things you say about yourself
  • Question—Ask, “Is this really true?” Look for evidence that it is a lie told by mental illness.
  • Intentional focus—To shape your thoughts, choose what you pay attention to, returning your concentration to the moment or a positive aspect of yourself instead of negative thoughts and emotions.

You don’t have to believe everything you think, especially when it comes to all the negative thoughts mental illness tells you about yourself.

Related Articles Dealing with Negative Thoughts, Self-Esteem

Your Thoughts

Today's Question: When you’re down on yourself, what helps you pull out of it? We invite you to participate by sharing your thoughts, experiences, and knowledge on the HealthyPlace Facebook page.


The Challenges of Working and Having Bipolar Disorder

On the HealthyPlace Facebook Live this Thursday:  Sheila loves where she works. “My co-workers are amazing and really caring people,” she says. On the other hand, Sheila notes that “being bipolar means that people are always thinking that you’re dangerous in some way and you think they’re out to get you. And there’s also the paranoia that you’re going to get fired because you have a mental illness.”

Come join us, Thursday, July 30 at 3p ET / 4p CT. Therapist, Amy Quinn, will be there too. She specializes in treating adults with bipolar disorder. Ms. Quinn will be providing some concrete suggestions for dealing with the challenges that people with bipolar disorder face on the job. As always, our guests take your personal questions and comments.


From the HealthyPlace Mental Health Blogs

On all our blogs, your comments and observations are welcomed.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of any blog post. And visit the mental health blogs homepage for the latest posts.


Most Popular HealthyPlace Articles Shared by Facebook Fans

Here are the top 3 mental health articles HealthyPlace Facebook fans are recommending you read:

  1. A Wake-Up Call About My Schizoaffective Suicidal Thoughts
  2. Stop Anxiously Ruminating and Rehashing: Finish Every Day
  3. Am I Depressed or Just Sad?

If you're not already, I hope you'll join us/like us on Facebook too. There are a lot of wonderful, supportive people there.


Mental Health Quote

"Dont limit your challenge. Challenge your limits."

Read more mental health quotes.


That's it for now. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this newsletter or the HealthyPlace.com site, I hope you'll pass this onto them. You can also share the newsletter on any social network (like facebook or stumbleupon) you belong to by clicking the links below. For updates throughout the week, follow HealthyPlace on Twitter or become a fan of HealthyPlace on Facebook. Also, check out HealthyPlace on Instagram and YouTube.

back to: HealthyPlace.com Mental-Health Newsletter Index

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2020, July 28). Does Mental Illness Make You Hard on Yourself?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-health-newsletter/does-mental-illness-make-you-hard-on-yourself

Last Updated: July 28, 2020