Social comparison is a part of being human. Using other people as a reference to decide how we see ourselves is often an unspoken force behind so much of what we do. "Comparison is the thief of joy," an adage often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, has been on my mind quite often lately. I realized I compare myself to others at the expense of my happiness. I have two chronic anxiety disorders and sensory processing sensitivity which interfere with my life in every way, and I find that I often don't consider these traits when I criticize myself for not working as much, having as grand of ambitions, or achieving as much as my peers.
Like many, I tuned into the Meghan and Harry interview last week, and I was particularly interested in Meghan's account of her mental illness being ignored by the royal family. Regardless of your thoughts on this particular couple, this is, sadly, a common issue in many families. Mental illness is ignored in families regularly, perhaps because we simply don't know how else to cope with it. I think we need to do better.
I have been hospitalized twice due to my erratic mental health. My gender expression of gender non-conforming (outward expression different from societal gender norms) was not taken seriously during these hospitalizations. I was subjected to uninformed mental health professionals and demeaning mistakes due to the lack of knowledge or respect for my gender non-conforming presentation. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. (LGBTQIA+) community deals with barriers to gender-affirming care regarding mental health and hospitalization often. These are just a couple of ways I was subjected to insensitive mental health care regarding my gender expression.
For some victims of verbal abuse, like myself, speaking out helps the healing process. Telling your story of verbal abuse is not only therapeutic, but it can give you back your power. Finding your voice can be a vital aspect of moving forward. Unfortunately, not everyone is receptive to hearing your story; and some individuals may go so far as to try and silence you with victim shaming when you talk about the verbal abuse.
When one characteristic of postpartum depression is guilt, how do you become a better parent? When your house is messy because you just don't have the energy to clean, you feel guilty. When your first reaction to your child's cries is anger instead of loving concern, you feel guilty. When you love your child but hate being a parent because of your postpartum depression, you feel guilty. But there's good news. I found that having postpartum depression also gave me advantages as a parent.
A lot of people think that they can't do yoga because they aren't flexible or coordinated. The truth is that yoga isn't about postures and poses. It's about connecting to you. As I've made it a regular part of my life, yoga has drastically improved my mental health.
Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS
Anxiety affects us deeply and in many ways, including taking over our thoughts. Anxious thoughts can be loud, obnoxious, repetitive, and bothersome. They seem real and accurate. We think something; therefore, it must be true. In reality, however, our thoughts--especially anxious thoughts--aren't reliable. There are many different types of anxious thoughts that become repetitive patterns, and because they repeat in our heads, they feel very real. We come to believe them, and this affects our actions and overall happiness. Here's a look at one particularly bothersome anxious thinking pattern, all-or-nothing thinking, and an exercise to change these anxious thoughts.
Being unemployed not only results in a reduced standard of living, but it can also cause depression. Speaking from personal experience, depression can hit the underemployed individual hard as well. However, while I have read a substantial number of articles about depression and unemployment, I have not seen much content on depression and underemployment. And that baffles me because many of us are grossly underemployed today, and the situation is likely to worsen even in a post-pandemic world.
Today is one of those days when I woke up anxious for what seems like no real reason. This happens on occasion, but every time it does it catches me off guard. Between the overall feelings of anxiety and feeling powerless and surprised when it happens, it’s hard to even get out of bed on days like this. One of the ways I deal with this feeling of stress and powerlessness is to return to a small collection of music, movies, and video games that occupy a special place in my heart.
Nori Rose Hubert
Let's talk about self-care as it relates to working with bipolar. As you know, self-care is a trendy topic. On the one hand, it's encouraging that more people -- especially folks with marginalized identities -- are recognizing that all people deserve to have their physical and psychological needs met regardless of external expectations, including those of our employers. The downside is that the conversation around self-care is often focused more on treating ourselves than building sustainable long-term practices to carry us through life's trials. Building and maintaining a good self-care routine is essential for everyone and is non-negotiable for those of us who live and work with bipolar disorder.