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The holidays are supposed to be full of cheer and celebration. But for so many of us, they are a time of increased stress and anxiety. This can result from a number of things, such as feeling as though there is not enough time, pressure from upcoming family gatherings, gift-giving, holiday travel, and financial worries related to all of the above. We also tend to see quite a bit on social media of what the holidays are supposed to look like, even though we know it is often not an accurate depiction of what the holidays are like for most of us. And now, due to the pandemic, there is the added stress of how these current times impact the holiday season.
Death is hard for many people to understand, and feelings about it can be extremely challenging to put into words. When it comes to death by suicide, the challenge seems to become even greater. Think of all the ways you’ve heard suicide spoken about; unfortunately, a lot of it results in stigma and ignoring pain. (Note: This post contains a content warning.)
Having healthy relationships is vital for individuals of all ages. Although, victims of verbal abuse may have a hard time finding someone to build a proper connection with. I know that because of the verbal abuse that consumed my past, my personal relationships were not always the best. After years of therapy, I believe my low self-esteem and decision-making skills contributed to the terrible relationship choices of who was in my life.
For some people, self-harm recovery begins with a spark—an "aha" moment that completely changes their lives forever. For others, recovery begins gradually, one step at a time. In both cases, adopting the right self-harm reduction strategies can help reduce and prevent instances of self-injury, thereby promoting long-term recovery.
Have you ever wondered if relatability has anything to do with mental health stigma? I haven’t until recently. Now that it’s entered my mind, I can’t help but wonder how much of a role that might play in decreasing stigma and maybe even perpetuating it.
When bipolar symptoms quell, I tend to fear bipolar symptoms coming back. That's right, the absence of bipolar symptoms can actually bring about fear and anxiety. I know that might sound self-defeating, but if you've been on the bipolar rollercoaster for as long as I have, and have seen as much bipolar devastation as I have, you'll understand that fear of bipolar symptoms is actually quite rational. It's a waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop feeling. So if you fear the return of bipolar symptoms, what do you do?
This time of year can be filled with fun times, special memories, and exciting events. It can also be excruciatingly difficult for those going through postpartum depression (PPD). If you're feeling exhausted, a full social calendar is the last thing you need. If you're struggling with feelings of hopelessness, the last thing you want is to be bombarded with photos of others' seemingly perfect lives. If you're feeling guilty about your parenting, seeing parents do all the things with their children isn't helpful for you. In spite of the emotional toll of the season, there are some strategies that helped me deal with postpartum depression in the thick of the holiday season.
When you are trying to heal and recover from an abusive situation, one unfortunate circumstance that can result is survivor burnout. In my experience, it can sneak up without any warning and interfere with every aspect of life. 
I’ve gone for a really long time without hearing schizoaffective voices. In fact, I’ve gone over four months without this disruptive schizoaffective symptom. I credit it to a psychiatric medication change.
For some people, journaling can be a useful tool with which to process emotions and experiences related to self-injury and recovery. These tips for keeping a self-harm diary will help you create a helpful habit that you can use to support your healing process.

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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