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Bipolar is usually medicated to a manageable level. In other words, people with bipolar disorder who are on medication are not "back to normal," rather, they still exhibit some bipolar traits but at a manageable amount. This is completely different from what I was told for years after diagnosis, and it's also different from what people see in the media. People seem to think that a pill will make the person back to who they were before the bipolar disorder. I'm sorry to say, this just isn't true for the vast majority of us.
Among tinsel and twinkling lights and cheer, it’s not something people want to hear, but it’s true: the holidays negatively impact my mental health. Whereas others find cheer in the music and gift-wrapping, I find discomfort, anxiety, and darkness. The even more difficult thing is there’s really no safe, stigma-free space to talk about it.
Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday—not even close, in fact. As someone who was raised in a large, boisterous, Italian American family, I understand the importance of seasonal traditions, quality time with loved ones, and communal expressions of gratitude. But as someone who is also in eating disorder (ED) recovery, the overt emphasis on food this time of year can still cause ripples of anxiety to surface. So, as another holiday season rounds the corner, I want to share with you a list of ED recovery affirmations to remember on Thanksgiving. I often repeat them to myself when I feel overwhelmed or anxious during the festivities, and I hope these affirmations calm and re-center you as well.
For the past six weeks, my left knee has been causing me a lot of pain. The pain is flaring up as I sit to write this. It may have been caused by doing a stretch during an online ballet class--I honestly don’t know what caused it. What I do know is that it hurts a lot, and it’s wreaking havoc on my schizoaffective anxiety and schizoaffective depression.
Although victims of verbal abuse do not have bruises or other physical scars, the effects of verbal abuse are still genuine. While anxiety and depression can result from verbal abuse, they are not the only side effects.
Journaling can be a powerful way to work through the difficult feelings and experiences of self-harm and recovery. When you're at a loss for what to write about, these self-harm prompts can help.
Here we are in the second holiday season of the pandemic. Even though things have changed over the past year, there are still many areas of uncertainty and things that are anxiety-provoking. Dealing with anxiety during the holidays becomes vital, and particularly during these uncertain times.
People feel the need to "correct" mental health language constantly. This is mainly a product of political correctness and virtue signaling -- both of which I detest. In fact, talking about mental health and mental illness is like talking through a minefield. Wrong mental illness name -- boom -- you've exploded. Wrong sentence structure -- boom -- you've exploded again. And the thing is, running around correcting mental health language simply shuts down conversation altogether, and it's that exactly the opposite of what mental illness needs? Mental illness needs more open acknowledgment, not people shedding in the dark scared of being publically shamed for incorrectly using words.
Thanksgiving gatherings trigger feelings and emotions for everyone, but not all of those feelings are of peace or gratitude. Some people have wonderful memories of celebrating with childhood friends and relatives. Many of these people feel excited to reunite with loved ones they have not seen in a long time. Other people have unpleasant memories of the holiday. Many of these people feel stressed out, sad, lonely, angry, etc. If you feel anxious or depressed around Thanksgiving, it can be hard to find peace and gratitude. Here are six tips to help you feel better during Thanksgiving.
I have been taking antidepressants since 2018, even though they make me lazy. They are lifesavers that help keep my clinical depression down to a manageable level. However, they come with a hard-to-ignore drawback: they make me feel drowsy. I have long been one of those people who are slightly sleepy at all times. Antidepressants, while giving me clarity of thought and a will to live, make me more sluggish than usual.

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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