Reduce Anxiety By Reading Out Loud

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It's been a stressfully surreal couple of weeks. In some ways, I feel like I've come to terms with the new status quo for my daily life, and in other ways, it still feels as impossible and unreal as when social distancing started. Living with uncertainty can be a significant challenge for anyone, but this can be further exacerbated when you face daily anxiety as well. Now more than ever, coping skills that can be easily implemented on a daily basis are crucial for handling anxiety in a positive, sustainable manner.

At the start of the quarantine, I began considering what methods I might use to maintain my mental health during this time. I knew that exercise would play a role, and that has certainly had a positive impact. I knew that communicating with family and friends would play a role, and, paradoxically, I find myself more connected than I was before all of this began. These likely sound a bit mundane -- these are very common methods for cultivating mental health in our daily lives, and the benefits I've experienced from them have not been surprising. What has surprised me, however, is my experience with an activity I rarely engaged in before: reading out loud. 

Reading Out Loud

I began this practice of reading out loud when I wanted to send something comforting and engaging to a friend of mine on a daily basis. I decided I would send a short audio clip (around 5 minutes) of me reading one of their favorite books. I thought this might be a good way to give them something relaxing to listen to and would be a good way of conveying my compassion and support. What I didn't realize, however, was just how beneficial this practice would be for my own mental wellbeing. As I read this book for my friend, I found my mind became calmer almost immediately after I began, and I started to look forward to making these recordings because of how much better I felt. My emotional state improved as I read, and I noticed my mind engaging with the words to the exclusion of everything else. 

Why It Works For Me

I believe this practice has been therapeutic for several reasons. First, when I read, my focus is not on myself, but on comforting my friend. This outward focus really helps me to pull away from the daily concerns I feel for myself, and to instead engage with someone else's mental state. That kind of compassion-oriented thinking really refreshes my mind and lets me calm down in a way I rarely do when I just focus on myself. Second, I find that reading out loud to provide comfort to someone else ends up producing comforting sounds for myself as well. When I read for my friend, my voice becomes a means of conveying tranquility and caring, and although it is produced for my friend, I can't help but feel that caring tone for myself as well. It becomes, in a way, a form of positive self-talk and self-soothing that I don't always find when I'm trying to help myself. Third, reading out loud requires me to focus carefully on each word I read so that I pronounce it correctly and have the appropriate tone for each sentence. The attention required to do this is actually quite significant, and I find this forces me to engage with the words without thinking about anything else. If I let myself be distracted, the reading would fall apart, so my mind remains focused on the words. 

This may sound like a simple step, but I really have found the practice of reading out loud to be profoundly meaningful. It may be equally effective to just read out loud to yourself, but for me, there is something special about reading for the purpose of sharing with someone else. Please try in whatever way matches your interests, and comment below to share what your experience is like! 

Top Unexpected Triggers in Addiction Recovery

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Addiction recovery is filled with numerous unexpected triggers and challenges. There are obvious triggers recovering addicts must face along the path to recovery, like people, places, and activities that might be associated with their drug-of-choice. However, there are also plenty of unexpected triggers in addiction recovery that catch many individuals completely off guard.

Dangerous, Unexpected Triggers in Addiction Recovery

Many non-addicted individuals might assume that addiction triggers in addiction recovery, unexpected or not, are limited to notoriously dangerous items like needles, smoking bongs, or bent spoons. However, those of us in recovery know that addiction isn't always so forthright. Sometimes even the most simple items or activities can cause us to spiral out of control.

1. Social Media

In my experience, social media can be one of the sliest and most unexpected triggers I've faced in addiction recovery. As a recovering sex and pornography addict, I am often bombarded with overtly sexual content on social media sometimes with little to no warning. Social media might not be a severe trigger for all recovering addicts, but for those of us with common behavioral addictions, like sex, porn, food, and gambling, even simple Facebook or Instagram posts can send us into a frenzy of uncontrollable cravings. Additionally, those impacted by substance addictions like alcohol and marijuana might also be negatively influenced by social media content.

I recommend using the "unfollow" and "unfriend" buttons liberally in triggering situations that may arise. Sometimes you might only need to unfollow someone on a temporary basis while you're fresh in your recovery. However, in some instances, you might need to distance yourself from specific accounts or influencers altogether if the cravings become too much.

Having an active social media presence might feel like the most important thing in the world for some of you, but if you are a recovering addict, like me, you must remember that your sobriety comes before your social status. You have to protect yourself above all else in order to maintain and survive your sobriety.

2. Movies and Television

Similar to social media intake, unexpected triggers for those in addiction recovery occur in movies and television. Recovering addicts need to be proactive and intentional about what kind of content they are allowing into their lives. For some, watching a movie about drug use can be triggering, for others, films with suicidal content can be a trigger, and occasionally, even certain actors or actresses can be a trigger, as well. This differs entirely from one addict to another. It's imperative that we as recovering addicts know and understand our triggers on a deeply personal level. You know you better than anyone, so only you can create the most effective and appropriate guidelines for yourself.

I've been in recovery for years now and even to this very day there are specific movies and television shows that I don't allow myself to watch. Yes, sometimes it sucks to be behind the curve and miss out on everyone's favorite Netflix series, but again, your sobriety is more important than your social status. 

I've learned it can also be helpful to google "trigger warnings" for new movies or television shows that you're interested in prior to watching them. There are numerous film and entertainment blogs and vlogs available to you, so use them wisely. These can generally give you an idea of what to expect with certain shows or movies and prepare you for potentially triggering scenes. Additionally, if you have friends, mentors, or sponsors with a similar addiction history, you can reach out to them as well for counsel in this area about what might be unsafe for you to watch in this stage of your recovery.

3. Romantic Relationships

Lastly, romantic relationships can also be highly and unexpectedly triggering for recovering addicts. Due to the tumultuous nature of new relationships, many sponsors and recovery coaches I've spoken with often recommend newly recovered addicts refrain from forming romantic relationships for at least the first year of their sobriety. Developing romantic relationships is often discouraged because of the intense emotions frequently present in "young love". Some sponsors will also discourage contact between former romantic partners as well due to the volatile possibilities involved.  

Relationships aren't always viewed through a negative lens by the recovery community though. If you have a strong, healthy, bond already established with someone prior to seeking out recovery, it's possible that the relationship can be an asset for your sobriety instead. Of course, this also requires the full support and sobriety of your partner as well. 

Romantic relationships can be tricky as they can greatly differ from one to another. However, I can speak from experience that emotionally heavy relationships can often be a hindrance to maintaining sobriety as they tend to cause emotional turmoil and unhealthy decision making.

Unexpected Triggers and Challenges in Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is never as simple or easy as you expect it to be. The idea of being healthy and making better life choices is a road that often requires blood, sweat, tears, and incredible sacrifice. Recovery is hard work and it becomes that much harder when we don't take the necessary measures to protect it at all costs. Learn your triggers early in recovery so that you can begin fighting them and actively protecting yourself right away.

What unexpected triggers have you as a recovering addict experienced? What happened the first time you faced them? What happened the second time? Share your experiences in the comments below.

How Sheltering at Home Affects My Schizoaffective Disorder

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I mentioned in last week’s article that sheltering at home with schizoaffective disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t that hard for me because my schizoaffective anxiety keeps me in so much anyway. However, now the extreme isolation is starting to take its toll.

Schizoaffective Disorder Intensifies Sheltering at Home

Schizoaffective disorder intensifies the stress of sheltering at home. It's hard to lose my routine. I haven’t been able to go to in-person therapy appointments because of the pandemic. As of this writing, I’ve had one phone session. Hopefully, we’ll be able to switch to video sessions soon. But that’s just one arena of my new isolation.

My husband Tom and I go to my parents’ house for dinner with them every Friday night. We got together last week as usual. We didn’t hug or touch in any way, not even clicking glasses for making a toast. We just raised our glasses instead. It was hard not to be able to even touch my mother and father. But this week, after the sheltering at home protocol took effect, we aren’t going there at all. I often stop by to see them during the week and that’s stopped too.

I’ve always had a routine for my weeks. Every other Tuesday night I would go to a support group, every Thursday I would go to therapy and then go out for tea with a friend. And every Friday night Tom and I would have dinner with my parents. Most Saturday mornings, I had breakfast with my parents and my mom and I ran errands since she works and she’s off on weekends. And every other Saturday night Tom and I would go out for dinner.

So that was my routine. And now it’s gone. Routines are especially important when you have a mental illness like schizoaffective disorder. I could have gone to my parents’ house for breakfast on Saturday, but I had developed a slight cough so I wanted to stay in. Of course, I was worried that even the mildest cough meant I had COVID-19. But that’s another article.

Schizoaffective or Not, It’s Important to Shelter-at-Home

It especially stinks to be staying at home when it’s starting to warm up. And, even though I don’t usually go out much, that makes the times I do all the more important. I looked forward to the routine every day. I realize I can still head out for a walk alone, but it’s hard to go when I don’t have any place I’m going to or people I’m going to see.

I know I’m not in this alone. And I think it’s very important that people stay in. It takes up to 14 days from contracting COVID-19 for symptoms to show. The whole point of sheltering at home is to prevent the wildfire spread of this illness when people don’t have any symptoms and they don’t know they have COVID-19.

I mentioned I have a cough. I had thought it had gone away last week, but it came back. I especially want to stay in while I have this cough. The cough is waning and it’s such a slight cough I wouldn’t think anything of it if the pandemic weren’t going on, but I mostly don’t want to scare people. Besides, I don’t really have many choices since Illinois residents are still under a shelter-at-home order.

So, yeah, it’s a bummer. I know it ’s worth it for my health and for the health of those around me. And practicing shelter-at-home is something positive I can do during this crisis. So I’ve been starting to make routines while sheltering at home to help me stay structured and calm even though I have schizoaffective disorder. After all, this may be the new normal for a while.

What are you doing to keep your mental health routines during this shelter at home, COVID-19 epidemic? Share what you are doing in the comments below.

Coping with Self-Harm Triggers During the COVID-19 Epidemic

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Coping with self-harm triggers can be difficult enough during normal everyday life. It should come as no surprise that major stressors like the COVID-19 pandemic can make coping with self-harm triggers exponentially harder.

Yet it did catch me by surprise. COVID-19 snuck up on many of us, disguised as something distant and, therefore, easy to ignore. Then it came knocking at our own doors, and we all started to realize how serious the situation really is.

For me, the day it hit home was the day I watched the March 15 episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a bare-bones version of the show aired without the usual live audience reactions from an empty white set. It felt wrong, like the last emergency broadcast in an apocalyptic movie just before things hit rock bottom. I broke down crying, thinking, "Is this real? Is this what life is like now?"

Coping with COVID-19 Stress and Self-Harm Triggers and Urges

I am lucky in that I am many years removed from the last time I self-harmed, so the self-harm triggers I've faced during COVID-19 have been relatively light. But I do still struggle sometimes with the same old things that used to push me to self-harmanxiety, depression, and above all, stress.

Of course, a worldwide pandemic is nothing if not stressful.

I worry about my friends and family. I worry for my parents, who are in the high-risk demographic, and I worry for myself. (I, too, have extra risk factors to deal with should I contract COVID-19.)

The worst thing is the helplessness. I do what I can by washing my hands and staying home. But it's hard to sit and wait for the storm to pass. It's hard to accept that sometimes you can only do so much.

So how do you cope? For me, video games, books, and movies provide great in-the-moment distractions. The rest of the time, I'm trying to be especially vigilant about my self-care, taking time each day to really enjoy showering, doing yoga, exercising, and anything else that puts my mind and body at ease.

Coping Strategies for Self-Harm Triggers During COVID-10

Social Distancing and Isolation

The internet is rife with jokes about social distancing being an introvert's dream come true. Some of them are even funny. But social distancing can all too easily become social isolation, and that can be a potent trigger for those of us who rely on our support networks to help us stay well. And, of course, it's rough staying stuck at home when, like me, exploring new places and trying new things has become an integral part of your own personal wellness plan.

But just because you're self-quarantining doesn't mean you have to be lonely. I've got my boyfriend and my new roommate to keep me company in person, and I've been making a point to stay connected with others as well by phone and through the internet.

Remember, even if you live alone, you're not on your own. There is always someone you can reach out to for help if you need it, whether you need support in coping with self-harm triggers related to COVID-19 or just someone to whom you can speak freely.

As for cabin fever, I have yet to find a true cure. But once again, books, movies, and video games help. Walks are still an option, too, and when all else fails, we can always daydream about all the places we'll go once this epidemic finally settles down.

That, I think, is the most important thing for us all to remember here: the situation we are in now will not last. It might be tough today, and things might stay tough for awhile. But I take comfort in knowing that eventually this, too, shall pass.

How are you dealing with self-harm triggers during this COVID-19 pandemic? Share what you are doing in the comments.

How To Help Your Kids with Anxiety During COVID-19

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So much is uncertain and anxiety-provoking right now, but one thing is certain: kids experience anxiety during this COVID-19 pandemic, too. Not knowing how to help your kids with anxiety can be frustrating, and right now, when you might be dealing with anxiety of your own about the ever-changing COVID-19 scare, wondering how to deal with anxious kids can be challenging. Happily, there are ways you can help your kids deal with their anxiety and increase the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in your household in the process. Here are some insights from my own experience as a parent and former high school teacher and counselor. I can help you help your kids who have anxiety from COVID-19.

To Help Your Kids with Anxiety During COVID-19, Look Behind It

If you're a parent facing kids or teens who are out-of-sorts and anxious due to COVID-19, adjustment difficulties and lack of a sense of control are likely two of the driving forces behind their coronavirus anxiety. 

For all of us--and especially kids and teens--anxiety goes hand and hand with adjustment struggles. Change is hard, and kids don't have the life experience or the developed thinking styles to smoothly and easily deal with it. This is why transitions are difficult for many kids, sometimes leading to loud resistance and tantrums, other times leading to pouting or whining or, for middle- and high school kids, moodiness and backtalk.

Unfortunately, right now change and transitions abound. In my state, the Department of Education mandated that all teachers only provide review material in their remote delivery, and my son's calculus teacher emailed everyone to tell them what this would be like for the class. Within hours of that message, the state changed its directive and the information from the teacher was obsolete. For kids who are prone to anxiety and have difficulties adjusting to changes, things like this are highly problematic. 

"Things like this" are also out of everyone's control. A lack of control is another big factor underlying anxiety at any time. Now, there are fewer and fewer things in our control, whether we're kids, parents, teachers, or anyone else. Even young children need to feel some control over their day in order to feel confident (read: less anxious) in themselves and their world. Adolescents, as any parent knows, balk when they lack control. 

The following tips can help you and your child or teenager adjust to constant change, feel some control, and thus reduce anxiety. 

How To Help Your Kids with Anxiety Amidst COVID-19

Helping your kids with anxiety during COVID-19 is difficult because so many things are out of your control. But one thing that is within your realm of control is how you interact with your kids and the structure you provide in your home. These are general guidelines; feel free to personalize them to create a system that works for your unique family and individuals in your family. 

  • Establish consistent routines and schedules. This will help kids adjust to their new "school" setting and all the other changes they are facing. It's important to give older kids a say in their schedule. Let them create a routine for their new normal and help them stick to it. The key is to have a routine that provides consistency and structure. 
  • Yet be flexible. Maintain your normal expectations and adhere to your established routines as much as possible, but do allow for flexibility. Help kids feel in control by allowing them to mix things up as they need to. 
  • Be intentional about fun and lightheartedness. When making your routines, schedule fun time on purpose and allow room for spontaneous fun. Kids process anxiety and stress through play, so provide plenty of opportunities for that every day. 
  • Remain centered, balanced, and positive when talking about COVID-19 and its effects on your kids' anxiety. It's tempting to share everything with your kids to help them be informed, and it's also tempting to hide everything from them to protect them. Both extremes cause high anxiety in kids of all ages (and in adults, too). Know your kids, both their ages and personalities and tailor what you tell them accordingly. When you talk to them, discuss positives as well as negatives, and involve them in problem-solving. This builds mental health and resilience so they can reduce anxiety now and in their future.

In providing structure and flexibility, you are helping your kids feel centered and in control, which results in less anxiety for kids during the COVID-19 crisis. This, coupled with being intentional about how you talk to them, conveys the message that you trust their ability to get through this in a positive, healthy way. That belief in your kids fosters their own self-confidence and self-efficacy and is one of the most effective ways to help them with anxiety now and through their lives.

How are you helping your anxious kids through the COVID-19 stress? Share your thoughts in the comments.

How Coronavirus is Impacting My Anxiety

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This post explains how the coronavirus is impacting my anxiety. Yet, honestly, I don’t want to write this post for a number of reasons: I’m sure most of you (and you can include me in this group) are sick and tired of reading about this, and would rather focus on something else. Yet here we are, so I’ll at least do you the courtesy of being brief. Basically, I’m discussing how this coronavirus thing we’re all going through is impacting my anxiety.

The coronavirus impacts my anxiety because other people are affecting me negatively. But, for the most part, I’m doing ok. This has given me an excuse to spend a lot of time hanging out with my cat, who always makes me happy regardless of what goes on. Being alone has never bothered me.

In fact, it is only around other people when I find myself at my most anxious. People seem to have a natural inkling to catastrophize everything, and coronavirus has exacerbated this to an uncomfortable degree. Sure, be worried about reasonable things, but catastrophizing every little thing does nobody any good.

Negative mental states are contagious too, and those who catastrophize needlessly have the potential to harm those who are more anxious. People like me absorb that negativity easier than anyone. It would do all of us a world of good if you would just take a step back and react to what’s going on around you in a more reasonable way.

Tuning Out to Keep Coronavirus from Affecting My Anxiety

By far the biggest thing I’ve been doing to keep the coronavirus from affecting my anxiety level is keeping my online activity to a bare minimum. My social media presence is next to nonexistent, and I’ve deleted all news apps and avoid reading or watching the news whenever possible. I’ve been doing this for a while before all this began, but I’ve doubled down on it since.

I realize that it’s important to stay connected now, both with friends and with important information in the news, but too much is a bad thing. Social media and the 24-hour news cycle bombards you with information nonstop, and it doesn’t take all that much for someone to be overloaded. It’s OK to step back ("Positive News: How It Affects You and Where to Find It").

Social media isn’t important to me. My friends know how to get in contact with me if they want, and vice versa. I can read the news every once in a while, and then stop. There are much better things to do, and much better ways to stay sane. I can play video games, lay with my cat, read a book. This is what I’m going to focus on, not staying online.

What are you doing to help minimize the effect coronavirus has on your anxiety? Share your tips in the comments.

Losing Your Bipolar Routine During COVID-19 Isolation

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I believe there are real dangers to losing your bipolar routine during isolation. There are issues of work, school, socializing and more that are affected by social distancing; and any one of those things can interrupt a carefully planned routine. I know my bipolar routine has been lost during isolation due to the novel coronavirus, and I know it's hurting my mental health.

What Is It to Lose Your Bipolar Routine?

I talked to my psychiatrist yesterday and we laughed together after noting that, because of social isolation, people with mental illness can no longer do so many of the things that keep them well. People with mental illness have been told to socialize, get out of the house, do things to keep ourselves well over and over, and now that's exactly the last thing we can do.

For me, my bipolar routine includes walking to breakfast, working while at restaurants and seeing my friends -- and these are all things I cant do right now. So these things that were keeping me well are gone. I've lost my bipolar routine because of the isolation we're now all facing due to COVID-19. All that good advice for all those years and I can't even follow it if I want to. (I've written more about bipolar routine and its importance here.)

And losing my bipolar routine because of isolation feels like losing the glue that was holding my life and my brain together. It feels like I've lost everything I used to look forward to. It feels like I'm adrift. All the days seem the same. I feel like the definition of the word "isolated." 

What Are the Dangers of Losing Your Bipolar Routine Because of Isolation?

A routine works to stabilize a life, and thus, stabilize a mood. The more routine your days, the more this positively impacts your mood disorder. Thus, when your life loses its routine, your mood stability may be lost as well. In other words, losing a bipolar routine means possibly losing a mood that allows for functionality. This is actually pretty dire. While the idea of a "mood fluctuation" doesn't sound that bad, if you have bipolar disorder, your "fluctuation" can be quite dramatic. I suspect the isolation will tend to result in either major anxiety for people or major depressions. I'm seeing a lack of stability, personally, and it's only been a week and a half. We're due for a whole lot more of this social isolation yet.

Finding a 'Lost' Bipolar Routine in Isolation

It comes as no surprise then, what I suggest doing if you've lost your bipolar routine is to create a new one. Unfortunately, any new routine would have to be enacted within the boundaries we now all face, and that's likely going to make it difficult. Nonetheless, a new bipolar routine can be found, however altered it must be.

For example, I've kept the parts of my routine that I can: waking up at the same time and going to bed at the same time every day, starting work at the same time every day, doing chores at the same time every day, and so on. But that's not enough for me. The things that are missing leave big, important chunks out of my life. So, now I'm trying to do things like schedule Zoom/phone chats with my friends as if they were coffee dates, and create "events" that I can look forward to such as going out for a walk (alone, where there aren't others). I know other people are planning watch parties where they all watch the same thing at the same time (Netflix actually has a function for this) or using scheduled online chats.

I don't think people should get too pedantic with routine or you run the risk of it becoming an obsession, flexibility matters sometimes too, but a daily routine is important. Whether your routine involves trying out new recipes, talking on the phone or playing fetch with your dog, the more you take control over these little things, the more stable your days become and the positively your mood will react. 

Is Your Anxiety Impacting Your Romantic Relationships?

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What is the connection between anxiety and romantic relationships? How do you cope with relationship anxiety? After all, romantic relationships can be complicated; nearly everyone has a story from a relationship gone slightly (or incredibly) awry. Add on a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder, and these relationship complications can shift and take on entirely new forms. Here are some of the ways that anxiety has infiltrated into my relationships. 

The Connection Between My Relationships and Anxiety 

The people in my life who have known me the longest can confidently tell you that I began showing symptoms of mental illness before I could speak. I started going to therapy when I was probably around the age of six; I don't remember much from these years of my life. However, it wasn't until my first relationship in middle school that my symptoms of GAD and social anxiety became so severe that I was rushed to a psychiatrist and placed on a hefty dose of antidepressants.

During this middle school relationship, my tendency to ruminate and catastrophize increased exponentially. If my boyfriend glanced in my direction while he was with his friends, I convinced myself that he was verbally tearing me apart behind my back. If an hour went by without him messaging me back on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM; yes, I lived during the AIM era), I changed my away status to a crying face or some cryptic message about depression. Around this time, my hair-pulling (trichotillomania) began. 

Years later, my anxiety still impacts my romantic relationships, although in more subtle ways. When my ex-boyfriend from a couple of years ago would suddenly change his tone during a conversation, I wouldn't say anything; I would silently take note. However, I was waging war in my head between my rational thoughts and my anxious thoughts. Why did he change his tone? Is he mad? Did I do something wrong? Instead of asking him for reassurance, I would let my thoughts build up until I convinced myself I had done something wrong. In other romantic relationships, I have become so anxious to the point of shutting the person out of my life without a fair warning. 

How I Have Coped with My Relationship Anxiety 

To clarify, we should not always pathologize anxiety that arises in a relationship. Anxiety is a normal and valid human emotion that can be functional and effective at times. However, when this anxiety begins to interfere with your relationship, it may be time to incorporate some coping techniques.

When I start to feel that familiar tightness in my chest and heat in my face when ruminating, I engage in relaxation and mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Instead of pushing away this anxiety as soon as it crops up, I may sit with it, observe it, and perhaps even question it. Where is this coming from? Am I able to ride the wave of this anxiety without letting it take control of me? No emotion, whether it is negative or positive, lasts forever. Therefore, this anxiety, although seemingly unbearable at the moment, will pass with time. 

When I begin to notice irrational thoughts cropping up, I do something called checking the facts. What evidence do I have to support this silly thought? What evidence do I have against it? When I use this method, I frequently realize that these irrational thoughts are not supported by facts.

Our minds can be dark places, and in my opinion, it is human nature to accept our thoughts as facts; however, this can create unnecessary emotional turmoil. Instead, attempt to rewire your thinking in a more positive way. Rewiring the way you think takes time; however, over time, you may start to notice a shift towards more effective thinking. 

By doing that, hopefully, your relationship anxiety will decrease. 

What do you do when you start to feel anxiety creep into your relationship? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Pretending You’re Fine Worsens Depression

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

When you live with depression, it takes supreme effort to appear as if you’re fine. Yet, many pretend to be fine which worsens their depression. Read more.

Pretending You’re Fine Worsens Depression,,

It’s a dilemma someone on the outside of depression might not realize. When you live with depression, it takes supreme effort to appear as if you’re fine. Even though doing so is exhausting, you drag yourself out of bed and support others or simply trudge to the next gargantuan chore on your list. Maybe you pretend to be fine because you don’t want to be a burden. Perhaps you feel like you must hide your pain. Whatever your personal reason, you do everything you can to keep going and look “normal.”

"The only thing more exhausting than being depressed is pretending that you're not." ~ Depression Quote

However, depression is a real illness that is both mentally and physically exhausting. The effort it takes to function as if you’re fine can wear you out further. This makes your need for depression support and understanding even greater, but because others think you’re fine, you silently slide deeper into the dark hole that is major depression.

Consider a balanced approach. Choose one or two areas that, to you, are important to spend your very limited energy. Identify areas where you need extra support. Give yourself permission to ask for help in those areas so you can spend energy elsewhere.  

It’s understandable that you might want people in your life to see you as okay. Remember, though, that depression is an illness you’re experiencing. It isn’t a weakness, a flaw, or a component of your character. It is okay to not be okay.

Related Articles Dealing with Depression and Support

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2020, March 31). Pretending You’re Fine Worsens Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 5 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2020

The Bipolar Senorita Talks Everything Bipolar for WBD