man with alcohol

Please Consider This Before You Joke About Needing a Drink to Make It Through the Day

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A while ago, I was at a picnic. It didn’t take long before people were joking that adult beverages were needed, and everyone laughed… everyone except me. Now, I’m not a humorless person, I laugh all the time. I just don’t think those jokes are funny.

Every single day, more than once a day, someone around me will mention alcohol. There’s a constant barrage of advertising, internet memes, drink recipes, casual jokes. I’m not a person who needs a trigger warning, but I really wish it all would stop sometimes.

Let’s set the scene. I am an alcoholic. For me, drinking was fun for about five minutes, back in high school. I think I had a normal teenaged love-hate relationship with the drug until I was an adult.

When I was 19, I woke up one day feeling crappy. The crappy feeling just wouldn’t go away. It stuck around all summer, dragging me down. I was suddenly terrible at my job. I was becoming apathetic. I didn’t know it, but I was depressed. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, hadn’t the faintest clue how to fix anything.

My depression worsened, and as that happened, anxiety bubbled up and reared its ugly head. After a few years of feeling lost and alone, I found a lot of friends who were interested in drinking and partying. Things spiraled out of control around me, and I just watched it all go by. I wasn’t having fun, though. I’d have fun in the moment, sure, but the bad feeling was always lurking around the corner. I can see now I was trying to chase it away.

At 21, I left home. This gave me the freedom to drink every night without fear of judgment. So that is exactly what I did. I drank to feel nothing instead of feeling bad. Alcohol became my crutch. Fast forward several years of addiction and misery, and I had a breakdown. Finally, two years later, I found myself in recovery. As my mind and body recovered from the hell I’d put it through, my concurrent disorders slowly became manageable.

Today, I’m open about my recovery. I don’t lead with that when I’m introduced to someone, but I don’t hide it either. Sharing has helped me learn how widespread the problem of addiction is. Every time I tell someone I’ve been to treatment, they tell me about how their dad went to rehab and they never told anyone, or their sister is an addict and they don’t know what to do, or they’ve lost someone as a result of alcoholism… the list goes on. Everyone I speak to seems to have a story about addiction negatively affecting their lives.

So why do we make these drinking jokes? I believe it’s because the topic is uncomfortable, and there’s still a lot of stigma. Personally, I had a fear of telling anyone about my addiction for many years, and that was because I felt like people saw addicts as pleasure-seekers. I wasn’t having fun, though. That was important. I was just trying to function in a world where I didn’t even know how to get out of bed.

If you are one of those people who jokes casually about how they need a drink to get through the day, please consider this. The person you’re talking to may be trying not to drink. They may have an addict in their family. Statistically, they probably do! They know someone, somewhere, somehow, and addiction has touched their life. Maybe a simple joke doesn’t affect them negatively, but maybe it does. Maybe they’ll even laugh – I did it for years. I faked a laugh as I felt more and more alone.

Addiction affects more people than we realize. If we can educate each other and think twice about making jokes, the stigma won’t stand a chance.

Image via Thinkstock.

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What My Anxiety Is

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Crippling.

If I’m being quite frank, it has the power to destroy my day. It has the power to send it reeling into the depths, with no hope for return and for no apparent reason at all. It will shut me down completely. The only option is to succumb to it, to get it over with and move on. I let my mind run rampant with fallacies, just long enough to mute it for a little while.

A nightmare.

I dread falling asleep because the night is dangerous. My day is done, and there’s time now to review what I’d done, who I interacted with and all I’ve said. There’s time now to consider all of the possible outcomes of my actions, primarily the negative ones. Perhaps, I upset my boss, and I’ll be fired tomorrow. Perhaps, I’ve disappointed my parents.

Burning Bridges.

I have always been close with my family. Now, I feel like I can no longer be. What if they don’t accept my anxiety? What if they call me weak or dramatic or tell me to suck it up? What if they cannot understand that I cannot control what goes on inside of my head? What if I upset them? What if it’s this way for the rest of my life?

Living.

Both in the past and the future, but never the present. I reminisce on days when I felt the utmost joy, no worries, no anxiety back when days like those existed. They are the most beautiful thing in my mind. They are also the most torturous. I can’t go back, no matter how hard I try. So, I try to look toward the future and imagine how wonderful things will be, and I can’t get there fast enough. That’s exactly the problem. I am not there. I am here, and I can’t be. I don’t want to be.

Illogical.

I am consistently fearing the worst in every situation, regardless of how nonsensical it may be. Even if I know the outcome will be positive, there is (at the very least) a sliver of me that worries the tables may turn. Some may call it protecting themselves, but not to this extent, not to this frequency.

A gift.

My anxiety is a lesson. I am constantly learning things about myself and about others that amaze me. I’ve learned I am strong. I am more than strong. I am a warrior, and I am a survivor.

I’ve learned I can relentlessly fight every single day. I can wake up, fight again every morning and go to sleep knowing I survived another day. I’ve learned my relationships are stronger than my anxiety. I am hopeful to learn of my family’s support, despite the plaguing doubts. You cannot change your family, so you love them despite the differences.

I am able to decipher when I am being unreasonable, when my mind has carried me too far yet again. While I am still unable to stop it, I am able to recognize it. That is more than I could ask for from myself.

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What You Should Think About Before You Tweet #DiagnoseTrump

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To become President of the United States, you first must:

1) be a national born citizen of the United States.

2) be at least 35 years old.

3) have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

Then, there are other qualities people look for in their candidate: leadership experience, some set of values that match their own, a deep understanding of our economy and other issues that affect the American people every day.

So why are we now trying to diagnosis Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with a mental illness, as if that is what would disqualify him from the job?

On Wednesday, California congresswoman Karen Bass launched a petition calling for a mental health examination of Donald Trump. To promote her efforts, she started the hashtag: #DiagnoseTrump.

Now, there’s plenty to criticize Donald Trump about. Pick your battle: his comments about women and veterans, the Muslims ban, the wall… And sure, you can even criticize his temperament. Maybe you don’t like the guy at all.

But whether or not he has a diagnosable mental illness shouldn’t be part of the conversation. Because if he did have a mental illness, that wouldn’t be a reason he shouldn’t be president. What are we trying to gain from slapping on a diagnosis?

In her petition, Rep. Ball claims Trump meets the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. But she also says, “The American Psychiatrist Association has declared it unethical for psychiatrists and psychologists to ‘comment on an individual’s mental state without examining him personally and having the patient’s consent to make such comments.’”

So, let’s not.

As expected, the hashtag has already led to stigmatizing tweets:

 

But, some have spoken up about the problematic nature of the hashtag.

So before you #DiagnoseTrump, check out the tweets below — and think about what you’re really saying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lead photo: Donald J. Trump

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Real People, Real Stories: Life With Bipolar Disorder E-Book

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Real People, Real Stories: Life With Bipolar Disorder is a collection of 10 powerful stories from people in our Mighty community who live with bipolar disorder.

Click below to download the e-book:

Download our E-Book

The book contains the following stories:

I’m an Olympian, Former Escort and Now – a Mental Health Advocate by Suzy Favor Hamilton

To Myself, the Day I Was Diagnosed: Bipolar Is Not the End, but the Beginning by Madelyn Heslet

The Words That Changed My Outlook on Living With Bipolar Disorder by Emily Stainton

‘Functional’ Is a 24/7 Job When You Live With Bipolar Disorder by Steve Imperato

The Secret Truths of a Bipolar Girl by Danielle Hark

The Blur of Bipolar Disorder by Fraser Speaks

Dear Future Boyfriend, From a Girl With Bipolar Disorder by Shelby Manoukian

10 Things I Wish My Loved Ones Knew About Living With Bipolar Disorder by Nichole Howson

Why My Kids Know Mommy Has Bipolar Disorder by Jennifer Marshall

Psychosis Isn’t Shameful, It’s a Symptom by Charlie Kaplan

Download our E-Book

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Anxiety Is Like a Bad Roommate

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Anxiety is like a bad roommate. Sometimes it’s quiet, and we live together without a hitch. We live together but our lives don’t intertwine, it’s a good deal. Every once in a while it keeps me up late, banging pots and pans inside my brain making it difficult to co-exist. When my Anxiety has a bad day, it comes into the apartment raring to bring me down with it’s passive aggressiveness. It takes over the space, changing the atmosphere from calm to totally haywire.

We’ve all felt anxious. That uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach when you enter an exam, your sweaty palms when you meet a new group of people, or the knot in your throat right before you tell someone you like them. These things are normal, but when does it cross a line?

Something I’m trying to figure out is: When does every day worrying become so uncontrollable and unrealistic it can hold you back and make you feel helpless? And what can I do to feel more in control when that happens?

I’m going to be totally honest. When I came up with the idea for a video on SoulPancake, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. What I didn’t know was that the creative process would cause panic attack after panic attack. I anticipated struggling, but I didn’t anticipate having to book a last minute flight home to be with my family because I wasn’t equipped to deal this caliber of anxiety.

I made this video after spending a month in the U.S., traveling with my fellow New Age Creators. I found myself alone for the first time in 30 days. Without the voices of my friends surrounding me, distracting me, an anxiety filled white noise flooded my bedroom.

I became acutely aware of all of my deadlines and responsibilities. Video due on Monday, rent due on the first, university starts in a month, what do I do after I graduate? Am I any good at this YouTube thing anyways? All of the things that would normally end up on a long term to-do list in my pocket became one of those billboards you hate, but can’t seem to get away from.

When you look at me, you see someone who willingly talks about personal ideas and opinions on the internet. Online and off, I’m confident, sarcastic and I usually look like I have everything under control and planned out to a T. You might even say: “It comes easy to her” this whole, “life” thing. While all of those things are true to an extent, you don’t see my brain constantly go fuzzy with worry about something I’ve said, you don’t hear my second-guessing thoughts say “Why on earth did you do that?” or “Is anyone going to actually care that I uploaded this video?”

It’s easy to feel like the end of the world is impending — but as much as I feel like panic and anxiety can make me weak at times, I know my strength to keep going will outlast it. I know that it’ll pass and I have found ways that help me cope:

When I’m restless, I take the pacing outside and walk it off.

I listen to playlists of nature sounds or songs that calm me down

I exercise. Taking care of all the excess energy from my fight or flight reflex.

I call someone I trust and I don’t hang up the phone until I feel myself relax.

Anxiety and panic can make you feel alone and misunderstood — and I’m not OK with that. That’s why I made this video. If one person can share this with their friends to explain how it feels, or just look at it and find that “me too” feeling, then it has all been worth it. Together, we can create an environment where it is safe to talk about our worries, and open up about the bad days. You are not alone, I am right there with you, and so are so many other amazing people who sometimes panic, too.

You can find Marie on SoulPancake this summer, and all year long on The New Age Creators, and her personal YouTube Channel.

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A Goodbye Letter to the Old Narrative, Depression

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Dear Old Narrative,

I was young, 18 years old, when you entered my life. Developing quickly, your strength overwhelmed me and consumed me. I gave in to all that you offered.

You did serve a purpose, in the beginning and for many years since. Yet, your harsh words and ideas injured me and diminished my confidence, self-esteem and, most significantly, my self-worth. The only safety and security you offered was suicide.

This letter is to tell you I no longer need your services. I no longer need what you offer. I no longer need the comforts of daydreams of therapists consoling me and comforting me due to a backslide of progress. I no longer need to imagine sabotaging myself to gain comfort. I no longer need to beat myself up with words of self-hatred and despise. I certainly no longer need suicide.

It is scary to let you go, but I must. You see, your comforts are not conducive to the life of well-being and happiness I have chosen. Don’t worry (and neither will I), as I have a New Narrative. The safety and security of this New Narrative is, “Trust in God.” My trust in God is even stronger than you, stronger than suicide. So you see, I am in good hands.

My New Narrative was created by me, for me. It contains all I need for the life of well-being I have chosen. My New Narrative is about the freedom to live, to feel, to be courageous. You do not foster these freedoms. My New Narrative is about trust in God, living and connecting, expressing and worshiping, enriching and growing. You do not foster these freedoms.

Diminishing my self-worth and promoting suicide, you were all about stifling freedoms. I understand your tools and comforts were designed to help me deal with and decrease sadness and anxiety. I know you offered all that you had available.

You need not worry (and neither will I), for my New Narrative also has tools and comforts for the inevitable sadness and anxiety in life. These tools and comforts support well-being, life and living well. Tools such as prayer, reaching out, participating and planning for future happiness. Comforts such as meditation and imagery, spa music, artwork and other self-soothing techniques. These new tools and comforts will serve me well. You truly need not worry.

I am choosing the New Narrative. I am choosing to move on like a child moves on from their starter bike to a new model that better suits their needs. The fact is, I no longer need what you offer, Old Narrative. I no longer need your services. This is our final goodbye.

Susan 

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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