Paul Falcone’s project “Consumed: Mental Illness Through Photography” asks ‘What if we could see mental illness on the outside?

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Erin Jones, a mother from Tennessee, shares a selfie on Facebook to show it’s OK to get prescription help for mental illness.

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I’m not making any resolutions this year. I’m only promising myself one thing: to stay alive.

I’m making this promise, not to myself, but rather to the people closest to me. Why? Because sometimes I have no desire to live for myself. Because I don’t know what it’s like to live in the present moment. I’m stuck in the past, and as my therapist points out time and time again, I need to learn to let go and live in the present. How? I don’t know.

I’m hoping 2017 will be the year I stay out of the ER and out of the psych unit. Since October 2013, I have spent almost a month on the psych unit combined, visited the ER countless times and been in treatment for my mental illness. I’m tired of feeling the way I do. Yet, I know I can’t help it. There is a war going on between my mind and body, between my thoughts and reality.

Here’s to 2017, to making changes, to staying healthy and to staying alive.

Here’s to 2017, to finding what true love is, to meeting the one and to loving endlessly.

Here’s to 2017, to living with a fuller heart, to appreciating all that I have in life, to cuddles with my rescue pup and running two marathons.

Here’s to 2017, to living every day in the moment, to discovering new laughter and to becoming a warrior.

Here’s to 2017, please, grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Grant me patience for all that I am, tolerance for those with different struggles and the strength to get up and try and try again, one day at a time.

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. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, and looking back on the year, it’s been wild. Yesterday was my last day at a job I’ve had and enjoyed for the past six months. I’ve spent the last few months reconnecting with some old friends. I got married this year to one of the best guys on the planet. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my demons. I’ve kept up on my blog. I’ve started writing a book.

I’ve cried and mourned the passing of many stars and celebrities. I’ve laughed and laughed at life’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. I have found my support system and use it regularly. I’ve been so low I thought I would never see daylight again. I’ve been on top of the world and so filled with joy I thought I would burst. I’ve read more, laughed more, cried more and loved more in the past year than I have in a long time.

The year 2016 was a really horrible year for many, many people, but in its horribleness, I found some really good things. I became more in tune with myself. I have learned to recognize when my demons attack and how to live through them. I have learned how to communicate what I need in terms of support to my loved ones.

I am learning to pick my battles. I am learning to give myself “me time,” to recoup, relax and to give myself rest. I am learning my worth and that I am worthy of respect. I am learning not to let people, even those who are closest to me, walk all over me. I am learning to love myself a little more every day.

It’s been a really hard year. Yet, we have survived. We are here. We are alive. We made it. If we can make it through this messed up, difficult as hell year while fighting and surviving our demons, then I’m pretty sure we can get through anything.

So, when we raise a glass to toast the new year, toast yourselves as well. We did one hell of a bad ass job getting through 2016. Well done! Good luck as we begin the trek through 2017. We got this. Happy New Year, my fellow warriors.

Stay strong.

Follow this journey on The Inner Demons.

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When you have anxiety and depression, you probably want to improve everything. The way your toenails grow. How your eyes are shaped. How your voice sounds recorded.

Every single part of you is scrutinized, evaluated and diagnosed with some sort of failure or deficiency.

That’s what your brain convinces you is wrong: everything. It starts to make sense why plastic surgery is such a huge business. You can convince yourself there are flaws where there are none.

These thoughts don’t include absorbing every saying, every commercial, every social media post you hear or read externally.

You question why so-and-so liked that Facebook post but not this blog post. You analyze and critique your social media posts and place values on them based on the number of comments and likes you get.

So to ask what things you want to improve is like selecting your favorite N*Sync member. (That’s obviously a ridiculous notion. JT, of course.) Or asking which countries in the world you’d like to visit and then proceeding to list every dream destination you’ve ever heard of.

So, let’s narrow this down. Most won’t be specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable and/or timely goals. These are generalizations that I’ll specify at some point. One step at a time, right?

What are a few things I want to improve in the new year?

Improve my writing. I want to publish one of my e-books (or e-book ideas) on my own and then thousands of copies like Andy Weir’s “The Martian” — a book so powerful, Matt Damon looks at an adapted screenplay of it and basically says, “Yup. This is what I want.”

I want it to affect someone so deeply that it becomes a book people read and re-read when they need a pick-me-up or a kick in the butt, like “The War of Art” (a book that will only take you a few hours to read but can have an impact on the rest of your life).

Improve my relationships. Not just how I communicate with people or how often I spend time with them but how I live in and react to these moments. Appreciate them more and not take them for granted. Practice mindfulness and push all other thoughts anxiety fills my brain with – useless, uncontrollable or negative self-talk or circumstances.

Focus. On that person. On that moment. Second by second.

Embrace my frustration and anger. After this year’s election, I unloaded my disappointment and anger on everyone, even on social media. I frightened people. They knew of my struggles with mental illness, but they didn’t know how upset and how sensitive I was at the outcome of the election.

Moments like those are when I deeply understand that anxiety and depression make even the smallest slights or seemingly hopeless circumstances explode into uncontrollable monsters unleashed on everyone and everything in my path.

Spend five minutes a day doing the things that really matter. When it comes to self-care I’m going to try breathing, stretching or other forms of exercise, prayer, reading and, of course, writing.

This is going to be hard.

And the biggest improvement? Accept if I fail at doing this consistently in 2017. Here’s hoping I’ll look back on this and smile.

What will you improve this year? Improvements are just for you.

This is part of the #MyMightyMonth challenge.

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Thinkstock photo by Carther

Where do I got in those moments of my disassociation?

Until recently I did not know disassociation disorders existed, let alone could be so extreme. There are points in these episodes where I have lost hours out of my day, not really knowing what I have done with them. They creep up on me unexpectedly, regardless if I am working or playing. They feel like the ultimate “auto-pilot mode” and yet sometimes are completely blacked out of my mind. They can feel as though someone has severed the ties between my body and my mind. My body feels nothing, and my mind is completely unaware. I still haven’t figured out what triggers them or even how to control them.

That moment when you say my name so many times just to snap me out of my daze, when I’m staring out at nothing in particular yet everything at once, I sit and contemplate where I am, why I feel like I am viewing the world from behind glass. Everything is so transparent. I could reach out and touch it, and yet my hand would pass right through these images like a hand through smoke.

Tracing the outlines of letters on signs, counting the cracks in the tiles as we walk to watching an iridescent line join all of the cracks in the footpath. Tracing the shapes on the bus seat trying to put names to them, touching and staring as if I am trying to decipher what is real and what is just an image my brain has conjured up.

All of my failed attempts to stay grounded as my mind floats away back into itself. I fiddle with the coffee mug in my hand, staring intently as if to try and understand its purpose and sometimes just to try and figure out if it is actually a coffee cup. Perhaps it could be something completely different, like that time I picked up a cup and dropped an apple.

They can leave you feeling untied, like a helium balloon floating around aimlessly, bumping against the ceiling – unable to ascend further than this block in its path and unable to come back down until it withers and becomes tired of fighting… worn out and flat as it settles on the floor.

The best advice I can give to people who know someone who goes through this is just let them ride it out. In all honestly there is nothing really you can do. Talking is hard in these states, and we will often say things that won’t make sense to you. If you feel a loved one is unintentionally hurting themselves, prevent them from doing so and just sit with them. Familiar comfort is the best help, for me anyway. You can always ask others what they need in their episodes.

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Thinkstock photo by Dziggyfoto

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