Sign from the Pop Up that says "Quiet Space"

'Mental Health Pop Up' Lets People Try Going to Therapy

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Committing to therapy, especially if you’ve never seen a therapist before, can be difficult. To help reduce stigma and make therapy more accessible, Alexandra Meyer started “Mental Health Pop Up,” a traveling mental health workshop that allows people to try out therapy in a safe and quiet space.

One in five people in the U.S. suffer from a mental health issue, yet resources are incredibly hard to access, and taking care and talking about one’s emotions and mental health has a high degree of stigma and taboo,” Meyer said of her desire to start the pop up. “Society tells us to toughen up and keep it inside. This leads to a high degree of unhappiness, anxiety, depression, and in the most dire of cases, suicide.”

Each event is open to anyone interested in better understanding themselves and their mental health. The first pop up, held in San Francisco, sold out with 40 participants and seven therapists attending. So far, Meyer said most of the event’s attendees have been young working professionals looking for help managing stress and anxiety.

Beyond getting a taste of what therapy is like, those attending can also attend a workshop on managing emotional stress, relax in the pop up’s dedicated quiet space or participate in art therapy. Plus, there is unlimited tea for anyone who wants to unwind with a cup or two.

“[The pop up] is personally important to me as I struggled to find a therapist while going through some emotionally challenging times earlier this year. I wondered why isn’t there just a walk-in clinic I can go to talk to someone when I’m feeling down?” Meyer told The Mighty. “The other driver for me is that my aunt unexpectedly [died by] suicide at the age of 27 years old. I can’t help but wonder if mental healthcare was more accessible and talked about, if her suicide and the suicide of millions of others could have been prevented.” 

Meyer’s next pop up will be held on June 21 in New York City. Tickets to the event are $35 and entitle participants to attend workshops as well as a private 30-minute session with a psychologist. Each participating therapist is accepting new clients, so if you like your therapist, you have the option to follow up and make an appointment. If not, there is no pressure to continue therapy. 

After New York, the pop up will travel to Toronto for its next event on June 28. Beyond June, Meyer hopes to bring her pop up to other cities across the country as well as eventually opening up a walk-in mental health clinic.

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25 Signs You Grew Up Experiencing Emotional Abuse

25 Signs You Grew Up Experiencing Emotional Abuse

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Growing up, a lot of us don’t know or aren’t taught the signs of emotional abuse — especially when it’s the adults or other parental figures in our lives engaging in the abusive behavior. In fact, some of us who have experienced emotional abuse may not even realize we have, simply because it was the only reality we knew growing up.

Maybe your experience growing up with emotional abuse has left you thinking a steady chant of not good enough, not good enough, not good enough whenever you try to accomplish a task. Maybe you have trouble believing others can love you — all of you. No matter what your upbringing looked like, the reality is, many people have experienced emotional abuse in the formative years of childhood and adolescence, and it’s important that we talk about the signs. Understanding them may help you feel validated in seeking help as an adult — or perhaps these behaviors can help you recognize if a child needs help but doesn’t yet know how to ask for it. 

To find out how people knew they had experienced emotional abuse growing up, we asked our mental health community to share, in hindsight, signs that showed them this was true of their lives.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “I am in a constant state of blame no matter who is at fault. I hate going out in public or even going to work because I am afraid I am going to do something wrong and everyone will notice. I am afraid of making a mistake because I will beat myself up over it for the rest of the day.”

2. “I constantly apologize for things, even when it isn’t my fault. I avoid confrontation at all costs, in fear that voicing my opinions will result in people disliking me. I have extreme social anxiety, and I have a really hard time saying, ‘No’ to people, which results in overbooking myself and having little to no time to myself. And that makes my depression and anxiety even worse. It’s a vicious cycle.”

3. “I always have to do everything perfectly so nothing can go wrong. I’m a huge perfectionist because I’m scared people won’t like me if I don’t do everything right.”

4. “If I hear loud noises, especially shouting, I am immediately thrown back into the abuse. Even laughter or play fighting, it all sounds scary and makes me fear what’s about to happen next.”

5. “I bully myself using the same words I used to hear. [It’s like] I removed the people from my life who used to abuse me, then picked up where they left off.”

6. “[For me] it is always the constant need to be validated, like nothing I could ever do or achieve will be good enough (because my dad never told me he loved me). I was emotionally abused by my father, and the lack of a father figure who actually cared about me has had a resounding effect on my whole life. I have depression and anxiety, which started in teenage years and continued on to adulthood.”

7. “Dealing with conflict is extremely hard [for me]. Also, not having the right or necessary socialization skills to deal with interpersonal relationships. Therefore [my] friendships [often] don’t last.”

8. “[I find myself] always thinking people have an ulterior motive and [am] always second guessing whether someone deserves my loyalty or not in case I’m being manipulated again. [I] constantly try not to open up too much to someone because I think they will find me annoying and clingy or maybe just not good enough.”

9. “I notice children [who] seem scared of their parents — also, the kids at the park who can’t seem to act like a kid. Those are the ones I can’t get out of my mind later. I obsess about what their home life is like.”

10. “I have a strong and panicky emotional reactions when my husband uses a serious tone towards the kids, let alone raises his voice. Even if I completely agree with what he is doing (he is a great dad), it feels like he is punching me in the stomach every time I hear it.”

11. “The more upset I am, the more I look for any way it can possibly be my fault.”

12. “Even after leaving the one who abused me, their voice would ring loud in my head. I couldn’t make any decision on my own without their approval, even if that meant getting their disapproval. Their voice just wouldn’t leave. I still heard the criticism and nasty remarks to my body and life. It took years of fighting that voice to one day wake up and find my own. Sure, I still say sorry way too much, I don’t like being in situations I can’t control and I absolutely hate being restrained or backed away into a corner, [but] I can live with the things that cause me discomfort. But I couldn’t live with that voice.”

13. “[I’m] paranoid about potentially being manipulated and [not knowing] ‘until it’s too late.’”

14. “I’m always on edge around people. I’m sure they’re going to hurt me in some way, usually by mocking my weight. Because of this, I have eating disorders and walk with my head down. [It’s like] I’m like a kicked dog, to be honest.”

15. “[My] memories had a lot of gaps or [were] different than [those of] my siblings.”

16. “I am unable to believe someone when they say they love me. It feels like they are lying to me or trying to ‘please’ me. I question my partner’s love for me every day. He is the best person I know and only ever shows me love, yet I am always waiting, expecting him to leave me. I fear abandonment or the moment he realizes I am unlovable. My father never hugged me as a child and he couldn’t tell me he loved me, not ever. He was cold and distant. We lived in the same house, but he never treated me like a daughter. I always felt like my mum and I were just… renting the property from him. He was the landlord, the ‘big boss,’ never a father.”

17. “I’m always asking if people are mad at me.”

18. “I make up little white lies to people I perceive to be ‘superior’ [to] me, just to appeal to them better. It was a way to always stay on their good side, since I know exactly what it was like to do the opposite with an angry parent when I was a kid. I apologize for everything, even things that are not in my control.”

19. ”I have no personality. How can you have a unique voice when you’ve spent your life having to put on different facades?”

20. [I experience] insecurity. In everything. Very recently I was told I need to ‘focus on myself’ for now. Work through all the trauma. As a mother of two small children I view this as inconceivably selfish. I’m doing it but with the fear that my children will end up feeling as abandoned as I have. They say, ‘It’s time to do you for awhile’ [and] I keep thinking, ‘Do me… Am I doing this right?’”

21. “[I am] afraid to trust people, especially men. I have a terrible image of myself. I constantly feel like I never look good enough. I don’t take compliments well and I struggle with making eye contact when I talk to people.”

22. “I act strong and confident outwardly to people, even after I’ve ‘let them in,’ so they don’t feel they can emotionally abuse me. [I] find it hard to let them witness my mental illness at its bad points, for fear of being left or bullied again for it.”

23. “I was painfully shy in class and would get upset over the littlest things because I was made to feel worthless at home.”

24. “If I do something, for example, drop a glass and it smashes, I cry and cower and say sorry over and over again. I am constantly apologizing. I find it easier to lie and say things are OK when they’re not. I bottle things up then take the anger out on myself.”

25. “[I feel] like an item rather than a valued person.”

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.


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When I Realized I Needed to Stop Judging Myself in My Self-Care Quest

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Most of us have heard of self-care, as it has been trending for a little while now. It’s the incorporation of activities and behaviors that will decrease stress and improve our overall mental health and well-being. Many mental health professionals recommend this practice, and there are numerous resources available online that offer a plethora of activities that promote self-care. These activities can include listening to music, meditating, taking a hike and the list goes on.

Initially, I was a little doubtful of the idea, and wasn’t convinced that integrating evening tea into my routine would really reduce my stress levels. Because of this skepticism, I was a little slow on the uptake. But once I got into self-care, I fell hard. I was a runaway train and attempted to incorporate any and every self-care activity into my daily routine, as often as possible. Anything in the name of stress reduction, right?

Drinking tea every morning and evening? Check. Lighting scented candles? Check. Reading a book for pleasure? Check. Meditation? Check. I could go on, but you get the point. In my attempts to engage in self-care, I essentially tacked on an hour and a half of commitments to my day. Some days, I didn’t have time to complete all of these activities. Other days, I just flat out didn’t want to. Candles lost their relaxing aroma, tea lost its soothing effect, chapters in a novel became insurmountable and meditation became pure hell. In my haste to complete each self-care task, those tasks lost their value, as I wasn’t a mindful participant. Instead of giving myself a break from the rat race of daily life, I was perpetuating it.

Another difficulty I encountered when I began practicing self-care was developing a guilt complex. I not only felt guilty if I didn’t complete the selected activities, but also felt guilty because my interests didn’t seem as “mindfully profound” as I thought they should be. For example, if one morning I wanted to listen to a true crime podcast rather than an inspirational TED Talk, I felt guilty.

Why didn’t I want to engage in the “right” activities? Why wasn’t I finding contentment in the “right” things? And why in my quest towards self-care was I judging myself?

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

Why? Because because I lost sight of the actual purpose. The purpose of self-care is to prioritize time to nurture ourselves. I believe the activities are less important than the outcome they provide us.

Once I had this epiphany, my approach towards self-care drastically changed. The focus of self-care isn’t the destination I was chasing — it is the process. So rather than dedicating 15 minutes in the morning to a specific “self-care” task, I have started simply dedicating 15 minutes to something I want to do. Some mornings I may listen to an innovative podcast, other mornings I may watch an episode of “Law and Order: SVU.” And that’s OK. Whether I spend time petting my dog or calling my mom, I have made a choice to spend those 15 minutes doing something that brings me joy, and that is enough.

While practicing self-care, know that it is individual and not uniform. Self-care looks different for everyone. Do what works for you, when it works for you. And in your pursuit of self-care, remember to be gentle with yourself and to not lose sight of your goal.

This post originally appeared on Thrive Global.

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Thinkstock photo via Nadia Bata.

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14 Mental Health Apps People Living With Mental Illnesses Recommend

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Nowadays you can track just about anything using your phone, including your mental health. Whether you take an antidepressant, see a therapist regularly or manage a mental illness on your own, tracking your mental health can provide valuable insight into your mental wellbeing.

We asked our mental health community which tracking apps they use and would recommend. Here are some of their favorites.

 

1. Stigma

stigma app screen grab


“Stigma! It’s awesome! You can journal about your moods, see a visual graph of your moods and you get to chat with penpals dealing with similar mental health issues!… The developer of Stigma is very involved with the community of users and loves to hear feedback about the app! He updates it with new features every couple of weeks. The newest feature is support groups. While I haven’t gotten to try them out yet, they sound great.” — Megan L.

Download Stigma for iOS (Android version coming soon).

2. Pacifica

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“Pacifica. Started just using free sections but I upgraded (£25 GPB for the year) and it has been one of the biggest factors in my recovery — the CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy] thought exercises are really powerful as is all of the mood and health tracking and being able to link them and all of the relaxation tech. Money well spent.” — Catherine W.

“Pacifica is a lifesaver. It’s available on the iOS store. You can pay to get bonus features but I’m satisfied with the free version. I journal thoughts and it helps me identify negative thought patterns and set goals for whatever I do on a day-to-day basis.” — Hailee K.

“Pacifica. It has group chat and support; tracking for mood, thoughts, etc; mindfulness and meditation guiding; panic and de-escalation guides and pretty much everything. I think you do have to pay for full access but for free you still get access to tracking for sure.” — Bunny M.

Download Pacifica for iOS and Android.

3. Booster Buddy

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“Booster buddy! Because it says motivational things and has a coping skills library, has an emergency crisis plan, helps you with emergency contacts or 911 if needed, advises you of ways every day you can manage your mental illness, gives medication reminders, and lets you check in so you can see in a visual aid how you were doing on any certain day or a month view. Also, lets you track notes and events in a calendar. Plus, you get to choose a cute little character (mine is the raccoon) and dress it up with glasses and hats and stuff.” — Jennifer D.

Download Booster Buddy for iOS and Android.

4. DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach

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“I use the DBT app as it walks me through using my skills and coping techniques step by step when I am too distressed to remember how to use the skills! I can also share my mood logs with my therapist directly from the app via email.” — Kirstie O.

Download DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach for iOS.

5. In Flow

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“In Flow. It has so many great features — you can add photos to your journal entries, add friends on the app so you can keep up with how each other is doing (but you’re also allowed to make entries private so you don’t have to worry about everything being viewable), a mood tracking graph to get a more visual idea of how you’ve been, it ranks locations activities and people in order of which you were the most positive around and you can also set it to notify you to make an entry. The way it works is you start off with picking your energy level then emotional state — these are all represented why smiley, frowny faces and awake or tired eyes — you make the face that fits your feeling. Then you add a picture, if you want, and type in specifically how you’re feeling in that moment. After that you choose things in three separate categories: Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? And then you post it!” – Danielle L.

“My mom and I use this app together, it’s truly amazing and there are so many other great little features on there!” — Stephanie F.

Download In Flow for Android.

6. Daylio

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“I use Daylio, which is a mood tracker that I’ve been using for nearly a year now and love it.” — Natasha W.

“I use Daylio as it provides daily and weekly summaries of how my moods have altered through out the day, week, month, etc. It is solely a mood tracker though.” — Fallon G.

“I use Daylio. It tracks my moods as I record them, and is also a diary so I can track my days. And at the end of the month, it gives me a status report.” — Brandi G.

Download Daylio for iOS and Android.

 

7. CBT Thought Record Diary

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“CBT Thought Record Diary, it helps me to document my automated negative responses to situations and then challenges them with what is the truth. It has helped me so much to recognize when am I catastrophizing and telling myself lies.” — Truda W.

Download CBT Thought Record Diary for iOS and Android.

8. T2 Mood Tracker

T2 app screengrab

“I use T2 Mood Tracker. It’s easy to use. You can add notes, and [it] has the ability to export as a PDF (to share with a professional if need be). I have mine set up to send an alert to me three times a day to remind me to fill in how I’m feeling.” — Jess C.

Download T2 Mood Tracker for iOS and Android.

9. What’s Up

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“I really like What’s Up. It’s like a journaling app that can also track your mood. It’s super helpful when I’m out and having trouble coping” — Ally M.

Download What’s Up for iOS and Android.

10.  SAM

SAM app screengrab

“I use SAM. It is an anxiety tracker and it tracks the intensity and the physical effects it has on your body” — Maxwell L.

Download SAM for iOS and Android.

11. Wildflower

wildflower app screengrab

“I’m a fan of Wildflower it lets you track mood and heart rate as well as having little meditation videos!” — Izzy D.

Download Wildflower for iOS and Android.

12. MindShift

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“MindShift is an app for anxiety that helps you deal with your anxiety rather than running away from it.” — Jienelise H.

Download MindShift for iOS and Android.

13. Patients Like Me

patients like me app screengrab

“You can track all of your feelings and physical symptoms and you can do updates to show your doctor. You can also talk to other people who have the same issues you have and get updates on new medications.” — De C.

Download Patients Like Me for iOS.

14. iMood Journal

iMood Journal app screengrab

“iMood Journal. You can search your moods by keywords. So, I can find all the times I marked ‘crying’ or ‘grief.'” — Elizabeth M.

Download iMood Journal for iOS and Android.

Have a mental health tracking app you love? Let us know in the comments below.

14 Mental Health Apps People Living With Mental Illnesses Recommend
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5 Things Your Mental Health Provider Wants You to Know

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When we enter therapy or other mental health treatment, we don’t always know what to expect. As a mental health clinician and as a person who has also walked through her own mental health recovery, there are a number of things I (and I believe most mental health providers I know) wish the individuals we meet with knew. These are five of those things.

1. We Care About Your Well-Being and Healing

It might be tricky to think that a person who is paid to provide mental health care to you would also genuinely care about your well-being and healing. This said, myself and most providers I know do genuinely care. We are happy to see your accomplishments and saddened by your hurting. Many of us spent our own time and money seeking out training and resources that we hope will give us better tools to help you. We want you to reach your dreams.

2. Sometimes We Have to Make Tough Choices

If you are at risk to harm yourself or others, we may be ethically and legally obligated to take steps to ensure your safety and the safety of others such as helping you to hospital. Similarly, if specific facts are shared with us regarding children, we are often required to take steps to ensure their safety such as reaching out to Child Protective Services. We do not like to overstep your wishes and do not want to damage your trust.  This is just what we have to do.

3. We Don’t Think You Are “Crazy”

We understand that seeking help can be a scary step for people and appreciate the bravery it takes for you to do that. We also recognize that the things you share with us likely shame, worry, scare and/or anger you. That’s OK. Living with a mental health condition, surviving trauma, dealing with grief, and any number of other challenges that bring a person to therapy do not make that person “crazy.” I personally have yet to meet a “crazy” client.

4. Many of Us Have Been There

Although we are not likely to talk to you about our own journeys (therapy is your time), many of us entered the mental health field after fighting our own battles and wanting to help others. We may know first hand how it feels to have a panic attack or experience depression, or we have close family/friends who do. At the very least, most of us integrate the same wellness tools and skills we teach you into our own lives.

5. We Hope You Will Come to Your Appointments

We can’t help you if you aren’t here. In the same direction, if you do not feel therapy is helping or do not feel that we are helping you, we want to know that! It might be tempting to stop attending sessions to avoid the “break-up” style conversation that therapy just isn’t working. However, if you are able to attend and voice those concerns we may be able to address these or help you find a therapist who better gels with you.

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When Self-Care Is Followed by Self-Sabotage

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Most of the time I am completely amazing at self-care.

I pamper myself with multiple cups of coffee a day because without them I would likely lay down in the middle of the interstate and fall soundly asleep.

One of my dearest friends is a super talented hair stylist and she magically crafts my hair every few months, for which I am forever thankful because now my family and friends say things like, “Please don’t ever make your hair do that thing it used to do!” Meaning its natural curl and color. Like, the hair I was born with.

I allow alone time for myself away from the kids. For instance, right now I may or may not be hiding in my closet whilst writing this piece.

But then on the flip side, I am also really awesome at self-sabotage.

In some of my most depressive states, I will push my closest friends away. It seems ridiculous, right? Why would I resist those who love and care about me the most? They just want to be there for me, after all. It isn’t to hurt them, this I promise you. For me, it is because I don’t want them to see me sad. I can’t bear the idea of them seeing me unhappy, dark … absent. So, I silently disappear. 

But, this never works. My friends are a lot like me: persistent. So when texts are not answered and the calls ignored I see messages like, “Where are you? Why aren’t you answering me? I’m coming over!” But then I turn angry, hostile and over-critical. I say and do awful things in order to keep them away. This obviously creates hurt, which I absolutely never want. I never want to hurt anyone because of my hurt. This lengthy cycle comes to a pause with my apologizing and explaining and begging forgiveness.

But, self-sabotage never ends for me.  I move right on to something else. Now, because I am mad at myself for having done this to my friends, I starve myself. I am no longer worthy of food. This cycle goes on and on endlessly. I don’t particularly love admitting that I treat myself this way. In fact writing this here, now, is about as humiliating as admitting that my youngest child is 4 years old and I still can’t jump on a trampoline without peeing myself a little. (Struggle = real.)

 I am in treatment with a therapist who has a lot of fancy titles in front of and behind his name but still doesn’t make me call him doctor. Because he’s grounded like that. Regardless of his education and titles, he gets me on a human level. It is because of that, I believe, that I can look him (mostly) in the eyes and confess my self-sabotage cycle so he can evaluate which stage I am in. He is kind and safe. It is because of my treatment with him that I am able to talk about all of this with you today.

Obviously, my point in writing about this, in my closet, isn’t really to talk about self-care as you may have guessed. It’s about bringing less shame to self-sabotage. It is possibly presumptuous of me to guess that many of us associate shame with self-sabotage simply because for me there is massive amounts. Let’s just agree that my intentions are completely sound.

So, for those of you stuck in the circle of punishing yourself — I get it. Even though I know you don’t deserve the punishment you are handing yourself, I completely understand why you feel you do. I wish nothing but healthy paths for us all, and to never have to treat our minds and bodies in ugly ways ever again going forward. I want you to know that right now today, this moment, there is someone else out there sitting in her closet starving herself because she gets it. Truly, truly gets it. (Plot twist; It’s me.) 

You are never alone.  Not even when it feels like it.

Never.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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