Bring Change 2 Mind

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Community Voices

Have you experienced difficulty getting referred by your primary care physician due to a shortage of mental health practitioners in your region?

<p>Have you experienced difficulty getting referred by your primary care physician due to a shortage of <a href=" health" class="tm-embed-link  tm-autolink health-map" data-id="5b23ce5800553f33fe98c3a3" data-name="mental health" title="mental health" target="_blank">mental health</a> practitioners in your region?</p>
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Cait @cait8

When You and Your Partner Both Have Mental Illnesses

I’ve read articles about relationships where one partner has a mental illness and the other doesn’t. This is not what my situation is like with my partner; we both have our own challenges. His anxiety and depression are accompanied by my anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). We are a match made with awkwardness and overthinking. I am sure there are other couples who face similar daily challenges that we do. We need to talk about how to help each other, what to do and what not to do. It can be difficult for both of you, but keep trying. I hope these bits of advice based on my own experience help. 1. Even if you both have the same mental illness, don’t assume that yours is the same as your partner’s. My partner and I both have anxiety. It takes me a long time to see that he is anxious because his anxiety manifests itself very differently than mine. I often cry, my hands get shaky, I find it hard to breathe and my heart races. My anxiety is very obvious to anyone close to me, so my partner can spot it a mile away. He, however, bites the inside of his mouth. That’s all. OK, he also gets grumpy, but that’s hardly easy to spot. Don’t feel bad if you can’t spot their anxiety in its early stages. They may eventually tell you. Or if they are anything like my partner, they will keep it to themselves until they can’t any longer and will simply explode with emotion. The important thing is to be there to help pick up the pieces. 2. Don’t assume you have the same process to feeling better, but do try to find what will help both of you work through it together. My partner often has no idea what his anxiety stems from and I know that if it gets too much for him, he will start to slip into depression. To help him, we will sit together, make a list and talk about all of the things on his plate. If work is a problem, we will discuss his work and I’ll try to reassure him as much as I can. With my anxiety, however, I find something to doubt about myself and because of my OCD, I feel an urge to “fix it.” Together, my partner and I have found that the best thing I can do is to explain the problem to him, and he will comfort me and try his best to take my mind off the worries. It will take time to find what works best; just be persistent. 3. Remember their mental illness is not who they are. If my partner is really grumpy and snappy with me for no reason or if I spend an abnormal amount of time crying over things that I can’t name, we need to remember this is not who we are. We are not acting this way on purpose. No matter how annoying it can be, he needs to remember that the crying will stop and I will become my “normal” self again. I, in turn, need to remember that he is not really grumpy because he is unhappy with me, but because he is feeling anxious. He is just frustrated with the mental illness, not me. 4. Remember that your partner is the only one who can really deal with their mental illness. You love your partner, but you are only able to help so much. I know I will do everything I can to help my partner and he can take my mind off my worries temporarily, but only he knows what will make him feel better and only I can overcome my mental illness. If you give advice that they don’t take, don’t take it personally; sometimes, just talking or listening helps. Also, it is important to note that you should not neglect your own mental health needs because of your partner; find a balance. As with everything else in a relationship, you need to communicate and make sure that both parties are there to help each other. Balance it out and work together. 5. Don’t stop living your normal, day-to-day life. If some days feel harder than others, it doesn’t mean my partner needs to coddle me. I don’t always need to be wrapped in bubble wrap or tiptoe around him as if he is a sleeping lion. Fights will still happen. It’s not the end of the world as long as you can communicate well and move on. I still moan at my partner when he leaves his wet towel on the bed after he’s had a shower. He still complains when he finds me drinking milk out of the carton. You are still in a relationship and relationships are hard work, whether you have a mental illness or not. I hope this helps or at least gives you something to think about. Mental illness may put pressure on your relationship and make it harder than it would normally be. Just make sure you are both happy and willing to work everything through together. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t let your relationship become something that adds to your anxiety.

Susan Walz

The Love for My Children Is Stronger Than My Bipolar Disorder

I have been so severely depressed that I stayed in bed for days, barely able to move enough to sit up and crawl out of bed, sometimes almost wetting my pants because my brain barely functioned enough to signal for me to move my body to get out of bed to use the bathroom. My personal hygiene skills were gone. It was too much work for me to take a shower, so I would not shower for days because it felt like there were too many steps involved to take a shower. Breathing almost seemed too difficult, but somehow I could at times conjure up enough energy from deep within my soul to move, only when I needed to take care of my young children. Using every ounce of effort I could find from somewhere deep within myself, I somehow found the strength and determination to move and work enough to be a good mom, doing everything I could for my children. I was severely depressed and full of the pain of anxiety that felt like electrical currents were constantly stabbing me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, but somehow I pretended in front of my children that I was alive and well, so they would not see that I was sick and felt like I was slowly dying on the inside. My oldest daughter told me when she was young, she didn’t even realize I was sick, which of course makes me very happy. Unfortunately though, my bipolar became increasingly worse as the years progressed, causing it to become more difficult for me to pretend with each passing year. When I experience depression, I do not feel sad, I have no emotions. I feel empty inside and all over and can’t feel anything. I believe feeling nothingness and emptiness to the point that I feel dead is worse than feeling deep sadness or anger. I believe feeling anything is better than feeling nothing. Knowing what it’s like to be alive while feeling like I was dead caused me many times throughout my life to sink in a deep dark black hole there seemed to be no escape from. Because there seemed to be no escape from the pain of nothingness, death surrounded me and overcame my mind. Soon death became all I could think about it. My mind was overcome and flooded with thoughts of suicide. Somehow though, I was reminded of my children and a little spark rekindled the strong flame of love I have for my children and gave me some hope that came from somewhere deep within my heart and soul, making me realize I must fight to live, survive and thrive. I know I cannot leave my children. I cannot do that. I have to find the inner strength from deep within my soul to survive this torture I am living in and remember and learn how to breathe and live my life again, just for them. Many people say they are alive because of their children. So deep is the love I have and many other parents have for their children that lives deep within our hearts and souls and will never go away no matter how ill our brains can become. Even though I have a mental illness, the love I have for my three children never dies and is stronger than anything else. My disordered brain could never stop my love and intense feelings I have for my three children, no matter how sick I became or how dead I felt during my depressions. I am alive today because of my children. I fought and clawed my way out of the deep dark holes of depression many times to live and survive for my children. My three precious children are my greatest treasures and are always my heart and my every breath of life. Bipolar disorder is my primary diagnosis and I will always continue fighting the many symptoms and struggles I have living with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and will try to live the fullest and happiest life I can to the very best of my abilities. I am a bipolar survivor, but most importantly, I am a loving mom, a loving bipolar mom. My brain does not have to work or function to feel the deep forever love I have for my three children. The love for my three children is much stronger and more powerful and resilient than my struggles with bipolar disorder. I believe love is not controlled by our brains, but love lives forever within our hearts and souls. 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 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via ChristinLola.

Why We Need to Stop Overuse of the Word 'Anxiety'

What does the word “anxiety” even mean? Anxiety means different things to different people and everyone’s experiences with anxiety are unique to themselves. I believe this is why the word gets thrown around a lot. Having an anxiety disorder is completely different than feeling anxious or nervous. Healthy anxiety is feeling nervous before a big exam or driving test. Having an anxiety disorder is being physically unable to carry out day to day activities because you are so overwhelmed with anxious thoughts and feelings. Most of the time, I don’t even know why I am feeling like this, and it can come upon me randomly in the middle of doing my shopping, or it can build up and I can feel it coming before I have even stepped outside the door. For me, having an anxiety disorder feels like I am trapped inside a small box that is rapidly filling up with water and I am doing everything I possibly can to try and come up for air. It feels like I have been punched in my stomach and am trying my hardest to act like I’m fine. It’s constantly putting myself down and telling myself how much of a failure I am because I had to abandon my shopping trolley and go and sit in my car because it all got to be too much. So, please don’t throw the word “anxiety” around like it means nothing. It may be insignificant to you, but for someone like me, it’s a part of my life every day and it is a lot more than just being nervous. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via evtushenko_ira.

Kaden M (he/they)

Good Things About Living With Anxiety

For as long as I can remember, anxiety has been a constant in my life. I remember throwing up from anxiety often throughout my childhood and into adulthood. I remember laying awake at night, fearful of bad things that could happen to me. My heart always raced too fast — it still does — and my stomach is always churning. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have been a part of me since the beginning. Anxiety for me is overthinking each thing that happens in my day. Anxiety for me is feeling sick to my stomach. Anxiety for me is being restless and jittery. Anxiety for me is a tightening feeling in my chest. Anxiety for me is intrusive thoughts and compulsions. Anxiety for me is excessive apologies. Anxiety for me is also in the form of dermotillomania – picking my skin until it bleeds. Anxiety for me is excessive doubt. Anxiety for me is never quite feeling good enough. Anxiety for me is feeling the need to self-medicate. Anxiety for me is feeling trapped under a tidal wave of fear. Anxiety for me is torture. But then again, there are good things that have come from my anxiety. Anxiety has made me more empathic towards others’ situations. Anxiety has made me truly appreciate moments of calm and tranquility. Anxiety has made me grateful that bad things aren’t actually happening and that most of my worries are in my head. I might even be able to say that anxiety makes me creative — some of my best writing and art has been produced while I am trying to calm down my anxiety. I also credit anxiety to the reason I’m never late for an appointment or meeting. Anxiety has helped me organize my schoolwork. So in many ways, I can be grateful to have anxiety in my life. Anxiety disorders are definitely not easy to live with, but I suppose there is a silver lining to every cloud. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock via Victor_Tongdee

Mental Health Advocacy Is My Purpose in Life

Finding purpose in a life with bipolar disorder and various other mental illnesses is not easy. I had no aim in life. I was born, I grew up under the shelter of my parents and then suddenly I was pushed into the real world when my mother passed away. I gave up my college life. I gave up on my jobs. I gave up on everything that should have given my life a purpose. This was the starting point of my downfall. I didn’t even know I had a mental illness. I tried to die by suicide and that’s when the first psychiatrist saw me and diagnosed me with depression. But it wasn’t until later when I found out about my bipolar disorder. And life became as harder as it became easier. Easier because now I knew what has happened to me. Harder because it didn’t make me find my purpose in life. I remember the time when I said and I actually believed I couldn’t write. I had zero confidence in myself. Today writing is all I do. I never thought I would actually find a reason to keep living. I wanted to die every moment of every single day. And now I’m still here. There must be a reason why. I honestly don’t know why or how I wrote my first story. When I first wrote a story on Facebook, I didn’t think I would get any positive feedback from people. I was rather afraid, tense and anxious. But then I started getting messages from people I didn’t even know, asking me how to find a doctor and asking me how to get to know their own illness. I was surprised and shocked by the response. Now I know this was the point where I found my purpose. I knew I wanted to help people struggling in silence like I did for so many years. I knew I wanted an opportunity to give back the help I got myself. I started writing about my own experiences. But it wasn’t enough. I saw everywhere the stigma attached to mental illness. I saw people like us are not accepted as we should be. I saw people afraid to come out and say what they’re going through. I saw people in suits and dresses sitting in my psychiatrist’s office but I didn’t know where they were going after that. There must be a reason for all this secrecy and there must be a way to deal with it. This was my life’s purpose. I knew in my heart I needed to put my foot down and do something to eradicate the stigma attached to mental illness in our society. I started Hope is Good India because of this. I want to make a difference by giving back what I have received. This secrecy about mental illness is why we’re losing the bigger battle to these illnesses. It’s the reason why nobody comes out to talk about it. Well, it’s time to change this view. It’s time for a brand new beginning. 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 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via MangoStar_Studio.

Jasmin Pierre

What Carrie Fisher Meant To Me as a Mental Health Advocate

I’ve loved Carrie Fisher since childhood. My mom was (and still is) a huge “Star Wars” fan. The original movies came out before I was born, but in the 90’s they were digitally remastered and started showing in the movie theaters again. My mom urged my brother and I to come with her to see them. I immediately fell in love with the whole series. However, Carrie, who played Princess Leia, always stuck out to me. Not only was she beautiful, but she was also smart, courageous and strong. So was Carrie Fisher in real life, who was much more than just Princess Leia. She was an open book about her mental health. Many know that Carrie battled bipolar disorder. Being the huge icon that she was, she could have kept quiet about it. However, she had no shame about her mental illness. Below is a quote of hers “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.” – Carrie Fisher That statement is so powerful to me, because so many are still afraid to speak out. The ugly stigma around mental illness makes others so afraid to speak their truth. I remember when I was one of those people. When I was still battling major depressive disorder, I was so ashamed and afraid to speak up. When I tried to end my life I was even more embarrassed, but in time I learned I had nothing to be embarrassed about. Millions of people battle mental illness. Carrie understood that, and she didn’t care about the hateful comments she might receive for speaking her truth. People like Carrie are the reason so many people are now seeking help instead of ending their lives. She paved a way for many other advocates. I finally decided instead of being embarrassed, I’d fight for others to not feel embarrassed or ashamed. Just like Carrie I survived my illness, and even through recovery I’m still surviving! So to know Carrie has passed away really tugged at my heartstrings. I loved her so much as a little girl in “Star Wars,” but I loved her even more so as an adult who has battled a serious mental illness. Carrie was a champion, and she was most definitely a survivor. Her strength will live on. She was an incredible actress, and the work she’s done for the mental health field and her advocating was extraordinary. She has left a legacy and I’m sorry she had to go, but as Master Yoda said, “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.” So may the force always be with you, Carrie. Love, Jasmin 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 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Image via Thinkstock

3 Ways I Enjoy the Holidays as a Person With Borderline Personality

I write this sitting in an airport lounge with people passing me by in swarms, the holiday rush visibly apparent in their strides. Yet there’s a certain peace about it. Holiday seasons can be extremely tough on those who struggle to feel “normal” in the conventional sense. But there’s also definitely something positive about it, which I want to let everyone in on. 1. As people with borderline personality disorder, or as I call us “BPD challengers,” one of the greatest issues we face is how to handle the variety of people/situations/emotions the holidays usher in. However, it also brings with it an excitement we probably couldn’t feel otherwise. Perhaps it’s because it’s something new, fresh, exciting, different. Perhaps because it’s simply a reason to celebrate. Whatever it is, it’s an occasion to feel. Something I really struggle with. Only this time I get to feel amazing. Feel holiday cheer. Feel joyful. It’s really rare, so let’s cherish the moments! 2. People tend to rush around a lot. They’re always in a hurry. Buying gifts, putting up decorations, organizing social gatherings, meeting expectations. It doesn’t have to be that way. Think of it instead as a season to accomplish a lot of things. Use the month of December particularly to revisit and renew ties that might have been neglected in the midst of daily mundane routines. To challenge ourselves to really think about those who are near and dear (even if we may be currently splitting and hence “hating” them ) and truly appreciate them instead. Perhaps replace expensive gifts with a personal letter. And not just an email. Those good ole handwritten ones that seem almost too good to be true nowadays! Instead of buying decorations, choose to spend evenings when you feel unloved and alone by occupying your mind and heart. A good example could be making festive ornaments out of used items. And then making more to gift others. (Below is a picture of Christmas tree I’ve made out of recycled newspapers! Method courtesy Stephania blog). It’s a great cathartic outlet and keeps idle hands (and minds) busy. There’s no expectations when it’s one of a kind and it’s made with our own hands! And it doesn’t have to be limited to crafts. If you can’t craft, you can sing or read a book out loud and record yourself. Or make a play list. Or a slideshow. Or write a story/poem/letter. Or volunteer to help others who have much less than we have. The possibilities are endless! 3. Family gatherings are inevitable. And they often tend to get a bit too emotionally draining. However, they also present opportunities for growth. It’s the same people each year. We know them inside out and what to expect from them. If we set aside some time to prepare ourselves for what we know that uncle is going to say or what that cousin twice removed will do to get on our nerves, then it’s really not unexpected, isn’t it? Rationalizing their thoughts and actions well in advance removes a lot of the emotional strain on that particular day. And what better season than the festive season to practice self-awareness and depersonalization? The best part? We get to pat ourselves on the back for getting an early start on our new years resolutions! There are tons more where these came from. As BPD challengers, we often find it difficult to see the good in what we have. It’s just too much emotionally. Or we just can’t. But we can. You can! And I’d love to hear from you on all the other ways in which the holiday season is really positive and wonderful for you! We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Jasmin Pierre

Kanye West's Psych Evaluation: Mental Illness Isn't a Joke

Social media has been in an uproar for the past 48 hours over Kanye West. Shortly after his “Saint Pablo” tour was canceled, the rapper was also admitted into the hospital for a psych evaluation. According to TMZ, Kanye was being seen by a physician for severe sleep deprivation prior to his admission. Sources also say Kanye was restrained when he refused to go. Many people have mixed reactions when it comes to Kanye. Some say he’s a musical genius, while others say he’s an arrogant asshole. Kanye has changed over the years. Sometimes he has very expressive, and other times he has seemingly random outbursts about how he’s feeling. Some people love his rants, and others call them obnoxious. While everyone has different opinions, I rarely hear anyone say, “What is the source of them?” When Kanye canceled his entire tour after having another outburst on stage, people were angry but not many were asking “Is he OK?” We never really ask if he’s OK or if something is wrong. Some people even encourage his outbursts. A lot of his fans think his behavior is cool, and they never think anything else of it. Since the psych evaluation has been reported I haven’t seen much concern. What I do see is a lot of laughter and mocking going on. Some people have said, “Must be the Kardashian curse.” Others have said, “He’s just trying to get attention, that’s what he gets for being an asshole.” No matter how you may feel about Kanye, mental health issues are very real. Just because he has all of this money and fame doesn’t mean he isn’t human. Just because he has angry rants and has said things we may not agree with, doesn’t mean he can’t be in pain. Obviously something is going on with him. Some people also tend to forget Kanye did lose his mother and took it hard. While this may have been years ago, a lot of pain can still come from it. A lot of build up mental anguish that’s never been resolved can be in his mind. This may not be the exact source of what’s going on with him right now, but it can very well be an underlying factor. People tend to overlook mental health issues, signs, and symptoms until it becomes too late. Maybe Kanye’s attitude is more than meets the eye. Mental health issues can be complex. You’re not your true self when going through those kind of situations. People go untreated for years. While we may not be entirely sure what’s happening with Kanye and his mental health right now, it’s nothing to joke about. Nothing is funny about mental illness. I hope he gets the help he needs. This post originally appeared on Afropunk. Photo by Jason Persse – Kanye West @ MoMA