Alejandra Cooper

@alejandra-cooper | contributor
Hi! I was a reporter at The Mighty.

What Is Aviophobia or Aerophobia and Fear of Flying?

“You’re far more likely to die in a car than in a plane…”If you struggle with aviophobia, an anxiety condition that causes fear of flying, there’s a good chance you’ve heard these words, perhaps several times over. What the well-meaning people who say this might not realize is that flying in an airplane bears little resemblance to riding in a car, and it’s not just the height-of-travel distance.While you’re driving, you’re in control and can stop the car whenever you choose; in an airplane, you’re in a tight space and can’t escape if you start to panic mid-flight. Cars may vibrate slightly when the engine is running, but it’s nothing to the jostling airplane passengers feel soon after a pilot’s telltale warning there’s turbulence ahead.Aviophobia is real, and it can be extremely inhibiting to those who experience it. Airplanes are sometimes the only reasonable way of getting from one place to another, and a family emergency or work trip may make air travel your only option. Fortunately, there are evidence-based treatments for aviophobia, and they work much better than being reminded of the relative risks of driving compared to being airborne.Keep reading to learn about aviophobia and the therapy that can loosen its hold. What is Aviophobia? “Aviophobia is an irrational or exaggerated fear of flying,” Sheva Rajaee, LMFT, director of the Center for Anxiety and OCD, told The Mighty. Aviophobia — sometimes also referred to as aerophobia — can be debilitating if you must travel for work or live far from your loved ones. It’s also one of the more common phobias: Numbers vary, but research suggests 2.5% to 6.5% of the population lives with the phobia at any given time.If you struggle with aviophobia, you may feel anxious when you’re faced with not just flying on a plane but also around thoughts or shows about flying, according to Rajaee. When faced with a flying fear trigger, you may feel your pulse quicken or your palms begin to sweat. You might feel a tightness in your chest, experience racing thoughts or even dissociate in response to the trigger, which get in the way of your life. Many people with aviophobia avoid flying, talk of flying and movies that feature airplanes.Jennifer Lawrence, an actress known for her roles in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Hunger Games,” has spoken publicly about her plane anxiety and the ways it has affected her. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she shared that once, the plane she was on hit an air pocket and her anxiety became intolerable.“You know when they hit an air pocket and it feels like you’re falling?” she said. “I [began to shout] on a night flight one time: ‘ We’re going down! It’s coming down!’ ” Causes of Aviophobia According to Rajaee, aviophobia is likely caused by an overactive amygdala — the fear center of the brain — that sends you into fight-or-flight mode at times you don’t need to be. You don’t need to have a family history of aviophobia in order to develop the condition. A past traumatic experience involving flying may cause you to develop aviophobia, but you can experience this phobia even if you didn’t have an adverse experience with airplanes.Dr. Tabasom Vahidi, Ph.D., added that aviophobia can be linked to other anxiety conditions, and finding out what those other contributing factors are can be essential to finding the right course of treatment.“What I discovered in treating that client was that it wasn’t just, ‘I have a fear of flying.’ It was, ‘I’m afraid of getting a panic attack and being in an enclosed space where I can’t escape,” Vahidi explained of one client. “When someone comes in and says, ‘I’m afraid of flying,’ you want to figure out what it is about the plane that provokes their fear. There can be so many layers to it.”Airplanes can engage a number of common fears — the fear of heights, the fear of confined spaces, the fear of terrorism. In addition, for people who are triggered by a lack of control or the fear of having a panic attack in public, aviophobia can be associated with panic disorder, agoraphobia or other anxiety conditions. Treatment for Aviophobia One of the most effective treatments for a phobia is exposure therapy, according to Dr. Vahidi. Exposure therapy involves exposing you to your fear gradually over a long period of time with the support of a therapist. It may sound terrifying to face your fears at first, but Vahidi explained it’s an opportunity for you to practice responding or reacting differently to your fear.The goal of exposure therapy is to practice being in your feared state without reacting to it or avoiding your triggers. Vahidi said that exposure therapy can help retrain the brain to stop sending false “danger signals” when you aren’t in any imminent danger.“While air travel can always involve some risk, people living with aviophobia must ask themselves: What do I lose in not overcoming my fear? And why is it worth taking that small risk?” Vahidi said. Oftentimes, these questions can motivate you to do the hard work to overcome your phobia.Exposures start small — you could start off listening to the sound of a plane engine running, for instance, and work up to visiting an airport or going on short flights accompanied by a therapist. As these become easier, you move on to exposures that are more stressful until you’re capable of tackling those too with confidence. Step by step, you get closer to the thing that scares you and feel less distressed while doing so.Though exposure therapy is most effective when you repeatedly do the activity that scares you, Vahidi pointed out that repeated air travel to recover from aviophobia can be prohibitively expensive. However, this can be circumvented by the use of virtual-reality machines that simulate air travel and have been shown to be effective for many people. When available, machines like these can bring the cost of exposures down significantly and also enable the therapist to tailor the exposures to the patient’s needs.If treating your aviophobia sounds hard, that’s because it is. Vahidi, who lived with aviophobia herself and went through exposure therapy, knows that firsthand. Eventually, she was able to overcome her fear, in part by educating herself about airplanes, which can be helpful for others facing aviophobia as well.“When I would experience turbulence, or even when the plane was taking off, I would have a lot of anxiety about the safety of the plane,” Vahidi said. “I discovered that … when there is turbulence, the plane is not dropping or moving as significantly or as drastically as I believed. That really calmed my anxiety.”Exposures played a large role in helping Vahidi to recover from aviophobia, and she stressed the fact that others can benefit greatly from the therapy too. You’ll also have the support of your therapist every step of the way.“Phobias have high recovery rates when treated properly,” she said. “The more we face our fears, the less overwhelming and overpowering [they are] in the long run.” For more on phobias, check out the following stories from our Mighty community: Does the Sight of Blood Make You Anxious? It Could Be Hemophobia. If You Hate Being Alone, You Might Relate to This Anxiety Struggle The Reality of Emetophobia and How I’m Beating It Trypophobia: The Anxiety Struggle That Can Make Your Skin Crawl

17 ’Harmless’ Comments That Hurt People With Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have everything to do with food, but if you’ve ever struggled with disordered eating, you’ll know that doesn’t quite get to the heart of your experience. While food, weight and health are certainly part of it, eating disorders for many people are really about control, regulating difficult emotions and managing a deep sense of shame about who you are. “The world inside your head is so twisted and controlling, a prison of black and white,” wrote one Mighty contributor about what an eating disorder can feel like. “It makes you fear every aspect of your life outside of your ‘control.’” Because others might not understand what eating disorders are really about, loved ones may try to encourage your recovery with phrases such as “you look healthy” or “you’re beautiful.” No matter how well-meaning these comments may be, these phrases can be seriously triggering to the internal monologue that fuels your eating disorder behaviors. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder and get frustrated by seemingly “harmless” comments others make about your appearance or eating habits, you’re not alone. And if you love someone who lives with an eating disorder, keep in mind that the following comments can be harmful to those in recovery. Here are 17 “harmless” comments The Mighty community said hurt people with eating disorders: 1. ‘You look great!’ “‘You have a great figure!’ — This was said to me countless times by the same person when I was at a very low BMI. I was told I would have to go into hospital against my will if I didn’t maintain that weight just a few weeks after the last time I heard it. People’s minds are so distorted when it comes to weight, eating disorder or not.” — Amy L. “’You look great! Wow! You’ve lost a ton!’ As a woman diagnosed with bulimia nervosa it’s hard to talk about my weight. If I’m losing weight it’s because I’m binging & purging or eating almost nothing. My relationship with food has been disordered since early childhood.” — Jodi A. 2. ‘You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.’ “‘But you’re not underweight!’ I would get this all the time until I would be hospitalized! Weight does not always adequately represent one’s relationship with food. What it does relate to is a poor body image and the way one would cope with stress.” — Hannah B. “‘Fat people don’t have eating disorders!’ That hurts every time I hear it. Just because I’m overweight doesn’t mean I don’t have a problem. I have binge eating disorder. … Food has been a problem for me since I was a kid. I can’t help it. I used it as a coping mechanism and now it’s come to rule my life.” — Diana M. “‘You aren’t even skinny though?’ My friend said to me when I was trying to admit I needed help. [I] was on the verge of a mental breakdown because I couldn’t stop … but, because I was losing weight from a higher BMI, I wasn’t ‘qualified’ enough to have an eating disorder. Everyone was so proud of me.” — Darian K. 3. ‘You have to eat.’ “Just eat something, it’s not that hard. Look, I’m eating.’ This used to drive me insane. I recognize for some people it’s not that hard, but with an eating disorder it is.” — Jessica R. “’You have to eat.’ ‘Why do you eat so little?’ I hate hearing those both. When my anxiety gets bad I can’t eat. My body rejects all food besides fluids and hearing that I have to eat makes my anxiety worse.” — Becca Lynn M. “You have to eat. I’ve been able to keep my disorder mostly under control and I’ve learned healthy coping strategies, but I still have slips. But whenever someone tells me I have to eat, it causes so much panic and then I slip into old habits and it takes some work to get back to where I was before. It’s exhausting.” — Katie S. 4. ‘I wish I had an eating disorder.’ “’You look great! Whatever you’re doing, just keep it up!’ I actually told that person directly after that I had an eating disorder and her reply was, ‘If I knew I could look like that, I’d have an eating disorder too!’” — Cierra F. “If having an eating disorder can make you look like that, sign me up!” — Anna M. “I wish I had that problem.” — Kenzie L. 5. ‘Keep up the good work!’ “’Keep up the good work.’ Like my worth was measured by my size.” — Nicole B. “’You’ve done so well.’ When I developed anorexia I went from overweight to nearing underweight very quickly. People told me it was such an achievement, which added fuel to the fire. I convinced myself if people spoke so nicely of me when I was thin they’d think I was a bad person if I put the weight on again.” — Lorna O. “I was really sick and not eating. When I did eat, I would throw up … and I lost [weight] from it. I told my stepdad and he said, ‘Congrats on losing weight.’” — Elizabeth H. 6. ‘Should you be eating that?’ “‘Another plate?’ I have had trouble with binging and dieting, and at Thanksgiving one year a family member said this to me and I cried for days after.” — Jade E. “‘Should you be eating that?’ Guaranteed to make even the most amazing day instantly horrific and can often lead to binge eating even if I’ve been in a really good place for months. That one phrase is enough to derail all my hard work.” — Hazel B. “‘Oh… you’re eating a muffin for breakfast? That’s not very nutritious,’ said my roommate after it took me hours to get myself to come downstairs because I was worried if I went downstairs or near the kitchen I would eat. I finally forced myself to at least go see if there was something I could get myself to eat, and as soon as I picked up a muffin, that’s what she said. I felt so ashamed in that moment, like she saw how disgusting I was, and I immediately regretted even thinking I could get away with eating that day.” — Kimberly B. 7. ‘Your weight is perfect just the way it is.’ “’Your health and weight are perfect just the way you are’ (after I had literally just explained my doctor’s and dietitian’s opinions to the contrary).” — Leiba R. 8. ‘I wish I had your restraint.’ “‘I wish I had your self-restraint!’ I hear this all the time and I hate it. If I had self-restraint I would be able to fuel my body [and] not starve myself to near death.” — Bethany W. 9. ‘Aren’t you grateful for what you have?’ “‘You need to eat more! There’s people starving, why are you ungrateful.’ I’ve struggled with anorexia for years and it’s not like I don’t try to eat. Sometimes I just can’t.” — Jessica N. 10. ‘Eat a burger already.’ “‘You look so skinny.’ ‘Eat a cheeseburger already’… I stopped eating, trying to be perfect at everything. That’s when the ‘you look so great’ started while others told me I looked sick. My school nurse demanded weekly weigh-ins and said if I lost weight they would call my parents.” — Melissa W. ‘Eat a burger girl, you could use it.” — Kenzie L. 11. ‘You’ve eaten so much!’ “After dinner one time, my mom looked at my plate and said ‘you ate a lot today!’ and when I stared at her she continued with ‘it’s good.’ She didn’t mean any harm by it, [but] it stuck with me and I didn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day.” — Jessica E. W. 12. ‘You just need to try harder.’ “‘If you tried harder to eat more often you wouldn’t be so skinny or struggling to keep weight on. You wouldn’t have these health issues.’ I literally hear this every single time I see anyone in my family. … I know I have an issue with eating. I was always made to see it as my fault.” — Amanda S. S. 13. ‘At least you’re not a drug addict.’ “I have binge eating disorder and someone once said — well it’s better than being an alcoholic or drug addict!” — Anne C. C. 14. ‘You’re so skinny!’ “’Wow, you look so good. I can’t believe you lost all your baby weight so fast!’ Yes, please, feed my anorexia with your compliments. Right after I had my daughter I lost all my progress and fell right back in. I’m still struggling and the compliments about how skinny I am makes me want to lose more weight.” — Katt S. “‘You look so skinny!!’ before eating dinner at a restaurant with a family friend as a compliment. … I lost so much because I was too depressed to eat and hated my body. Now every time I’m triggered, I have a flashback to that moment and wish to be that way again despite it being no good for me. Please don’t comment on a person’s weight — you don’t know what they’re going through or how they feel about it.” — Vanessa C. “I am recovered from anorexia, but eating food comfortably is a struggle I still have. Working out makes me feel good, but anytime I mention this to some people they tell me, ‘You’re so skinny! You don’t need to work out,’ or ‘You don’t need to lose weight.’ It’s not just about my looks, it’s about my mental health and I feel like so many people forget that working out does not necessarily mean weight loss. It’s also just hard hearing those comments because when I was anorexic, I thrived on those comments and they gave me the extra motivation to starve myself on top of working out.” — Hannah L. “The dietician I saw who works with type 1 diabetics, as I am type 1, told me not to be silly, she’d love to be as thin as me. I’m actually anorexic and diabetic. Extremely underweight.” — Helen D. 15. ‘You should go on a diet.’ “I’ve always starved myself. So when someone tells me I need to go on a diet to lose weight, it hurts so bad because I’m thinking if they only knew.” — Zeferena H. “After battling an eating disorder and a distorted view of my body image for most of my life, in the last year, I have finally managed to gain weight, got myself to a stage where I feel comfortable and finally not classed as underweight, only to be told by a close friend I look tubby and apparently need to sort this belly out.” — Ross S. “When I was in junior high or high school, I lost a little weight. My mom’s friend told me I was so pretty. If I could just lose some more weight I could be a model. What I heard was, ‘No matter how hard you try, it will never be enough.’” — Christy L. 16. ‘You’re lucky.’ “‘You’re so lucky!’ I don’t see it as lucky. I’m skinny, but only because I lose weight too quickly. When I feel really stressed or anxious I stop eating and can quickly become underweight, then struggle to regain a healthy weight. I’m not lucky.” — Trix P. 17. ‘You look so healthy.’ “‘You look healthy.’ When I was struggling and trying to overcome it. It was meant as a compliment but in my mind I felt like they were commenting on my weight gain.” — Kimmie B. “‘I don’t understand, you look so healthy and happy.’ Just because I can fake it well does not mean that it’s a good thing.” — Jessica R. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, you’re not alone. It takes a lot of strength to work toward eating disorder recovery, no matter where you are in your journey. If you’re ever in need of support from those who get it, don’t hesitate to reach out on The Mighty’s #CheckInWithMe page. If you’re looking for ways to support a loved one with an eating disorder, check out this guide from our Mighty community.

What Is Hemophobia, the Fear of Blood?

It’s a common scene: A phlebotomist guides her patient into the room, asks him to sit. She cleans his skin with rubbing alcohol, loops a tourniquet around his forearm. She puts the needle in position and warns him that he may feel a slight pinch. The clear vial attached to the needle fills with a bright pool of red. Minutes later, the procedure is over, and the patient is free to go.It seems simple enough, but for many people, appointments like these are impossible to complete. If you’re always postponing your regular doctor check-ups in a cold sweat, you may be facing the anxiety condition hemophobia.Hemophobia is the fear of blood, and it can be extremely inhibiting for those who live with it. People who have hemophobia may avoid necessary medical care or stay away from activities or sports that involve the risk of being injured (and bleeding). Just thinking about surgery or seeing one acted out on a TV show can be enough to make your heart race if you live with the condition.If any of this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Researchers estimate that hemophobia affects approximately 3-4% of the population, but with the right treatment, you can get past your anxiety. Read on to learn more about hemophobia and what you can do if you’re struggling. What Is Hemophobia? Hemophobia is an intense fear of blood. It’s listed as blood injection injury phobia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM-5), though it differs from injection phobia and injury phobia in a number of key ways.“[Hemophobia] can come on as a result of seeing one’s own blood or the blood of another,” Sheva Rajaee, LMFT, director of the Center for Anxiety and OCD, told the Mighty. While many people experience unease at the sight of blood, your discomfort may rise to the level of a phobia when your “anxiety response to the sight, mention or thought of blood causes an exaggerated or prolonged fear response.”Hemophobia can manifest in a number of ways, according to Rajaee. Some common experiences of people who live with the condition are: Avoidance of blood, including the sight or mention of blood Avoidance of situations or activities that could result in bleeding or injury Experiencing sweaty palms, dizziness, nausea or racing thoughts at the sight of blood Dr. Tabasom Vahidi, Ph.D., told The Mighty that unlike other phobias, people living with hemophobia can experience a vasovagal response, or “fainting induced by a decrease in blood pressure.” John Sanford, who used to struggle with hemophobia, once described the vasovagal response in a piece for Stanford Medicine: Observing blood seep from a wound, flow into a syringe or spatter on the ground, blood phobics initially will respond like other phobics — that is, their heart rate and blood pressure will increase. But then something else will happen: Their heart rate and blood pressure will suddenly drop, causing dizziness, sweatiness, tunnel vision, nausea, fainting or some combination of these symptoms. This is a vasovagal response … which does not generally occur with other phobias. It’s worth noting that the vasovagal response is usually harmless, though it is possible to be injured from falling when the response is activated. What Causes Hemophobia? Researchers have yet to determine what exactly causes hemophobia. While Rajaee said that phobias can manifest in response to something that happened in your environment, she noted that “unlike other psychological conditions, many phobias and anxiety-related disorders do not have a basis in trauma and do not need to have a rational or familial basis in order to manifest.”Some studies have suggested that individuals can be genetically predisposed to develop the condition. Researchers have also put forward the idea that hemophobia developed as an evolutionary response to being injured. According to this theory, ancient humans injured by predators may have escaped a grisly fate by catching sight of their own blood and fainting. Predator species tend to pass over prey that abruptly stops moving.Another possible cause of hemophobia is “an overactive amygdala,” according to Rajaee. The amygdala is a part of the brain responsible for detecting threats and initiating the body’s survival fear responses. Several researchers have proposed a link between amygdala dysfunction and anxiety disorders, including phobias. Treatment for Hemophobia In order to protect themselves, people living with hemophobia often engage in “safety” or avoidance behaviors to temporarily reduce their anxiety. It may seem to help in the moment, but unfortunately, these patterns of avoidance actually worsen your fear over time: “Research has confirmed that any attempt to reduce anxiety or avoid your fear can intensify it in the long run,” Vahidi explained.For that reason, treatment for hemophobia centers on staying with your discomfort and anxiety in small but increasingly difficult steps while a therapist teaches you tools to manage your anxiety. “[It] involves a great deal of motivation and willingness to temporarily intensify anxiety to ultimately overcome your fear,” Vahidi said. This may feel scary at first, but phobias have high recovery rates when treated in this way.Exposure therapy also happens over a long period of time, and exposures are repeated. In this way, the brain “gets retrained to experience the fear as safe so that the body’s ‘fight or flight’ [response] does not get activated each time one is faced with a trigger,’ Vahidi said.While some phobias — such as the fear of snakes — can be relatively benign because it’s typically best practice to avoid dangerous situations anyway, “the risks are high” for people who live with hemophobia:“One of my patients had an intense fear of needles and she avoided getting her blood drawn for years, in spite of the medical risks,” Vahidi said. “Everyone, at some point in their lives, may need to have surgery and medical assessments that involve blood and needles.”Vahidi guided her client through a series of exposures, including watching videos of blood draws, tying a tourniquet on her arm, being exposed to a medical lab and watching in-person blood draws. “We worked collaboratively to plan every exposure, and I closely guided her through the steps while tracking her anxiety,” Vahidi said. At the end of treatment, the patient had her blood drawn by a phlebotomist.If you have experienced a vasovagal response, your therapist may also teach you the “applied tension” technique developed by Swedish psychologist Lars-Göran Öst. The technique involves tensing the muscles in your arms, torso and legs to counter the lowered blood pressure and slow heart rate that can lead to fainting.Vahidi said it’s also important for you and your therapist to identify what is triggering your fear: “As a clinician, it’s important to identify the fear. Do they fear fainting or do they fear the needle?”If exposure therapy sounds difficult to you, that’s because it is. Dr. Vahidi, who went through exposure therapy for her fear of flying, knows that firsthand. But “treating your fear is possible,” Vahidi said. “In fact, phobias have high recovery rates when treated properly.”“Anxiety disorders, including phobias, are highly treatable with the right treatment,” Rajaee agreed. “Though it may seem incredibly difficult to imagine, rewiring of the fear response when faced with blood or possible contamination is achievable.” For more on phobias, check out the following stories from our Mighty community: Is Pistanthrophobia Getting in the Way of Your Relationships? The Reality of Emetophobia and How I’m Beating It Trypophobia: The Anxiety Struggle That Can Make Your Skin Crawl Article updated Feb. 14, 2020.

Signs It's Time to Cut a Toxic Person From Your Life

It can be painful to say goodbye to the people whose stories are bound closely to our own. As Mighty contributor Harmony Yendys wrote, “Mourning is hard. It doesn’t matter if the person has passed away, is estranged from you or has chosen not to have contact with you. It. is. hard.” The people closest to us are often the ones who know us best, but sometimes they can be the ones who hurt us most deeply. Sometimes you need to cut people out of your life as an act of self-preservation — whether it’s an abusive parent or a friend you’ve outgrown. We asked people what signs told them it was time to let someone go. They spoke of feeling drained whenever the person was around, and of being put down to boost the other’s ego. They said they’d been hurt by their friends and family and then blamed for that hurt. If you’ve ever had to end a relationship that was toxic, you’re not alone. As Yendys wrote, it’s hard to mourn the people you’ve let go of. But your relationship should not have to come at the cost of your happiness. It’s OK to leave someone who causes you pain. Here are 21 signs that told people it was time to cut a toxic person from their lives: 1. A Gut Feeling Tells You Something Is Wrong “When my daughter told me she felt sick because we were due to see this person. I knew this person had that effect on me, but realizing they had the same effect on my daughter made me take the necessary steps to cut them out of my life.” — Lisa R. “If you have to ask the question ‘is this right?’ it’s wrong.” — Rochelle H. 2. They Take More Than They Give “When a person only remembers your presence when he/she needs something from you, yet refuses to spend quality time.” — Pamela Jane B. “When I start to feel responsible for their happiness and put it above my own happiness.” — Tammy P. “When you find yourself constantly making concessions just to keep the other person happy.” — Kimberly M. 3. You Feel Drained When You’re Around Them “When they suck the life out of you and they don’t bring you any joy, love and peace. There’s so much freedom in walking away and never looking back.” — Robin G. “The energy vampire effect, where I feel drained, emotionally and physically; where if I get a text or their name comes up the screen my heart jumps into my throat, my stomach aches and gets in upset. It’s a hard decision to make, but when someone doesn’t understand they are hurting you, you have to step away to feel safe, happy and content.” — Hayley N. 4. They Make You Believe It’s Your Fault “When he would blame everyone else for his mistakes and failures and not own up or accept he was at fault. There is lots more I could say but I feel that was the one that broke the camel’s back.” — Amy S. “When they made me feel bad for the way they treated me and the hurt they caused me.” — Kristin S “When they put the blame on you constantly and don’t take accountability for anything.” — Alex M. 5. They Put You Down to Feel Better About Themselves “Gossip. Gossip was a bullseye sign in my family for toxicity. Manipulative, backbiting gossip — which I was often the subject, but never the participant. I put up with it for so long, took the ‘high’ road (which was really just being abused in the name of ‘family’) but one day it just clicked that these people had not a single nice thought or feeling about me. They simply did not care about how I was or felt at all, they only cared about being superior at my expense.” — Natasha Anna A. 6. You Don’t Like the Person You Are When You’re With Them “When you do things that are completely out of character to make them happy. You feel a sense of loss over the person you were before them.” — Stephanie V. “When you realize after years and years, that the time spent with them is painful, and that when you are with them, you feel like your your worst self. You can feel the negativity and notice yourself wishing you were home, without them.” — Rob V. “When I realized I had become a completely different person from being with them and I was so unhappy with myself and who I was at that point. I had stuck with them throughout the harsh jabs disguised as jokes, through the flirting with other people, through the emotional distance, the abuse, but once I realized I was no longer me with my values, it was time to go.” — Jess L. 7. They Don’t Respect Your Boundaries “When I repeatedly said something triggered me and they continued to do it anyway.” — Bryce A. “Broken boundaries. If I tell you that my boundaries are ‘xyz’ and you continue to disregard them, that tells me you don’t really care about me.” — Crystal C. 8. They Make You Feel Lonely “When you feel more alone with them than actually being alone. I cut out an entire group of friends because they were always making me feel like a horrible person because my anxiety wouldn’t allow me to do certain things.” — Ellen P. 9. They’re Never There When You Need Them to Be “When people I thought cared about me were fed up of my depression and anxiety, I realized I was better off without them.” — Sally W. “I was in the hospital after a suicide attempt and she told my sister she didn’t have time for my crisis.”  — Nicole B. “When you’re going through your worst time and they’re simply not there for you.” — Nikki S. 10. They Promise to Change But Nothing Happens “When they say they will change, so you give them another chance, and they haven’t changed at all.” — Kari G. “I don’t think there’s a sign as much as a feeling, and strength that comes from that feeling. When you finally realize nothing you do will ever change another person’s actions, that is the moment you know it’s time to cut them out.” — Kerry H. 11. They Don’t Put Any Effort In “When they aren’t making the same amount of effort for you as you are for them. I don’t mean people who physically or mentally can’t for whatever reason. It is very hard when I see people who used to be a big part of my life posting how wonderful their lives are when they can’t even be bothered to get in touch despite knowing I’m struggling. When someone says they’ve been too busy, that’s when you know that it’s not worth it. If you meant more to them then they would make time for you.” — Rosie F. “When I realized I was getting nothing out of the relationship. My motto for any relationship with anyone is to put as much in as you’d like to receive.” — Shayna K. 12. They Get in the Way of Your Progress “Whenever I’d get a little bit of stability they’d come barging back into my life and throw everything out of whack and revel in me being a hot mess and use it to make themselves look good. It was really about me opening my eyes to the pattern and not being willing to compromise on the person I was building myself into just to ‘keep the family together’ simply because others thought I should sacrifice everything, including myself, to do just that.” — Devra R. “They put down every attempt I made to improve my life and interfered with the actions I made.” — Sandra S. 13. They Gaslight You “Gaslighting. I had numerous gut feelings that something was off, but they kept telling me it was my illness, that I was paranoid. Once they were caught in the lies, I learned a valuable lesson about how to trust myself.” — Liv H. “When they called me toxic. All I did was support them unconditionally, then they put words in my mouth. They twist what I did, what I say and they force it down my throat. And the worst part, they are family.” — Jazzie M. 14. You Can’t Remember Being Happy Together “I tried to remember a recent good memory I had with them and I couldn’t. It had been years since even a glimmer of something good stood out and I figured it didn’t make sense to hold on to someone when nothing good is coming out of the ‘relationship.’” — Mary T. 15. Being Around Them Affects Your Mental Health “When text messages from that person would make me anxious, I would have panic attacks over their passive-aggressive messages. Their drama would affect me for weeks with lost sleep, a lack of appetite, increased migraines and just worse mental health in general.” — Mel T. “When they bring more anxiety to your life than happiness it’s time to let them go.” — Danni D.M. “When it gets to the point that seeing their name on my phone causes me anxiety because I know they’re only getting ahold of me to complain and take my spoons. That tells me the friendship hasn’t gone both ways in some time.” — Andréa B. 16. They’ve Become a Source of Dread “When you think it would be easier to die than to be in that relationship one more minute.” — Fran M. 17. People Tell You It’s Time to Leave “Multiple people told me I needed to leave the relationship. It had been a year of toxicity but I had become used to it. It became the new ‘norm’ and I was shoving my feelings aside to keep the other person happy. I had a big handful of friends tell me the same thing — he’s being abusive. Even my own therapist told me that I needed to leave, and that was what made me realize, ‘I’m not making this up, I’m not going crazy, my feelings are justified.’” — Remy L. 18. They Make You Doubt Yourself “Whenever I thought something good about myself I heard their voice in my head telling me I was bad. I realized I had internalized everything they’d said to me in the past and want prepared to listen anymore. The first step in getting that person or of my head was getting them out of my life.” — Violet Emily S. 19. Being Around them Makes You Feel Ill “When their presence makes you feel physically ill.” — Chandler Virginia D. “I get actual migraines being in the wrong situation with the wrong person.” — Amanda P. 20. They Try to Control You “Controlling. When my feelings, ideas and preferences are constantly criticized. I think the biggest hurt is feeling the only way these people are happy is telling me how to think and feel.” — Marcia S. 21. You Feel Better Once They’re Gone “When you have done so much for a person, in this case a so-called friend, that you just don’t feel the want to do anything for or even see that person again, and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders, they do nothing but take, and drain your energy.” — Martin B. “I realized afterward (because I still wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing) how much more simple my life was because they were no longer a part of it. It felt nice to know that I wasn’t crazy and that my trust in someone is valuable and not to be used for their own personal gain.” — Kelli C. If you’ve ever found yourself in a toxic relationship, you’re not alone. You deserve to be happy and to feel supported by those close to you. If you’re ever in need of support, don’t hesitate to reach out on The Mighty’s #CheckInWithMe page and get in touch with people who understand what you’re going through.

5 Things You Should Know About Mitochondrial Disease

Mitochondria play a major role in all of your organ systems. These energy powerhouses — and part of the inspiration for “the force” in “Star Wars” — help your cells produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through your body. They free up the building blocks your body needs to make new cells. They provide the energy your body needs to keep going. Your mitochondrial DNA predates you by thousands of years. It was passed down to you directly from your mother and has been passed down in this way, from mother to child, since the first humans walked the planet. You have the same mitochondrial DNA as people did 200,000 years ago — in all that time, the mitochondria’s DNA sequence has gone unchanged. It’s gone mostly unchanged, in any event. At least 1 in 5,000 people is born with a mitochondrial disease, which causes changes in how your mitochondria function. Your mitochondria play a vital role in all of your body’s systems, so when a change happens in the mitochondria’s DNA, or in proteins that interact with the mitochondria, it can have major consequences. Because mitochondria provide 90% of your body’s energy, the organs most affected by mitochondrial disease are usually the most energy-intensive structures: the brain, muscles, heart and lungs. People who live with the disease may experience a range of symptoms, among them strokes, seizures, blindness, deafness and heart problems. Most of those affected are children. Mitochondrial disease has no cure, and the process for diagnosing it can be strenuous and lengthy. However, while the condition has ups and downs, many people who have the disease live long lives. “Unfortunately, if you Google ‘mitochondrial disease’ there’s a lot of doom and gloom out there,” Sumit Parik, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic told the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. “It’s not necessarily as negative as one may think when they first learn about it.” We’ve put together five facts for people who are interested in mitochondrial disease or think they may be living with it themselves. Read on to learn more. 1. There are hundreds of different mitochondrial diseases. Mitochondrial disease happens when a change in your mitochondrial DNA impairs the functioning of your mitochondria, or when a protein that interacts with the mitochondria is flawed. Your mitochondria have a hand in the day-to-day functioning of all of your body’s systems, and mitochondrial disease can present very differently depending on which part of the DNA was affected and what organ system is impacted by that change. There are 3,000 genes involved in making mitochondria, any number of which can undergo a mutation that results in mitochondrial disease. For this reason, researchers believe that there are hundreds of different mitochondrial diseases. For example: Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency is a mitochondrial disease that typically involves intellectual disability, seizures, and speech problems, caused by a change affecting the GAMT gene Glutaric acidemia type II manifests as a result of a change in the ETFA, ETFB or ETFDH genes and leads to brain and kidney malformations and an enlarged liver Mitochondrial disease can be inherited from your mother’s mitochondrial DNA or from one of both parent’s DNA. It can also happen spontaneously, in what’s known as a de novo mutation. 2. It’s impossible to generalize a single experience of mitochondrial disease. All of your organisms require mitochondria, your body’s energy factories — and all can be affected when the mitochondria fail at their task. Since mitochondrial disease tends to have wide-ranging effects on the body, no two people with mitochondrial disease are the same, even if they have the same gene mutation. Some patients with a gene change that could result in mitochondrial disease never develop the condition at all. Marni J. Falk, M.D., executive director of the Mitochondrial Medicine Frontier Program in Philadelphia, explained in a video that the disease can manifest in very different ways, even within families. Falk noted that in one survey of people living with mitochondrial disease, patients reported experiencing 16 symptoms on average. While some people experienced as few as one or two symptoms, several patients reported having over 30 symptoms. These symptoms can include ailments as diverse as gastrointestinal problems and heart blocks, blindness and developmental delays, strokes and seizures. The age of onset can also vary widely among patients. Some people experience symptoms from the time they are born. Most people with mitochondrial disease first experience symptoms as children, though symptoms can appear at any point in a person’s life. Depending on how severe their symptoms are, some children who have mitochondrial disease may not live past their teenage years. 3. Mitochondrial disease is frequently misdiagnosed. DNA testing is employed whenever possible in the diagnostic process when a doctor suspects mitochondrial disease. These tests can pinpoint the gene change that resulted in mitochondrial disease, putting an end to a family’s “diagnostic odyssey,” as one paper phrased it. However, while DNA testing has become much more sophisticated over the years, it still cannot be used in all cases. If a doctor suspects her patient is living with mitochondrial disease, she may have to resort to more invasive measures. Among these measures are biochemical testing of a patient’s spinal fluid and a muscle biopsy. The doctor may also request tests of a person’s urine or blood, which can carry several markers of mitochondrial disease. An echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and ophthalmologic exam may be required, as well as a brain MRI and audiology testing. Patients with developmental disorders may require additional exams. Mitochondrial disorders are difficult to diagnose, and many people who live with them are misdiagnosed with other conditions, among them atypical cerebral palsy and several seizure disorders. 4. Mitochondrial disease has no cure, but treatment can help. Researchers have yet to find a cure for mitochondrial disease, but there are several methods by which the disease’s progression can be slowed. There are also treatments available that can address the condition’s symptoms for a higher quality of life with the condition. Some patients may benefit from adjustments to their diet, since the food you consume also plays a big role in energy management. While the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF) stresses that no dietary regimen works for all people with mitochondrial disease, the organization does provide some suggestions that patients may try out with a physician’s approval. The UMDF discourages people living with mitochondrial disease from fasting, even if the fasting period is as narrow as 12 hours. In some patients, a hospital visit may be needed to remedy the effects of an unintentional fast caused by illness. Some patients may benefit from taking a small meal at midnight or having a feeding tube put in for nighttime feeding. People living with mitochondrial disease may do well to avoid foods rich in iron, added the UMDF. The amount of fat that you consume seems to be important as well, though some patients benefit from increasing the amount of fat in their diet while others seem to improve when their fat and total carbohydrate intake is reduced. People living with mitochondrial diseases are also discouraged from drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, as these may hasten the disease’s progression. Products containing MSG should be avoided. Since some people with mitochondrial disease are unable to regulate their internal temperature, they should take care not to expose themselves to extreme cold or extreme heat. Making sure to get a good night’s rest is helpful too, as ever. Some patients also benefit from supportive therapies such as physical therapy, respiratory therapy and speech therapy. 5. A new therapy has the potential to prevent passing on mitochondrial disease. Mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) could allow some women with mitochondrial disease to prevent passing the condition on to their children. MRT is an in-vitro fertilization technique that involves replacing damaged mitochondria in a fertilized egg. In the procedure, a donor with healthy mitochondrial DNA supplies normal mitochondria, which takes the place of the damaged mitochondria of the woman hoping to conceive. However, this therapy can only work in females who developed mitochondrial disease as a result of mutations in their mitochondrial DNA. Women whose mitochondria are damaged due to mutations in the DNA that codes for proteins would not be helped by the therapy. Mitochondrial replacement therapy is not available in the United States due to legal restrictions, but it is available in the U.K., where the practice is tightly regulated.   References (click to expand) Cleveland Clinic. (2014, July 18). Mitochondrial Disease & Myths and Facts. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health. (2013, August 16). Glutaric acidemia type II. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health. (2017, July 11). Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency. Retrieved from Parikh, S., Goldstein, A., Koenig, M. K., Scaglia, F., Enns, G. M., Saneto, R., … DiMauro, S. (2015). Diagnosis and management of mitochondrial disease: a consensus statement from the Mitochondrial Medicine Society. Genetics in medicine : official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics, 17(9), 689–701. United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (2016, November 2). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (2016, November 2). Treatments & Therapies. Retrieved from United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (2018, July 11). Possible Symptoms. Retrieved from United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (2018, October 1). What is Mitochondrial Disease? Retrieved from United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (2018, July 30). Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy. Retrieved from    

Impulsive Tattoos People Regretted but Now Love

You may already know that borderline personality disorder can cause physical symptoms. But what you might not realize are some of the physical ways your mental health symptoms might manifest. Take, for example, impulsivity –one of the nine classic symptoms of BPD. While it might not be physical, those feelings can lead to you to seek out bodily changes. In some cases, impulsivity has led people living with BPD to get tattoos which may later become a source of regret.Many people grow to love their impulsive BPD tattoos. They may represent a happy memory or a person who offered support when they needed it most. Or they could remind you of a difficult time you emerged from or offer quiet encouragement on days you’re feeling low.If you’ve ever gotten a tattoo you regretted due to BPD impulsivity, you’re not the only one. We asked people who live with BPD to send us pictures of the tattoos they got on an impulse and came to love. We hope that these photos remind you that you’re not alone in what you’re going through, and that beauty can come from unexpected places. If you’re ever in need of support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to The Mighty community or someone you trust. Here are 22 ‘impulsive’ tattoos people with BPD regretted, but now love: 1. “I wasn’t quite sure what possessed me to get it but I hated it because I realized it was a constant reminder that I have mental health problems and I can never get rid of them, now it’s a constant reminder that I may have BPD but I’m working on overcoming it every day!” — Alexandria K. R. 2. “I got this tattoo to symbolize sobriety, it’s almond blossoms which in pagan tradition symbolizes cure from addiction. It’s my only visible tattoo so I have mixed feelings about it sometimes, but I get a lot of compliments and it’s become a part of me.” — Janine W. 3. “Freedom from my parents and the way I grew up. The bird is actually meant to be flying away from the cage in imperfect stages till you get to the top bird and it is even.” — Angelica C. 4. “I got this on my arm impulsively one day. It is a lotus flower which grow in even rough environments. So it has mental health meaning to me!” — Rachel C. 5. “This is Larry. It was an impulsive one, but since getting it I’ve decided it does mean a lot to me. Larry is my protector snail, who keeps me safe from further self-harm. He is also inspired by my favorite tattoo of my best friend Steff who has stuck by my side through the highs and lows of BPD.” — Rosie B. 6. “I had this tattooed on my non-dominant hand after I wrote it on that finger every day for two months after finishing a DBT course. I wrote it there because I would see it on that hand on my desk as I was writing out paperwork when life was stressful… It is a constant reminder when the world closes in and gets demanding and I get stressed… I look down at my hands on the desk and it’s the first thing I see, so it’s the first thing I do.” — Jennifer L. D. 7. “Hated it at the time because it didn’t have a meaning. Now I say it means ‘Free.’ I did a lot of hard work in therapy and self-management and I no longer fit the criteria for a diagnosis of BPD, it is now a previous diagnosis as I don’t display any symptoms of it so it fits perfectly. A tattoo I got due to BPD impulsivity that I hated for not having meaning, now has a great one.” — Amy L. 8. “The sun, moon and a star, originally a gift from an ex but now a reminder to always rise, shine through the dark, to shoot for the stars.” — Destiny M. 9. “I got this at around 1 AM in a guys garage. I regretted it for the longest time but now I love it!” — Keara D. 10. “I didn’t know what to tell people why I got it or it’s meaning at first. But I don’t regret it anymore. It’s my sign of hope to fly when I feel stuck to the ground.” — Chelsea T. 11. “ My flame tattoo was rushed, I didn’t plan for it, didn’t research an artist, and it didn’t turn out how I wanted. The flame represents my passion and often fiery personality, and the imperfect colors now remind me that decisions made impulsively still have lasting marks. I later got a mindfulness water drop on my other arm during DBT as a balance .” — Cassie K. 12. “I was in a dissociative state for months. Even though I have healed and I am in recovery for BPD it reminds me of that time and truly how sick I was but also how far I have come since then.” — Valerie C. 13. “I am pretty inked up. It started when fibro kicked in and way beyond I was officially diagnosed. To me getting a tattoo was a way of shifting my depression and fibromyalgia symptoms to a physical ache of a different kind. I know to most people that doesn’t make sense… but in my head it does.” — Belinda B. D. 14. “I have two. I got an infinity symbol on my left hand and a heart on my right. I was impulsive and allowed a random girl to do them at a party. I regretted it for a while. Now they’re a reminder to always love myself, despite my flaws.” — Mae W. 15. “Since my ex didn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I bought myself something pretty on an impulse and felt bad immediately afterward for spending the money on a whim. But now it’s one of my favorites, and reminds me that I deserve love.” — Aubrey M. 16. “I got this tattoo years before I was diagnosed with BPD. But I got it impulsively and I had no idea why. If I had thought it through, I probably would have done a better design rather than just plain text. But I got it because I was going through a very difficult time in my life and was very self-conscious… I felt like I was a failure. Alice In Wonderland was my favorite childhood book and this quote means to me that, everyone is strange just like me and I’m not alone. I regret the design but not the idea.” — Melissa R. 17. “Felt the urge to cut my hair and get a new tattoo. Then felt the urge to apply to an interesting job in New Caledonia (17,000 km from where I live) and got the job. Tattoo, BPD and new location are linked in a way.” — Tatiana T. 18. “I got this mythical kitty done on day release during an inpatient stay. Weird idea to have but in hindsight I love it because it covers some shitty scars and it’s pretty.” — Foihnula K. 19. “I had been feeling the urge to self-harm badly and instead found myself in a tattoo shop. I love the moon, so I came to love this tattoo a lot.” — Madeline N. 2o. “I got this tattoo impulsively after dealing with a really bad relapse and urges to self-harm. I got it to remind myself to keep fighting and stay alive. They’re lyrics from Truce by 21 Pilots. ‘Stay alive, stay alive, for me.’”– Hollie W. 21. “I covered my scars on my arm after someone made a comment and it was the last straw. Went to the tattooist the next day and started a new tattoo. Just wanted something done. I started to have second thoughts at the time as it was so huge. But once done all my regrets were gone.” — Michael Iskra 22. “I got this done back in 2017. I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I got this to remind me when I self-harm I shouldn’t hold back, that it is over. Throughout the last few years, I’ve fought for many feats I never thought I could achieve. I am no longer homeless, or being abused. I’m not hurting myself, I’m working on accepting all that has happened, where I am at the moment, and all that is to come. I now look at this tattoo as a reminder for when I’m reaching forward, that it is over. The past is gone, it all has ended, but I don’t have to.” — Lexi B. If you’re struggling with BPD impulsivity, we want you to know you’re not alone. You are beautiful and deserving of love, even when BPD impulsivity causes you to do things you may regret. If you ever want to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through, join our BPD community.

20 Surprising Things That Make People With Depression Feel Loved

We often hear that one of the fool-proof ways to combat depression is support from people we love. Research even backs this up. A study conducted by researchers at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences found that social support, defined as feeling “valued, respected, cared about, [and] loved by others,” can be a protective factor against both depression and anxiety. There’s healing value in the simple feeling of closeness.Unfortunately, depression also can erode your capacity to accept love from others — when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to accept any affection. Author Andrew Solomon, who shared his experience of depression in “The Noonday Demon,” wrote that depression “degrades one’s self and ultimately eclipses the capacity to give or receive affection.” That’s why if you are living with depression, sometimes the easiest way to accept support from others is the ways you’d least expect.We asked people living with depression the surprising things that made them feel loved. They spoke of partners who brushed their hair when they lacked the energy to do it themselves; of friends who washed dishes and reminded them to do the basics, like brush their teeth. People experiencing depression felt loved when they received invitations they knew they would turn down or when loved ones came over just to sit quietly by their side.If you love someone who lives with depression, it can be hard to communicate how much they mean to you, but little gestures like these can make a big difference. Here are 20 things that make people with depression feel loved: 1. Babysitting “When I get to see the kiddos I babysit and they see me coming in the house and run right up to me and don’t let me go.” — Tiffany M. 2. Cleaning “When I’m deep in depression my room will get very messy and that messes with my anxiety and everything just gets worse but then my mom (after waiting for me to leave my room for more than five minutes) will vacuum my floor and I don’t know why it helps but it does and I just feel her love, and I start to feel a little better and usually end up cleaning up my room a bit.” — Tiffany W.“When the laundry and/or dishes are done for me. Watching them pile up makes things so much worse but I can’t make myself do anything about it. When those are done everything feels less overwhelming. I feel loved because it feels like they want to carry or eliminate some of the weight from me.” — Andréa B. 3. Getting Tattoos “My tattoos. They are all symbolic of things and people that have been there for me during rough times. They are a helpful grounding. One is for my husband and will eventually extend to include our kids when we have them. My new ‘Ohana that stepped up when my parents left me.” — Mia M.“My 2nd from last tattoo is a big ‘un… No matter how many times I look at it, it surprises me with different memories etc that remind me to crack on, I’m worth it.” — Jasmine C. 4. Caring for Pets “Taking care of my animals. They’re always grateful and they never judge me for how I’m feeling; good day or bad day, they love me just the same.” — Ginny D.“What helps the most seems to be my dogs, when I am struggling with depression they demand more attention and cuddle more than normal. It is hard to be sad with a smile like my dog always has when getting a belly rub.” — Andrea B.“I bought six pet mice to take care of since I extended my leave of absence on university as recommended by my psychiatrist. I could never describe the happiness I felt when they finally weren’t afraid to climb on my hands and arms anymore. I just feel so loved when they started letting me carry them.” — Estrella Marie V. A. 5. Receiving Self-Care Reminders “My boyfriend and I live in different states. He knows my depression really gets me, especially when it comes to getting up in the morning (or afternoon). He FaceTimes me, encouraging me to do simple things like get out of bed, brush my teeth and eat. He thinks he’s being annoying sometimes, but I love that he’s not overwhelming and pushes just the right amount. It means the world to me and helps so much.” — Amber R. 6. Having a Gym Buddy “It’s the little things my parents are willing to do with me. I had a gym membership that I never used, my dad ended up joining a gym with me and goes with me to help my anxiety and depression. I have his 90-day activity book that has you do one thing you normally don’t do (i.e. take a cold shower) and my mom said she will do it with me. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but to me it means more than [they] can even fathom, more than I can even say to them.” — Kelsey E. 7. Setting Alarms “My amazing husband knows how hard it is for me to get out of bed for work every morning. He has two alarms set for me and brings me a big hot cup of tea every morning. He puts it in the bathroom so I have to get up to get it! So adorable yet effective!” — Cyndi B. 8. Joking Around “The people I work with. They are amazing, I have never hid the fact that I have bipolar as I am a firm believer that being honest and upfront is the way to get the understanding and support I need. My workplace makes me feel safe and ‘normal.’ I’m just another employee — we even have a laugh about how ‘mad’ I can be at times (in a fun way). My colleagues are my friends and I feel totally loved and accepted.” — Samantha T. M. 9. Brushing Your Hair “My husband brushes my hair for me after I wash it when I’m struggling. I have extremely curly hair, so if I don’t brush it while it’s wet it doesn’t get brushed. I simply don’t have the energy to both shower and detangle my hair when I’m struggling. Natural locks begin to form, but they turn into ugly balls of matted hair I just hide in a bun. My husband asked me what would stop that from happening and I explained the situation to him… He acted like I was silly for not asking for his help to begin with. It was a significant burden taken off my shoulders knowing that I didn’t have to live with the fear of humiliation that came from the fatigue of depression.” — Keli J. 10. Making Coffee “When I’m too tired and won’t get up in the morning my partner will make me a cup of coffee. I’m usually really moody in the mornings and I feel really bad he has to deal with it most of the time. But him doing that for me just makes not just mine but both of our mornings flow easier. He does so much for me and I appreciate deeply his every act of love and kindness.” — Keremy E.“I get such a feeling of joy when someone hands me a coffee and I never asked for it. It’s a simple thing I know but nothing says you ran through their mind for a minute like them bringing a small thing to you without a prior request being given. I love it and I can’t help but smile like a baby when someone does it.” — Sheldon N.“Nothing has made me feel more important than my best friend taking me out for coffee, even when I haven’t slept, haven’t showered and am smelly.” — Hannah M. 11. Sitting in Silence “Mutual silence. My boyfriend is wonderful because when I’m in a dark state I usually stay silent. He just hugs me, kisses my forehead and stays silent with me. Makes depression less lonely.” — Lexi T. 12. Giving a Simple Hug “Maybe it’s not surprising, but long tight hugs always make me feel so safe and so loved. I don’t like to talk about my feelings or what I’m going through, and people can say nice things to try and help you feel better — but they’re just words. They don’t mean much, at least to me. But when someone takes a minute and just hugs me tight, in that moment things don’t seem so bad.” — Molly Marie E. 13. Doing Chores “Doing little accomplishments like cleaning, dishes or laundry. It usually takes courage to get up on the weekends and do it but once I do it I feel better.” — Courtney R. 14. Still Sending an Invitation “Getting an invite for a coffee and chat, even though I’ve turned down so many offers in the past as I don’t feel ‘up to it.’” — Emma S.“Family and friends who call and invite me to hang. Even better when they told me ‘you don’t have to be happy being with us, you can be sad with us. We want to see you. That’s it.’” — Olivia R. 15. Watching Cat Videos “I don’t have a cat but I looooooove cats. So I just watch videos of funny and cuuuttee furballs. That makes me feel loved.” — Jhannah A. 16. Being Tagged on Social Media “Someone tagging me in something on social media, shows me they were thinking of me without expecting anything in response.” — Lucy B. 17. Someone Showing Concern “When my best friend says he’s worried about me. As much as I hate being a source of worry for him when I’m at my worst, it means the world to hear that he still finds me worth his mental energy in those times.” — Jennifer K. 18. Having a Special Drink “A Coca-Cola because my father would give me one and always said sometimes when you have nothing to hold onto in a day find something; even if it’s just a Coke.” — Michael B. K. 19. Giving a Quick Compliment “Have been struggling with a particularly bad depressive episode this year. I work in a kitchen on a separate station to the rest of the team and often cry throughout the day while I work as I’m too busy to have some space and settle, and I know they won’t see unless I’m approached. Music was playing and it was a live recording with applause; my workmate dashes past, stops, and says ‘That applause is for you because you’re brilliant, you’re doing so well and you’re going to be OK,’ before carrying on his way.” — Alice B. 20. Encouragement “When my friend congratulates me on following through with addressing my depression. I’ve always had mental health issues but I just recently started seeing a therapist and taking meds for it. I’ve never done that. I’m so proud of myself and it makes me happy to see that someone else understands how big of a deal it is to follow through.” — Whitney B.“When my friends tell me ‘I’m proud of you,’ ‘I love you,’ ‘your friendship means a lot to me.’ These simple phrases are things I didn’t hear growing up. So now it just absolutely warms my heart every time.” — Yael G.If you live with depression and find it hard to accept love from others, you’re not the only one. We want you to know that you’re needed and valued. If you’re ever in need of support, don’t hesitate to reach out on The Mighty using the hashtag #CheckInWithMe.

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24 Harmless Comments That Hurt Highly Sensitive People

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) notice things that slip past many people — the brush of coarse fabric, the pull of good art, the shift as the sun pulls away from the cloud cover. They feel things deeply and are easily affected by the words and feelings of the people around them. Sensitivity is not a weakness. However, HSPs are prone to overstimulation when their environment becomes intense, and may find themselves in need of support from their loved ones. Unfortunately, many HSPs find that the people around them don’t understand their experience or know how to help them. Well-meaning but misguided friends and family members often advise them to “get over” their feelings or be ‘less sensitive.’ HSPs come away from these conversations feeling invalidated and alone. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of comments like these, you’re not the only one. We want you to know that your sensitivity is a gift and you deserve to be accepted as you are. If you’re ever in need of someone to talk to, feel free to post to The Mighty’s #CheckInWithMe page and connect with people who know what you’re going through. We asked The Mighty community to share the “harmless” comments they’ve been hurt by in the past. Here’s what they told us. 1. ‘Don’t be so sensitive.’ “‘Stop being so sensitive.’ Thanks, I’ll just flip that switch right off bud.” — Lexi M.B. “‘You’re too sensitive.’ Makes me feel like my emotions are my fault and I have to fix them somehow, even though the most amount of self care I can do right now is personal hygiene and take my meds.” — Shaelee Q. “My sister in law told me that I was the most sensitive person she’s ever known, after I explained how hurtful her constant jabs were.” — Leslie M. 2. ‘You’re too young to be in pain.’ “I have painful complications with my back, knees, and right hip. I worked double what I usually did over the holidays, and near the end I could barely walk. I was having muscle spasms, numbness, and stiff muscles. But I’m told I’m making it up or it’s all in my head because I’m ‘too young to have pain.’ Tell that to my leg that went completely numb while trying to walk up my stairs to go to bed, and my seized back that left me unable to sit up and get out of bed by myself.” — Caitlin S. 3. ‘Just get over it and move on.’ “’Get over it’ because I feel like invalidates my feelings and that I don’t have support in how I’m feeling.” — Misty Spring P. “’You’re one of the weakest women I’ve ever dated. Other women don’t let things bother them like you do. They just get over it and move on instead of feeling so much. Why can’t you do that?’ Honestly, it both crushed and infuriated me. Feeling things and being able to keep going without just shutting out the world is, in my opinion, one of the greatest strengths. And to have someone I loved, who said they loved me, not be able to see that was devastating.” — Amber S. 4. ‘You’re crying again?’ “’Oh, she’s crying again”… I think the ‘she’s crying again’ thing is the worst because I think people assume if you cry a lot that you do not still experience the feeling behind the crying…for example, if I see a piece of art and it makes me cry, I am not just crying to cry. I am not ‘making’ myself cry, I have true feelings and emotions that trigger those tears. I cry all the time. A beautiful song, an amazing sunset, a memory, a commercial, every time my daughter plays in the marching band (even though the music is the exact same at every game for that year)… but I still have the emotions… I am proud of her and that makes me feel emotions and I cry happy tears… do not dismiss my feelings just because I cry a lot.” — Cathi Jo F. “’You cry too much!’ I’m sorry. I’m sensitive and cry easily, it’s my way of releasing my emotions.” — Theresa H. 5. ‘I understand.’ “Actually, I often hate the phrase or wording of ‘I understand’ when I am going through what feels like a crisis for me and I am spilling all this deep (and sometimes dark) personal information with someone. Wording matters. Try ‘I understand only what it’s been like for me, but not what it’s like for you. I’m here for you. What can I do to help?’” — Christa L. 6. ‘You need to be stronger than this.’ “‘It takes a lot of hard work to develop inner strength, but it’s worth it!’ Umm… being sensitive does not mean I lack inner strength. In fact, I probably have more than you!” — Mary C. “Being told I need ‘thick skin’ or to be more ‘mentally tough.’ I tried those suppression strategies and they only made things worse. Real strength is willingness to embrace emotion.” — Ger E. B. “You just gotta have thick skin.” — Samantha M. 7. ‘Stop playing the victim.’ “’Don’t play the victim’ I was told this when I finally tried to talk about something horrible that happened to me.” — Jessie L. “’You like to play the victim’ is said to me whenever I am candid about my issues and bad unchangeable circumstances. I’m also told that things can change if I became more positive.” — Melissa A. 8. ‘It’s OK to be unpopular.’ “We were playing D&D and one of my friends (while in character) said something along the lines of she ‘doesn’t have any friends.’ It hit really hard because that is one thing I am convinced is actually true. So I, more or less, shut down.” — Ashlee R. “Almost 40 years ago, I was crying about not having friends at church or family close in age who liked hanging around me. My mother said (without malice), ‘Honey, you’re a misfit, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you can find another misfit who understands you.’ That still cuts deep into my heart and my mom has been dead for 15 years” — Rebekah K. 9. ‘Don’t apologize.’ “’Stop apologizing’ or ‘stop saying sorry’ I don’t know what else to say other than to say sorry again which usually makes people mad or more annoyed.” — Jennifer E. 10. ‘You need to stop caring so much.’ “’You just need to care less about what I say.’ The perfect sentence to void responsibility for yourself and invalidate my feelings at the same time.” — Megan M. “’You take things too personally,’ from someone who never took anything seriously, and would say things to purposely hurt you (they told me this during our friendship). I used to not feel anything ever, and I was finally being able to have emotions and then I was told I was feeling wrong. It was heartbreaking and I think about it every day even though we’re no longer friends.” — Rachel Ann B. 11. ‘There’s always something with you.’ “I was having a panic attack when I was at the casinos with my sister and her husband. I was bawling my eyes out and felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was extremely scary. She looks at me and says ‘it’s always something with you.’” — Sarah S. 12. ‘You should find a hobby.’ “’You just need to find new hobbies and things to do if you aren’t happy.’ Like, no. I have several hobbies. I have a close-knit group of friends and support group that I spend so much time with. I’m not going to magically become happy just because I take another walk or learn another mindless skill that I don’t have time to participate in.” — Erin S. 13. ‘Don’t cry.’ “‘Don’t cry, it’s ok’ – sometimes it really isn’t ok and I need to cry, sometimes I know it’s ok and I still need to cry.” — Virginia C. 14. ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle.’ “’God never gives you more than you can handle.’ In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not handling it!” — Tiffany F. 15. ‘You’re buying a friend.’ “On the verge of a total breakdown, I told husband I felt I needed professional help. He asked if I was ‘ buying a friend.’” — Donna J. M. 16. ‘Everyone’s anxious.’ “Everyone has anxiety, you’re not special.” — Shaun L. 17. ‘You’re too emotional.’ “‘You are so dramatic.’ I feel deeply. All emotions. I can’t stand when people tell me in dramatic. I’m just a passionate person.” “I’ve been told that I am such an emotional person and too emotional a majority of the time. I’m always apologizing because of that and I always say I would turn them off with the touch of a button I would.” — Jen B. 18. ‘I wish I knew how to fix you.’ “[My husband] often tells me he doesn’t know what to say to help me and wishes he knew what to do to help/fix me. That drives me insane! I never asked him to fix me, and if he could or any of the doctors I’ve seen could, then I wouldn’t have a problem – it is not that simple!” — Tammy C. T. 19. ‘It could be worse.’ “Actually being told I need to learn not to be so sensitive after pouring my heart out to a family member, that hurt a lot. Being told I just need to be happy by a mental health nurse who I went to see when I was feeling depressed and suicidal! Being told by another family member ‘Well it could be worse, you could have cancer’ when talking about depression.” — LouLou Cherry S. “I was once told “at least you have other siblings” when I said how much I missed my brother. Yes, that is truth. But doesn’t fill the void. Nothing ever will.” — Sarah R 20. ‘Relax.’ “‘Relax, you’re so tightly wound.’ Was meant as an off-hand encouragement to chill, but it actually made me feel like I was doing something wrong by being highly sensitive. I felt like a two-year-old being scolded for being overwhelmed.” — Justine A 21. A Gesture or a Certain Look “Sometimes it’s not even a comment, it’s the look in people’s faces. I have suffered mental health issues for as long as I can remember. I cry at everything and I am highly empathetic. When I am proud of my kids I will cry, even if it’s a small thing. I get looks from people like ‘here she goes again’ kinda thing.” — Emma W. “For me, it’s not even words, it microscopic gestures. Sometimes I’m really good at picking up tiny movements and slight voice changes and others not so much.” — Venus M. 22. ‘You’re overreacting.’ “One of my parents always told me, ‘You are overreacting to things.’ It made me very self-conscious about my feelings and so I tried to bury emotions when they popped up. I did not understand until years later that my empathy is one of my greatest strengths and I should embrace what I feel.” — Kimberly A. S. 23. ‘You’re too nice.’ “‘You’re too nice.’ I hear it all the time and it really bothers me. I know it is coming out of love from others in regards to me needing to set boundaries, but hearing it all the time really brings me down.” — Heather K. 24. ‘It’s going to be OK.’ “I just feel bad when someone says everything will be OK. You’re just carrying a lot of hurt inside you, but you can’t disclose such reason to anyone. You just need to disconnect with people whom you love, but just walk away from people who put you down. It seems so simple, but it took me a long time to figure out happiness. It’s mix feeling.” — Dhiraj S. If you’ve ever felt put down or misunderstood by a loved one, you’re not alone. Being an HSP can be overwhelming, but it can be beautiful, too. If you’re ever in need of support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted loved one, mental health professional, or The Mighty community.

15 Harmless Comments That Actually Hurt Suicidal Moms

“Selfish.” It’s a word many suicidal mothers hear when they open up about their thoughts to people they trust. Rather than give comfort, some friends and family members point to the wreckage that would be left behind in wake of a mother’s death. They ask her to think of her partner, to remember the kids she would leave behind. What these people don’t know is that suicidal mothers care deeply about their children. Many suicidal moms believe that their kids deserve more than they can give; that their families would be better off in their absence. The thoughts that so many people term selfish are, for these mothers, born of love. If you’ve ever been hurt by the ‘harmless’ comments friends and family members often give when you disclose to them, you’re not alone. We want you to know that your thoughts are not your fault and they do not make you a bad parent. You are loved and needed. If you’re ever in need of support, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We asked suicidal moms which ‘harmless’ comments had hurt them. Here’s what they told us: 1. ‘Think about your kids.’ “That my kids should be enough for me to pull myself out of a depression. The fact that it’s a disorder means that I can’t just pull myself out of it. You can’t force someone who has lost all hope and care to just suddenly start again. It makes me feel like a bad mother because I then think that my boys should be enough to light a fire under my behind but honestly it’s so unfair to place that much expectation on a relationship that sacred. It’s not my child’s job to pull me out of the depths of my shame. And honestly when it gets to that point anyway, I genuinely think my children are better off without me so the advice is ineffective and only makes me feel worse about something I already have little control over.” — Liz S. “’Who would take care of and raise your children!?! You need to live for them!’ When you are at a place that you are just sure anyone else could raise your children better than you and they will be better off without you, this pushed me closer to doing it. I just wasn’t in the mind space to be a mother to them at that time, all I could see was my failures. I know this is a reason to some for not doing it, but often giving your children a better life can be why you feel you need to.” — April R. “’You have to keep your son in mind. He’s what is most important.’ I love my son to the end of the earth and back, but to be the best mum I can, I need to put myself first sometimes. His needs are not above my own just as mine aren’t above his. I didn’t know until relatively recently that I had been living my life for him because of comments like this. I need to fall in love with life again and start living life because I want to.” — Belynda K. 2. ‘Others have it worse than you.’ “’So many people have it worse than you. I don’t know how you could allow yourself to think like that. You’re a mom, so grow up.’ If comparison is the killer of joy, it’s certainly not the maker of it. I know there are people who have it worse, which only makes me feel guiltier when I feel that way. Being depressed/suicidal is not infantile and I certainly don’t ‘allow’ myself to feel this way, it’s an illness and being patronized about it isn’t helpful either.” — Andréa B. “’Other people have gone through worse and they aren’t like you.’ That was from a therapist, too.” — Verity M. 3. ‘You’re being selfish.’ “What some don’t quite understand, is that when you’re in a mindset of contemplating suicide, you’re thinking more about the kiddos than anything. Most often, it’s the feeling that the babies you leave behind will be ‘better off’ without you as their mother. Part of the suicidal ideation as a mother; is the intensity of the feelings that you can never, will never, be good enough. Almost as if you don’t deserve these beautiful little ones you’ve created. When a mother is suicidal, she is the furthest from ‘selfish’ (as some people claim). She feels as though she’s being the most selfless she’s ever been.” — Amanda G. “’You’re being selfish.’ Trust me. Selfish is the last reason for my suicidal ideation. Honestly being selfless is a much bigger contributor. Thoughts that I’m never doing enough, that I’m not good enough, and just want so badly to be better for my child but can’t be. It took me being a little selfish and doing something for me for my suicidal feelings to go away. It took going to therapy. Taking my meds. Going inpatient when it was necessary. I tried so hard for far too long to do everything for him, it took three years until it finally clicked into place that I had to do it for myself just as much as for him. The hardest and most important lesson I’ve learned as a mom.” — Kelsey A. “That being suicidal means [I] must not care about my children. I love them, more than anything in this entire world and they are the reason I’m still breathing. There is no selfishness, when you feel like everyone including your children would be better off without you. Whether that’s right or wrong, when you’re that low, that’s what you believe.” — Leigh C. 4. ‘Look at it from a different perspective.’ “‘You just need to look at your daughter and it will alllll go away. Get a different perspective.’ It made me feel like I didn’t love my daughter enough to just be able to look at her and have those feelings go away. And it honestly pissed me off that a doctor would say that to me.” — Haileigh P. “The things that were contributing to my feelings were ‘just my perception.’ While that may be true, it’s not helpful because in a moment of mental distress it sounds like “you’re being delusional”. How I felt when I received this feedback: Great, so I’m a depressed lunatic with thoughts of suicide, but it’s all in my head, so if I can just turn it off I’ll be all better. A person’s perception is their reality.” — Nancy B. F. 5. ‘What would your child think?’ “‘What will your daughters think of you when they find out the truth of what you did?’ I had just had twin girls and I had gone untreated before as my parents never took me to see anyone so when I had my girls it all came back times 10. I literally sat on the couch and only moved to take care of them and go to the bathroom. I’d occasionally eat since I knew I had to as I was breastfeeding but that was it. I became a shell of a person only doing so much to stay alive because I didn’t want them to hate me later on. I began to think maybe I’ll just disappear, or how eventually they’ll see me and kick me out of their life for being a lame mom and it will be easier on them.” — Heather B. “‘I know you love your children, but when you do this (attempt suicide) they think you don’t.’ It was well meant but very upsetting, as my suicidal thoughts are caused in part by my overwhelming love for them, and me thinking that I’m ruining their lives and they’d be better without me.” — Lucy D. 6. ‘It can’t be that bad.’ “That it’s dramatic and it can’t be that bad but people don’t realize it can be that bad sometimes mentally… when all you want is the hurt to stop. It makes you feel like your feelings don’t matter and I tend to shut down even more. So it actually does more harm because you feel like your feelings are dismissed.” — Tiffany Noelle L. J. 7. ‘Everyone goes through that.’ “My mum would always tell me that she would put the phone down on me if I was upset or look at me with disgust and walk away and tell me ‘she doesn’t need this’ and ‘we’ve all been through it.’ It wasn’t until a professional peer around the same age as her had a chat with her and told her I was allowed to be upset, I had justifiable reasons to be upset and that she was contributing to my ill health and putting my life at risk that she took a step back and did a mental health first aid course at work. Her attitude improved a lot after that thankfully.” — Mae B. “‘Well, that’s what being a parent is.’ In response to me just expressing myself in how tired I was and such when all I needed and wanted was someone to just acknowledge me. Just to listen.” — Idalys R. 8. ‘Focus on the positive.’ “’Focus on the joy in your life, you have a loving husband and beautiful children.’ I felt so much guilt with the constant suicidal thoughts I battle. I know I have so much to be grateful for and I am truly grateful. That unfortunately is not always enough.” — Kelsta L. “You just got married, what do you have to be sad about? You should really just focus on the positive.” — Tina G. L. 9. ‘You have so much to live for.’ “‘You have so much to live for.’ Don’t you think I already know that?! I love this kid more than anything on this planet and I have a partner who loves and respects me for who I am, don’t you think it fucking breaks me every time that thought enters my head even fleetingly?!” — Joy T. “Why do you even feel that way, don’t you have a daughter?” — Kristin Victoria H. 10. ‘You’re hurting your children.’ “I’ve been battling suicidal thoughts for a while now… my son was hospitalized for his own depression… and my mother, trying her best to help and support me, tells me that if I kill myself, my son most likely would too. Did I really want to be the cause of my child’s death? I know she’s actually probably right and just trying to help, but it doesn’t make my thoughts go away and makes me feel guiltier for feeling this way and like it’s my fault my son has issues.” — Alexis M. “For me it is when people told me I was a danger to my kids because I felt suicidal, yet nothing changed… My care for the kids always comes before my own.” — Shelly Raven B. “‘Do you know how much that will mess up your kids?’ I have been suicidal off and on for 19 years. They are the only reason I am still alive and breathing. When I get into a deep dark place I think the kids would be better off without me. In those moments I think I am being selfless by taking myself out of their lives along with all the unhappiness I bring.” — Melissa S. 11. ‘It’s just the hormones.’ “When my son had to have his tongue tie release done at two months, the ENT stood there as I cried when the procedure was done are wonderfully said ‘don’t worry it’s just the hormones.’ When I told my husband that I thought I was suffering from PPD when my son was four months and all he could say was ‘why would you want to hurt your son?’ I felt crazy for feeling the way I did, turns out I had/have PPD and BPD.” — Summer C. 12. ‘You have a great life.’ “What do you have to be stressed about? Like I’m not allowed to have personal problems and feelings and I should feel like they do.” — Shannon M. “Your kids are so beautiful; your husband is so wonderful.” — Kelly C. “‘Even though things seem hard for you, you have it easy. You get to be home with your kids all day and should be happy for that.’ From my husband when I told him how bad I felt and thought they would be better without me.” — April W. 13. ‘You need to find a purpose.’ “Your children aren’t a good enough reason to live. You need to find your purpose. This was the first therapist I went to. I went even deeper into depression because now the only thing I used to give me strength wasn’t a good enough reason to try.” — Samantha T. 14. ‘You’re being dramatic.’ “You’re being a bit over dramatic. Calm down and relax. If you’re not happy then change whatever needs to be changed to make you happy.” — Samantha W. “‘Don’t play with the life that god gave you. Why are you ungrateful?’ My dad. I ended up self harming that day.” — Marii K. 15. ‘Be grateful for what you have.’ “‘Just be thankful that you and baby are fine.’ The thing is, I wasn’t fine. I had a difficult labor and complicated delivery that included my daughter being born unresponsive. And in the doctor’s haste to save her, they literally ripped her out of my body. Not only does it still ail me with chronic pain a decade later, but at the time, I nearly coded on the table from blood loss. I developed really bad postpartum, but worse than that, I was suffering from PTSD as a result of my experience giving birth. I was saddled with a deep sense of guilt that my body had failed my child in the first act of motherhood, and I was fixated on taking my life over it. I believed I didn’t deserve her, and the kindest thing I could do was kill myself before CPS showed up to take her away from me. I didn’t realize that my suicidal ideation was my mind’s way of trying to come to terms with my unprocessed trauma by making me feel like I had control over something. Yes, it’s true that a born baby is a blessing, but birth trauma is very real, and we often forget to check in with the birth-giver about their physical and emotional health in the wake of confirming that the baby is fine. If someone is trying to tell you why they aren’t okay, please don’t shut them down with platitudes.” — Ashley-Michelle P. If you’re a parent who lives with suicidal thoughts, you’re not the only one. Your thoughts don’t diminish your value or make you a bad parent. And you deserve to feel loved and supported by the people who are close to you. If you ever need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out on The Mighty’s #CheckinWithMe page.