Alice Laura

@alice_laura | contributor
Alice has suffered from anxiety and depression for the last 15 years, and has recently been exploring the possibility that she has emotionally unstable personality disorder (BPD). She is a people pleaser, and has come out of the other side of an emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship that left her suicidal, to find herself getting stronger. She cares for her housemate/friend who has (possibly misdiagnosed) CFS/ME, which has really helped her to find more purpose in her life when she was finding herself lost and adrift from society. She is a fighter. She is strong and resilient. She may not feel it everyday but she is still here, a sign that she has more to give in her life. She volunteers as a text based crisis counsellor, hoping to help people so they do not find themselves without support when they can't phone that support line or reach out to those around them. She also gives time to a local cat rescue charity, allowing her to spend a day a week playing with cats!

Why Saying 'People Who Menstruate' Is More Inclusive

‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woodmud?  – J.K. Rowling The morning after J.K. Rowling sent this tweet I woke up to an overflowing inbox. “Have you seen this?” “I’m so disappointed in her.” “You need to talk about this.” So I went searching for what she had said and I found those sarcastic remarks, posted for 14 million followers to see. I was angry. I was disappointed. I was even a little bit shocked. Rowling had liked transphobic tweets in the past, but this was the first time I had seen her been so blatant in her exclusionary views. She chose the start of Pride Month, the middle of a pandemic and the height of the Black Lives Matter movement to release a statement mocking gender-inclusive language. I feel like her priorities might be a little misplaced. This is a renowned author with the mental capacity to create worlds filled with wizards and witchcraft. Who wrote stories with lessons woven into them about accepting people who are different and fighting against prejudice. And who now, in 2020, cannot come to terms with the phrase “people who menstruate.” Why should we respect and embrace phrases like “people who menstruate”? When we solely use women to describe people who experience periods, we exclude everyone who doesn’t identify as a woman from the conversation. I’m very familiar with how that exclusion feels and the consequences it can have. I am a man, I am trans and I sometimes experience periods. Growing up, periods were my biggest personal struggle. I mean the pain, the bleeding — that sucked. But the most painful part was the internal shame I felt knowing what was happening to my body was something the world only associates with women and girls. Every scientific study explaining the biology of menstrual cycles, every bit of advertising for period-related products, every piece of language I had ever seen or heard reinforced one thing: boys don’t have periods . I’d known I didn’t feel like a girl long before I ever experienced periods, but I didn’t have any other way of seeing what was happening to my body outside of that one, gendered angle. I felt alienated, isolated. A bodily function that I had no control over caused me to be in conflict with my identity as a man, all because of society’s language and viewpoint on periods. Although this tweet was very disheartening for me as a trans man, there are plenty of other people who benefit from gender-inclusive language being used when it comes to the period conversation. In fact, linking womanhood so closely with menstruation becomes problematic when you realize how many cisgender women don’t experience periods, and who are no less woman because of it. There are many reasons why cis women may not experience periods, pregnancy and menopause being the main two, but there are also multiple health conditions that might cause menstruation to stop: endometriosis, hormonal medications, women who have an extremely low body fat percentage due to illness or eating disorders. I recently learned about a condition called MRHK, which is characterized by being born without a vagina or uterus (or underdevelopment of). None of the women who experience these things are any less of a woman, since the only real requirement of being a woman is identifying as one. View this post on Instagram Friendly reminder ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There’s nothing wrong with being a man who bleeds and absolutely nothing wrong with being a woman who doesn’t ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Bodily functions do not determine your gender, you do. Artwork via @emmycolettiA post shared by Kenny Ethan Jones (@kennyethanjones) on Apr 6, 2020 at 12:34pm PDT Rowling’s argument, like many other trans-exclusionary arguments before hers, is that making space for gender inclusivity takes away her ability to speak about her experience as a cis woman. As if validating one person’s identity completely wipes hers away. What Rowling doesn’t seem to understand is that there is not a limited amount of space when it comes to talking about our experiences of gender. There is room to include many perspectives that are different from our own, and although our experiences might not be the same, that doesn’t mean they don’t both belong in the conversation. My experience of periods as a trans man is different to that of a cis woman’s experience of periods, but they are both experiences of periods that deserve to be recognized and heard. In order to do that, we need to have the language available to do so. Phrases such as “people who menstruate” might seem like something to make fun of for JK Rowling, but for me and my community, it is a small way of being reassured that we are thought of. When I’ve spent most of my life not being thought of at all. If something as simple as changing the language we use has the power to include everyone — why wouldn’t we adapt to it? And to all the trans individuals who were disheartened by her remarks: please don’t allow people to tell you what bodily functions you should or shouldn’t experience, or what those bodily functions mean for your gender. Nobody else determines your gender — you do. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, contact The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386. Counseling is also available 24/7 via chat every day at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting 678-678. You can also find more resources below: Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth Protect Your Space and Well-Being on Instagram Trevor Support Center To see more from Kenny, follow him on Instagram.

Why Saying 'People Who Menstruate' Is More Inclusive

‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woodmud?  – J.K. Rowling The morning after J.K. Rowling sent this tweet I woke up to an overflowing inbox. “Have you seen this?” “I’m so disappointed in her.” “You need to talk about this.” So I went searching for what she had said and I found those sarcastic remarks, posted for 14 million followers to see. I was angry. I was disappointed. I was even a little bit shocked. Rowling had liked transphobic tweets in the past, but this was the first time I had seen her been so blatant in her exclusionary views. She chose the start of Pride Month, the middle of a pandemic and the height of the Black Lives Matter movement to release a statement mocking gender-inclusive language. I feel like her priorities might be a little misplaced. This is a renowned author with the mental capacity to create worlds filled with wizards and witchcraft. Who wrote stories with lessons woven into them about accepting people who are different and fighting against prejudice. And who now, in 2020, cannot come to terms with the phrase “people who menstruate.” Why should we respect and embrace phrases like “people who menstruate”? When we solely use women to describe people who experience periods, we exclude everyone who doesn’t identify as a woman from the conversation. I’m very familiar with how that exclusion feels and the consequences it can have. I am a man, I am trans and I sometimes experience periods. Growing up, periods were my biggest personal struggle. I mean the pain, the bleeding — that sucked. But the most painful part was the internal shame I felt knowing what was happening to my body was something the world only associates with women and girls. Every scientific study explaining the biology of menstrual cycles, every bit of advertising for period-related products, every piece of language I had ever seen or heard reinforced one thing: boys don’t have periods . I’d known I didn’t feel like a girl long before I ever experienced periods, but I didn’t have any other way of seeing what was happening to my body outside of that one, gendered angle. I felt alienated, isolated. A bodily function that I had no control over caused me to be in conflict with my identity as a man, all because of society’s language and viewpoint on periods. Although this tweet was very disheartening for me as a trans man, there are plenty of other people who benefit from gender-inclusive language being used when it comes to the period conversation. In fact, linking womanhood so closely with menstruation becomes problematic when you realize how many cisgender women don’t experience periods, and who are no less woman because of it. There are many reasons why cis women may not experience periods, pregnancy and menopause being the main two, but there are also multiple health conditions that might cause menstruation to stop: endometriosis, hormonal medications, women who have an extremely low body fat percentage due to illness or eating disorders. I recently learned about a condition called MRHK, which is characterized by being born without a vagina or uterus (or underdevelopment of). None of the women who experience these things are any less of a woman, since the only real requirement of being a woman is identifying as one. View this post on Instagram Friendly reminder ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There’s nothing wrong with being a man who bleeds and absolutely nothing wrong with being a woman who doesn’t ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Bodily functions do not determine your gender, you do. Artwork via @emmycolettiA post shared by Kenny Ethan Jones (@kennyethanjones) on Apr 6, 2020 at 12:34pm PDT Rowling’s argument, like many other trans-exclusionary arguments before hers, is that making space for gender inclusivity takes away her ability to speak about her experience as a cis woman. As if validating one person’s identity completely wipes hers away. What Rowling doesn’t seem to understand is that there is not a limited amount of space when it comes to talking about our experiences of gender. There is room to include many perspectives that are different from our own, and although our experiences might not be the same, that doesn’t mean they don’t both belong in the conversation. My experience of periods as a trans man is different to that of a cis woman’s experience of periods, but they are both experiences of periods that deserve to be recognized and heard. In order to do that, we need to have the language available to do so. Phrases such as “people who menstruate” might seem like something to make fun of for JK Rowling, but for me and my community, it is a small way of being reassured that we are thought of. When I’ve spent most of my life not being thought of at all. If something as simple as changing the language we use has the power to include everyone — why wouldn’t we adapt to it? And to all the trans individuals who were disheartened by her remarks: please don’t allow people to tell you what bodily functions you should or shouldn’t experience, or what those bodily functions mean for your gender. Nobody else determines your gender — you do. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, contact The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386. Counseling is also available 24/7 via chat every day at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting 678-678. You can also find more resources below: Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth Protect Your Space and Well-Being on Instagram Trevor Support Center To see more from Kenny, follow him on Instagram.

7 Beauty Instagrammers With Disabilities to Follow

Living with a disability can affect your life in many ways, but it doesn’t have to change your style or beauty routine. While the fashion industry is becoming more inclusive and accessible, there are plenty of influencers living with disabilities who have been making beauty and style accessible for years. Here are seven Instagrammers to follow for style inspiration, education and adding an extra dose of fabulousness to your feed. From makeup tutorials to outfit of the day posts, they make the world of beauty and fashion an inclusive one.   1. Jordan Bone Wedding ready ????✨???? #ootd #manoloblahnik #weddingguest #quadriplegicA post shared by Jordan Bone (@jbone89) on Jun 10, 2017 at 5:08am PDT When she was 15 years old, a car accident left Jordan Bone paralyzed from the chest down, sending her into a deep depression. Over time, she re-taught herself how to apply makeup and now teaches others how to do the same. 2. Kaitlyn Dobrow When your brother does your makeup ????????????????‍♂ who’d like to see a video of him doing my makeup or vise versa?! OR BOTH?!?!A post shared by Kaitlyn Dobrow (@kaitlyndobrow) on Jun 2, 2017 at 7:12pm PDT After contracting bacterial meningitis in 2013, Kaitlyn Dobrow underwent a quadruple amputation. In June 2016, she started posting beauty tutorials on YouTube, applying her makeup with prosthetic limbs while talking about her life as an amputee. 3. Lucy Edwards Just posted a chatty tutorial of this Phoenix inspired look on our channel! Go check it out! Link in the bio ✨???? ( @jeffreestarcosmetics @jeffreestar blue velvet as liner and flamepoint on the lips ????and @shrinkle @sugarpillmakeup @sugarpill flamepoint, love+, butter cupcake and lumi)A post shared by Lucy Edwards (@yesterdayswishes) on Feb 20, 2017 at 11:06am PST Lucy Edwards is a vlogger, motivational speaker and blind beauty blogger. She shares makeup tutorials, pictures of her guide dog and vegan recipes. On her YouTube channel, she discusses living with blindness as well as makeup hacks and relationship wisdom.   4. Marimar Quiroa She says beauty is pain???? and there’s beauty in everything????A post shared by Marimar Quiroa (@makeupartistgorda66) on May 16, 2017 at 8:40pm PDT Marimar Quiroa is a blogger and YouTuber who started her channel to represent and show support for the deaf and hard of hearing community. She often posts fashion and beauty looks and offers in-depth makeup tutorials — showcasing products and demonstrating how to apply them. Quiroa also uses sign language and subtitles to communicate with viewers. 5. Sarah Alexander Here’s my (tired) face from yesterday, wearing my all-time fave lippy, @stilauk Venezia. That nose and Cupid’s bow highlight though ✨✨✨ • • • • #motd #fotd #selfie #selfies #selfietime #blog #blogger #bblogger #bbloggers #blogging #bloggers #bloggerlife #bloggerstyle #red #beauty #beautyblog #beautyblogger #beautygram #cosmetics #discoverunder100k #beautylover #beautyaddict #glow #highlight #instaselfie #girlswithglasses #springA post shared by Beauty, Lifestyle & Disability (@wonderlandblogs) on Mar 28, 2017 at 8:32am PDT Sarah Alexander of “Sarah in Wonderland” is a beauty blogger who lives with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and uses a wheelchair. On Instagram, Alexander showcases beauty products and uses her personal blog to discuss a variety of topics including life as a person with a disability. Alexander also conceptualized Spoonie Post, a pen pal network between people living with chronic illnesses. 6. Madison Lawson I will never be over this eyeliner ????????A post shared by Madison Lawson (@wheelchairbarbie) on May 18, 2017 at 7:21pm PDT Madison Lawson lives with two rare forms of muscular dystrophy. On her Instagram account, she regularly posts about her everyday life and showcases beauty products and colorful makeup looks. 7. Tess Daly #OOTD Cutesy, babydoll vibes. Who knew I could do innocent so well!? Dress: @primark Heels: @primark Make up details in previous post ❤A post shared by Tess Daly ???? (@tess.daly) on Jun 15, 2017 at 11:37am PDT Tess Daly is a U.K. based fashion and beauty blogger who lives with spinal muscular atrophy type 2. She frequently posts about her makeup looks, outfit of the day and adventures around the U.K. Have a beauty or fashion Instagram account you love? Let us know in the comments below.

Nurse Speaks Up About How Suicide Is Discussed in the ER

As a nurse working in the emergency department, I frequently see people come in for suicide attempts. I’ve noticed there’s a stigma surrounding some attempts, and many colleagues agree there’s a difference in the way patients are treated depending on the type of attempt. From what I’ve seen, a patient whose attempt is more “serious,” with visible life-threatening injuries or potentially deadly pathology results, is more likely to be treated with understanding, compassion and patience. It’s as if serious injuries validate the mental illness, making the inner turmoil visible to the outside world. But the “less serious” the attempt is (for example, taking a non-lethal amount of medication or self-inflicted injuries that aren’t fatal), the less sympathy I’ve seen patients receive. This can also be said for patients who have repeat suicide attempts. I’ve heard these patients referred to as “ time-wasters,” “attention-seekers,” “ t aking up beds,” and they’re described as “crying out for help.” Although it’s acknowledged as wrong, there’s still anger and frustration felt towards the patient. I’ve heard many question the reason for their behavior. But I believe anyone who intentionally puts themselves in harm’s way needs help, regardless of the intended outcome, and are still entitled to be treated with dignity, understanding and kindness. When I was 23, I tried to jump off a cliff after being discharged from a psychiatric hospital. I have bipolar affective disorder . I rarely call this a suicide attempt, although I would’ve jumped if it weren’t for a person walking past. If that person didn’t talk me down from the edge I wouldn’t be here today. I didn’t end up in an emergency department that night; instead the person called the local psychiatric triage team for advice and made sure I got home safely. The next morning my psychiatrist arranged for me to have electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I was determined to take my life. However, just because I didn’t end up in the emergency department didn’t make my determination to kill myself less serious. For weeks afterwards I remained suicidal. It’s because of my wonderful family and excellent psychiatrist I got through those weeks alive. According to the World Health Organization,  800,000 people die by suicide every year, and for every successful suicide there are many more people who attempt it. About 20 percent of people who die by suicide have made a prior suicide attempt. But the  stigma attached to suicide can be isolating and discourages help-seeking behaviors. When I was suicidal I was too embarrassed to ask for help from emergency services because I thought I would be judged. That night I stood on the cliff, dying seemed like the only way out. Like a lot of suicidal behaviors, the decision was driven by desperation and impulsivity. The method didn’t matter — only the end result. I was only seconds from death. By complete luck I survived that depression. In seems people are fearful if we talk about suicide we’ll trigger risky behaviors. But if we don’t talk about it, how are we going to understand it? If we don’t understand it, how can we be compassionate and empathetic? And if we don’t treat those at risk with compassion and empathy, how do we expect them to seek help? Most importantly, we need to make it known reaching out for help is one of the bravest and best things someone can do. I’ve heard nurses say it’s “heartbreaking” when patients die from a suicide attempt. But what’s more heartbreaking is how often I hear families say the person they lost had been “been unhappy for a long time’” or that “they tried suicide before.” We need to talk about suicide to offer people hope. The courage it takes to reach out must be recognized. Every suicide attempt needs to be taken seriously. People don’t kill themselves, mental illness does. The sooner we start understanding this, the sooner we can combat the stigma surrounding suicide. Decreasing stigma encourages help-seeking behaviors and leads to more widespread and compassionate treatment for those who need it. And this treatment needs to be available for everyone however long they need, not just for the people who end up with serious injuries in the emergency department. If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Alice Laura

Letter to Mother: Our Relationship and Borderline Personality Disorder

Dear Mum, I wish I’d been able to explain to you everything sooner, that I hadn’t felt like you’d dismiss the concept of my mental health problems, but I remember how you would react when someone would suggest something you had was psychosomatic — in hindsight, I realize this was probably more about not being believed than about your lack of support for mental health probl ems — or the way you would just seem to dismiss them in other people, probably because you didn’t understand. I wish the way I think hadn’t made it so that I thought you’d reject me if I told you. I did try to tell Dad once, but I won’t have explained myself properly and again, a failure of understanding depression led to an offhand comment I took to heart. You see, that is my problem, along with emotional dysregulation. I can’t place an exact moment when all of this started. I know I thought a lot of my behaviors were “normal” for a long time, or I was just classed as a sensitive child. I don’t know why I am the way I am. Assuming I have emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) aka borderline personality disorder (BPD) — a diagnosis that feels like it fits but I hate being that person who has Googled something and self-diagnosed, even though getting an actual assessment is likely to take at least another year — they say there could be a genetic component, and environment definitely plays a part. You read a lot about people having traumatic or abusive childhoods, but I think there can be more subtle things at play. I am not blaming anyone. I have, for years, believed there is something different about my brain chemistry, hence why antidepressants are a massive part of my life and why they have been for a long time. I used to think that my aim should be to live drug-free, but if I accept that my brain chemistry malfunctions just like my thyroid is malfunctioning, I accept that drugs are just there to reestablish a balance that will put me on a better footing to address my other problems. But I should go back to explaining those. I don’t know why I am like this, but I will sometimes latch onto the most offhand and throwaway comment, like Dad saying you never expected me to be like Brian. I can see now that it wasn’t meant to be a slight on me but more about you both being happy and proud of me regardless, but my head took that thought and turned it into something that has massively affected me for my entire adult life. I don’t blame you for the comment, as I appreciate that no one could know I’d be processing it the way I did. The tiny comment fueled my drive at school and spiraled me into a panic every time I felt I wasn’t coping or doing as well at university or work as I should be. It built up so much that I became terrified you’d judge me for not being able to work at times, for not doing that well at university, for my marriage breaking down. Comments (again offhand and never directly aimed at me) about gay people or people on benefits, or anything negative really, would go into the bank of skewed information. It became so important to not upset you, to not disappoint you, to not cause conflict, because I don’t handle emotions well. Probably because of the second main issue I see in myself: my emotional dysregulation. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t emotional, crying easily as both a child and an adult. I also remember often being told to stop being so upset, to stop crying, to not get upset over nothing. Whether or not my “overreaction” compared to how most people would react, I don’t know. Those emotions felt “normal” to me. Over time, they stopped being manageable for me. I stopped being able to control my anger in a healthy way. Little things happened and they would devastate me or enrage me. It took a very long time to realize how not-normal my reactions were. I internalize a lot of my emotions, especially anger, and if they end up becoming too much or I can’t dissipate them quickly enough, that’s when the self-harm on things starts. If it builds up enough, if I can’t control situations well enough or my thoughts start really spiraling, that’s when I start thinking about suicide. I just want the emotional pain to stop. I want it to all go away and stop hurting me. My spiraling thoughts will generally be about not being good enough because I can’t handle my emotions or thinking no one understands me and getting more and more frustrated. My anger makes me try and push everyone away because they can’t really care about me because I don’t feel worth it. I can’t believe the logical, even if a small part of my brain is trying to tell me that it’s there and true. I feel that I am “bad” and must be punished and isolate myself from people around me. If others get upset around me, I feel immense guilt that it’s all my fault and I’m terrible for causing someone else emotional pain. I find it particularly hard if you’re the one I think I’ve upset, Mum. So, I have avoided pretty much all the situations where I could cause that pain and have put you first again and again, even though I use so much energy pretending I am OK. Even though I want to lead my own life and feel like an adult who can accomplish things, being around you makes me regress because I must make you proud. The problem is, spending time with you is exhausting. Firstly, I end up using a lot of energy trying to maintain my façade of mental stability and emotional restraint. I’ve very, very rarely snapped at you in anger because of this, despite all the times when I could have. That self-control, though a coping mechanism, isn’t getting rid of the emotion; it’s just pushing it down until I snap at some other point. Secondly, you are, intentionally or not, emotionally abusive and manipulative. And maybe that is because you process emotions as I do. When you get upset because someone criticizes you, you go on about how you should just never say anything again. It’s an extreme response to what someone has said to you. You make so many situations about you that it’s infuriating. I think you feel you’re empathizing, but when I’ve sat there in hospital post-surgery and you’ve been complaining about aches and pains, even though they will be genuine, all I want is you to be a mother to me and care about how I am feeling. You’ve thought about yourself first when I have mentioned I may be moving. I’ve mentioned being away when it happens that you are too, when I say no to you about almost anything. You are jealous when I talk about being busy with my friends or when I have a hobby that takes up my time. You’re upset at me not being with you on a birthday, even though I take you out the very next day, even though you have been away for mine plenty of times. You talk about wanting to be friends again, when we never were; you’re my mother and that’s what I want: a mum. I want to feel that, when I need emotional support, I can come to you. I want to feel that genuinely, no matter what happens, you will leave your judgment behind when it comes to me. I want to feel that I’m not a friend substitute for you. I want to feel I can talk to you about my life, my plans, what I’m up to without jealousy. And I want you to stop talking to me about how Dad is annoying you or how my brother is being terrible at replying to you. Those are your relationships to manage and you can’t expect me to get involved. I have my own relationships wi th them, which have their own problems. I want to not feel obliged to see you when I’m not at my best, or just too busy. At the end of the day, I just want to feel like I am loved, unconditionally, by the mother I feel I could have but didn’t when I was growing up. I suspect this would make you blame yourself if you ever read it. It’s what you did when I told you about my hip; it’s what you do about lots of things. It reminds me of how I am. Blame isn’t relevant, but what is would be how you took the information on-board and actually changed how you interact with me. I keep thinking you have begun to truly understand and then you start repeating patterns of behavior. This time, the changes need to come from deeper.

Juliette V.

17 Photos of Physical Depression Symptoms

When you’re struggling with depression, it’s not just your mind that feels depressed, your body can feel it too. Surprising physical symptoms like fatigue and pain can plague people struggling with depression — not to mention the physical side effects that can crop up when you are taking medication to manage your depression. We wanted to see what the physical side of depression really “looks” like, so we asked people in our community to share photos of their experiences. Some of the photos below might be difficult to look at. If you have a history of skin-picking, hair-pulling or self-harm, we encourage you to check in with yourself as you read and click out if you find anything to be triggering to you. Here are the photos our community shared with us: 1. “Physical pain… everywhere.” — Michelle A. 2. “I can’t remember the last time I had nice nails. If I’m really anxious or depressed and not keeping my hands busy, I bite or pick my nails. Sometimes I barely realize I’m doing it. It’s embarrassing and I’ve tried a million remedies, but it’s too tiring to keep up with that.” — Gloria V. 3. “I don’t keep up with housework. I ignore dishes and laundry, [my] clothes are all over the floor, garbage gets left everywhere. This is currently my laundry basket and dresser. Including my empty shoe rack. The shoes are in piles everywhere. There is a lot more that’s not included. Such as laundry I just washed still sitting in bags. A tipped over garbage bag I have not picked up and litter all over the bathroom floor I haven’t swept.” — Carrie G. 4. “This is my hair after an episode of my depression. The left side only had gotten taken out of the bun it was in, and the right side took me around an hour to brush out and it was only half my head…” — Brianna C. 5. “ I get this weird rash on the fingers of my right hand only when I’m especially stressed or depressed. I get weirdly self-conscious about it too. I think it’s really gross because sometimes it weeps clear fluid and I feel like everyone notices it, even though they probably don’t. It’s inconvenient and really annoying to have your hand itchy, inflamed and oozing.” — Kassidy P. 6. “ Big-time crying spells out of (what seems like) nowhere.” — Patrick M. 7. “Was in a coma because of seizures and they couldn’t figure out the cause. They finally said it’s the depression and mental health problems.” — Ana D. 8. “ This photo shows: • Being unable to move from bed • Feeling completely numb emotionally • Sensory overload • No appetite • Body feeling heavy/weighed down • Lack of hygiene • Complete social isolation • Suicidal thoughts.” — Chloe L. 9. “Not having the energy to make healthy, nutritious foods leads to making food that is convenient, but painful for the intestines.” — Sheena T. 10. “The [medication] that saved me from my postpartum depression caused my autoimmune disorder to explode. Back to square one with finding a medication that works just as well without some horrific side effect.” — Jessa D. 11. “I set a timer and took this picture in my basement. I was working from home at the time, but depression robbed me of any motivation to do anything productive that day. So I sat on the floor, becoming angry with myself for not wanting to get anything accomplished.” — Davey S. 12. “My brother took this photo of me and his dog Oliver — I’m tired all the time, I’m overstimulated, [struggle with] bouts of self-harm (nearly) daily. So while feeling particularly low after a panic attack/alexithymia, I rested with Oliver to try to bring some composure back to myself. I wish it was acceptable to lay face down on the ground any time you needed. Gravity helps me a lot, dogs help me more.” — Jodie P. 13. “Been fighting and batting this illness for 33 years… I can’t sleep.. “ — Fazidah G. 14. “This is a dark depression episode. It’s not getting out of bed for days and not taking care of yourself. I remember when this picture was taken, I hadn’t showered for a week. I cried in the shower ripping through all those knots in my hair, but feeling like I deserved it at the same time. Depression sucks.” — Jamie W. 15. “Skin picking as a side effect of anxiety, depression and self-harm.” — Hannah M. 16. “I pull my eyelashes when anxious and depressed. It’s a distraction thing that is physically manifested.” — Tahany E. 17. “I walked into a pine tree full of snow! Absent-minded, in a fog. I believe I have to laugh at myself and my consistent mishaps!” — Michelle B. If you struggle with physical symptoms due to your depression, you’re not alone. To give and get support from people who really “get it,” we encourage you to post a Thought or Question on The Mighty with the hashtag #CheckInWithMe. Whatever you’re facing today, you don’t have to go it alone. For more on depression from our Mighty community, check out the following stories: 5 Kinds of Anxiety and Depression We Don’t Talk About Why Anhedonia Might Be the Worst Symptom of Depression 10 Gifts to Give Your Friend With Depression (and a Dark Sense of Humor)

Alice Laura

Volunteering for Shout: The UK's First Free Crisis Text Line

In December, my life changed. I left my job, I stopped my hobbies and I cut most of my family and friends out of my life. I was isolating myself, afraid to let anyone in because I felt like a terrible person who didn’t deserve love and support. I was scared to do pretty much anything; even going to the shops was hard. Heading into the new year, I made a resolution or two. It’s not normally something I do but I knew I needed to rebuild a life, find purpose and be kind to myself. As well as focusing on myself, I wanted to cook more to take the pressure off my partner, who is currently studying, and I wanted to start doing some volunteer work. At first, I thought it would just be helping out at my local cat shelter, somewhere I have supported since I adopted my cat from there 13 years ago. Then, I remembered the U.K.-based crisis text service my friend had been volunteering for. I had to consider whether it was something I was ready to do. I’ve had anxiety and depression for over 15 years now and went through a breakdown a couple of years ago. I’m still recovering from that, though I’m probably the most mentally well I have been in a very long time. I possibly have borderline personality disorder (BPD) given the history of my patterns of behavior and feelings. It’s something I am waiting to talk to a qualified professional about. There is probably people who think I shouldn’t be even considering trying to support people in crisis with my history of mental health problems . However, I feel my experiences make me more empathetic and give me an insight into what it’s like to feel the levels of desperation many texters are experiencing. I also wanted to support a service I wish I’d had access to when I was in crisis before — one I could have used when I couldn’t overcome my anxiety to make a phone call to a support line, or even just call my GP. When I first signed up to volunteer, I had to complete a form which asked about my experience, and my reasons for wanting to volunteer. I also had to include two references. Once I was accepted, I signed up to a training cohort. Part of the agreement to volunteer is that you commit to completing the 25 hours of training and volunteering for at least 200 hours. You’re assigned a coach who helps you throughout your time volunteering from training onward, providing feedback and support. Training is all online, with a range of resources and activities to complete, including ones marked by your coach. You get feedback along the way, helping to improve on the skills you are learning. You learn the techniques to speak to the texters with empathy and validation. There’s information about some of the possible issues people will text in with, including special sections on deaf texters, ex-military, and LGBTQIA+ people. We are taught the importance of risk assessment and how to raise any concerns with our on-shift supervisor. We’re also shown the platform before we start to take texters. There are deadlines for certain assignments but you are given plenty of time to work through the course at your own pace. Until your final assignment is assessed and you are considered at a level to start taking to texters, you’re not able to log onto the live platform. They want to make sure you are fully prepared before taking that first text. I completed my training quite quickly, being thrilled to be learning again, taking lots of notes and loving the skills I was gaining. I signed up for my first shift and as it got closer, my nerves set in. We have different levels on the platform, based on how many conversations you have taken. It means that early on, we can only take one conversation at a time, and we are monitored more closely by the supervisor we are assigned to during our shift. When you are new, your supervisor checks in on you more often, letting you know you have support. You can also chat with other staff and volunteers who are online. There are tools to help us whilst online, plus a database of resources. Those first few shifts were daunting, with so much to still learn and not really knowing what to expect. I had amazing support from my supervisors, my coach and all of the other volunteers.  I found it easier than I expected, in some ways. In others, it was incredibly hard. But there was always someone there for me, to talk to, to vent, to share stories of cats and cake recipes. Recently, we have gained a community hub — somewhere we can talk to our fellow volunteers, share our experiences, share resources and training tips. It’s an amazing place, and brilliant to have just before we launched the service to the public. Though the service uses the same technology as the U.S.-based Crisis Text Line, Shout was in a pilot phase until May 10, when we went fully live, the number — 85258 — being available easily to all. It’s been an exciting time since launch, with numbers of texters increasing but also the number of volunteers online at one time. There have also been thousands of volunteer sign-ups, which is brilliant news for the service and for those who need to use it. For me, I get an immense amount of satisfaction from supporting people who text in. I’d be lying if I said it was easy or even predictable. I normally do two-hour shifts twice a week and even just the number of texters we get can vary greatly. I’ve seen a huge range of different issues come up in the three months I have been volunteering and have had shifts that have left me feeling like I didn’t really do much, as well as ones where I definitely feel like I have made a difference to someone’s life, even if just for that day. I always remind myself that, even when I have the most frustrating shifts, I was there for those texters, which is better than there being no one. If I have a bad shift, I can talk to my supervisor. My coach will send me emails checking in on me and giving me helpful feedback. I’m definitely not alone. I also know I’m supported to take a break for a while if it gets to a point where I am doing this at the detriment to my own mental health. So far, what it has done is made me more determined to keep seeking long-term support for myself so I keep moving forward, allowing me to continue working as a crisis volunteer . If you are in a crisis in the U.K., text 85258 for confidential, free support from Shout. If you are interested in volunteering, visit here .

Alice Laura

Reconnecting With My Sexuality as Someone With Depression

One of the things I find when reading about recovering from depression, is that there’s not always much focus on sexuality. There’s a lot about learning to love ourselves, being kind to our body, setting boundaries and how to live day-to-day, but not how to be comfortable in our sexual-self. I can imagine it’s often overlooked because for many, it is not the easiest topic to talk about. Antidepressants frequently lower a person’s libido as a common side effect, which means sex is often the last thing on our mind. For me, however, sexuality is an important part of my identity and something that I want to explore again. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression over 15 years ago. During that time, I have had periods of improvement, time with severe physical health issues affecting my mobility and a time within an emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship. I have had times where I have used sex as a coping mechanism, a distraction and a punishment. I am polyamorous; currently living with my partner and his fiancée, bisexual and into BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism). Two years ago, I was at my worst ever mentally. A combination of my severe depression and “people pleasing” behavior had led me into an online relationship with an old “friend” that — under the guise of BDSM and my submissive nature — became emotionally abusive. I had pushed my closest friends and family away feeling like I deserved to be treated badly. I convinced myself that the extreme pornography I was looking at was something I was interested in, not because it turned me on but because I thought I was less than human and should be treated that badly myself. I told myself that I didn’t matter, not really. I became suicidal. I did things that I regret and will for the rest of my life, but I am trying to move forward…trying to heal. Part of that is trying to reconnect with my sexuality. After everything that has happened I’m finding it hard to let myself be sexual. It makes me vulnerable. I am in an incredibly loving and caring relationship with someone who is patient and amazing. He has been there through everything, has forgiven my poor judgement and lying, based on the fact it came from a dark place. We have a brilliant relationship with each other, until it comes to intimacy. I find that I can’t let go of my fear, my memories, my demons. I know that time will help, as it always does, but this goes right into the core of my being. My sexuality is important to me, but I am scared of falling into the same patterns of behavior. I’m scared that I have conditioned myself to be a “people pleaser” so much that I don’t know where my boundaries are anymore. It’s particularly hard when being submissive is part of who I was. Now, I have no idea if that’s really who I am. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my body, frequently having issues with low self-confidence. I was bullied in school for a combination of my weight, my studious nature and how easily I showed my emotions. However, I had a long term boyfriend from the age of 16 and he made me feel good about myself. We explored sex together. Through our open relationship, I explored my sexuality and came out of my shell. I learned to love myself, even with my flaws. I developed as a person and found a new confidence in myself and for awhile, I was happy, more outgoing and wasn’t scared to make the changes I needed to in my life to stay happy. Unfortunately. I went too far. I became addicted to sex and to the attention I could get from putting myself out there. I ran a NSFW (not safe for work) Tumblr that had thousands of followers and I would chat with guys who messaged me. It felt innocent enough, because they were on the other side of the internet. The problem was that I would push myself further and further because it got more likes, more interactions. Around the same time, my physical health failed me and I spiraled into that dark depression. What started as sexual confidence turned into a way to punish myself for being an awful human being. It got too real when I let in that old “friend,” regressing into that naive 18-year-old that he knew before, with added self-deprecation. Now that I have come out of the other side of that relationship, I am desperate to find a happy medium. One where I am comfortable with myself and can let myself go and enjoy sex, but I don’t push it too far into a dependency on the attention I can get from sharing my sexuality with the world. I’ve closed most of my social media accounts and am trying to be careful with what pornography I look at online. My partner is being incredibly patient with me, though it is hard for both of us because we have a history and we are having to start from scratch again. But this time, I lack the confidence and the knowledge of what I want. It’s easy to slip back into old habits for a moment, but then I start to overthink and question my motivations. Either that, or I have flashbacks or dissociations due to the trauma of the emotional abuse. I’m lucky to have come out of this with the chance to overhaul my life. I’m slowly starting to explore the various incidents that led me to making some really poor life choices. My physical health has greatly improved and my mental health is getting better gradually. I have amazing support and the time to work on myself. Somedays, I think back to how sexually free I used to be and I’m filled with loss, wondering if I can ever get to a place where I am that comfortable with myself again. I want to be sure that I am doing everything for the right reasons, without obsessing about what I am doing. I am balancing analyzing my motives with actually letting myself feel and enjoy sensations. It’s hard work. Sex is meant to be fun, not something that leads to massive anxiety. With a combination of therapy, time and patience, I will get there and form a healthy relationship with myself and my sexuality again.

Royal Family Helps Launch New U.K. Crisis Text Line Shout

It’s been a big week for U.K.’s royal family, and now there’s a new birth to celebrate — the launch of U.K.’s first mental health Crisis Text Line Shout . On Thursday, members of U.K.’s royal family — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ( Prince William and Kate Middleton) and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex ( Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) — announced Shout is now available to the public. It joins text helplines in the United States and Canada. Similar to other Crisis Text Lines, users who need mental health support can text SHOUT to 85258 for confidential help 24/7 via text messaging. The service is completely free and open to anyone in the U.K. Text messages are answered by trained volunteers who are supervised by mental health professionals. Shout is based on the same protocol and technology as the Crisis Text Line in the U.S. The Crisis Text Line launched in the United States in 2013. Kids Help Phone , the Canadian version and first international iteration of the Crisis Text Line, went live in November 2018. Since its inception, a press release reports the text line has handled more than 100 million messages. According to Shout’s website , before going live it was piloted with a number of mental health charities in the U.K., including Young Minds and Place2Be. In 2017, the Royal Foundation provided a grant to establish Mental Health Innovations (MHI), a charity dedicated to developing technology to support mental health initiatives in the U.K. MHI’s first major initiative was a Crisis Text Line. Shout began recruiting and training volunteers in 2018, and is still looking for people to help out. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made mental health awareness a large part of their platform. This has included initiatives like their Heads Together campaign, which aims to reduce stigma and provide access to treatment. According to a press release, the Royal family hopes Shout will support these goals. “We are incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day,” said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in a statement. “Over the last few months Shout has started working quietly behind the scenes. We have all been able to see the service working up close and are so excited for its future.”

Community Voices

Hopebook

I'm thinking of creating myself a hopebook (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fbIlVEbwhZaGD73tW2B_1Ub_nzoazFAi/view ) to help me when I'm having bad days or want to give myself something to smile at (and don't want to scroll through my Instagram full of cats!). If anyone happens to have any resources or suggestions for things to add, let me know.

#Depression #Anxiety #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #selfcare #hopebook #UK #MentalHealth

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