Elizabeth Cassidy

@elizabeth-cassidy | contributor
Elizabeth is the reporter at The Mighty. Elizabeth also runs the Elizabeth Explains column of Mighty Brief, The Mighty's daily newsletter. Follow her on twitter @ekcassidy4 or send an email to elizabeth@themighty.com.

What Are Short-Term Health Insurance Plans?

The open enrollment period for insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) closed in December. If people find themselves without insurance before the next open enrollment period in November 2019, they may have to consider a short-term plan. These plans, however, are safety nets with gaping holes. Short-term insurance plans are supposed to cover people who are between regular coverage and last typically three to up to 12 months. If you lose your health insurance before open enrollment for an ACA plan, you could enroll in a short-term plan to hold you over. It also works if you’re waiting for your coverage to kick in from a non-ACA plan (like one through your job) that doesn’t begin for a few months. Short-term plans cover you starting the day after you enroll. Short-term plans are also cheaper than long-term plans. Premiums are lower, meaning the monthly cost for coverage isn’t as expensive. The caveat is short-term plans cover very little. Some of these short-term limits can “blindside” consumers, according to The Washington Post. Unlike full insurance plans, short-term ones do not cover people with pre-existing conditions. Preventative health care, prescriptions, maternity care and mental health treatments don’t have to be covered either. An insurance company can deny coverages for hospitalizations on Fridays or Saturdays if you have a short-term plan. Care for injuries from sports or exercise may not be covered either. What your short-term plan covers will vary by plan and insurance company. In general, these plans will cover outpatient treatment for unexpected illnesses or injuries (sometimes with caveats). There could be coverage for ER visits, surgeries, hospital admissions and some diagnostic tests like X-rays. In order to know what a specific plan covers, you have to read the fine print, but it’s a good idea to prepare for unexpected costs since these plans only sparsely cover a wide range of medical needs. Under the ACA, former President Barrack Obama’s administration restricted short-term plans to three months or less to ensure they were only temporary. But recently, President Donald Trump’s administration reversed these limits and reverted back to a 364-day model, with an option to renew a short-term plan up to three years. Proponents of longer short-term plans said premiums in the marketplace for longer-term health insurance were too high. Depending on economic status — having a yearly income less than 400 percent of the poverty level — you can receive subsidies to lower your premiums. That means a single person making over $49,960 a year would not receive a discounted rate that’s figured into taxes. They would pay an average premium of $440 a month (based on 2018’s average monthly costs) for a long-term ACA health plan. This health insurance price tag isn’t affordable for many people, which is why short-term plans seemed like a viable option. While people may opt for short-term plans because of price, they may end up paying more if they become sick. Long-term plans include a cap so that once you pay a certain amount yourself — $7,900 for an individual and $15,800 for a family in 2019 for an ACA plan — your insurance company pays 100 percent of the rest. With a short-term plan, you’re on the hook for all out of pocket expenses during the term of your policy. According to the Center on Health Insurance Reforms, out-of-pocket maximums can get as high as $7,000 to $20,000 on a short-term plan. You’ll also likely have a cap on much money the insurance company is willing to cover over the term of the policy, so your out-of-pocket costs can quickly add up. Though federal guidelines are in place, states still have the ability to restrict short-term plans how they see fit. Some will follow the new federal parameters, while other states will keep tighter restrictions and time limits. Short-term plans are not available in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Hawaii. Insurers have opted to not offer them because it wouldn’t be profitable under those states’ mandates and regulations. California has prohibited short-term plans altogether. Health insurance is a personal choice, but there’s also a bigger impact of the popularity of short-term plans. People without pre-existing conditions or other serious health conditions will find these cheaper plans more attractive. Those who have pre-existing conditions or need more comprehensive care will likely look for a long-term ACA plan that provides better coverage. This can raise the cost of ACA plans across the board, because the system was designed to have a mix of people who use their health plans a lot and a little to control costs. To balance out the cost of more consumers using ACA insurance for expensive medications, procedures and hospitalizations, people with more significant health needs are forced to pay more for care. Short-term plans do not cover as much as a normal plan because they’re not made to replace long-term health insurance. They’re supposed to catch anyone who has to wait for a long-term plan to take effect. When these plans are used for a more permanent health insurance solution, many find themselves without adequate coverage when they need it, and those who don’t qualify for short-term plans and rely on ACA insurance are left reeling from higher costs.

Study Suggests Childhood Trauma Be Viewed as a Public Health Issue

It’s no secret childhood trauma can affect your mental health either as a child or later in life. There are many individual treatment efforts after trauma has already occurred but few resources to prevent trauma or identify which children are at a higher risk. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) wants to change this. It suggests that childhood trauma, which is much more common than many believe, should be considered a public health issue. Unlike other studies on childhood trauma that only ask adults to recall past events, this study’s researchers spoke with 1,420 children between ages 9-16 annually and again up to four times in young adulthood. They found that by age 16, nearly 31 percent of study participants experienced one traumatic event, 22.5 percent experienced two and nearly 15 percent experienced three or more traumas. The researchers then analyzed how many participants developed mental illnesses, addictions and other substance abuse issues into young adulthood. They also measured financial health, completing education, engaging in risky or criminal behavior and effective social skills. Experiencing more than one traumatic event was associated with higher rates of difficulty in all of these areas. Not only were rates of developing a mental illness higher, people who experienced more trauma were more likely to struggle transitioning into adulthood as measured by outcomes like difficulty holding a job and social isolation. The association between childhood trauma and issues in adulthood persisted even after considering other factors like low socioeconomic status or family dysfunction. The researchers wrote: Our findings suggest that childhood trauma has broad effects on adult functioning — ranging from psychiatric status to financial and educational functioning — and these could not simply be attributed to preexisting psychiatric vulnerability or other adversities and hardships in the child’s developmental context. While not all trauma can be avoided, the researchers noted that some forms are. The most common types of trauma reported were witnessing a traumatic event, experiencing life-threatening accidental injuries and learning about an “extreme stressor” that affected a loved one. Other traumas were categorized as violent (physical abuse, violent death of a loved one); sexual trauma (rape and abuse); and other traumas (diagnosed with a serious illness, natural disasters). From this perspective, researchers suggest looking at childhood trauma through the lens of public health. Public health is “the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities,” according to the CDC Foundation. Public health works to encourage healthy lifestyles, and it focuses on prevention and early intervention. Treating trauma as a public health issue could lead to the development of programs for at-risk children to reduce their trauma exposure, even before a trauma occurs. This in turn could reduce the negative impact of childhood trauma that can last into adulthood. “Together, these findings provide a clear mandate for those concerned with increasing opportunities, reducing distress and avoiding morbidity across the lifespan,” researchers wrote in the study’s conclusion. “Interventions or policies that broadly target this largely preventable cluster of childhood experiences may have multifaceted effects on health and well-being that persist across the lifespan.”

We Can't Ignore the Negative Effects of Forced Mental Health Treatment

It’s a statement that probably sounds familiar if you’ve sought mental health treatment before: Your privacy is protected unless your therapist or doctor believes you’re a threat to yourself or another person. You may think it could never happen to you — involuntary treatment only happens to people are “worse off.” In reality, this isn’t always the case. Despite growing mental health awareness, this aspect of mental health treatment — the fact that in some circumstances, it’s legal to give someone treatment against their will — is still hush-hush, even within the mental health community. While there are times forced treatment may be needed to protect someone, involuntary treatment can be traumatic and has shown to be less effective than voluntary treatment. In a recent study , researchers found that patients who received coerced treatment for mental illness were less likely to view the help as beneficial compared to those who sought treatment on their own. The researchers looked at two forms of coerced treatment. How People Are Coerced Into Treatment “Formal” coerced treatment includes anyone who is ordered by a court to receive treatment. If a person commits a crime — and this happens often with crimes related to substance abuse — a judge may mandate a person to receive substance abuse treatment or other mental health treatment instead of going to jail. Because there is technically a threat of jail time if the person refuses, it’s still considered coerced treatment. Another type of formal coerced treatment is an emergency hold , which is typically 72 hours. Psychiatric wards can hold someone for up to three days if the doctors believe the person is a threat to themselves or others. If a doctor believes the patient needs to be held longer, they can advise a 14-day hold and the patient is entitled to a hearing about their involuntary commitment. Laws can vary by state, so it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer or research the laws in your state. Even if a patient enters treatment voluntarily, it can still take days for the patient to be discharged after they express a desire to leave, effectively rendering the “voluntary commitment” useless. According to Illinois law , a mental health facility has five business days from when a patient requests discharge (in writing) to when they legally have to let the patient go. The facility can also petition a court to keep the patient longer, even if they were voluntarily admitted. An Illinois facility can keep “voluntary” admissions for over two weeks from the discharge request. Other states have similar situations where it can take up to 72 hours for a discharge to be processed. People in the hospital for non-mental health reasons are usually discharged in a matter of hours. In non-mental health cases, if a patient wishes to leave, but the doctor does not recommend it, they are still allowed to leave against medical advice. “Informal” coerced treatment is when someone feels pressure from their loved ones to seek help. This may include inpatient treatment, but people can be pressured into going to therapy or taking medication. According to the study, people can be “informally coerced or manipulated into care using social benefits that are dependent on engaging in treatment.” This includes ultimatums from loved ones if the person doesn’t receive help. They may restrict money, housing or other necessities unless the person agrees to get help. It’s important to note, however, that encouraging or suggesting a loved one seek help isn’t forcing them into treatment. Why Coerced Treatment Is a Problem The researchers found that people with severe mental illnesses, who are already more likely to be forced into treatment, were less likely to perceive forced treatment as effective. Patients forced into inpatient treatment are also at risk of experiencing potential trauma associated with being forced into treatment. Involuntary commitment to psychiatric hospitals means a loss of agency and control. The choice to be there wasn’t the individual’s in the first place, and then they’re stuck there for at least 72 hours against their will. A particularly traumatic part of “treatment” is the use of physical restraints. Mighty Contributor Victoria Murphy detailed an experience when she was restrained by nurses and staff at a hospital, which she considered a “nicer” restraint. Murphy said of restraints for psychiatric patients: Restraints are awful situations to be in, for both the people initiating it and the person being restrained. They’ve come under a lot of speculation lately, some of which I can understand. I’ve been in restraints that have left nasty bruises and twisted limbs, people yelling at me and holding me incorrectly, and even restrained for no reason at all, simply because “they could.” So, while I agree that sometimes a restraint is needed to ensure someone’s immediate safety, there needs to be much tighter guidelines on them. A restraint should always be a last resort, not a show of power from ignorant nursing staff or a way to control a “problematic patient.” A restraint should be a way to save someone’s life. The American Psychiatric Nurse Association (APNA) stands against restraint and seclusion of patients, though it happens routinely. The association said its committed to the reduction and eventual elimination of these practices. The APNA also advocates for more research to find the best practices for the prevention and better management of behavioral emergencies. The APNA said reports of patient injuries and deaths, as well as the emotional effect of restraint and seclusion, are a serious ethical conflict, which comes from the “nurse’s responsibility to prevent harm and the patient’s right to autonomy.” Restraints are even used outside of the hospital. It’s common for police to handcuff patients when they’re transporting them to hospitals, which is not necessary in many cases. The general excuse is that it’s “protocol” to handcuff patients, though you’d be hard-pressed to find any other patient handcuffed or transported by police in the first place. While an ambulance may not be needed, there are services that offer non-emergency medical transport. We may be protecting someone in the short-term when treatment is forced, but the long-term effect could be detrimental. According to a 2014 study, “self-stigma, associated stress and a reduced empowerment from coerced treatment predicted a poorer quality of life and lowered people’s self-esteem.” The study also found that cognitive and emotional reactions to coerced treatment impacted a person’s quality of life more than the number of coerced treatments received over time. Involuntary commitment happens more often than needed because determining if someone is a harm to themselves or others isn’t a perfect science. Studies have shown that predicting someone’s risk is fairly inaccurate . It makes sense for doctors and therapists to err on the side of caution, but there’s a strong chance for a breakdown of trust between the mental health professional and client if they’re forced into an inpatient treatment facility. In a blog post for Psychology Today , Dr. Lloyd Sederer recounted three separate patients who fired him as their doctor following an involuntary commitment. He wrote: It’s hard to share suicidal thoughts, especially if a client is worried opening up will send them to the hospital. Most mental health professionals aren’t going to hospitalize someone for just having suicidal thoughts, unless there’s intent to act on a plan. Figuring out intent, though, is subjective unless a patient explicitly states they’re going to do it. A mental health professional has to weigh the probability of the client quitting treatment and getting worse after a forced hospitalization and the probability of the client acting on suicidal thoughts. It’s a tough decision, and clearly keeping a patient alive is the most important, but we can’t ignore the detrimental effects of forced hospitalization. If a patient is safe and doesn’t need inpatient, forced outpatient has its issues, too. Motivation is important for making substantial change. When it comes to therapy, you have to put in work for it to be effective. If someone’s forced to go to therapy or group therapy, the motivation to follow through on their work isn’t there, though that doesn’t mean they won’t benefit somewhat. If an individual is unmotivated, they’re more likely to drop out of treatment prematurely or they may stop taking their medications. Since there are a limited number of beds in inpatient facilities and long wait times for outpatient services, we should be making sure the people using these services are getting the most out of it. We also need to expand these services so we aren’t turning people seeking voluntary treatment away. What We Can Do to Lessen the Use of Coercion Some people who were forced into treatment say it did save their lives or help them. This piece is not to discount those stories. Everyone experiences mental health and treatment differently, so it’d be wrong to say that no one has ever benefited from coerced or involuntary treatment. There are tough decisions to be made when someone who’s experiencing psychosis, for example, is acting in a way that seems to suggest they could be a danger to themselves or others — even though violence towards others is rare and likely due to a numbers of factors. What needs to change, though, is how we treat people who were coerced into treatment and find ways to maximize benefit from treatment. This could mean changing the way we transport patients instead of handcuffing them like criminals. Involuntary or coerced treatment should be handled in a way that minimizes harm , both physical and psychological. Involuntary treatment tends to happen when a person has already reached a crisis level or nearly there. Better preventive and early mental health care could reduce the overall need for involuntary treatment, and therefore give people a chance to get the most out of treatment. Coerced treatment inherently takes a person’s autonomy way. A great way to prevent this, even if involuntary treatment is needed, is to give the patient a voice ahead of time. A joint crisis plan is a negotiation between a patient and their care providers about the patient’s future treatment for psychiatric emergencies. It gives the patient a chance to have input into what can or should happen in a time of crisis, especially if the patient is too unwell to express their desires at the time of crisis. Research has shown that joint crisis plans may also reduce the need for coerced treatment overall because it can help people identify relapses earlier or clear up any confusion about treatment plans ahead of time. No one wants to feel like control has been taken away from them or like they’re a prisoner, especially when they need help. People with mental illnesses need to be treated with compassion and more so when they’re at crisis points. We can’t expect threats of treatment, restraints and other possibly traumatic situations to aid in someone’s recovery.

Microsoft Highlights Xbox Adaptive Controller in Super Bowl Commercial

Watching Super Bowl commercials is half the fun for many Americans tuning in. Some are funny, some make you cry and chances are, there’s at least one Clydesdale horse. This year, Microsoft is using its Super Bowl spot to highlight the importance of accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities who also like to game. The commercial features multiple kid gamers with disabilities using the Xbox Adaptive Controller. At the end of the commercial, Microsoft displays the message, “When everybody plays, we all win.” Microsoft launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller in fall 2018. Instead of being a handheld device, the large controller can rest in someone’s lap, on a table or the floor, depending on the needs of each gamer. It features two large buttons and a D-pad with multiple ports where gamers can attach a joystick or other adaptive devices. Looking to connect with others in the disability community? Download the free Mighty app to get support from others. In an extended version of the commercial available online, the kids featured talk about their love of gaming but also the difficulties of using controllers because most require you to use both hands at once. One of the kids featured, Owen, was also in a holiday commercial for the controller. Meet the gamers who remind us that when everybody plays, we all win. https://t.co/IgwVOB5n3z #GamingForEveryone #SuperBowl #SBLIII pic.twitter.com/Tq0vQv768A— Xbox (@Xbox) January 31, 2019 Microsoft worked with people with disabilities, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and other organizations to make the controller as accessible as possible. Disabled gamers were also able to test the product to give feedback on the playability. “Now the Xbox Adaptive Controller is here, maybe we can fully acknowledge that the biggest issue faced by people with disabilities hasn’t been a lack of desire, or ability, or motivation – it’s been a lack of access,” Richard Ellenson, CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, wrote in a piece for The Mighty about playing video games with his son. You can watch the commercial during the Super Bowl LIII on Feb 3 on CBS.

Nyle DiMarco Discusses Deaf Interactions With Police on 'Full Frontal'

Deaf model and activist Nyle DiMarco is teaming up with comedian Samantha Bee to talk about police interactions with the deaf and hard of hearing community. DiMarco uploaded a teaser to Instagram for Wednesday night’s episode of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” a satirical late-night comedy show. Bee says in the teaser that the pair will be using reenactments to teach how “police can responsibly interact with the Deaf community.” View this post on Instagram ???????????? come learn about how police can responsibly interact with with the Deaf community!!! @fullfrontalsamb tonight on TBS! (wait till the end ????) – #fullfrontal #samanthabee #tbsA post shared by Nyle DiMarco (@nyledimarco) on Jan 30, 2019 at 8:08am PST While the show will use humor to raise awareness about police interactions with the deaf community, there are many stories of police brutality against people who are deaf. No statistics are available about harmful and fatal incidents between police and deaf civilians, The Washington Post reported, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest police interactions with the deaf community need improving. There are multiple stories about deaf people being shot, beat and arrested for failure to cooperate. The police typically use verbal commands when interacting with the public, so sometimes people who do not respond to commands are thought to be uncooperative when, in fact, they can’t hear. The Americans With Disabilities Act requires law enforcement to provide effective forms of communication to people who are deaf unless a specific form of communication would be considered an “undue burden” for the situation. For instance, it may make more sense to communicate a traffic violation in writing instead of waiting for an interpreter. In more lengthy situations like interviews, writing would not be effective. Though the ADA states law enforcement must provide ways to effectively communicate, there are things you can do as well to help ensure your safety. The American Civil Liberties Union teamed up with Deaf actress Marlee Matlin in 2014 to educate members of the Deaf community on their rights and what to do if they have to interact with police. In a video, Matlin gives tips including keeping a sign on your car visor stating that the driver is deaf or hard of hearing. People can also keep cards with this information in their wallet. She also tells drivers to stop as soon as possible in a safe spot after you notice police lights for a traffic stop. Then, stop your car, roll down your window and place your hands on the wheel. When the officer approaches, make eye contact and make the universal sign for deafness. “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” airs Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. EST on TBS.

Mother's Death on Subway Shows Accessibility Issue in New York City

Update: On June 11, the New York City Medical Examiner determined Malaysia Goodson died due to complications from an enlarged heart, including an irregular heartbeat, and an overactive thyroid, according to NBC. She had fallen down the subway stairs with her young daughter’s strollers in her arm. Goodson’s death prompted advocates to call for more accessible subway stations in the city. On Monday, Malaysia Goodson, 22, died after falling down the stairs of a New York City subway station while holding her daughter and a stroller full of groceries. Though it’s unclear whether Goodson died from the fall or a “medical episode,” disability advocates are calling attention to the lack of accessibility in the city’s subways in the wake of her death. Most of the city’s subways do not have elevators and the ones that do are often under repair, according to The New York Times. Only a quarter of New York’s City’s 472 subway stations have elevators. Disabled people and other advocates have called out transit issues for decades. Following Goodson’s death, the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, a nonprofit that advocates for disability rights and accessibility, organized a protest, calling for full subway accessibility. We'll be at 7th Ave and 53rd St tomorrow at 11am in response to the death of Malaysia Goodson and to assert that this tragedy should not be in vain. Join us if you can to demand full subway station #accessibility.#a11y #CidnyFightsBack pic.twitter.com/88Xugb93kl— CIDNY (@CID_NY) January 29, 2019 The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has faced multiple state and federal lawsuits since at least 2016 over noncompliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). In March, Geoffrey Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, joined the Bronx Independent Living Services in a lawsuit against the MTA and New York City Transit Authority. Berman argued that the MTA and Transit Authority violated the ADA after failing to install an elevator in a Bronx subway station after spending more than 27 million in renovations. “There is no justification for public entities to ignore the requirements of the ADA 28 years after its passage,” Berman said in a press release. “The subway system is a vital part of New York City’s transportation system, and when a subway station undergoes a complete renovation, MTA and NYCTA must comply with its obligations to make such stations accessible to the maximum extent feasible.” People with disabilities, advocates and politicians took to Twitter to voice their anger and frustration about Goodson’s death and raise awareness about an issue many of them are aware of on a daily basis. How many #disabled #elderly #pregnant people and parents w/ strollers have to be injured or die before we have #Accessibility on #NYC #PublicTransit?? Mother Carrying Baby in Stroller Dies After Falling Down Subway Stairs https://t.co/u6Jhlua5K3— ???????? Aoife ♿???? (@Aoiferocksitout) January 29, 2019 The lack of accessibility in our subways is literally killing people. I am heartbroken by this tragedy, and am keeping this family in my thoughts. NYC must do more for families and the disabled. https://t.co/X2w91JdKtD— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) January 29, 2019 # of NYC subway stations: 472# of stations w/ elevators: 119# of add’l stations to get elevators in the #FastForward plan: 50Amount of funding so far secured for the add’l elevators: $0.00This is unacceptable. This must be fixed. #MalaysiaGoodsonhttps://t.co/lR6OTzaEmo— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) January 30, 2019 Thinking of all the subway station renovations I’ve seen over the last few years to install new charging stations, notification boards and mosaic tiles while the stations stay lacking ADA accessibility.— Shannon ???????? (@TheStagmania) January 30, 2019 #Accessibility is a life & death issue! ???? https://t.co/V3wcSzBYaq #CripTheVote tragic + avoidable @GHMansfield @SFdirewolf @Aoiferocksitout— Jessica Gimeno (@JessicaGimeno) January 29, 2019 New York City is still investigating the cause of Goodson’s death. Her family told the New York Post she had a thyroid issue and experienced a headache the day before. Her one-year-old daughter, Rhylee, was not injured during the fall.

Paranoid thoughts People With Bipolar Disorder Have

The word “paranoid” is often thrown around and used interchangeably with feeling worried — but it’s more than that. Paranoia is something many people with bipolar disorder experience. Paranoia can range from severe to mild. Some may fully believe the paranoid thoughts and delusions, while others know what they are and can manage them. I began experiencing paranoia related to bipolar disorder in college. If I made eye contact with anyone walking around campus, I immediately thought they could see something wrong with me. I knew people couldn’t actually read my mind, but it still felt like they were. Then there was the constant need for assurance. I would ask my friends repeatedly if they were mad at me. One time I insisted my friend text her parents we had just visited to make sure they weren’t mad at me, despite doing nothing wrong. Having paranoid thoughts can make you feel like you’re being “dramatic,” but you’re not. It’s a symptom like any other. It isn’t easy to feel intense anxiety or worry about things you can’t necessarily explain to a loved one. Not everyone with bipolar experiences paranoid thoughts, but paranoid thoughts can make us feel isolated or misunderstood. We were interested in the type of thoughts others with bipolar have had, so we asked our bipolar disorder community to share one of theirs. Here’s are the paranoid thoughts people in our community shared with us: 1. Fear of being watched. “I am paranoid that there is someone always watching me. There are cameras hidden everywhere I go.” — Jessica B. “That people from the insurance company are following me. I’ve even asked people who are near me too long if they are following me or from the insurance company… It’s generally that people are plotting against me, to betray me or to humiliate me publicly.” — Emily A. “I thought for a very long time that my neighbor across the way was spying on us. In my mind, it made perfect sense.” — Cait M. “That there are scientists watching me, studying me for experiments. We read a book in my Intro to Lit class called ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau.’ I was severely depressed at that time and I have never felt the same!” — Ashley B. “That I am being tracked and followed. Every digital system is bad, especially my phone. Everything I type is being read as well. Sometimes it gets so bad, I get a new phone.” —M’kilia L. 2. Thinking people can read your thoughts. “Everything I think will somehow be heard.” — Lauren B. “That people can read my thoughts.” — Elizabeth N. “I feel like if somebody looks into my eyes, they can read my soul and know all of my secrets.” — Maria R. “Family can read my mind .” — Ashley W. 3. Fear that no one likes you. “That people just ‘put up with me’ and don’t really enjoy being in my company. That everyone is talking bad about me. That they all wish I wasn’t around.” — Anne G. “I think people are talking about me and laughing at me when I see people talking and laughing. I think that people secretly hate me. I over-analyze everything people say because sometimes it feels like they are making underhanded comments about me or trying to throw hints.” — Amanda J. Do you live with paranoid thoughts or bipolar disorder? Download The Mighty’s app to talk to others who get it. 4. Fear of being in immediate danger. “If I hear a strange noise in the house like the furnace, the heat, something falling in another room, I get extremely paranoid that something bad is going to happen. Things like a fire, an explosion, etc. I usually end up having to leave my house.” — Christina G. “That the devil is coming to get me or I am really dying of some horrible disease.” — Stephanie D. “That someone’s going to be waiting for me outside. Sometimes when I go out for a smoke, I need to bring a knife outside because I’m so convinced that there’s someone waiting to attack me.” — Sudanna S. “I sometimes think that someone is hiding in my car, waiting to attack me while I’m driving. I almost always have my husband inspect it for me before I leave.” — Stephanie G. “That the car that has been driving behind me is following me home.” — Victoria L. 5. Thinking you’re a bad parent. “That CPS is going to take my children away, even though I’m a great mother, provide for them and love them. It’s especially bad if my house is messy.” — Amber Y. “Someone is going to take my baby away because I am a bad mom. That my baby is going to die if I don’t check on her while she is sleeping.” — Jessica B. “That my son would be better off without me, that I’m an annoying burden to my friends and that I’m useless at work! And that I’m just going to become more of a burden to people the older I get.” — Rua C. 6. Thinking you’ll be cheated on. “My paranoia is people hate me, can’t be bothered with me. People wish me dead and anyone I get into a relationship [with] will cheat on me.” — Simone B. “Paranoid that everyone is against me. Everyone hates me secretly. Everyone is talking about me behind my back. My husband will leave me, will cheat on me. My parents hate me. And so much more.” — Polly R. As you can see, a lot of people experience similar paranoid thoughts. You aren’t alone. Paranoia is one of the many symptoms associated with bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, paranoid personality disorder and depression with psychotic features. There are other causes of paranoia like drug use, brain injury or tumor, etc. Do you live with bipolar disorder and have paranoid thoughts you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Realtor Finds Car Smeared in Dog Feces After Using Disability Placard

Realtor Shellie Nichol Chandar was showing new clients a townhome in San Jose, California, when someone smeared dog feces on her SUV. Nichol Chandar, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), told The Mighty she’s certain it was done because she used her disability placard to park in an accessible parking spot. Nichol Chandar arrived at the townhouse before her clients, so she sat on the curb and waited. She said she saw multiple people give her the “stink eye” after parking in the spot. MS is not always a visible illness, and it’s common for people with disabilities or those who don’t “look” disabled to be given a hard time about using an accessible spot. One person in particular who looked at Nichol Chandar was walking a larger dog. After showing the home for about 15 minutes, she found poop smeared on the right side her car after she got in to leave. Nichol Chandar, who is the vice president of HeartStone Realty and runs the nonprofit Project Foster Care, said she laughed it off at first because she was with clients. Nichol Chandar said she sometimes avoids using accessible spots if possible because she’s had people flip her off and do other rude things while using a spot. She said she used the spot on Saturday because stress from a family member being in a car accident made her MS flare. Though no one who uses an accessible spot needs to explain, Nichol Chandar said: “My leg has been numb for about a week or two, and I get what’s called ‘jelly legs’… it causes your legs to get very very weak very quickly.” Nichol Chandar had other homes to show the clients and drove around for about three hours with poop on her windows and all over her car. Nichol Chandar said her car was also kicked and spit on. “When I got home, I was a little more upset than I thought — kind of humiliation set in because every time I had to look to the right [while driving], I was looking at poop, so I felt pretty ashamed,” she said. Nichol Chandar then went live on Facebook to show what had been done to her car. Not everyone looks dissabled, oh well still love my town. Poop or no poopPosted by Shellie Nichol on Saturday, January 26, 2019 “Disabilities look different, and I might look good on the outside, but I struggle so it bothers me,” she said in the video. “So don’t judge people when they have a placard and don’t judge them by looking at them.” It’s not the duty of people with disabilities or illnesses to explain themselves, Nichol Chandar said. “Be so proud of the fact that despite what you’re going through, you get up and you’re doing things and you do not have to explain that to anyone but just had pride in yourself.”

U.K. Channel 4 Premieres 'Pure' Drama Series about OCD

Moving to a big city in your early 20s with dreams of making it on your own is a coming-of-age story many can relate to. When portrayed in movies and on television, however, these stories don’t usually star a protagonist besieged by explicit sexual mental images of those around her in everyday situations. “Pure,” a new comedy-drama series on U.K.’s Channel 4 is about a 24-year-old woman named Marnie who moves to London to start a new life away from her small town in Scotland. While navigating her new living situation, job and friends, she’s troubled by intrusive, obsessive thoughts she doesn’t have a name for. The series is based on Rose Cartwright’s memoir of the same name, which captures her experience with “pure” obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD obsessions include intrusive thoughts, which are typically unwanted and can feel out of control, according to the International OCD Foundation. Compulsions are behaviors that counteract the distress and anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts. Compulsions can be external behaviors, like someone who checks to see if the door is locked multiple times before leaving the house or repetitive hand washing. Compulsions can also be internal, meaning a person uses a series of mental rituals to deal with obsessive thoughts. This is sometimes called “pure” OCD. Cartwright told The Mighty she began experiencing intrusive thoughts around 15 years old. As she got older, the thoughts turned to a sexual and graphic nature about everyone. For Cartwright, she said compulsions meant always trying to figure out what her thoughts meant, why she was thinking them and questioning her sexuality frequently. Learning how to manage her OCD, which included exposure and response prevention therapy, was a process. “It was really a long road to … a more stable life and to a sense of peace,” Cartwright said. “It took me until I was in my early 20s to discover I had OCD, to do my own research and get that corroborated by a professional and then had many failed therapies until I hit on something that really worked.” Cartwright then began to share her journey with others, starting with an article for The Guardian, followed by a memoir and now the TV series, “Pure,” helmed by writer Kirstie Swain and actress Charly Clive as Marnie. Cartwright was also involved in the show’s production to ensure the series struck a balance between relatability and the reality of living with OCD. “It’s always been a fine line between wanting to appeal to a broad audience — people who don’t have OCD to have entry points into the story,” Cartwright said. “But also wanting to protect the very unique and special horror of the OCD story because someone with OCD watching, knowing what they experience is so acute and so excruciating, I wanted to do that justice too.” In the TV series, viewers witness snippets of sexual images and videos from Marnie’s head and hear about her subsequent questions of, “Why did I think that? Do I really want to do that? Am I a pervert?” While these experiences are specific to “pure” OCD, Cartwright hopes people with and without OCD can enjoy the show with its “universal themes about trying to fit in, wanting to be popular, wanting to be loved.” “I think people with OCD will see themselves in it … and hopefully will feel a sense of hope as they see she is a likable character and that she still has a life and friends and she’s not defined by her condition,” Cartwright said. “I also hope people without OCD will be able to empathize and that the show humanizes OCD for people who this might seem like a really weird subject matter and … just enjoy it.” “Pure” airs Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 10 p.m. GMT on Channel 4. The series is only available in the U.K. for now.

'Top Chef' Season 15 Fan Favorite Fatima Ali Dies at 29

‘Top Chef’ contestant Fatima Ali died Friday at the age of 29, her family confirmed on her Instagram. Ali was voted “fan favorite” on season 15 of Bravo’s cooking competition show. She placed seventh in the competition. Her family wrote on her Instagram: Fatima was at home with us, surrounded by her loved ones and beloved cat Mr. Meow, when she left us in the early hours of the morning. When someone as bright and young and vivacious as our Fati passes, the only metaphor that seems to fit is that of a star—a beacon in the darkness, a light that guides us, on which to make wishes, from which to weave dreams. For all the comfort and beauty they offer us, stars, too, are impermanent. This morning a great one was snuffed out.Though she’s no longer here with us, her spirit will continue to steer us. We hope that you, too, will listen to her lessons: Live your life as she did—to the fullest. Pursue your passion; spread love and joy; be kind and forgiving; be generous; enjoy every morsel—from humble street food to decadent fine dining; cook for the people you love. Travel the world and seek out adventure. Help others and don’t be afraid to take the road less taken. Fatima will always be a part of us, and in fact if you look deep enough, you may find your own inner Fati. If you’re lucky enough to find her there, trust her, listen to her, because she will change your life for the better.We’ve learned a great deal over the course of her illness, not only pragmatic lessons we wish we hadn’t needed to learn about her disease and our health system, but about the immense love of which people are capable; about the power of being true to yourself; about how we can be better if we model ourselves after someone like her.We want to thank everyone from the bottom of our now broken hearts. We’re eternally grateful for the unending support, love, and generosity shown by people along the way—from random strangers we passed on the street who would tell her how much they admire and respect her; to all her doctors and nurses who did their best; the chefs and hospitality friends who are now part of our extended family; and the big wigs that reached out to see how they can make her dreams a reality. This has been a truly humbling experience for us all and even in her last chapter as she began to leave us, Fatima showed us how we should live. In January 2018, Ali underwent chemotherapy and surgery for Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Ali revealed in September that the cancer was back. Doctors told her it had metastasized and she had a year left to live. In an essay for ‘Bon Appetit,’ Ali wrote: The cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone. My oncologist has told me that I have a year to live, with or without the new chemotherapy regimen. I was looking forward to being 30, flirty, and thriving. Guess I have to step it up on the flirting. I have no time to lose. Ali said she wanted to spend the rest of her time eating at the world’s best restaurants. Fans and friends shared their condolences and memories with Ali on Twitter. Goodbye lil’ sis. One of our brightest stars has fallen from the sky…. I have no words, but here are some of hers: “I dream of being better. I dream of being myself again, but I know I’ll never quite be the same, and that’s okay. I look forward to meeting that woman one day.” pic.twitter.com/JThpUIbtk7— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) January 26, 2019 It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer. I will miss you Fati, and you will be in my heart forever. I’ll always remember the great times we had, especially our interview during the tailgating e… https://t.co/GYTQWMwfvT pic.twitter.com/72uWNxL3g8— Bruce Kalman (@chefbkalman) January 25, 2019 We are deeply saddened to hear the news that Fatima Ali lost her courageous battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with her family at this time. People not only fell in love with her cooking, but fell in love with her personality and heart. ???? pic.twitter.com/pKoZG7BDIk— Bravo's Top Chef (@BravoTopChef) January 25, 2019 I’ll share some words told to me by Chef Fatima Ali, “Life is short and fickle, and you have to embrace it full force.” A wonderful philosophy from a vibrant, talented woman. RIP, Chef Fati.— Tiffany (@MissTiffanyTiff) January 25, 2019 Ughhh, fuuuuuuuck cancer. RIP to my favorite Top Chef competitor ever, Chef Fatima Ali. She was so great. pic.twitter.com/OvnKjUyvSk— Vince Mancini (@VinceMancini) January 25, 2019