Ane Notting

@idefyyoustars | contributor
Ane is a mental health blogger who has major depressive, bipolar, and anxiety disorders. Their perspective is influenced by their own experiences with mental health treatments, and past education in cultural anthropology & social work. Ane writes about personal experiences to de-stigmatize and humanize what mental illness really looks like.
Ane Notting

What to Do Before a Mental Health Emergency

Hospitalizations for mental health can be helpful, but for some people, they can create traumatic memories and distrust of doctors, especially if the facility is less than ideal. My own personal experiences with hospitalization have shown that facilities can vary greatly, and that advocating for yourself in advance is important to the type of experience you may have. As an adolescent, I entered a local behavioral health inpatient program where the entire floor of teenagers were given an anticonvulsant at night regardless of diagnosis, which almost resulted in liver failure for me by the time I was discharged. I had a strong distrust of medications and mental health professionals for years after. As an adult, I have reestablished a healthy relationship with mental health care, but avoiding the gap in care due to a quality lapse in an inpatient experience would have been most beneficial. There are many conditions and symptoms that may cause you to become unable to make your own decisions, including substance use disorders, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. My experiences with hospitalization combined with years of working in the health care field showed me the importance of advance directives and raised a question for me: As an adult who struggles with mental illnesses, how would I like to be treated in a mental health emergency situation, and how could I make those wishes known? Mental Health America has a worksheet that can help you plan what your wishes would be should you experience a mental health emergency. The worksheet asks you to consider things what facilities you would or would not like to be taken to, who should be allowed to visit you, and treatment types that you would or would not consent to. After using the worksheet, you can fill out a legal psychiatric advance directive where you can also name first and second agents who know your wishes and can advocate for your care if you are in an altered state. On the legal form, you can also specify who you would like to take care of your children, and who needs to be contacted upon your hospitalization to ensure nothing is left to chance. You can, within reason, make requests and tailor your care to your needs. On my own psychiatric advance directive, I specified that I not be given medications other than the ones I was already taking prior to hospitalization without permission from my primary care physician and one of my agents if I am unable to make my own decisions. If you believe in planning ahead, psychiatric advance directives are great tool for the unforeseen. Psychiatric advance directives are giving patients more agency and increasing quality of care during a time the stigma of mental health disorders is waning, and a whole-self perspective on care is becoming more prevalent. When you fill out a psychiatric advance directive, as with any advance directive, make a copy for your primary doctor, any mental health providers you currently see, keep a copy in your house, and give a copy to each of your agents named in your document. The legal requirements for enacting an advance directive vary by state and country, so please check your local laws and health care regulations regarding advance directive requirements before creating your plan. State-specific forms can be found at NRC PAD.

Ane Notting

How COVID-19 Impacted My Anxiety and Phobia Coping Skills

I put my bottle of pills on the tray table in front of me to convince my seemingly incapable hands to steady and open the damn benzodiazapine. Ah, beans. I pushed too hard and the bottle fell over right as I got it open. “How many is that today?” says my spouse, with great concern. Two. Because I haven’t put any more in my mouth yet. Because they all spilled. The flight attendant comes by for drink service after we level off and I ask for a vodka tonic. The pills aren’t working. We just got up to altitude and it’s going to be three hours until we land and the pills are not working. Maybe I can force them to work by passing out. I’m OK. Its OK. I try to distract myself. Oh no. Nope, not OK. Still shaking visibly, about to throw up, oh God, I think I’m talking louder than I realized. Another vodka tonic please. I think to myself, “Clearly, we are going to crash, because I had a great vacation. And, as we all know, the payment for me having a good time has to be catastrophic.” I start crying and am still shaking. The flight attendant looks worried the next time she walks by. Oh my God, I’m going to get flagged for this by the TSA, aren’t I? And that was my fourth time on a plane, and the last time I was on a plane — in 2017. I still take the benzodiazepine as needed. And an antidepressant daily. But I quit drinking last year (definitely for the best). I’ve been in intensive therapy and done a lot of self-repairing work in the last 18 months for unrelated issues. Today, I’d like to talk about how I’m hoping to use the work I’ve done to give myself a better flying experience despite facing dual phobias. I am preparing for a plane ride to go on a much-needed excursion soon. During the pandemic. When the general public has all lost their damn minds and cannot for the life of them, or others, recall what safe and respectful behavior looks like. Before therapy and medication began, I had terrible agoraphobia, which has waned a bit from treatment despite the world’s population collectively losing it. My aviophobia hasn’t gotten better. Flying is my top phobia. It combines my anxiety about being out of control with my extreme fear of heights. I also have an irrational fear of the 21st year. The closest name I can find for it is eikosihenaphobia, fear of 21. No, I am not afraid of 21 year olds, or of writing the number, or seeing it. When I was in third grade, I had repetitive dreams about dying and the number 21. At one point, we did one of those, “What will life be like when you’re an adult?” assignments in class and I wrote I’d be dead by 21. In case you are curious, I did not get an A for this, and was made to redo it. It’s silly, it’s irrational, but it’s a phobia: 21. I turned 21 and I thought, “Alright, well, I’d better make sure things are wrapped up and I’m on decent terms with everyone I care about.” My 21st year came and went, and I survived the year. As 2020 came to a close and many found themselves met with apprehensive hope for 2021 (yikes), I realized I was either going to die this year based on my own phobia, or I was about to have another uphill battle year with my anxiety disorder. So far, just the uphill battle, which is how I like it, given the alternative choice in this scenario. Here we are, in the year 2021 — nothing good to report in the news. (There was a list here, but I think we are all aware of how awful the news is lately, so I’ve omitted it.) I think 2021 sounds like a good time to go on vacation, on an airplane. Here’s why. I have been building this toolbox of coping mechanisms for my anxiety disorder in therapy and I haven’t been able to use them that much due to the pandemic. But really, what opportunities did I lose because of the pandemic? What opportunities would I have lost anyway, because of fear, that I can blame on the pandemic? I wasn’t living my best life before the pandemic, either. I was agoraphobic, in severe panic distress most of the time, and not going out simply because of anxiety and the changing state of the world. The pandemic has given me an ability and window to see humanity panic as I do, and to realize we are all handing things incredibly poorly. Hey, I’m not alone. I have lost time. My precious time. Not to the pandemic, but to my own anxieties and my perceived need to stay in a well-behaved box. “I can’t possibly spend the money for that once-in-a-lifetime experience, my credit card is already so high. I’ll never pay off my credit card if I go on a trip.” “I can’t leave the kids with a family member, something would go wrong and I would not be here.” Both of those things could potentially be true, but one thing that is certain is time is ticking away, for all of us, and all of us need a moment of peace right now. Everyone certainly deserves a break. I’m not talking about throwing my hands up in the air and saying, “Welp, we are all going to die someday anyway, might as well max out this credit card and go sky diving without a parachute.” Calculated risks. Things I want to do, versus risk factors versus ability. Flow charts help. As someone who not only has these phobias, but also generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, and waxing/waning agoraphobia, I have tried some coping mechanisms. Things that have helped me live a better life, or even have a better day, have gone in my handy-dandy panic toolbox. My newest tool in my toolbox I’ve been working on for anxiety is leaning in. I am accepting everything is absolutely out of my control, but I want to go on that trip anyway. I’ve made a list of everything that can go wrong, and ways I could potentially avert each event, as well as a relative likelihood each event would ever happen. So, I’m leaning in. Just in case that tool breaks or doesn’t work for the whole trip, I am also using planned distractions. Some people like coloring books or reading. I will be creating a Spotify playlist and bringing noise-cancelling headphones, a camera, and a pen with a writing utensil for comfort. I’m carefully curating a list of songs that will get me daydreaming about the trip I’m going to enjoy instead of focusing on the method of transport getting me there. Another tool for mitigating anxieties before a major planned event that is likely going to be triggering is researching the facts and statistics about the actual danger level of the activity. Additionally, knowing the layout of the airport, plane, and general understanding of what to expect at the airport and my destination helps prepare me and cuts potential anxiety by a lot. I look at it as pre-paying my panic time. Instead of having an attack, I am studying for my trip like I’m going to be graded on it. This can be triggering at first, but exposure in a safe environment with people you trust and/or emergency medications on standby make it a lot easier. Often, the statistical probability of the worst happening is lower than you think. Look up the numbers when it feels safe and right to do so; you may be surprised. Irrationality cannot always be rationalized. If I ever thought I was alone in irrational thoughts, the past two years have shown me that was a lie. A freedom from feeling terrified in daily living is something I’ve been working on for about three years. While so many find themselves beginning their (very justified) journey with managing fear of a changing world and pandemic, I’m finally able to take steps toward a few days of fearlessness. I’m grateful I started the process of therapy long ago so I could be at this point today. I’m not alone in this struggle, and neither are you. I have anxiety disorders that I’ve received three years of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications to manage. It has only been in the last few months I’ve been able to let go sometimes. I’m not going to grow as a person, I’m not going to do the things I want to do with my short time in this form, if I cannot let go. Therapy has given me these tools I hold in my shaky hands, knowing how unprecedented daily life has become. I am going on this trip, because at the end of the biggest flow chart, no matter what I do, I can’t avert death nor control what happens. Today, I control what actions I take better than I have in years thanks to therapy and medications. And I’m looking forward to the high probability that everything on a trip I want to take actually goes fine.

Community Voices

Mental health blog awards

True to style, I forgot to post this when voting opened. Panic Mitigation Fun is on the nomination form for "blogger of the year". I think I actually have a bit to go before that is true, but there are so many amazing bloggers & resources on this list. Please go check it out for other great mental health blogs to follow!

#MentalHealth

www.mhblogawards.com/nominations-voting

Community Voices

Boundaries

<p>Boundaries</p>
6 people are talking about this
Ane Notting

Read This If You Also Use Music to Cope With Depression and Anxiety

At different times, music kept me grounded, kept me company and kept me here. Music is my preferred media by lightyears — no contest. This is why I post so many songs and usually attach one to my blogs. Because it is always around: inspiring, aiding, present. Since I was little, it has been one of my only and best constant friends. No judgment, no feeling like a burden. It was there for everything: Celebrations, losses, work stress, worries about health, fretting about loved ones. Music can take me away when everything is too much. I focus in on the sound and block out everything else, and I’m somewhere else. Happier times, different times, different places. Sometimes, music I haven’t heard in years starts playing in my head when I need it, and beckons me to listen to the actual song. Does it always help? I’m not sure. When I’m at the absolute bottom of my depression, or something traumatic has just happened, I don’t think interacting with anything in a meaningful way is within my capabilities. It has helped me through countless days of regular deep-sea (not bottom-of-the-sea) depression. You know, the kind where you almost still have enough agency to do something silly? Music refocuses my attention. Especially music that echoes the depression, because I can hear the pain and know they made it through to produce that sound. Sometimes, I crave the poetic words. At other times, the sound is what soothes me, and the lyrics are trash, but it doesn’t matter. Music doesn’t have to be good to help you. As an adult with sensory overload and an anxiety disorder during a pandemic, music is more of an escape than ever. The kids are always here, always screaming, screeching or talking over the TV. It may seem counterintuitive, but it relieves sensory overload symptoms to put on noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones, turn the music all the way up and sing at the top of my lungs. The efficacy is doubled if I shut my eyes, or am consumed in something such as crafting or cleaning. The kids don’t like it, but I don’t care. No one likes them screaming, and yet… An activity with music that helps me, besides the screaming and using it to block out sounds, is making playlists for different moods. Besides list-making soothing my anxiety, it also means then I’ll have a pre-made custom resource when I need it the next time. You can do this on Spotify or YouTube or I’m sure a million other places online. I use YouTube because it’s easiest to me. How does music help you?

Ane Notting

Read This If You Also Use Music to Cope With Depression and Anxiety

At different times, music kept me grounded, kept me company and kept me here. Music is my preferred media by lightyears — no contest. This is why I post so many songs and usually attach one to my blogs. Because it is always around: inspiring, aiding, present. Since I was little, it has been one of my only and best constant friends. No judgment, no feeling like a burden. It was there for everything: Celebrations, losses, work stress, worries about health, fretting about loved ones. Music can take me away when everything is too much. I focus in on the sound and block out everything else, and I’m somewhere else. Happier times, different times, different places. Sometimes, music I haven’t heard in years starts playing in my head when I need it, and beckons me to listen to the actual song. Does it always help? I’m not sure. When I’m at the absolute bottom of my depression, or something traumatic has just happened, I don’t think interacting with anything in a meaningful way is within my capabilities. It has helped me through countless days of regular deep-sea (not bottom-of-the-sea) depression. You know, the kind where you almost still have enough agency to do something silly? Music refocuses my attention. Especially music that echoes the depression, because I can hear the pain and know they made it through to produce that sound. Sometimes, I crave the poetic words. At other times, the sound is what soothes me, and the lyrics are trash, but it doesn’t matter. Music doesn’t have to be good to help you. As an adult with sensory overload and an anxiety disorder during a pandemic, music is more of an escape than ever. The kids are always here, always screaming, screeching or talking over the TV. It may seem counterintuitive, but it relieves sensory overload symptoms to put on noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones, turn the music all the way up and sing at the top of my lungs. The efficacy is doubled if I shut my eyes, or am consumed in something such as crafting or cleaning. The kids don’t like it, but I don’t care. No one likes them screaming, and yet… An activity with music that helps me, besides the screaming and using it to block out sounds, is making playlists for different moods. Besides list-making soothing my anxiety, it also means then I’ll have a pre-made custom resource when I need it the next time. You can do this on Spotify or YouTube or I’m sure a million other places online. I use YouTube because it’s easiest to me. How does music help you?

Community Voices

I hate it here.

<p>I hate it here.</p>
8 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I hate it here.

<p>I hate it here.</p>
8 people are talking about this
Community Voices

I hate it here.

<p>I hate it here.</p>
8 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Self-Injury/ Self-Harm Awareness Day

<p>Self-Injury/ Self-Harm Awareness Day</p>