mental illness

AN ODE TO ANXIETY

Please set me free anxiety, I’m sick and tired of the sleepless nights that without a reason you think I deserve. Please set me free anxiety, I don’t want to keep on overthinking every thought again and again. Please set me free anxiety, I don’t think I have any more tears left to cry over small things I should leave behind. Please set me free anxiety, I don’t want to give you the power to make me stop and wonder if I deserve the things I’ve been wanting for so long. Please set me free anxiety, It’s time for me to learn how to breathe again without caring what you have to say. The pity party is over, go home. – emotionally drained. ———————————————————————————————————————— She felt too many things, so many she couldn’t manage to process it all...

BOSOM BUDDIES

My anxiety and I are best buds.   She holds me tight when the night sets in, wrapping me in her arms.   The questions start to swirl in the darkness; I wonder  Am I dying? What is this bump? I can feel my heart beating; I must be having a heart attack.  Stop, breathe; be quiet!    My anxiety and I are best buds.  She and I walk hand in hand into a room wondering if anyone would like us  She whispers in my ear, ‘They are gonna notice, because they always notice.’  Stop. Breathe; be quiet!   Smile and nod; you’ve got this, right?    My anxiety and I are best buds.  Am I going to be late? Is this dress appropriate? What would they think of me?  Oh no, I said something stupid and now it is on playing over and over in my head.   She whispers, ‘They noticed, because they always notice. Maybe you...

OPEN GROUND

On your left arm is a scar  where glass from a broken windshield   pierced skin, muscle, aponeurosis—  a thin, white sheet of fiber, impossible to know   is there without a wound.   When he was institutionalized   you told a story to explain his absence:   a flat tire, you said. Seeing your father unmedicated  is like meeting him again, is like being    a child. He gives you a purple flower,  drives you around the city, orders pizza   with oysters on top, doesn’t stop talking—  your taciturn father, his unhappy history   suddenly wiped from view.     He took his antipsychotic meds   for 23 years, sometimes buying food   for you and your brothers rather than   filling a prescription. The year you apply   for medical school your father loses     his hold on reality, it slips away   into the ...

HOW MY LIFE HAS CHANGED SINCE “EXPOSING” MY MENTAL ILLNESS

I no longer have the right to feel anonymous. I made that choice for myself. When I walk into a room, there is always a possibility that someone in that room knows more about me than I could ever be comfortable with. I made that choice for myself. I log into social media, bracing myself for the backlash. Not everyone agrees with what I do and somewhere along the way, as humans, we lost the teaching of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I find myself in conversation with a friend or family member, praying that we can have a conversation that doesn’t circle back to my illness. It defines me now because I let it. Just like I can’t flip a switch to turn my illness off, I also can’t flip one to un-expose my life. I no longer have the right to feel anonymous. I ...

LET’S TALK ABOUT SUICIDE

When Kate Spade took her own life, my Twitter feed was on fire with opinions. There was sympathy…but there was also judgment. People were shocked, wondering aloud how she could be so selfish, leave her family behind, and on and on. I bet that Kate Spade thought she was doing her family a favor. She wouldn’t be a burden to them anymore. Not even a week later, Anthony Bourdain took his own life. I wonder if he was thinking the same. I have personal experience with depression and suicide. I have attempted it; the first time at age 14, but I have a better support system now and feel stable. When I was in the black hole of depression, I felt that I would be doing everyone a favor if I didn’t exist. They wouldn’t have to deal with my moods, feed me anymore, listen to my problems. I wouldn’t have...

THE FREE BEAUTY THERAPY

In a world where a tap of your phone can make you feel inferior coupled with the pressures of your life as women, it is little wonder that beauty and mental health are closely interlinked. The impact of pregnancy/raising children, work pressures, romantic relationship and the relationships with your friends and family can all impact our mental wellbeing from time to time. The relationship between mental wellbeing and the constant bombardment of so called “beauty” fascinates me and worries me at the same time. I was fortunate enough to have some women share with me how their mental wellbeing affects their view of beauty and how to overcome this fragile relationship. “I work in mental health, I really shouldn’t be experiencing mental illness, should I?” Beauty for some is i...

I AM ENOUGH

Oh, there’s that bothersome underlying belief that I am not enough again . . . Where does that belief come from? It comes from realizing as a small child that you would never be enough to fill the holes of the people around you. This belief does not just creep in and come from dysfunctional homes. It comes from all homes because guess what? We are all raised by human beings and humans are a messy species. We learn from a very young age of what we need to do to fit in and find belonging in our homes, communities, and the world at large. Mine took on the qualities of perfectionism, people-pleasing, and silence. I was the quiet child who made sure everyone around her was happy and felt seen, heard, and understood. Then I was the star runner, dancer, and student. That is how I found my belongi...

HOW MY MOM RAISED (OR DIDN’T RAISE) ME WHILE BATTLING DEPRESSION

I realized I was just like my mom when my husband had his first panic attack. Driving through the city, he had to stop, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and take over, thinking about how dramatic he was being, downplaying his emotions, his terror, his sheer, brain-zapping panic.  That’s what she was, my mom. That’s what she did. Other’s emotions were too much, or not enough. Too complicated or oversimplified. She was always too busy or too overbearing, hovering or hiding.  I learned to deal with my emotions alone. I learned to walk softly, speak little and make myself small.  She wouldn’t call me for three months and then threaten to come beat down my door to “make sure I was okay” after she decided to text me during the work day, and I didn’t respond within 60 seconds. There was never...

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