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During the holiday season, one of the most talked-about topics is holiday shopping. Many people who struggle with anxiety find it to be overwhelming. Before I started my holiday shopping, I feared that some people would not like my gifts. I also worried about how much money I would spend. Now that I have finished shopping for two people, I do not feel as anxious. Here are some tips that helped me start my holiday shopping.
"Surviving Mental Health Stigma Blog" — that’s the name of this blog full of tips and advice to get through moments of stigma, overcome it, and so on. Often, that’s how I approach writing for this blog: what tips can I share? What have I gone through that might be useful to others? But then it struck me. Dealing with mental health stigma can quite literally be an act of survival. It’s not hyperbole. It’s not dramatics. Mental health stigma could literally lead to someone dying. I’ll elaborate. (Note: this post contains a content warning.)
I find pain destroys my ability to think. I find that once pain reaches a certain level, I can no long formulate rational thoughts, and all I can think about is the pain. I short, pain kills my brain. This feels like a curse for someone who uses her brain for a living. However, pain's penchant for affecting one's ability to think is hardly limited to me.
Sometimes, even when you are no longer the victim of verbal abuse, the lasting effects can hinder your mental health. Finding ways to deal with the possible symptoms of verbal abuse like anxiety and depression are critical for your path to healing if these symptoms prevent you from living a full and happy life. Box breathing may be able to help.
A self-harm tracker can be a useful tool in helping you begin the recovery process and maintain a self-harm sober streak over the long term. Let's take a look at how you can use a self-harm tracker in your own recovery journey and what information you might want to include in your own version.
When you are depressed, it might feel like a waste of time, money, and energy to go on a vacation. You are probably going to be depressed wherever you go because traveling is not going to cure you of depression. And in case you can't or don't want to travel, relaxing at home is unlikely to make your depression go away either. This begs the question: should you even take time off from work in the first place?
In many cases, eating disorder behaviors can be fueled by cognitive distortions. These irrational thought patterns could influence you to latch onto a negative and inaccurate view of yourself, a situation, a relationship, or life as a whole. But cognitive distortions only have power if you allow them to take root, which means that you can learn to spot cognitive distortions—and ultimately combat them—in eating disorder recovery.
Bipolar is usually medicated to a manageable level. In other words, people with bipolar disorder who are on medication are not "back to normal," rather, they still exhibit some bipolar traits but at a manageable amount. This is completely different from what I was told for years after diagnosis, and it's also different from what people see in the media. People seem to think that a pill will make the person back to who they were before the bipolar disorder. I'm sorry to say, this just isn't true for the vast majority of us.
Among tinsel and twinkling lights and cheer, it’s not something people want to hear, but it’s true: the holidays negatively impact my mental health. Whereas others find cheer in the music and gift-wrapping, I find discomfort, anxiety, and darkness. The even more difficult thing is there’s really no safe, stigma-free space to talk about it.
Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday—not even close, in fact. As someone who was raised in a large, boisterous, Italian American family, I understand the importance of seasonal traditions, quality time with loved ones, and communal expressions of gratitude. But as someone who is also in eating disorder (ED) recovery, the overt emphasis on food this time of year can still cause ripples of anxiety to surface. So, as another holiday season rounds the corner, I want to share with you a list of ED recovery affirmations to remember on Thanksgiving. I often repeat them to myself when I feel overwhelmed or anxious during the festivities, and I hope these affirmations calm and re-center you as well.

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Comments

Liana M. Scott
Kim Berkley
Hi Paula,

I'm sorry to hear you had such difficulty as a child. If the scratching has started up again, you may wish to consider getting professional help this time. You can always call the lifeline (now at 988) and ask for any resources they may have, or check our resources page here:

https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources

I hope that helps. Take care, and good luck.

Sincerely,
Kim
Kim Berkley
Hi Jessie,

Thank you for your comment. I understand your fears about reaching out, but I'm so glad you decided to anyway. I'm sorry to hear about your recent stress and nightmares, and that your family does not seem to fully understand what you're going through — but it's good that you at least tried to talk with them about it.

I'm not a licensed dream analyst or any kind of mental health professional, so I'm afraid I'm not qualified to give you an official analysis of your dreams. But from what you've said, I would guess that your dreams have a lot to do with that stress you mentioned, and perhaps some thoughts you may be having (conscious or subconscious) around relapsing into self-harm and your eating disorder. The dream in which you die because no one comes in to stop you also sounds like you may be feeling isolated or misunderstood, like you're on your own in this — which makes sense if you feel like your family isn't really getting the message you've been trying to convey.

So I think the most important thing here is to remember that you're NOT alone, even though it's easy to feel that way, especially when you're stressed. Keep reaching out to your family if you can (as long as it's not making things worse for you); you might try explaining in different ways, maybe even sharing some resources to help them understand. I'll link a couple helpful pages below for you:

https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources
https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/self-injury/self-injury-homepage

There are also other sources of support you can try reaching out to (some of which you can find in that first link), including hotlines, support groups, and of course, professional help. I would strongly suggest trying to get a therapist or counselor in your corner; it sounds like you're dealing with a lot, and someone like that can be a huge help in figuring out what's triggering you and what you can do to feel better. If you're still in school, check if your school has free counseling services. (Some workplaces have this too.) Remember too that you can also get professional help totally online through teledoc services and online therapy services like BetterHelp (which helped me connect with a therapist I really liked) and Talkspace. A therapist can also help you help your family better understand what you're feeling and how they can help you get better.

I hope things get better for you soon. If you have any more questions, comments, etc., feel free to reply here or elsewhere on the blog. I'll be around. :)


Sincerely,
Kim
Janet
Wow. Very insightful. Thinking of you through this process.
Karen W.
Derry, you are so right. Loneliness is a strong factor with Bipolar. No matter how many people you have around you, huh? But we do seclude ourselves. I don't like myself half the time so I don't want to subject others to that person. There is shame no matter if it's not our fault.