Speak Up! And Your Voice Will Help You

Sometimes I wonder what world optimists live in. It can’t possibly be the same as mine, because mine is one of twisting mists, overcast skies, and lurking shadows.

Besides the possibility of parallel universes, this phenomenon is likely a matter of perspective.

What is perspective?

Duh; it’s how you see everything. And, I mean everything. In fact, perspective is how you see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and sensedeadpeople everything. It’s like eyeglasses you wear on all your senses.

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Now, I know you’re a smart cookie who already knew all that. But, did you think about how perspective applies to mental health? Specifically, did you think that this means other people will have no clue how to relate to what you are sensing all the time?

While you are lying in bed, certain that nothing will ever change and that people are crap, someone else is skipping around and wondering how to spend such a glorious day. That person may even be in your house and driving you crazy with the skipping.

I know. I’m married to a skipper.

I often resort to sticking a leg out as he passes -but, my counselor suggests I ought to engage in fewer sabotaging behaviors like that.

What I and you really need is for others to understand what we are going through. We want them to help us because we often can’t help ourselves. We want acceptance and love. We also don’t always know what we want besides to just feel better.

This is where perspective comes in.

Many, many posts here at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog of Amazing Stories and Poems and Posts and Mental Health Issues and Such If You’re Still Reading This Title I’m Amazed deal with the perspective of mental illness sufferers. I’ve learned a lot, and consider myself part of this little group -though from a safe distance because I also have social anxiety.

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These stories help others to understand. But, they are only the first step.

For other people to get us the help we need, we need to walk at least one more pace. Now, don’t get stressed and close this article and go binge on chocolate. I’m always about keeping things doable. My steps are always baby steps.

All I’m saying is that, after you share your perspective, you need to ask for the help you need.

Not sure what I mean? I wasn’t, either, till recently.

I began counseling just over a year ago from a very dark, confused place. I hadn’t even found this lovely blog. No one seemed to relate to my anxiety or concerns or negative self-talk. If anyone talked to me about my issues, they handed out aphorisms like useless bits of random jigsaw puzzles.

Fast-forward to a lot of sessions (and money) later, and I had an epiphany. (That means an inspirational thought. Look how much I’m teaching you today!)

I had been attending counseling sessions, waiting for her to know exactly what to do based on the few answers I’d given to questions. I expected that she felt my anxious hesitancy about groups, that she was always looking at the glass half-empty, and that she also saw life as an endless drag of sameness.

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Nope, she didn’t.

Apparently, she skips, too -though, less than my husband. And I needed to tell her what I was sensing.

“I need you to give me exact phrases I can say when I feel that way,” I finally admitted.

Or, “Today, I need to talk about how to talk myself out of a depressive cycle before I spiral and don’t want to even get up.”

Or, even, “Can you please explain what you meant by that term?”

Thing is, the counselor has a different perspective. She has hers. You have yours. That random guy walking past has his. That woman over there has hers as well.

In regards to mental health professionals, we need to approach sessions the way we would a regular doctor visit. If you were at the doctor’s office, the dialogue might run as follows:

What are you seeing the doctor for today?

-Oh, you know; I was walking up the stairs and stubbed my toe really hard. I think it’s broken.

Applied to our mental health, the dialogue would go like this:

And how are we feeling today?

-Oh, today I woke up feeling like even the sun hated me and I had a major panic attack at the thought of riding the bus.

As my husband says, we’re paying the counselor to fix the problems. It’s her job.

If you are smarter than a random blog-writer like me, you may already be past the step of telling your mental health professional what you need. So, smarty-pants, have you gone on to apply this to talking with your partner? Close friend? Mother? Busybody neighbor?

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Don’t go crazy -crazier– admitting all your problems to strangers. Let me tell you: one Facebook post can alienate your neighbors. I am, however, advocating appropriate responses that help friends or nagging neighbors to give you the breathing room and support you might need.

If you’re feeling a bit down and think no one loves you, try texting a friend and telling him or her that you need to feel better. It might be a good night for movies.

If you think you could just use a good laugh, call someone who tells jokes.

If you’re feeling too much pressure from demands, ask if you can’t have a few things due at a later period.

When I attended a local mom’s group we talked about the Audacious Ask. The idea was that we needn’t be afraid to ask other people for help. We were challenged to ask a friend or neighbor for something we needed for us, even if we were stressed that they wouldn’t want to.

My counselor agrees that we all have different perspectives. She also says mine can be tweaked a bit up the positivity scale, but that’s a topic for another post.

In the meantime, I challenge you to use your new power of perspective to ask for what you need.

Don’t be afraid. If your friend came to you, wouldn’t you want to help?

Photo credits:

Josh Calabrese
Kyle Broad
Bryan Minear
Bewakoof.com Official

Depression for Dummies

Hi. I’m Chelsea, and I am married to a wonderful, talented, intelligent man who is pretty dumb when it comes to mental illness.

Perhaps you know someone like this. Your bright, helpful person may be a friend, parent, brother, sister, or boss. As well-meaning as he or she might pretend to be, this acquaintance just doesn’t get it. Worse, he or she is often so inept that whenever effort is made, you feel he or she constantly places a clumsy finger right on a fresh bruise and pushes.

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But our friends and family don’t have to be idiots. Honestly, we really need love and support for our mental health and we can be tough nuts to crack.

In light of that, I’ve developed a helpful guide. I call it The Depressive Feelings/Better Responses Guide (of Science). Just whip this puppy out whenever you want to whip them upside the head and you’ll both feel better:

  1. When someone says that he is feeling depressed, a cheery life aphorism like, “Life isn’t all bad,” “Don’t worry; be happy,” or “The sun’ll come out tomorrow” isn’t helpful. At all.
    Instead, try, “I understand that you are feeling depressed.” This may easily be followed by, “I’d like to help alleviate some of your stress. Can I clean your whole kitchen for you?,” or “…I happen to know that chocolate is half-off at the store. I’ll be right back with a pound or two.”
  2. If a depressed person says she feels hopeless; that everything in life is hard: the incorrect response is to point out how easy her life is. Please oh please do not say, “But you don’t have any serious issues like cancer or your arms falling off.”
    A better answer? “Let’s address your concerns one at a time. Maybe you could write a list, then we can come up with a solution for each one.”
    Or simply listen, without criticism. Some people just really need an ear to dump in.
  3. How about fatigue? Do you tell someone with depression that he shouldn’t be tired? That he should get to bed earlier? No, silly. He knows he should get to bed earlier; worrying about how he needs to sleep is one of the things that kept him up.
    Validate the feelings of the tired person. A passable idea might be to describe a cool idea you read recently -about writing all of one’s concerns on a paper by the side of the bed at night. Maybe you have a really boring book you could lend him.
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  4. Let’s say she is feeling poorly about herself. Her self-esteem is in the toilet of the deep, dark dungeon of the evil underworld troll king’s nephew. Do not advise a person with depressive tendencies that, “You’re a great person,” or how many talents she has and how she has the potential for so much more.
    Telling a depressed person of wasted potential will bring on a crying fit. You’re just backing up the mean little voice already in her head (herself).
    One of the best things to say is that you like her, that you like a specific thing about her (say, her ability to come up with Britney Spears song lyrics at the drop of a hat). Try to turn the focus on something else, especially if that is on a happy memory.
  5. When someone with depressive tendencies withdraws from life, reach out. You need to act if he does one of the following: not answering texts, appearing less-frequently online, and even telling people, “Goodbye.”
    If you can’t go, try to get his family or other friends to physically check in. Even a vocal phone call is better than a text. A visit is better than an e-mail. A long, in-person conversation is better than a social media message.

I have a difficult time with about everything in life due to a negative perspective and very little self-motivation. I need my husband, my few friends, and my family. Theirs are the hands that reach into the cave of my mind and pull me to safety.

With specific directions like this, we can work toward loving the hand that reaches. At the very least, we won’t feel like slapping it away.

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Picture credits:
Pixabay
Pexels
Unsplash

The Cure for Depression: Joy

I am not looking forward to this article.

Whoa –what?! Why wouldn’t I want to type about happy things? I’m the expert, dishing out advice. I should be ALL OVER this topic.

I’m not.

I am terrible at happiness. -Aaaannnddd that sentence just proved it.

Instead of the ol’ biblical casting of stones at me, however, I’d like to pipe up and suggest that we all might struggle a bit with the positive side of things. That’s kind of, sort of why we’re looking at solutions for depression, right?

So, with seeking counseling, improving our diet, getting outside, exercising a tad, and perhaps taking medication, let’s Do Something that Brings Us Real Joy.

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Lemme give you an analogy: Right now I am sitting at my computer typing you advice. I can smell something, and it’s not a pleasant sort of something. I am fairly certain this unpleasant odor is coming from the garbage can.

I live in a fancy house with a fancy pull-out garbage drawer thingie with two entire garbage bins so that I can procrastinate taking the mess outside for a really long time (like two days, since I have four children). We’ve been playing a game of smashing the mess down instead of removing it because we’re really good at procrastination.

The garbage needs to get taken out. Why the heck don’t I do it?

  1. I enjoy the stink of stinky things. They remind me that life is full of crap and I shouldn’t forget it.
  2. I’ve read about other people smelling garbage. I feel better knowing I’m not alone and leave comments about how I, too, can smell bad things all day.
  3. Thinking about refuse removal overwhelms me. What if the bags are too heavy? What if they tear when I pull them out? What if, what if, what if?
  4. It’s a really long couple hundred feet out my garage door to the outside cans/bins/etc. I just don’t think I can make it that far.

Didja get the point? Good! You get extra credit. Everyone else (myself included): just insert phrases like negative thoughtsdepressionhiding in the closetfeeling terrible every time I wrote about smelly waste.

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My story sounded silly when I was talking about garbage. I mean, OF COURSE I SHOULD JUST TAKE IT OUTSIDE. But why do we hang onto personal garbage?

Feeling terrible is simply not worth it.

I wrote about why I numb awhile back. Not doing happy things is an activity I participate in because I’m trying to self-protect. I think that not feeling happy will make it so I also don’t feel sad. Instead, I am constantly in a haze of nothingness and still feel sad.

Feeling happy is okay. In fact, it feels good.

Let’s small step out of our stinky, dark corner. First, I want you to think a happy thought. Seriously, Tinkerbell, DO IT. I recommend thinking about a time that you felt happy, even just a little bit. Or, think about an activity you love to do.

Got it firmly in your mind? Now, wave your wand and… Expecto Patronum!

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In the real world, we’re going to take that happy thought and write another one below it. We’re making what’s called a LIST. Yes, I want you to actually put pen or pencil on paper and list them out. Even in today’s technological world, listing helps our primal brains make connections.

Your list may read: eating, reading, me time, skiing, friends, chocolate, gardening, walks, booze, sex, sunlight streaming softly through slatted blinds, and whiskers on kittens. Dude; it’s your list. Make it catered to you and stop worrying that someone will judge you for it.

Now, small step numero dos is to pick one thing on there that you think you can do soon. It is your list, but pick one that gives you REAL JOY (sex and drugs don’t count, sorry). Decide to do it. Today would be ideal, but maybe you’re reading this article at 3 a.m. and water skiing with your friends might be a little lethal in the dark.

I don’t want you to just say you will do it, either. Put it in your phone. Send a text to a responsible person like your mother. Carve out the time that you will do it and then actually do it.

It’s just one thing, I promise.

After completing that thing, recuperate. Then, do something else from your list. Recover. Pick another one and do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After you do that first thing, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to come back here and comment on this here blog post. Tell me what you did (unless it’s classified). You get extra internet credit if you tell the class how you felt afterwards.

Let’s find real joy, together.

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This has been part of our tips to help cure depression. Tune in next time, to read about service.

unsplash-logoBlaise Vonlanthen
Pixabay
Pexels
unsplash-logoSharon McCutcheon

What I Learned in Six Months of Blogging

So I was asked a lot lately how I got here. Over 50,000 views about 3900 followers and I always go back to this post that was originally posted January 5th of this year. So I wanted to update a little bit and reshare some of the things that have made by blog semi-successful.

What I have Learned Blogging

Its been over six months since The Bipolar Writer went live. I have learned so much and I wanted to impart some of my wisdom. I am by no means an expert in blogging, but I have done a lot six months. I have reached the end of the year goal of 2,000 followers towards the end of December, and its been climbing ever since. I am at a little over 3900 followers at the beginning of March. My blog is one that is a shared experience, how to guide, and things I think are relative to my blog’s theme of writing to end the stigma surrounding mental health and to end the idea that suicide is an answer.

It has also been a great place to share the stories of others. You can find my collection of interview features in the following page.

Interview Features – The Series

I have been asked a few times by email what has worked for my blog, and I usually just reply to the email. I thought it would be good to write about it in a blog post.

So I thought why not share my experience in blogging over the past few months. Maybe there is something that you will learn that will be helpful on your own blog.

1. I have learned first and foremost to be myself. I write each blog post about my experiences by letting the reader into my life. I write about my experiences surrounding my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. I am sharing my triumphs and losses. Always be honest and people will keep coming back to your blog.

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2. Getting an actual domain name is very helpful. I have gotten many followers because I have a domain name. If you are serious about blogging then you can find the $99 price tag for a domain name and the premium themes that come with it. It was the best thing I did.

3. Use free photo sites like unsplash.com to add color to your post. In my opinion, adding photos will help your post feel more like a home to the reader. Also, it’s important to note to always give credit for the photos you use. The website I talked about gives you all you need to do just that in your blog post.

4. You can add Grammarly to your web browser so that you edit your post on WordPress. It’s a great free tool to have because even when you think you have edited at your best, you can still miss things. You can go with their premium service but it’s not necessary.

5. In my experience, the Hemingway App is a great tool for writing blog posts. It’s not the greatest of proofreading tools but it tells you when you are using passive voice which is important to writing good quality posts. It also allows you to post straight from the app to WordPress. I paid the $19.99 price tag because it’s a useful tool. I never used the actual free version (if there is one I don’t remember.)

6. As a writer, I like to have as many tools at my disposal when writing. One app that has been amazing for me when I want to free write a blog post is Ulysses. For me when I just need to write its the best place. It also connects to your iCloud so what you have on this app is functional on your computer, your phone, and iPad. It’s my best functional app. I can write a post on my phone and it will automatically be on my computer. It’s great for taking notes when you are out and have an idea.

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7. Try your best to answer all comments. Its the connection to your readers that will get them to come back to your blog. The stronger the connection the more they will feel at home on your blog.

8. This also goes the other way. You should take time to read the blogs of others. I admit I don’t do this as much I would like, but the better connections you make, the more people will come back to your blog. I admit lately I got sidetracked by how much I have going on in my life but it means the world to connect with other bloggers and make a real connection.

9. Make your blog post and blog reader friendly. My first two attempts at writing a blog my posts felt too much like WebMD. It was too technical and not really my goal. Share your experience your way. That is all that matters.

10. Set aside time to go to the Reader in WordPress and find blogs that you find interesting. Follow them. Leave a comment. Become a part of the what ever community you are blogging about. When you become a part of something your blog has purpose.

11. One thing that has helped my blog personally is to add contributor writers that way the content here on The Bipolar Writer stays fresh. It might be something to look at or you can have guest writers/

This is all I could come up with in my own experiences. Always be yourself and your fellow bloggers will come to love your blog. It takes time and dedication, but I know you can do it!

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J.E. Skye

Photo Credit:

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unsplash-logoBen Kolde

unsplash-logoAndrew Neel

unsplash-logoCourtney Hedger