Mental Health Coping Strategies

*This is a repost of an old article and I have updated it to reflect a COVID-19 world we now find ourselves in today.

My Tips on Coping with Mental Illness

At some point we find strategies to cope with the many issues that come along having a mental illness. I know being Bipolar for the last thirteen years I have found things that help with my depression. I am still working on better coping strategies with my social anxiety but I am always a work in progress. Now more than ever this is important to the world that we are living in with the coronavirus.

I want to talk today about some of those coping strategies that I have found effective. I will also talk about some strategies that the experts recommend.

1. Use self-talk – This is one isn’t my recommendation but it makes sense as a coping srategy. I am my own worse enemy and sometimes it can be effective to use self-talk when your depression takes over. You can also use it to convince yourself to get out of bed that day. Talking to yourself can mean the difference between letting depression take you over. It is also very effective against anxiety. Talking to yourself to get up, take a shower, brush your teeth, and eat breakfast is more important as we self isolate. Talking yourself into still finding a routine is paramount in these times.

One of the worst parts of my social anxiety is the catastrophic thinking that goes through my mind. Self-talk can be effective in changing the negative thoughts. I always spend so much time worrying about the possible outcomes of any social interactions. It starts to control me and that it drives me to stress. Which always leads to panic attacks. Talking myself into positive thoughts is one strategy that can work. I have recently talked about the dangers of anxiety in a COVID-19 world, in one of my recent blogs that you can find here.

2. Think Positive thoughts. – I can attest to how thinking postively as a mental health coping strategy. Thinking positive thoughts is so simple and it is an effective way to cope with mental health. Positive thoughts can change your day. It can change a single minute, and it can mean the world.

3. Get More Sleep – Sleep is the most important part of mental health. I can trace all my issues with my Bipolar Disorder to my lack of getting real sleep. My sleep has gotten so bad, that I can’t sleep without the aid of Seroquel. I would love to get eight hours of real sleep a night but my reality is more like four hours.

Sleep hygiene is so important. I wrote a blog post a few months back that will be very helpful with this area. Sleep Hygiene – Top Ten Sleep Tips

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4. Listening to Postive Music. – I love this one because it is so effective. It is why I dedicated a whole series on my blog to music that changes my mood. . Find some music that can help you get through the worst of things. I have a playlist dedicated to this coping strategy.

5. Postive Social Contact – This is something I am bad at in my mental health. It makes sense. The more we interact with other humans in a positive setting it can mean real change. One of the worst things I do with my social anxiety is isolating myself in my own little world. I will spend weeks not leaving my house. Meeting people has changed, but you can still be social online. Sites like Zoom have made it safer and secure to set up meetings between friends and loved ones. 

It’s hard to describe the feeling that comes with when I finally leave my house for a few hours. It means the world to get out and interact with the world. This is one coping strategy that I will have to work on in my own mental health.

6. Writing and Sharing your story. – I can’t imagine a world without me writing in it. It took me so long to get to a place where my writing is a part of me and now I will fight for it forever. It is what makes me get through each day. Its my greatest coping strategy.

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Finding ways to cope within the confines of your mental health is one important strategy. It won’t always be easy. I went through so much trial and error. But I have laid out a few good ways to cope.

I offer this challenge to my mental health bloggers. Write a post about your own mental health coping strategies.

Always Keep Fighting.

James Edgar Skye

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

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Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoIsaac Davis

unsplash-logoKinga Cichewicz

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7 Ways I Changed from Hunting the Good Stuff

I spent some time in the Arizona Army National Guard. They had started a program called Master Resiliency Training (MRT). Arizona had one of the highest suicide rates among soldiers. They sanctioned this program to help soldiers “overcome adversity.” The Psychology Department of the University of Philadelphia created the program. After a few years I had forgotten a lot of the training. One thing stuck with me though I never practiced it. It was called “Hunt the Good Stuff.” A simple exercise of writing down three good things that happened to you that day before bed. And writing why those things were important to you.

I remember a Major telling everyone about when he first heard about this exercise. He thought it was stupid. His instructor told him to try it. What did he have to lose? The training went for three days. He noticed by the second night of “Hunting the Good Stuff” he was sleeping better. This Major also had two young daughters whom he didn’t know how to connect with. One night at dinner, he asked his family to tell each other three good things that happened to them that day. His family started doing this every night. His daughters start talking about their good things before anyone else. He was able to learn about and connect with his children with this exercise.

Over the last couple years, my life has had many ups and downs. After so many things chipping away at my resolve, I grew more depressed and negative. I got so negative that someone close to me told me they didn’t want to be around me anymore. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I felt I had hit rock bottom. My job offered six free counseling sessions and I took them. I started a “Hunt the Good Stuff” journal. I still have a long way to go but I’m 1000% better than I was. That was five months ago. This one exercise has done more for me than I ever imagined. I wish I had started doing it sooner.

1. When I Look for Good Things, I Find Them

When I first started this exercise, it felt daunting. I wasn’t sure if I could find three things to write in this journal every day. I had to think for a few minutes. The more often I did this, the easier it got. I used to get angry and sad because my mind autopiloted into negative thoughts. When I sat down and thought about the good things, I always found good things. Perspective and attitude do play a role in one’s mindset. Reflecting on something good, no matter how small, every day has helped to change my way of thinking.

2. Others Noticed a Change in Me

It took several weeks before someone said anything. My sister mentioned noticing a huge change in me. A better change. My coworkers noticed too. One of them wanted to take photos for a work Instagram. I joined in and enjoyed being in the photos. I overheard someone say they had never seen me smile so much. Coworkers were happy to see me when I went to work. They were excited to work with me that day. Positive thinking has led me to enjoy the people I work with even if I don’t enjoy the job itself. 

3. I Gained More Self-Confidence

I talked with a coworker about some of the things I had been doing since I felt my life had fallen apart. I mentioned my counseling and “Hunting the Good Stuff.” I thought she would say that she noticed I was happier. But what she said surprised me. She noticed that I was more confident in myself. I never would have guessed that would be a result from positive thinking. It makes sense. Being positive had made me act sillier and have fun without the concern of what others might think. I can’t remember the last time I was like that.

4. My Attitude Changed; I’m More Positive

As expected, positive thinking has led me to see the world in a positive way. I don’t always assume the worst from people. I rationalize things differently. When someone says they forgot about plans we made because they didn’t put it in their calendar, I understand. I’ve done that too. Before I would assume, I wasn’t important to them and that’s why they forgot. Sometimes people get busy and it has nothing to do with me. I don’t make plans as often now, but I don’t get upset if things don’t go to plan.

5. I Changed How I Talk to Myself

One of the things I started along with “Hunting the Good Stuff” was a positive affirmation. The person I was close to who didn’t want me in their life anymore gave this to me. I repeat the phrases, “I like myself. I love myself. I deserve good things.” I once repeated these words over and over for about 20 minutes. This helped but writing three good things every day helped too. My internal monologue has changed. I don’t call myself stupid when I make a mistake. I don’t say negative things to myself as often. It’s still there now and then, but less frequent.

6. I Sleep Better

It doesn’t work every night. Some nights I’m still restless or only sleep a few hours. But overall my sleep has improved. I have dreams more often. Fewer nightmares. I sleep longer and deeper. I don’t always feel energized, but I don’t feel drained upon waking up anymore. I give myself a couple hours in the morning before work. I allow myself time to ease into the day. This has added to my daily productivity and attitude when going to work. Most of the time, I can go to sleep at the time I want to start sleeping.

7. I Enjoy Things Again

I used to have a general crabby disposition. Even when I used to enjoy something, I didn’t show much enthusiasm. I find myself feeling good after doing things. I go to movies alone and reflect on having a good time with myself. If I go to a party, I socialize for a bit and enjoy some food. I walk in with no expectations and walk out having had a great time. I get more reading and writing done because I enjoy doing it more. 

I’m surprised how much this one activity helped change my perspective on life. I still have hard days where I have to force myself to find good things. The last few weeks I’ve moved from at least three good things every day to four good things every day. More and more days are having five to seven good things. As of writing this, I’ve been practicing this exercise for over 150 days. That’s five months. I may never get back the people I lost when I was negative and depressed. But I will do everything I can to not make the same mistakes twice.

The good stuff is always out there. You just have to look for it. Happy hunting!

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

Babbles: Hidden Blessings

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This weekend I spent time doing numerous things:

  • I napped (gloriousness, I tell you, pure heaven)
  • I went to the gym (Not quite gloriousness, but a good experience that made me feel proud of my accomplishment)
  • Tidying up parts of my home (again felt pride and accomplishment for getting things done off my to do list)
  • I worked in my craft room on a few art projects
  • Silly me, I forgot that I taught an art class as well.

However, what I wanted to write about is what came to me when I was in my craft room.

Now, let me take a step back and talk about my craft room for a moment.  My craft room is half of the family office, and when I say half, I mean three quarters (you know how stuff starts to stretch from my side to his side, just like the closet in the bedroom).  It was built by my father, my spouse and myself and it took less than a day, costing less than $500.  It is everything I ever wanted in a craft room (and I have wanted a craft room for years, and years and years).  It is my sanctuary and my place of refuge.  It is my creation station, where the magic happens, my popsicle stick and glue castle.  It is my think think think spot.  It is hard to articulate what this place is to me because it is so much to me and means so much that words do not begin to be able to describe what it is.

Last night I was think think thinking, and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I have everything that I want in my life.  It has come to me in an unusual way than I expected, but I have it and last night I was feeling incredibly content.  I have a loving family, a committed spouse, a home, a very safe and reliable vehicle, a secure and stable job, loving pets, amazing friends, enough clothes to provide variety when clothing me.

And then I began thinking about my mental health, the thing that always seems to make me question life in general.  But last night I was content with what it is.  That I have ups and I have downs and that is what it is and that is the way that my life will be.  Right now, in this very moment, I am ok, and I can rejoice in this positive event.  It may be fleeting, but while I have it, I will rejoice in the time that I have in this place of positiveness and stability.

I do not know why I have Bipolar Disorder and a few other disorders that go along with it.  But I do know that I am strong.  I know that I will not allow anything to defeat me and that each time I go up against something, even if it beats me down to a pulp, I will rise back up and be even more strong as result of the beating that I received.

I persevere through all that I encounter.  I make the best out of all that I go through.  I do not allow anything to defeat me and I never ever give up, even when I feel that is my only option, I fight it and keeping moving forward until another option presents itself.

I do not have a house with a picket fence, a husband, two children (boy and girl) with a dog and a cat.  I do not have a perfect life.  But I do love my life.  I love my spouse, who has been by my side for the last 10 years, five of which has been a rocky, rocky road due to mental health issues.  I love my children and the individuals that they are, their creativity and the way that they show their love.  It is no surprise that I am in total love with my animals, they are my love bugs.

I am beyond blessed.  And there are many, many days that I am unable to see this due to the clouds of depression that shield my eyes from the truth.  So I write today to remind myself of all that I have and how blessed I am.  To remind myself that I have all that I have ever wanted: A faithful, loving spouse, children, pets, a secure job, and reliable transportation.

This blog is for me, for when I am in a dark place, I am can draw it back up and re-read it and remind myself of all that I have and how incredibly blessed that I am.

Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Lattes and Whipped Cream,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Babbles: A Friday Babble

I have been writing for an extended period of time today.

I wanted to write about the week that I have had as it has been a heck of a week.

But I keep writing and writing and words keep flowing, but the words and the sentences that the words and sentences are creating are not cohesive.

I am saying lots with what I am putting down on paper, but in the end, I am saying nothing.

 

What I do want to say is that I am feeling that I am full of peace and love.

I feel that burdens that consisted of stress and the inability to control elements of my life that used to weigh me down, no longer weigh on me the way it has in the past, and this feels amazing.

I may not be sleeping to my full potential, so life still has room for improvement, but I can look at what I have and see it for what it is and be overwhelmed with grace and thankfulness.

 

There’s so much more that can and could be said, but it would be, well, babbles.

Today I will not babble.  I will be precise and to the point.

Life can be as grand as you allow it to be, and today, I am letting today be amazing, outstanding, and all that it can be.

 

Cupcakes and Sprinkles,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Can You Always Be Positive?

True happiness isn’t forever, it might not even be for a while. It is found in the moments we least expect it, and sometimes hidden in the times we need it most. Happiness is fleeting.

When I say that happiness doesn’t last forever, I don’t mean that in a such a cynical way. I say that happiness is fleeting because the truth is, life happens and we don’t ever get to choose when. Mistakes are made, things are lost, and bonds are broken. And with these losses, there goes our expectation of infinite happiness right down the gutter.

Many of us feel unsatisfied with our current state of life because our expectations of happiness don’t coincide with reality. Our ideas of what real success and happiness look like are corrupted by social media and the fabrications we’re exposed to every day. We are lead to believe that happiness is perfection, and we convince ourselves that once we are finally happy that it will last forever.

This faulty perception of happiness only gets worse when we begin browsing through social media. I consistently come across a sea of lifestyle posts and ‘hacks’ on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram that I can’t take seriously. These influencers tell us that if we drink more water and get some sunlight each day, then we’ll grow into the person we want to be as if we are mere plants rather than complex, unique human beings. If it were as easy as drinking water and getting sunlight, then we would achieve perfect physical and mental health. For someone who has dealt with anxiety that interferes with everyday life, I understand that there’s a lot more to overcoming the downs of life than that and I’m sure almost everyone can agree.

The thing is, of course platforms like Instagram are going to be filled with picture perfect profiles. We all want the world to see the best version of our lives- even when it isn’t truthful. I can relate with the desire to create a positive image, and I do believe that platforms such as Instagram can be beneficial in that sense. When people land on my profile I want them to see the best version of myself.

The issue I have with this is the negative effect it has on all of us to be mislead by these perfect profiles, particularly the younger generations who are so invested in social media. When we scroll through all of these images, we’re seeing people living in a dream like state. These perfectly crafted profiles make us feel as though we’re missing out on the joy that all of these people we follow are experiencing, or seem to be experiencing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people comparing themselves to popular influencers that promote this image, or commenting along the lines of “I wish I was you!”

So there we go again, reaching for something out there, for that pure joy we see on social media.

But it’s not real.

We can convince ourselves that we can control our lives the way that we control our social media profiles, picking and choosing which moments we want to live out.  

But again, that’s not possible. If that was the case, then we’d all be manic.

In real life we live out the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the sunshine and the rain. We don’t get to slap a sunset filter over it and say that we had a perfect day. Sometimes things just don’t go the way we want it to, and that’s okay. That’s life. And the sooner we begin embracing the unexpected rather than running away from it, the closer we are to real happiness.

I came across this quote while watching Euphoria the other day that perfectly sums up my point.

“I had a therapist once who said that these states will wax and wane.

Which gave my mother relief, because it meant that in the bad times, there would be good times.

But it also gave her anxiety because it meant that in the good times, there would be bad times.”

Although simple, this episode does an excellent job of explaining how clinical depression works for most individuals. Not only does this episode accurately portray how it feels to live with depression and anxiety, but it holds true to the nature of life for all of us.

It can be somewhat frightening to realize that we don’t always know when the next low point will be for us. But if everything always went the way we want it too, we simply wouldn’t be alive. Think of it as the ups and downs on a heart monitor. If you see a straight line, there’s no pulse. If you see it consistently going up, well, that’s not exactly healthy either.

So at this point you might be asking yourself, what’s the point? 

Why am I writing this? As I began to write this post I didn’t know exactly what direction I was headed, I just wanted to remain honest above anything else. Even though I try to keep my writing on the positive side, it’s not always so easy. If I only covered the positive topics then I would be missing out on exploring so many other subjects surrounding mental health that other people can relate to.

So back to the question I set out to answer, it’s a little complicated. While I don’t believe there is a way to always be positive, I do feel that it’s important to always hold on to the hope that things will get better.

If I could give anyone advice on how to be a more positive person, it’s to accept that you don’t always know what tomorrow will bring, but hold on to the hope that the hard times will pass and you will find yourself living out those happy moments again. Don’t let that fill you with fear, let it fill you with excitement.

Instead of viewing happiness as perfection, instead of trying to keep it forever, view it as moments. It’s true that happiness is fleeting; like every other emotion it comes and goes. Happiness is found in moments that turn into memories we can cherish.

So stop chasing perfection and start chasing those moments. It’s that rush you feel when you catch the perfect wave, or that moment when you break through the surface of the water after taking a daring leap. It’s the sense of pride you have when you can finally feel your diploma in your hands and the warmth that radiates from those who supported you along the way. It’s in those moments when you find yourself laughing until your chest aches, or that joy you feel when you reconnect with a friend for the first time in what felt like forever.

Even on your absolute worst days, happiness is there, in that smile that illuminates someone’s face when you do something kind. Happiness is everywhere, even in the bad, if you would just open your mind to it. 

It’s like catching a firefly in your hands, even in the darkest nights. There will be times where the nights feel dark and you think the light has ran out, but it is still there, waiting to land in the palms of your hands again. And those moments, like fireflies, will come back to you when you least expect it.

I Give Myself Two Thumbs Down

Think positively.

Look on the bright side.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Don’t worry; be happy.

Yeah; my brain’s not getting that memo. Despite hearing the merits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or sitting through counseling sessions advocating positivity, I seem determined to stay stuck.

Negative thinking is easier. I’m used to it. I deserve it.

Let’s say a good thing happens, like a job promotion. It’s easier to remind myself of a few “facts:”
-No one else was available and that’s why I got it
-It probably wasn’t as high of pay as someone else would get AND I should get paid less
-Just wait till my boss sees how I perform; he’s likely to demote me again
-The company may collapse and I’ll be back where I was. I’d better not get comfortable.

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Cognitive Behavioral Thinking and methods like it are designed to break the ease and habit of negative thinking. I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at breaking habits. I am so accustomed to seeing the dark side of life that I just do it. I would rather do it.

Further, as I said, that’s exactly what a person like me has coming to her. I am not smart, talented, good, or hard-working enough for the good stuff. Or -here’s the funny part- if I am, then I need to look around and acknowledge that I’m stealing that from someone else who deserves the goodness more.

Guilt.

Criticism.

Insults, even.

They are all designed to keep me in some pit of self-loathing so I do not ever rise up and see what’s possible.

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Why? Besides the ease, habit, and entitlement to rotten rewards; I’m afraid. I’m afraid of failure and disappointment. As terrible as I feel sitting around in my Venom cloak of darkness, I am convinced that situation is far better than risk. Depression must be better than hurt from expectation.

Right?

A few, happy balloon-like humans floating above the pollution say, “No.” Do I listen? Do you? If you’re anything like me, you ignore them. Sometimes, you pull out your trusty Nega-sniper and try to pick off a few. Why do they get to be happy when you know all the awful things sludging around us?

Yet, some part of me envies them. Some part of me wants to fly.

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Photo Credits:
Image by moritz320 from Pixabay
Glenn Carstens-Peters
Yanny Mishchuk
Jonathan Borba

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

I Hate Myself and Don’t Deserve Good Things

Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. Codependency. On any given day, I’m dealing with one or more of these issues. It has taken several years for me to understand what I’m going through. I didn’t realize I was codependent until recently. That one hit harder than the others. Most of my behaviors stem from one of my issues. It feels like my entire personality is a lie. Everything I held with pride as part of who I was; it all comes from poor mental health. I’ve had a minor identity crisis for the past year. I’m rediscovering who I am as a person.

The first thing I discovered about myself was I didn’t like myself. Most of that dislike grew from anxiety and depression. And from not receiving much of any positive attention for the majority of my life. I rarely receive compliments. When I do, my first thought is to point out my flaws. The next thought is that person is lying. They’re not genuine. I’ve been working to ignore these thoughts and say thank you. It feels selfish sometimes to only thank someone for anything. Then I remember how much one thank you would mean to me. I’ve rarely gotten a thank you for anything.

I spent my life not aware of how much I disliked myself. I often felt I didn’t deserve happiness. I felt I had to earn it in some way. But no one could tell me how to earn it. Life doesn’t come with a manual. No one tells you how to take care of your body. No one tells you how to make friends. No one tells you how to talk to potential romantic or sexual partners. Not for me anyway. Most people have their parents and families in these situations. I didn’t. My parents were dealing with their own issues.

I’ve searched for things I like about myself. Easier said than done. I have a daily mantra. I don’t always remember to say it. But I’ve been saying it more often. On bad days, I’ll say it 10 or 12 times. And each time I repeat it three times. It’s like exercising. I do 10 or 12 sets of three reps. The mind is a muscle. It gets stronger overtime. Nothing happens overnight. Positive thoughts lead to a happier life. I’m improving. I’m healing. But I’m nowhere close to the end.

My biggest fear with all this is I may never heal enough to have a romantic relationship. I’ve stepped back since I realized I was codependent. I want to work through that before pursuing romance. I don’t want to fall back into old habits. I’m certain I’ll be ready one day. But I feel older than I am. I’m too set in my ways being alone. I’ve wanted children but that doesn’t look like a realistic goal anymore. I’d be happy with a partner to share my life with. First, I have to believe I deserve good things. No one will love me until I love myself. 

Why You Should Start Practicing Mood Hygiene

We practice personal hygiene, dental hygiene, etc. But have you ever thought to practice mood or mental health hygiene?

The word hygiene was derived from the Greek goddess of health, Hygiea. Hygiene is defined as the science of the establishment and maintenance of health. Mood hygiene is when you practice and build habits that will promote good control of your mood symptoms. For those who have a mental illness this helps take preventive measures to improve the symptoms over time.

Living with mental illness, I never thought to add mood hygiene into my routine. The more I learned about it made me realize how beneficial it can be. Practicing mood hygiene doesn’t have to be just for those who have mental illness; it can be for everyone to practice. There are a few ways to practice mood hygiene and incorporate it into your daily life.

  1. Stress and conflict management

When you find yourself in stressful situations, it can sometimes trigger symptoms of your illness like a depressive episode or anxiety attack. There are several ways that you can take to help and prevent stress in your life such as exercising regularly or meditating.

I’ve learned that when I find myself in stressful situations is when my depressive episodes start to surface again. It’s why I’ve added exercise and meditation into my routine because it does help eliminate the stress and lifts that weight off of your shoulders.

  1. Lifestyle regularity

Having structure in your day-to-day life is extremely important. By establishing and sticking to a schedule will help build that structure in your life. For example, I wake up at the same time everyday and have a morning routine that I stick to everyday. I start my mornings by journaling and listing out a few things that I am grateful for each morning. By practicing that gratitude also helps get me in a positive mindset for the day. I then get my workout in before I start my workday.

By having a schedule you stick to on a regular basis builds the structure in your life that will help you feel in control of your life.

  1. Track your moods

By keeping track of your moods will help you determine if there is a certain pattern or cycle in your moods. I started tracking my moods a couple months ago in my journal and it has helped me become more self-aware. It’s helped me notice a pattern in my moods and it allows me to get my moods more under control. It allows me to prepare for the month so I can be strategic with my commitments and make sure I don’t over extend myself.

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These are just a few ways on how you can practice mood hygiene and start implementing them into your own daily life. Practicing mood hygiene on a regular basis will help immensely in the mental health recovery process. It allows you to have a new sense of control in your life and can be empowering for the individual.

How to Break the Cycle of Abuse Within Your Own Mind

I am really good at not being good to myself.

“Most of your class is smarter than you.” “No one wants to be your friend.” “Of course you didn’t win.”

Throughout my childhood, I taught myself to have no self pride. At all. Despite being decently intelligent and skilled; I could never accept a compliment. If I didn’t win the very best at a contest, the voices inside told me why. If I happened to do well; they reminded me of how many other people were better, or of how there weren’t many competitors.

I’d love to say things have gotten better, but they haven’t.

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“Look, see: that person says she likes that person, but doesn’t even look at you when you’re walking by.” “There you go, dummy; forgetting everything again.” “Well, who would want to be your friend?”

I could blame the internet, exposing me and millions of others TO millions of others. But if I’m being honest, my negative self would be able to beat me up even without bringing the rest of the world into the comparisons.

When I’ve addressed this problem with self-meditation, self-medication (usually chocolate), and the occasional session with a therapist; I …can’t actually address it. I’m so good at not being good to me that I jump right in to sabotage any sort of progress.

Me: “Well, when someone compliments me, I feel like they probably don’t know the whole picture.”

Also Me: Justifying “I’m not that good at cooking/writing/being a friend/etc. That person is just really nice. She tells the off-key 8-year-olds at church that they sang beautifully.”

I’m so good at not being good that I claim my conclusions are LOGICAL. I bring outside evidence to back the negativity up, disguise rudeness as truth, and name-calling as accurate titles.

And I don’t see this as wrong.

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If I had a friend (See? If I had a friend? -so mean!) -anyway- If I had a friend whose boyfriend were saying that crap to her, I’d immediately tell her it was abusive behavior. If someone at school were telling these things to my son, I’d advise him to stand up for himself and even talk to his teacher about it. If I were reading a book or watching a movie and heard the things that play in my head all day; I would recognize the character as a petty, selfish bully.

Living with me all day every day, however, I do not. As you may have guessed, I tell myself that negativity is exactly what I deserve.

…Which makes breaking out of the cycle of abuse that much more difficult. And yes, it is a cycle of abuse.

As such, the actually LOGICAL steps to getting out would be to follow professional advice for leaving an abuser. The internet may be providing fodder for my inaccurate comparisons, but it also has a lot of information to help save me from them. In fact, there is even a wikiHow on breaking an abusive cycle.

Since we’re dealing with an internal abuser, I’ve taken their list and modified it:

  1. Leave.
    I can’t exactly leave my own head, but see that my substance abuse and attempts to disassociate are a lot like telling an abusive spouse I’m leaving, but not actually packing bags and arranging for another place to live.
    I feel that I don’t know where to go or what to pack yet, but maybe I can start asking around and collecting a few moving boxes.
  2. Don’t dismiss, justify, or accept the abuse.
    Frankly, I need to stop agreeing with the Meany-Head in my head. I can probably, sort-of, start talking back to it like a stubborn 3-year-old. According to professionals, that’s healthier than allowing it.
  3. Look out for the honeymoon phase.
    I didn’t think self-abuse had this, but it does. I have days or even weeks of letting up on myself. I smile without reminding myself that poor children in Africa have little to smile about. I accept a compliment and don’t downplay it.
  4. Don’t fall for that break in abuse!!
    I can’t let my guard down and assume everything’s better if there is little or no meanness.
    When I went on a successful diet one time, I mentally associated sugars and refined flour with fat gain. Those two became repulsive to me and I had no appetite to eat them.
    Similarly, I’ve got to put a no-acceptance-at-all mental block on the negative talk. Like Susan said in her article, I’ve got to respond right away with positivity.
  5. Unearth your superpower.
    The wikiHow articles says, “One reason individuals stay in abusive relationships is because they feel powerless and unable to act.” Boy, is that ever true. I feel overwhelmed at the idea of finding strength within myself.
    BUT, there are times that I am motivated to act -no matter how depressed or beaten-down I feel. Those times include: if someone I love is in danger, if injustice is raising its ugly head, and when things pile up so much that I simply cannot tolerate any more.
    If I can find strength even in the darkest despair, I can fight this abuse.
    gabriela-braga-709824-unsplash.jpg
  6. Go get help.
    I think this is my favorite of the steps, because I often suffer from Analysis Paralysis. I don’t know the ‘right’ direction to go, so stand and stare at the different options until I get frustrated and give up.
    With a counselor, therapist, psychologist, trained friend, or even a small reminder to literally choose to be positive; I can get GPS instructions for which way to start walking.

So, what am I waiting for? Honestly, I’m waiting for it to be easier. I’m waiting for the ‘right’ motivation. I’m probably waiting for the chocolate to kick in.

But I have a list. I have a goal. I want to Keep Fighting instead of keep bending over backwards and feeling worthless.

So, let’s do this thing. Who’s with me?

Photo Credit:
Andrei Lazarev
Siavash Ghanbari
Philipp Wüthrich
Gabriela Braga

©2019 Chelsea Owens

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The Dark Side of Social Media

We live in a society today that is ruled by technology. We have access to so much more than we did ten years ago. There are a number of ways for us to stay connected these days thanks to social media. Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. There are times when social media can get toxic and bad for your mental health.

 

Living with a mental illness, I’ve found at times that social media has been toxic for myself. When I find myself feeling negative towards social media or I start being overly self critical; I know it’s time for me to take a breather from social media. While there are many positives for having social media, there are also some negative aspects to it.

 

Social media has been a blessing for staying connected with family and friends across the globe. It’s great being able to stay connected with those in your life who you don’t get to see as often as you would like. I love scrolling my feed seeing pictures of my family and friends enjoying their lives. Social media has been an incredible tool for staying connected with those in your life.

 

There are situations where social media can get to be toxic. We have the Internet at our disposal and it can be so easy to get lost in that void of being stuck behind a computer or phone all day long.

 

One way that social media can be toxic is cyber bulling. Cyber bullying has become more popular in a negative way. Unfortunately, it’s become more common for individuals to go through cyber bullying. Cyber bullying has made it easier for those bullies to target more people since they aren’t face to face and are doing it from a computer or phone.

 

I was cyber bullied during my years in high school. Experiencing it first hand, I know how hurtful it can be. It caused my depression to worsen and it dropped my confidence levels. It’s heartbreaking to see others go through that because I know how hard it can be facing a situation like that.

 

Another way social media can be toxic is comparing ourselves to others we see on social media. Majority of people on social media only share the “highlights” of their life leaving out the behind the scenes and not so pretty moments. I’ve gotten caught up in the comparison game numerous times especially on Instagram. I will catch myself comparing my body to another girls, wondering why my stomach can’t be flat like hers.

 

I’ve now learned that the comparison game gets you nowhere. The comparison game is only toxic and harmful to your mental health. It’s when I remind myself that what that person shares on social media is just a tiny part of their life. We don’t know their entire story or what their current life situation is. We are all uniquely and individually made so no two people are the same.

 

When you find yourself getting caught up in those negative thoughts or find yourself feeling negative towards social media; give yourself a break. It can be so refreshing to take a breather and focus on the other areas of your life. Spend a little extra time giving yourself love and attention that you deserve.