Beyond delusion, plus self worth and authentic discourse.

My delusion – evaporated, at least more often.

So its time a wrote a little because my health fluctuates alot, so writing has gotta help me consolidate the healthy parts of the brain.
Or at least get them moving.

So i have this psychotic delusion or depression. It’s both. It causes the depression.
(believe me or not… lol it was there)

Even though i was aware of it, and it was the real reason i went inpatient – not harm OCD. I needen’t go into it’s content, but its a fairly benign topic, but that’s not how it felt and everytime i thought i’d nailed the topic adn labelled it benign…. it would come back later. I still think, and my final psychiatrist thought, that it was not my OCD despite of course i would attempt to find ‘answers’ to it too. Psychotic feelings my friends. Delusion covered up by reasoning and a legitimate enquiry. Underestimated how it made me placid with regards reality, and memory and attentinon was often sabotaged. Sabotaged all the time, Not like a concentration isssue, more of a reality issue. I’m sure you know what i mean in some ways. In different ways to when my ocd was bad. I haven’t been able to work or do anything i would’ve wanted to do in many parallel dimensions, because of mental illness. All throughout my life. Honourable attempts have been cool to look at though.

Facts, no munchausen.

And you know what, i am really only truly going beyond both my ocd and this, now, as i work out why i could never work or pay attention to the important things throughout my life, or understand some things or be confused and disorientated by other things. Or be emotionally affected by things, even painful things, in a healthy way. Bring the pain I want pain. Not the mental illness pain. Realities’ pain.
The pain from grieving, the pain from poverty, the pain from being alone. Thats not to say the pain from my grief doesn’t exacerbate my mental illness. In some ways it does, like with others, however with regards my delusion, I’d rather sink into realities’ pain and grieve properly. Grieving is hard. But what i meant at my mother’s funeral, when i spoke with a friend, was that I already knew what it was like to experience a lot of suffering. I wasn’t disrespecting my mother, i just felt like explaining that. Perhaps i felt that i needed to talk about both my mother and my mental illness. Address both. Yea so its take me a few years to grieve and now i have.

Once or twice years ago before any real insight into why i was diagnosed, i would mention I get detached. I very polite way of saying i was suffering. Some would say ‘hey that’s a good thing, man!’ haha, nope, no it was not. I never knew how to explain how disturbed i felt.

I would feel emotion however, but they would often be misfiring, misguided exacerbated anxiety, or delusional. So I’d rather be a psychopath. Just kidding.

I’ts highly likely I am autistic spectrum disorder, but upon careful examination it hasn’t lead to inconsistent recovery, not like the OCD or this.

ill leave it there with that, i’ve got a healthy part of my brain going 😉

Self worth. What i have learned from having mental illness, is that although i would fight often like a warrior to try and have fun, it was often forced and i couldn’t quite sink in to reality enough to understand that it all comes from realisation of our own self worth.

it was just so hard to get at, breaking down all the cages and bricks mental illness produce.

symptoms are symptoms. they differ and often overlap in diagnostic DSM (4 or 5 whichever they are up to now) practice but they are very important. Psychiatric disorders differ and suffering is unique, but what i am getting at, is that its very often unique even if we had the same diagnosis.

I’m studying neuroscience now which is why im moving further along with de-legitamizing my delusion and understanding things beyond how i have in the past. (well its a good course so i kinda have to! Can’t reason my way through like i scraped on thru with in my undergrad, without understanding and engagement)
If I decide I can do it I shall return to let you know. God speed.

Authentic discourse will help with this. I am not saying i haven’t always been authentic. to the contrary. However, i haven’t always been able to write or think in ways some healthy parts of my brain know that i can. And I’d often be attempting to de-legitamize an obsession or the delusion without realizing that that was all i was attempting to do. No conflicts.

ok so, welcome let’s begin 🙂

Learn to Love Yourself in the Alone Time

I have spent the last several months going to work and going home. Not much socializing. Sometimes once a month I would go out if invited to something. I was trying to save money. And I was trying to work on myself. I went to counseling and did other activities to pull myself out of depression. I don’t have insurance so that was the best I could do. I remember feeling alone often. I looked for ways to stay busy and distract myself from how I felt. I wished I could afford to go out and spend time with even one person.

As I was getting to a better place with my finances, the pandemic happened. Everything shut down. I lost a lot of work. Other than concerns for my income, my daily routine didn’t change much. I couldn’t read a book at a coffee shop, but I could live without that. I had grown more comfortable with myself and didn’t mind the alone time. I still feel alone but it doesn’t bother me as much. I’ve grown to a place where I enjoy cooking again. I read more. I write fiction more. My creative ideas are never ending.

During the pandemic, there were videos of celebrities feeling upset during social distancing. This reminded me of how I felt. I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me or how I felt. We were all reacting in a normal way to isolation. I hope people are discovering new things about themselves. If you’re bored during isolation, you need new hobbies. If you’re alone and uncomfortable, you need to love yourself and enjoy your own company. We all should set time aside to be alone. It’s important to our wellbeing. Find your happiness in the alone time.

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.

The Best of Me

“You gave me the best of me, so you’ll give you the best of you,” are the lyrics to “Magic Shop” by Korean pop group BTS. I have been listening to this song over and over because I keep thinking about these words.

Sure, it’s not the most eloquent phrasing but I think that they are on to something here.

For ages we have all been told to give everything our best whether it’s academics, athletics, music, art, relationships, etc. That if we give anything our best effort we have a higher likelihood of succeeding.

During the many times I have sat and contemplated these lyrics, I understand it as we so often give the best of ourselves to others but have a harder time giving the best for ourselves.

I try to give my best to my family, boyfriend, pets and friends but when it comes to giving my best for me, that’s a different story. I know that eating well, exercising and having human interaction is good for me but I don’t always put in the effort. If I had a paradigm shift, I would try harder to do the things that are good for me so I could be at my very best.

If I gave my best for myself, what would my life look like? This is a question I have been focusing on, digging deep into it to find a possible answer.

I still don’t have an answer but during these weird times of social distancing and staying home basically all the damn time, I have time to really think about it. I also have the time to focus on giving myself the very best of me.

What do you think of these lyrics? Do you have a similar interpretation or not? Do you think you give yourself the best of you?

Please everyone be smart and safe!

Houseplants and Mental Health

I have a black thumb. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I kill plants. You’d think, by now, that I’d see the ferns and cacti leaning away from me at the store -but, no. I see a cute pot or arrangement and think, I can grow a plant! Into my cart the poor once-green thing goes, soon to meet its demise like so many before it.

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Isn’t it cute?

My house is full of plants. This is odd, considering my admitting to how often I kill them. People come to my house, look around, and say, “Wow; you must have a green thumb!”

Hiding my black thumbs behind my back I answer, “Why, thank you;” because, as I said, I am not good at raising plants.

At this point, you may be wondering two things:

  1. Why do you have plants if you are bad at caring for them?
  2. Why the heck are we talking about plants? Isn’t this a mental health blog?

The answer is that living with mental illness is an awful lot like maintaining houseplants. Houseplants need a good start so their roots can drain while their soil retains water without drowning them. They need sunlight and regular watering. They even need calming sounds. When I skip or skimp on these things, they suffer.

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Likewise, counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or great genes) helps us deal with challenges and triggers in life. Sunlight gives us Vitamin D and cheers us up. We need water so we don’t die. Calmer songs and sounds help with agitation, depression, panic attacks, and stress. When I skip or skimp on these things, I suffer.

I often tell people I struggle with depression. I tell them I have social anxieties, or generalized ones. I admit to deep, dark thoughts and difficult days.

People -even online people- are surprised. All they see are green, growing plants. They don’t see the dead branches I’ve pulled off, the dead leaves I’ve pruned, or even the millipedes I vacuumed out of the roots*. They can’t feel my sadness, isolation, and occasional thoughts of uselessness and despair.

But, knowing I have mental issues hasn’t stopped me from fighting any more than knowing I have a black thumb has stopped me from buying plants.

Why?

Because there is no perfect plant -besides the plastic ones at IKEA. Every plant has parts that die off. Every one of them has needed soil conditioners or peat moss, or re-potting.

One of my favorite houseplants is this tree, pictured below. I bought it as a tiny, grocery store discount. I’ve watered it, kept it in the sun, and graduated it to larger pots as it outgrew them. At some points, I thought it wouldn’t make it. I even thought to leave it behind when we moved houses.

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Then, I learned better potting techniques. I watered regularly, but not too much. It’s currently taller than I am, and still growing.

Furthermore, do you notice anything about its coloring? The part away from the sun is darker. There are some dead leaves nearer the middle.

Hmmmm.

Some days I want to give up. I see the discolorations in my character and assume others do as well. I think there is something wrong that needs removal or replacement.

Instead, notice how cool the contrast looks. Notice how darkness gives depth to light.

Maybe the ‘problem’ is that I need more sunshine, a better watering routine, or a calmer environment. Maybe the ‘problem’ is needing more space or nutrients. Or, maybe the ‘problem’ is there isn’t one, because everyone has problems.

And so, I will keep trying. I will keep fighting. And the growth that emerges will be the most beautiful and healthy of all.

~~~~~

*True story with a lemon tree we bought

Photo Credits:
Paula Brustur
Lauren Ferstl
And, Chelsea Owens

My Healing Journey

At the beginning of the year my number one goal was for me to work on healing myself from the inside out. I had put my own inner healing on hold for a long time. I had pushed down the most painful memories of my childhood in hopes I would never have to think about them again. Over these last eight months more and more old wounds have been resurfacing. Old wounds that I forgot were even there were resurfacing. This was finally my time to work on healing myself.

 

I grew up in an abusive household facing abuse from my mother on a daily basis. I suffered from this abuse from a very young age up until my early adulthood. I suffered from physical, verbal, and psychological abuse. The most damaging towards me was the psychological abuse.

 

Growing up I always knew there was something “off” about my mom because of the way she treated me. I was the oldest child and I guess my mom figured she could take out all her aggression on me. My brother was extremely lucky because my mom treated him completely opposite of how she treated me.

 

A month ago I read a book about healing from Narcissistic abuse. It opened up my eyes to what narcissistic abuse is all about and it confirmed for me that it was the abuse I suffered from growing up. It confirmed my theory that my mom was a narcissist and the symptoms & actions described fit my mom perfectly.

 

My entire life I could never fully be myself. My mom was the one who called all of the shots during my childhood. It didn’t matter what I wanted to do, if she didn’t like it then I couldn’t do it. It was like my mom was trying to live out her life through me. I wanted to play piano and my mom hated that, she threw away my piano books because she didn’t want me to play it. I wanted to do gymnastics, but she told me no & convinced me that I was never good enough to do it in the first place. She hated me having friends and never let me hang out with my friends. This occurred throughout my entire childhood.

 

She terrorized me, manipulated me, and controlled me my entire life. This book opened up my eyes to how abusive a narcissist can be and how evil they can be.

My mom caused me immense pain growing up. She told me things no child or person should ever have to hear especially from your own mother. I was screamed at so many times. She told me lies like that she didn’t want me born, she wished she aborted me when she had the chance, no one in my family likes me, I’m a burden, I have no friends, I’m fat, I’m not pretty, and I’m not good enough. She RARELY told me she loved me & meant it.

 

Now that I’ve reached adulthood and have started my own healing, I feel like I’m starting to find myself all over again. My mom never let me express who I was so I was always fitting into the mold she wanted. I finally feel like I’m starting to find my own identity and who I truly am as a person.

 

At first I felt like I was going through an identity crisis because I didn’t know who I was as a person at first. It’s forced me to dig deep inwards to get in touch with my true authentic self. I’m still learning who I truly am on a daily basis. I’m starting to finally feel free again since I no longer have to conform to what she had led me to believe my entire life.

No Longer Hiding my Emotions

Over the years I’ve become extremely good at hiding my emotions from others.

I grew up with the belief that sadness & tears made me weak so I did my best to never cry in front of people.

I believed that my problems didn’t matter because out there in the world there was someone else with bigger problems than mine.

I believed that people wouldn’t care about what I was going through or that I would be considered a burden.

These beliefs have stayed with me up until this very day. While I’ve gotten more & more comfortable sharing my emotions & problems with others, it’s still something I struggle with today.

This has probably been one of the most difficult habits for myself to break because it’s become natural for me to just hide my emotions & bottle them up never sharing with anyone.

My entire life I’ve done my best to remain strong through all the difficult situations I faced up until now. I didn’t let others see or know the true pain I was in. There were periods where I would spend many nights crying myself to sleep at night. I didn’t want to dump my own problems on anyone else because I didn’t want to be a burden. I ended up not only carrying my own weight of problems, but the weight of those closest to me as well. I put off working through & healing my own issues, to help the ones I loved most.

It’s taken me up until now to realize that it’s important to take care of our own selves first. I neglected my own healing & stuffed my emotions deep down inside of me. In order to be of service & help to others in our lives, we must heal ourselves from within as well.

Because of the difficulties & pain I’ve faced, I never want others to feel alone or feel like they’re a burden. I am here for anyone and can be that shoulder for you to cry on. Never feel like you are a burden to others or that your problems don’t matter because they do! No matter how big or small the problem you’re faced with, it still matters.

Why You Should Start Practicing Mood Hygiene

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.

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.
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  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.

For the Strong Who Feel Weak – A Guest Blog Post

ou are so strong. You’re having a bad day or month or year. You may have terrible, repetitive thoughts, but you are not created out of those thoughts. Thoughts come and go, and even if some come back over and over, that repetition doesn’t make them true. You are a human with inherent worth and lovability. Even if it feels like no one loves you, you’re worthy of love. Even if you feel weak, you’re carrying a burden that takes tremendous strength to bear. Even when there’s no one to talk to, you still have options for expressing your feelings.

This a guest blog post from contributor that has posted here before, Emily K Harrington. Please enjoy.

For the Strong Who Feel Weak

If you live with an ice-cold knife in your chest. If you’ve ever felt your soul catch on fire. If you’ve had bugs crawl under your skin. If your body has ever felt so tight you felt your physical form contracting… you’re my people.

If you have lost all hope or had none to begin with, I’ve been there. If you’ve tried therapy and coping skills and it didn’t help, I’ve been there. If the medications you’ve been prescribed made you worse instead of better… I’ve been there. But where I am now is beautiful and meaningful, and I started exactly where you are. And I didn’t get better on my own. I’ll never be cured, but I can live a life in which I am willing to occupy my body.

Logistically and philosophically, things can only get worse to the point at which you die. It can’t get worse than that. It isn’t always possible for things to get worse. But it is always possible for things to get better. Things can always get better. This is true. So, wherever you are, with whatever lack of hope you have, it is unequivocally true that it is possible for your life to improve.

You’re strong. You’re in pain. You’re out of answers. You’ve lost hope.

And all I can offer is words. At the end of the day, you’re the only one who lives inside your head and gets to make decisions about your life.

If you’re struggling, you’re not alone, and there are literally hundreds of millions of other people online who have had your same symptoms and some version of your experiences. No two humans are exactly alike, but none of us are really that different, either. We’ve all got the same chemicals in our brains, just different balances. So reach out. (Themighty.com is a great place to read other people’s stories or just comments on daily life with any one of many health problems, mental and physical. The Mighty is a loving community, and if you have a story to tell, you can submit it to them to potentially get published. Your story could reach many people, so if you have something to offer (and everyone does), write your story and get your helpful information out into the world to help others.)

You are so strong. You’re having a bad day or month or year. You may have terrible, repetitive thoughts, but you are not created out of those thoughts. Thoughts come and go, and even if some come back over and over, that repetition doesn’t make them true. You are a human with inherent worth and lovability. Even if it feels like no one loves you, you’re worthy of love. Even if you feel weak, you’re carrying a burden that takes tremendous strength to bear. Even when there’s no one to talk to, you still have options for expressing your feelings.

You are actually pretty great. You deserve love. You deserve happiness. You deserve meaning. You deserve safety. You deserve respect. You deserve to express all of your feelings, positive or negative. You deserve to live in less pain.

There is hope out there. There are doctors and therapists and blogs and communities and self-help groups and books on how to feel better. There are concrete things you can do to minimize your pain.

This is your journey. For good or for ill, it’s yours. So stand up and fight. Life is an adventure, and adventures are dangerous and scary sometimes, and can be exhausting. This adventure is yours, alone.

At the end of your life, you will not be on your deathbed saying “I wish I had spent less time helping and loving people.” Give a hug. Hold a door. Text your mom to say you love her. Pick up a piece of trash from the ground and throw it away properly. Give blood. Give that homeless vet a little bit of money. Compliment the cashier at the grocery store. Smile at a child. Spread love in the world. It will help you every time.

Stop guilting yourself. Stop blaming yourself. Stop berating yourself for things you have no control over. Stop calling yourself names. You are not worthless, weak, a burden, unlovable, broken, ugly, stupid, or a loser. If you just started crying, it’s probably because you think one or more of those words is true about you. It’s not. No more self-hate. For a moment, imagine what it would look like (in terms of your actions) for you to love yourself. What would you do to show yourself love? pause to think Do one of those things today.

There is always hope, but you won’t always be able to believe it. You’re always worthy of love, but that won’t always feel true. Continue to allow your thoughts to come and go, to simply be things that happen in your mind that are then replaced with other happenings. You won’t always see clearly: such is the nature of mental illness. But you’ll come back. You always come back.

I know we don’t know each other; all I know is that you’re reading about mental health online right now, which means you’re seeking to understand yourself or others. For that, I am very proud of you, and you have permission to be proud of yourself, too.

Love and empathy forever.

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