anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, mental health, mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, suicidal thoughts, suicude

Can People Tell if We Are Mentally Suffering?

I was reading another blog this morning written by a young woman with mental illness (depression / eating disorder). She was talking about how people often decide how you are feeling without asking you and judge your mental wellness by your outer appearance. She mentioned that just because she happens to smile in order to fit into a social situation does not mean that she is not depressed.

This is really true. People forget that the level of our struggle with mental illness cannot be seen from the outside. If someone with an eating disorder has gained weight, lost weight, or has put on make up for the first time in a while, it does not necessarily mean they are doing well.

Sometimes people are spiraling into a deep depression and they are forced for some reason to enter into some kind of social situation, In order not to feel weird or to be pointed out, basically as a way of self defense, we may smile and put on the generally accepted social airs in public. Sometimes in order to protect our own brains from further trauma, we have to pretend to be “normal.” This is not a sign that we are doing well.

People should ask rather than assume, or worse yet tell us that they know better than we do, about how much better we are getting. I have experiences this before where someone says how well I look and I tell them something like “I am not sure where you are getting that from.” Then they say .”Oh you just don;t remember how you were a few months ago. You are much better now than you were then.”

Then even if you tell them that they cannot really see what is going on inside of your brain, they insist that they have some magical seeing power that they know better than you do, about how you are doing. This is alienating to the person and makes them feel invisible. The feeling of invisibility is a feeling that I know well.

Especially if someone has an eating disorder and another person is judging their progress about their mental illness, by their current weight, this is a counterproductive and unknowingly cruel thing to do. People with anorexia do not want to hear that they have gained weight and the weight looks good on them. They are always in fear of getting too fat and when someone tells them that they look so different now, it is triggering to them.

There are always runnings thoughts and fears in the mind of someone with anorexia. There is a feeling of not having control of anything. They feel like other people want to control their lives and that they are powerless to do anything. Theis creates a severe depression and fearfulness.

The act of someone deciding and telling you that you are  in fact, “better”,  in spite of the fact that “you do not remember” how bad you were before, can make the person feel very misunderstood and also manipulated and controlled. The feeling of needing to take the control back, in order not to be destroyed, will send them into a worse depression, because they feel like their feelings cannot be communicated to anyone.

It is hard to communicate our feelings about depression to other people. The words to describe our thoughts are hard to say to other people. Most people cannot tolerate or believe that our brains actually do what they do. These thoughts are not acceptable to people’s reality and therefore they are either not heard or processed by the listeners brain or they are not believed.

People tend to think that the thoughts of a person in severe depression are exaggerated. They will tell us that things are not as bad as we think they are and that we are not as sick as we feel. This is why I do not talk about my depression with other people, because when you go through the painful act of spilling your feelings, it is traumatizing to have someone not believe you.

Depression is real and it is not visible on the outside of us. Even when there are “appearance related” signs that we are in depression, most people do not see them. Outer signs of not having been keeping up with personal care, changes in weight, facial expression and low energy, are often invisible to people.

It seems like people will see what they want to see. They want to think we are getting better, so that is what they see. They want to think it is not bad, so that is what they see. They do not want to “deal with” mental illness.

I was listening to Ted Talks the other day and they were talking about the fact that our culture has taught us to not talk about our emotions. We are taught to think that it is inappropriate to have mental issues and we are also conditioned to believe that our feelings will get worse if we get into a conversation about how we feel.

People think that if we open those feelings up, they will get worse and it is better to ignore them and especially not to talk to people about them. The studies on neurology that were mentioned in the Ted Talk, had come to the conclusion that talking about feelings reduced their control and power over us. The feelings are reduced in intensity, when we discuss them. So, the very things that our culture has taught us about dealing with emotions are completely backwards.

If I find the link the that Ted Talk, I will post it for you later. It was an interesting one. I love the Ted Talks. Do you guys listen to them also? Do you have any favorites that you would recommend to the readers? I will make a post one day about my favorite ones and why.

Blessings to all for a good day,

Annie

addictive personality, anxiety, avoidant personality disorder, battered women, bipolar, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, domestic abuse, domestic violence, mental abuse, mental disorders, mental health, mental illness, self-esteem, suicidal ideations, suicidal thoughts, suicude

Comparing Ourselves to Others…Shame, abuse, mental illness

This was my response to one of the comments I got on a post. I will not say which person commented but they can feel free to comment here if they want to do so. The reason I am posting this, is because I feel that the concern they had was one I have heard many times from people with mental illness, abuse and psychological injury. 

People who have mental pain, have trouble in day to day situations, where other people seem to float right through. Everyone around us seems to have a better handle on just getting through life, than we do. It is so easy to become discouraged by watching other people do things that we either cannot do, or cannot do without mental anguish.

I wanted this reader and all of you, to understand that we are not being fair to ourselves when we compare ourselves to other people. If we are comparing ourselves to someone who has no mental suffering , then how is that comparison fair to us? 

This was my response to a comment that talked about feeling shame, and comparing ourselves to  other people.

People are good at things that they have had the background, the support, and the early wiring to be good at. Even the things we learn when we are older, are easier to learn if we were wired properly when we were growing up.

A lot of the people you are comparing yourself to had parents that helped them to follow the normal development stages and they also had the mental stability to process all of the stages properly, in order for the neurons in their brains to be set up to do these things.

There are chemicals involved in every process we do. The chemicals in our brains are dominating our feelings and our feelings affect how well we can do things. We have behavioral patterns and they are also linked to the organic connections (neurons and chemicals) in our brains.

If there is any trauma, abuse, neglect during childhood / teenage hood, we can end up with things that are not wired properly. We also end up with the chemicals sending the wrong signals and we feel depression, anxiety and worthlessness about ourselves.

Your feelings of not being as good as other people are conditioned behavioral patterns of your brain. Past trauma, abuse or neglect may have caused these patterns. Your inability to things that other people do, may be related to feeling inadequate to do them, feeling depressed, anxiety etc. This is not your fault that you have these chemical, neurological responses to doing things.

If you feel anxiety about something and someone else does not feel that, then of course they will be able to do that thing, better and more easily than you can. It is not fair to yourself to compare your brain on depression or anxiety with their brain that is functioning perfectly well. It does not mean that you can never learn to do it, but it means that it is much harder for you to do things, than it is for them.

When we have mental illness issues, it is more fair to us, if we so not compare ourselves directly with people who do not have any mental illness or trauma in their background. I have recently come to believe this is true

I spent many years wondering why I felt so inadequate to everyone and why I felt so out of place. I had so much trauma in my back ground that I could not keep up with the people that had brains that functioned normally. It was not that I was not as smart, but it was because my brain was and is so traumatized.

I am learning that we have to be kind to ourselves. In order to be kind to ourselves, we have to understand and feel compassion for the fact that trauma, abuse, neglect, depression, anxiety and any other mental issues, does cause us some disability. We cannot always compete with the other people.

We can learn to heal and to slowly rewire our brains. But mostly we have to talk to ourselves like we would talk to someone else that we knew was having trouble feeling as good as everyone else. You are as good as everyone else, whether you can do everything they can do or not.

We all have gifts and are good at things. You might be good at something that those other people suck at. I bet you are better are being compassionate for another human that feels depressed and worthless. The ability to be compassionate is not a gift that a lot of people have. Compassion is a lost art these days. People who have mental suffering can often also be compassionate to others who have depression and anxiety. That makes you better than them at something.

You are also probably better are being introspective and analyzing things.  Many people  just go with the flow of what everyone else is doing and they do not think for themselves. If you can think for yourself then you are better at that too.

I think that we are just better at different things than most people are. There is room for us in the world too. The world cannot be ok, of all of the people just follow the crowd and are all good at the same things.

I hope this helps a little. You are a unique, independent person that can think, care and love. That makes you special and no one is better than you.
Blessings,
Annie

Once we begin to forgive ourselves for how we are, then it gets easier to live with ourselves. People with psychological trauma usually end up with some kind of post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, OCD or other mental disorder. These disorders can be permanent , because the trauma never goes away. But we can learn to shoq kindness to ourselves.

We can learn to be functional, compassionate people. There are plenty of things we can be good at. If we cannot answer the phones for a job, because we have social anxiety then so be it.  If we cannot work at certain types of jobs because we are constantly triggered onto post traumatic stress there, then so be it.

A person with an eating disorder may not be able to work in a bakery. Well if they cannot do that, it does not make them less than anyone else. It just means that they cannot do that activity safely  because of their disorder. Someone who has a phobia of open spaces cannot work in the mall. So, what of it?

We are ok the way we are. We are trying to heal. We are trying to connect with others. If there are things we cannot do, then so be it. It is not because we are less than anyone else. They did not grow up, or have the adult past that we have had. Someone else may not have survived your situations as well as you did. How do they know what it is like in your world?

We all need a break from feeling shame, inadequacy, and worthlessness. We need to show ourselves some kindness and compassion in our thoughts about ourselves. We are doing the best we can with what we have to work with. We have to work with our brains being the way they are, right at this very minute.

Blessings to all,

Annie

abnormal psychology, anxiety, depression, health, mental abuse, mental health, mental illness, neurology, psychology, social anxiety

Mental Illness caused by Psychological Damage and Abuse

* this post is in honor of Silvergirl who is a wonderful wounded healer and has an excellent blog on wordpress*

People with mental illness often have psychological damage from being subject to “Situations that Must never Be”.  This is my phrase for any situation which is causing log term damage to a person in any physical or mental way.

These situations that must never be, are many and come in many forms. Any situation of mental abuse or physical abuse of a person should not be. The sad fact is that these situations occur every day. People are suffering in relationships like these as we speak. You might be one of them.

You have chosen to click on this post because the title of it struck a nerve with you. Most likely you have been abused in your lifetime. It may have been during your childhood and / or it may have been as an adult. Many people that were abused as children , end up in abusive relationships as adults.

The psychological damage from living in abuse is extensive and can cause depression, severe anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and other mental illnesses. It is also common that people with other mental disorders such as depersonalization disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder , social anxiety and  insomnia have experienced abuse during their lifetimes.

As people with mental illness, we sometimes make choices that are harmful to us that other people would not make. We are so used to things being abnormal and painful that we tend to not notice the red flags of an abusive relationship until it is too late.

The mental illness causes us to end up in codependent , manipulative, abusive relationships. On the flip side, these relationships that cause severe mental suffering break our poor brains and we end up with mental illness that we may not have already had.

Which one comes first? The mental illness, the psychological damage, the abusive relationships? It is hard for us to tell. If you think back through your past , if you can remember, then you will most likely identify abuse against your mental health. 

Situations of trauma cause PTSD. The people who tend to be the most affected are the ones who have had some kind of mental trauma in their past.

There are cases of severe trauma (like military horrors,)  that can cause PTSD , even of the person had a “normal” past. But a lot of the people who endure ptsd that never seems to go away, had some form of abuse prior to that trauma.

It is sometimes difficult to identify abuse from our past/ For some people it is glaringly obvious and for others it has been blocked out by their own brain. The brain wants to protect itself from further trauma and will black out memories and deny us access to them.

People with psychological damage often have more than 1 or 2 mental disorders. Some of us have so many that we feel kind of stupid “showing off our list” to people.

It feels like it will be disbelieved to write out the list such as…

…OCD, insomnia, depersonalization disorder, PTSD,  generalized anxiety disorder, domestic abuse victim, depression,  ACOA, eating disorder,  codependence,  social anxiety and derealization disorder, and avoidant personality disorder.

 See? …Now I feel weird.  My list  looks crazy to me… Really I look at that list and wonder how the hell I get through the day at all…barely by the skin of my teeth sometimes… that is …when i am able to get out of bed…

You are not alone if your list looks as long as mine does. My mental abuse goes back into childhood and I also had abuse as an adult victim of domestic abuse.  Things that occur in life that other people could “suck it up” about and get through, send me into severe post traumatic stress.

Uncategorized

Holiday dinners and Eating Disorders

Large gatherings around food can be very difficult for people who have an eating disorder.

We think we know everything about people in our families and our friends. We think we know the people we work with every day.

People do not always discuss their eating disorder with coworkers, family and friends. Some people are private about it.

Try to be sensitive to others. If someone is not eating or prefers not to sit at the table, just let them do what they seem more comfortable doing.

If you are aware that someone at the table has an eating disorder, let them make their own choices at a holiday function. It is not the time or place to force someone to eat or embarrass them in front of people.

Everyone should enjoy the holidays in their own way and feel normal for a day.

God bless,
annie