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,
Avoidant Personality disorder comes out of a severe fear and anxiety of the consequences. There is a projection into the future of self destruction or of being destroyed by others.
We avoid doing things that other people just do without thinking so much about them. With avoidant personality disorder there is obsessive thinking.
These fearful obsessive thoughts run through the mind around and around. Pictures of horrible things that will happen to us in the future, dominate our entire brain. They override logical thinking and reduce our ability to function properly.
One of the things that makes avoidant personality symptoms worse, is walking through life in autopilot. If we do the same things over and over it is bad our brains.
If we just go through the motions of repetitive tasks and then get up an repeat the same patterns again the next day, we are shutting down the parts of our brain, that we need to be rational.
All parts of the brain cannot be active at the same time. If the fear centers are on overload, then the rational functional parts of the brain is reduced. If we do not use the creativity and ingenuity that we have, then those skills become weaker.
We need to make changes in our behaviors. Not necessarily dramatic changes, but tiny little changes. Just do something that is different during your day.
Read something new, take a different route to work. eat somewhere different, research something new. Anything that we like, but we do not usually make time for.
If we create variation each day, then our brain will learn that it is needed for learning and problem solving. Once the brain begins to work better, then we can approach the tasks that we always avoid, with a new perspective.
Perception and perspective is everything. If we can see situation from a completely different point of view, it will force our brains to wake up. Our ability to deal with problems and complex situations will become higher.
I should have gone to sleep already.
I don’t know why my brain is so wide awake
Too much excitement and anxiety
All thundering through my brain
My chest is tight with pressure
breath is shallow like gasping for air
Nerves on fire like electricity is streaming
through every single part of my spine
Sounds of the snow plows
Back and forth and back and forth
Used to lull me to sleep, long ago
But what used to be my comfort is now a trigger
that locks my mind and won’t let go
Psychological problems come with thought patterns or tendencies, that are not rational but usually seem very real to us at the time. There are behavioral patterns that have been somehow instilled into our brains.
Here are some tendencies of mine that other people may relate to. I have also seen these tendencies in friends of mine that have mental illness or psychological damage from abuse.
Overgeneralizing : When a single negative event occurs, my mind will process it as a pattern of defeat that may continue on and on, into the future. I feel like there will be no way out of my problem because the first attempt to fix it went badly.
This is a very difficult habit to break. I assume that it comes out of past situations, where one event was a catalyst for worse trauma to come. Efforts that were intended to make things better, actually made them worse.
We have to learn to differentiate circumstances in which we have some power and the situations in which we have no control over them. It comes down to the serenity prayer. “Change the things we can. Accept the things we cannot change. The wisdom to know the difference.”
Just because our first attempt to solve a situation does not work, does not mean that we cannot find a solution. It just feels that way. It is easier said than done to just “stop feeling like everything will end in doom and destruction.” When the amygdala is active to a point of hyper vigilance then everything feels like an extreme threat.
Depending on our past trauma, we respond to different things with a physiological response of fear. The triggers to this can be situations, behaviors in others, sounds, smells, places, or anything else that our brain has created an association with of the original trauma.
If our brain has an association of fear with us not succeeding on the first try of getting out of a bad situation, then we will feel doomed to failure when our first attempt fails. If we have trauma associated with “trying to get out of a situation”, then we will feel the threat before we even attempt the first try.
We feel that there is no way out and we are trapped in a box that is about to be dumped into a river. This is how I feel right now, about the situation I am in. I will post more about it later.
The situation is severely threatening to me, but logically there must be a way out of it. I am intelligent and resourceful. It is easy for me to forget those two things, when I am in a state of post traumatic stress.
Fear conditioning is an associative learning process by which we learn through repeated experiences to fear something. Our experiences can cause brain circuits to change and form new memories.
For example, when we hear an unpleasant sound, the amygdala heightens our perception of the sound.
This heightened perception is deemed distressing and memories are formed associating the sound with unpleasantness. If the noise startles us, we have an automatic flight or fight response.
This response involves the activation of the sympathetic division of the peripheral nervous system.
Activation of the nerves of the sympathetic division results in accelerated heart rate, dilated pupils, increase in metabolic rate, and increase in blood flow to the muscles. This activity is coordinated by the amygdala and allows us to respond appropriately to danger. About Education site
You can read the rest the above article here.
“Should” Thoughts : Thoughts that we “should” be better or “should” have done things differently. We do not need to punish ourselves for what we did or did not do. We do not need to feel shame over the things that we have done or the things that have happened to us.
This type of “should” thinking causes us to become paralyzed and unable to make the changes that we “could” make. Focus on “can” and “I think I can” like in The Little Engine Who Could.
The combination of fearing failure and feeling shame because we “should” be in a better place in life or we “should” have done or not done something, is disabling. If we understand that our brains have wired themselves to create the anxiety responses in the body, then we can at least forgive ourselves for how we are.
We know that people without mental illness do not have these responses to situations. They do not become incapacitated to drive to work, or change jobs.
Sometimes the most basic problems can seem insurmountable to us. When I finally changed jobs in September, the process was actually fairly simple. But the anxiety surrounding it was incredible. I was sure I would screw things up, end up with no job, lose my rent money and end up on the street (similar to how I feel now).
Life is full of changes that are put upon us, and also changes that we need to make. Staying in the same situation, because we are incapacitated by the anxiety to make the change, is very bad for us.
Sometimes change is for the best and helps us to grow. If we can accept our brains and our feelings about doing things, then we can slowly begin to do the things we fear, in spite of our feelings. We may be able to find ways to get extra help from other people or other resources to deal with the anxiety.
The anxiety is there. Our brains seem to be wired the way they are, at this time.
There is no “should” or “should not.” There is only “what is.”
Everything will hopefully not end in doom. We have to make some slow positive additions and changes to our lives, in order to move forward. We cannot judge ourselves for our mental illness. For many of us, it was caused by abuse. For others, it is just the way the brain is wired to function.
Kindness towards ourselves, about our feelings of threat, failure, and fear will help us to move forward one step at a time.
Ten Random Thoughts
1. I am so very tired, I want to stay in bed for a week.
2. I started this list and had no idea what I was going to write.
3. I wish I could work less and spend more time with my kids.
4. I feel sad that my daughter is 18 now. I wish I could go back and have done some things better.
5. Tomorrow I want to let the bunny out to play in my room. I miss him hopping around.
6. I am isolated and alienated by this living situation. I have no friends.
7. My daughter’s new therapist does not care if she retraumatizes me.
8. Retraumatizes comes up in red on my computer. Isn’t is a real word?
9. I learned how to make ❤ on the computer today. This made me happy. Someone on wordpress taught me and they are probably smiling as they read this now and these hearts or for her ❤ ❤ ❤
10. Sadly, that ❤ thing was the only happy thing that happened today
11. This is more than 10 things
12. I am getting more tired
13. My boyfriend has not called and he has always called me every night for 10 months so far. I am used to sleeping with him on the phone
14. I guess that is why I feel like I have no friends now
15. Maybe he fell asleep and he is still my friend
16. Obsessive thoughts cause severe anxiety
17. More tired now. I was trying to keep going until I could fall asleep
18. I wonder of this top 10 list will make it to 20
19. That’s nineteen
20. I have to take the battery out of my work pager or it will keep making that BEEP noise every 15 minutes all night and drive me crazy…not that it would be too far to have to drive me
21. My post on the kindness blog did well this week. I think I still have to give you guys the link. One of you found it on your own. Thank you. And now you are smiling because you know who you are 🙂
22. This too shall pass ……..
23. Good Night to all my fellow insomniacs and good morning to whoever wakes up and reads this at 6am, which is going to be an hour after I fall asleep this time
24. We passed 10 and we passed 20
25. Drive safely, don’t fall on the ice, unplug the toaster, pet your animals, love your children and say good night to Annie
26 ❤ 🙂 ❤ 🙂 ❤
Once in a while, I get into a conversation with someone on WordPress that starts to turn onto a “future post”. In fact it is not uncommon for me to end those conversations with “This sounds like a future blog post”
Through the interaction between intelligent minds, we can find ideas in ourselves that we would not have otherwise accessed. That is one of my favorite things about blogging.
So, today was one was of those times. Here was the last part of my conversation with an intelligent, thoughtful reader.
“You are welcome. More kindness is needed in the world.
The general lack of patience and kindness from the people we interact with, is one of the causes of anxiety disorders anyway.
Think about how you would feel if you would knew with 100 percent certainty, that everyone you ran into today would be kind and understanding with you and try their best to help you, no matter what you did and no matter what your history was with them?
It is nearly impossible to picture, but if things were that way, I would not have nearly the trouble getting out of bed or leaving the house. Every single scenario you fear in your mind, would be less frightening to deal with, if every person you interacted with all day, were compassionate to you.
Even if I knew that all of my family and everyone at work were patient, kind, understanding, and non judgemental with me, I would have an easier time leaving my house today.
The best thing is to be as kind and forgiving of yourself as you are of other people. If they deserve your kindness, then so do you “
I can barely picture this, but I can if I picture being in a different world, in a multi-universe scenario.
If you take each thought in your head, one by one, you will see that most of your obsessive thoughts are about people not understanding you and not being patient with you. When you have anxiety about doing something, it has something to do with the possible unkind reaction of someone else. The constant judgement on us by others, is a huge source of anxiety.
Other things we have anxiety over, would be reduced, if other people were more compassionate. There are things that are not caused by other people, like the car breaking down, the winter weather , phobias and sickness. The simple idea of others being understanding of how those things affect us, would reduce our anxiety.
Imagine if when we were sick, we could call out of work without fearing retaliation of the boss. Imagine if when we were sick, one of our family members stepped in to help us with the kids
Imagine if the other drivers on the road were safety minded of others and courteous.
Imagine if everyone was understanding about mental illness and treated us in a way that would be helpful and not more hurtful. Imagine if the fact of having mental illness was treated with the same respect and compassion as a physical disability.
If people with psychological injury from abuse or trauma were treated with understanding, the resulting depression and anxiety would be easier to deal with. If therapists being truly compassionate for us as fellow human being, treatment would be more beneficial.
These are all things that would come out of people being less judgemental, less focused on their own agenda and more kind, compassionate, forgiving and understanding of others.
We need to be forgiving and compassionate to ourselves. If we feel that others are worthy of kindness and compassion from us, then are we not worthy of kindness from ourselves? There is no real reason for us to judge ourselves harshly. It is a conditioned response from the lack of kindness we have been exposed to.
Each of you is a special and valuable person. We are here in the world, not by mistake, but with a purpose. No one has the right to crush down your self esteem or make you feel like you are unworthy of success and happiness.
Blessings to each and every one 🙂
The following quote is from the Vice News ” an analysis published on Tuesday in The Lancet Psychiatry by doctors at the University of Zurich in Switzerland estimates that about 5,000 suicides were associated with the crisis, while roughly nine times as many self-inflicted deaths are linked to unemployment each year.” Vice News
This was an analysis of what is going on in Switzerland, but they further found the following about countries of the world…
“The psychiatrists analyzed the suicide rates and economic statistics of 63 countries from 2000 to 2011 and determined that unemployment is connected to approximately 45,000 suicides annually. According to their findings, unemployment elevated the relative risk of suicide by 20 to 30 percent throughout the world. Suicides related to unemployment accounted for about a fifth of annual totals worldwide, and the association was strongest in countries where being out of work is uncommon.”
I found this article which backed up what I already suspected. The economy is failing in many countries. In the US, Obama says the economy is on the upswing, but I don’t see it. Any small business owners you talk to will tell you that their businesses are suffering.
People are making wages that cannot keep up with the price of food and gas. Many people are out of work.
When people are living in poverty, it lowers their self esteem. When a man who was successful now cannot find work, or is struggling to save a failing business, it lowers their self esteem. When someone’s self esteem becomes crushed down, it will result in depression, anxiety and possibly suicide.
When people are in poverty, they have no quality of life. Every day is a struggle to survive and there is no room for pleasure. The lack of any pleasure can create mental illness.
When someone has to lose their home and their business, they suffer tremendous mental suffering. The worse the economy gets, the more mental illness and suicide we are going to see.
A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the suicide rate from 1928 to 2007 rose and fell with the economy, spiking when the Great Depression began and reaching its all-time high in 1933, plummeting during World War II, rising again during the deep recession of the 1974-75 and the recession of the early ’80s, though peaking a few years after unemployment hit its post-war peak in 1982. The suicide rate dropped to its lowest level ever in the year 2000, when the dot-com boom was at its zenith and unemployment had bottomed out at 4 percent. PBS newshour blog website
Marriages and other relationships are adversely affected when there are extreme financial strains on the family. Every relationship in the household will suffer.
I am sad to see the statistics presented in the link I gave you, but I am not surprised. The more the world economy turns down, the more mentally ill people we are going to have.
I just reread this post that I wrote in November. I have changed my way of dealing with morning anxiety somewhat, since then, although the ideas of looking at pretty pictures and cute bunnies are still great.
Now, I usually go to wordpress and read my comments in the morning. I also check in with my facebook groups. These are closed mental illness groups. If you are interested I can give you info about how to join one.
What I still do that is the same as in November, is to try to calm down my brain while I am still in bed. Just forcing yourself out of bed, when you are in post traumatic stress or having a severe anxiety attack, is not the best thing to do.
For people that have extreme anxiety every morning, there is something that is causing the brain to become aroused to fear and danger, right away upon waking up. This could be caused from having to have lived in a domestic abuse situation , in which you had to be alert right away upon waking up.
Soldiers who endured combat also may have had to be alert upon waking up in the morning and ready to defend themselves from threat. Enduring the feelings of waking up to threat and danger for an extended period of time, causes this PTSD condition in the brain.
It is not uncommon for men and women from the military, who were in combat zones, to wake up in post traumatic stress every day.
I still have severe anxiety in the morning, especially if I have to go to work. I think that of you have anxiety that is correlated with something like work, then it is probably time to make life changes. I am currently working on changing out of that job.
We have to prioritize our mental wellness. No one is going to do it for us. If we can identify the things that trigger our depression or anxiety then we need to create a plan to make changes.
Making changes feels scary at first but to quote John Lennon “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done…”
I get anxiety as soon as I wake up in the morning. This is from the moment I open my eyes. It is like an attack of fear upon consciousness.
I have come up with some tools that help me to decrease the level of anxiety, when I remember to use them.
I have tried to find something to do before I get out of the bed that will help. For a while, I was getting on Pinterest from my cell phone. I would look up pictures of bunny rabbits. I found that those sweet silly creatures are healing to me.
I also like to look up artwork like paintings and drawings of fairies and mermaids. The fantasy world helped take my mind out of the stress of the upcoming day.
I also tried facebook, but personally that did not help me because it brought me into the real world…
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