Sunday, October 21, 2018

Those Sneaky Little Thoughts

 Currently, I'm still riding the high from the outpouring of support my husband and I received after sharing our story. Hearing people's kind words and testimonies was so incredibly powerful and I am so grateful we had the platform to share what we've been through and help a few people along the way.

But the illness is still there.

It likes to sneak in between thoughts, especially when ruminating over something that's embarrassing or upsetting to you. For example - Here I am, laying in bed dealing with endometriosis pain. Pain that two days ago had been so unbearable that I made a doctor appointment for Friday and then cancelled the morning of because I was feeling a bit better and didn't want to waste their time. Pain that has now returned when it may not have had I just gone to the appointment.

"Just slit your throat"

And there it is. The sneaky little thought that worms its way in when you are vulnerable. Do I really want to harm myself? No. Have there been times when enough of those thoughts clustered together to create a fireball of ideation big enough to make me seriously think about it? Yeah.

Those intrusive thoughts can come at any time and, as someone who suffers with mental illness, my guard always has to be up. I have to stay in my Wise Mind (see image)
enough that I acknowledge that the thought is there then immediately dismiss it, almost as if it's a bad joke.

This, for me, has to be one of the hardest parts of the struggle. Sometimes, when I'm really truly in my Wise Mind it's easy to flippantly throw those thoughts to the side. But as someone who suffers from Bipolar, staying there can be rough sometimes. It's so easy to let those sneaky little thoughts stay there and fester, building up more and more until it's not even ideation anymore, it's active self-harm or suicidal thinking. That's why learning what coping skills work for you is essential to staying healthy.

I wish I could say that these sneaky little thoughts would eventually disappear, but they don't. You just have to put in daily work to stay in your Wise Mind the very best you can, because all of those negative intrusive thoughts are lies. And the more you work on coping skills and loving yourself, the easier it will be to let them go just as fast as they entered.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Redefining Brave

Today is World Mental Health Day and, honestly, I've been struggling with what to write. My husband, Ryan and I worked on a piece sharing our story for our newspaper that published today and have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and love. Our goal was to help make a dent in the stigma, and I like to think we achieved that on a small scale. But, there is always more to do.

People have been saying we are brave for sharing our story. But why?

The stigma. 

Don't get me wrong, we appreciate the kind words, and we understand why it could be considered brave in our present society. But we want to create a conversation around mental illness that is just like discussing any physical illness. Because, as said so many times before, it's an illness. It's not something to be ashamed of, like so many people are. But trust me, I get it.

When everything first started with me, I was confused. I was sad. I wanted to hide. I was scared to discuss it with people because I didn't want the judgment.

The stigma. 

Eventually I began opening up with the rest of my family and some friends. And then, the writer in me took over. My old blog, Mama to Monkeys, that had began as your basic mom blog became an outlet for me to vent about my daily struggles. I eventually stopped writing, taking quite the hiatus. Then, inspiration. I realized how badly I missed writing, but wanted it to be different this time. I wanted to work to help break the stigma and hopefully encourage people to not be ashamed of their illness. To help them realize that they aren't alone and that it's ok to talk about. Because, it is.

One in four people will be affected with mental or neurological illness in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, according to the World Health Organization. In other words, you are FAR from alone. There are so many others just like you - suffering in silence. Please, friends - reach out. Talk to a friend, family member, counselor or psychiatrist. Email me. Anything to help free you from that feeling of loneliness that I once experienced. 

Break your silence, even if it's just to one person. Find a confidante. If you need help, find a doctor who will listen and advocate for you. If you are in danger of hurting yourself, please seek help, even if it means checking yourself into a psychiatric facility. They will keep you safe and get you connected with professionals that can help. You deserve to live a happy life. And if you think that's an impossible goal, I promise it isn't. 

So, is it brave to talk about mental illness? Maybe. Should it be? No. Break your silence, even if it's just to one person. All it takes is a few baby steps to end up making strides in normalizing the conversation. Because we're all in this together.


**If you'd like to read our article, you can find it here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/nation-now/2018/10/13/mental-health-my-familys-mental-illness-fight-hope-column/1604540002/

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Have questions, comments or just want to connect? Email me here or head on over to the community on my Facebook Page