Self-Preservation as Self-Care: How to Set Healthy Boundaries ~ Nneka M. Okona

Zora Neale Hurston, the foremother of Black women’s literature, so eloquently penned that Black women were “de mule uh de world” and even many, many years later, we can see how this statement still rings true. Black women are seen as the pillars of strength in nearly every circle we comprise. We are the backbones of our families, the shoulder always called upon to cry on. We are supposed to readily perform strength, on demand, no matter what our emotional or mental state.

We do not belong to ourselves: our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our hearts, our spiritual state. Our emotional labor is prescribed and expected.

Self-care is a phrase often uttered as of late, especially on social media. My thought is that we, Black women, now know the importance of tending to the trauma we have been dealt for hundreds of years and dedicating ourselves wholeheartedly to healing, moment by moment, day by day. And we know that self-preservation, an uncompromising notion of clinging to ourselves and maintaining the sanctity of ourselves, is a defiant, revolutionary act of self-care. Setting boundaries — along with enforcing consequences if said boundaries are willfully ignored — is a crucial part of this, too.

Quick story: for most of my childhood and well into my adulthood, I was a doormat. I was kind and had a giving heart but lacked strong discernment and sound judgment. People sensed this and took advantage, taking and taking and taking until they couldn’t anymore. Until there was no further use for my presence in their lives. Until I was depleted and drained and filled with resentment. And then they’d be gone. Learning to choose myself after this defunct pattern yielded to learning what boundaries are, evaluating where I needed to set them in my current relationships and how I could set them as the need arose in new interpersonal bonds.

Boundaries are the space between you and another person, a space where you end and the other person begins. Setting boundaries is a method of informing those around you how to treat you, how to care for you, how to interact with you in a way that is nurturing, fulfilling and makes you feel safe. It isn’t about forming a tight fence around your inner being. It is about ensuring you feel free enough to be yourself, in totality, with those you bond with, and interactions are healthy, reciprocal and beneficial. And also that your values are acknowledged, honored and respected.

Learning to set boundaries can be tricky when it’s new, especially if those around you are used to a certain dynamic. If it’s a new concept, there’s a chance guilt may set in because it’s uncomfortable but don’t let yourself succumb to guilt. Push through the discomfort. Growth is on the other side.

Truly ready to ensure all of your bonds are healthy, safe spaces? Use these guiding principles as a compass while learning how to set healthy boundaries.

Always choose yourself. Always take care of you. 

Saying no is a complete sentence and requires no further explanation. If you really don’t want to do something, say no. If you were invited to go somewhere with friends but really need to take the night to get some much needed rest, don’t be afraid to say no for fear of disappointing them. It is better to be a disappointment to friends who most likely will be forgiving and understanding than be a disappointment to yourself because you are overexerting yourself. Be selfish, not selfless. No one but you will or is truly capable of putting yourself first and having your best interests at heart.
Firmly and directly assert yourself to those in your life.

Make a list of your values. Honestly determine what is important to you in your bonds with other people and keep these close to your heart. These are things that matter to you, these are things which make you feel valued and loved in your relationships. When behavior veers outside of what you deem acceptable according to your values, communicate that, immediately.

For example, if your partner has a tendency of speaking recklessly or raising their voice when they are upset with you, inform them you would appreciate if they would not raise their voice at you when angry. Make sure to use either “I feel…” or “When you…” statements to articulate your feelings. This is so you are explaining (and owning) how you feel and not casting blame on the other person to put them on the defense. By stating this, you are telling your partner there is a proper way to productively address issues and yelling is not one of them.

Be prepared to enact consequences if your boundary is not acknowledged, honored or respected.

Consequences aren’t a punishment or an angry thing as many of us have come to know. They are also not empty threats to manipulate the other person. Instead, consequences entail taking heed of a pattern of behavior, using that to inform future interactions and stating what will happen going forward. It might mean you no longer correspond with a person as frequently or not at all, and the relationship changes because their actions communicate a lack of respect.

For instance, perhaps a friend insists on calling or texting you late at night. This bothers you and you tell them, directly, to please not call or text you late and night (setting a boundary) and if they continue to do so, you will not answer when they reach out to you so late (consequence). Remember, this is about you. This is about engaging with others on your terms, what makes you feel comfortable and safe.

Ensure the boundaries you set are firm and stand behind them fiercely.

Boundary setting is often a learning curve and is not one size fits all for every person or situation. If a person is a repeated offender of poor behavior, your boundaries may be more rigid than say, for instance, a boss who has all of a sudden become overbearing and situationally difficult to deal with.

It is important to note your boundaries are only as strong as your commitment to following through on them. Stand behind what you say. Don’t let the (temporary) discomfort and guilt that arises prevent you from doing what you need to do to protect yourself. An example of this would be telling a friend you don’t like when they consistently cut you off in conversations because it makes you feel unheard (setting a boundary). Tell them if they can’t take the time to listen, you’ll will limit the conversations you have with them (consequence) but then a couple of days later go back to letting them cut you off mid conversation. You’ve communicated the opposite of what you intended: that what you said wasn’t that big of a deal and they can continue to conduct themselves in this way without any repercussion. It’s rewarding bad behavior and putting yourself back where you started. Prevent that; stick to your guns. Follow through.

Be patient (and gentle) with yourself. This is a process.

This is a journey, a multi-step, methodical, measured, slow journey. It won’t happen overnight and it will be difficult initially. You’ll be pushing back against an old way of interacting and shifting into more positive and healthy methods of engaging. The result, however, is well worth the effort, discomfort and plethora of other emotions that may arise — reciprocal relationships with people you respect who treat you lovingly, kind and nurture you in precisely the way you need.

Self-preservation as self-care is a fine art and boundaries are one component of that masterpiece. Invest in yourself through creating space and a lovingly flow between those you care about is yet another way to ensure you are taking care of you in the best way possible.

Nneka M. Okona is a writer based in Washington, DC. Visit her blog, http://www.afrosypaella.com, her website, about.me/nnekaokona or follow her tweets, @NisforNneka.

http://www.forharriet.com/2015/09/self-preservation-as-self-care-how-to.html#axzz3wR9j109I

24 Creative Ways To Channel Depression Or Anxiety ~ Alanna Okun

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to show us what they've created during periods of depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles.
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Everyone deals with these conditions differently, of course. (And you should always consult your doctor if you feel you might be depressed or anxious!) Often a side effect can be that you don’t want to make so much as a piece of toast, let alone a painting or throw pillow, and that is in no way a sign of failure; but sometimes, using your hands to make a tiny corner of the universe look how you want it to is just what you need. These are some of the infinite ways to do so.

1. Tend to some plants.

Tend to some plants.

“I usually sit outside with my dog and pot seedlings for hours, just taking my time relaxing and focusing on the little seedlings. After they’ve been outside growing for a while it’s like a proud parent moment — you’ve seen them since they were tiny seedlings and now they’ve grown up to full blossoming plants.” — ashleyc09

2. Take self-portraits.

Take self-portraits.

“I’m a photographer and I always found doing self-portraits as a way to deal with my depression and anxiety. I’m able to escape reality for a moment in time.” — vanessas14

“Photography (particularly film) forces me to slow down, breathe, think about my surroundings, and focus on being present. Whenever I feel anxious or depressed, I go outside and start shooting. It calms me down, centres me, and I get to create something beautiful out of the monster that is my mental illness.” — yanaleigh

“I have had anxiety and depression for years. During a particularly rough bout of depression my junior year of college, my boyfriend and I collaborated on a photography project to visually depict our lives with these illnesses. It was a deeply cathartic experience for both of us; creating an honest depiction of a misunderstood part of myself enabled a shift in how we talked about it and managed it moving forward.” — amandam42

“One miscarriage and an emotionally abusive relationship later, I was able to translate the isolation into an image.” — mercedesh3

3. Turn the old into new.

“I take forgotten chairs off the side of the road and reupholster them into something new and beautiful. And it makes me feel amazing… I haven’t done this yet but I’ve always wanted to bring the chair back to where I found it so whoever threw it out could see that things that look like they’re on their last leg still have much life left in them, possibly a brighter one. Because it really helps me.” — beatrixk3

4. Get out in the world…

Get out in the world...

“Going for runs and making it to the top of the mountain and feeling on top of the world gives me relief from my anxiety.” — liffieboy.

5. …And capture what you find there.

...And capture what you find there.

“Sometimes when I’m at work and depressed/having too many feelings I like to go outside, and draw things I see on the street. Drawing makes me feel like I’m in control, and it forces me to find some solace in the weird beauty of the physical world. Also, I’ve realized that ten minutes of sunshine actually legitimately kind of helps.” — avw

6. Or literally turn it into art.

Or literally turn it into art.

“I enjoy going outside, finding a smooth rock by the river, and making these designs on them. It forces me to go outside, walk, and then the freestyle artwork becomes very therapeutic as well.” — Dana Rae Wilson

7. Work with makeup or body paint.

Work with makeup or body paint.

“I have struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life. I used to be basically locked into my own world of despair. Three years ago, I volunteered at a local haunted house and started learning makeup. While I’m still far from the best, learning this new skill has helped improve EVERYTHING in my life, even my relationship with my boyfriend. 

Now I refuse to hide from the world, and enjoy creating new characters that capture this. This is a bodypaint I did last April. I consider it my best turn so far. I look forward more to learning and improving my craft and it’s given me something to be proud of and live for.” — clharbert

8. Blend your own scented candles.

Blend your own scented candles.

“Leaving university and being unemployed with no routine brought back my anxiety big time. I needed something to keep my mind and my hands busy one day, so I made soy wax candles and used essential oils to scent them. I found picking the essential oil blends really relaxing and watching the wax melt each time really therapeutic. I spent hours making them and a whole day had passed without me being worried/anxious/nervous/panicked. The candles are pretty gorgeous to light, too.” — ashro14.

9. Focus on a new buddy.

Focus on a new buddy.

“Pepper is my three-year-old Belgian Malinois service dog that I rescued from a shelter and then trained with the help of a trainer. When I met her I was in deep depression, had anxiety, bipolar, and was suicidal. Pepper is the reason I am alive; she gave me a reason to live. Her training gave me a purpose when I had none and now gives me freedom. I actually want to leave my house more. I still have trouble every day but with her I can live again instead of just being there. She is everything to me, my best friend, my rock, my teacher, my savior, and my heart. The absolute greatest thing to ever happen to me is her.” — charlotteh43

10. Design your dream house.

Design your dream house.

“I have been battling both anxiety and depression for the past four years, probably longer. About two or three years ago I started designing rooms on RoomStyler and eventually moved on to making houses on Sketchup. I have had no training or anything, just stuff I have learned from the internet, but I am proud of my little designs.” — beanloser

11. And your dream outfits.

And your dream outfits.

“I have severe depression and anxiety, self-harm tendencies, low self-esteem and terrible body image. With summer coming up, it becomes harder to hide my scars. Being a plus-size girl, I don’t have many options in stores that will fit, be flattering, fun, fashionable and cover what I need covered. 

So I’ve started drawing clothes that I want to make and wear this summer. It gives me something creative to plan and look forward to, and I find colouring my sketches digitally to be pretty meditative. By drawing pictures of myself, I’m trying to work towards seeing my body in a different, more positive light, but that’s a long way off yet. I’m pretty happy with how this picture’s turned out, though, and I’m hopeful that I can find the motivation to make it real.” — lunarbluemoth

12. Wrap arrowheads.

Wrap arrowheads.

“Started wire wrapping arrowheads my boyfriend made to combat anxiety. I find having something to do with my hands really helps me relax!” — audreyhosephineh

13. Bake, bake, bake.

Bake, bake, bake.

“When nothing picks me up, all I need to pick up is a whisk and start baking!” — humayra.

14. Teach.

“I haven’t created a ‘thing’ as such, but I am in the process of creating a new, more educated me. I decided to use my struggle to help others like myself. Next year I’ll be a qualified counsellor, changing the lives of people with mental health issues, using my own terrible experience to help better the lives of others living through the same thing.” — katiejade.

15. Draw.

Draw.

“When my depression and anxiety was at its worse I discovered two things. The first was that I could draw, something I didn’t really realize till that point. And also that drawing took enough concentration that it would stop my anxious thoughts for at least a little while.” — sunshineabove

16. Crochet a blanket, for yourself or a beloved pal.

Crochet a blanket, for yourself or a beloved pal.

“I crocheted these harlequins and plan to make a blanket out of them. It’s not the perfect medicine but it helps with my anxiety and depression. It’s the sense of accomplishment that gets me going and made me feel a little bit better. Though I’m not sure if the blanket will be mine, since Kiwi is so eager to use it.” — Nadine

17. Sell what you’ve made.

Sell what you've made.

“Everything in my Etsy shop is a product of my mental illness, whether directly or indirectly. I battled for years with depression and anxiety and I was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder a few years ago. After having my son I felt useless, like I as a person has ceased to exist, that I was just a conduit for my son to receive food and care and comfort. Making things became my way of reassuring myself I still mattered and that, no matter how bad things got, I was still capable of making the world a little better with the things I created.” — laurenl4

18. Paint.

Paint.

“This is a poster I painted two years ago. It was a really difficult day for me to go through but I still have it in my room and looking at it every night it gives me peace.” — anyaa2

19. Play with fire.

Play with fire.

“I play with fire. Specifically, I do lampwork; I sit in front of a 2,000*F flame and melt glass. Destructive and creative at the same time. It puts me in a zone where I HAVE to focus (or risk getting burned) which banishes the depression demons for a short while. Did this vessel just before starting meds.” — allivymar

20. Make your tears work for you.

Make your tears work for you.

“After losing my kidney transplant and getting my heart broken by my cheating boyfriend, I went into a deep depression. I was so angry and sad I could barely get out of bed. The only thing I can credit to getting out of that dark hole was my tears….. my pillow tears. I thought instead of crying about it, I would instead make literal tears out of fabric and embroidery. Each one with a different message. After I would finish each one I felt liberated.” — marianaeloysad

21. Know the value of even the smallest, most temporary projects.

Know the value of even the smallest, most temporary projects.

“I made this bracelet out of candy wrappers at a party to cope with my social anxiety. It ended up being a good idea, because people started giving me their spare wrappers because they thought it was cool, and I didn’t have to stress about coming up with topics of conversation.” — katelynj42.

22. Make little monsters.

Make little monsters.

“I make lots of my peg dolls to combat depression/anxiety. It’s a nice thing to do with my hands and keep me occupied :)” — fiorentinokimmy

23. Take up embroidery.

Take up embroidery.

“I had a physically and emotionally devastating miscarriage and my life kinda fell apart. I embroidered cream and white tulips that mean purity, new life, and ‘I will love you forever’ in memory of my baby. During the hours I worked on it, I grieved, cried, let my mind go blank and my feelings go numb just to rest. I keep this folded up and every once in awhile I take it out and look at it and make myself remember that I’ve survived some awful times and there’s good in life and I can make it.” — hannahr4

“I made this to remind myself what I really am.” — emilyceratops

24. Create your life.

“I created my life. Through everything I deal with I have used art in multiple manners such as painting and photography and created a career built on my passion for photo. However, even when I was wanting to end it all I was able to create a life. I wanted to die, to never see the light again; when the light came I went straight through it and came up with something brighter. I built relationships with my family and friends that helped me build my self again. I molded my path in a way that worked for me not having to bob and twist for others. 

I created myself as I wanted to be. The outcome has been happiness, and although I still deal with my mental illness, I have been able to control it like an artist uses a brush to control paint. And even if your life is as messy and sporadic as a Jackson Pollock, it is still beautiful and someone out there is going to see the beauty in you as well.” — abbis4c

To learn more about depression and anxiety, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health here and here.

If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately here or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

 

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/making-it-through#.qt8D4myozM

11 Things People With Anxiety Want You To Know ~ Kirsten King, Haejin Park, Anna Borges

1. The symptoms of anxiety are not just internal — they’re physical, too.

The symptoms of anxiety are not just internal — they're physical, too.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

Anxiety can wreak physical havoc on your life in the form of headaches, insomnia, muscle pain, panic attacks, and more.

2. …But internal symptoms are just as debilitating.

...But internal symptoms are just as debilitating.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

Anxiety is an invisible illness that may not be seen, but is certainly felt. When you deal with anxiety, there’s no separating yourself from the symptoms. You carry the misery in your thoughts, your choices, your relationships, yourself. And sometimes, that weight is so heavy that it feels physical.

3. There are several different types of anxiety — and even those can manifest in different ways.

There are several different types of anxiety — and even those can manifest in different ways.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

The most common disorders are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which involves chronic, irrational worry about day-to-day things, and Social Anxiety Disorder, which involves a fear of social situations and other people, whether interacting with them or fearing judgment from them, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). There’s also Panic Disorder, which involves sudden and repeated attacks of irrational fear (aka panic attacks), plus intense worry between those episodes. 

All that said, even people with the same anxiety disorders experience symptoms differently — so don’t presume to know what someone is going through. Anxiety is not one-size-fits-all.

4. We cancel plans last minute not because we’re jerks, but because some days we wake up and can’t imagine leaving the house.

We cancel plans last minute not because we're jerks, but because some days we wake up and can't imagine leaving the house.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

Taking time away from work/friends/obligations doesn’t mean we don’t like being social… it just means sometimes we need a break.

5. Meditation and relaxation techniques do not work for everyone.

Meditation and relaxation techniques do not work for everyone.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

While these techniques sometimes do help alleviate symptoms, suggesting them as a cure-all can be incredibly frustrating for someone with anxiety.

6. Finding the right therapist who is both effective and covered under your health insurance can be such a daunting and difficult task, that many people give up on getting help.

Finding the right therapist who is both effective and covered under your health insurance can be such a daunting and difficult task, that many people give up on getting help.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

While mental health is partially covered, it’s hard for people without health insurance, or who cannot afford copays, to make their mental health a priority.

7. A lot of people who have anxiety also suffer from depression.

A lot of people who have anxiety also suffer from depression.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

The two exhausting, debilitating struggles can come hand-in-hand. Nearly one-half of people who are diagnosed with depression also have an anxiety disorder.

8. Requests we make that might make us seem uptight are actually things that make us feel safe.

Requests we make that might make us seem uptight are actually things that make us feel safe.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

Like if we ask who’s going to be at the party you invited us to or if we want to make an exact plan rather than ~winging~ it. Uncertainty and open-endedness can exacerbate anxiety so details that seem insignificant are actually huge helps.

9. Anxiety can make you question relationships completely irrationally, so please don’t take it personally if we express doubts sometimes.

Anxiety can make you question relationships completely irrationally, so please don't take it personally if we express doubts sometimes.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

Having anxiety can mean anything from questioning if your friend actually wants you to go to the movies, to wondering if you’re really loved. So reminding us that we’re important to you might seem like it’s obvious… but it’s super important.

10. Anxiety doesn’t need a reason.

Anxiety doesn’t need a reason.

BuzzFeed

Anxiety and panic attacks can have a pin-pointed cause (like a job interview, exam, or break-up) or they can occur essentially out of thin air. Having anxiety means you might not always be able to understand why you feel the way you do.

11. Suffering from anxiety doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn’t make you damaged goods.

Suffering from anxiety doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn’t make you damaged goods.

Haejin Park for BuzzFeed

Having anxiety, or any mental illness, doesn’t make you any “less” of a person. It just makes you, you.

To learn more about depression and anxiety, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health here and here.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/kirstenking/things-people-with-anxiety-want-you-to-know#.dpKoNyzx8j

15 Easy Things You Can Do To Help When You Feel Like Shit ~ Maritsa Patrinos

1. Get a drink of water.

Get a drink of water.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

You could be dehydrated! Your body needs water. Not juice, soda, or alcohol – get a tall glass of water and make yourself drink all of it.

2. Make your bed.

When you have a lot to do and it feels overwhelming, making your bed can be the first step in getting your life on track. It will also (hopefully) discourage you from getting back into it.

3. Take a shower.

Take a shower.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

Life feels different when you’re clean! And it can give you a burst of energy if you’re feeling lethargic. Wash your hair and give yourself a head massage.

4. Have a snack – not junk food!

Did you eat enough today? It’s super tempting to eat junk food when you feel like crap. If you don’t feel like making a whole meal, maybe just a piece of fruit. Something you can burn throughout the day and not in a burst of five minutes.

5. Take a walk.

Take a walk.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

You might need some fresh air and not even know it. Give your body some natural light, breathe some different air, move your legs a little, even if it’s for just five minutes. Allow yourself to think some different thoughts.

6. Change your clothes.

Even if you aren’t going to leave the house today, put on real clothes. Or, if you’ve been wearing the same uncomfortable clothes all day and feel restless, change into your sleepy clothes and slippers and relax.

7. Change your environment.

Change your environment.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

Staring at the same four walls day after day can be drudging. Can you work from a cafe, a library, or a friend’s house? If you can add going somewhere to the list of things you did today, you may feel more accomplished.

8. Talk to someone, not on the internet – it can be about anything.

If you don’t feel like talking through your troubles, that’s okay. Visit a friend, talk to them about a movie you saw. Call your mom and see how she’s doing.

9. Dance to an upbeat guilty pleasure song.

Dance to an upbeat guilty pleasure song.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

NOT ELLIOT SMITH! Pick something high energy and bump it. Dance like a rock star for one song to get your blood pumping again.

10. Get some exercise.

Do some cardio, work up a sweat. If you don’t have the time for a whole workout, look up a sun salutation on Youtube and stretch for as long as you have time for. Do some push-ups or sit-ups at your desk.

11. Accomplish something – even if it’s something tiny.

Accomplish something – even if it's something tiny.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

Do you need to grab some groceries? Schedule a doctor’s appointment? Reply to an email? If you can’t get to the big stuff on your list, focus on the small stuff, and don’t forget to congratulate yourself for getting something done.

12. Hug an animal.

If you don’t have a pet, can you visit a friend’s? Or can you go to an animal shelter?

13. Make a “done” list instead of a “to-do” list.

Make a "done" list instead of a "to-do" list.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

Instead of overwhelming yourself right now, start feeling better about what you did get done. You can add “brushed teeth,” “washed dishes,” or “picked out an outfit” to your list. It doesn’t matter how small the task, prove to yourself that you’re effectual.

14. Watch a Youtube video that always makes you laugh.

I personally recommend this one.

15. Give yourself permission to feel shitty.

Give yourself permission to feel shitty.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

You’re allowed to have a shitty day, and you don’t have to fix it all right now. If you try to fix it and it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. Give yourself the time and space you need to feel what you’re feeling.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/maritsapatrinos/15-easy-things-you-can-do-to-help-when-you-feel-like-shit#.rqvmdX4vY3

This Eerie Photograph Shows Anxiety Like We’ve Never Seen It Before ~ The Mighty

In one haunting photograph, an Australian photographer took his own internal experience with anxiety — and turned it inside out.

image

(Photo: Beethy)

The photographer, who goes by the name of Beethystarted having extreme anxiety in 2009. In a reflection on the piece, he told his fans about about his experiences with panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.

At any random point in the day I can get these attacks,” he wrote. “During these attacks I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of imminent death. No rational thinking can erase the thought or feeling. Imagine having a gun held to your head. And you know it’s going to go off. You just don’t know when. That’s what happens when I experience an attack. I get these daily. I hide it well from people around me. By just walking away. Or keeping to myself a lot.”

For a while, the attacks were so debilitating he couldn’t work.

I slowly started to feel like a vegetable,” he wrote.

The image has been made into a popular GIF on Tumblr, making it all the more haunting.

Literally the most accurate physical depiction of anxiety ever,” one Facebook commenter wrote.

Really glad I found this and the photo,” a reader on Beethy’s blog post said. “Finding this and everyone elses (sic) posts has made me realize I’m not alone. There are more of us with inner demons then society admits.”

Beethy says he didn’t expect the piece would be so appreciated.

The idea of the image is something that’s been twisting and turning in my subconscious for a while,” he wrote. “I’m glad other people with anxiety understand it.”

By Sarah Schuster

http://news.yahoo.com/this-eerie-photograph-shows-anxiety-1302723567550518.html

Depression Slideshow: Tips for Exercise, Diet and Stress Reduction ~ WebMD

Young thoughtful woman, indoors

Tips for Recovering From Depression

If you’ve had depression, you know how hopeless you can feel. It’s important to get professional treatment. But there are things you can do to ease symptoms of depression. Exercise, changing your diet, and even playing with a pet can improve your mood. Click to the next slide to see how you can start regaining control of your life.

 
 

Woman sitting with dog on jetty, rear view

Let Your Pet Nuzzle Blues Away

Sometimes your pet really can be your best friend — and that’s good therapy. When you play with your pet, you take your mind off your problems. Also, when you take care of your pet you’re fulfilling a commitment to something outside yourself. Caring for others can be very therapeutic.

 
 

Young woman at table with plate of food, smiling

Eat Smart to Lift Mind and Body

There’s a connection between mind and body. Although there is no specific diet that works for depression, a healthy diet can be part of an overall treatment plan. Build your diet around plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help boost your physical and emotional health.

 
 
 

Salmon fillet with spinach and lemon wedge

Choose Foods to Boost Your Mood

Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 — especially for people for may not get enough of these nutrients — may ease the mood changes that are part of depression. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids. So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables. Seafood and low-fat dairy products are sources of B12. Vegetarians who eat no meat or fish can get B12 in fortified cereals, dairy products, and  supplements.

 
 

Fresh popcorn in carton

Try Low-Fat Carbs for a Pick-Me-Up

Serotonin is a brain chemical that enhances your sense of well-being. Carbohydrates raise the level of serotonin in your brain. Low-fat carbs such as popcorn, a baked potato, graham crackers, or pasta are options. Vegetables, fruit, and whole grain options also provide fiber.

 
 

Businessman crushing coffee cup

Drink Less Caffeine to Improve Mood

Do you really need that third cup of coffee? Anxiety can accompany depression. And too much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery, or anxious. While possible links between caffeine and depression haven’t been definitively established, cutting back on caffeinated drinks may help lower your risk of depression and improve sleep. 

 
 
 

Man with headache

Treat Your Aches and Pains

Feelings of depression can be related to pain. Work with your health care team to treat your depression and your pain.

 
 

couple on a treadmill in a gym

Exercise to Change the Way You Feel

For some people, exercise works almost as well as antidepressants. And you don’t have to run a marathon. Just take a walk with a friend. As time goes on, increase activity until you exercise on most days. You’ll feel better physically, sleep better at night, and improve your mood.

 
 

Two men on outdoor basketball court

Choose an Exercise You Enjoy

If you don’t like to run, you won’t last long training for a marathon. But you will stay with a moderate exercise you enjoy. For instance, try walking, golfing without a cart, riding a bike, working in your garden, playing tennis, or swimming. The important thing is to pick something you like. Then you’ll look forward to it and feel better when you do it.

 
 
 

Group of women with instructor in exercise class

Exercise With Others for Support

Staying connected with other people helps overcome the lethargy, exhaustion, and loneliness of depression. Join an exercise group or exercise with a friend. You’ll stay connected. And you’ll have support to help you stay on track!

 
 

Woman opening curtains, looking out window

Be Sure You Get Enough Sunlight

Do you feel more depressed during darker, cold months? You may have seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is most common in the winter, when there’s less sunlight. SAD can be treated with light therapy or exposure to artificial sunlight, antidepressants, and psychotherapy.

 
 

Woman photographing forest on digital camera

Explore Your Creativity

Painting, photography, music, knitting, or writing in a journal: These are all ways people explore their feelings and express what’s on their mind. Being creative can help you feel better. The goal isn’t to create a masterpiece. Do something that gives you pleasure. It may help you better understand who you are and how you feel.

 
 
 

Man sitting in woods listening to music

Make Time for Mindful Relaxation

Stress and anxiety can increase your depression symptoms and make it harder to recover. Learning to mentally relax can help restore a sense of calm and control. You might consider a yoga or meditation class. Or you could simply listen to soothing music while you take a long, hot bath.

 
 

Group of people lifting wall of unfinished house

Become Actively Involved

Being involved with others can help you regain a sense of purpose. And it doesn’t take much to get started. Try volunteering with a charity. Or join a discussion group at the library or at church. Meeting new people and doing new things will help you feel good about yourself.

 
 

smiling family having a meal at a picnic table

Keep Friends and Family in Your Life

The people who love you want to support you. If you shut them out, they can’t. If you let them in, you’ll feel a lot better. Call a friend and go for a walk. Have a cup of coffee with your partner. You may find it helps to talk about your depression. It feels good to have someone listen.

 
 
 

Young woman sleeping, close-up

Get the Healthy Sleep You Need

Depression interferes with healthy sleep. Some people with depression sleep too much. Others can’t fall asleep easily. As you recover from depression, relearn good sleep habits. Start by going to bed and getting up the same time each day. Use relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep. Healthy sleep makes you feel better physically and mentally.

 
 

Man sitting at bar looking at glass of liquor

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol and drugs can slow or prevent recovery from depression. They can also make your depression worse and interfere with the medicines you take for depression. If you have a problem with substance abuse, ask for help now. You’ll have a far better chance of recovering from depression.

 
 

Female Doctor Talking to Patient

Continue Your Treatment

The steps outlined in these slides may help you feel positive about your life. But alone, they’re not enough. They won’t replace medical treatment or talk therapy. Depression is a serious illness, and it carries a risk of suicide. If you are thinking about suicide, seek help immediately. And never stop or change treatment without discussing it carefully with your doctor.

 

http://www.webmd.com/depression/ss/slideshow-depression-diet-stress-exercise?ecd=wnl_men_100215&ctr=wnl-men-100215_nsl-ld-stry_img&mb=RbO7%2fvTOx1EjKOU4pPXoLChonS%2fH3cwyP02j5xZ6yv4%3d&print=true

A Comic That Accurately Sums Up Depression And Anxiety ~ UpWorthy

Sarah Flanigan has been fighting depression since she was 10 years old and anxiety since she was 16. “I wish everyone knew that depression is not something that people can just ‘snap out of,'” she explains. “I mean, if I could ‘snap out of it,’ I would have by now.”

Depression and anxiety disorders are real illnesses. Mental illnesses are not “in someone’s head,” they’re not something a person can “just get over,” and they affect so many of us — over 40 million people in the U.S. alone.

Despite how common they are, it’s still really difficult to explain to people who may have never experienced a mental illness.

Enter: cute, clever illustrations that get the job done.

Nick Seluk, who creates the amazing comics at The Awkward Yeti, heard from reader Sarah Flanigan. She shared her story of depression and anxiety with him. If it could help even one person, she said, it would be worth it. 

Nick turned her story into a fantastic comic that perfectly captures the reality of living with depression and anxiety.

“I’ve been through and seen depression and anxiety in action, and thought Sarah’s story was so perfectly simple,” he told me. “We all get sick physically and mentally, but we need to be open to talking (and laughing) about [it].”

I couldn’t agree more, and I think this comic will resonate with a lot of people.

Simple yet powerful, right? 

“The hardest part of living with depression and anxiety for me is feeling like I have to hide it,” Sarah said. “I’ve always been known as the happy one in my group of friends. Everyone’s always so shocked when I tell them I have depression or they see the self-harm scars.”

“It’s much harder than it should be to say, ‘Hey, I have depression and I’ve been struggling with self-harm since I was 10 and I just really need your support to get me through tonight,'” Sarah explained. 

Let’s all keep working to make it easier for our friends, family members, and ourselves to get support. Let’s keep talking about it.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-comic-that-accurately-sums-up-depression-and-anxiety-and-the-uphill-battle-of-living-with-them?g=2

4 Sneaky Signs You’re Lonely (And What To Do About It) ~ Leigh Weingus

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Whether it’s a move to a new city or school, a breakup or a random rough patch, we all get lonely from time to time. This is pretty normal, but too much loneliness can be taxing on our mental and physical health. In fact, a recent study found that feelings of loneliness increase mortality risk by 26 percent.

That’s a pretty startling statistic, so it’s important to get your loneliness facts down and take action if you’re feeling lonely. Here’s what you should know: 

 

Feeling lonely? 

1. You binge-watch in record time.  

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Did you rip through all ten seasons of “Friends” when it hit Netflix? You might not feel lonely, but a study from the University of Texas found that people who are more lonely and depressed are more likely to binge watch. We’re not trying to take life’s simple pleasures away from you, just make sure you’re getting enough people time in. 

2. You know how you’re supposed to behave in a social situation, you just have trouble doing it. 

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Through a series of four experiments, Franklin & Marshall College professor Megan L. Knowles found that lonely people may actually have a better understanding of social skills than non-lonely people, but they choke under pressure when it comes time to apply them to real-world situations. So if you have a tough time making conversation in social situations, remind yourself that you’re probably a lot better at it than you think.

3. Being alone doesn’t feel like downtime — it feels lonely.

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Feeling lonely is a whole lot different than carving out a little “me” time. Spending time alone by choice actually has a lot of health benefits.   

A Scientific American article states:

Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.

Loneliness, on the other hand, feels a bit different. If you’re having trouble sleeping, feeling anxious or depressed or turning to social media and TV when you’re alone, you’re probably really lonely

4. You’re a Facebook power user. 

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A University of Michigan study found that we’re more likely to use Facebook when we’re feeling lonely. Although Facebook doesn’t necessarily make us feel lonelier, watching people’s lives go by on our newsfeeds can lead to feelings of unhappiness. So instead of logging into Facebook next time you’re feeling lonely, try face-to-face interaction and/or make a phone call to someone you love.

How to fix it:

The first step is acknowledging that you’re lonely.

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Like all things, changing your loneliness starts by admitting what you’re feeling.

“After identifying it, you want to think about in what ways you’re feeling lonely or out of place,” clinical psychologist Lauren Kachorek told HerCampus of feeling lonely in college. “The person has to come to understand more about what [the loneliness] means to them and why and how they feel that way. Exploring more about it is actually the best way to make the feeling go away.”

Joining a club or group can help. 

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Whether it’s a book club or sports team, get involved in groups that revolve around your interests. That way, you’ll go into the situation knowing you have something in common with the people you’re interacting with. 

“If you join a group where the activity is meaningful for you, and you enjoy it, chances are it will bring out the best in you,” Toronto-based psychotherapist Lesli Musicar told Best Health. “And if you feel good while you’re engaged in that activity, it will help you feel more connected to the people around you because you have this one thing in common.”

But if that doesn’t sound appealing, try taking care of someone else.

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Just as acts of kindness can help with social anxiety, being kind to or caring for others can ease loneliness — even if that “other” is a pet. “Raising children, teaching, caring for animals… helps to alleviate loneliness,” Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin wrote on her blog.  

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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One big way to break the cycle of loneliness is seeking professional help. In one study on loneliness, University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo and colleagues concluded that individual therapy was probably the most effective way to change thought patterns and beliefs surrounding loneliness, like shame and low self=esteem. 

“As a first step, there is a need for increased public awareness — and awareness among healthcare providers — that loneliness is a condition that, like chronic pain, can become an affliction for almost anyone,” the study authors wrote. 

Loneliness is serious. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to make a change — so take action sooner rather than later.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sneaky-signs-youre-lonely_55aea2b0e4b0a9b94852c3ef

I Am Broken by Giovannah P

From The Worthiness Project

In the beginning

It started with me trying to figure out why I am the way I am. 28 years old, never been on a date, can’t hold a steady job, never left my parents house, to scared to drive on the highway; always afraid, angry, and sad; suffering from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation; a deep sense of discomfort with the world around me and within my own body, if I could recoil from my skin I would. Nothing positive, just all negative. Like a witches swamp dark, grey, disgusting with a strange uncomfortable heat that emanates from nowhere and an even stranger smell that is like nothing you have ever experienced. But this darkness has been my home for the last 28 years, I know nothing else.

In my mind I used to imagine a very dark room where I would sit in the corner alone, quiet, with my knees to my chest. This was my refuge, this dark and quiet place that I would resort to not just when things were tough but always and forever. It was how I felt, an imagery of my deepest emotions and wounds, it was what I knew, and what I stewed in.

I have tried to figure it out, figure out why I am like this, why I have been like this for as long as I can remember. What’s wrong with me? I have been to therapy, a few therapists in fact. A few have recommend medication, I always change provider when it comes to that point.

It is because of the way I was conditioned; I use conditioned instead of growing up or raised because that is what your formative years are, they are conditioning. Well I was conditioned to be afraid, to be timid, quiet, passive, and to placate. Where has this led me to, to feeling like a continuous doormat, even now. I can recall instances in my adulthood where I couldn’t stand up for myself and I can trace it back to being a child where I was not allowed to stand up for myself and there was no one to protect me.

There were two people who were really strong negative influences in my life, my father and my aunt. They were bullies and our relationships created a toxic environment for me. My father did not protect me from my aunt and he himself was fighting his own demons; and yet words sometimes still escape me.

Who I am now is a result of who I was conditioned to be then. Silent, quiet, unseen, unheard…preferring to be unseen and unheard because than you can’t make anyone angry; if no one notices you no one can attack you, no one can bully you. And when you do get noticed, you give away everything you have and everything you are because it is easier than having it taken away.

This is where I am now, angry, hurt…angry.