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Mental Illness Impacts Self-Esteem

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“The good life is a process, not a state of being.”

How many of you suffer or know someone who suffers from mental illnesses?  If you raised your hand, then we have something in common.

For those of you who struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or another mental illness, stop and ask yourself a simple question.  Am I happy with my life?

If the answer to that question is no, then let’s do something to change that.  There’s a world of opportunities to explore, and some can be life changing.  This is your chance at a fresh start, one that would make you infinitely more confident.  Change your daily routine, get involved, do a good deed; the possibilities are endless.

For those who know someone struggling with mental illness, stop and ask yourself a different question.  How can I help?

It’s okay to be unsure.  It’s frustrating to be left in the dark, to not be able to understand what’s going on.  You don’t need to use words to be helpful.  A simple hug or gesture can go a long way.  Just be an encouraging social support.

Mental illness is difficult to live with and can often result in external and internal struggles.  Depression and anxiety are the most common and lead to low self-esteem (internal).    Low self-esteem impacts how you interact with others (external).

The most important thing is never put yourself down.  You’re too good for that.  Everyone is unique in their own way, so find who you are.  Rise to the challenge and open up your positive thinking.  Find a way to step out of your comfort zone and into your stretch zone.  This will be how you build your self-esteem.

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For more information on how you can find your stretch zone, click the link below.  And don’t forget, build that self-esteem; don’t let it crumble.  You can do it!

https://squaretwocoaching.wordpress.com/tag/stretch-zone/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

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Coping with Depression

Sometimes depression can become too much to handle.  Sometimes you can’t keep fighting against all the thoughts and emotions by yourself.  At this point, you may want to start looking for another route that will help you cope with everything running through your mind.  Medication and therapy become a necessary course of action in some cases.  I know that those become scary to think about, especially because many people don’t like taking medications.

I remember when my depression got bad and I could no longer control my feelings or emotions.  It scared me; but the thought of taking some sort of antidepressant scared me even more.  I didn’t know what it would do or how it would make me feel.  I thought at one point that it might change me completely.  The medical field scares a lot of people.  Your past, present and future history is confidential, but at the same time it isn’t.  At one point, I worried that future careers wouldn’t hire me because I am on a medication that relieves depressive symptoms.

So, in this post, I would like to tell you more about medications and different forms of therapy.  I learned through experience (and in my psychology classes) that no one should fear medication or therapy, because both can be beneficial to treating depression.

Medications

Make sure if you want to try medications that you seek out a psychiatrist, not a psychologist.  Psychiatrists take on both aspects of treatment.  They can provide therapeutic services and also provide medications.

Fear of side effects causes people to avoid taking medications.  Yes, side effects come along with most drugs.  But, not everyone experiences the side effects.  You won’t know until you try taking the medication.  If you do experience side effects, call your psychiatrist for further instructions.  They will discontinue that medication and switch you to something else.

Psychiatrists don’t just toss a random medication at you and tell you to take it.  They examine you just like other medical doctors.  They ask you about prior medical history, family history, what you’re feeling, etc.  This extensive checkup is required in order to give you a medication that works best for you.

Therapy

 Counseling

 Counseling is a short-term sort of treatment option that usually lasts from about 6-12 sessions.  It revolves around identifying the situation and addressing it directly.  Counselling requires confidentiality between a person and the therapist.  The therapist then helps to make a plan and help to enact that plan into your life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is often used to help individuals think in a more positive way.  This gives you a way of shaping your thoughts to thinking differently about situations.  This treatment also targets goal setting and problem-solving skills.  CBT is also a short term treatment option and usually only requires from 6-15 sessions.  Each one is only about an hour long.

Psychotherapy

 Psychotherapy is quite the opposite.  This form of treatment targets the past specifically.  It goes through a rundown of how your past plays a role in present and future decisions.  This works to help build healthy relationships and understand more about who you are and who you want to be.

 Behavioral Therapy

 Behavioral therapy is close to CBT but this form of therapy helps to provide positive energy.  This kind of therapy encourages involvement in the community or other hobbies that you may like to do.  This form of therapy is all about changing your everyday activities and doing more positive and beneficial things.

 Interpersonal Therapy

 This form of therapy specifically targets your relationships with other people.  This is meant to strengthen exchanges between people who are close to you.  Depression can cause tension, especially between family and friends.  Interpersonal therapy is a way to try to eliminate that tension and to repair any damage that may have been caused on those relationships.

 Mindfulness-Based Therapy

 This form of therapy is very important for those who have depression.  Mindfulness therapy is exactly what it sounds like.  It means reflecting on your thoughts and learning how to cope with overwhelming feelings.  It uses techniques such as meditation, yoga, and other exercises to become more aware of your body-mind contact.

 

 

Are there any forms of therapy that work for you?  Or have you tried one of the therapies above?  Share your stories and your comments below.  Everyone has a different path that works best for them!

Questions About Depression

Living with depression makes it very difficult to live a positive and happy life.  I know this first-hand because I fight a constant battle with it every day.  I commonly get asked a lot of questions.  Sometimes I can answer them and other times I can’t.  Depression is a widely known topic that a lot of people suffer from.  But at the same time, people who don’t have depression can’t possibly understand what it’s like to live with it.  I want to bring to attention some of the questions that people have asked me, and provide my answer and explanation to each question.

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Q: How can you live day to day with all the baggage you carry?

A: The answer is simple.  I can’t.

Every day is a painful step and each one is worse than the last.  I go to bed in the hopes that I won’t wake up the next day.  When people say that life is worth living, I just shrug my shoulders.  Life is nothing but some sick, twisted joke.

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Q: Why do you have to be so negative all the time?

A: It’s not always something that I can control, unfortunately.  I wish I could think more positively.

It’s not about being negative; it’s about fighting a constant beast inside you.  I don’t want to think this way, but most times I can’t help it.  Depression takes ahold of my mind and controls my thoughts.  It takes too much energy to fight something so deeply rooted in my mind.

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Q: How can you sleep all the time?

A: I don’t know…

Lack of motivation.  Low-self-esteem.  Poor eating habits.  They all contribute to the need to just sleep life away.  I don’t want to sleep all the time but when I spend so much time in my room, my bed looks extra comfy.  Sleep gives me an escape from reality.

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Q: Why are you so quiet?

A: I’m simply overthinking everything.

I’m quiet because there’s too many thoughts running through my mind that I am constantly sorting through.  My quietness is due to me being stuck in my own head.  Depression is mostly about thinking about the past and fearing the future.  It’s hard to stay in the present moments.

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Q: Why are you so antisocial?

A: I’m not.

This is one of my favorite questions.  I get asked this a lot.  It’s not so much that I’m antisocial, but rather that I am preoccupied with other things on my mind.  It’s difficult to be social with other people when your brain is on overdrive.

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Q: What’s wrong with you?

A: I have depression and anxiety.  But besides that there’s nothing wrong with me.

This is another common question, but this one is rather offensive in my opinion.  There’s really nothing “wrong” with me, I just have depression.  Labeling is one thing that’s very harmful to those who have depression.  I, personally, don’t like the use of labels.

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Q: Are you suicidal?

A: No, I am not.

Not all people who have depression are suicidal.  Suicidal tendencies are not in everyone who has this mental illness.  Just because I am depressed, does not mean that I’m going to kill myself.  Suicide and depression do go hand in hand so many people assume if you’re depressed that you will kill yourself.  This isn’t the case.

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Now it’s my turn to ask you something.

How do I change the way I am?

 

 

If you have depression, what kinds of questions do you get asked by the people around you?  Feel free to share those questions in the comments section below.

Self-Harm

**Warning: Before you proceed, there will be graphic content in this post in the form of words and pictures.  Proceed with caution.

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Self-harm is a touchy subject that no one wants to talk about it.  Unfortunately, this subject makes people extremely uncomfortable.  It’s one of those topics that makes people fidget and stare at the ground. Self-harm is the act of causing physical harm to oneself on purpose.  There are various different ways that someone can cause harm to themselves.  And many people use more than one method to harm to self-harm.  Let’s explore 5 common ways that people do this.

Cutting

This is one of the most well-known forms of self-mutilation.  Cutting can be a very serious matter.  Depending on where and how deep the cuts are, a person could bleed out and die from the excessive blood loss.  Cutting is so grotesque that it is commonly referred to as self-mutilation.

Cutting is typically more common in women than men.  About 1 in 3 people who report self-harm use cutting as outlet for emotional pain.  Cutting is the most frequently used method of self-harm.  People usually cut on their inner wrists, their upper thighs, and other places that can usually be hidden by clothing.

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Impact

 This version of self-injury involves purposeful punching or hitting of body parts on objects that will eventually cause bruising or bleeding.  Broken bones, fractures, and sprains are commonly seen as a result.

This is seen more often in men but can also be seen in women.  Approximately 40% of people who report self-harm use this method of injury.

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Burning

 This type of self-injury refers to the use of hot items to burn or brand skin.  People use a variety of different objects, such as: lit cigarettes, lighters, curling irons, hot oven racks, stove burners, etc.

Burning isn’t noticed as frequently as other self-harm methods.  Only about 13% report having used this method to cause bodily harm.

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Carving

 This is a very gruesome way to self-harm.  It involves a person using a sharp object to carve words or symbols into their skin.  This is not the same as cutting, even though it may appear to be very similar.

Carving isn’t a very popular method of self-harm.  Only about 15% of people report having used this method before.

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Rubbing objects

 This form of mutilation occurs when a person intentionally rubs sharp objects into their skin.  This is very different from cutting, which is straight rows of lines.  Object rubbing leads to bigger areas of damage. Like cutting, it can also be a serious matter.  It depends on how deep through the skin layers the injury was made.

Out of these 5 self-injury methods, this occurs the fewest in reported cases.  About 12% have reported doing this at least once.

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Why Talk about it?

Overall, statistics show that about 70% of self-harm cases use more than one of these methods either simultaneously or over the course of a lifetime.  We need to start talking more about self-harm.  That is a large percentage.  There are other, healthier outlets for emotional pain.  When a person self-harms, they are not thinking of the consequences.  All they want is the emotional release.  So, let’s talk about it.  If people who self-harm are not shy about the subject, then why are you?

Make Your Words Known

Can you think of any other forms of self-harm?  Maybe you have harmed yourself or know someone who has done it.  The more aware people become of these behaviors, the more comfortable they can become with the topic.  In the comments below feel free to share your thoughts or your stories.  Or you can share your ideas on how we can help people stop using self-harming methods as an outlet for emotional pain.

 

 

Recognizing Signs of Depression

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Depression is a terrifying experience, one that can make someone feel like there is nothing left in this world.  Usually it starts small and works itself up to something much bigger.

One moment someone can be happy and the next they can be feeling completely numb, emotionless.  Some use a smile to hide what they are feeling.  This is why it’s important for people to be able to notice the warning signs of depression.

Symptoms can range in severity depending on the individual.  Not everyone is the same, so every depressed individual will experience the symptoms differently.

When symptoms start to worsen, this is where people start to self-harm and start moving towards suicidal tendencies.  Their behavior can become irrational, impulsive, or withdrawn.  At this point, their self-esteem is extremely low and life to them no longer means anything.

So how can we pull people back from that ledge?  How can we make sure that no one has to get to that point?

Recognize the signs.  Some can be quite noticeable.  People with depression put a smile on their face and pretend to be happy, when they feel quite differently inside.  But the truth of the matter is, they can’t always mask their symptoms.

Be attentive to how another person acts.  Behavior is noticeable and it’s a great way to catch the warning signs that a person is heading in the wrong direction.  Yes, it’s easier said than done.  But it is possible to pick up on social cues.

How do you notice these symptoms?  Well let’s talk about them.

Sleep Patterns

There are two forms of sleep patterns: insomnia and hypersomnia.  Insomnia occurs when a person doesn’t sleep enough.  These people can’t sleep, wake up constantly throughout the night, and are up too early.  They don’t feel rested and tend to become sleepy during daytime hours.

Hypersomnia, on the other hand, occurs when a person sleeps too much.  They can fall asleep during daytime activities, such as work.  They tend to take naps throughout the daytime, while also sleeping during the nighttime hours.  People with hypersomnia always feel tired, despite all their hours of sleep.

Energy

In people with depression, you will commonly see a lack of motivation to do things. For example, college students who have depression will skip classes because they lack the motivation to go.  Adults will call off work, because they have no motivation to go in.

Individuals with depression will commonly have little energy to perform tasks, even the smallest of tasks.  They won’t always put in the effort that is required for certain tasks.  For example, a mother asks her daughter, who has depression, to bring her laundry up from the basement.  The daughter puts it off for as long as she can because she feels tired and has no energy to carry the basket or walk up the stairs.

Physical Symptoms

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One physical symptom that can become quite noticeable is appetite.  Depression, in most cases, causes loss of appetite.  Because of not eating properly or maintaining a healthy diet, individuals usually lose weight.  Losing weight then leads to malnutrition.  Malnutrition is a term that refers to people who are not getting the proper nutrients they need to live a healthy life.

Other physical symptoms include fatigue or body aches and pains.  Fatigue is seen when a person becomes noticeably exhausted or tired.  Aches and pains are another noticeable sign.  People commonly report pain in their back, chest, and knees.  However, the pain can be reported in other places as well, such as muscle aches.

Self-Esteem

Depression comes with incredible and unwanted baggage.  The kind of baggage that leads to negative self-image and feelings of worthlessness.  Negative self-esteem is all about not being good enough.  It’s about not being worthy enough.  It’s about being a failure.

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Negative self-esteem drives people with depression into an empty, hollow life.  A life with no happiness and no social support.  It’s a life void of positive thoughts and success.  These people believe that their life is not important.  And to them, that’s okay, because no one will notice when they are gone.

How Can I Notice and How Can I Help?

Well, I’m glad you asked.  It’s never too late to make an impact on someone’s life.  It’s never too late to be their guardian angel, to step in and show them what they are worth.  As humans, we strive to be noticed and cherished.  People with depression, no matter how withdrawn they seem, need the love and support that everyone else receives.

When someone tells you ‘I’m tired because I haven’t been sleeping well’ or ‘My back has been hurting for a few days now and I don’t know why.’ Alarm bells should be sounding.  Take a minute to stop and just ask ‘Are you okay?’ If you see a person zone out or you see they look more worn out than usual.  Stop and ask ‘How is everything going?’

Small gestures such as a simple conversation can go a long way for people with depression.  It shows that someone cares about how they feel or how they are doing.

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Anyone else have any other ideas or ways that you could help people with depression?  Maybe some of you have already helped someone with depression before.  If you’d like to, comment your stories or share your thoughts in the comments below!

Living with Depression

Depression is difficult. It effects every day living. Here are some struggles that people with depression face.

Internalizing

Another night all alone with her thoughts/ Dwelling on the questions that race through her head/ Scared to sleep/ Scared to wake up and face the day/ When she can’t forget the things they said/

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“I’ll never be good enough.”

“I always mess things up.”

“It’s all my fault.”

No, you can’t just turn off your brain, it doesn’t work like that.  For people with depression, every thought plagues them.  Thoughts ranging from days to years ago still occupy their present mind.  If something bad happens in their life, it tends to become a recurring and invasive thought.  This causes self-doubt and low self-esteem.

Past Memories

No one knows all the weight that she holds when she feels alone/ The memories/ They haunt her/ No one sees all the pain she brings everywhere she goes/

Traumatic experiences can haunt people like nightmares, no matter when they took place.  This is not quite the same as PTSD (these are not flashbacks), but rather they are intense feelings that are being relived.  Depression is all about emotional experiences that we remember constantly.  People who remember traumatic memories sometimes build up defenses to protect themselves.

Bullying/ Abuse

Are they too cold, too numb to see the lifelong pain they inflict/ But they make her hate everything she was sure of/Every day feels like her against the world/ Now she’s afraid she’ll never be enough/

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 “Why can’t you do anything right?”

“You mean nothing.”

“Why don’t you kill yourself? No one will miss you.”

 These are external issues that lead to internal trauma.  Words do hurt and push people towards isolation.  Bullying and abuse causes a lot of emotional pain and makes people doubt whether their life has a purpose or not.  They feel helpless and useless.  They often blame themselves for the abuse and convince themselves that they won’t be good enough to do anything.

Self-Harm

She takes a look at her wrists and turns to the blade/ It’s not a cry for attention if she just wants to feel anything other than the pain/Staring at the scars on her wrists she knows this is not who she wants to be/

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 It can be any form of injury to oneself, not just cutting.  This doesn’t necessarily mean a person is crying out for help or attention. For those of you who don’t know what I mean, just imagine something that has made you sad.  Now amplify that emotion times ten to make it an overwhelming sadness that almost suffocates you.  It makes your heart race and your chest get tight.

Wouldn’t you want to get rid of that feeling?  The physical pain that comes along with self-injury takes away that suffocation and turns it into something more bearable. Don’t scold them for doing this but rather help them find a way to let out their emotions in a healthier way.

Social Support

So sick of feeling invisible/ All she needs is someone to care/

Image result for Depression If you see someone struggling with depression, be there for them.  Give them a hug.  Be a shoulder for them to cry on.  Let them know that you will always be there. What’s important is that they feel a sense of purposefulness.

The simplicity of it is, tell them how important they are to you.  Never degrade them or kick them down.  Never tell them they aren’t good enough. Be their positive self-esteem boost!

 

Think of someone you know who is struggling with depression.  Now ask yourself, how can I help?  Please, comment your thoughts below.

 

 **Lyrics are taken from the song Beneath the Skin (Acoustic)

By: Memphis Mayfire