Welcome – Connecting With Everyone Struggling With Invisible Illnesses

“Living in Stigma” connects with everyone coping with chronic pain, mental illness, and all invisible illnesses.

My blog Living in Stigma was launched in 2007 and originally dedicated to all of us struggling with mental illness.  I felt as if I was living in stigma with my own major depression.

Many forms of mental illness comprise of DepressionBipolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, PTSD, Eating Disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and much more.

I struggle with both mental illness and chronic migraines, and with news articles, social media, research and valued readers sharing comments and opinions on my blog, it’s a reality that invisible illnesses such as fibromyalgia, lupus, headaches, recurring back and leg pain, and so many more are also a vast portion of invisible illness stigma.  Continue reading “Welcome – Connecting With Everyone Struggling With Invisible Illnesses”

My Interview: Views on Stigma, Depression & PTSD

image: niume.com

Nuime.com is a blogging platform which contains postings I selected from this blog, as well as, personal articles that I have written over the years with a mixture of other topics.

I was delighted when chosen “Niumer of the Week” and the opportunity to be interviewed.  Here’s how it went:

Depression and mental illness affect many people all over the world, but despite its prevalence, it is still met with stigma, silence and even scepticism. There is still a notion many hold, that people who claim to be depressed are ‘making it up’, ‘seeking attention’ or just ‘feel sad’ and will get over it in time.

But the question still remains, why do we shy away from this topic and what do people who suffer from mental illness go through on a day to day basis?

Niumer Of The Week, Deb from Living in Stigma, bravely gives us her thoughts and explains what we can do to understand this issue better.

1) How did you discover Niume and why did you decide to use it over other blogging platforms?

Niume approached me via Twitter, so I checked your site out and was impressed by the layout and features offered. I have ‘signed up’ with other blogging platforms but my posts were not acquiring much exposure and others didn’t have well-defined spheres to post in. It became frustrating and I soon left.

2) Which of the others spheres do you enjoy browsing through?

I browse through most of the spheres, however, my favourites are Literature, Interesting, Humour, Lifestyle, Photography, Music and Art.

3) What are some of the biggest misconceptions about depression and mental health?

One word – Stigma. Mental illness is not a choice; it’s an illness. Who would choose to have an illness, and be so embarrassed and ashamed of it? This leads to isolation, fear, fake smiles, feeling hopeless, and worthless.

Continue reading “My Interview: Views on Stigma, Depression & PTSD”

Guest Post: There’s Nothing Funny About Being Bipolar

This thought provoking article was written by Rebecca Lombardo author of “It’s Not Your Journey” describing both mental illness stigma and bipolar disorder.

When I have to look at a person and say, “I’m bipolar,” they get a bemused expression on their face as if they’re waiting for the punchline. That’s all there is to it, and believe me, this is not a joke my friend.

I can’t think of many more things as infuriating as someone using a mental illness as an insult. You’re going to hear, “Oh my God! Don’t be so bipolar!” much more than you’re going to get, “Wow, do you have to act so diabetic all the time?”

The truth is that there are many people that are bipolar and have done horrible things. Things like theft, murder, even rape. That does not mean that all of us are capable of such unspeakable acts. Hollywood doesn’t help matters at all. Have you ever been using one of the movie streaming services and caught a glimpse of a film that might be interesting? Sure, many people have. How many times have you clicked on the description of that film and discovered that the lead in the story is a horribly insane person, and you guessed it…bipolar.

Continue reading “Guest Post: There’s Nothing Funny About Being Bipolar”

10 Things Passive People Say

image: google.ca

How passive you are depends on your personality, your perceptions of the world and your place in it, your feelings of empowerment and entitlement, and of course, the specifics of a given situation.

Passivity can be a useful strategy and a healthy coping mechanism in some situations. But it can also become habitual. When passivity begins to dominate our responses and interactions and determines our general approach to life, it can end up doing more harm than good.

The problem is we often do not realize how passive we’ve become and we often significantly underestimate how apparent our passivity is to others.

Continue reading “10 Things Passive People Say”

Why I Created “Living in Stigma” and 9 Ways We Need To Stop Mental Illness Stigma

stigma_2

When I activated my first blog in 2005, it focused on humorous articles only.  During that time I was struggling with major depression, yet amazingly I was competent enough to write posts, and surprisingly these articles were a remarkable success.

I continued on and gathered many followers, all the time questioning whether to write about my mental illness, yet frankly, I was very embarrassed and uncomfortable to share my thoughts and life of hell with any of my blogging buddies, the blogging world, or should if anyone in my circle of “personal people” were ever to uncover my ‘secret’, I’d be devastated.

I eventually mentioned it to two trusted blogging friends my apprehension, and them replying, “why are you so embarrassed, it not your fault you were ill, write about it, who cares if people don’t like it, go by ‘anonymous’, not using your real name this time”.  And so I did, in 2007, I began this blog.  It’s been an enormous success from day one, with so much support from the blogging community and it was the stigma that held me back from starting this blog sooner.

I was living in stigma (shame) thus the name “Living in Stigma” –Deb

~~~~

Continue reading “Why I Created “Living in Stigma” and 9 Ways We Need To Stop Mental Illness Stigma”

What’s the difference between Sadness and Depression?

 

The difference between sadness and depression?  and why so many people get it wrong….. This article below appeared in www.psychologytoday.com written by Guy Winch Ph. D

Sadness is a normal human emotion. We’ve all experienced it and we all will again. Sadness is usually triggered by a difficult, hurtful, challenging, or disappointing event, experience, or situation. In other words, we tend to feel sad about something. This also means that when that something changes, when our emotional hurt fades, when we’ve adjusted or gotten over the loss or disappointment, our sadness remits.

Depression is an abnormal emotional state, a mental illness that affects our thinking, emotions, perceptions, and behaviors in pervasive and chronic ways. When we’re depressed we feel sad about everything. Depression does not necessarily require a difficult event or situation, a loss, or a change of circumstance as a trigger. In fact, it often occurs in the absence of any such triggers. People’s lives on paper might be totally fine—they would even admit this is true—and yet they still feel horrible.

Depression colors all aspects of our lives, making everything less enjoyable, less interesting, less important, less lovable, and less worthwhile. Depression saps our energy, motivation, and ability to experience joy, pleasure, excitement, anticipation, satisfaction, connection, and meaning. All your thresholds tend to be lower. You’re more impatient, quicker to anger and get frustrated, quicker to break down, and it takes you longer to bounce back from everything.

In my TED talk (link is external), I discussed one of the more unfortunate consequences of this confusion: How people struggling with depression are often expected to “snap out of it,” and are told “it’s all in your head,” or “choose to be happy!” Such sentiments reflect a deep misunderstanding of depression. It only makes the person with depression feel worse.

The True Symptoms of Depression

To be diagnosed with depression, people need to have at least 5 of the following symptoms, for a continual duration of at least two weeks. Be advised: The severity of these symptoms must also be considered, so please use these only as a guideline and see a mental health professional for a conclusive diagnosis.

  1. A depressed or irritable mood most of the time.
  2. A loss or decrease of pleasure or interest in most activities, including ones that had been interesting or pleasurable previously.
  3. Significant changes in weight or appetite.
  4. Disturbances in falling asleep or sleeping too much.
  5. Feeling slowed down in your movements or restless most days.
  6. Feeling tired, sluggish, and having low energy most days.
  7. Having feelings of worthless or excessive guilt most days.
  8. Experiencing problems with thinking, focus, concentration, creativity and the ability to make decisions most days.
  9. Having thoughts of dying or suicide.

If you think you or a loved one might be depressed, it is important to seek the counsel of a trained mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. Depression is an extremely common mental illness and there are many treatments that benefit most people.

See full article @
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201510/is-the-difference-between-sadness-and-depression?utm_content=buffere4608&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

31 Honest Answers to ‘How Are You?’

I was hoping an article about this very subject would appear.  Whenever meeting someone for lunch, a colleague that I haven’t seen since 2011 or a gathering, I’m usually fumbling around for words.

This article appeared in The Mighty.com written by 

When someone asks, “How are you?” do you answer honestly?

This question is often thrown around as a casual greeting, so much so that we default to “I’m good!” or “I’m fine!” — even with our closest friends and family. And while we’re maybe less hesitant to open up about a stomach ache or that we’ve come down with the flu, our true emotional state can feel like a dirty secret — we don’t want to give it up.

So we asked our Mighty community — people who experience disability, disease, mental illness, parent children with special needs and more —  how they’re really doing. What we got was a collection of honest, inspiring and heartbreaking answers.

How are you? This lovely article continues @
http://themighty.com/2015/11/31-honest-answers-to-how-are-you/

Cyberstalking or Stalking ~ which is worse?

An article on Psychcentral.com writes about this very subject.

In a new study, researchers explored and compared the experiences of people who had been victims of stalking or cyberstalking (harassing or threatening via the Internet).  They found that victims of cyberstalking had to engage in more ‘self-protective’ behaviors, pay higher out-of-pocket costs to combat the problem, and experienced greater fear over time than traditional stalking victims.

Continue reading “Cyberstalking or Stalking ~ which is worse?”

5 Things Your Therapist Won’t Tell You

The therapist-client relationship is unique. Therapists are prohibited from sharing their personal information with clients due to a strict code of ethics. But as a therapist, I can’t help but share some secrets with you. (This was written by  from PsychCentral.com)

  1. What is in our hearts is more important than what is in our brains.
    The theories we specialize in are all wonderful, but research has proven time and time again that what influences how much you benefit from therapy is the quality of the relationship with your therapist. If you don’t feel understood and heard by your therapist, if you don’t think they are being honest enough with you and pushing you hard, if you don’t feel like you have an amazing connection with them, find a new therapist. The latest clinical techniques and tips that we have mastered are secondary to the bond and trust that we can help create with you in the therapy session.
  2. Getting a master’s degree doesn’t prepare us very well.
    In grad school, we study research explaining human behavior and the treatment of mental illness, dive into case studies, and learn the theoretical basis of different styles and methodologies. Most programs let us do an internship to practice our skills during our last year of school. At least for me, it is the act of practicing therapy with real clients that helps me understand the theories, not the theories that help me understand how to work with clients.  Most therapists learn about your condition from you, and learn what to do to help you from the experts. Especially in our first 10 years as therapists, we will probably consult the literature or a trusted consultant to look for guidance on how to treat you.

Article continues @

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/07/28/5-things-your-therapist-wont-tell-you/

**I disagree with some of the comments posted for this article on the psychcentral.com site.  Just my opinion.

 

Do You Hate Receiving Compliments?

I’m notorious for that, receiving a compliment yet responding with something negative.

Example:  I seldom run into any of my co-workers since I went on disability four years ago, and weight loss is noticeable.  Several that I have chatted with have complimented me for losing weight and looking terrific, yet my response is “yes, but I have to lose so much more”.  Everyone reacts with “Why?”.

This article was in psychologytoday.com:

Most people like hearing praise but some people bristle when they hear compliments and others downright hate them. What is it that determines whether someone enjoys receiving compliments or whether they turn sour at the first hint of positive feedback?

Compliments and Self-Esteem Continue reading “Do You Hate Receiving Compliments?”

KNOW YOUR WORTH: Tips for Building Self-Worth

Currently, I’m striving to build my own self-worth and hopefully these tips will help.

“If you want to improve your self-worth, stop giving other people the calculator.” – Tim Fargo

This article appeared in (PsychCentral.com) article written by: Donna M. White

Upon seeing this quote, I found it to be very powerful.  It made me take a step back and think about where my self-worth lies.  The dictionary defines self-worth as the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person.  If this is true, it means self-worth cannot be increased or decreased by anyone, because it comes from within.

Self-worth is your sense of self and how you value yourself as a part of the world; better yet, the universe.  It is knowing your existence on this earth is purposeful, and walking in that purpose.  Many of us fail to walk in our purpose or feel our lives have meaning because we allow others to define our worth.

Self-worth simply comes from self. If you are struggling with feelings of low self-worth.  Here are a few ways to build it up.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.  You are uniquely and wonderfully made.  As a matter of fact, I am pretty confident there is only one you.  Be you and do it well!  Who wants to be a carbon copy of someone else?  If you’re uncomfortable in your skin right now, that’s ok… but I insist you learn to wear it well and love the skin you’re in!
  2. Stop conforming.  Instead of being afraid of not fitting in someone else’s space, recognize it’s okay to create your own.  Stop putting so much emphasis into what other people think about you.  I am starting to realize more than ever, what other people think about me isn’t my business.
  3. Believe in your direction.  Once you discover your purpose, fight for it and don’t let anyone stop you.  Maybe your path has some obstacles, work to overcome them.  Maybe your path is a little unconventional, keep going.  Maybe your path is filled with haters… let them hate!  If you are moving towards something you believe in, then you are moving in the right direction.
  4. Impress yourself!  Self-worth is not about impressing others, it’s about impressing yourself.  If you spend your energy worrying about what others think and trying to impress them, how much time are you really devoting to the things that are important to you?

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/womens-wellness/2015/12/know-your-worth-tips-for-building-self-worth/

Courage & Trust

Trust has been a huge issue for me, with problems throughout my life including selecting friends, wary of men or other adults.  I took an enormous risk marrying my husband in 1979, we’re still married, so I chose well and my instincts proved it.  An abuser, along with my parents, stole that away from me at the age of 8, and are to blame for this.  Not fair.

Yes, shopping at the mall is way more important to me, so what if my kid dies in the car….

Shopping and work means more than anything else in the world to you doesn’t it?

Who leaves their child in a car on a scorching hot day?  Who leaves their dog in a car on a scorching hot day?  Do you think that keeping the window open a crack to let some air in the car in 100 degree heat is going to save your child or dog, Really? Would it help you if you were sitting in the car?

There is no excuse for this.  Too many idiots choose shopping at a store or mall much more important, and for unforgiving reasons leave children or dogs in cars.  Don’t you ever give it one iota of a thought what could happen?  No, you want those clothes, shoes or groceries badly, oh I see.

Why do we have to remind them every year, do they think their children are plastic dolls that they don’t matter?  It only takes tortuous minutes to die.

I bawled when I read this, and couldn’t finish the entire article:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/dog-dies-after-being-left-5975048

http://abcnews.go.com/US/woman-breaks-window-rescue-toddler-locked-hot-car/story?id=32572693

http://www.kgw.com/story/news/local/animal/2015/07/21/dog-left-in-hot-car-all-day-dies-in-lincoln-city/30466889/

Please adopt me!

Image: PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE@Protect_Wldlife

Adopting a dog won’t change the world but it will change the life of the dog forever! @Ricky Gervais {fabulously fake} #AdoptDontShop

My sweet Emma is a rescue dog, so happy I chose this route as she was treated horribly at a puppy mill, when all she wanted was a safe home, and someone who will love and take care of her.  We both smile and hug each and everyday; companions for life.

Bullying

The topic of a TV show I watched last night, centered on what kids would do when put into a situation where someone was being bullied.  It was interesting; some felt uncomfortable yet didn’t want to speak up, a few spoke, another went to the person’s defense, another comforted the person being bullied.  You know what’s right, but would you defend that person being bullied in a situation that would involve you?

Image source:  cheeta-fire (polyvore)

Who’s perfect?

I posted this fantastic video last year, and it’s one of my favorites.  Hope you will view it until the very end; it really sends a message. It brought tears to my eyes, yet huge smiles at the end when the models saw and were proud of their mannequin image.  We are all precious human beings despite our body image.   And who’s perfect?

Friendship Recipe

FRIENDSHIP

  • 2 cups patience
  • 1 heartful of love
  • 2 handfuls of generosity
  • Dash of laughter
  • 2 cups loyalty
  • 1 cup understanding

 Mix all ingredients well.  Sprinkle generously over a lifetime and serve to everyone you meet. 

~~

 I love this quote:  “Choose your socks by their colors and your friends by their character.  As choosing socks by their character makes no sense.  Choosing friends by their color is unthinkable. ~~ Unknown

~Deb 

 

Would you choose Beautiful?

This is another Dove PR experiment to observe how women see themselves.  What door would you choose – honestly?  Would you feel embarrassed choosing the door “beautiful” in front of other people, or do you honestly feel that door reflects you?  Why do you think most people have chosen ‘average’?

Panic Moments

I worked for my company for six years, then left unexpectedly due to “can’t take it this job any longer” depression, then resulting in long-term disability three years ago.  I never disclosed to anyone the struggle with my mental illness the entire time I was employed, largely due to trust issues and stigma.  The lunch ladies weren’t honorable; a bunch of gossipers with loose lips, so actually no one knew why I quickly departed.

Continue reading “Panic Moments”

Sorry to bother you

This for me is hiding my depression and not showing how badly my head is throbbing due to horrible chronic migraines.   Perhaps this is why people question why I remain on disability, as I appear to “look well”.  I believe people have grown tired of my “headache” woes, as they seem to change the subject fast.