Language is powerful.

How Language Impacts The Stigma Against Mental Health (And What We Must Do To Change It)

I’m surprised by how well this article was written, because I had just read one, right before reading this, on the same site (in fact this one was in the recommended section at the end of the other one) that was absolutely terrible.

This one caught my attention though because it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately. Not so much saying the things mentioned — I think I’ve done pretty good at eliminating them from my vocabulary over the passed couple years — but hearing others say them and having an anxiety attack because I want so badly to correct them, but my social anxiety gets the best of me, every time. It’s so frustrating.

I’ve had people say things to me, in the most casual way, about killing themselves, or wanting to die, because something isn’t going their way. While I understand the frustration behind the comment, it hurts every time I hear it because I have been suicidal. In fact, one particular time these comments were made during a time when I actually was suicidal. It hurt so bad that someone who had never struggled a day in their life with mental illness would say that they wanted to kill themselves over a client who was being super annoying. I was annoyed by the client too, but it had absolutely nothing to do with why I was suicidal at the time, and the person who said it, was most definitely not suicidal. That was not the only time that happened with the same person, but my anxiety and depression diagnosis was still very fresh and I hadn’t come out about it yet.

I’m the past few months alone, I’ve heard the people say, “I have, like, OCD,” referring to a pile of boxes in our office and wanting to organize them. Twice. Because of the way it was said both times, I’m not 100% convinced that this person was just saying it. It is possible they do legitimately have OCD, but I’m not entirely sure. It is probably unlikely though, because the boxes are still there any the only time clearing them up is mentioned by that same person is when someone is asking about the boxes.

Both times, it was not said directly to me, I just happened to be right there, so it didn’t feel appropriate to say anything, but the first time, it was bring said to someone who has previously used the phrase, “you’re OCD,” referring to someone’s pickiness about something specific.

If my social anxiety wasn’t so bad I probably would say something, but I am so terrified of coming off as bitchy that I end up bringing myself almost to tears every time this happens. The logical part of my brain keeps telling me that I’ve only ever been called a bitch once, by someone with their own attitude problems (she called the cops on one of my friends, twice, for the dumbest reasons, the cop actually thought she was a teenager, and was shocked when my friend told him she was 27) and didn’t even have the guts to say it to my face. In fact, I was in a different province at the time, over 3000km away. But no matter how many times I remind myself of that fact, I still think on going to be called a bitch.

Another one that happened recently, was a co-worker said to me, “I’m getting PTSD,” referring to some poorly written code we were trying to debug. I was already stressed out to begin with, and when I saw that (it was in a chat message) I started to panic. I went back and forth in my head about what I could say and whether or not to bother. As soon as I stated to tear up, I knew I had to stop. I minimized the window and tried to calm myself down and distract myself with something else, which was hard because I didn’t have anything unrelated to work on at the time.

So, again, I didn’t say anything. It got me thinking though, maybe I need to be the one to start talking about this stuff in the office. I can’t do it by bringing it up to everyone, and I certainly don’t want to single anyone out (because I know it would make me uncomfortable) for saying these things, but how will anyone learn how harmful these seemingly innocent phrase are of no one tells them.

Because I’m also struggling a lot with my depression right now, it makes it even harder to bring this stuff up, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. For now, I’m sticking to spreading awareness online.


October 2-8, 2016 is Mental Illness Awareness WeekSpreading Awareness, Reducing Stigma.

“[I was] on a waiting list to see if I was suitable for CBT.”

I’m sorry, but what the hell kind of health care system makes a person wait to see if they are suitable for CBT? There is nothing about CBT that would make it unsuitable for a person.

I mean, yeah other types of therapy might work better for certain people but for there to be a chance they would say someone is not suitable for CBT is – pardon my french – really fucked up!

CBT is proven to be one of the most effective types of therapy for several different illnesses, including anxiety disorders, OCD, depression, and more. And you don’t need to be at the end of your rope, clinging to life to deserve the right to get CBT. Get it in early so things don’t get worse.

Seriously.

This is insanity.

For me it was fairly easy… After I moved and got a new doctor. My old doctor just wanted to use meds and didn’t really recommend anything else. I know it’s different in Canada, but I didn’t have to wait at all to get the hell I needed, once I saw my new doc for the first time. He referred me right away to a social worker who does CBT. Although things didn’t get immediately better, things have improved. My anxiety is much more manageable now. I’m still dealing with depression and other issues, by the anxiety was the big one at the time, but it’s no longer the worst thing I’m dealing with.

I started seeing a new counselor recently, because I was getting fed up with not feeling like I’ve made any progress. Even though I have made progress, it doesn’t really feel like it, especially because I’ve been battling frequent suicidal thoughts again.

For a while, it was down to where it might pop into my head in the form of a Pure-O (OCD) intrusive thought, maybe once or twice a week, but I could brush it off with the simplest, even unintentional, of distractions. However, over the past month or so, it has gradually returned to the point of, almost daily, obsession.

There wasn’t any one specific trigger, but maybe a few small things happening in a short time span. I started feeling worthless again. Like a failure at everything. A waste of space. I began to spend hours thinking about it — and trying not to think about, which makes you think about it even more. For the first time, I actually started to become afraid a may act upon my thoughts. It’s never gotten to the point where I actually thought I might act upon them before. It usually just remains frequent obsession, but my anxiety would take over and give me all sorts of reasons not to actually try. Maybe my anxiety is getting better…? That’s scary.

Since I first met my new counselor a few weeks ago, it’s gotten a little less frequent. Not that we’ve actually talked about it. We’re still in the getting to know each other phase. But I think there was something reassuring about the fact that someone new was legitimizing my struggles. I think things had just gotten a little stale, and I needed a refreshing perspective.

That’s not too say my suicidal thoughts and feelings of worthlessness are gone, but I’ve managed to have a few days of peace, at least in that regard. The anxiety and depression are still alive and kicking. The social thoughts are a whole other beast.

Taking about this when I’m still kind of in the midst of it is really difficult. I don’t tend to do that. It’s easier to talk about it after its passed. Partially because I just don’t have the energy. I think I’m also afraid of letting anyone see truly hope much pain I’m in while in in it. Especially when I don’t feel there’s any good reason for it. And that’s basically depression in a nutshell.

Anyway, the reason I am talking about this right now is because it’s relevant to something else I wanted to talk about.

So, part of how I ended up seeing this counselor was because at my last doctor’s appointment, he asked when I was next seeing my social worker (who is part of the mental health team at my doctor’s clinic) and I mentioned that he’d been making it about 6 weeks between appointments. He asked if I was OK with that and I finally said what I’d been procrastinating saying for a while. I wanted something more regular, because I feel like I’m not dealing with things that well. Whether it was with my social worker or someone else didn’t matter, although I was beginning to feel he wasn’t equipped to provide the insight I needed. So my doctor offered to refer me to some psychologists/therapists/etc. to get a new perspective.

A few days ago, I had my second appointment. He’s still on the big lists of questions to sort of figure out what we need to work on. I don’t remember what I said or what he had asked me, but while we were getting into the anxiety questions, he suddenly said, “I wonder if you might have ADD.”

He picked up his phone (apparently he only came prepared to cover anxiety and depression) and said we were going to do the short list of questions to see if we should do the longer, more detailed one.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve done a lot of reading about mental illnesses. In doing so, it helps me sort of understand my mind a little better. It also makes it hard not to self-diagnose. The good thing is, my anxiety kind of prevents me from actually believing my self-diagnoses, until someone else actually legitimizes it. My short also prevents me from specifically bringing it up.

I’d been wondering, for several months now, if I may have ADD but it has never come up before.

So, it was about 20 questions, and to get a result of maybe having ADD, you had to answer ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’ to I think not than half of them. Not including my sometimes, I was already up to about 15 or 16. I think I only said no to 1 or 2.

It’s not an official diagnosis yet, but he said he’s not ready to rule it out.

He also said that if I do have ADD, it may actually be there main issue that my anxiety stems from, which would explain why my anxiety hasn’t really gotten better. By only treating one of the symptoms, you’re not actually solving the problem. So even if my anxiety gets better, or goes away completely, it will probably keep coming back. If the main problem is ADD, and we treat that, it could potentially solve everything else.

I thought it was quite interesting and makes a lot of sense. We’ll see how it goes when we get into the detailed, 70 question version of the ADD stuff.


Anxiety & ADD Tip

Fidget toys are incredible! I’ve tried a few because I have a lot of nervous energy, so I’m always fidgety, but now knowing I might also have ADD, it makes even more sense. For smaller, more subtle fidgeting, I love these and these! I had heard of these first though, but never knew where to buy then till a few weeks ago. This one is my favourite. I absolutely love them!

Why You Need to Stop Saying You’re “So OCD”

“Saying ‘I’m so OCD’ has become a fun fad almost, but OCD is one of the top ten debilitating disorders that causes an unimaginable amount of stress and interference. Saying you have OCD because you love to clean completely invalidates someone’s experiences.”

COMPLETELY INVALIDATES SOMEONE’S EXPERIENCES!!!!!!!

It may have taken me 26 years to understand why my brain works the way it does, why the thoughts I have even exist at all – even a year and a half later, I’m still trying to figure out all out – but it only takes one small, naïve comment to make me feel like I’m completely broken and a worthless piece of shit. And I already do that well enough on my own without anyone else’s help.

I get it. Trust me. I was guilty of using this phrase on occasion several years ago. The only way we can learn is by spreading the word.

All the time, you hear people say things like that they are “so OCD” because they are picky about things being super organized and tidy. That is not what OCD is. That can be one symptom of OCD, but it definitely doesn’t need to be present for someone to have OCD.

One of the other more commonly known symptoms of OCD is fear of contamination, leaving to the compulsion to watch one’s hands a lot and/or avoid touching certain things. This is something I struggle with. It’s always been minor, but I’ve noticed it getting increasingly worse over the past couple years.

But again, that is only one symptom of OCD.

OCD is much more complicated than most people realize.

Take a look at this article (or at least the video): Pure OCD: When logic is overthrown by nightmare-like thoughts

I can’t remember how I found IntrusiveThoughts.org but that’s the reason I came across the article.

** Trigger Warning: Suicide, self harm, violence **Continue reading

I came across this post on The Mighty and I couldn’t help but feel a bit of similarity between my experiences and the author’s. Although she has a condition with more obvious physical symptoms than mental disorders usually do, I still found myself relating to parts of her experience. For example, being told “it’s all in your head” and feeling like you’re never going to get a proper answer. So, I thought it was worth sharing here.

This woman’s story can ring true for a lot of illnesses, including mental illnesses, and I certainly don’t want to sound like I’m diminishing either of them. I can really only speak from my own experiences, so if you’re reading this, I recommend you read Stefani Shea’s post on The Mighty as well. Here’s the link again, in case you skipped past it the first time: http://themighty.com/2016/01/why-the-fight-for-a-diagnosis-matters

Here’s some of my experience that I was reminded of while reading that article.Continue reading