Month: June 2014

Help At Your Fingertips

Asking for help is never easy. It’s especially difficult when you suffer from a mental illness because of the stigma that is attached to it. There are a number of factors that deter people from reaching out for help, that can include anything from shame, to fear of being institutionalized or hospitalized against their wishes, to being judged or unsupported by those around them, to simply not wanting to say what they’re going through because it makes their struggles that much more real. Mental illness, and especially depression or suicidality, come with the incredible burden of unnerving isolation. The loneliness in our minds, existing because of a great wall built by our depression, makes us retreat further into our minds, much like a hermit crab does when they fear for their safety. The next question posed is, how do we help people who cannot come and ask for help, or make it known that they need help? There is a great deal of work that needs to be done in this area, but I must say that the emergence of not only websites or virtual resources, but smartphone apps especially, have made it much easier for those who need help to seek it out.

There are hundreds of free mental health apps for smartphones, and even more for iPhones. These apps can do anything from depression screening tests, to teaching anti-anxiety tests, to providing a social media type platform for people to not feel so alone as they suffer. Popular apps such as Six Billion Secrets and Whisper have also become an outlet for people to express their secret struggles with anything, including mental illness, and provide resources to people who may be in danger. Relaxation excercises, happiness apps, and depression coping skills are all among the features of many of these apps. The Trevor Project, an initiative geared towards helping LGBT youth handle the struggles of coming out or being in the closet, has an app consisting of videos of celebrities and other people discussing how “It gets better”.Some apps are specific to certain regions of the world, providing access to crisis centres and help lines, while others provide free virtual self help coaching. Similar to how calorie tracker apps work, there are apps to monitor your mood, which then analyze the times of day that a person experiences their lowest mood. (more…)

Call Me Crazy

I’d like to start this post by apologizing to my frequent readers. I know it’s been weeks since I last wrote a post (about 8 if we’re counting) but I felt like my content was becoming repetitive, and I didn’t quite know the words I wanted to say, so I chose to say nothing at all. It’s ironic – part of the reason I started this blog was because those who struggle with mental illness often don’t know the words they want to say and opt to say nothing at all. It’s much easier to say nothing, than to say something and be unsure of it. The thoughts that are in your head are yours, and if they make no sense, it’s okay because it’s just for yourself. But, once you speak, those words become real, and their corresponding thoughts transcend from ideas to reality. I opted not to finish the 30 day challenge, because the questions became repetitive, and I do not write to be boring, or at least, I try my best not to. 

I’ll keep this post rather brief, because I don’t have much to say, but felt I owed it to myself, and my readers, to reengage with mental health awareness. 

I watched a brilliant movie tonight, and for those of you who know me well, you’ll know that movies are my escape of choice when I really need to get away, or deal with reality in a different way. Today, I watched “Call Me Crazy: A Five Film”, which consists of 5 mini stories, each about a person struggling with a mental illness in their own way, from depression, to schizophrenia, to bipolar and others. Because I am doing so well, it had been awhile since I really thought about much bigger struggle I faced not too long ago, but it served as an important reminder that I’m doing the best I can, and that’s really all that can be asked of me. If you have a couple of hours, or 89 minutes for those with more limited time, please please please watch this movie. It’s honest, it’s raw, and most importantly, it addresses some issues which are very close to my heart. I had three main takeaways from this movie, and I want to share those, as they are incredibly important for everyone to remember.

1. Mental Illness is an illness. Those that suffer are sick, and as such, cannot be blamed for what is happening to them. Mental illnesses, like any other illness, is not by choice, and it’s easy to forget that when it seems like they are just choosing not to be better. For example, it’s easy for friends and family to get fed up with a depressed person when they can’t get out of bed. These are real illnesses and deserve to be treated as such. Here’s what it would look like if we treated other illnesses like mental illness: 


2. Mental illness affects the person with the illness the most, but family and those close to the person with the illness are not unaffected. Often times, the family gets hurt or has to suffer in their own way, regardless of how hard the person with the illness tries not to hurt people. It’s not easy, and often families need support too, on how to deal with their own emotions, and how to best help the person they love that is suffering every day. 

3. Mental illness does not discriminate. What I mean, is that there is no specific type of person a mental illness can effect. The illness does not pick and choose, or prey on those that are weak, but rather can hit any person, at any time. More often than not, mental illness creeps up on the people you would least expect it to – and it can be quite shocking to find out about. 

I’d request that if you’re reading this, take a moment, and think about anyone you know who has or has had a mental illness. Think about them, and ask yourself, do they know they are loved? Do they know they are wanted? Do they know this isn’t their fault? Do they know they’ve done nothing wrong, or nothing to deserve this? If the answer is no to any of these questions, tell them. Because I can tell you, there have been countless times where I’ve felt unloved, unsupported, but most importantly, I felt that I was responsible for being sick, and that it was my fault. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful support system that has made me realize better, but many people are not as fortunate. .

Keep Surviving By Living.