When Outside Factors Affect Our Mental Health

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I’m usually an even-keeled kind of person. Properly medicated, I’m a laid-back gal. There are, however, a few things that will get me riled. The major one is witnessing someone being bullied or being bullied myself.

Last night, at a meeting I was bullied by a controlling woman who is known for doing what she wants when she wants regardless of what the rest of the group says or needs. I stood up to her, we had words, she cut me off mid-argument and refused to talk it out with me, stating that she was “setting a boundary” when I think she was merely, once again, taking full power over the situation. I was left reeling with overwhelming anger, hurt, and frustration, not to mention embarrassment from the witnesses who were present.

Looking back, I was not in a good state of mind when I went to the meeting. I have been anxious about the kids returning to school today, as this major change in my daily schedule usually brings about some level of depression in me each year.

Also, like many, I have been negatively affected by the suicide of Robin Williams. It has been on my mind; has made me cry; has reignited a immense fear of my own illness, and has sent me to my knees in prayer for his family, for those who die everyday from suicide that we don’t hear about and their families, and for myself and for all who live with mental illness.

I was extremely tired and had also skipped dinner before I went. (What was I thinking?!) Before the meeting even started and she bullied me, I was irritated about something else as well.

All is all, I ignored 3 out of the 4 rules of H.A.L.T. -

Never get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

I always add an S. to the end of this for Stressed and Sick as well…and in my case Smoking because I am trying to quit and going through nicotine withdrawals.

Hmmmm…come to think of it, that woman’s lucky I didn’t slug her! ;)

Weekend Mental Health Writing Prompt – Afraid To Fail

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We are afraid to fail so instead we don’t try. How many things do you not try because you are afraid of failing?

Right now I am trying to stop smoking, and while a part of me feels like it is a lost cause because I have tried to quit several times in the past unsuccessfully, another part of me thinks, “But what if this is the time it works?”

Write about something you have tried and failed at, and then write about something you have tried and succeeded at, realizing that in life there are both failures and successes. The important thing is that we always try.

Make sure to link back to this post or comment below to share your response with others.

Weekend Mental Health Writing Prompt – Fathers

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In honor of Father’s Day, the writing prompt this weekend is none other than – fathers! Write about your father or grandfather or someone who was or is like a father to you. How did he shape you into the person you are today? In what ways, both positive and/or negative, does he affect your mental health? What is a good memory you have of him? What else would you like to write about him?

Link your response back to this post so others can find it or feel free to comment below. And Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!

Social Anxiety Strikes

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I’m not sure how many of you out there have more than one mental illness to deal with. I have several including bipolar depression, anxiety disorder, and borderline personality traits. It seems as the symptoms from one disorder subside the ones from another become more noticeable at times. Currently, my bipolar symptoms are stable and my emotions are fairly regulated, however, my social anxiety levels are glaring!

I have always been a shy person, but never considered myself to have “social anxiety.” I always labeled myself as an “introvert.” Maybe that was just me trying to be positive, because lately what I have been experiencing would definitely be considered social anxiety.

For example, last night I was sitting next to a woman in a meeting and she was reading something to the group. So all eyes were on her, but because I was sitting right next to her I was extremely uncomfortable with the fact that everyone was looking my way. My heart was racing, my breathing was rapid and I remember thinking to myself, “This is so painful.”

I also realized lately that when I get together with friends, I only really feel comfortable when there are 3-4 total in the group. Any more is too many and any less is not enough. Visiting one-on-one with someone is so anxiety-producing for me because I have to participate in the conversation too much. When there is three or four of us, I can sit back and be more of an observer. Weird, huh? I just had this realization as I was reflecting on all of this this morning.

Also, when there is only me and one other person I feel trapped like if I wanted to leave I wouldn’t be able to very easily. My daughter’s friends’ moms will drop them off at my house for play dates and stay to chat for what seems like forever (30 minutes or more) and I am always feeling this way (trapped). After my weekly meeting, I’ll stay after to talk to some of the women and one in particular keeps me there talking until everyone else has left. I am a great listener and obviously people love talking to me! :) I just wish I enjoyed it more.

This makes me wonder why I don’t enjoy it more. Do I not care about what these people have to say? Do I not want to listen? I don’t think that is it. I think it is the exact opposite. I think that they wouldn’t care to hear what I have to say. I think that my stories, my life, and my thoughts aren’t anything anyone would be interested in, which is probably why I get so nervous when I do end up talking because I am worried about what the other person is thinking about what I am saying. So, a lot of the time I don’t even think to say anything. I just listen and comment on what they say. I have a hard time sharing stuff about myself.

So, how do I fix this? Is it a self-esteem issue? If I think more highly of myself, then will I have more self-confidence and be more comfortable (i.e., less anxious) when speaking to others? Would I be more open to sharing myself with others?

On the other hand, maybe it isn’t a self-esteem issue. I am fairly confident in my beliefs and values. Maybe it is because I barely have any drama in my life (thankfully!) My life is pretty low-key, actually boring at times. I have a wonderful, healthy marriage, well-adjusted kids, no job, no extended family stress. Other than my mental illnesses, I don’t have anything to complain about, which seems to be a lot of what people do when they talk these days.

Maybe there in lies the reason I am not sharing myself with others – I can’t talk about my mental illness issues with them. They wouldn’t get it, they wouldn’t understand, and it would alienate me from them. Damn stigma!!! Although, I do have my husband and one friend with whom I can be completely open about my mental health issues, so that is better than nothing.

So, I am not sure what to do about this social anxiety thing. It definitely limits my activities. It was making it hard for me to leave the house to run errands, but my DBT skills have helped with that which I wrote about here. I will continue to work those skills to deal with my social interactions with others to see if it helps with those, too.

In the meantime, I have also ordered a couple of books on social anxiety. If anyone has any book suggestions let me know. Also, tell me how you have dealt with social anxiety in your life. Thanks for reading. I’ll keep you updated.

Photo credit: Mari Z. / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Weekend Mental Health Writings Prompt – Worry

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Are you a worrier? Is there a particular worry you can’t shake? How do you cope with worry? Write about it and feel free to share it here or on your blog if you have one, and then link it in the comments below.

Weekend Mental Health Writing Prompt – Soothing Senses

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For this weekend’s mental health writing, list 1 or 2 things that are soothing to each of your 5 senses – sights, smells, sounds, textures, and tastes. Write about any memories associated with these soothing stimuli.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend!

Journaling for Mental Health Guest Post Announcement

I wrote in a frenzy anything that came to mind. The pen ripped through parts of the pages, my hand started to cramp, and I couldn’t see the words through my tears, but I kept writing until I could breathe again…

Read more as I guest post today at www.depressionandbipolardisorder.com