Category Archives: Depression

5 Ways To Stop Caring About The Number Of “Likes” Your Posts Get

Your last profile picture on Facebook has received 64 likes so far.  13 people also commented that you were looking pretty darn hot in that selfie.

The sillouette photo of your family playing in the sunset got a huge response on Instagram. 85 hearts and counting. Half of those are from people you don’t even know!

Your latest rant on Twitter isn’t getting much feedback though. You are thinking about taking it down.

Since you last logged into the POF dating site, 53 new members said they want to “meet you” by clicking the green check mark under your photo, as they scrolled through many. You have 4 new messages in your inbox. You wonder how many of them are going to say how beautiful you are.

64, 13, 85, 53, 4.

We are a society obsessed with receiving validation from numbers via the Internet. Validation of our good looks, that our opinions are intelligent, that our philosophies are admirable, that we are living life in an impressive way.  The problem with all of this external validation, is that the positive feelings you get from it are short lived. Soon, you start craving more “likes” so you make another post. Or log into that dating site again.

For many of you out there, I would be willing to bet your internet behaviour is bordering on addiction. You need those “likes” to brighten your day, to feel good about yourself.  You might even feel anxious and low whenever you don’t receive them.

It isn’t healthy!

This is why I have made a New Year resolution to break my addiction to external validation, and work on building my feelings of self worth from the inside.  I have no idea how successful I will be,but here are my ideas on how I will achieve this goal:

5 Ways To Decrease Your Cravings For External Validation By Numbers On Social Media:

1.) Practice Random, Totally Secret Acts Of Kindness:

I had a psychology professor once question the class if we thought it was possible to commit a truly unselfish act. His argument was even when we do kind deeds for others, we get something back, praise and recognition.  But what if you do something good, completely anonymously and secretly? The only person who will ever know about it, is you? I have a feeling it would be a very rewarding, invigorating experience. Yes, an element of selfishness would still be there. But the positive feelings you would gain would run far deeper than 73 likes if you proclaimed your kind deed in your Facebook status. I think random, secret acts of kindness are an excellent way to build internal feelings of self worth. Why not give it a try?

2.) Keep A Private Journal, Photo Albums, or Scrapbooks:

You know you had an amazing time with your kids at the museum last week. You know you baked a darn delicious lasagna for your date, all the while looking spectacular in that new outfit. You know these things. Does anyone else really need to? Try documenting these memorable moments of your life the old fashioned way. In a diary, personal photo album or scrapbook.  Your memories deserve more than being scrolled by 300 people, ” liked” by a certain percentage, and forgotten 3 hours later. Honour your memories, for you. Perhaps share the odd one, but keep the majority for you. They are yours to treasure more than anyone else, after all.

3.) Pursue A Passion Or Learn A New Skill (Secretly):

Learning a new skill is a fantastic way to increase self esteem. Even better is doing it only for yourself, not to impress others. Do it just for you, because it is something you are passionately interested in. Go for that amazing run without telling a soul. Paint that picture and frame it, just for you. Speak that new language to yourself in he shower.  Honour your achievements by holding them dear.  Don’t cheapen it by making it the newsfeed post of the day.

4.) Limit Your Time Spent On Social Media:

The best way to depend less on something is to distance yourself from it.  If you find yourself craving a surge of social media attention, refrain from signing in. Limit your activity to an hour or so per day. Carry on with your life, in your physical being. Be mindful and present. Save screen time for a designated, small portion of your life. That’s really all it needs to be.

5.) Share Your Life With Your Most Beloved People: 

Have you ever had a loved one tell you they wished you told them something personally before you posted it on social media? Try making those close to you feel special by sharing your special photos, the highlights of your day only with them. It is bound to give you a deeper, longer lasting feeling of esteem and worthiness than 17 hearts on Instagram ever could. Not to mention, it will strengthen your relationship with your loved one by increasing intimacy and communication.

So, those are my strategies for decreasing my cravings for external validation by numbers on the Internet. I will let you know how it goes. I think this article is pretty darn good. I am going to try really hard to stay firm in that belief, without checking the number of likes it receives, or that Facebook share button. Please wish me luck with this. Deep Breath. Here I go!

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Thank you for reading!

Be Brave, and Talk

10 Ways To Repair An Injured Self Esteem

If you suffer mental illness, chances are pretty high that you also battle low self esteem. Self esteem is very hard to change.  It sure isn’t a matter of waking up one morning and deciding to love yourself. It takes a lot of conscious effort and perseverance, but it can be improved. Whether your self esteem has been damaged by traumatic life experience, a less than stellar upbringing, or the wear and tear of physical or mental illness, here are 10 things worth trying to help repair your injured self esteem.

 

1.) Spend Time Doing Things You Love: 

Doing what you love automatically makes you happy, which helps you feel better about everything, including yourself. The things you love doing are likely also the things you are good at. Be brave, and choose hobbies and work with your heart. You get one chance at this thing called life. You might as well spend it doing what you love, and being awesome at it.

2.) Use Social Media Wisely:

Participating in groups, making plans with friends, keeping in touch with loved ones are all positive ways social media can affect self esteem. Comparing your posts to others’ , or depending on a certain number of “likes” of your selfie or status update to feel good about yourself, or spending so much time on social media that you aren’t meeting your responsibilities, might not be so great.  When you log off of Facebook, ask yourself honestly if the time you just spent put your heart at ease, or made you feel low. Then adjust your habits accordingly. (Easier said than done, I know. But try! Try hard. You are worth it.)

3.) Help Others:

It’s hard not to feel good when your actions have improved someone else’s day/week/life. Just make sure the helping you do is on your own terms, and not the result of someone guilting/ pressuring/ taking advantage of you. The important thing here, is the acts of kindness you practice must be for people who will appreciate it, and done because you just really felt like doing it.

4.) Throw Negative Thoughts In The River:

If your self esteem is low, there are probably a lot of negative thoughts running through your head at any moment. When you catch them happening, visualize yourself physically taking those thoughts and throwing them into a fast flowing river. Picture them flowing far away from you, down the river. It might sound silly, but with practice this technique can become an effective tool to help fight the negative thoughts that torture you when your self esteem is low.

5.) List Evidence For/ Against:

If the river thing doesn’t work for you, try confronting negative thoughts head on, with logic. Maybe you think nobody likes you. Write that thought down. Then, list all of the evidence you have in favour of that statement, and all of the evidence against it. Think of everything! This should help you see that your negative self talk is not accurate, or logical.

6.) End Toxic Relationships:

This can be a tough one, but it’s vital for self esteem.  If you dread interacting with someone, if they put you on edge, if they treat you unfairly (directly or passively) the relationship is toxic, and you must get away from it. This takes a lot of courage, but if you can manage to let the person go, you will feel free and empowered.  Remove them from Facebook, delete their phone number from your phone. Walk away, and don’t look back. You NEVER have to entertain someone who brings you down. Cut that crap out of your life.

7.) Nurture Positive Relationships:

If someone makes you feel cared for, respected, listened to, important, hold on to them and never let them go.  Whether it’s a family member, friend or romantic partner, take time to show the people who make your life better that you care. Remind them how thankful you are for the things they do. And of course, spend quality time with them whenever you can.

8.) Take Care Of You:

It’s tough to feel good about yourself if you haven’t showered in a few days, or your toenails are an inch long. Eating nothing but chips and ice cream for 3 days is also not ideal for self esteem. Care for yourself as you would a newborn baby. Keep yourself clean, hydrated, nourished with healthy food. Make your environment comfortable and soothing. Moisturize your skin and floss your teeth. It takes effort, but the energy you put into caring for yourself is so worth it, because it comes out as improved self esteem.

9.) Forgive Yourself:

its way easier to say it than to do it, but you have got to move past your regrets and mistakes if you are ever going to have healthy self esteem. Admit to yourself that you messed up. Take whatever steps you can to correct things, then LET IT GO.  Promise yourself to learn from the experience, then leave it in the past. Agonizing over what you should have done, putting yourself down for wrongdoing is like poison to your heart. Forgive yourself. Yes, you have flaws, but so does everyone. You are worthy of forgiveness. You are worthy of love.

10.) Follow Your Heart:

If you suffer low self esteem, you likely try hard to make other people happy, at your own expense. Continually putting your needs and desires below someone else’s kills your identity. It drowns the fire deep inside that is who you are. Listen to what your heart feels. Muster up all the courage you have, and follow it. This is the only way you will ever figure out who the amazing, strong, loveable you truly is.

 

 

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Thank you for reading!

Be Brave, and Talk

If Only They Had Known

She is 18 years old. She sprawls out on her bed, reads his letter for about the 9th time that day. His words make her shiver with excitement, and her heart feel heavy with loneliness and longing. She gazes at the calendar. Only ten more days until she will see him again, thank goodness. This long distance relationship is killing her.

Her brow furrows as she rereads a concerning part of the letter.

….as long as you are with me, I will always be the luckiest guy in the world. I don’t know if you know how much you have shown me and taught me. You made me realize how great life can be and you showed me how life should be lived. I am so much more full of joy. Remember that time I got all quiet and wouldn’t talk? That was the only time it happened while we’ve been going out, and it only lasted a couple of days. It used to be so bad before. It would happen constantly, a lot worse and last for days, even weeks. The feeling is so awful, and I’ve always hated it. The more I’d hate it, the worse it would get and usually I wouldn’t feel like living, or feel I deserved to live. But it will never happen again. If there is one thing I can promise you it’s that it will never happen again in my life. I have no reason at all to feel that way, and in fact I have every reason in the world to feel the exact opposite, because I have you. …..

She breathes deeply to relieve the tightness in her chest. Why did those feelings happen to him? Is she really going to be enough to keep it from happening to him again?

She subconsciously clenches her fist and decides that she is enough. She will love him with all of her might, and it will never happen to him again. She will save him.

If only they had known.

In their innocence, these young lovers believed the torturous thoughts and feelings that plagued the young man could be cured by love. They believed it was in their control. They believed life circumstances determined if his days were good or bad.

They had no idea what the terms “mental illness” and “bipolar disorder” even meant.

He was okay for a while. His visit at Christmas was romantic and passionate as ever. They decorated his family Christmas tree together and he whispered in her ear that she belonged atop the tree, for she was the true angel.  He drank a bit too much, but she shrugged it off as typical college student behaviour. Sometimes she felt embarrassed by his often inappropriate intensity in social situations, but she shrugged that off too, accepted it as part of who he was.

She did start worrying though, when he suddenly stopped returning her calls. As if a switch went off in his heart, he went from Adoring, Dedicated Boyfriend to Arrogant, Cruel Jerk.

He seemed to have a headache all the time.

He made rude jokes.

He got angry at her if she said the wrong thing.

He hung up on her when she was in the middle of a sentence.

He went days without sleeping.

One day she came over and found him standing in his underwear on the steep roof in the pouring rain, hands stretched out to the sky, screaming.

He missed her prom and her high school graduation because he was lying in bed, unwilling and unable to get up.

She thought it was because he didn’t love her any more. She thought she had failed him, and it broke her heart.

If only she had known.

They had no idea what the terms “mental illness” and ” bipolar disorder” even meant.

If only they had known.

All the love in the world would never have been able to help this tortured young man.

Awareness and Education could have though.

Mental illness is not a feeling.

Mental illness is not a choice.

Mental illness is real. It rips lives apart. It breaks hearts. But it doesn’t have to.

Awareness, Education and Acceptence. Let’s keep striving for these things in the field of mental health. It very well could stop a heart or two from breaking.

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Thank you for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk

The Story of Your Life

Somehow, somewhere along the line you started feeling like your life mattered a little less than everyone else’s.  You started assuming everyone else was just a little better than you.

You took responsibility for the happiness of the people you love the most.

To you, love started to mean doing whatever it took to keep them safe, to keep them happy, to be by their side as the story of their life carried on.

Somehow, somewhere along the line the story of your life got lost.

You were comfortable that way. To be the loyal, caring companion who gave control over to your Love freely was what you knew best. You felt safe that way. If you could make your Love happy that meant you were good enough. Pretty enough. Worthy. If you could make your Love happy that meant you were also happy. Didn’t it?

There is no doubt about it, you are a caring, nurturing soul. Empathy pours from your heart and overwhelms you all the time. People love that about you.

But you have this habit of tying your life to someone else’s.  You live in their shadow, one step below them. A loyal servant.

It’s okay if sometimes you get forgotten.

It’s okay if sometimes you get hurt. Your pain doesn’t matter nearly as much as theirs does. They must never be disappointed. They must never be in pain. It’s your job to keep them happy, so you press on beside them in that lonely shadow.

You try to ignore the heavy feeling that grows within your chest. You try to ignore your white knuckles and clenching jaw.

Every now and then guilt threatens to boil out of you. You swallow it down, ignore the deep burn and wonder what in the world is wrong with you.

You pretend you don’t know the answer. But you do.

Somehow, somewhere along the line you’ve got to realize your life matters just as much as everyone else’s.

You’ve got to stop believing that everyone else is just a little bit better than you.

You must learn that love means being true to yourself before anyone else.

Although it may end up being quite uncomfortable for a while, somehow, somewhere along the line the story of your life must be found.

And the only person who can find it, is you.

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Thanks for reading!

Be Brave, and Talk

The Seed of Doubt

The seed of doubt has been planted, and you seem unable to dig it out. The roots have started to grow, have wrapped themselves around your heart. They tighten every time you take a step backward. Every time you think of moving forward, your breath gets a little easier, the grip on your heart gets a little looser.

Maybe you could starve the seed, plunge yourself into darkness until it’s dead. But what would become of you in that darkness?

Maybe you need to accept this seed of doubt, and listen to what it’s trying to tell you. But will its grip on you ever ease completely?

You had a vision of your life, of how it would all turn out. You see that path ahead. On the surface, it looks very easy to travel. It looks familiar. It looks safe.

But that path feels full of thorny stems, and gnarly roots. You would have to drag them along with you as you travel. You are not sure how long you would last.

There has to be another path, but it’s a path you can’t even see.

You can feel it though. It feels like jumping off a cliff. It feels terrifying, thrilling and completely foreign. It feels free. You would need an enormous amount of confidence to travel this path.

You can’t travel it blindly though. At least you don’t want to. Maybe you have to?

The seed of doubt doesn’t seem to want to leave you alone. It has grown and wrapped its roots around your heart for a reason.

You just can’t let it grow within you, because it will tear you apart in time.

You must listen.

You must learn.

You must be strong.

 

Seeds of doubt get planted when you stop being truthful.

Be truthful. In the end, the truthful path, however rocky and twisty and turny it may be, is the only one you should choose.

 

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Thank you for reading!

Be Brave and Talk

Your Lion On A Leash

Although nobody ever sees him, you walk this world accompanied by a lion on a leash.

Most of the time your fierce, ferocious lion is very well behaved. He saunters beside you, you hardly even notice he’s there. He’s your silent companion. He makes you feel safe, most of the time. He makes you feel beautifully, heroically tragic. He makes you feel unique.  He keeps you company at night.

You hold on to his leash tightly at all times. You cling to his frightening, but familiar presence. You need him. Even though every now and then he gets pretty darn mean.

Sometimes you lose control of your lion on a leash. His roar rattles you, his teeth glint in the sunlight and threaten you, his wild stare breaks your heart.

In these moments, you wish your lion and you had never met.

In these moments, you wish more than anything that you could figure out how to let him go.

But you remain bound to him with that twisting, burning, invisible leash. You struggle to tame his wild fury. Nobody else notices a thing.

In desperation, you feed him until he’s satisfied, and once again at peace by your side. You sigh with relief.

Nobody knows you better than your lion on a leash. He is your most intimate friend. He owns the most vulnerable parts of your soul.

You relish him. You love him. You fear him. You loathe him.

Whether his name is Perceived Failure, Heartbreak, Grief, Traumatic Life Experience, Regret, or Anger,

your lion does not belong bound to you on a leash.

He isn’t meant to be a secret, chained forever to you.

Your lion has taught you strength. Your lion has taught you courage. Your lion will forever be a part of who you are.

He isn’t you though.

You’ve got to stop feeding him. You’ve got to set him free, before one day his wild rage devours you whole.

You will never forget him, and he may never be fully done with you.

But never give up trying to set him free.

He doesn’t belong bound to you with a leash.

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Thank you for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk

 

 

 

Take It All In (Celebrate Earth Day)

 

 

Even though we’ve ravaged this majestic planet, miraculously, it’s beauty shines on.

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It’s no surprise that taking in the splendour of the sunset over crystal waves, hearing the leaves crunch under your feet as you explore the peaceful forest, feeling the thrill of ice cold water as you dive into the rippling lake are the most effective forms of relief for mental illness and stress.

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Being in nature quiets the cruel voices within. It soothes your soul with its splendour. It touches your heart with hope.  It ignites your will to live, and helps you see what truly matters in this existence.

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There is a whole lot of beauty in this world. Remember this. Appreciate this. Take it all in.

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When anxious breath catches in your throat, when irritability furrows your brow, when frustration clenches your fists, stop what you are doing and go outside.

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Because going outside is going HOME.

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Thank you for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk

 

 

 

 

10 Depression Symptom Analogies For Those Who Have Trouble Understanding

If others don’t believe you when you are certain you speak the truth, if you get blamed for something you know is not your fault, if no matter how many times you try explaining something the person just doesn’t get it, how does it make you feel?

Pretty frustrated, I’m sure.

Sadly, this is the case for many who suffer mental illness, like depression. Imagine being accused of creating your own illness with your negative attitude, laziness, or self pity. It’s pretty awful. Those with depression long to be believed, long to be understood. Depression is NOT a feeling. It’s a very real disease, and I’m going to attempt to describe it to you with some analogies below.

10 Depression Symptom Analogies To Help You Understand:

1.) Irritability (The Sandpaper Bed)

You stand beside your bed. It looks cozy and inviting. You climb in and are startled by the feel of the sheets on your skin. They are rough, like sandpaper. Your pillow is hard as a rock. You roll over, nothing changes. The sandpaper sheets hurt your skin, the rock pillow makes your head hurt. This is what irritability is like. You know you should not be bothered, but everything annoys you, angers you, makes you very uncomfortable. You wish with all of your might you could relax and feel peaceful, but it just won’t happen. You want to explode at everyone around you, but you hold it in as best you can. You press on, try to appear normal. Like a night spent in the sandpaper bed would be, it’s totally exhausting.

2.) Empty/Numb (The Worst Comedy Show Ever)

Depression frequently makes you feel…absolutely nothing at all. Imagine you’re at a comedy show, but you’re the only one who finds nothing funny about it. Everyone else cracks up laughing at jokes that evoke no response in you at all. You wish you could enjoy yourself as they are, but your heart and mind are void of all feeling, You throw back a few drinks, to try to ignite a spark of life within you, to no avail. You just want to go home so you can stop pretending you actually feel something other than numbness. Depression often makes you feel as though someone has reached in and ripped your soul out of your body. It’s not fun.

3.) Extreme Fatigue (the 500 lb lead weight suit)

Picture yourself wearing full body armour made of lead. You try to go about your daily activities, but every movement requires tremendous effort. You want to move. You try your best to move. It’s just completely exhausting. No matter how hard you try, you seem unable to take off your lead body armour. It only removes itself when it feels like it.

4.) Self Loathing (tied with a rope to someone you really dislike)

What if that person you can’t stand being around, that person you have a hard time finding good qualities in, that person you just can’t seem to like was tied to you with a 3 foot long rope for an entire day? “No way in hell,” you are probably thinking. Well, if you suffer depression, that person is tied to you permanently. That person is yourself. It is a very sad, but very true reality of depression. The majority of the time during a depressive episode the sufferer thinks very negatively about themselves, and they might even have feelings of self hatred.

5.) Guilt (A body covered in long whiskers that bug everyone around you.)

Imagine you walk through the mall, or attend a family function, and all of a sudden your body grows huge, prickly whiskers that poke at everyone around you. You’d feel the need to apologize an awful lot. You’d probably feel pretty bad. Guilty. Guilty for being your prickly, whiskery self. Depression doesn’t make a person grow whiskers of course, but it certainly brings on constant, tremendous feelings of guilt. It makes you feel as though you are letting everyone down, that everyone is annoyed at, or disappointed by you.

6.) Physical Discomfort (The Constant Hangover)

Headache. Body Aches. Joint Pain. Nausea. Dizziness. If it gets bad enough, depression makes you feel like you have a constant hangover. If you haven’t experienced a hangover, think of how you feel when you are coming down with the flu. Many cases of depression/anxiety are diagnosed only after the patient has sought medical help for physical symptoms.( I myself was one of those cases.) Those “Depression Hurts” commercials do not lie.

7.) Confusion (partially soundproof, translucent glass box.)

If you spent an hour surrounded by glass that was hard to see through, hard to hear through and tried to go about life as usual, things would get pretty darn confusing. Depression often feels exactly like this. Focusing on anything becomes very hard. You find yourself holding your head in your hands all the time. Your vision literally blurs, and you have a hard time understanding what anyone is talking to you about. This confusion just increases other symptoms, like irritability and fatigue.

8.) Strong Desire to Hide (avoiding a telemarketer who is always callng)

You know that feeling you have when you see a telemarketer’s number on the call display? Someone with depression feels this way pretty much all of the time. They don’t want to answer the phone, or the door. They don’t want to go get groceries, they don’t want to go to your party. All they really want to do is hide under the covers and stop pretending everything is alright. They want to hide away so they can be depressed without fear of judgement, or feelings of guilt.

9.) Dread (a colonoscopy is looming, every minute of every day)

I think it’s safe to say nobody out there looks forward to the day they need a colonoscopy. When you suffer depression, you always feel like something unpleasant lies in the near future. Dread. Dread for reasons you can’t explain. In fact, knowing the dread was caused by an approaching colonoscopy would probably be an improvement over the nonspecific, sinking, scared feeling you often wake with, eat lunch with, go to bed with when you suffer from depression.

10.) Hopeless/Trapped (drowning)

Imagine you are trapped in a tank of deep water. You tread water for a long time. You start getting tired. You aren’t sure how much longer you’ll be able to keep your head above water. You try to stay afloat, try to conserve your energy and pray someone will come along and help you. Time ticks on. You are so tired. You sink below the surface, hold your breath for as long as you can. Nobody is coming to save you because nobody notices you need help. Desperately, you pull to the surface, gasp for air, sink back down again. You aren’t going to make it. You have lost all hope.

Depression is a very lonely, often desperate battle to feel alive.

But it doesn’t have to be lonely.

It doesn’t have to be hopeless.

There is plenty of help available for those suffering depression. They just need to feel comfortable enough to seek it out. All of the stigma, the fear, the lack of empathy and understanding toward mental illness in our society needs to end.

The best thing you can do for someone with depression is let them know you believe them, and you are not afraid to talk with them about it openly and honestly.

You can be that arm that pulls them out of that tank of deep water with a few powerful words.

“I am here for you.”

“I am listening.”

” I believe you.”

 

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Thanks so much for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk.

Do You Experience A.S.M.R? ( Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)

Although my grade 7 French class was often the most chaotic part of the school day, with students speaking out of turn and generally taking advantage of our kind, soft spoken teacher, for me it was the most relaxing time of day.

As the other students flirted, doodled in their notebooks, did anything but pay attention, I zoned right in on the lesson. This wasn’t just because I was ultra respectful, I must admit.

It was because the gentle sound of our teacher’s voice, the soothing way her delicate hand wrote on the chalkboard, her incredible focus despite all the disruption going on all made me feel profoundly relaxed. My scalp would tingle, and my shoulders would feel like I was getting a massage. Had my grade7 French class been longer than 40 minutes, it very well may have put me to sleep each day. Not because it was boring, but because it was blissfully peaceful and relaxing.

I didn’t tell anyone this of course. It seemed too bizarre. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a weirdo, getting pleasure from observing a sweet old lady write on a chalk board and talk.

It wasn’t until years later that I got my first opportunity to discuss this strange phenomenon with someone, and realize I was far from alone in my experience.  I suffer anxiety, and before I started taking medication I often had a lot of trouble falling asleep.  One night as I sat up surfing the Internet at 3 a.m. I noticed my brother was awake and online too. I started up a chat to complain about my insomnia, and he offered me amazing advice.

“You’re probably going to think this is really wierd, but try watching this. It’s super relaxing.”

He sent me a link to an instructional massage video by a lady called “Lita”. As I started watching, I realized my brother was right. The sound of her voice,  and watching the calm, focused manner of her massage gave me the same tingly, relaxing feeling I used to get during gr. 7 French class. After my brother and I exchanged a few humorous messages making fun of ourselves for enjoying watching someone else get massaged, I read through some of the video comments, and realized many others were experiencing the same sort of thing.

ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is defined as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory or cognitive stimuli. So feeling tingly when someone brushes your hair, or whispers in your ear counts as ASMR. Triggers for ASMR vary slightly between those who experience it, and not everyone does experience it.

There isn’t a lot of scientific data available on ASMR yet, although a quick internet search will show you there are many anecdotal reports of it out there.

What interests me the most is how it can be used to help relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia. First of all, if you are lucky enough to experience ASMR, you will realize that when those sensations are being triggered, you automatically become mindful.  You totally focus on what you are hearing, seeing, feeling, because it feels so darn nice. Unpleasant feelings of sadness or anxiety are pushed away.  Watching videos designed to bring on ASMR can give great relief to someone suffering mental illness.  I think it’s a worthwhile place to start trying out being mindful for someone new to the practice.

I also do not believe its a coincidence that many common ASMR triggers involve someone giving some sort of care to another.  To be cared for is a universal need among animals.  It is also something that lacks in the lives of many who suffer mental illness. Perhaps indulging in some ASMR could encourage sufferers to put more effort into their own self care, or even to seek out care from others.

My goal for this article is to bring awareness to the topic of ASMR. It’s a real thing.  Although it’s not widely recognized, if you experience it, you are not strange, you are fortunate! I encourage you to explore how it can help you feel less anxious, less lonely and how it can help you relax enough to fall asleep. Check out the links below to see if ASMR can benefit you. Unlike alcohol, drugs, or other potentially harmful methods you might use to cope, this is 100% safe. It is certainly worth a try!

http://www.last.fm/music/ASMR

http://www.tingle.fm/mobile web/channels/

http://www.asmrlab.com

http://www.m.youtube.com/watch?v=UedaJPNGzoo

Also search “Disney Collector”  videos on You Tube.

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Thank you for reading!

Be Brave, and Talk

How To Support Someone Suffering An Eating Disorder (from someone who has made it down the long, hard road to recovery.)

She runs frantically back and forth in the basement. She hopes she is being vigorous enough. The 3 big bowls of cereal she just ate must be burned away. A cramp pierces her side, she presses on angrily.  She despises the bloated feeling in her stomach. She hates herself for being so disgusting, bingeing like that on sugary cereal. She must have taken in at least 1000 calories. She feels the fat filling into her cheeks, visualizes the double chin that must be forming.  She speeds up, swings her arms harder, lifts her knees higher. She glances at the clock. 45 minutes to go. At least. No music plays as she does this desperate exercise. This is not for her enjoyment . This is for her punishment. Her motivation doesn’t come from a desire for health. It comes from fear. Fear of gaining weight. Fear of losing control. And anger. Anger that she lost control by eating all of that cereal.

She won’t be eating anything else for the next 2 days.

The cramps in her side get sharper. She cries out in pain, but doesn’t stop. She must finish this 2 hours of calorie burning. She hates her body for trying to stop her. The cramp twists up toward her rib cage. She speeds up in frustration. Tears stream down her face. She hurts. She is thirsty. She is soaked with sweat. She is exhausted. She is desperate. Desperate to maintain control. She was doing so well, for so long. But she got too hungry. She gave in. And now her disorder has control of her.

5 Ways To Support Someone Suffering / Recovering From An Eating Disorder:

1.) Be There: Help them break the habit of secrecy.

When someone has an eating disorder, they are extremely secretive with their behaviours. Counting calories, any eating they do, bingeing, purging behaviours all happen when they are alone.  They might hoard and hide food, dispose of it in sneaky ways. You can try to help break through the secrecy by offering to be there. Offer to eat meals with them, offer to go with them on calm after dinner walks. It’s really important to offer without forcing the issue. Putting pressure on will drive them further into their secretive behaviour. Ask how they are doing often.  Try opening up to them about something in life you are struggling with, and it might help encourage them to start talking. If you are lucky enough to get them talking, listen without judgement. Eating disorders come with feelings of self loathing and shame. Compliment them on their bravery in opening up, and just listen.

2.) Invite Them Out Often: Help reduce their isolation.

Eating disorders are very isolating. Sufferers often turn down social invites to spend time obsessing, compulsively exercising, recovering from binge eating episodes. Try to reduce this isolation by inviting them out often. Keep on inviting them no matter how many times they reject you. Dont give up on them. Try organizing team sport events with friends, or invite them for a yoga class. The exercise might appeal to them, and is much healthier than the compulsive exercise they do alone.

3.) Choose Topics Of Conversation Wisely: Avoid perpetuating their obsession.

Someone who suffers with an eating disorder is haunted by and obsessed with food, calories, and body image. When they are with you, you can help them be a little less preoccupied by avoiding ALL discussion of these topics. Ignore any comments they make about their body, redirect the conversation. Even telling them you think they are “too skinny” is a bad idea, because it can motivate them. It’s like positive reinforcement.  Refuse to feed into their obsession. This means no talk of dieting, “fattening” foods, body weight and size, even if you are talking about yourself.

4.) Help Them Feel A Sense Of Control

Someone suffering with an eating disorder longs for control over their lives. Eating disorder behaviour is an attempt to gain control over their body, but ironically the eating disorder ends up controlling them. Even though you are concerned and just want them to eat, never try to force food on them, or tempt them with food. This will only increase their desire for control, and make them very unlikely to admit they are suffering. It’s also very important to avoid investigating them, or accusing them of abnormal behaviour. These things will only drive them further into isolation and secrecy. Instead, encourage them to be honest by saying you are there for them whenever they might be ready to talk. Say you are concerned and ask them what you can do to help. This turns some control over to them, and might help them feel more ready to talk. Ultimately, the decision to seek help is entirely up to the sufferer. You will never be able to talk them into it. What you can do is offer to go with them, to be there for them when they decide on their own to open up and seek help.

5.) Have Realistic Expectations: Be aware of how serious the fight for recovery will be.

Realize that recovery from an eating disorder is not a matter of simply deciding one day to eat normally. Getting better is a long, hard, physically and emotionally painful fight. Eating disorders are very powerful addictions and it is almost impossible or overcome them without professional help. You can help your loved ones by making sure you have realistic expectations. Take it one day at a time. It will take them a long time to recover, and there could be many relapses on the way. Praise their brave efforts, let them know you believe in them. Be there, to listen , to hug, to show empathy. Never give up on them, and hopefully they will never give up on themselves.

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Thank you for reading.

Be Brave, and Talk