Five Enlightened Ways To Think About Mental Health

See Psychology Today Article Here
By Hilary Jacobs Hendel 

It’s time to eradicate stigmas.

Life is hard even under the best of circumstances. Without physical and mental health, it’s difficult to enjoy life and to thrive. It makes good sense to take care of ourselves and that includes getting help when we suffer physically or psychologically. When we feel sick we get ourselves to the doctor. And when we feel so bad that we think about hurting ourselves or others, or when we cannot engage positively in work or in relationships, or we cannot accomplish what we want, we should seek help to feel better. That is what all of us deserve.

Mental health shouldn’t be a dirty word. Still damaging stigmas prevail allowing ignorance to end lives. Judging others or ourselves for our suffering is just plain harsh, not to mention counterproductive. When was the last time telling a depressed person to “get over it” worked? Try never! And using shame as a tactic to “encourage” someone to be what you think they should be only adds to a person’s suffering.

Mental health problems should be thought of no differently than physical health problems. In fact, they are completely related: mental health problems affect physical health and physical health problems affect mental health. We need a world where no one feels embarrassed or ashamed about their suffering. We need a world where suffering evokes only kindness, compassion, and a desire to help.

Here are 5 enlightened ways to think about mental health:

1. Everyone suffers.

I have never met anyone who is happy and calm all the time. It’s just not possible, no matter how good someone’s life looks like from the outside. Most people suffer at some point in their life from anxietydepressionaggressionPTSDshamesubstance abusedisorders, and other symptoms. And, if a person is lucky enough to never suffer psychologically, they surely love someone who does suffer in these ways. Instead of living lives of quiet desperation, to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, let’s encourage honest talk. If someone gets uncomfortable with honest talk, we can talk about that too.

2. Mental health checkups are an important part of wellness.

Do you feel ashamed when you go for a check-up at your internist? Probably not. On the contrary, you’re likely to feel proud that you are taking care of your health. Yet most people are ashamed to call a psychotherapist for a consultation. This makes no logical sense. A mental health checkup is a great idea especially if you are suffering and not able to function the way you want. You should feel very proud for taking care of your mental health.

3. Gym for the brain.

That’s exactly how I describe therapy for my patients who come in feeling bad that they “have to come to therapy.” In our society, we praise people for working out at the gym. We think of them as maintaining their health and taking good care of themselves. Well, that’s no different for a person wanting to enhance their psychological wellbeing. Therapy grows new brain cell networks, calms the mind and body, makes it easier to meet life’s challenges, and helps us thrive as we become the best versions of our self that we can.

4. Education in emotions is a game-changer.

We live in a challenging society because it is not very nurturing. That’s why rates of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorder have skyrocketed. According to a new disturbing report from the CDCsuiciderates are steadily increasing. At the very least, our society could provide an accessible and understandable education on emotions. This would help us all understand how our childhood experiences translate to directly affect our adult mental health (for better and for worse). Emotion education debunks myths like “emotions are just for weak people” and we can control our suffering with “mind over matter.” Our schools should be teaching us trauma-informed tools like the Change Triangle. Our educational institutions should be teaching skills for managing relationships and interpersonal conflicts constructively so bullying, for example, would become a thing of the past. Parents should be taught about emotions so they don’t unwittingly create shame and anxiety in their children. Education on emotions and how emotions affect the brain, body, and mind depending on how we work with them, has great power to change society for the better and even reverse the current epidemic in depression, anxiety, and addictions.

5. Question assumptions, judgments, and fears around mental health and mental illness.

Many of us fear difference. When people feel, act or look different than we do, we tend to judge them. Judgment, while a form of misguided emotional protection achieved by distancing ourselves from those we fear or don’t understand, is destructive for all of us. Judgment is the basis of stigma and justifies the horrible way we treat people who suffer mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Judgment shames those who suffer, and that is all of us. No wonder shame-based depressions are rampant in our society. Instead of judging others for emotions and suffering, can we instead be curious about our assumptions and question where we learned to judge or fear people who struggle psychologically?

Most suffering can be eased with support, proper treatment, and a variety of resources. Let’s be proud to grow our collective and individual mental health. What a difference it makes to wholeheartedly say to someone seeking help, “Good for you! I could use some help for myself too!” Because we all can.

9 Things That Will Absolutely Stress Any INFJ Out

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Christine Chen

1. Trying to keep track of too many details

INFJs are big-picture thinkers and conceptualizers, which means they like to synthesize bits and pieces of essential information in order to form a cohesive image that serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things. They get very overwhelmed when they have to deal with too many little (and oftentimes, frivolous) details because doing so goes against their natural tendency to form a holistic perspective that they understand best.

2. Being compared to other people

This by far causes the most stress for an INFJ. INFJs by their nature are people-pleasers, but at the same time, they’re highly individualistic. Growing up, they’ve been told that they weren’t good enough compared to others, so it’s no wonder why they experience so much anxiety in trying to prove others wrong by forcing themselves to be the exact opposite of who they really are. Whenever they’re compared to others who are conventionally successful, attractive, and well-liked, they believe that they’re somehow innately not as worth much to society, and this buries them deep in depression and guilt.

3. Being deliberately ignored and excluded

Although INFJs love solitude, they also enjoy connecting with people and forming deep friendships. However, when groups of people with cliquish tendencies deliberately ignore them and make them feel like they don’t belong, INFJs feel deeply hurt and even resentful for not being loved or appreciated the way they are.

4. Fear-mongering and controlling authority figures

INFJs don’t deal well with these types of authority figures because they resent being controlled in any manner. As autonomous and individualistic self-starters, INFJs desire the freedom to choose and do what’s best for them, so they despise it when an authority figure takes that power away. They crumble under the pressure of trying to meet the demands of authority figures who only use fear and manipulation to control the way people think, speak, and act.

5. Having ego-centric goals imposed on them

INFJs are compelled to do things out of the joy of their heart, but because they are expected to adhere to conventional standards, they experience a tremendous amount of stress trying to chase after goals that only serve the ego and neglect their inner spirit. They hate being told that their worth is nothing unless they prove that they can somehow be used as a means to an end in a competitive, profit-driven society.

6. Conflict

INFJs tend to avoid conflict of any kind, at all costs, because they are peacemakers and desire connectedness and compromise for the sake of a higher purpose, which would benefit all parties involved. They associate conflict with chaos, aggressive accusations, and scathing remarks used only for insulting the opposing side. Anything that disrupts their inner peace can give them panic attacks and cripple them for days.

7. Any unexpected last-minute change of plans

They love planning ahead, so they tend to hyperventilate whenever something unexpected disrupts their day and makes a dent to their plans. To INFJs, dealing with last-minute changes is equivalent to Post-traumatic stress disorder because their internal world is disrupted, and they take days to recover whenever something doesn’t turn out as planned.

8. Being told they’re worthless

INFJs know how much they’re worth and what they have to offer, but at the same time, they self-deprecate a lot based on conventional ideas of what a “good and successful” person should look like. They struggle with intense feelings of worthlessness because of how people in the past taught them that self-worth is conditional and only given when they achieve certain milestones on a cookie-cutter timeline.

9. Lack of quality me-time

INFJs burn out easily and are extremely sensitive to external pressure, so they need more time to recharge, disconnect from the world, and pursue solitary activities for the sake of joy and personal fulfillment.

How To Cope With Addiction When We Also Have Depression

See Author Article Here

When we think of addiction, our thoughts tend to turn to drug and alcohol addiction but addiction can relate to numerous different things; drugs, alcohol, food, exercise, pornography, gaming, social media, tattoos, self-harm, gambling, shopping – anything that we feel as though we’re not in control of, and has an impact on our mood and behaviours. Addiction can be incredibly difficult to cope with, particularly when the things we’re addicted to are often readily available. Depression and addiction can go hand in hand. Addiction can help us to cope with depression, but equally, depression can be caused or worsened by the things we’re addicted to.

Depression: Coping With Addiction
IDENTIFY TRIGGERS
In terms of addiction, triggers are any emotional or environmental factors that cause us to feel as though we need to use our addiction. It could be related to people, places, things, times of the year, or something else. Working out what our triggers are can take time, but once we know what they are, we can avoid them or learn ways to manage them.

HIGH-RISK SITUATIONS
High-risk situations are similar to triggers, but rather than being a specific ‘thing’, such as ‘seeing a person walking a dog’, they’re specific situations. This could be something like Christmas, seeing family, or getting a piece of negative feedback at work. Sometimes these situations can be difficult to spot until we’re in them, so it can be helpful to make a note when a situation causes us to feel like we need our addiction.

Once we identify these situations, we can make a plan for how to cope with them without turning to our addiction.

For example, if one of our high-risk situations is ‘seeing my auntie’, we might choose to see them less often, only see them in the company of other friends/family, and invite a friend to stay over for the night whenever we do see them, so that we’re not having to cope alone. We could also note down any alternative coping mechanisms we could use, so that we don’t have to think about them ‘in the moment’, and can just refer to our notes. It’s often helpful to write down a couple of different ideas because sometimes our first or second ideas aren’t possible or don’t work.

Depression: Coping With Addiction
CLICK TO TWEET

WORKING OUR HOW OUR ADDICTION HELPS US
If our addiction didn’t help us on some level, we wouldn’t keep using it. Something that can be really key when coping with addiction is working out how it helps us and then finding a healthy coping mechanism to replace it. It can sometimes be helpful to use the acronym ‘Hungry Angry Lonely Tired (HALT)‘ when thinking about the need that we’re filling, as these are common emotions associated with addiction.

ALTERNATIVE COPING MECHANISMS
Having a list of coping mechanisms that we can use when we want to turn to our addiction is helpful. We’re all different, and we all turn to our addictions for different reasons, so we will find that different coping mechanisms work for different people. As an alternative to our addiction, we could try things like watching TV, reading, walking, talking to a friend, drawing, writing, painting, listening to music, listening to podcasts, doing some breathing exercises, ripping up sheets of paper, drawing on ourselves, running, cleaning, self-soothing, doing some puzzles, singing, hugging a pet, dancing, playing with play-doh or contacting a helpline. Sometimes we’ll have to try a coping mechanism a few times before we can get it to work for us – practice makes perfect!

REMINDERS
There are times when we don’t see the point in fighting our addiction. It feels too hard. We’re too tired. There’s no point because we can’t do it so why even bother trying?!

At times like these, we have no interest in reaching out for support, or in using healthy coping mechanisms.

These times are very ‘high risk’, in terms of falling back into our addiction. Having reminders of why we don’t want to go there can help us to keep going. This could be in the form of photos on our phone, on the wall, or in our purse or wallet. We might have lists of ‘reasons to keep going’, or ‘things we want to do once we’re up to it’. There might have been a time when we had a particularly amazing day, and we might have a momento from that day that we can hold. A specific smell or taste could take us back to happier times that we’re hoping to replicate at some point in the future. Keeping little reminders in our house, bag, or coat pocket, can help us to keep going at times when we want to return to our addiction.

REFLECT
There are times when things go really well, and we feel like we’re beating our addiction. At other times, things don’t go so well, and it can feel as though our addiction is beating us.

It’s important to remember that a lapse is not the same as a relapse. Recovery is not a straight line. Whether things go right, or wrong, it’s important to reflect and learn from them.

If we’ve managed a difficult situation without turning to our addiction, then that’s wonderful progress! How did we do it? What coping mechanisms did we use? Is there anything that could be helpful to note down so that we know to try it again in the future?

If we’ve struggled through a difficult situation and turned to out addiction, then we haven’t failed, we’ve just had a wobble. Recovery is a learning curve, and we can learn as much (if not more) from our mistakes as from our successes. What went wrong this time? Was there a trigger that we weren’t expecting, or a high-risk situation that we didn’t know would be high-risk? Did anything go right? Can we think of anything we could do differently in future? Sometimes we have to try a coping mechanism a few times before we can get it to work. At other times, we might have tried a coping mechanism that didn’t work for us at all, so it’s not one that we want to try again.

This reflection can be really important because it can help us to keep moving forward. Some of us might find it helpful to journal this sort of thing.

Depression: Coping With Addiction
HONESTY IS IMPORTANT
One of the most important things when it comes to addiction is honesty. Honesty to others, and honesty to ourselves. Lying to ourselves and others is likely to cause a lot of problems, so even when it’s really difficult, it’s important to try and tell the truth.

SUPPORT SYSTEM
We don’t have to cope with addiction alone. Addiction can be incredibly strong, so we need to try and build up a strong support system to fight it with. Our support system doesn’t need to be massive, but it can be helpful to have a couple of friends or family members or organisations we can turn to when we’re struggling. Sometimes, it can be dangerous to stop an addiction ‘cold turkey’, so it’s often a good idea to reach out for some professional support on top of the support we get from our loved ones. We might also find that some medication, therapy or counselling from professionals is something that we need.

There are times when we struggle to let people help us. We might feel as though we don’t deserve it or we’re being a burden – but we do deserve support, and in the same way that if one of our friends were struggling, we’d want to support them, our friends will probably want to support us. There are times when it can be hard to reach out for support because we don’t have any hope, but there’s nothing wrong with letting other people hold our hope for a little while until we’re able to hope again.

SUPPORT GROUPS
On top of support from our friends, family, and professionals, we might find that support groups with others who have experienced similar addictions to us can be comforting and can help us to cope. Sometimes being around others who’ve experienced similar things to us can help us to feel less alone, and can give us some hope of things improving. There are different support groups for different addictions including alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, national self-harm network, sex addicts anonymous, overeaters anonymous, Beat support groups, on-line gamers anonymous, and gamblers anonymous.

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