Personal Articles

What it Means to be Vulnerable

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Flickr photo by gato-gato-gatoIt’s a fact of life that you can’t truly form a relationship with at least some degree of vulnerability. You have to open up at some point or another. This has been one of those particular problems for me and as I get older I’m slowly learning how to let people in.

The truth of it is that I tend to keep people at arm’s length. I tend to maintain a distance even between my closest friends and that may be to my detriment. Jumping in wholly and completely just isn’t something that’s easy for me to do. Whether it’s a result of being hurt in the past or a result of the paranoia I feel every day as someone living with schizophrenia I’m not sure.

Do You Want to Be Depressed?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

running“Do you WANT to get better?” a family member asked me a few weeks after I graduated from the psych ward in 2005.

I was furious and hurt.

Because it was just one of many insensitive comments that seem to imply that I was causing my illness.

Siblings with Severe Mental Illness: Staying in Touch — And in the Loop

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Siblings by Travis Swan

It’s difficult to know where you stand when your sibling is diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Their treatment can take up so much time and their symptoms can be so encompassing that there may not be a lot of room for you, let alone your relationship.

The dynamics of the family change after a diagnosis and you may feel like more of a caregiver than a brother or a sister.

How to Deal with Invasive Thoughts

Monday, November 24th, 2014

inside_mind_schizophreniaI’m no stranger to nasty thoughts. I recognize when they’re present so innately that it’s safe to say it almost hurts. In my almost nine years of living with schizophrenia I’ve had to battle my fair share of these thoughts and I’ve gotten so good at it that I can almost see them coming from a mile away.

If it wasn’t the notion that people were making fun of me it was the idea that I’m more important than anyone else, i.e. grandiosity.

I’ve been subject to many nights where I just stared at the ceiling in the dark letting these little monsters run and play their tricks through all corners of my mind.

Powers of Two: The Creative and Healing Energy of a Pair

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

powers of twoOne autumn morning in 2005, I dropped my kids off at preschool and immediately broke down in tears.

Pushing an empty double stroller down a few houses to avoid the other preschool moms, I dialed up the number of my writing (and life) mentor and dear friend, Mike Leach.

I stayed there, on the sidewalk, as he talked me through this panic attack as he had so many others.

Take Advantage of the Good Days

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

How Gratitude and Kindness Go Together for Brain-Changing HappinessWith the rollercoaster that is life with schizophrenia, you come to know not only the bad, tough periods where your symptoms are on fire but also the days where things are calm and you can sit still and listen to the breeze through the trees.

The bad days are hell and you feel it innately but when the good days roll around it’s incredibly easy to take them for granted. If nothing’s bothering you and your worries have dissipated it’s hard to find a reason to overthink.

I’m more than familiar with what it’s like to be so oppressed by paranoia and delusions that it’s hard to even think about leaving your bed.

Confessions of a Stage-Four People-Pleaser

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

zen cat anyaMy junior year of college, I bought a used computer for $100. It was cheap because the thing was as huge as it was heavy. The challenge was to walk with this cumbersome piece of technology across campus to my dorm. I was finally to the steps of Holy Cross Hall when I tripped and fell flat on my face.

Did I issue a four-letter word?

Of course not.

I apologized.

To the student who was on the stairs staring at me.

Riding Out the Blips

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Riding Out the BlipsLiving with schizophrenia is like driving across the country. There are meandering fields and prairies of months when you’re well that almost make you forget you have an illness. Then you come into the mountains and the roads get curvy and steep and the weather gets unpredictable. One minute you could be fine, then the next it’s snowing and you can’t see 10 feet in front of you.

I’ve coined a term for driving through the mountains of mental illness. I call these periods “blips.” It’s important to be able to recognize these blips before you find yourself in the hospital again.

How to Remain Calm in a Trying Situation

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

How to Remain Calm in a Trying SituationI’ve had my fair share of overwhelming times. There have been times where I’ve been so thrown back in my chair that I had to excuse myself from the situation to get a grip on things. If it wasn’t anxiety it was a punch to the gut as some sort of veiled insult or rejection. These things can happen often and it takes skill not to let them get the best of you.

Just yesterday I was hanging out with a girl I liked and she mentioned that she had a new boyfriend. That may seem trivial, and it probably is, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t taken aback. I’ve learned (with a lot of practice, though) to just roll with the punches. I don’t let trivialities get to me much anymore and I think it’s a skill that could benefit everyone.

How to Refrain from Getting Too Excited about Potentialities

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

How to Refrain from Getting Too Excited about PotentialitiesA lot has been happening in my life.

I’ve had a lot of really exciting opportunities, for which I’m incredibly thankful, but I’ve also had many potential opportunities that fell through. Sometimes they fell through based on my inability to do the work, sometimes it just wasn’t the right fit and sometimes it was no fault of my own and extenuating circumstances got in the way.

Are You Living Authentically or According to Others’ Expectations?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Are You Living Authentically or According to Others' Expectations? Ever feel like you’re just not getting enough done? You’re not heading in the right direction or being productive enough with your time? There may be a general malaise that creeps over you at the end of the day because you still haven’t gotten that raise or started working out or cut back on watching TV. You feel generally discontent because life isn’t looking the way you thought it would and you’re certain you should be doing more.

But what should your life look like and why? Where do these expectations come from and are they even what you want?

When Depression Sneaks Up, Remember the Law of Opposites

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

When Depression Sneaks Up, Remember the Law of OppositesYou go to get something for lunch you always enjoy, but as soon as you look at the menu you’re just not hungry. You get on the treadmill and just can’t find the energy all of a sudden. You quit almost before you even begin.

Sometimes it’s not easy to spot changes in mood. Depression can creep up and just start taking things from you.

One morning I can’t get out of bed even though I went to sleep early the night before. Now I’m getting seconds and thirds of spaghetti and meatballs, and I feel like a bottomless pit. Soon I’m skipping all the activities or hobbies that used to bring me joy. I have no interest in anything.

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