Kindness During COVID-19: Supporting Each Other

Kindness During COVID-19: Supporting Each Other

From National Institute of Mental Health

By Joshua Gordon

A few weeks ago, a couple of weeks into social distancing, my wife and I were walking our dog Zoey on a drab Friday morning. It had been a challenging week, and my mood was not particularly good. We went down the street to our car, which my wife was going to take to work — an essential New York City employee, she still has to go to work in person some days. She got in the car and started to drive off before suddenly pulling over and pointing at what used to be the passenger side mirror. It had been stolen. So had nearly every other passenger side mirror in a long row of cars in front and in back of ours. Thieves had taken advantage of the fact that people are using their cars less under the stay-at-home order. My wife gingerly drove off without the mirror, but I just sat down right there, stunned and overwhelmed. Amidst all that was going on, opportunistic ugliness revealed itself. Not for the first time since COVID-19 came along, I unsuccessfully fought off tears.

Now, as I write this a few weeks later, I’m reminded of another time I sat on a street corner, overwhelmed. On Saturday, July 6, 2013, I was bicycling through central Kansas on a 97-mile journey from Dighton to Great Bend. The last leg of the ride looked to be a 32-mile slog without services, according to what my navigation app told me over lunch at a diner in Rush Center.

The ride was hot, and I was working hard against the wind, sucking down water that was becoming warmer by the minute. As I rolled into a small town called Albert halfway to my destination, I was desperate for a cold drink, but it didn’t look like anything was open.

The kindness of rest

I sat down on the porch in the shade, settling for sipping hot water from my dwindling supply, and the next thing I knew, a pickup truck pulled up. The driver said, “I saw you looking around. You all right? Is there something you need? ”

A picture of a road in Albert, Kansas depicting a red building with a covered front porch on the left hand side of the road.

This is where I sat down in the heat in Albert, Kansas.

“I was just hoping to get a cold drink,” I explained. “Want some water? Pop?” he asked. “Sure,” I answered. And off he went. A few minutes later, he dropped off a bottle of water and a can of soda, both ice-cold. Thanking him, I asked if I could give him anything for it. “Just say a prayer for me, ” he said, and drove off, just like that.

About an hour and a half later I made it to Great Bend, just barely, woozy from the heat and down to my last swig of water. But for the kindness of this stranger from Kansas, who knows what would have happened. I made sure to thank him with a quiet prayer that night.

The kindness of generosity

All these years later, in the middle of all the ugliness of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was reminded of this experience while watching YouTube. I live in New York, and ever since COVID-19 hit my state hard, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been giving daily press conferences. I try to catch them most days, both for the up-to-date statistics on the epidemic in my home state, and for the inspirational messages he often tags on at the end. On Friday, April 24th, after reporting the latest stats, he shared a letter he had just received from a man named Dennis.

“I’m a retired farmer hunkered down in northeast Kansas with my wife, who has but one lung and occasional problems with her remaining lung,” the governor read aloud. “We are in our 70s now, and frankly, I am afraid for her. Enclosed, find a solitary N95 mask left over from my farming days. It has never been used. If you could, would you please give this mask to a nurse or doctor in your city? I have kept four masks for my immediate family. Please keep on doing what you do so well, which is to lead.”

I have no better words to describe how hearing this made me feel than those offered by Governor Cuomo: “How beautiful is that. How selfless is that… It is that generosity of spirit that for me, makes up for all the ugliness you see.”

CLICK HERE to read the rest of this amazing story about kindness during COVID-19!


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External Resources

International Bipolar Disorder Foundation

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

Wounded Warriors PTSD Project

Warriors Journey Post Traumatic Stress

The Blue Ribbon Project: supporting victims of child abuse and youth in foster care

Faces of PTSD

Maryland Department of Education Division of Early Childhood

 

You’re not just anorexic you’re human

You’re not just anorexic you’re human

You’re not just anorexic you’re human

Having anorexia (or being anorexic depending how you choose to self-identify) has been described as a constant feeling of living for someone else. Indeed, being bombarded with thoughts of not meeting someone’s physical expectations or feeling the only sense of control is through controlling what you eat can feel like you are detached from yourself. It’s important though to remember the human-ness in your existence and that you too need to take care of YOU. So hug yourself. Love yourself. Take time out to be there for yourself.

From National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

YOU ARE NOT SELFISH, YOU ARE HUMAN.

Oh, does it feel good to be typing again! I was down for the count for nearly a week with the flu and a severe lung infection. Let me preface this by saying, I hate being sick! I always have and as far as I can tell, I always will. And yes, nobody really enjoys being sick, but being bedridden with a fever and cough that just don’t quit, causes me immense anxiety. I feel useless and unproductive and I am left with nothing but a cocktail of meds and my racing thoughts.

But a dear friend of mine who relentlessly checked in on me throughout the week to ensure I hadn’t gone completely postal, reminded me of this. I was not being unproductive, I was just being productive in other ways. No, I wasn’t at school or at work or training for my upcoming marathon, BUT I was healing my body, which if you ask me, is one of the most useful and trying tasks that someone can undertake. Especially for someone who spent years actively trying to avoid anything that even resembled body kindness. I thanked this friend and then began thinking of all the lessons I learned from those 6 days spent in bed and in the hospital.

So, any of you out there who can relate to this fear of being unproductive and out of commission, listen up!

  1. Your body is smarter than you will ever be! I don’t care if you are Einstein himself, you are still not as intelligent as your bod. Listen to it. Listen to the little aches and pains, the exhaustion and the congestion. Listen to those signals, they are data points and ultimately how our bodies communicate with us. If I had heard this 10 years ago, I’d like to think the trajectory of my eating disorder would have been completely different and possibly even avoided altogether. I thought I was smarter, that I could apply “logic” and distorted truths to physiology that has been around way longer than myself and my “logic.” I was wrong. So very wrong.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.


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You have depression. So what. We all get depressed sometimes.

Who are you? THAT doesn’t matter to Seth’s Mom.

Your shame about my mental health problems


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External Resources

International Bipolar Disorder Foundation

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

The Blue Ribbon Project: supporting victims of child abuse and youth in foster care

Faces of PTSD

Eating Disorder Hope website

Buimia.com

Dual Disorders: My Experience With Bipolar And Borderline Personality Disorders

Dual Disorders: My Experience With Bipolar And Borderline Personality Disorders

by Kait Mauro International Bipolar Foundation

Dual Disorders: My Experience With Bipolar And Borderline Personality Disorders

When I first started writing for International Bipolar Foundation, it was a coming out of sorts about my mental illness. I was open about it with the people in my life, on social media and on my own blog, but it wasn’t until I started writing for IBPF that, if you Google searched my name, you would find information about my bipolar disorder. Potential employers who did would see the articles I had written and know about my mental illness. They might choose not to hire me because of it. I decided I wanted to write anyway because I enjoy it, because it makes me feel emotionally brave (something I place a high value on and really strive to be) and because I want to help fight the stigma. I love the community here and reading the comments people leave on my articles. This article is kind of my second coming out. I want to tell you about being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in addition to bipolar disorder.

It’s not uncommon to have both. They are frequently comorbid disorders. But, as much stigma as there is attached to having bipolar, there is even more stigma attached to having borderline. Some doctors and therapists won’t work with people who have borderline because even they buy into all of the stigma. I was diagnosed with bipolar in January of 2014. I took the diagnosis well. I was relieved there was a name for what I had been suffering through on my own for years, medication to treat it and communities of people who understood. I melded it into my identity. I read, watched and listened to everything I could find about bipolar disorder. I almost turned learning about my new diagnosis into a hobby of sorts.

I did not take the borderline diagnosis nearly as well. This is how it happened

I arrived at my therapist’s office with some things I wanted to talk with her about. She asked me if I had ever heard of borderline personality disorder and pulled out a mini-copy of the DSM. I had heard of it. I thought it was a terrible, condemning thing to be diagnosed with. I had bought into the stigma, too, in my ignorance. We never got to talk about the things I had come to talk about. She told me that she and my psychiatrist (they’re married and work in the same office) thought I had borderline personality disorder in addition to the bipolar disorder. She ran through a list of things I had told her — experiences and emotions I’d had, things I had done — that she said led her to believe I had this disorder.

I did not take it well. If I could do it over again, I would be a lot more chill about it, but I left her office feeling defensive, ambushed and confused. It was a Friday and I called both her and my psychiatrist on their after hours phone lines several times over the weekend, trying to figure out how to cope with this new information about myself. They didn’t call me back and I felt even more abandoned, something that, if you know anything about borderline, is a quintessential trigger for people with the disorder. I cried a lot. I felt so angry with my therapist for putting me in this situation (I know) that I spent almost all of Monday calling around, looking for a new therapist. I thought maybe I had “bipolar with some borderline tendencies,” that was the most I would admit. I was in denial.

I do not fit the criteria for borderline perfectly and it’s difficult to parse apart what’s borderline, what’s bipolar and what’s just my semi-neurotic self. Some professionals don’t even believe borderline is a real disorder and believe it’s more of a catch-all diagnosis for patients who don’t respond correctly to treatment or who have a few characteristics in common. If you do not know the DSM criteria for borderline, here are the main descriptions:

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization and devaluation.
Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals and relationships.
Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.
-Suicidal and self-harming behavior.
-Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.
-Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness. Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt.
-Dissociative feelings and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes.

Borderline personality disorder is ultimately characterized by the emotional turmoil it causes. People who have it feel emotions intensely and for long periods of time, and it is harder for them to return to a stable baseline after an emotionally intense event. Suicide threats and attempts are very common for people with BPD. Self-harming acts, such as cutting and burning, are also common.”

I am very afraid of abandonment and have done things I am ashamed of in the past in an effort to avoid it. I have attempted suicide once, and it was an impulsive decision. I definitely have periods of depression that are intense but too short to be considered bipolar episodes. I am frequently and easily bored, and I often feel empty and like my life is meaningless. I get slightly paranoid when I am under severe stress.

So that’s how the borderline criteria fit in with me. CLICK HERE to read the full article.


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Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

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External Resources

International Bipolar Disorder Foundation

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

Faces of PTSD

Eating Disorder Hope website

Bulimia.com

I FINALLY DECIDED THAT ANOREXIA AND I WERE OVER

I FINALLY DECIDED THAT ANOREXIA AND I WERE OVER

I FINALLY DECIDED THAT ANOREXIA AND I WERE OVER

by Britt Kelleher from ANAD

Part One: Raisin Bran and Other Painful Things
Dinner comes late in the Kelleher household. With four children, my mother is a rather busy woman, and, frankly, remembering dinner’s daily occurrence isn’t her forte. This story begins on one of those late-dinner nights, and I was hungry — real hungry. The clock above the stove read seven, a time when one would expect the kitchen to be empty and dinner still stuffed in Whole Foods bags. But on this evening, I concluded that dinner’s nonexistent state was a sign that we were each to prepare our own meal.

And so I reached for a deep red ceramic bowl, poured myself a small serving of Raisin Bran, and walked out of the kitchen, spooning milk and cereal into my mouth.

“What are you doing?” my mother asked from her position on the couch. “We haven’t had dinner yet. I just ordered Thai.”

“Oh,” I responded, turning on my heel and walking back into the kitchen. “Well, I figured we were getting our own dinner. I don’t want any Thai. I already ate cereal,” I called over my shoulder, feeling my anxiety begin to rise.

“That little thing! Don’t be silly. You had two bites. You’re eating dinner.”

“I can’t eat, Mom. I already had dinner. I’m FULL!” I slammed the bowl into the sink, the ceramic shattering as it hit the aluminum surface. In a storm of anger, I flew down the back staircase to the basement, my fury swelling as I replayed the events in my head.

“Stop, Brittany! Stop!” my dad shouted. I turned and glared up in his direction, ready for a pitched battle. But when I looked into his familiar face and saw the concern drawn across it, my anger melted and I was overcome by a flood of emotion. I collapsed, my shoulders shaking as I began to sob silently.

This was wrong. This was all wrong. That girl backed into a tight corner, hugging her knees and burying her tear-soaked face into them was not me. I didn’t know this depressed, lifeless girl whose spirit was gradually fading. My parents, who had cautiously migrated down the staircase, were now standing over me, watching, not knowing what to say. After a period of prolonged silence interspersed with my occasional gasps for air, my dad slid to the floor. “Brittany, do you want to see a doctor?”

Finally, someone asked. Finally, someone acknowledged that I had a serious problem. I nodded my head, buried it back into my knees, and sobbed some more.

I am a recovering anorexic, and this is my story. I’ve thought about it every day since I was 16-years-old. I’ve analyzed it, dug deep for its root, and cried over its reality. I’ve thrown things, books and pens mostly, mad that this stupid, unfair disease ruined an unrecoverable chunk of my life. I’ve told this story many times before, to therapists, to friends, and to my parents and siblings in piecemeal. I’ve shared it as encouragement for others to get help; I’ve nodded to it in an undergraduate speech. I’ve thought about this story and recanted it so many times that, to be frank, I’m tired of it. I desperately did not want to write about it again. But I must, because I have never told it honestly. I have always glossed over those aspects I am most ashamed of and constructed it as if it were a thing of the past.

But I now am healthy enough, mature enough, and, finally, courageous enough to tell this story right. I know it will leave me vulnerable, exposing the raw edges of wounds still healing. At times, it will reveal a hated side of myself that I loathe for anyone to see. But it is the truth. And it is me.

Laying Roots: Perfectionism, Popularity, and the Media
With puberty and hours of training as a dancer, I came to resemble my parents — short but strong, compact and muscular. By the time I was fourteen, I had a wide back, sculpted shoulders, and powerful quads. Rarely did I think of my body, and when I did, it was out of pride. I liked being stronger than my male peers, and I liked resembling my parents’ muscular build. Besides, I was the eater of the family. Whereas my cousins preferred grilled cheese and buttered noodles, I took pride in sharing the “adult” menu with my father, our favorite always being a medium-rare filet. At thirteen, fourteen, even fifteen years old, I was the emblem of healthiness. I was the last person anyone would expect to fall prey to an eating disorder.

In trying to make sense of this all and uncover its roots, I now see the subtle cues that indicated my susceptibility to anorexia. Most obvious is my neurotic perfectionism. At five years old, I was reading to my kindergarten class. At seven, I (privately) declared that I would be the valedictorian of my grammar school, and by ten, I had extended that goal to high school. From fifth grade on, I spent hours studying each night and felt such stress that I feared never graduating from middle school. To look back at that younger version of myself, and all the tea she drank to soothe her worried soul, makes me smile, even chuckle, at the ridiculousness of it all. But it is also saddening, for in that ten-year-old self I see a compulsiveness that would eventually bring about my physical and emotional deterioration.

Such compulsive tendencies weren’t enough to fuel an eating disorder, though. After all, I had lived fifteen years without knowing my weight or giving it much thought. But high school changed me. A desire to fit in a new environment changed me. From that first day, I knew which girls were the cool ones and the ones I hoped to flock down the halls with (slow motion and Mean Girls-like, of course). Their appearance gave away their soon-to-be popularity. They exuded wealth and beauty. They had perfectly straight, typically blonde hair that spilled down their backs. They wore Polo button downs, North Face backpacks, and white knee socks with Sperry Top-Siders. To accessorize, they dotted their ears with the same Tiffany & Co. “Bead” earrings and slipped on matching tennis bracelets. Of course, there were plenty of reasons for why they were popular and I was not, not the least of which was my growing introversion. But my teenage eyes didn’t perceive the social canvas in such clear light. The explanation for my friendship difficulties was obvious — I didn’t look right.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.


RELATED TOPICS PAGES AND ARTICLES

Your shame about my mental health problems

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Why Does Doing What I Love Make My Bipolar Worse?

My Story, My Connection Mental Health Treatment and Recovery

But I Was A Victim, Right? Schizoaffective disorder.

What is bulimia?

What is anorexia?

 


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Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

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.


External Resources

Eating Disorder Hope website

Buimia.com

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

The Blue Ribbon Project: supporting victims of child abuse and youth in foster care

Faces of PTSD

Your shame about my mental health problems

Your shame about my mental health problems

Others are more ashamed of my mental health problems than me

From Time to Change

“Crazy Eddie” is a nickname one of my British school teachers gave me when I was attending primary school in West Africa, in an end of term review. I faked laughing along as I was mocked, as I had become accustomed to it, and beamed a deceitful smile. It became one of the few coping mechanisms I adopted while in denial. However, the embarrassment I used to face at that particular school was not always humored like this.

A previous West African teacher felt they could embarrass me out of my condition, which of course made it worse. My father informed the teacher of my condition, which had been diagnosed as hyperactivity disorder when I was five. The teacher then broadcast it to the class in my presence. I was only 10 and it was the first time I had ever heard about this, as my parents did not inform me. Consequently, I became the “class idiot” and punchline by both teachers and pupils.

Following this, we returned to the United Kingdom, where I was born. I faced similar bullying by schoolmates and teachers alike. Gradually, I dreaded the thought of attending school. Of course, I never articulated any of this. I internalized the stigmatization I received, and with my unrecognized conditions, it fueled an unhealthy pattern of self stigmatization. I didn’t like or respect myself, and it led to me tolerating and complying with a lot of abusive behavior directed towards me. I also became unexplainably anti-social towards those around me, not being able to articulate what was troubling me.

As I matured, the embarrassments grew heavier and more evident. I’d remember back to when I was nicknamed “Crazy Eddie” as a child, and it seemed easier to laugh off without needing an explanation. Multiple exams were resat, I was let go from various jobs and I avoided social interaction wherever possible.

Then, I was diagnosed with depression as an adult. Later when I was out of work, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post traumatic stress disorder. The most recent diagnosis has been Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The real shame behind these conditions isn’t mine.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

 


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 NEXT  STEPS…

Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.

 


External Resources

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

Wounded Warriors PTSD Project

Warriors Journey Post Traumatic Stress

The Blue Ribbon Project: supporting victims of child abuse and youth in foster care

Faces of PTSD

 

 

 

5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Child With Depression

5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Child With Depression

By Daniela McVicker from NAMI

5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Child With Depression

As a parent, you need to be prepared for dealing with problems—big and small. That includes taking care of your child’s mental health. It’s important to step up when things get serious.

Teen depression is not as rare as we’d like it to be. In fact, a 2016 study shows that 12.8% of US adolescents had at least one major depressive episode.

If you suspect your child might be experiencing depression, here are some steps you can take.

Learn How To Recognize Warning Signs

Teenagers go through various phases. There’s often a lot of mood swings and emotional episodes that comes with adolescence, and it can be hard to know when their behavior is a part of growing up and when it’s more serious. The first step towards helping your child battle depression is to learn how to spot it. Become familiar with the warning signs.

  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawal
  • Lack of interest
  • Hopelessness
  • Academic success deterioration
  • Drastic changes in eating habits (too little or too much)
  • Feeling guilty and ashamed
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Fatigue and aches
  • Thoughts of suicide and death

If your child is experiencing one or a combination of these symptoms, they may need professional help.

 


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I Am Grateful for My Borderline Personality Disorder

 


 NEXT  STEPS…

Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.

 


External Resources

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

Wounded Warriors PTSD Project

Warriors Journey Post Traumatic Stress

The Blue Ribbon Project: supporting victims of child abuse and youth in foster care

Faces of PTSD

Eating Disorder Hope website

Buimia.com