As much as we want to believe it’s gone, it isn’t

Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash

It’s May, and mental health awareness month has started. Every year I look forward to the social media programming: the people who share stories of recovery, those receiving support for their current struggles, and the community of providers on social media sharing amazing mental health content. I feel so much solidarity with all of these groups because I’ve been one of them at some point in my life.

As a psychotherapist and someone who identifies as a wounded healer, I feel so honored to witness others’ stories, especially on social media. Even just a few years ago, some people wouldn’t…


Different strokes for different folks

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Introduction

In the psychiatric community, borderline personality disorder (BPD) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) tend to be spoken in the same breath. Diagnosed with BPD? Then you need to enter DBT treatment. I was one of those individuals for whom DBT was the first-line treatment when I was diagnosed with BPD in 1990, following my second suicide attempt.

According to the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEABPD), “BPD can be defined as a serious mental illness that centers on the inability to manage emotions effectively. …


Finding connection in a lonely world.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Since the beginning, humans have needed others — regardless of gender, ethnicity, or geographic location, we are social creatures. Quality relationships make us happier, healthier, and more productive. Social support buffers stress and fulfills an important psychological need to belong and feel accepted by others.

In an ideal, harmonious world, we would all enjoy plenty of health-protecting relationships, but that is not the reality for many. A startling number of people struggle with loneliness. …


He is the man I swore I would never be

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My father was an abuser. He beat the shit out of my mother when we grew up. My sister intervened to make him stop. While she stopped him, my friend called the police. My mother saw the tears in our eyes, and she lied, telling the police officers nothing happens.

It led to the divorce of our parents. And we wished they stayed divorced, but they didn’t. We come from a very traditional and conservative tradition. It’s a tradition so patriarchal that men beating their wives is not the exception, but the norm. I couldn’t sleep at night listening to…


Your morally biased label is not the solution to my mystery

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I have been sober for nearly five years and will be in recovery for the rest of my life. Usually, when I share this with people, they do two unsolicited things: tell me their relationship with drinking, and label me as an addict.

And why not? It’s a universal and liberally used term to describe those who “cannot stop using a substance or engage in a behavior causing harm” — a way to tie up the disjointed attributes of a victim* neatly.

Because of the complex and even diverse ways addiction takes form for a person, ‘addict’ should never be…


The stigma has not ended

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

No matter how many mental health campaigns organizations put on, as someone with a mental illness, stigma still permeates my life.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder roughly five years ago after being misdiagnosed with depression. When I got the new diagnosis, I was uncomfortable. I had been told I had depression for several years at that point, and I had barely gotten comfortable with that.

In my mind, bipolar had a stigma different than that of depression. People can understand depression — not always correctly — but they identify it more clearly. But bipolar disorder felt utterly different.

After…


It’s not that I don’t feel. In fact, I feel too much.

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I am usually known for having answers.

One time a friend actually came out and asked me, with all sincerity, “Do you know how to write in Chinese?”

Naturally, this born and bred American White girl was perplexed.

“Why the hell would she know how to write in Chinese?” the present third party asked.

“Because, she knows everything.”

Well, I can assure you this is not true.

I do not know everything. And I sure as hell don’t know how to write in Chinese!

I am knowledgeable. I’ll admit to that. It’s a natural byproduct of being innately inquisitive and…


Lessons I learned in my mental wellness journey through reading

© Athena Milios, sketched by Jordan Green

Reading mental health-related creative non-fiction can be a fantastic escape route for those in recovery from mental illness. Just like devouring a delicious meal can be a treat for the body, devouring inspiring, insightful stories can be a treat for the mind. These books can help people to collect motivational mantras — uplifting statements stored deep within the crevices of the mind that can be ‘cashed in’ on the hard days.

I will be sharing five of the most empowering mantras that I store in my memory bank of mantras as well as what I learned from each of them…


A mother’s fear never stops. It just alters.

Photo by Rutil Sharma on Unsplash

Many times in my life, I have lived in fear. Terrified of my own toxic household in childhood. Fearing my own mother. Fear of being a mom. Fear of losing my kids. Losing them and fearing their safety. I feel like I’m in a perpetual war zone of fear.

As time has gone on, the fears have changed and evolved. Redefined by new circumstances and terrorized by things out of my control. My efforts of patience and understanding are undermined by things I feel require immediate action. The constant pressure of needing to say things before it’s too late. …


Or how to live your best horizontal life

The artist as a potato

Full disclosure, right now my brain is fried. I’m defending against burnout. And so this post is really sharing tips from my settee. I hope that’s okay.

Invisible Illness

We don't talk enough about mental health.

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