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

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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. …


For people who love people with depression

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I hear it all the time: “It’s so hard to describe depression to someone who has not experienced it.” When somebody you love is going through depression, it is hard for you too, maybe even harder than it is for them. It can make you feel like you’re crazy when you so clearly see the beauty in another person that they have lost the ability to see within themselves. Or maybe you are looking at life with hope and excitement, and all they can see is failure and despair.

Anybody who has supported a loved one with depression has butted…


What I hope my kids learn from Simone Biles

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Simone Biles has been so good, so dominant, for so long, that I can forgive people for thinking she’s invincible and a lock to win any competition that she’s in.

However, the events of the past few days have shown that even the seemingly super human, the GOATs, are human.

I won’t pretend to be an expert in gymnastics. Like most Americans, I watch the Olympics every four years, enjoy watching the gymnastics during that period, and then don’t pay much attention until the next Olympics. To say I was shocked when I saw that Simone Biles withdrew from the…


He is the man I swore I would never be

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Content warning: this article mentions domestic violence and intimate partner violence and may be triggering for some. The domestic violence hotline can be reached at 800.799.SAFE (7233).

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…


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

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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…

Invisible Illness

We don't talk enough about mental health.

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