Recently, I applied and complete training to be a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line. I have officially been a crisis counselor for the third week now. It is exhausting and exhilarating and beyond rewarding to see the happiness when you help someone. I've always wanted to use my issues for good.
There are plenty of other soft skills that this has taught me as well. I've learned to be more empathetic and to be a more active listener by learning the process that Crisis Counselors must use. I hope to keep doing it for a long time to come and I hope my readers can sign up and join the team as well.
Of course, if you are in crisis yourself, please text START to 741741 or use Facebook Messenger to contact Crisis Text Line.
Most of us have heard the statistic. One in five people struggle with mental illnesses. We all know of someone who has dealt with it. Despite this familiarity, many people still view mental illness as something to be ashamed.
New research from around the world shows that almost everyone will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives. Sadly, most of these people won't receive treatment.
The individuals who don't have mental illnesses will become a new avenue of study. There may be studies to find out how these people stay so mentally well. Extensive national surveys show that at least of people will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives.
This is quite illuminating and sad. I hate that so many people would have to suffer, but it is good that we are finding out these things through research.
A different study followed a group of New Zealanders from birth to mid-life. The percentage of people who developed a mental illness jumped up to 80 percent. The study shows that you are more likely to develop a mental illness than you are to develop heart disease or diabetes.
I hope we have more advances in this field in the upcoming years.
Toni Cornell and the lead singer of One Republic sang a beautiful version of "Hallelujah" on Good Morning America this week. The performance was dedicated to her late father Chris Cornell and the late Chester Bennington.
It was emotional and moving. Check it out after the jump:
Yesterday, the lead singer of my favorite band, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, committed suicide. Bennington was only 41.
Their music touched me from a young age when I first heard them. The first song I heard was "Crawling" from their Hybrid Theory album, and I've been hooked ever since.
I'm so lucky to have seen them in concert two years ago. I'll really miss his amazing voice. Thanks for the music, Chester. RIP
This was originally published on Off The Main Page on May 18, 2017.
I woke up to some very sad news this morning. One of my favorite singers, Chris Cornell, passed away last night. He had a nearly four-octave vocal range, and his voice was absolutely beautiful to listen to.
He formed Soundgarden in 1984 with guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron later joined as drummer, and Ben Shepherd later replaced Yamamoto as bassist. Their biggest album, Superunknown, featured the Grammy-award winning singles “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman.” They disbanded in 1997.
He released his first solo album Euphoria Morning in 1999 to great success. In 2001, he formed the group Audioslave with Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk.
He died on May 17, 2017, while on tour. His representatives said in a statement:
“His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause. They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”
Enjoy some of his music below:
Here is a tribute from Time Magazine:
Here he is performing the Grammy-winning song, "Black Hole Sun:"
Here he is performing with Linkin Park:
Here he is performing the Soundgarden song "Outshined:"
This was originally published on Off The Main Page on April 10, 2017.
The founder of the Semicolon Project, Amy Bleuel, has passed away at the age of 31. Unfortunately, she succumbed to suicide. The project inspired the popular semicolon tattoo in support of mental health. From the website’s about page:
“This began in the spring of 2013, when Project Semicolon Founder, Amy Bleuel wanted to honor her father whom she lost to suicide. Through the semicolon symbol many related to the struggle of depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide and their will to continue on. The title, “Project Semicolon,” also represented a goal – to believe that this is not the end but a new beginning.”
“As the days passed and the project was developed further, it became clear that this symbol was not just about one person. We heard from people longing to continue their story and live a life that would inspire others to continue on as well.”
The semicolon is meant to be a symbol of hope for those struggling with self-harm and suicide. A semicolon is used where a sentence could have ended, but it didn’t. It’s meant to represent the decision to continue to live when you don’t want to. Never let stigma stop you from speaking out and getting help if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Here is a promotional video for the semicolon project from a few years ago:
Here are some of the myths and misconceptions about mental illness that grind my gears:
1. We aren't allowed to work.
This is simply not true. Many of us are unable to work or unable to work full-time, but many of us can function in "normal" jobs.
2. We're pill junkies.
Addiction is a different story, but those of us who need medicine for our conditions are not addicted to it. We need them just like you need your blood pressure medicine or insulin.
3. It's a character flaw.
Bullshit. It is by far not a flaw. Fighting a mental illness takes personal strength. It is a disease of the brain that we can't help having.
4. People with mental illnesses will never recover fully.
For some people, that is true. However, most of us can recover to some degree or another and function.
5. We are attention-seeking.
No. Just...no. If I could take this away I would. I don't want to have this, but I make the best of a bad situation and use my position to spread awareness and combat stigma.
Stay strong, my friends!
There is a new hashtag on Twitter that I really want to talk about, #WhatMentalIllnessFeelsLike.
Right now, it feels like fatigue and aching legs. It can also feel like being misunderstood. It can feel like wearing a weighted vest. It can feel like forgetting things you need to remember. It can feel like a new kind of pain you've never had before.
Here are some tweets from the tag:
I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 2014. Before my first episode, I had never had any mental health treatment of any kind. Experiencing a psychotic episode and receiving a diagnosis of a lifelong chronic illness is scary. Some people make the experience even worse by perpetuating the stigma associated with mental health conditions.
Some People Don't Realize They Are Perpetuating The Stigma
Some mean people still think that mental illness is a character flaw or a result of bad parenting. Some people even go so far as to say they don't "believe" in taking medicine for a mental illness. You never hear people saying that about other chronic diseases.
Many people say bad comments about it, but they often don't realize they are doing it. I've done it myself. I used to use terms like "crazy" or "nuts." Many people may use mental health terms as adjectives because they haven't been taught not to. "She is so bipolar." "I'm so depressed today."
I've even gotten stigmatizing comments from family members. They obviously didn't mean it, but the remarks still hurt. I was talking to a relative about my medicine not working, and she actually said, "You need to change your attitude."
When I start crying, I have been told by my parents to "lighten up." Many people just don't understand what depression is like. They hear the term depression and think it just means that we get a little sad sometimes.
Accepting A Diagnosis
When your doctor tells you what your diagnosis is, you may be shocked. You may be angry. Accepting a diagnosis can take some time. It may make you feel bad about yourself.
These stigmatizing comments people make don't help. Many people don't get treatment because they are in denial about it. They think that it can't happen to them.
Fighting a mental illness can erode at your self esteem. Many people think that these diseases are something bad. Having these symptoms and not being able to control it can make you feel like a failure. Many people think that taking medicine for a mental illness makes them a failure or a weak person.
No matter what anyone tells you, recovering from a mental illness takes strength. Accepting your diagnosis and getting help makes you stronger than you think. Many people have a hard time admitting that they have a problem.
Always remember you are never alone. It may take some hard work, but once you have the right medicine combination it can improve your quality of life. Many people with mental illnesses can recover and live like anyone else.
I have schizoaffective disorder and anxiety. Schizoaffective disorder is a mix of psychotic symptoms and a bipolar mood symptoms. The psychotic symptoms for me usually just consist of paranoia. I had hallucinations one time, but I haven't since my first psychotic episode.
Stuck In A Work Cubicle With Paranoia And Anxiety
We all have either worked in or heard about "cube farms." These are large office rooms that are populated by cubicles. You are squished in close with many of your coworkers. There's no privacy, and you hear everything. When you are anxious about starting or new job (or just anxious in general), these environments can breed anxiety and paranoia.
The last time I tried to work in one of these environments, I kept thinking that everyone was talking about me. I was already nervous about starting a new job, and that wasn't helping. The paranoia says, "They are talking about me. They must not like me." The anxiety says, "You're going to get fired. You're going to get in trouble."
These feelings can be paralyzing and horrible. This is one of the many possible reasons that many of us who suffer from mental illnesses can't work or have a hard time keeping jobs. In the two-and-a-half years that I have been diagnosed, I've been through four jobs that didn't work out. One of them just lost my funding and laid me off; that one didn't have anything to do with my disease.
Stupid Comments People Say About It
Many people mean well when they offer advice, but some of the comments can be very unhelpful. One time when I was crying, I was told to "lighten up." My response: "Do you think I haven't f***ing thought of that?!" Yelling did help stop my crying, so maybe it did help.
Working At Home
In my case, working at home is the perfect solution. I still get anxious, but being at home is much less stressful. It can take some getting used to if you work this way. You have to be able to concentrate, prioritize your tasks, and get your work done. You can do it, though!
My symptoms have been greatly alleviated since I started working at home as a writer. Many people are too sick to do that, but those of us that are a little more stable could benefit from working at home. I have even been able to cut back on some of my medicines.
If you are facing a diagnosis of mental illness, always remember that you can do this. Many of us can have at least some recovery. We fight these symptoms every day. Always remember that you are never alone.