mental health

Shout out to The Golden Girls: Shows and movies that “get” chronic illness

‘Tis the season for binge-watching — but the media often flops in its portrayal of people with health conditions. So we’ve gathered patient perspectives on Hollywood depictions of illness and who’s gotten it right (thanks, Bea Arthur). When doctors doubted Dorothy A writer for The Mighty who has multiple health condition recently praised The Golden Girls for it’s portrayal of main character Dorothy navigating the healthcare system with a chronic condition. Over the course of a two-part episode (called “Sick and Tired”), Dorothy (played by Bea Arthur) starts feeling constant exhaustion and hops around to different doctors who don’t believe she has a real ailment. “Maybe I am crazy — nobody believes me,” Dorothy laments to Rose (Betty White) after multiple appointments. “Dorothy, you are not crazy, honey, you’re sick,” Rose replies. (Thank you for being a friend, Rose.) Ultimately, Dorothy is relieved when a specialist finally diagnoses her with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The show was ahead of it’s time in building credibility around CFS, which is just now gaining recognition as a serious longterm condition that shares many characteristics with some autoimmune conditions. Golden Girls creator Susan Harris based the episodes on her own experiences with CFS and doctors who didn’t understand the condition in the 1980s. Other shows …

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9 mental health podcasts worth listening to

Podcasts are an easy (and usually free) way to stay on top of what’s new across a wide variety of topics — they’re kind of like internet radio on demand, and usually broken up into episodes that you can download on your computer, device or phone. Below, we rounded up 9 podcasts focused on mental health that are worth checking out. While podcasts can act as complements to your mental health care plan, they’re not intended to be a substitute for therapy or medication.   Mental Illness Happy Hour   The New York Times described this podcast as a “a safe place in which he [the host] and his guests talk about their fears, addictions and traumatic childhoods.” This is a weekly podcast that features interviews with people from all walks of life and explores mental illness, trauma, addiction and negative thinking.   The Psych Central Show   This weekly podcast takes an in-depth look at topics related to psychology and mental health. Hosts Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales discuss everything from online counseling and the toll of texting to dealing with narcissistic coworkers and more.   The Hilarious World of Depression   This podcast aims to tackle the …

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Treat yourself: 6 self-care tips for the hectic holiday season

The holidays are stressful enough for people living without illness. When you have a health condition, or care for someone who does, the hustle and bustle of this time of year – plus the sky-high expectations for a magical time – can be physically and emotionally draining. We’ve rounded up self-care tips to help you tend to your mental and physical health. 1. Take stock of your feelings. If you’ve experienced a lot of losses or changes in your life since last holiday season, it’s natural to feel grief or some extra stress this year. Acknowledge and express your feelings. “You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season,” Mayo Clinic points out. 2. Connect with others if you’re lonely. If you’re feeling isolated, talk with a friend or family member, or find a local event to attend (such as a holiday concert or a volunteer/charity event, if you’re able). Also, touch base with your community on PatientsLikeMe and look for live-streamed concerts and events online (check out these 12 live-streaming apps) if your condition is keeping you at home these days. 3. Dial back expectations and plans. Be realistic about what’s possible for you this …

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Tips on how to find a Psychologist

So, you’re thinking about going to therapy — what are you supposed to do next? We got in touch with Registered Psychologist Sean Keating to ask his advice. Sean has been a practicing psychologist for six years, and currently works as an early psychosis clinician. He focuses on early intervention for young people between the ages of 12-25 who have experienced their first episode of psychosis, or are at an ultra high risk of developing psychosis. We asked him for his advice on how to find a therapist, what to do if you’re not connecting, and how to get the most out of therapy. Tell us, how do you know if therapy is for you? I think the biggest problem in mainstream mental health at the moment is stigma. We’ve drawn a line in the sand where if you show vulnerability or cracks in your ability to function as a human, then you’re not of sound mind, or — the cringeworthy statement I hear quite often — “you’re weak.” It’s not true. Finding an outlet for your thoughts and feelings is important. If you find it hard to resolve a problem you’re having, it can help to talk to someone …

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Psychotherapy and PTSD symptoms: Your questions answered

Recently, a number of PatientsLikeMe members shared some of the questions they had about psychotherapy and  remission from PTSD symptoms, so we asked Meaghan Zisk, R.N. M.P.H., a nurse and Health Data and Patient Safety Clinical Specialist, to investigate. She took a deep dive into variations of PTSD, psychotherapy types, how they work and resources to help you choose which therapy type is right for you. She also touched on the possibility of remission from PTSD symptoms. Check out what she found… PTSD vs C-PTSD Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a relatively new diagnostic term intended to describe the symptoms associated with prolonged, repeated trauma. Examples of such trauma include long-term child abuse, long-term domestic violence, concentration camps, prisoner of war camps, among others. Individuals with C-PTSD generally have all of the symptoms associated with PTSD. However, individuals with C-PTSD also experience additional symptoms such as difficulty with emotion regulation, feeling worthless or guilty, and interpersonal problems that are not seen as frequently in PTSD. Due to the combination of interpersonal and emotional symptoms with other PTSD symptoms, C-PTSD can be harder to treat and may take longer to recover from than PTSD. The International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) has published treatment …

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Team of Advisors member Laura takes over the PatientsLikeMe Instagram for World Mental Health Day

In honor of World Mental Health Day, we asked PatientsLikeMe member Laura (thisdiva99) to take over our Instagram feed for the day. Laura is a professional opera singer, Massachusetts native, a member of the PatientslikeMe Team of Advisors, and is living with bipolar disorder. She gave us a glimpse into a day in her life, Check out the images and captions below to see what she shared. Hello my Instagram compatriots! Laura here. Some people start the day with hearty oatmeals, or eggs fortified with kale. I start my day with a champion #bipolar breakfast of vitamin supplements and mood stabilizers… then I can eat my own breakfast 30 minutes after. For me, supplements are super important to incorporate with my meds. Talk to your doc about it to see if they could work for you!   AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA With my trusty steed Corolla, I conquer the day’s doctor’s appointments. On a good day, I can keep my ride in the driveway; on other days I travel to multiple towns/cities to see psychiatrists, therapists, endocrinologists, and the like. I also incorporate a yoga class or visit to the gym as I can. For me, treating the body as a whole is the key …

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“It started tearing me down early”: Illustrator and writer Howie Noel shares about his upcoming graphic memoir on life with generalized anxiety disorder

Today is World Mental Health day, a day for education, awareness and advocacy, and that’s where Howie Noel’s story comes in. There are more than 30,000 members living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder on PatientsLikeMe, and it’s for people like these, people like him, that Noel wrote his semi-autobiographic illustrated memoir, Float. We recently sat down with him to talk about his book and how it came to be. When art imitates life Float is told from the perspective of three characters who act as symbols for Noel’s personality. The book follows the story of main character, David, and his experience living with generalized anxiety disorder. David has lost jobs and lovers, but the one constant in his life has always been Anxiety, and when his wife leaves him, he asks Anxiety to take over. Noel, a comic illustrator based in New Jersey, wrote and illustrated the book and draws material from his own experience living with generalized anxiety disorder. “In Float, anxiety begins as an inner voice that offers advice. That advice is not helpful but it’s comforting because it’s coming from my mind. Unfortunately, a lot of anxiety’s ideas are harmful and dangerous.” Noel says that throughout the book, one of the main struggles is to fight the …

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5 tips for practicing self-care when your chronic illness is trying to take over

As a woman with bipolar disorder I and PTSD, I can pretty safely say that no two days are the same. There are days when the world is sunshine and roses; life is grand! Then there are days when the inside of my brain is trying to run the show without me, and it’s leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. There are floundering relationships, self-harm incidents, and half-hatched big plans laying strewn about, and I stand in the middle of it all, trying very hard not to let the illness win. When I can really stand back and take stock of things, I find that self-care is paramount to my feeling better, or simply not getting worse. The following are some of my “go-to” self-care strategies. 1. Coloring. I know, I know. You’re already rolling your eyes at the screen, wondering what the heck I’m even talking about. But coloring has turned out to be a Zen activity in my life. My manias are not euphoric, but angry and aggressive, and I have found the act of coloring to bring me down in the moment. It’s also extremely helpful with my anxiety and PTSD symptoms. We’re lucky that …

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The “chicken-and-egg” relationship between pain and depression

Fifty percent of people with chronic pain also have depression, pain management experts say. And more than 75 percent of patients with depression report pain-related symptoms (such as headaches, stomach pain, neck and back pain), according to the World Health Organization. The pain/depression connection raises a lot of questions for some people who experience both: Which came first: pain or depression? Does one cause the other? How can they be treated? We’re exploring the link between mental and physical health and what your community has reported on PatientsLikeMe. “Completely intertwined” Chelsey Engel, a writer for The Mighty, says the vicious pain/depression cycle is a mystery that she’s not sure how to solve. Chronic migraines, neck and shoulder pain caused her to stop doing yoga, which she previously practiced to help manage her mental health. “So not only are you missing the things that once gave you life, you’re also missing yourself,” she says. “You also now have two conditions to treat – pain and depression – that are separate in one way but completely intertwined in another. The New York Times also recently shed light on the overlap of mental and physical health, and found that modern medicine often falls …

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“I finally feel like there is hope for me to have a life that has purpose.” – Member Robin shares her story living with complex PTSD

Robin (survivinglife) is a PatientsLikeMe member living with complex PTSD. Recently, she shared her story with us, from her childhood to now, delving into the hardships she’s faced and how she continues to find the courage to forge through. Content within this story may be triggering for some readers. Here’s her story… I am a 41 yo female. I’ve never been married. I’ve never dated or had any type of long term relationships – even long term friendships. My mood swings and constant need to be reassured that I am cared about and wanted is too much for people to put up with for more than a couple of years at best, a few months at worst. My faith is very important to me – it is one of the reasons I have been able to be as successful as I have been in my life. I struggle every day with my faith – with believing that I was not an accident and that I have purpose to my life. I live on 6 acres which I enjoy watching the wildlife and listening to the birds. I have 2 dogs – a pit mix and a poodle mix. They are …

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