6 Signs It’s Time to Find a New Therapist

Therapy can be hard, but your relationship with your therapist shouldn’t be difficult. It takes courage to start therapy and let yourself be vulnerable, so you should have a therapist you trust.

If you don’t feel like your current therapist is working out, don’t give up. There are many reasons a therapist may not be a good fit, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a therapist out there for you.

Here are six signs you might want to go shopping for a new therapist:

You feel judged.

Therapy is supposed to be a safe space where you can talk freely about what’s bothering you. You shouldn’t feel judged or shamed. If they “shut you down,” it’s probably time to find a new therapist.

With that being said, your therapist may be trying to introduce a new perspective that you haven’t considered. If you feel comfortable enough, explain why you felt judged or shamed. There could have been a misunderstanding, and if that’s a case, a good therapist will address that empathetically.

Other times, a therapist is just bad. They judge you, and it’s definitely not a misunderstanding. If you’re made to feel ashamed of your body, sexuality, religion, etc., it’s definitely time to find a new therapist.

You’re not seeing improvement.

This one may not be easy to spot. Therapy doesn’t work overnight, and a lot of improvement is subtle.

For me, I noticed changes around the three-month mark when I began seeing a therapist that was a good fit. That’s a long time, but therapy takes time.

Give it some time, but also know that therapy with any therapist won’t work if you don’t put in the work as well.

You just don’t “click” with them.

Rapport with a therapist is a major factor in whether or not therapy is successful.

Your therapist may even notice if the match isn’t good before you do. They might ask if you think you’d see more improvement with a different therapist or approach.

Not clicking with a therapist doesn’t mean you or the therapist did anything wrong. Sometimes the connection isn’t there, but maybe give it a few sessions before you decide it isn’t a good match.

I had one therapist who really wanted to focus on the bipolar aspect of my life. Everything we talked about was connected back to bipolar or a symptom, so her questions were all related to symptoms. Of course, my mental illness will play a part in therapy, but it’s one aspect of my life. I prefer a more well-rounded approach.

They’re constantly running late or canceling.

Many therapist’s offices have “no-show fees,” meaning if you don’t let them know in advance you’re canceling an appointment, they may charge you a fee.

As clients, we can’t charge therapists for lost time, but our time is just as important as theirs. If your therapist is frequently canceling your appointments or running late, they’re not valuing your time. And they’re certainly not worth your money.

Like anyone else, therapists have things that come up and cause a disruption in scheduling. If it’s a constant issue, though, it’s time to look for someone new.

If your therapist is chronically running late, bring it up in session. It’s your time. Most therapy hours are 50 minutes long. It’s a pet peeve of mine when a therapist starts 10 minutes late but expects our session to still end at the original stop time.

They don’t incorporate your feedback.

If you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of the current treatment plan or framework, let your therapist know. If they aren’t open to trying a different approach or taking your thoughts into consideration, it’s time to say goodbye.

I was in a heavily structured therapy program, and while I found the group portion insightful, the individual therapy didn’t help. It actually made me feel worse when I was already severely depressed. There was no room for me to bring up what I actually wanted to talk about. When I mentioned this in therapy, it was pushed aside because it didn’t fit in the structure.

They don’t respect boundaries.

This can mean a lot of things. A relationship with a therapist is a little weird. They know intimate and vulnerable information about you, but you aren’t friends or family. There’s a professional boundary that has to be respected. Neither you or the therapist should cross that.

You may not be ready to talk about something in particular. Though a therapist may encourage you to talk about it, they shouldn’t be pressuring you to the point you’re uncomfortable with them.


Starting therapy isn’t always simple. Some things have to be sussed out, but if you give it time, there’s a possibility you’ll see improvement. At the very least, you’ll feel heard and supported (if it’s a good therapist).

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What to Expect at Your First Therapy Appointment

For nearly four years, I’ve been in and out of therapy. I’ve seen ten different therapists, which is way more than I would have liked. Some moved away. Others didn’t work out or weren’t available for more than 12 sessions (looking at you university counseling centers).

While it’s taken a while to find consistency with therapists, I’ve become somewhat of a regular with first sessions. Each therapist has had a different approach to the first appointment, but there have been some similarities.

If you’re anxious about your first appointment, here are a few things you can do and expect to feel more prepared:

Paperwork

Like any doctor’s office, you’ll have paperwork to fill out. Some places also request you print off the intake forms before your first appointment. I’ve seen a wide variety of paperwork and forms at each therapist’s office I’ve been to.

Some take 25 minutes to fill out. Others take five. You’ll give your general information such as your insurance details and address.

They may ask about your relationships and other social factors of your life. They might ask about your family history. You’ll also list any diagnoses you may already have, and if you’ve been to therapy before.

Some offices may provide you a checklist of concerns that may have brought you in. They may give you an open-ended question of “What brings you in today?”

Some places may give you questionnaires like the PHQ-9 where you rate the frequency of your symptoms. On a scale of “not at all” to “nearly every day,” you’ll rate your experience of nine signs of depression.

When it comes to paperwork, each office varies widely in what they want. The best approach is to be as honest and thorough as possible. It may feel weird to write down vulnerable information, especially if it’s your first time. Though I’d recommend still writing everything down, you will get a chance to bring it up during your first appointment.

You’ll also fill out confidentiality agreements. What you discuss with your therapist is confidential, but there are a few caveats to that. A therapist can break confidentiality if they believe you may harm yourself or others. They can also break it if they suspect ongoing child abuse.

Common Questions You’ll Hear

Even though you have spent time filling out paperwork, be prepared to answer some of the same questions in person. Your therapist needs to get an idea of why you decided to come in, and it’ll give you a chance to elaborate on what you wrote.

Your first appointment won’t really be a therapy session. It’ll be more of a “get to know you” session.

They’ll ask why you came in. For some people, it’s a vague question. You might not be able to put a lot of what you’re going through into words. Try your best, and if needed, write down your concerns/symptoms before coming in.

For others, the question may seem like there’s too much to put into a succinct answer. That’s OK. Therapy is your time, so feel free to say as much as you can.

A therapist may refer to your paperwork to get an idea of what needs to be assessed. They may ask you to elaborate on something in particular. This isn’t a time to clam up about something. If it’s hard to discuss, especially before establishing a rapport with the therapist, feel free to answer as much as possible and then let the therapist know it might be a topic to discuss later down the road when you feel more ready.

Another question you’ll probably hear is, “What do you want to get out of therapy?” When I first started therapy, I hated this question. How was I supposed to know when I’d never been through therapy before?

The question is not meant to be that serious. You’re not expected to come up with a treatment plan. Your therapist just needs to know what you’re expecting. In the beginning, my answer was a vague “to feel better.”

Maybe you’re looking for better coping skills for stress or depression. Maybe you’re wanting help regulating anger. Maybe you’re interested in building better relationships. It doesn’t need to be specific. Your therapist will work with you over time to establish the best treatment plan.

Questions to Ask a Therapist

You can ask your therapist what type of therapy they see using with you. Every therapist is different, and there are many approaches to therapy. In my experience, many therapists work with a combination of approaches. A therapist may use a cognitive-behavioral approach but could also utilize aspects of dialectical behavior therapy.

You can also ask what you can expect from therapy. Ask if your therapist assigns homework. I prefer therapy with more structure and homework. I feel like I get more out of it, but not everyone feels that way.

Ask about the frequency of therapy. They may ask you what you think would work, but they may recommend coming in once a week or every other week. Ask what’s the best way to contact them. Some therapists will prefer you email or call them directly. Others may prefer you to work with the front desk depending on how large the practice is.

The Intake Therapist May Not Be Your Actual Therapist

A couple of the practices I’ve been to have had “intake” therapists. It’s typically another therapist who works in the office. Their job is to figure out which therapist in the office may be the best fit for you. The rapport between a therapist and a client is a key component of successful therapy.

You may end up working with your intake therapist if it seems like a good fit. There’s also scheduling to consider. This setup usually happens in larger practices.


Seeking therapy can be nerve-wracking, but having an idea of what to expect may help you. You may not find a therapist that’s a good fit right away, but that’s OK. It takes strength to reach out, but scheduling your first appointment is a great first step.

5 (More) Lessons Therapy Taught Me

Nearly nine months ago, I published a piece about five hard lessons therapy has taught me. I figured it was a good time to mention a few more lessons I’ve learned recently.

I’ve been in therapy off and on since Feb. 2016. I’ve taken breaks during periods of wellness. I’ve also been unable to attend therapy due to long wait periods, financial issues, etc.

Since my last post, I’ve had to change therapists due to one moving away. I was happy with my previous one, so I was worried I wouldn’t do well with a new one. Turns out, I’ve done pretty well with my current one, though it took months for me to really feel improvement.

I can’t blame my therapist for that, though. That’s kind of how therapy has always worked for me. Improvement and effort move at a snail’s pace, but it’s still movement in the right direction. Therapy takes time, so don’t worry if you don’t see changes right away. And if you feel like you’re not clicking with a therapist, look for a new one! Not every therapist will be the right fit, and any therapist worth your time will understand that.

Here are five more lessons I’ve learned while in therapy:

1. I can’t control everything about my depression.

I have bipolar 2 disorder, and my main issue is depression. I’m not currently in a depressive episode (knock on wood), but a big fear of mine is getting stuck in one again. My last depressive episode lasted three weeks, which is quite short for me. They usually last months.

My therapist gave me a metaphor to explain “control” with depression. She told me depression is like a hurricane. You can prepare the best you can, but we can’t prevent it altogether or stop it from hitting hard.

I can find strength in what I can control. There will most likely be days when the depression is overwhelming. I can’t control that.

But I can control what I do on the better days to help prevent worse days. I can take my medications, go to therapy and my support group, etc. When my depression is severe, I can decide if I need more intensive care. No matter how bad it gets, there will be some aspect I can control, even if it’s just choosing to open my eyes in the morning or take deep breaths.

2. The fear of depression can be worse than the depression.

The operative phrase being “can be.” Depression is a horrific monster I still struggle to put into words. There’s no doubting how hard and painful depression is, but it isn’t always a severe episode.

I can have mild episodes or episodes that only last a few weeks. But I’ll spend months terrified of an impending episode. I explained this to my therapist as tiptoeing when I feel good because I don’t want to wake the giant.

I don’t trust stability or good moods because of my mood shifts. Fearing depression prevents me from taking risks or truly enjoying the good moments. I’m always waiting for the ironclad shoe of depression to drop and squish the life I have.

I’m working on not fearing the worst. I want to live my life without worrying my next depressive episode could take it all away. I might not be able to control everything about depression, but I can work on not giving it any more of my time than needed.

3. No one is made to be on top of our game 24/7.

I used to work for a media company, and I became accustomed to working 60+ hours a week. I felt guilty if I actually signed off at 6 p.m., and I rarely took a day off.

I did this for over a year, and it completely burned me out. The burnout was a major reason I experienced a seven-month depressive episode.

I still have feelings of guilt and shame that I couldn’t handle my work schedule. I feel guilty for not continuing to perform my best, though I know it is impossible for anyone to work the way I did for as long as I did.

I felt guilty my bipolar disorder was getting in the way of my work, which is ridiculous because it’s a mental illness, not a personal shortcoming. I can try to prevent mood shifts and prepare the best I can, but there’s only so much I can do.

4. Look for another perspective.

This is one of the main points of therapy. We’re told to put ourselves in another person’s shoes to gain insight into someone else’s perspective. We aren’t taught how to change the perspective of ourselves and our thoughts.

For instance, I recently increased one of my medications. I had rapid cycled for over a month, and it was clear I needed something more than therapy to get ahold of it.

I experience side effects anytime I change the dosage of this medication. I get a dry mouth, which I combat with lots of water and gum. The worst side effect, though, is how shoddy my memory becomes.

As I explained my frustration with my memory to my therapist, she had another way of looking at it. Yes, my memory wasn’t great, but my mind wasn’t spiraling downward as much. I wasn’t experiencing as many negative thoughts, and I wasn’t ruminating on them.

The medication seemed to slow my mind down. While that ruined my memory, my mind was more peaceful. I could only see the negative aspects of the med increase, but she showed me another perspective. Eventually, the memory issues outweighed the benefit of the slowed mind. I’m working on a better solution.

5. I’m where I need to be in life right now.

I have a bad habit of comparing myself to my previous selves. I’m not able to handle a job in my preferred career path right now. I don’t feel like I’m going somewhere. I was a determined kid who always thought ahead. When I had to take a break from journalism, I felt like I was somehow failing.

I’m not used to living without striving for something greater. I know this is common among my generation. A lot of us aren’t taught to work 9–5 and leave work at work. We’re always striving to move up or do better. There’s nothing wrong with this, but a lot of us have trouble with not working ourselves into the ground.

I’m meeting myself where I am instead of fighting for something more. I can handle my current responsibilities, and my mental health is improving. This doesn’t mean I’ll never push myself to do more. It simply means I’m listening to my mind and body.

If we’re constantly striving for the next thing, we’re never going to enjoy what we have.

The Dissociative Experience: What Is It?

I stood in a corner halfway up a parking garage. I was lost despite using the garage for the last four years. I didn’t know where I had parked my car an hour prior. I aimlessly walked around, unsure if I was going up or down levels. My head hovered above my body, and though I felt like I was going to cry like a child lost in a store, I couldn’t physically cry.

I walked to the middle of the garage and peered over a ledge to see the ground floor a few levels down. I wasn’t extremely high up, but I still felt that dizzying sensation like I was looking down from the top of a skyscraper.

One thought entered my head: I could jump from this ledge to the bottom, and all of this would be over.


I’m not sure how much time passed between that thought and when my mind came back to me long enough to call a friend for help. While that suicidal thought is alarming, it was one of many during my senior year of college.

We drove up and down the garage as I pressed the lock button on my key until it led us to my car. I played the ordeal off as me being spacey with Haha! Of course, would forget where I parked my car.

I didn’t want to go into the details of what happened for fear I’d dissociate again. I had dissociated to that magnitude before, so I knew what it was.

Earlier that day, I had driven to campus to meet with a counselor at my university’s disability center. It was my second meeting after I had applied for disability accommodations for the rest of the year.

I hadn’t received a diagnosis of bipolar yet, but I had severe depression. I needed assistance with my school workload and flexible attendance. My counselor told me I didn’t “prove” my struggles enough to qualify for accommodations, which sent me into the dissociated state.

Eventually, my accommodations were approved after I shared more detailed and vulnerable information with the disability center. But issues with having to prove invisible disabilities is another post on its own.


Dissociation is feeling disconnected from your thoughts, memory, and sense of identity, according to the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI). Dissociation is an involuntary escape from reality and can be a response to trauma or other overwhelming situations.

Some dissociation is common such as daydreaming or forgetting the last few miles of your drive home (highway hypnosis). Dissociation can be a symptom of a wide array of mental illnesses, but there are three dissociate disorders where it is the hallmark characteristic:

Dissociative identity disorder (DID)

This was formerly known as multiple personality disorder. People with DID have two or more distinct “personalities” or identities. Each identity behaves and thinks differently.

Depersonalization/derealization disorder

Depersonalization is feeling as though you are watching yourself or having an out-of-body experience. Derealization is feeling as if the world around you isn’t real. You’re detached from your environment. During depersonalization and derealization, you are aware that what you’re experiencing isn’t normal.

Though I do not have this disorder, the feeling of my head floating above my body in the parking garage is an example of depersonalization.

Dissociative amnesia

Dissociative amnesia is the inability to recall an event(s) that was stressful or traumatic. This can range from not remembering a specific event or time period to not remembering who you are or your life.

Think of a person who has been in a car accident, but, despite not having head trauma, doesn’t remember the accident.

All information about these three disorders was collected from the American Psychiatric Association.


You don’t have to have a dissociative disorder to experience dissociation. It can happen to people with and without a mental illness.

People with bipolar disorder like me have an increased risk of experiencing dissociation. In a 2018 study, researchers noted that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to experience dissociative symptoms during a depressive episode than those with unipolar depression.

I’ve dissociated when I’ve felt extremely overwhelmed, helpless or hopeless. I felt all three when I was denied disability services. Dissociation is usually associated with trauma. My trauma was related to being severely depressed for months with no substantial help, despite reaching out for it. Mental illness can be a trauma itself.

Other disorders that commonly have dissociative symptoms are borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. This isn’t surprising considering both of these conditions are related to experiencing trauma. Dissociation is also a common side effect of drug or alcohol use.

It can also happen in depression and anxiety. A common complaint from people with depression is that they feel “numb.” Emotional numbness can mean dissociation, though we may not think of it that way.

 

Feeling numb for me is a sense of being detached or behind an invisible curtain separating me from the rest of the world. I’ve also described this as feeling “far away.” This only happens during depressive episodes.

Most people have experienced dissociation, and some dissociation isn’t bad. Daydreaming is a perfectly fine way to pass the time when you’re bored. Like many aspects of the brain and life, it’s only considered a problem if it’s distressing or impairing functioning.

Reading Children’s Books Brought Back My Passion for Reading

I’ve been a reader since the day I read my first book Green Eggs and Ham. There was no stopping me with my LeapFrog and Scooby-Doo mysteries. Then it was the Junie B. Jones series and so on.

By high school, I was reading a mix of young adult and adult fiction. I read books on top of my school-assigned reading list. I spent way too much money in Borders (RIP) and Barnes and Noble. I fangirled over Jodi Picoult when I traveled to Chicago from Kansas City to hear her read an excerpt from her latest novel Lone Wolf.

My reading time dwindled in college as I juggled my course load, but I made up for it over school breaks. When I became depressed during my junior year, reading anything seemed insurmountable.

I can count the number of books I’ve read in three years with my hands. Some of those were for school or work. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve picked up books only to drop them halfway through.

It wasn’t until now that I’ve broken this pattern. A part of my income is working as a nanny and tutor for two fourth graders. Earlier in the school year, they began reading Because of Winn-Dixie. I remembered reading it at their age and falling in love with that scruffy dog.

As the kids have started reading books of their choice for a project, I decided I’d read the books as well, so they could discuss the storyline with me.

I laughed as a read Ben Franklin’s in My Bathroom. I finished it in a day, and while it was an easy read, I felt just as accomplished for finally finishing a book. A silly book about a time machine bringing Ben Franklin to present-day ignited a passion I hadn’t felt in ages.

Then, it was time to read the other fourth grader’s book, Annie’s Life in Lists. I became intrigued as to the real reason Annie’s family moved from Brooklyn to a tiny town. I related to both awkward 10-year-old Annie and to her parents, worrying about money and life.

The other night I perused my neglected books in my apartment. As much as I had stopped reading, I still bought books. Old habits die hard.

I settled on the adult fiction book Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown. Months earlier I had read the first few chapters but lost the motivation to keep going. Now I’m passed where I had stopped, and I have no intention of putting this one down. I don’t understand how I could’ve stopped reading such a compelling mystery of the disappearance of Olive’s mom.

Reading is a skill I neglected for so long. I needed to start small to get back to my previous momentum.Also, children’s books are pretty good, so I can’t wait to read my next one.

5 Signs You’re Resilient Even When You Feel Weak

Resilience isn’t something I typically associate with having a mental illness. Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from stressors. It’s how well you handle difficult situations with your thoughts and behaviors, according to the American Psychological Association.

While some people may have a natural high resilience, many of us have to work at it. There’s no shame in that.

I certainly didn’t feel resilient when my mental health took a deep dive into depression. A year and a half was spent just surviving. I felt weak and hopeless. I certainly wasn’t “bouncing back” from anything.

It’s taken three years for me to call myself resilient. The funny thing is, I was resilient in my deepest depression.

If you’re struggling with your mental health or are feeling vulnerable against what’s happening in your life, here are 5 signs you’re still resilient.

1. You’re surviving.

When your mental and emotional pain is unbearable but you choose to keep living, you’re resilient as hell. It’s easy to feel like you’re weak when you seem like you’re only hanging on by a thread. But the opposite is true. You are strong. Living despite your mind telling you to die is arguably the strongest thing someone can do.

This isn’t to say those who attempt suicide or die by suicide are weak. I attempted suicide in 2016, and I occasionally still deal with suicidal thoughts. My past experience has made me more resilient in the face of those thoughts.

Surviving can be exhausting, and sometimes we reach our breaking point. If we can hold on for just a little longer, we may surprise ourselves with what we can handle.

Breathing is resilience.

2. You’re looking for ways to feel better.

Searching for ways to handle your depression or other mental health issue shows an effort to move forward.

This could mean medication, therapy, meditation, exercise — anything you’re using to manage your mental health or illness. They don’t have to be traditional ways of coping or recovering. It’s about the motivation to keep going.

Bonus resilient points for looking for ways when you’d really rather curl up in a ball.

3. You’re reaching out for support.

This may include therapy but could also include confiding in a friend or family member.

You don’t have to handle depression on your own, even when you feel isolated. If you have someone in your life who is supportive, try to let them in. If you don’t have anyone you feel close enough to, you could look into a support group.

Resilience may be individualized, but that doesn’t mean it’s cultivated without others.

4. You’re accepting where you’re at in life.

If there’s one thing I have fought, it’s accepting how I’m feeling instead of desperately and impulsively trying to change it.

This is different from looking for ways to feel better. When I refuse to accept my current situation or mood, I’m prone to turning to unhealthy and impulsive coping skills. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to accept changes in my mood and use healthier coping skills instead of running away from myself.

Change is going to happen, and if we can accept that and work through it instead of against it, we’re practicing resilience.

5. You’re handling hardships better than you have in the past.

This is the primary reason I believe I’m resilient now. I don’t turn to unhealthy coping skills as much as I used to. I utilize therapy, meds, support group, and the people in my life to work through the rough patches. This isn’t a fool-proof system, of course. But I’ve come a long way in the last three years.

I’ve realized that my lows aren’t more shallow than they’ve been in the past. I’m the one who has changed. While there are moments I want to abandon all I’ve worked for because it’s so damn hard sometimes, I don’t.

Think about what you’ve experienced or felt in the past. You made it passed that, albeit probably with some scrapes and bruises. With time and practice, you might realize you’re doing better than you think. One thing that seemed insurmountable before, isn’t anymore.


I used to believe I wasn’t resilient because I still experienced depression. I thought a mood episode meant I lost what little strength I had. I was wrong. My mental illness doesn’t negate my resiliency. If anything bipolar disorder has made me more resilient.

While I may not have had much resilience innately, I’ve cultivated it. And I’m damn proud of that.

5 ‘Affirmations’ I Use as Someone With Bipolar Disorder

I’m too much of a pessimistic realist to believe affirmations like “I am happy.” OK. I can tell myself that all day long, but it’s not going to change the fact I’m really effin’ depressed.

My affirmations are less about the end goal and more about the process. They are somewhat of a fancy way of identifying where I need to incorporate coping skills and better emotion regulation.

These are “baby” affirmations. Right now, they’re what I’m working on, but down the road, they’ll likely change.

I like to learn to be content. (1)

When I mentioned this one in therapy, it was “I’d like to learn how to be happy.” My therapist helped me change it to “content.” Happy is an emotion, and emotions are not forever. I may experience more depression than others, but no one can hold on to happiness. If you spend your time striving for “happy,” you’ll be let down.

Contentment is much more attainable. One of the things I’m learning to do is not judge or overthink my emotions. It’s more “neutral” than happy, though it’s in the same wheelhouse as happiness. I don’t feel the need to hold onto or worry about losing contentment as much as happiness.

Of course, life happens, and we can’t always feel content. But, by using coping skills and self-care, I’m able to learn how to feel more content when stressors come up.

My therapist called it “finding contentment in the face of resentment.”There are things I’d like to change in my life, but those changes are not possible at the moment. The trick is to find ways to feel content in the present despite the factors in life you’d like to change.

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I used to write as a full-time job. I loved it, but depression likes to take away the things I love the most. This affirmation is quite vague. That’s on purpose. I didn’t set a specific goal of how much I need to write in a given week. My only goal is to “write more.” I’m not looking for my affirmations to add extra pressure to my life.

What this affirmation does, however, is remind me of what I want and know I can do. I’d like to write more again, and I am doing that. It’s not as much as I’d like, but I’m getting there.

This affirmation also fights self-deprecating thoughts that tell me I’m no good. I’m trying to find confidence in writing again, and this one helps with that.

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This one is a bit cliche. Who doesn’t have parts of their past they’d rather forget?

Mental illness itself can be traumatic. My experience with undertreated bipolar disorder wrecked many aspects of my life. Whenever I feel down, I spiral into believing I’ll be back where I started three years ago. That severe depression and mixed state terrify me.

When I experience a depressive episode now, it’s easy to think I haven’t grown or become more resilient. But I have. My past is not who I am now.

I can learn to process my past and identify how I’ve grown without feeling sucked into it.

I like to learn to be content. 4.jpg

Depression makes me a pessimist. My entire thought process and state of mind changes. I believe that nothing will ever get better. I believe nothing (meds, therapy, other skills) is helping. It’s like I become engulfed in bipolar disorder and forget I can do things to gain back control. All coping goes out of the window, and I shut out all means of help. I become hopeless.

This affirmation helps cancel out some of my pessimism. I can learn how to manage my symptoms to minimize the risk of a severe episode. I can’t control everything that happens with my mood, but I can arm myself with tools to help. Learning how to manage my symptoms is best done when I’m feeling “stable.”

I like to learn to be content. 5.jpg

This one goes with writing more again. I am definitely passionate about writing but also learning and helping others. This is why I fell in love with journalism. It allows you to learn something new through every story, interview, and research article. I’ve always been a curious and determined person.

A part of depression is a loss of interest. When my mental illness became severe, I was stripped of the very characteristics and passions I prided myself on.

I remember what it felt like to be passionate and excited about life and my work. I haven’t been able to get back there in a while. With this affirmation, I’m not focusing on feeling passionate, but rather doing things I know I (used to) enjoy.

I’m still that person who wanted to double major in journalism and psychology— which I did—and minor in history and economics—which I thankfully didn’t do.

 


My plan is to print these affirmations off on Cardstock. On the back, I’ll write ways I’m implementing that affirmation in my life. For instance, I’d write that I’ve started attending a support group on the back of my “managing symptoms” better affirmation.

My Wackiest Mental Health Coping Skills

We all do things to destress. Some of them are common — like getting more sleep or taking a bath. Others are unique to each of us.

I use coping skills to manage my bipolar disorder, specifically my depressive episodes. I try to find things that comfort or distract me in the harder moments. Coping skills are also good for preventing an episode from getting worse.

Truthfully, coping can be annoying. When you struggle with mental illness, it can feel like you’re just coping through life because you have no other choice. I experience this, but I also know that eventually, I won’t need something to help me “cope” from moment to moment.

These three coping skills are activities I also enjoy when I’m not in need of a way to cope. If we look at things we enjoy, they can become coping mechanisms for when we struggle.

Here are three ways I cope that might seem weird to others:

I sleep on an air mattress.

I don’t know why people knock air mattresses. Have you ever slept on a really good air mattress? Heck. I even love the cheap ones that gently swallow you throughout the night as air lets out.

I don’t sleep on one often, but I do have one just in case. College friends recently visited, and I stopped one of them from deflating it before they left. I used it for about a week before I realized my back needed the relief of a real bed.

There’s something about blowing up an air mattress in my living room to watch movies that brings me back to childhood. It’s comforting and it’s comfortable — for a while.

I also find changing my environment, even if it’s just sleeping in my living room instead of my bedroom, helps with late-night restlessness. I often wake up in the middle of the night and move to my couch. If I don’t, I’ll spend hours tossing and turning in my bed.

Sometimes coping mechanisms are finding comfort and joy in small things — like sleeping on an air mattress instead of your perfectly good bed.

I take a cold shower.

I can’t take credit for this one because I learned about it in therapy. I use this one multiple times a week. It helps with everything from stress to anxiety and near-crisis moments.

Changing your body’s temperature sort of “resets” your body and mind. If I find that my head is spinning with negative thoughts, a cold shower brings me back to the present. If I can’t stop crying or calm down, the temperature helps my body do what my brain can’t.

I also live in Florida, so hot showers rarely sound appealing. What I usually do is put the shower on warm to bathe, and then turn it to cold. The initial shock is the same as if I were to jump into a pool. I focus on the sensation on my skin, and when I get out, I feel energized but calmer.

I look at real estate in other cities.

Anyone who knows me knows I. Do. Not. Like. Florida. I can’t really change where I live at the moment, but I can think about where I’d like to be.

Right now, I look at houses in Seattle. Buying a house in Seattle is a pipe dream because I’m a “millennial” (and apparently we don’t buy houses) and also because housing prices there are astronomical (which is why millennials don’t buy houses).

I grew up moving a lot, but I always enjoyed searching for a new house with my parents. Also, I watched a lot of HGTV with my mom growing up, so yes, I enjoy jumping on Zillow and looking at the craftsman houses in Seattle.

I’ve put in work to figure out what helps me with my mental illness. While some things may seem weird, they work for now. That’s all that matters.

The Wilting Flower

The wilting flower sits forgotten,

Unkempt.

The yellow petals droop in surrender,

edging closer to the undusted table.

The sun is no more.

The water has run dry.

It’s winter inside,

but summer is just beyond her window.

Warmth she will never know again.

The unkempt flower survived for so long,

weakened from the weeds in her carer’s mind.

She does not blame her carer,

for she knows how hard it is to survive,

when it’s winter inside.

Netflix Is Finally Removing That ’13 Reasons Why’ Scene

Two years after its premiere, Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” no longer shows Hannah’s graphic suicide scene, the streaming platform announced Monday.

Netflix said in its statement that the decision came after talking with medical experts who advised against showing the scene.

 

It is dangerous to show suicide methods in media, according to suicide reporting guidelines. Showing a method can elicit copycat suicides.

“Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death,” reportingonsuicide.org states.

I watched “13 Reasons Why” when it premiered in March 2017. At the time, I was severely depressed and not quite a year post-suicide attempt.

Most episodes weren’t “triggering” for me, meaning it didn’t add to my suicidal thoughts or down mood.

When I made it to the last episode, I had no idea the graphic scene of Hannah dying by suicide was included. I knew she would die by suicide, but that did not prepare me for the unnecessary graphic details included in the scene.

Many people have said that the graphic scene shows the reality of suicide and could make people think twice about attempting suicide. Maybe this is true for some, but let me explain what that scene meant for someone like me.

It was senior year spring break in college when I decided to binge watch the show. Everyone else was either home or on community service trips. I was severely depressed, so I stayed in my campus apartment alone.

I was already struggling with suicidal thoughts. When the scene came on, I couldn’t look away. I was enthralled. Had my brain not been so sick, I probably would have used better judgement and turned it off, knowing the impact the scene could have on my wellbeing.

But my brain was sick — and a part of me wanted to watch it. I feel gross saying this, but when you’re suicidal, the thoughts feed on themselves. All you want to do is die, so why wouldn’t your mind want to watch someone take their life?

This is why scenes like this are dangerous. A suicidal brain, at least mine, wanted more ammunition, more ways to die. Rumination can be a big part of suicidal thoughts. You think over and over again of how you could die and why you should die. Scenes play out in your mind.

That scene became another way I could kill myself. I was more suicidal because of “13 Reasons Why.”

I never wanted to be suicidal. I didn’t want to make it worse, but I didn’t have the capacity to take care of myself at the time. So, when people say, “You should just turn the TV off, or don’t watch it,” they don’t understand that some of us are fighting a battle between doing what’s right and what our suicidal minds compel us to do.

Now, a whole two years after watching the show, I still play that scene in my head when I have suicidal thoughts. I don’t want my brain to play the scene on a loop, but once something is in your head it’s hard to ignore. My thoughts are distressing, and I certainly don’t need a TV show adding to that.

I wish I could go back and take that piece of ammunition away from my mind, but I can’t. It’ll always be a part of my suicidal brain’s arsenal.

Some say the scene’s removal is too little too late. I agree that it’s too late for many, but it’s better than never. Other people in my situation won’t see it, and that could mean the difference between one person’s suicide and one person’s continued fight to live.

If you need support, you can reach the suicide prevention lifeline at 1–800–273–8255.