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Be yourself

Be yourself, Personal

Why peer support is so damn useful for mental illness recovery.

We could also call this: Recovery is like rowing. You’ll be bad at both until you’re not. And then you’ll just push harder.

If you’re working with a personal trainer on your physical fitness, it’s not strange if you expect to work with somebody that’s in better shape than you, that practices the skills you want to learn, that’s reached the same goals you want to reach. In the mental health sector, however, involving people with lived experience of recovery from mental illness in providing care is still rare. As a society, we don’t expect mental health professionals to share how they’re implementing the intense exercises they tell patients to do. That’s weird because evidence-based care for mental illness is about you making huge changes every single day. Mental healthcare isn’t all lobotomies and tranquilizers. It’s a big lifestyle change, as complex as pursuing any physical fitness goal. It helps to work with people that know what it’s like to implement, sweat, and sustain those changes.

I’ll offer five ways below you can leverage peer support when you’re working on your mental health, similar to how we tap into peer support when we’re working on our physical fitness. And to do this, I’ll share some insights I learned from working with one of my trainers, John Soco. Let’s row some boats…

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Be yourself, Eat

Overcoming anxiety at work and on the job hunt.

Recently, Daniela posted over on the Everybody has a Brain Tumblr about some anxiety challenges she tackled after getting laid off, then searching for a new job, and then at her new workplace. Her story was such a great example of all the skills we’re always talking about, and it includes vomit! It’s so useful to talk about overcoming these challenges and often that means overcoming very real physical symptoms, like nausea. So I wanted to share Daniela’s post and throw in some comments to connect her examples to some of the recovery skills you’ve probably seen me talking about before. Let’s dive in:

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Be yourself, Testimonials

Scott’s story so far…

I think back to when I was a pre teen and there was so much happening, not only physically but also mentally… That’s when I first recall OCD happening to me–I was around 12 years old and I began to count and touch doors, handles, count my steps, turn off the TV at the “right time”. I had no idea what was happening, it all seemed innocent to me back then, just a little quirk I had. I just wanted to get that “right feeling”, no big deal.

As I got older, into my later teen years, I will never forget this feeling… ever: I woke up one sunny morning and it was like I was hit by a bus (Which I actually was years later, lol!!). I had this feeling of anxiety/sweating/tightness in my whole body… All from one single thought: Am I homosexual because I did that “thing”?! Prior to this thought I had never been attracted to the same sex, ever. It was just a thought in my head, that’s all. But for some reason it would not leave me. It hung around for months on end, every waking minute it was there. I would try and resolve it by looking at men out in public to “check” if I was attracted to the same sex but that just made matters worse. I would sit and look at magazines with pictures of men to see if I was attracted to them. It was all so confusing and scary and stressful. Before this thought my life was going along fine. How could a single thought turn my life upside down for months?!

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Be yourself, Testimonials

How I Finally Recovered From OCD

I had watched Mark’s videos over and over again, especially my favorite one, “How to Deal With Intrusive Thoughts“. The end of the video was always my favorite part, it seemed to sum up what you need to do for OCD recovery (and really, recovery from any anxiety disorder) really well: Accept all the stuff in your head while DOING the things you really care about. When you focus on the things you actually care about, all the worries and uncertainties your brain was giving you (because it was trying to help you by thinking you should solve them) eventually dissipate.

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Be yourself

You are not your farts or your mental illness symptoms.

I got this question over on the EHAB Tumblr:

Can I ask why it’s not good to define yourself based on your mental illness? I mean I understand that I am complex and interesting beyond my depression, but sometimes I feel like people who say things like that are trying to get me to stop talking about it/get over it. Can you explain what you think the goal of “you are not your illness” mantras are?

The simple answer is: because you are not your farts. Building your identity around mental illness symptoms is no different that building your identity around farting.

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Be yourself

There are no OCD sub types or themes. Only OCD (and llamas).

It’s very popular in OCD patient communities, and in mental health communities in general, to get stuck on labeling superficial symptoms. But it becomes just another way to practice the judging and categorizing and discriminating that can fuel so many compulsions. A more effective approach to support recovery from OCD is to understand (and eliminate) the compulsive patterns of thinking and behaving beneath any symptom.

This might be easier to understand by looking at the sub type of OCD that is, without a doubt, the most horrific to deal with: LOCD. LOCD is the subtype of OCD that includes all of the compulsions related to the fear that you’re a llama. Common compulsions include:

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Be yourself

Want to succeed with your New Year’s resolutions? Build the boat first.

If you’re starting off the new year with plans to make changes that will support recovery from mental illness, be honest about where you are and the skills you’ll need to learn to get to where you want to be. Our goals are often the results of the skills we need to learn, so be sure to make space and spend time and energy on learning those skills.

If your destination is on the other side of a lake, you need to learn how to swim or build a boat if you want to get there!

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