A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease shows that women’s brains are significantly more active in several regions, particularly in the prefrontal cortex (involved with focus and impulse control) and in the limbic or emotional areas of the brain (involved with mood and anxiety). The brains of men showed more activity in the visual and coordination centers.
Understanding these differences is important because brain disorders affect men and women differently. Women have significantly higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, depression (which is itself is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease), and anxiety disorders while men have higher rates of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct-related problems, and incarceration (by 1,400 percent).
The study, conducted by nine Amen Clinics, is the largest functional brain imaging study to date. Researchers compared 46,034 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans, looking for differences between the brains of men and women.
SPECT can measure blood perfusion in the brain. Images acquired from subjects at rest or while performing various cognitive tasks are able to show different blood flow in specific brain regions.
“This is a very important study to help understand gender-based brain differences,” said lead author Daniel G. Amen, M.D., psychiatrist and founder of Amen Clinics, Inc.
“The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using functional neuroimaging tools, such as SPECT, are essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future.”
The study involved 119 healthy volunteers and 26,683 patients with a variety of psychiatric conditions such as brain trauma, bipolar disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, and attention/deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The researchers analyzed 128 brain regions in the participants at baseline and while they were performing a concentration task.
“Precisely defining the physiological and structural basis of gender differences in brain function will illuminate Alzheimer’s disease and understanding our partners,” said Dr. George Perry, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and dean of the College of Sciences at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
The study findings of increased prefrontal cortex blood flow in women compared to men may explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and appropriate concern.
The researchers also found increased blood flow in limbic areas of the brains of women, which may also partially explain why women are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders.
Source: IOS Press
Dealing with anxiety alone can be really isolating. Even if the people in your life know that you have anxiety and are supportive, it can still be difficult when you can’t talk explicitly about it to someone who knows what it’s like.
For years I had no idea that other people would wake up in the middle of the night panicking about some tiny embarrassing thing they did 10 years ago! Or that other people think extremely hard about where to place their hands in a conversation or hate going to get a hair cut because the small talk is excruciating.
I also didn’t realise that other people struggled to make eye contact the same way I did for years and struggle making or answering phone calls the same way I still do.
It was so thrilled the first time I got to speak to other people who suffered with Social Anxiety, just like me. To find out that all the quirks I had because of my disorder were totally part and parcel of it and there were other people who felt just the same way as I did, that was strangely comforting.
I think it’s so important to talk to people about your anxiety but also even more important to talk to people who struggle with the same issues. It helps to know that there are people in the same boat but it also helps to have someone there who can encourage you too.
These are my top 5 Reasons To Talk To Other People With Anxiety:
This is why I created The Anxiety Lounge – a closed Facebook group just for people with anxiety, to support each other and give each other positive encouragement to achieve our goals. I wanted a group where you could ask for advice, post your goals and talk to friendly people who also have anxiety. This is what we’re doing.
If you’d like to be a part of the group, we’d love to have you there <3
Emerging research out of the University of Illinois suggests that some mothers’ and fathers’ psychological well-being may suffer when their work and family identities — and the amount of financial support they provide — conflict with conventional gender roles.
Researchers found that when women’s paychecks increased to compose the majority of their families’ income, these women reported more symptoms of depression.
However, the investigators found the opposite effect in men: Dads’ psychological well-being improved over time when they became the primary wage-earners for their families.
Dr. Karen Kramer and graduate student Sunjin Pak reviewed a data sample that included more than 1,463 men and 1,769 women who participated in the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth.
A majority of the individuals in the study, all born between 1957 and 1965, were members of the baby-boom generation. Participants’ psychological well-being was measured in 1991 and 1994 using a seven-item scale that assessed their levels of depressive symptoms.
Kramer and Pak found that although women’s psychological well-being was not affected by exiting the workforce to become stay-at-home moms, men’s mental health declined when they stayed home to care for the kids.
“We observed a statistically significant and substantial difference in depressive symptoms between men and women in our study,” said Kramer, who is a professor of human development and family studies.
“The results supported the overarching hypothesis: Well-being was lower for mothers and fathers who violated gendered expectations about the division of paid labor, and higher for parents who conformed to these expectations.”
While women’s educational and career opportunities have multiplied in recent decades, societal norms and expectations about gendered divisions of labor in the workplace and the home have been slower to evolve, according to the researchers.
Mothers and fathers who deviate from conventional gender roles — such as dads who leave the workforce to care for their children full time — may be perceived negatively, potentially impacting their mental health, Kramer and Pak wrote.
The researchers also explored whether parents who held more egalitarian ideas about men’s and women’s responsibilities as wage earners and caretakers for their families fared better — and Kramer and Pak found gender differences there as well.
Women in the study who viewed themselves and their spouses as equally responsible for financially supporting their families and caring for their homes and offspring experienced better mental health when their wages and share of the family’s income increased.
However, regardless of their beliefs, men’s mental health diminished when their earnings as a proportion of the family income shrank. This finding led researchers to suggest that “work identity and (the) traditional role of primary earner are still critical for men, even when they have more egalitarian gender ideology.”
The paper will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Source: University of Illinois
This post is the second in a new series of guest conversations called Voices on Mental Health. I am honored to showcase inspirational people with unique and important perspectives on mental illness.
Our second conversation is with Leah Ganssle. Leah is currently a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she is pursuing a Bachelors of Social Work and hopes to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is the founder and president of the NAMI chapter on her campus and recently started to write for The Mighty. Leah is fired up about being a positive and hopeful voice about mental illness for teens and young adults. I first met her a few months ago when we presented together to a huge group of teens (500+) at local high school ethics day event. When she spoke I was blown away. She shared her personal story in a frank and open-hearted way, and she truly connected with the young adults in the room. Below she offers the insight that teaching kids about mental illness early on – even in school – can help to reduce stigma and help young people learn to take good care of themselves. We all have a lot to learn from this bright and philanthropic young woman, and it will be a gift to see how her mental health advocacy continues to grow in the future.
Amy: Did you have an “aha moment” when you realized that you needed help in dealing with your emotional wellness? What happened?
Leah: There’s the saying, “High school is the best four years of your life!” For me, high school was me barely keeping afloat, with weights tied around my ankles. I couldn’t really tell you when I realized what I was feeling was more than a teenage mood swing, but I did spend a lot of time in my high school guidance counselor’s office. Waking up for school – already not an invigorating activity – became painful, and walking through its front doors gave me fear like no other. I felt stupid, out of place, ugly and worthless. It got to the point where I couldn’t sit in a classroom without feeling like I needed to leave immediately, usually because I needed to cry.
It happened to be time for the annual school depression screening. I looked at the piece of paper and laughed. I felt all of the symptoms I was reading, but it couldn’t have been that I was depressed. Could it? I was tempted to lie and continue pretending everything was fine, but something in me told me to tell the truth.
I answered honestly for all the questions, and then came to the last. It asked if we had ever considered suicide. I didn’t know what to answer. I knew if I said yes that it would be an immediate red flag and they’d have to call my mom. I didn’t know if I was ready for that to happen, but I continued to answer honestly and indicated I had considered suicide. Sure enough, 30 minutes later I was called down to my counselor’s office. She called my mom, and we scheduled the screening at a behavioral health center.
Now let me tell you, I don’t know if this is the norm, but I was in that center for five hours of testing, answering math questions (ew), solving puzzles (gross) and answering questions about myself I didn’t even know the answer to (ugh). When all was said and done, a week later they told me I had Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Amy: How did/how do your symptoms impact your everyday life as a young adult and as a student – things like friendships, relationships, work, activities? How do you know when it’s time to reach out for additional support?
Leah: I withdrew myself from everything. I was a dancer, but I stopped dancing. I played two instruments, but I stopped playing. I closed off from my friends and would go straight up to my room when I got home, usually to fall asleep. I ignored homework and other responsibilities and replaced them with sleeping and mindless tv watching. I had been a straight-A student, but I quickly dropped down to C’s. Some of this continued even after we identified what was going on, and after I came to college at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). I have become a much better student in college, but I still struggle with getting myself out of bed, keeping up with my activities, and being social. I’m a very stubborn person, so I have a tendency to wait until burnout or a depressive episode to reach out for additional help. Recently, however, I knew it was time to visit the student health psychiatrist at VCU when I could feel myself lacking in school again. Slipping up in high school was one thing, but college is another, and I am determined to succeed here.
Amy: What resources did your high school and college offer you that were helpful in dealing with mental illness? What would have been helpful that wasn’t available at that time?
Leah: What my high school offered was very limited. We did have a school psychologist, but just out of personal preference I chose not to see him anymore. I am more comfortable with a female practitioner than a male. College has also been kind of a difficult place to access resources. We have university counseling services, but they don’t receive enough funding or support to be able to help all the students that need it. I was placed on a wait list, and I’m technically still not off of it (almost two years later!). I ended up turning to the student health psychiatrist to start medication because I didn’t have any other consistent resources at the time. Luckily, the VCU Psychology Department offers low-cost counseling and group therapy provided by masters and doctoral candidates. Their wait list was much shorter and I got in almost immediately.
I think more funding needs to be provided to our university counseling services, because it is so hard to keep pushing myself to look for more on my own. I am very lucky in that I felt well enough to push forward, but it’s easy to get discouraged being turned away the first time.
Amy: It is estimated that one in five young adults, ages 13-18, live with a mental health condition. This is approximately 20% of all teens – a pretty big number. How do you think we can offer hope and encourage young people to feel ok about getting treatment?
Leah: The most important thing is to do whatever is best for you. There are so many different types of treatments, and you have options! Seeking treatment for a mental health condition is no different than seeking treatment for a physical condition, such as cancer or diabetes. It does not make you a weaker person! If we included mental health education in K-12 health classes, we could work on breaking the stigma early. I don’t remember every receiving a lesson on mental health in any grade, so I was very uninformed about symptoms, how to help a friend, and what resources were available to me.
Amy: You have become active in advocating for mental health awareness among young adults. How did you grow into this role? What inspires you to speak openly about your experiences, especially the painful ones?
Leah: When I was in a more comfortable place in high school, I decided that I never wanted anyone to feel the way that I did – and yet so many do. I realized that I was not even aware about mental health issues and I wanted to change that in my community. I started a small student organization in my high school for mental health awareness. I reached out to NAMI Northern Virginia to find my school group some volunteer opportunities, and they ended up taking quite a liking to me! NAMI invited me to speak on a panel, I volunteered with their office regularly, and I interned there the summer before college. I helped develop an event for young adults to foster discussion that they still use now, called SummerFest. When I moved to Richmond for college, NAMI Northern Virginia helped me get connected with the state office, NAMI Virginia, which then led to also getting connected with the local affiliate in this area, NAMI Central Virginia. I was able to join the NAMI National Young Adult Advisory Group, the Youth Move Virginia board (a program of NAMI Virginia), and I am the Founder/President of NAMI on campus at VCU. I give presentations in schools and at other public events as well.
I got involved with this work because I was inspired by the experiences of so many other young adults, friends, and family. It was hard for me to speak out about my own personal experience the first time, but I was reassured from the beginning that so many young adults relate to someone their own age, and it could change their whole world. The experiences that I’ve had with people telling me how grateful they are that I spoke somewhere, or that I have been able to help them, keeps me talking and advocating!
Through all of this, i have met people just like me. I have learned so much about different illnesses, the lives of others and how we can use our experiences to both help and inspire other people living with mental illness. I have gained not only an insight to the world of mental health, but to my own needs and well-being. I once again want to be here and fight for something. I feel ready to take on the world, and i want others to join me. I want all of us to look at mental health and say, “we need to fix this. We need to support people who are experiencing this.”
Amy: What is your message to young people today who may be experiencing mental illness?
Leah: You are not alone in dealing with mental illness. There are so many others in similar situations as you! I know it doesn’t seem like it – I thought for a long time that I was an outlier – but your experience is valid and so are you. Never be afraid to reach out to someone about how you are feeling, and remember that no feeling is too small to ask for help.
Read other posts in the Voices of Mental health series…
>>Leading by Example: Joe Sifer on Mental Health at Work
The post You Are Not Alone: Leah Ganssle On Being a Student With Depression appeared first on blue light blue.
Since starting this blog 3 years ago, my mental health has drastically improved for a few reasons: a) I felt that if I was going to write a blog about mental health, I wanted it to be more positive and helpful rather than just write a journal about how shit things were going, so I’ve worked on my own mental health a lot. b) It’s become a platform for other people with anxiety and depression to come forward and chat to me about their struggles and successes, which is great because we can share ideas and talk about mental health openly. c) Watching my blog grow into something beyond what I ever thought it could be has been a massive achievement and that kind of growth and independence is brilliant for my anxiety, it makes me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to.
I completely recommend writing a mental health blog, it’s such a good form of therapy. In fact it can actually turn into a job if done right. I talked about making money from blogging in my previous posts How To Make Money With A Chronic Illness and Working With Social Anxiety and because so many of you emailed me about blogging, I decided to make a more in-depth post.
Today I’m going to tell you how I started my blog, how I get 8,000+ views a month and how I monetize my blog. Hopefully this will give you some inspiration if you’re looking at starting your own mental health blog but this information will generally work for any kind of blog.
Here it goes….
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I only endorse products/services that I believe will be a benefit to you and would never recommend something I don’t like or trust.
Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to sit down and brainstorm your thoughts about what you want to achieve with your blog, so that you can narrow down what kind of audience you want to attract. I fully advise having a niche instead of just being a general blogger, you’ll find it much easier to get the right people to your blog and keep them around if they know what your blog is all about. A mental health blog in itself could be considered your niche but I’d go that one step further and find out how you’re going to make it different.
When I started my blog, I had no idea what I wanted from it because I was really just writing it for the sake of it and it took me a while to take it seriously. So, at first I just wrote about myself and anxiety, mostly in a satirical way and my blog looked a mess because I had no idea what I was doing with my theme, logo, photography, nothing. You’ll probably notice how different my older posts are to how they are now.
In fact, my old blog name used to be Anxiety Bitch (does anyone remember that?) and it was terrible for advertising because it would get censored all the time and my branding was all over the place. Then I decided it was time to actually come up with a good name, branding and what kind of audience I was aiming towards.
That’s how I came up with Anxious Lass – I chose feminine and light colours because my audience were mostly young and female and I wanted my blog to feel uplifting and bright. Really, if you want to attract people who are similar to you and going through the same kinda stuff, it should be easy; Just think about what YOU would want if you were to visit a blog.
First of all, you’ll need somewhere to place your blog on the big world wide web! You can get fairly inexpensive hosting when you’re just starting up with a smaller website. I fully recommend using SiteGround to host your blog, check out their starter web hosting for less than £4 a month, it’s really cheap considering how good they are. The trouble with some cheaper hosts, is that your blog may end up with lots of downtime, resulting in you losing viewers. That’s not the case if you’re using a good host like SiteGround.
When you have your hosting, it’s time to start building the foundation of your blog. To get the most of your blog, you should definitely install WordPress before anything else. I couldn’t imagine running a blog without WordPress now. It’s completely free to download and install and there are so many amazing themes and free plugins you can use with it to make your blog the tits!!
Once you’ve installed WordPress, it’s time to get your theme set-up. There are a few good free themes for WordPress you could get started with but if you already have an idea of what you’d like from your blog and what your branding is going to be, this is where I’d recommend investing. It doesn’t have to be much, Creative Market have lots of gorgeous themes for sale, some of them under £50 – just make sure if you’re going to buy a theme that it a) is for wordpress and b) doesn’t need another kind of framework or theme to work.
I wanted something really specific and well built, so I did lots of homework and now use a combination of Genesis Framework by StudioPress with Fun by Pretty Darn Cute Designs. I love how my blog looks now and I get tons of compliments on it. I firmly believe you have to create an overall good experience for people to come back to your blog and design is a massive part of that.
I’d also recommend looking on Creative Market for a good logo, you can get an inexpensive premade logo or template if you’re not so bothered about it being bought by other people. A unique custom made logo can cost hundreds, so I’d go down the premade route if you’re on a budget or you could even have a go at making one yourself if you’re good with graphic design. I made my blog logo myself!
The most important aspect of your blog is to write great content, content is key. You don’t necessarily need to be the balls at writing and have perfect grammar but giving your readers something they want is mega important. You aren’t going to attract as much of an audience and certainly not enough to keep them around if you’re just talking about yourself, you need to offer them something too. I still think it’s a good idea to talk about yourself a little, it helps inject personality into your blog and it helps people to feel like they know you but the kind of posts that are going to drive the most traffic will generally be posts that help your readers with a problem they’re having or teach them how to do something.
I try to have a mix of posts; Personal stories like A Letter To My Younger Self, posts that relate to other people with the same problems I’m having like 10 Reasons Why Eating Out With Social Anxiety Is Awful and posts that offer help to the reader like How To Explain Social Anxiety To Someone Who Doesn’t Have It
The third kind of post, the helpful kind, that’s my hands-down most sharable, viewed type of content.
I’d suggest writing a good selection of posts and put them on your blog before really launching it, that way when you do launch, your readers have several things to look at and can see what type of content they can expect from you.
Your biggest asset when your write a blog, is your email list. Trust me, you’ll want to start getting email sign ups straight away, don’t miss out like I did for the first two years. Even if you’re never going to create a product or launch a course, your email list will still hold lots of value.
I use MailerLite to get sign ups to my blog now, you may have noticed that I have sign up forms and an opt-in incentive (my free anxiety guide) in quite a few places around my blog, including the very top of each page, my sidebar, the bottom of each post and a pop-up that’s timed to when you scroll half way down the page.
You can also get really nice landing pages for your opt-in when you use MailerLite, that’s why I chose them over other platforms, as well as the fact it’s free up to 1,000 subscribers including automation, which is something you’d have to pay for on other platforms.
To encourage sign ups, you may want to try an incentive, like a freebie as an opt-in. You could create a free mini e-book, a free email course, swipefile, checklist, worksheet etc. Anything that has value to your target reader will get sign ups.
There are several ways of getting traffic to your blog including social media, search engines, guest posting and more. Here’s a list of my favourite ways to get traffic and where most of my blog views come from:
Making money from your blog isn’t going to be an overnight thing and like I’ve said in previous posts, don’t just start a blog to make money, start a blog about something you love and because you want to write about it. If you’re not passionate about your blog and you’re putting more ads on it than genuine content, your viewers will get fed up. Your blog has to have value to the people reading it.
I didn’t start my blog for money, in fact I didn’t take it all seriously until 4 months ago. I spent 2 or more years, writing my blog as a hobby, purely because I wanted to say some stuff about anxiety and relate to other people with it. Now I’m doing both, writing about anxiety while relating to people and making money. There’s no point in making a blog your job if you’re not passionate about it because it’s too much hard work for that.
Now, if you’re ready to learn how to make money from your blog, here’s some ways to do it…
Affiliate links are your own special links you use to recommend a product or service on your blog and when someone purchases through that link, you get a commission. There are lots of good affiliate marketing networks online to sign up as an affiliate, but here are my favourites:
ShareASale – You sign up to each program individually and then you can use their links and banners etc. Each company has their own set of terms, like how much commission you get and how many days after they click your link will you get a commission if they purchase. You can search affiliate programs by keyword, making it easy if you have a very specific kind of product or service you want to recommend.
ClickBank – This network is for digital products, making it a fab place to find ebooks and online courses to recommend. You also don’t need to sign up to each program individually, you can start using affiliate links for any product straight away.
Amazon Associates – One of the best affiliate marketing programs ever, especially if you like to recommend physical products. Everyone knows and trusts Amazon, so it’s a great place to have an affiliate account with.
Another good way of making money from your blog is through implementing ads. These are great because they don’t cost your reader anything but I’d advise to keep them to a minimum to not annoy anyone. My preferred ad networks are Google Adsense and Media.net
Obviously the more views you get and the more you blog grows, the more you’ll make money from advertising.
Not something I’ve accepted on my blog just yet, just because I don’t want content on my blog that doesn’t fit what my blog is all about but another way of making money from your blog is by doing sponsored posts.
I’ve paid for these myself on other blogs for my wedding photography business, by paying to run an article or post about my wedding photography on a few wedding blogs. You can have people pay you to write or write something themselves to put on your blog about their product/service. This helps them get exposure for their business and you get paid for it.
One of the most popular ways of making money from blogging is to create your own digital product or service such as an Ebook or an Ecourse and using your blog as a way to market your product.
For instance, if you were writing a blog about healthy eating, you could create a digital meal plan and sell that, or if you were writing a blog about post-natal depression you could create an online course to help other people through it.
If you want a much more in-depth guide to starting a blog and making it profitable, Blog by Number by Suzi Whitford has got to be one of the best courses out there, taking you step by step through setting up a professional blog and making money from it (she makes $17,000 a month from her blog, a month). You also get some pretty stock photos with it too!
I’ve seen a lot of tweets/statuses/blog posts/youtube videos about self-diagnosing social anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses lately. There’s a lot of heated debates going on and it seems very divided between those who think self-diagnosis is perfectly valid and people who flat-out think it’s unacceptable.
I personally didn’t have the chance to self-diagnose my disorder because my diagnosis was given to me by a therapist 13 years ago, before I even knew social anxiety existed but I’m still not sure that I disagree with people self-diagnosing if they have to.
Personally, I think it could be a difficult thing for someone to get that professional diagnosis if they’re literally too anxious to see a doctor or live in a place where they can’t afford to. If that’s the case, a self-diagnosis could help in the mean time, purely for the fact they’d have somewhere to look for help. You can’t find resources online to help if you don’t know what it is you’re suffering from. If the research has been done and it seems a likely possibility that they have social anxiety, why can’t they proceed with that understanding?
I agree that people who self-diagnose should do so with caution. Some symptoms that occur with anxiety can also be an underlying symptom of a physical illness, so in that case a self-diagnosis could result in a physical illness going untreated but if your symptoms tick every single box and you can’t get to a doctor, I don’t see why you can’t self-diagnose for the time being.
Everyone has social anxiety to a degree, it’s normal. It’s only when it’s interfering with your life and becoming a huge problem that it’s classed as a disorder and if you’ve self-diagnosed with the intention of being able to find a treatment and the treatment you are using helps… it’s probably safe to say you’re not causing anyone with a professional diagnosis any harm.
The real danger is when self-diagnosis comes from ill intent. I’ve talked about this previously on my blog but when people self-diagnose because they want to have a mental illness, because they think that particular mental illness is fashionable and it gives them a label, THAT is when it’s a problem.
People with genuine social anxiety disorders are completely valid in being irate with that because it causes a lot of problems, such as:
If this kind of self-diagnosis makes you angry, I am so with you on that!
What I am not with anyone on, is shaming people and pushing them out of a community because they’re self-diagnosed. If someone is in a support group for social anxiety and they ask for help, I will help them… diagnosis or no diagnosis. Just imagine you couldn’t afford to see a doctor or a therapist or your social anxiety was so bad that the idea of even going to a doctor’s surgery, just to get the diagnosis, was the worst thing imaginable, so you join a support group or try to talk to other people with social anxiety to look for advice and you get shamed for not having a real diagnosis. It’s just unnecessary and all it does is make us all look bad.
My advice to you, if you’re only in a position right now to make a self-diagnosis, is to:
As for my stance on the matter, it all depends on the person and why they are self-diagnosing. Sometimes it can be a good thing to do, something it can be a not so good thing to do. Sometimes it is the only option. It just depends what the circumstances are.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this though, I welcome any discussion on this topic if you’d like to reply in the comments.
If you told me 13 years ago, that I’d be grateful for having had a social anxiety disorder most of my life, I’d probably want to kick you in the shin. Social anxiety has been the biggest part of my life, it consumed me through my teenage years and taunted me as an adult. For a long time, I felt as if I’d missed out on an important chunk of my life and I desperately wanted the experiences that everyone around me had.
It’s easy to hate your mental illness, I did for years. I just wanted it gone and the fact that it lingered for so long, tore me up inside.
The last couple of years have been a whirlwind and I have now reached a point where I can manage my social anxiety. It’s still there, I don’t believe it will truly ever go away since I’ve had it for 20+ years but I can manage it much better, enough to live a “normal” life (whatever the fuck normal is). Having reached this point, I’ve been able to reflect properly on my life with social anxiety and see myself in a clearer view. This reflection has taught me that my experience with social anxiety is not something I feel hurt about and I certainly don’t see it as being unfair, in fact it has made me grateful.
“What did it make you grateful for though?” I hear you shouting with amazement
Well, let me tell you, as a I stroke my imaginary long white beard to convince you that I’m old and wise now…
So I get on a bus for a journey that lasts 10 minutes, or answer a phone call without hyperventilating and it’s a huge fucking deal. Things that I used to struggle doing because of my social anxiety that I’ve learnt how to be comfortable with, like having a conversation, going to the shop by myself and going to the checkout by myself, getting on public transport or answering the door to a parcel… they are all things I’m grateful for every time I’m able to do them. I’m grateful for super mundane things that most people complain about having to do just because I am ABLE to do them, because I remember what it’s like to not even be able to leave the house at all.
Any time you go into something that terrifies you and you get through it anyway, it’s a massive achievement. I always get to feel a sense of achievement whenever I leave my front door because every social interaction, every place I enter, every person I’m able to even walk past is something that takes a lot for me to be able to do.
Whatever confidence I do have, is completely real. It’s something that I’ve earned over time and it’s stuck with me now and as I’ve grown in confidence and peeled back the layers of my social anxiety, my true personality has been revealed to me. All these years that I thought I was quiet and timid but the reality of the matter is, I’m a loud potty-mouthed extrovert who loves a good party and acts like a tit. I have loved learning who I really am and becoming my true self has been an incredible journey.
Having a mental illness teaches you empathy and compassion because you realise people can suffer in different ways and without it being obvious. You also know what it’s like to struggle so often it makes you more aware of other people’s pain. I’m definitely grateful for that. I’d hate to be someone who doesn’t appreciate other people’s suffering.
Another plus, is that having social anxiety has made me a super good people photographer because I photograph a lot of people who are super camera shy and get anxiety in front of a camera – they’re always telling me I helped them relax and made that process much easier for them. It’s because I can put myself in their shoes, I know how that shit feels.
Social anxiety made me feel pathetic and weak and I often told myself that I was rubbish at everything, it was a constant battle between me and my head. The truth is, I was strong. I left the house at times I thought I couldn’t face it. I went into situations that made my heart palpitate, hands sweat, body tremble and stomach nauseated. I wasn’t weak at all. I faced my biggest fears on a daily basis, I still do really.
That’s what I’m most grateful for, learning my own strength, because now if someone asks me to do something or an opportunity arises, I know that even if it’s scary as fuck, I CAN and WILL do it!
What does social anxiety make you grateful for? What has your mental illness taught you?
The post How Social Anxiety Made Me Grateful For These 5 Things appeared first on Anxious Lass.
A new series of studies suggests ignoring negative emotions to remain optimistic may not be the best approach in the long run.
University of California, Berkeley researchers discovered embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better as the pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat.
“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health,” said study senior author Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology.
Researchers are unsure why accepting joyless emotions helps to defuse the mood.
“Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention,” Mauss said. “And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.”
Researchers tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Denver, Co., metropolitan area.
The results, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggest that people who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed.
By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment, and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months.
“It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being,” said study lead author Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”
Three separate studies were conducted on various groups both in the lab and online, and factored in age, gender, socio-economic status, and other demographic variables.
“It’s easier to have an accepting attitude if you lead a pampered life, which is why we ruled out socio-economic status and major life stressors that could bias the results,” Mauss said.
In the first study, more than 1,000 participants filled out surveys rating how strongly they agreed with such statements as “I tell myself I shouldn’t be feeling the way that I’m feeling.” Those who, as a rule, did not feel bad about feeling bad showed higher levels of well-being than their less accepting peers.
A second study, delivered in a laboratory setting to more than 150 participants challenged the participants to deliver a three-minute videotaped speech to a panel of judges. The speech was designed as part of a mock job application, and a way in which to showcase their communication skills and other relevant qualifications. They were given two minutes to prepare.
After completing the task, participants rated their emotions about the ordeal. As expected, the group that typically avoids negative feelings reported more distress than their more accepting peers.
In the final study, more than 200 people completed a journal on their most taxing experiences over a two-week period. When surveyed about their psychological health six months later, the diarists who typically avoided negative emotions reported more mood disorder symptoms than their nonjudgmental peers.
Researchers plan to expand the study by reviewing the influence of such factors as culture and upbringing to better understand why some people are more accepting of emotional ups and downs than others.
“By asking parents about their attitudes about their children’s emotions, we may be able to predict how their children feel about their emotions, and how that might affect their children’s mental health,” Mauss said.
Do you ever have one of those days when you’re like; “what the fuck am I doing with my life?” It’s not a question one…
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