Why Depression Makes People So Tired

The Daily Flower

Quite a ways back, my wife texted me a picture she had taken of a flower. It was beautiful, and it made me smile in a time when smiles were pretty hard to come by.

A few days later, another text. Another flower. And another day and another flower. Each time, it was a little piece of happiness in what had become a very dark world for me.

And it continued. My wife would go out of her way, walking instead of taking the bus, to find different pretty flowers to share with me.

We went together to a local municipal rose garden, and spent a couple of hours taking pictures of roses.

A simple gesture, really. But a daily reminder that there is beauty out there. That someone cares enough to share it with me.

And now – we have a library of flowers to share with the world.

Join here and get a different flower sent to your own inbox every couple of days. And see the beauty. Smile at the thought. Feel a little bit of happiness that we are very pleased to share.

It’s free. It’s happy. It’s here:

Michael Phelps opens up about struggles with depression and anxiety in new documentary

From The Globe & Mail

A new documentary about anxiety argues that everyone to some extent suffers from stress, nerves and social fear. And, to make their point, the filmmakers have enlisted as Exhibit A the most decorated Olympian in history.

Michael Phelps appears in “Angst” to share his story of being bullied and depressed, leading to severe anxiety. The swimmer, winner of 28 Olympic medals, would look in the mirror and not like what he saw.

“Once I opened up about that and things that I had kept inside of me for so many years, I then found that life was a lot easier. I got to the point where I understood that it’s OK to not be OK,” he says in the film.

“Angst,” an IndieFlix film designed to be screened at schools and community centres, features candid interviews with children and young adults discussing their anxiety, along with advice from mental health experts and resources and tools. Phelps is like a muscular explanation mark for what the filmmakers wanted to show — that even world champions can feel low.

“I’m grateful because my mission with this film is to help make the world a better place and I believe he is so additive on that level,” said Scilla Andreen, CEO and co-founder of IndieFlix.

“If we can introduce prevention, self-care and well-being to our children — even in the pre-K and kindergarten years — they can have a completely different life.”

Andreen hopes the film will reach more than 3 million people around the world from 25,000 community and school screenings. “Angst” was filmed in the U.S. and United Kingdom and is appropriate for children starting at age 10.

Read the full article here.

When You’re ‘Too Functional’ to Have Your Mental Illness Taken Seriously

From The Mighty

I’ve read countless articles, many on The Mighty, about the struggle of having an invisible illness and the way other people judge the “validity” of people’s conditions. I’ve also read about people who aren’t taken seriously when they express their most intimate, dark thoughts to family, professionals and friends.

I’m a psychologist. Not too long ago I was reunited with many other mental health workers (psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers and professors were in attendance.) The event was a presentation of a type of therapy and when the speaker began talking, he asked us how mental illness affects a person. Someone answered a person with a mental illness has difficulties and struggles with certain areas of his life. Another person answered that the mentally ill suffer greatly. And then a third person said mentally ill people don’t function in society. I was waiting for someone to refute this, but instead everyone nodded and the speaker actually agreed and said “very good.”

My heart was beating really fast. It was partly because I didn’t know these people very well and I was struggling a bit with social anxiety. I hadn’t contemplated speaking up. But my heart was also beating fast because I was angry. That statement and the fact it wasn’t even questioned is exactly the reason why “high-functioning” people with mental illnesses are sometimes not taken seriously.

I can be dying inside while going through the motions of the day.7 It’s not difficult for me to know how others expect me to act. Acting fine is a cognitive process. You can probably mention right now how an emotionally stable or “mentally sane” person is supposed to act. It really is simple. A generally accepted lifestyle is one where a person wakes up every day, looks presentable, takes care of stuff that needs to be taken care of, eats and goes to sleep. This can sometimes be done regardless of how you feel inside. To say it’s difficult is an understatement, but it’s not impossible.

These “high-functioning” people don’t do it because they want to fool others, they do it because they want to produce and be a part of society. They try so hard to beat their illnesses or disorders. They don’t want to rely on others to take care of them.

 So when a “high-functioning” person asks for help or admits to himself and to someone else his struggles, it takes a lot of bravery. These people have worked every single day to build a “normal” world for themselves are terrified of admitting mental illness, and when they finally do and are met with rejection, little understanding and no empathy from a mental health worker, it is devastating.

My compromise with my career is very clear to me, but I have to admit I have been blessed (and cursed) to see this because I, myself, struggle with my own disorders.

If you struggle with not being taken seriously, my advice to you is to trust you know yourself so much more than anybody else. Nobody has the right to undermine your difficulties.7 If they do, it’s their issue. Keep looking for the person who listens to you and takes your feelings into account. Don’t feel demoralized or flawed. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow when you ask for help from a mental health worker who should be able to understand you but doesn’t. Again, this is a flaw in their own understanding of the human mind.

By the way, yes I did speak up. With a bit of a red face I refuted what they all agreed to and told them it’s a terrible mistake to discard the presence of a mental disorder in relation to the functionality of a person. I added functionality is sometimes a symptom, depending on the illness and the person.

The speaker didn’t know what to answer, so he agreed and moved on.

10 Ways That Can Help Handle Stress

Handling stress poorly can negatively affect your well-being, but the good news is that you can learn the 10 ways that many people deal with stress and start using these techniques today.

Stress that is unmanaged can lead to physical health problems like high blood pressure, but can chronic stress can also develop into depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Rather than continue to handle stress poorly, let’s look at the 10 ways that people handle stress effectively.

1. ACCEPT THAT STRESSFUL EVENTS WILL HAPPEN

We all know that things are bound to happen to upset even the most planned out day, but mentally strong people acknowledge this up front. There is going to be something unplanned for that happens to you, but you can begin planning for it now. Tell yourself now that although you know something stressful may happen today, you are prepared to handle it.

2. USE MULTIPLE STRESS MANAGEMENT TOOLS

Researchers in the Journal of Occupational Medicine studied workplace stress management programs and found that one that included goal setting, problem solving, identifying and questioning negative thoughts, relaxation, and time management was helpful for people to handle stress effectively. This strategy of using multiple techniques to handle stress is one that mentally strong people employ all the time.

3. TAKE CONTROL

Many people look at what is causing the stress and look for ways to prevent it from happening again. By making changes in their environment, they can avoid or reduce causes of stress.

4. AFFIRMATIONS

Use positive self-talk to remind yourself of just how capable you are when stressful situations come up. For example, say ‘I’ve handled situations like this before and I know I can handle this just fine too.’

5. TIME MANAGEMENT

Much of our perceived stress comes from not having enough time to get done what we want to get done. By planning ahead for lost time, we can make sure that we have enough time in the day for everything, without being stressed when something does inevitably delay us.

Related article: 7 Things You Don’t Need To Stress About, Even If You Think You Do

For example, if you have a full schedule and worry about being late to your next appointment, next time book your day with 20-30 minute gaps of time in between appointments. That way if there is too much traffic, the delay won’t seem as stressful to you due to the extra time that you planned in to your day.

6. SOCIAL SUPPORT

Researchers studying how people handle stress found that a strong social support network was linked to mental well-being. Some people find it challenging to ask for help because they like to be self-reliant. We all need help at some point, so being able to recognize when you have reached a significant stress-level and ask for help to get yourself back to a calm state is an excellent skill that mentally strong people use to handle stress.

7. THEY DO NOT AVOID STRESS

The same study that showed that social support helped mentally strong people to handle stress found that if they used the technique of avoiding things that they thought of as stressful, their mental well-being decreased significantly.

Related article: 5 Things People With Panic Attacks Want You To Know

Avoiding is just a way of delaying handling stress. Running away from a problem never solved anything so choosing to face your worries and acknowledge the uncomfortable feelings while using another coping strategy is better for your mental strength.

8. SEE THOUGHTS ABOUT STRESS AS TEMPORARY

Thoughts come and go and some are terribly negative. Our awareness of our negative thoughts about stress is an excellent skill to have. This mindfulness can then be taken to the next level. Rather than avoid or repress negative thoughts about stress, see them as temporary mental events that will be gone fairly soon.

This is a strategy called ‘decentering’ by psychologists, where we challenge negative thoughts. We can choose to accept our negative thoughts as fact, or we can acknowledge that we were making a bigger deal than we needed to about the stressful event, and allow that thought to pass away from our minds like a cloud.

9. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

This one stressful event is not going to change the course of your life all by itself.You are still a fantastically talented, creative and intelligent person who just had a negative experience. Mentally strong people know that although the surface of the ocean is turbulent, deep down it is calm.

10. FIND WAYS TO ADD JOY

Adding a few moments of laughter to a stressful day can be all it takes to handles stress well. Even in the midst of a crisis, being able to laugh at yourself for how you overreact or misjudge something is a way to shift from a negative mindset to a positive one. For example you might say, ‘Well that was silly of me to forget my wallet, but hey, at least I noticed it before I was at the cash register with a full shopping cart.’