Tag Archives: mental health

The 888 Collective Aims To Help Those With Mental Health Issues Into Work

The 888 Collective is a new UK based enterprise, which hopes to help those with mental health issues into work.

Set up by Jana Dowling and Clare Nash, the business is crowd-funding £60,000 start-up investment to successfully launch the business.

Talking to us today, Jana explained why this initiative is so important to her.

I didn’t come out until I was 30 and I’m incredibly happy and proud to be a lesbian and part of the LGBTQ community. I’ve found many friends and allies and I wouldn’t change who I am or my experiences for anything.

Last year I was diagnosed with Bipolar, and unlike with coming out, it’s a label I find difficult to come to terms with.

We all have obstacles to face and one thing I’ve learnt is that mental health doesn’t discriminate. It affects every community and we want to provide a place where people feel comfortable and understood.

Where will be able to nurture the revival and growth of lost confidence and as a result, we will be able to support people, like myself, back into the workplace.”

The 888 Collective will be rolled out in three different stages. The first is opening a cafe/shop, the second, developing merchandise and clothing using artwork, poetry & stories sent in to us and the third stage will be hosting events across London, dedicated to expanding our support network.

Jana adds

The 888 Collective is about having fun and celebrating the beautiful things that mental health issues bring into the world whilst supporting the somewhat more challenging aspects of them.

Mental Health is a big issue in today’s society but it doesn’t have to stop you from being a valued member of the work force. Businesses no longer need to stick to the strict confines of staffing structures especially if they are not solely focused on profit.”

To find out more you can visit www.the888collective.com

Those who are interested in investing should visit The 888 Collective home page and click through to their crowd-funding page.

Mary Lambert Opens Up About Past Trauma & Says Music Became A Form Self-Therapy.

In a new interview with Cosmopolitan, singer Mary Lambert has opened up about some traumatic parts of her past, including sexual assault, mental illness and suicidal ideation.

I was molested by my father at a really young age. You don’t know what’s happening, especially when you’re raised in that environment and your brain is forming, there’s a sense of what normal is,”

I was untreated with bipolar disorder. I was really living in extremes where I would have the best day ever and then I would come home and I would want to die. When I was 16, I snuck into an Army barracks and I was gang-raped. You kind of go into survival mode and are like, ‘OK, how do I navigate this situation?’”

At just 17, Lambert revealed to her church that she was gay. Just one year later, she attempted to take her own life.

She told Cosmopolitan.

Everything hurt so much. The fact that I was abused by my dad. Was raped. Was gay. Was bipolar. Not to mention always being a big girl in the world. Just existing in those spaces, of like, I don’t feel at home in my body, I don’t feel at home in this world. What options do I have left?”

Lambert says now she’s glad she didn’t die. Instead, she’s following a “journey of body love and self-love,” and her passion for music helped her get there.

I’m so glad I didn’t die—I’m so glad that I’m alive, that I didn’t give in—but it wasn’t easy. I feel like there is this canned way we talk about trauma, this canned way we talk about suicide. Like, you just go to Spain and you’re on a boat and you eat tapas—there’s your healing. Real healing is s—ty. It’s dirty and ugly and not easy.”

And even though healing is not easy, Lambert said she hopes other people who might be in a situation like she was know it’s possible.

It all works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, then it’s not the end. That’s something I tell myself. I wish I could have told myself that.”

Quick Mental Health Apps to Make Your Day Better

How’s your mental health these days?

Life can be a lot. On top of dealing with sometimes horrifying world politics, you have to handle everyday life, which might include racism, sexism, classism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, or all of the above. That’s in addition to juggling classes and jobs and family and iPhones that break right after the warranty expires. It’s no wonder that queer women face greater mental health risks.

You probably already know that you need to slow down and stop worrying – but it’s just so hard! Sometimes prioritizing mental health feels like just another item on the to-do list, an item that doesn’t seem important. But when I’m struggling with my mental health, these are the two apps that have helped me the most. Hopefully, they’ll help you too.

Stop, Breathe and Think

Wear Your Voice Mag calls this app “the ‘mood ring’ of meditation.” How does it work? First, tell the app how you feel emotionally and physically. Based on your mood, it will recommend and guide you through three different meditations that will help.

If you have a hard time clearing your head when you meditate, don’t worry. Stop, Breathe and Think walks you soothingly through several guided images; why be in a blank space when you could be reclining on a beautiful beach or swimming under a gentle waterfall?

The app also times how long you’ve meditated, tracks your mood and after meditation in order to tweak its algorithm, and gives you encouraging stickers for reaching milestones.

Get the app here.


We all need someone to talk to. The problem is that sometimes we feel like we’re burdening people with our problems – how many times can you open up to your BFF before you start worrying that she thinks you’re crazy? This is especially difficult if you’re an introvert (guilty).

So open up to a digital penguin instead.

This chatbot takes the form of a penguin that walks you through your negative feelings. I know, it sounds crazy, but the penguin uses mindfulness techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy and adorable stickers to encourage you. This clever little guy has helped me thousands of users, including me, talk through our emotions.

Give Wysa a try, or find more helpful apps here.

And if you’re worried about your mental health affecting your relationships, we can help you cope.

15 Easy (and Necessary) Ways To Practice Self-Care

Self-care is vital.

But it’s hard to tell yourself that it’s vital. You’ll always have another assignment to finish, another job to apply for, another errand run to make – you probably live by the adage “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

If you don’t practice self-care, you’ll burn out. End of story. Human beings aren’t robots. Burnout leads to mental and physical side effects like high blood pressure, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Take care of yourself. Here are some easy ways to do so.

Here are some easy ways to do so.

For the body:

  • Meditate for fifteen minutes a day in order to clear your head.
  • Find an exercise that you enjoy, such as yoga, and treat yourself to it.
  • Get a full night’s sleep every night. It will increase your productivity the next day.
  • Don’t be afraid to eat dessert. Sure, you’ve heard sugar is bad for you, but sugar is also delicious, and you deserve to live a little.
  • Drink in moderation. Don’t be afraid to hit happy hour with friends and decompress.

For the mind:

  • Check out all of the new comedies on Netflix and devour at least one episode a day.
  • Take a nap several times a week (or a day).
  • Learn stress-handling techniques.
  • When was the last time you read a good book? Head to a bookstore or read one on your phone.
  • Learn something that you’ve always wanted to learn. It’s finally time for you to learn sign language and improve your contour game.

For your spirit:

  • Create art. You don’t have to splurge on a class – teach yourself from free resources on the internet.
  • Log off of social media when you’ve had enough. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with everything.
  • You don’t have to read the news. For your own sanity, skip it some days.
  • Find a safe space. This doesn’t have to be a community center; it can be your comfy bed or a friend’s apartment. Anywhere you feel at peace.
  • Make time for religion. If religion is important to you, don’t shove it to the end of your to-do list because life is too hectic. Attending a religious service will help you find community and also decrease your stress levels.

Need more inspiration? Here are 134 more ideas.

Are You Suffering From Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD as it is also referred to, is a psychological disorder in which sufferers believe their body, or certain parts of their body are defective.

It is a serious disorder and often goes undiagnosed, especially as negative self-talk is often accepted in today’s society. Sufferers aren’t just displaying typical insecurities that we all feel from time to time.

They feel like their appearance is very flawed. So how can we tell if our belief that we have a big nose or huge thighs is actually something more serious than an insecurity? Below are five signs that might indicate you are suffering from BDD.

You never feel engaged in what you are doing.

This symptom can show itself if for example you are talking to someone but rather than take part in the conversation completely you spend the whole time worrying that the person you are talking to is looking at the part of your body you feel unhappy with.

You think that all she is thinking is how disgusting your nose is, or how much your chin juts out. If you go to an exercise class, you spend the whole time thinking everyone is staring at your thighs or thinking how awful your butt looks in the sweat pants you are wearing. You feel more comfortable at home in baggy clothes hiding under a blanket so you don’t have to look at yourself.

You hate mirrors

Do you avoid looking at your reflection at all costs, or when you do look in a mirror you are constantly thinking your ears look bigger than they did the last time or that last meal you ate is showing on your stomach already? Many BDD sufferers have an abusive relationship with mirrors and some people might even joke that you are always admiring your reflection.

In fact, the opposite is true. You are not looking at yourself to see how great you look, you are obsessing that the reflection you see in the shop window makes you look even worse than the last reflection you saw of yourself in the bathroom mirror earlier that day.

You have developed unhealthy coping mechanisms

You may have an eating disorder, a drink or drug problem, a shopping addiction, an addiction to exercise or even an addiction to plastic surgery.

These can be secondary symptoms to BDD as you believe that not eating properly will reduce the size of your thighs, or running 10 miles a day will flatten your stomach. Most sufferers will try do anything to fix whatever problem they think they have with their body immediately, even if it means drinking or taking drugs to escape the obsessive thoughts you are constantly plagued with about your body.

You keep comparing yourself to others

If you are at the shops you will look at people around you and compare the amount of acne they have to what acne you perceive you have. You might think that if you had been given the thighs of the woman working in reception you would look so much better and be so much happier.

Sometimes this obsessive comparing can even affect your work and you might try to hide your ‘effected’ part of your body from yourself, with a sweater on your lap hiding your ‘fat’ stomach for example, simply so that you can try to do your work without constantly comparing yourself to your co-workers.

Negative thoughts about your body consume you daily

BDD can consume your every waking hour. Sometimes it can start slowly, just a niggle about a certain body part, but then it becomes bigger, you start thinking negatively about other body parts and before you know it you are too scared to sit between two people on the tube in case you can’t fit as you think you are too big.

Sometimes sufferers will even avoid showering because seeing themselves naked and imagining how much of their body they want to cut off is just too much to bear. You might even cross the road to avoid walking past people because you think you won’t both be able to stay on the pavement and you constantly watch your friend’s eyes to see how much they are staring at your ‘ugly’ body.

If you believe you may be suffering from BDD you must talk to someone about it right away. The condition can be treated and sufferers do overcome the disorder to then go on and lead a life not consumed with such obsessive thoughts about their body.

Sexuality Poses No Risk To Mental Health, According To Major New Study

According to researchs from the Australian National University; people are not at an increased risk by simply being gay or bisexual – but could be affected by other factors.

The eight year study challenged the common perception that LGBT people are at a higher risk of mental health issues and suicide.

Speaking in the Guardian, Dr Richard Burns – who led the researcher – said mental health issues were not down to sexuality itself, but driven by other factors such as negative social interactions, the absence of support, childhood adversity, or even smoking.

Dr Burns, also said that a heterosexual person in a stressful or traumatic situation “would be at just as much risk as a homosexual who is reporting negative social support.

“It’s these other risk factors that are driving people’s risks, not their sexual orientation. “

Gay and bisexual people were found to experience more of these risk factors, which could be the result of their orientation, but “positive and supportive social networks” minimised the risk significantly.

Bisexual people were more at risk than gay people, but this was also mitigated by positive social networks.

Why Do Lesbians And Bisexuals Receive Harsher Prison Sentences?

New research reveals that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are both more likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to be sexually harassed and assaulted in U.S. prisons.

Lesbian and bisexual women are eight times more likely than heterosexual women to be incarcerated. According to Reuters, “the proportion of women in prisons identifying as lesbian and bisexual (36%)  is eight times greater than the 3.4 percent of U.S. women overall who identify as lesbian or bisexual.” The number was so high that it shocked the study’s author, Ilan Meyer, who checked the figure three times.

While the incarceration rate is 612 per 100,000 for the general U.S. population (men and women), the incarceration rate for lesbian, gay and bisexual people is 1,882 per 100,000. That is more than three times higher.

In the study, “sexual minorities” are defined as LGBT people or people who reported having a same-sex sexual experience prior to being incarcerated. 9.3 percent of all men in prison and 42.1 percent of all women in prison (long-term, high-security facilities) are sexual minorities. In jails (short-term, low-security facilities), 6.2 percent of men are sexuality minorities, as are 35.7 percent of women.

When one looks at the rates of sexual harassment in prisons and jails, the results are just as grim. 5% of sexual minorities have been victimized by prison or jail staff, and 12% reported that they’ve been victimized by an inmate.

Prison staff treats sexual minorities more harshly than heterosexual inmates – sexual minorities are “more likely to experience solitary confinement and to report psychological distress.”

And not all sentences are delivered equally. Lesbian and bisexual women are sentenced to longer periods of time than heterosexual women imprisoned or jailed for the same crime.

The study demonstrates how much work is left to be done not just on an activist and legislative level to protect sexual minorities, but also in research. The community needs researchers to do intersectional analyses of how race, class and mental health, coupled with sexual minority status, influence an inmate’s experiences with the legal system.

Researchers need to ask why sexual minorities are receiving such harsh treatment. Is it because every single judge in America is consciously homophobic? (Which is unlikely.) Is it because sexual minorities are more likely to be poor due to lack of antidiscriminatory employment protections, and therefore more likely to live in low-income neighborhoods that are heavily policed?

Only further research will tell. Read more about the study here.

Are You A Narcissist?

Have you ever heard the story of Narcissus? According to ancient Greek mythology, Narcissus’s mother was told that he would live an exceptionally long time, as long as he never saw himself. It was a pretty good plan, until he spurned a would-be lover (one version says a man named Ameinias, while another version says it was the nymph Echo), and was sentenced by the gods to overlook a spring – a spring in which he fell in love with his own reflection and ended up dying. The term narcissist comes from Narcissus’s love for himself, but these days it’s mostly used to talk about someone whose whole world revolves around themselves.

For those of us in the United States, we’ve probably never seen such a clear picture of narcissism as we have in presidential candidate Donald Trump. In fact, Trump embodies almost every trait associated with narcissism, including the inflated ego and overvaluing of one’s own opinions over proven facts. Sigh. Consider me grateful that this whole mess is (probably) going to be over soon, and Trump can just go back to wherever he was before the 2016 presidential race started.

(Meanwhile, if he wins, I might be taking off to join my good friends overseas. Seriously – his running mate wants to trade marriage equality for gay conversion therapy? No, thanks.)

All politics aside, psychoanalyst and therapist Lisa Schlesinger, in an article on YourTango, says that everyone has narcissistic tendencies; the official psychological diagnosis of “narcissism” is just reserved for the most extreme forms. Let’s take a deeper look.

(Please note that her article related to narcissistic parents, but I have adapted what she’s said to apply to those of us who might not have children – many of the same traits are true. Someone with a psychology degree please weigh in if I’m wrong here.)

Narcissism is a totally normal part of human development.

According to Sigmund Freud, children need to go through a narcissistic stage in order to become self-aware. But if that stage lasts beyond puberty, and is classified as “extreme,” it’s then considered a personality disorder. Schlesinger recommends psychodynamic therapies and psychoanalysis once it gets to these points, stating that “[t]hese modalities of treatment are the most direct way to address your narcissistic tendencies.” But what if you haven’t been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder?

A healthy amount of narcissism requires that you value your own needs.

Humans (and all other animals) have a built-in survival instinct; this survival instinct relies on the brain’s need to preserve itself before others. You absolutely are the most important person in your life, and it’s essential that you see things that way; if not, there may be other issues at play, such as depression or codependence. What might be even worse is that someone who falls on one end of the spectrum will most likely seek out someone who falls on the other end of the spectrum. We’re not here to talk about depressed and codependent people, though – we’re only here for narcissism today.

Most people fall somewhere in between the two extremes. Narcissists (whether healthy or malignant) tend to hold an image of themselves that may not be entirely true, and they become threatened by anything that challenges their self-perception. Healthy narcissism requires channeling that into motivation to better oneself, instead of taking a defensive stance on the issue and adamantly defending your own hypocrisy. Healthy narcissism also involves feeling empathy toward others, while ultimately putting your own needs – and the needs of those you care deeply about – ahead of the needs of strangers. Of course, things are a lot more complicated than that, but I’m not a psychologist – I’m just someone who enjoys studying mental illness.

Malignant narcissists use others to meet their needs, without regard to that person’s own needs.

While healthy narcissism tries to find the best solution for everyone involved, malignant narcissists treat others as tools to get the things they want, without giving anything in return. They take any available opportunity to pawn their own responsibilities off on others, such as leaving the kids home alone to go out partying. They neglect the needs of their loved ones in order to satisfy their own. They will also make cutting remarks about others, in an attempt to make themselves look better, often with little regard to the truth of the statements they make.

So, how can you tell how narcissistic you are?

Do you see other people as extensions of yourself? In other words, do you think in terms like “my partner” as opposed to “Brianna,” “my friend” as opposed to “Cassandra,” etc.? While this is a minor distinction, most people choose to refer to someone by their role within the person’s life, rather than who they are on their own.

Do you compare yourself to and compete with others? Many people thrive on competition, but most of us can also respect the idea that competition with others doesn’t do anything but make you miserable. The only person you should really try to be better than is the person you were yesterday, and the only person you should really compare yourself to is the person you’ll be tomorrow.

Do you resent demands from others when they take up your time? For example, do you consider your own downtime more important than someone else’s basic human needs, or rights? Most of us support the idea of equal rights (although I don’t have any exact figures here), but we often won’t help others any more than sharing a post on Facebook or tossing a “like” on someone’s status.

Do you pressure others to do the things you like, without taking their interests into consideration? If you’ve ever pushed your partner or friend to do something you knew she wouldn’t enjoy, just so you didn’t have to do it alone, you fall into this category – sorry!

Do you submerge yourself in the lives of others, so deeply that you lose your own identity? Whether you consider yourself “____’s girlfriend,” “_____’s daughter,” or “_____’s best friend,” you fall into this category. To a lesser extent, this also applies to people who idolize celebrities – if you define yourself as a fan of someone else, you are making their existence a fixture in your life.

Are you a sore loser? Narcissists feel threatened when they aren’t the best at what they do – even if someone else was clearly better. Narcissists don’t like losing, and instead of adjusting their own tactics to get better, they blame the other person, possibly even accusing them of cheating.

Do you consider yourself better than others? Even if you keep it to yourself, you’re a narcissist for thinking it. Narcissists take apart the identities of others and assign values to them – even if those values have little to do with who the person really is.

Do you tell yourself you deserve new/better/more things because of everything you deal with? I think anyone who has ever worked retail, and then participated in “retail therapy,” falls into this particular category. (Yes, I’m putting myself here, too – I regularly spoil myself with nice things, because I feel that no one else is going to give me the things I feel that I’ve earned.)

Do you do things in order to gain recognition? The motivation behind the things you do is an important factor here. Narcissists do things for attention or recognition, instead of being self-motivated. For example, do you post selfies in workout gear to collect likes and inspirational messages? If you skip the gym selfies and updates, and instead just go to the gym because you want to improve your physical fitness, congratulations, you might not fall into this one.

Do you trash-talk others to make yourself look (or feel) better? A good friend of mine once told me that “being a hater shows your true insecurities.” He told me this immediately after I was, in fact, being a hater, talking down on someone else for having a body type that made me uncomfortable. Rest assured – this was a few years back and I’m totally over the body-shaming now – but I’d be lying if I said I never did it.

Do you stay with someone you feel is a “bad person” because it’s more comfortable than being alone? While this particular classification can go for narcissism or codependence, the key here is who your partner is bad toward. Narcissists don’t care if the person they’re dating is a total asshole to everyone else, including the other people the narcissist cares about, as long as they treat them nice.

Do other people simply “fit into” your life, instead of being a part of your life? Another subtle difference here. Narcissists “cast” people to fill roles in their lives – girlfriend, best friend, work wife, etc. – and then cast them aside when they’re no longer needed. True relationships require that you be there for them when they need you, too.

OK, you’re a narcissist. Now what?

Thankfully, Schlesinger outlined a few ways you can manage your own narcissism, once you’ve identified it. It has to be a conscious choice, or it’ll never stick – a narcissist can’t (and won’t) change just because other people want them to. If you’re ready to change your own narcissistic habits, follow the steps below.

  1. Become self-aware of your own narcissism. Evaluate the narcissistic things you do, and decide which you’d like to change. Some will be healthy behaviors, so take the time to actually scrutinize them. You’re not trying to change who you are – you’re just trying to change how you treat others.
  2. Consider another perspective before your own. It’s going to be really hard, especially if you’ve never done it before, but teaching yourself empathy is an essential human trait. Try to think of the ways your choices will affect others, and respect that other people have different opinions. You don’t have to agree – you just have to respect.
  3. Be patient with the process. The more narcissistic habits you possess, the harder the change is going to be. You might be tempted to change everything all at once, especially since narcissists are used to instant gratification, but the world doesn’t usually work like that – especially when it comes to changing habits. Take one habit at a time and give it at least 30 days to change. Then, once you feel confident that you’ve broken the habit, move onto the next one.
  4. Acknowledge the things that made you the person you are today. Most likely, something happened in your past to bring those narcissistic tendencies to the surface. Did your parents neglect you as a child? Were you let down by a former partner? Did you give up the career you loved to be a stay-at-home parent? You have to respect the forks in the road that brought you here, without letting them define who you are now.
  5. Understand that you are in control. Everyone has some narcissistic tendencies, and everyone fantasizes about being the most important person in the world. But the reason most people don’t seem like narcissists is because we learn how to control those tendencies, and only rely on them when we need
  6. Seek professional help, if necessary. While you can manage your narcissism on your own, it’s definitely going to be easier if you’ve got a pro in your corner. Counseling sucks sometimes, but Schlesinger says that psychodynamic therapies and psychoanalysis have been proven to help treat narcissistic personality disorder – so don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about it!

Campaigners Say That LGBTQ Members With Mental Health Problems Endure Dual Discrimination.

See Me, the national anti-stigma support group claims that members of the LGBTQ community face dual discrimination and have nowhere to turn to for help and members of the community often end up feeling alone and isolated.

The LGBT Health and Wellbeing project, which is funded by See Me, are trying to work at improving mental health awareness and the stigma attached to it within the LGBTQ community.

The project has just recently set up a group in Glasgow looking at how to improve the lives of gay and transgendered people living in the city. They are also looking at ways of discovering where stigma regarding mental health comes from and hope to find ways to overcome them.

Jenny Speirs, who runs the group, said:

A lot of people in the LGBTQ community experience mental health issues but have a lot of barriers accessing service and support groups, unfortunately we know some people do experience homophobia, biphobia and trans phobia when trying to access services. There is a lack of understanding about what needs LGBT people have, there is an assumption that the mental health problems are because they are LGBT, but that isn’t always the case.”

Jenny also believes there is a stigma regarding mental health issues within the LGBT community itself and it isn’t widely talked about. She continued:

There is nowhere in the scene in Glasgow to speak about mental health and it isn’t very welcoming of mental health issues. People feel very judged if they are out, there is no space for discussion. So people face discrimination because of their sexuality and their mental health, but there is no place where they can speak about them both together, they don’t feel able to speak about their sexuality in mental health services and they can’t speak about their mental health in the LGBT scene in Glasgow.”

The group are also running an event at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF) on 11th October at the Glad Café in Glasgow, where they will present films on the issue and will have a panel discussion to work out what changes can be made regarding the problem.

Calum Irving, who is the See Me programme director also commented that:

“It is really important that LGBT people have a space in Glasgow they can come together to talk about these important issues. No one should ever have to feel ashamed or embarrassed about their mental health or sexuality and this project is doing great work to not only empower those taking part, but looking to improve the lives of others in the future.”

Big changes need to be made in our own community to support fellow community members who are suffering from mental health issues.

We all face enough prejudice anyway, without stigmatizing our own community members.

9 Ways Your Family Screws With Your Mental Health

We don’t want to believe that the people closest to us are going to do things to hurt us. Sure, maybe sometimes we don’t see eye to eye, but would they really go out of their way to make us feel bad about ourselves? Well, quite possibly, but it’s not usually on purpose. The way things are intended aren’t always the way they come across, and it’s hard to really understand the motivation behind the way someone is.

We’ve laid out 8 things that most family members say at some point, and what they really mean. How many have you heard? How many have you said?

“You’re too good for him/her.”

What they mean: “I’m concerned that your partner doesn’t bring you enough happiness.”

What you hear: “Your emotions are not as important as my judgment over your relationship.”

This one comes from a place of genuine love and concern, and usually comes from a close friend or family member who thinks they know you. They’re worried about your relationship, for whatever reason, and they think that your judgment is clouded. While this is sometimes true, it needs to be presented carefully – otherwise it’ll fall on deaf (and annoyed) ears.

“Are you really going to eat all that?”

What they mean: “I’m worried about the health and fitness expectations I have for you.”

What you hear: “Your health requires my validation – you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Children, teens, and young adults who suffer from body image issues almost always have a family member who encouraged the disordered thinking – and disordered thinking leads to disordered behaviors. I would like to say, from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has ever been fat-shamed by anyone else… You are so much more than your measurements, I promise.

“Why can’t you be more like _____?”

What they mean: “Your sister/brother/cousin seems to be more successful than you are. Maybe you should ask them for some advice.”

What you hear: “You are not good enough. I’d rather you were someone else instead.”

No one deserves to live in someone else’s shadow – including you. One of the most wonderful things about human beings is that we are all unique in so many ways. When we turn everything into a competition, we rob ourselves of our individuality. We destroy the very thing that makes us amazing.

“Your job isn’t good enough for you.”

What they mean: “I think you should have a different job that makes more money or gives you better perks.”

What you hear: “Your job satisfaction doesn’t matter – you need to adhere to my definition of success.”

Not everyone has the same qualifiers for satisfaction, and people are always going to pass judgment on the decisions you’ve made for yourself. That doesn’t mean you need to stick to their qualifiers, though – figure out what makes you happy, and handle your business. (Even if that means working minimum wage so you can put food on the table – a universally good job is hard to come by.)

“Are you really going like that?”

What they mean: “I’m not comfortable with the way you look right now.”

What you hear: “Your style/fashion/makeup choices aren’t good enough.”

No one likes being told what they can or should wear, and no one likes hearing that they don’t look nice. When someone undermines the choices you’ve made with your appearance – or even worse, the things about your appearance that weren’t a choice – you have the right to completely ignore them. Be your own kind of gorgeous, and find people who celebrate your gorgeousness with you.

“If you don’t _____, I’m going to _______.”

What they mean: “This thing is important enough to me that I will threaten you to make sure it happens.”

What you hear: “My control over this demand is more important to me than your happiness or sense of safety.”

Threats, ultimatums, and demands are never good for a relationship – no matter what kind of relationship that is. When the people close to you start making statements like this, they’re not showing “tough love”, they’re exhibiting control over you. It’s entirely appropriate to refuse these demands, particularly if the threat directly affects your safety, your livelihood, or your other relationships.

“I don’t care.”

What they mean: “It doesn’t matter what the reason is, my argument does not change.”

What you hear: “You don’t matter.”

This one usually comes up in an argument, when we’re already prone to saying things we don’t really mean. That doesn’t excuse it, but it should help to soften the blow at least a little. When someone tells you that they don’t care, believe them – they don’t.

“I don’t want to hear it.”

What they mean: See “I don’t care.”

What you hear: “The things you have to say are unimportant.”

In some ways, this is just an extension of “I don’t care,” above. But, it also tells a child (or young adult) that your thoughts don’t mean as much as someone else’s – someone you care deeply about. Approval from the people closest to us helps to build our self-worth, and while it is possible to build it up yourself, it’s a lot harder.

“If you just tried a little harder…”

What they mean: “I think you’re not living up to your fullest potential.”

What you hear: “If this is the best you can do, you’re not good enough.”

One of the most depressing feelings we encounter in life is the feeling that we are inadequate. We all get these feelings from time to time, but there are certain things that definitely make the feelings worse. When someone says that you should just try harder, they’re assuming that you’re not already trying as hard as you can. If you are already trying your hardest (which is impossible to see from the outside), you can start to feel like you’ll never be good enough.

13 Habits To Help You Feel Better About Yourself

I’ve struggled with my self-image and self-esteem for most of my life. For a long time, I was ashamed that I even had these self-image problems, so I kept them to myself in the hopes that no one else would bring them up.

Unfortunately, though, I’d get really insecure if they ever did come up.

In my mind, I falsely associated my own insecurities with other people tearing them down – even though, really, I knew that I was at least partially responsible for how I felt about myself. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was already well into my 20s that I started to understand the real ways to fix my self-esteem – and it didn’t involve a bit of pretending.

1. Focus on the here and now.

We spend way too much of our lives thinking about the past and the future. Personally, I’ve had to fight the urge to plan my life months and months ahead of time, because something always comes up. I’d also dwell on the things I’d done wrong in the past. Instead, I’ve learned to simply take things as they come. After all, the only moment in time you have any control over is the one you’re currently in – so make the most of it. Release your hold on the future, and let go of your hold on the past.

2. Take time for yourself, every day.

Much like we spend too much time thinking, we spend too much time doing things for other people. Don’t get me wrong – doing kind things for others is one of the biggest joys in life. But you can’t give to others if you aren’t leaving anything for yourself. Instead, make sure you put yourself first, and fit everything else in around that. Suddenly, you’ll notice that your life has more joy in it – and that’s a great motivator.

3. Make it easier for you to eat healthy.

Many people feel like they “don’t like healthy foods,” or that they have a dependence on junk food. Most of the time, though, it’s just that the junk foods are easier to get to than the healthier foods – so prep something healthy ahead of time, so that it’s easy to grab and go. Your whole body feels better when you put the right things into it.

4. Get moving more, and make it fun.

Even for people who consider themselves “fit”, we’re probably not exercising as much as we should. Most people don’t find most exercise enjoyable, and they think it’s the act of exercising that feels wrong – so they don’t look for an alternative. When you take time to find an exercise routine that’s fun to you, it won’t feel like working out, and you’re more likely to stick with it. Not everyone needs to load up on cardio, and not everyone has to enjoy strength training. Find what works for you – the specific type of exercise matters less than you might think.

5. Meditate or practice mindfulness.

This is one that’s still pretty new to me, but it has made a tremendous difference in my life. I find it easier to focus on my work tasks, which means I get more done and have more work satisfaction. It’s easier to forgive the people who have done me wrong, which brings me peace. And, I’m learning how to appreciate my circumstances, even when they’re unpleasant – which makes life in general a lot more bearable.

6. Allow yourself to forgive others.

Many people think that forgiving someone means that you’re okay with what they did to you. That’s not really it at all, though. True forgiveness is about setting yourself free from the pain you’ve felt in the past. It means acknowledging that it happened, and respecting their choices. It doesn’t mean that you have to take the chance of it happening again – you can forgive someone and still not want them in your life.

7. Accept your own forgiveness, too.

We’re often our own worst critics, and it takes work to move on from the mistakes of our past. Try to think of the things you’ve done to disappoint yourself, and try to empathize with your younger, less-informed self. After all, as long as you learned from it, you’re not the same person anymore.

8. Make plans and set goals – and make them happen.

Goal-setting and goal-achieving is pretty much programmed into our brains as a rewarding activity – but not everyone knows how to harness this inner reward system. Long-term planners and goal setters know the value in working towards something for a long time, and how satisfying it is once you’ve finally got what you wanted. Start with a few short-term, highly-achievable goals to get your momentum going, and go after bigger and bolder things when you feel more confident.

9. Talk to yourself (nicely).

The way you speak to yourself sets the bar for how other people should treat you – are you talking to yourself the way you want to be talked to? It can feel really awkward when you first start trying to speak more positively to yourself, but once you get into the habit of correcting your negative self-talk, you’ll find that it really is easier to be kind.

10. Make time for your hobbies and passions.

Many people think that the key to success and happiness is achievement. Unfortunately, “achievement” has a number of broad definitions beyond the normal (financial) measures that come to mind. The most confident people know that all those little milestones they get to enjoy are just as important as any other achievements, even if they don’t make sense to anyone else.

11. Stop competing and comparing.

Most people are far too competitive with one another, often bordering on full-fledged envy. We see the things that other people have, or the talents they possess, and we compare that to where we currently are. However, once you stop looking at these other people as competitors and start looking at them as possible mentors, you might find out a lot more about yourself than you ever knew before – and you may learn a thing or two about success, too.

12. Spend time by yourself.

I’m one of those people who has to take a few hours to recharge in solitude before social settings, so I’ve always put a high value on alone time. But it’s good for people who aren’t so introverted, too – even if they don’t need as much alone time to be happy. Try to take at least a few minutes a week to sit alone, in silence, and just process your life.

13. Spend time with positive, uplifting people.

Finally, if you want to feel better about yourself, you should spend more time with people who feel good about themselves, and (preferably) about you, too. These people can help to build you up, and can help teach you ways to build yourself up. (I bet you didn’t know this, but they struggle with being positive sometimes, too – they’ve just learned how to get around their roadblocks.)

7 Things You Need to Know About LGBTQ Suicide Risk

Suicide is a hard thing to talk about. There are a lot of conflicting opinions whenever it’s brought up – for many, it’s a deeply sensitive topic, and one that affects everyone in some way. Chances are good that you have either thought about suicide yourself, or you know someone who has. Yet, still, there’s this big stigma around it, and people are afraid to talk about it – mostly because they’re afraid of how other people will react. If it’s not sensitive and supportive, it’s often harsh and triggering.

Now, I don’t like to talk about my own suicidal past, either – partially because of the stigmas, and partially because I’m not that person anymore. But as September is suicide prevention month, and people who have oppressed identities – like the queer community has for so many years – are statistically more likely to think about and attempt suicide than their straight classmates.

I don’t want to get too deep into my story, but I will say that it has been almost 7 years since my last suicide attempt. I’m out of that place now – but the risks of returning there will always be on my mind. What’s even worse, to me, is that there are still so many youths that are still living with this daily struggle weighing on them. These young people are the future of the queer community, and we need to talk about what’s happening.

1. According to the CDC, LGBTQ high school students are at a higher risk for rape, bullying, and suicide.

In one of the saddest CDC reports I’ve ever read (although, admittedly, I’ve only ever read a few), it was stated that sexual abuse, bullying, and suicide risks were much greater within the 9th-12th grade LGBTQ community. According to this report, gay, lesbian, and bisexual high school students were at higher risk for 16 violence-related risky behaviors (out of 18 total identified behaviors). LGBTQ students also placed at higher risk for 18 out of 19 alcohol or drug use behaviors, as well as for 11 out of 13 tobacco-use related risk behaviors. LGBTQ students also managed to rank highest in give out of six sexual risk behaviors. This article gives a little more reader-friendly version of the findings.

This means that, across the board, LGBTQ students are very high-risk, and confirms the need for more LGBTQ-youth-oriented programs in local communities. (But we’ll get further into that one in just a few minutes.) Similar studies have been done by the US National Library of Medicine, although they state that any findings are “tentative” because not all people who identified as a “sexual minority” were out to their friends and family members, and as such, the numbers could be higher than the data collected reflects.

2. LGBTQ youth are more likely to be bullied.

91% more likely, in fact – a staggering number for any statistic, let alone one about suicide. They’re also 46% more likely to be physically or sexually victimized than their heterosexual classmates. (And, might I add, this includes LGBTQ youth who has yet to come out – the bullying is not necessarily homophobic in nature.)

Among these categories, trans-identified students are of particular concern. Over half of all transgender and gender-nonconforming students who are bullied for their identity have already attempted suicide, and that number jumps up to 78% for those who have experienced physical or sexual abuse at school.

Of course, there are a whole host of other things that the queer community is more likely to experience – check out this study by The Williams Institute to learn about a few more.

3. Lack of support and acceptance at home increases the risks of suicide.

While bullying outside the home is the type we think of the most, the truth is that having a hostile home environment has just as much of a devastating impact, if not more – after all, at school, there’s a chance to get away, and that’s not usually the case at home. Kids from homophobic families are 8.4 times more likely (that’s 840%, for those of you who don’t like decimals) to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and peers with supportive home lives.

4. Suicide is the #2 cause of death among people aged 10-24.

Yes, you read that right – suicide is the #2 cause of death among preteens, teenagers, and young adults. Thankfully, these numbers are a little lower in counties and regions that have more support for queer youth. In fact, counties that aren’t safe and supportive spaces for LGBTQ youth, suicide rates are 20% higher than in counties that are safe and supportive.

LGBTQ high schoolers are 4 times more likely (400%) to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

5. Gay and bisexual men are most likely to attempt suicide before the age of 25.

Across all demographics, gay and bisexual men account for the most suicide attempts, with 20% of gay and bi men having a suicide plan, and 12% attempting suicide within their lives. According to the US National Library of Medicine, most of these men attempted suicide before they turned 25.

6. Gay/Straight Alliances reduce the suicide risk for all students.

What may be a bit more of a shock is the fact that Queer-Straight Alliances (or Gay-Straight Alliances, or whatever they happen to be called in your area) actually reduce the risk of suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and attempts even for heterosexual students. In fact, in schools that had their QSA for over three years, incidents of homophobic bullying and suicidal thoughts were dropped by as much as 50%, across the board.

7. There are places you can go for help.

One of the most important things to remember is that, sometimes, just having someone to be there makes all the difference in the world. Whether you want to help out, or you are in a high-risk situation and just need to talk to someone, you may be able to find resources in your local area to help. In the US and Canada, there are 24-hour crisis call centers to help and you may be able to volunteer to help others, as well.

If you’re in another country and you know of a resource for at-risk and LGBTQ youth, please let us know in the comments. No one should have to feel alone in the world, and there is always someone who cares – you just have to know where to look.

Struggles Of Being Bisexual And The Messy Realities We Deal With

Some people know all along. Some people talk about it, some don’t. Others, don’t come to terms with their sexuality until later.

I realized I was attracted to people of all genders significantly late: in high school, which, combined with the fact that I already happened to be in a long term relationship with a boy, assured my parents that I was simply going through a phase and was really only into men.

1 – Bi Privilege

The Myth

However, I never enjoyed any kind of ‘privilege’, as bisexuals in a different-gender-relationship are often assumed by homosexual people to do.[1]

On the contrary, my mother threw a fit when she caught me asleep on my bed with a friend who happened to be a girl and feels, to this day, threatened by most of my female friends.

As for my seemingly supportive father, he warned me that if I didn’t change that ‘habit’, I’d probably never be able to form loyal monogamous bonds with people and sustain serious relationships, since I’d always be unsatisfied and greedy. When I went through a psychologically ugly phase through winter because of my own issues, they both decided that the reason of my sadness was nothing else, but the confusion caused by my abnormal, unsettled sexuality.

So yeah, bi people don’t receive any kind of special treatment. My family treated me with caution, tears and disappointment, as if I’d come out to them as a lesbian, with the slight difference that I actually was in a relationship with a man back then, and continue to be in a relationship with another man today.

Even if sometimes I get the illusion that I can lay back and ‘enjoy’ the privileges of this relationship, I still can’t let them know I’m into LGBTQ+ activism, and I have to be careful of cameras at Pride.

2 – Biphobia and Bi Erasure

A Guide to Non-Inclusion and Invisibility

Whenever I discuss my sexuality in a new group of people my age, I must expect the guy who’ll say nasty, objectifying things that have to do with me liking girls and assumedly being kinky, promiscuous, and into wild threesomes, as most bisexual people are stereotypically considered to be. There was also that straight girl who patted my back and condescendingly told me that, now that I’ve tasted sex with men, I’m fooling myself and will probably never be really satisfied with a girl, and that gay girl who asked me what sort of weird, wicked thing I was, and how liking boys works, exactly.

The thing is that, bisexuals usually have to live big part of our lives without having our identities recognized, which something strongly adds up to the invalidation of our feelings and problems, and the sense of not fitting anywhere.

We are represented in the media, but as the dangerous ‘straight girl’ you should never fall for, the experimenting ‘lipstick lesbian’, or the ‘once-lesbian celebrity that settled for a husband’, since most narratives seem to be afraid to use our name.

Invisibility renders it harder for us to come out and be understood by friends, colleagues and family, to seek both legal and social support, and to receive medical or psychological care without being labeled as confused, a transmitter of diseases, or worse, encouraged to cure ourselves in order to solve most of our physical and mental health problems.

3 – Bisexuality and Mental Health

The Dead-End

As a result, it appears that both bisexual women and men are easily affected by mental health problems and psychological issues. Specifically, a large survey from the UK has shown that bisexual women, more likely than lesbians, may experience eating problems or self-harm. [2]

They are also more likely to suffer from depressed feelings or anxiety, according to a research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. According to major Canadian study, bisexual men are 6.3 times more likely, and bisexual women 5.9 times more likely, to feel suicidal than heterosexual people.

As for trans bisexual people, they also run the risk to be denied healthcare services based on their sexuality, according to the 2014 Movement Advancement Project report and Rainbow Health Ontario. More recently, Joelle Monaghan, a Dalhousie University nursing graduate, shows in her recent research how bisexual female students are more likely than others to suffer from depression and turn to risk-taking behaviors, such as the use of substances.

4 – Things to Consider

The thing is, we’re tired of always having to prove the authenticity of our existence to others, running the risk of still having our stories invalidated afterwards.

If we seek help for our problems, we need trained health professionals, who won’t expect us to convince them about our issues, assume things about our sexual partners, life and practices, based on our sexuality – or vice versa – or invalidate our experience.

We need people who will sit back and hear us, keen to be educated and open towards things they might have not experienced. We need public services and easy access. We need people who will not make us feel weird, cryptic, or apologetic about an important part of our identity.

Don’t forget to consider racial discrimination, sexism and transphobia, disability, poverty: intersections of our different identities that add up, induce and affect mental health, while at the same time limiting our access to solutions.

Remember: reaching for help isn’t always that easy, especially when other parts of our identity make us less privileged than others. It’s not only up to the individual to work for courage to ask for help. It’s also a huge responsibility of a system that has to make it accessible to all of us.

[1] I identify as pansexual, which means I am attracted to people regardless of gender, even though I sometimes use the umbrella term ‘bisexual’ in order to be more broadly understood to people who are not yet acquainted with all terms. To clarify, when we use the term ‘bisexual’ here, think of it as an umbrella term for people who are attracted to more than one genders, be it bisexuals, pansexuals, polysexuals etc.

[2] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/838142

Kirsten Stewart Remains Grounded As She Discusses Mental Health, Fame And Sexuality.

How can we not all endear to the fabulous Kirsten Stewart? We’ve seen her get slated and praised by the media, avidly read about her turbulent love life, punched the air in joy when she started hinting about her sexuality and soon her latest film Café Society, directed by Hollywood Legend Woody Allen will hit the big screen.

So what does it really mean to be Kirsten Stewart? Well, in her most frank interview to date with Elle UK Magazine, due to appear on the shelves in Septembers issue, she candidly opens up about her own battle with Obsessive Compulsive disorder and acute anxiety, common mental health problems that many people suffer from.


Kirsten discloses to Elle that in the past she has suffered from anxiety so badly that it affected her everyday life.

I went through so much stress and periods of strife. I would have panic attacks…I literally always had a stomach ache. And I was a control freak and I couldn’t anticipate what was going to happen in a given situation, so I’d be like, ‘Maybe I’m going to get sick’… It’s kind of remarkable.”

Luckily though she managed to overcome this as she learned to deal with things a bit better.

I just grew out of it, but that’s not to say I don’t get worried.”

K- Stew hasn’t just dealt with anxiety issues either. She even revealed her own personal battle against OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as it’s also known as.

Kristen Stewart

This common mental health issue leaves sufferers with an intense urge to repeat the same behaviours over and over again such as hand washing or continually checking the light switches are turned off before leaving the house for example. She also goes on to say that she does now manage to control it.

As I am getting older I’m going into my OCD. If things are a mess, I feel like I have lost everything. So I procrastinate by tidying, which is so stupid. I changed, that’s the thing – at a certain time point I realised that the fear was death, but I had gone through so much that did not kill me… sorry, I know that sounds dramatic … I realise the anxiety just ran out. I didn’t have the energy to do that anymore.”

Bringing awareness to one’s own mental health issues is a very courageous thing to do and if there is one thing to be said about Kristen it’s the fact that she really is brave.


Even back in 2010 when she was still in her teens she opened up about the pressure of dealing with fame and how the downside was often worse than the upside, especially when she mentioned about dealing with negative press and how she would base her persona on all the things that had been said about her. She also mentioned the fact that people would think she was bad tempered or moody and commented:

What you don’t see are the cameras shoved in my face and the bizarre intrusive questions being asked, or the people falling over themselves, screaming and taunting to get a reaction. All you see is an actor or a celebrity lit up but a flash. A lot of the time I can’t handle it. It’s f**ked. I never expected that this would be my life.”

Very wise and surprisingly open words for a teen in all honesty. And that’s not all this very real woman has talked frankly about. Back last year during an interview with Nylon she touched upon her own sexuality but without defining herself with any kind of label. She smacked labels totally in fact by stating:

Google me, I’m not hiding. If you feel like you really want to define yourself, and you have the ability to articulate those parameters and that in itself defines you, then do it. But I am an actress, man.

I live in the fucking ambiguity of this life and I love it. I don’t feel like it would be true for me to be like, ‘I’m coming out!’ No, I do a job. Until I decide that I’m starting a foundation or that I have some perspective or opinion that other people should be receiving… I don’t. I’m just a kid making movies.”

Recently however she seems more comfortable with using terms like ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘in love.’ She has openly told the press about her long term partner Alicia Cargile and gushed:

Right now I’m just really in love with my girlfriend. We’ve broken up a couple of times and gotten back together, and this time I was like, ‘Finally, I can feel again.'”

Along with this she has often posted pictures of herself and Alicia on her Twitter page, much to her fan’s delight and when asked why she decided to be more open about her relationship she stated in a way only K- Stew can:

When I was dating a guy I was hiding everything that I did because everything personal felt like it was immediately trivialised, so I didn’t like it. We were turned into these characters and placed into this ridiculous comic book. But then it changed when I started dating a girl. I was like, ‘Actually, to hide this provides the implication that I’m not down with it or I’m ashamed of it, so I had to alter how I approached being in public. It opened my life up and I’m so much happier.'”

We all think this gal has it going down totally. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, speak out about mental health issues and open up about her own sexuality.

For a twenty-something woman who has spent nearly twenty years in the public eye she has overcome more than her fair share of obstacles and yet her career continues to grow, her openness continues to grow and our love for her continues to grow.

Keep on going as you are K- Stew, we think you are fabulous.

6 Mental Health Issues That Are More Common Than People Realise.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 18 percent of adults in the United States experience some form of mental illness.

Many people are aware that mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are quite common, however not many people, unless they are sufferers, fully understand the symptoms or the causes.

There is still a stigma attached to it which is not helped by people’s lack of awareness and stereotyping in the media.

Postpartum Depression

This is also referred to as postnatal depression and can occur after a woman has given birth. It effects up to one in seven women and apparently around 4% of fathers are also affected by it as well. Women can often be very tearful, lethargic and at times not bond with her new baby.

Adult ADHD

The full name for this is attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is more commonly found in children. Many grow out of the condition as they become adults but around 60% of children carry the condition with them into adulthood. Symptoms include problems with impulsivity control and heightened anxiety levels.

Social Phobia

The NIMH states that social phobia effects up to 7% of adults in the United States. The sufferer feels intense panic in social situations and some will avoid being with other people totally.


This is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and can occur because of any event in a sufferer’s life that has caused a huge amount of stress. Over 3.5% of Americans suffer from this and symptoms include anxiety, depression, tremors and a feeling of worthlessness.

Specific Phobias

Specific phobia is when a sufferer has an extreme fear of specific objects or situations. It is one of the most common psychological disorders effecting around 9% of the population. Sufferers experience extreme reactions to their phobia such as shaking, anxiety and panic and hyperventilation when they come into contact with whatever they are phobic about.


Many people think schizophrenia is rare but it actually effects around 1% of the World population which makes it far more common than people realise. Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder and sufferers can have auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia and extreme anxiety.

It’s important as a society we try to understand conditions such as these, especially as they are so common. This is the only way to take away the stigma and ensure sufferers feel more comfortable talking about their condition to others.

How Your Mental Health Affects Your Romantic Relationships

I’m going to share something with you that not everyone knows: I suffer from pretty severe anxiety, and mild OCD. This combination is something that affects almost every part of my life, in one way or another, and it often gets in the way of the things I want or need to do. There have been more weeks than I can count where my anxiety flared up right before a big deadline, or when I couldn’t focus on work because I was missing something that had literally nothing to do with anything important… But my brain turned it into this huge deal.

(I actually wrote about an anxiety attack that was triggered by a missing pen in this post.)

Sure, it’s not always that bad. There are days when I’m perfectly fine, and one of the most productive members of society that I know. There are days when everything is amazing, just like most people who struggle with a mental illness. But just because you’re okay one day doesn’t mean that everything is fine – it just means that you had a good day.

When it comes to our romantic relationships, the effects can be even more obvious. It’s either way too easy or way too difficult to remember that we have an impact on the people around us… So as much as we’d like to keep our mental illness to ourselves, it’s going to affect our relationships in a number of really big ways.

Stigmas make it difficult to talk about.

Most people with mental illnesses (or any other invisible illnesses) tend to not like talking about them because of the stigmas associated with them. It sucks, but the media is not our friend here. Most of the information that the average not-struggling person knows about mental health, they learn from fictional TV shows – most of which don’t paint a very true picture. We know the way television characters with mental illness act, and although the good representation is finding its way in, slowly, there’s still a long way to go.

Aside from the stereotypes we see on TV and in movies, we also know that people often associate mental illness, or talking about mental illness, with attention-seeking behavior. I’m sure we’ve all heard that old cliché that reaching out for help means you’re just looking for attention, which causes many of us to not ask for help when we really need it. I was guilty of this one a lot as a teenager, still coming to terms with my sexuality and my anxiety and dealing with high school. If I asked for help, people would think I was needy. So I struggled with it on my own.

We also worry that telling someone will change the way they feel about us. We fight our own battles, because we don’t want to give someone else the power to use our illness against us. Once you combine the stigmas with the way the mental illnesses affect our way of thinking, the thought of telling someone you love can become really, really scary.

Our symptoms get in the way of our daily lives.

A lot of people say that mental illness is all in your head. Well, they’re not wrong – it is entirely centered around the brain, after all. But since the brain controls literally every other part of your life, something going wrong in your brain can seriously mess up your whole day, and if left alone, it can cause some major long-term damage.

What’s even worse is that many mental health issues have symptoms that look a lot like just being a bad partner. Anxiety looks a lot like insecurity, and anxious people tend to need a lot of reassurance from their partners. This can make them seem clingy or jealous, even though they’re really just trying to confirm that their thoughts aren’t logical.

Depression is another battle entirely. Some of the symptoms of depression look a lot like apathy, boredom, or a lack of ambition (and, in many ways, a person suffering from depression is probably apathetic, bored, and lacking in ambition – at least while they’re struggling). The person suffering from depression lacks the drive needed to get out of bed, or to do anything fun, which can be frustrating to her partner.

Bipolar disorder is a different monster entirely, as it can look like depression or it can be the complete opposite. Being manic means that the person will be impulsive, moody, and possibly even violent. This is usually followed by a period of severe depression. People with OCD or eating disorders might seem like (and even act like) control freaks, when really they’re just trying to get a handle on their own lives – not to control yours. There are probably a bunch of other mental illnesses out there that I don’t have direct personal experience with, so please share in the comments if there’s something I’ve missed!

We still have our mental illness, even when we seem well-managed.

One of the scariest parts of dealing with a mental illness is knowing that it’s never really gone, although the right treatment options can make a huge difference in how much our illness interferes with our daily lives. But treatment options are confusing – how do you choose between medication or behavior therapy or counseling, anyway? What if you try a new medication, and it actually makes things worse? (Yes, that happens sometimes.)

Many people ignore or minimize mental illness unless a person is actually in the middle of a nervous breakdown. Just because we find a treatment that works well for us doesn’t mean that we’re magically OK, and there are going to be bad days with any treatment. (As far as I’m aware, there’s no 100% cure for mental illness – just things that work for some people and some that work for others.) This means that things can pop up even if it’s been a really long time since the last time we had an episode… And that means we have to tell our partner once things get too serious, no matter how scary it is.

Mental illness sucks up your attention and your energy.

There are going to be days when we are completely used up and there’s nothing left to give to our partners. We know it looks bad, especially if it’s been a long streak without any intimacy. For someone who doesn’t understand the implications, it might seem like we’re uninterested, or that we’re falling out of love. This is not the case. It’s just that our illness is taking everything out of us, and there’s not enough left over.

Usually, these periods where there’s nothing left don’t last too long… But sometimes they do. Sometimes we go weeks or months without being in the mood, simply because we’re struggling a little harder. We can’t stop thinking about the way our brains are sabotaging us. We can’t stop thinking about how we’re hurting our partners, through no fault of their own. As bad as we already feel about our mental illness, we feel worse because our illness won’t stop reminding us about how we’re hurting them.

We need someone patient and brave.

Being with someone who struggles with mental illness takes someone brave, courageous, and proactive. It takes someone who’s willing to help us just by being there for us, not by putting us in a box on the shelf. We’re not fragile – we just process brain chemicals differently. It literally comes down to science.

We need someone who is patient enough to wait with us when times are hard, because that’s when we need the most love (even if we say we don’t want it). We need someone who’s brave enough to stick it out when we try a new treatment, and be there to help us tell the doctors what we can’t put into words (but only if we ask you to). We don’t need someone to take care of us… We just need someone to remind us how to take care of ourselves.

Bisexual, Gay, And Lesbian Adults Face Greater Health Risks, According To New Study

According to study, bisexual, gay and lesbian adults are more likely to experience psychological distress and engage in unhealthy behaviours, possibly as a result of being the target of discrimination, according to a study published Monday.

The study in the US medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine analysed the results of the 2013 and 2014 National Health Interview Survey, which for the first time included a question on sexual orientation.

It reported,

Findings from our study indicate that LGB adults experience significant health disparities — particularly in mental health and substance use — likely due to the minority stress that LGB adults experience as a result of their exposure to both interpersonal and structural discrimination.”

The analysis showed that 40.1% of bisexual men and 25.9% of gay men reported moderate or severe levels of psychological distress, compared to 16.9% of heterosexual men.

Heavy drinking was reported by 10.9% of bisexual men, compared with 5.7% for heterosexual men and 5.1% for gay men.

Rates of heavy smoking were also highest among bisexual men at 9.3%, compared to 6.2% for gay men and six percent for heterosexual men.

Among women, 46.4% of bisexuals and 28.4% of lesbians reported moderate and severe psychological distress, compared with 21.9% of heterosexual women.

Bisexual women also had the highest rates of heavy alcohol consumption, 11.7%, compared with 8.9% for lesbians and 4.8% for heterosexual women.

Heavy smoking was most prevalent among lesbian women at 5.2%, followed by bisexual women at 4.2%. The rate among heterosexual women was 3.4%.

The negative findings for bisexual adults may be linked to their “marginalization” by heterosexuals and “stigma” from gays and lesbians, according to the study, led by Gilbert Gonzales of Vanderbilt University.

JAMA Internal Medicine Deputy Editor Mitchell Katz wrote in an editor’s note that it’s important for medical professionals to ask patients open-ended questions.

For example, asking a new patient whether he or she has sex with men, women or both indicates openness and acceptance. In caring for people who have experienced bias and discrimination, support is a very potent medicine.”

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Singer-Songwriter Mary Lambert Talks About Life With Bipolar Disorder

This weekend singer-songwriter Mary Lambert posted a photo on Instagram to discuss what she called an “intense bipolar episode”.


Through out her career, Lambert has been open in her music and in interviews about living with bipolar disorder.

Lambert wrote on Instagram,

In my episodes, I tend to oscillate quickly between hyper anxiety, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and shame. I have different mechanisms for coming out of it. TV shows are helpful (thanks Jeopardy!), and I am also grateful to have a deeply compassionate partner that helps pull me out with nice forehead kisses.”

Lambert – who is known for her stunning debut album, Heart on My Sleeve, and for contributing the chorus to Macklemore’s marriage equality anthem “Same Love” – said it was her responsibility to de-stigmatize mental illness and posted the photo to show that someone with bipolar disorder has good days and bad days.

I realized part of the honesty — part of the vulnerability — is allowing people to see the whole picture. I am not like this every day. But I am also not glamorous and confident every day. I can exist in both spaces, and that is OK.”

As Lambert mentions, she opened her 2014 song “Secrets” with the line “I’ve got bipolar disorder.”


Cara Delevingne Reveals Why She Opened Up About Her Depression (Video)

Earlier this month, Cara Delevingne revealed that she was suffering from depression while she was modelling, and needed to take a break for a while, and now she’s outlined why she posted the series of tweets.

Talking to E! at CinemaCon, she explained

Things which happen in the mind, things that occur, are less spoken about. Mental illness goes unseen, but hopefully I don’t want it to be unheard. I want to speak up for it.”

Delevingne continued:

I’ve seen a lot of people I love in my life suffer from it, including myself, so I don’t want people to carry on. One of the main things is talking about it, speaking about it for myself and hoping that other people will be able to talk about it too.”

Last month, she made a triumphant return to modelling in a stunning Yves Saint Laurent campaign, but her focus on her film career during the hiatus has paid dividends.

Delevingne will soon be seen as Enchantress in Suicide Squad this summer and next year in Luc Besson’s sci-fi blockbuster Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Suicide Squad will be released on August 5.

Watch the awesome trailer below:

Why Cara Delevingne and Ruby Rose Talking About Mental Health Is Needed

A few days ago Cara Delevingne took to Twitter to explain how dealing with mental illness made being a supermodel pretty tough.

I suffer from depression and was a model during a particularly rough patch of self hatred.

I am so lucky for the work I get to do but I used to work to try and escape and just ended up completely exhausting myself.

I am focusing on filming and trying to learn how to not pick apart my every flaw. I am really good at that.

Okay…. Rant over. Just wanted to clarify and word vomit a little.”

Days later, Ruby Rose also posted about her own struggle.


As someone who suffers with anxiety, panic attacks, and periods of depression, I think Cara and Ruby sharing these things is a very, very good thing.

Yes, I get why some people don’t like it. There are people who think that someone who’s famous has no right to discuss such a big, serious topic.

And we don’t necessarily want famous faces being to be the definitive face people think of when they hear about mental illness.

I get all that.

But I’m of the opinion that celebrities sharing their struggles also does a lot of good.

When they admit that they’ve experienced issues with mental health, it does a number of important things.

One: It gets us talking about mental health in a big way.

Two: It breaks down the silence and stigma surrounding mental illness – because if we can talk about Cara Delevingne having depression, maybe it’s okay for us to talk about what we’re going through, too.

Also, when a celebrity speaks out, it reminds everyone that people who seem to have everything can be pretty miserable.

Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders – they’re not moralistic beings that judge how sad you should be, based on your current wage and living situation.

You can have everything you could possibly need in life and not be happy. It’s not a choice. It’s not being ungrateful, or moaning, or not realising that other people ‘have it much worse’.

It’s your brain malfunctioning. It can happen to you even if you ‘should’ be the happiest person around.

The face of depression isn’t just a person who cries all the time. They can be cheery and chatty and confident.

Mental illness is an invisible illness.

You can’t tell what someone’s going through just by looking at them.

When a celebrity admits they have a mental illness, it works to add another story and face to what we think of when we think of mental health and helps break down the negative stereotypes of what people with mental illness are like.

And for people going through similar stuff, a celebrity being open about their issues makes us feel less alone – and reminds us that we can get through this.

If someone with depression can battle through it, work hard, and be mega successful, we can, too.

According To New Study, Your Anxiety Can Actually Affect The Way You Walk

According to a recent study, people who are more self-conscious and prone to anxiety tend to walk differently, to those who are more self assured.

Researchers at the University of Kent have discovered anxious people walk slightly to the left.

Apparently, this is because the right sides of their brains have more activity than the left sides.

In the study, they blindfolded participants and asked them to walk in a straight line.

The researchers found the individuals who tended to be more anxious consistently walked to the left instead of straight.

So, next time you’re walking down the street, pay attention to your trajectory. If curve to the leaft, maybe close your work email when you get home and take a bubble bath instead.

Thank you science for this breakthrough.

We Are Three Times More Likely To Experience A Mental Health Issues, Than Straight People

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ youth are at an increased risk for suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and suicide and are often bullied more than their peers.

Alyssa Norris recently explained Yahoo Health

If they’re an adolescent subject to daily bullying who is rejected by their parents, we would expect that these rates would be higher.”

That can make a lasting impression on a person’s psyche, licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, who specialises in the treatment of anxiety, added.

It isn’t easy to be different, and the chronic challenges of a non-heterosexual lifestyle can make everything seem harder, leading ultimately to mental health issues.”

The problems may start from the time a person realises his or her sexual orientation is different from the majority’s, she says, and may be exacerbated as a person encounters challenges faced when coming out.

It can be hard to stay mentally healthy along the way.”

Research has shown that gay men in particular have higher rates of body dissatisfaction and shame due to gay male culture’s emphasis on physical appearance.

One study published in the journal Men and Masculinities found that gay men reported significantly more body dissatisfaction and had a significantly smaller ideal weight than heterosexual men.

Another study published in the journal Eating Behaviors found that gay men were significantly more likely to be at risk of disordered eating and were more driven to achieve a muscular body than heterosexual men.

That can create a lot of stress and anxiety for a man, which can even lead to depression.

Clark added

Not only are gay men concerned about societal stigma for their sexual orientation, but gay men can feel intense social pressure from their community to be a picture of physical attractiveness that isn’t always possible. They feel shame about their perceived physical flaws and can also be shamed by their partners, making it hard to come to terms with one’s physical limitations and realities.”

But as the new research and other data have shown, it’s not just gay men who are at risk.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGBTQ individuals are three times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition like major depression or an anxiety disorder.

Societal and cultural pressure can generate a great deal of added anxiety and relationship angst. It is isolating to feel different, and although we know so much of sexual orientation is biological, people still harbour a great deal of shame.”

If that anxiety isn’t redirected into realistic values or channelled into productive action, it can create a vulnerability to depression and self-destructive behaviours like substance abuse, Clark says.

However, it’s possible for us to lower our risk of developing a mental illness.

Clark says the most important way is to get educated about the symptoms of anxiety and depression and know your odds of developing each. If you show an early sign of decline, get help.

Don’t let one more stigma (mental health) stand in your way of finding the happiness and satisfaction you deserve to feel in life.”

Homophobia Amongst Teen Boys Is on the Rise, Says Mental Health Charity

Although a majority of people in countries like the US and the UK now support LGBTQ rights, there’s still a (vocal) minority who still oppose them and the existence of LGBTQ people themselves. While they are clearly on the wrong side of change, homophobia can have a serious impact on a person’s mental health and, as we have unfortunately seen in the past, can lead people to taking their own lives.

Recently, LGBTQ charity Stonewall spoke up about the risk of ‘complacency’, saying that we need to make sure we tackle anti-LGBTQ opinions and now mental health charity Beyondblue has backed that up with a survey; and the data is damning.

Beyondblue interviewed 304 teenage boys in Australia, each of them aged between 14 and 17. They quizzed them on their opinions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people and found that 21% of them agreed that it was hard to treat them the same as their cis, heterosexual peers and 27% of the boys said agreed with the statement “The way I treat lesbian, gay or bisexual people doesn’t really matter as I don’t meet many.” Worse still, one in five of those who responded said that LGBTI people should hide their identity and 38% weren’t sure (or disagreed) when they were asked if they’d be happy to include an LGBTI person in their friendship group. 40% said that they were uncomfortable around LGBTI people.

Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman says that:

We know levels of psychological distress among LGBTI people are much, much higher than the rest of the population, and suicide rates among this [part of the] population is also incredibly high. Having people tease you and making you feel worthless at school can be incredibly damaging, and the research is consistently telling us we need to educate young men in particular that discriminating against LGBTI people is not only harmful, it’s ridiculous and not cool.”

As a result, her organisation has put together a new advertising campaign to tackle these anti-LGBTQ opinions. There is a short film accompanied by the hashtag #StopThinkRespect and this will be rolled out across social media as well as being displayed on gambling websites, at cinemas and other places frequented by young men.

Harman has also said that she doesn’t know why Australia’s young men hold these views but hopefully their campaign will change their minds for the better.

New Study Reveals Lesbians Drink More Than Straight Women

A new UK study has revealed that lesbians drink far more than straight women, even after having a hazardous relationship with alcohol.

Scientists used to theorise that LGB women would drink more than their straight counterparts because, well, being LGB apparently makes women sad, so they drink to feel better.

However, study conducted by Britain’s leading LGBT mental health charity, PACE found that 31.9 percent of straight women engaged in problematic drinking, as compared to 37.1 percent of lesbian and bisexual women, but almost have same levels of addiction.

So why is it that lesbians drink more than straight women?

Margaret Unwin, the CEO of PACE, said that their findings showed that factors like difficulties within families, anxiety about coming out and fear of actual negative responses when accessing services creates pressures, which leads to LGB women having problematic drinking patterns.

“Problematic drinking among lesbian and bisexual women is often associated with prevailing heterosexism, such as difficulties within families, anxiety about coming out and fear of or actual negative responses when accessing services…[they] can partly explain why LGB women may have problematic drinking patterns.”

If you ask us, the fact LGB women like drinking, could really be down to the fact that some of the only safe spaces for lesbian women to exist are bars and clubs in big towns. LGB women in rural areas drink less than LGB women living in cities.


As one interviewee in the RaRE Research Project (it stands for Risk and Resilience Explored), put it:

“British culture and attitude to alcohol [is unhelpful]. It’s encouraged. The media encourage it, it’s everywhere. It’s how we socialise. The gay scene is awful for it. There are pills everywhere. Women especially are heavy drinkers.”