Tag: #anxiety

How To Be There For Someone Who Is Having A Mental Health Crisis

Link: here

One of the challenging things about a mental health crisis is that often, even the people that care about you aren’t quite sure how to be there for you. After getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I lost a lot of friends during a time when I most needed support from them.

In some cases, the real issue wasn’t a lack of caring — I believe that some people simply didn’t know how to respond to what was happening. That’s perfectly understandable, but I truly wish that more people had at least tried to be there for me. Here are a few of the things that friends did that meant a lot to me, as well as some things I wish more people would have done:

More ArticlesThe Negativity Bias: Why the Bad Stuff SticksWhat is the negativity bias? How can you overcome it?Article by:Margaret Jaworski

The article:https://www.psycom.net/negativity-bias

How can you overcome the negativity bias?

But there is good news. Despite the evolutionary hand we’ve been dealt, the degree to which we’re able to override our “default” setting and avoid falling into an abyss of self-recrimination, insecurity, sadness, anger, bitterness and other negative emotions depends on a slew of factors including our upbringing, the input we’ve received from those around us whose opinions we value, and how we interpret what we’ve been told. “The single most important underlying factor is….how we talk to ourselves about our experiences,” notes Kenneth Yeager, PhD, director of STAR (Stress, Trauma, and Resilience) Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “If you challenge yourself…to be mindful of your daily activities, noticing what’s important [and what isn’t], you are more likely to have positive life experiences,” Dr. Yeager explains. Basically, you need to put effort into truly valuing all the good and positive aspects of your life so that you are not overcome by the negative. Even if you are facing a multitude of objectively negative situations, you can try to appreciate the positive aspects of your life, regardless of how small they may be.

Other ways to counterbalance our proclivity towards negativity? Grant Brenner, MD, Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center (New York), advises:

  • Be poised to gently recognize what is happening when negative patterns start to get activated and practice doing something each and every time—even something very small—to break the pattern. If you are inclined to overanalyze parts of conversations that you assume are negative, figure out a hobby or habit that keeps you from overanalyzing, like reading, going for a run, cleaning your house up, or creating a music playlist that makes you feel happy.
  • Notice your negative self-dialogue and substitute positive approaches. “You idiot!” becomes, “I wish I had made a different choice, but I will remember how I wish I had acted and apply it to future situations.”
  • Another tactic that might feel strange at first, but can help to approach your mean inner voice with kindness, is talking to yourself as you would a friend. When negative thoughts intrude ask yourself, “Are you ok? What’s wrong? Why are you so angry? Are you feeling hurt?” The idea is to good-naturedly interrupt yourself whenever you start to trash talk yourself. It’s kind of like The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” except it involves treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you treat the people you love.
  • Perhaps most important, notes Brenner, is to “cultivate a gentle, curious and patient attitude with yourself. Learn to celebrate small victories [over negativity and self-recrimination] while understanding that you may have days of back-sliding. It’s all a natural part of the learning and growth process.”

Alexithymia: The Emotion-Processing Dysfunction That Makes It Hard to Identify Emotions 

At some point in our lives, most of us have answered the question, “How are you?” with an honest, “I don’t know.” 

It’s natural to struggle with knowing how we really feel from time to time. Sometimes life is going so fast that we don’t have a moment to slow down and check in with our emotions. Other times, we’ve been cycling through so many emotions at once that we don’t know which one is affecting us most.

But for people with alexithymia, identifying and processing emotions isn’t a now-and-then kind of struggle. It’s something that can feel next to impossible the majority of the time.

What Is Alexithymia?

If you’ve even heard the word “alexithymia” before, it’s likely because actress and Disney alum, Alyson Stoner, opened up about her struggles with it earlier this year. But if you haven’t heard of it, you’re in good company. 

Though alexithymia is fairly well-known in clinical circles, it’s not as well known outside of them — perhaps because it is not an official diagnosis recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Alexithymia can best be described as an emotion-processing dysfunction. 

“Alexithymia is essentially a dysfunction in the normal emotional awareness processes that make it difficult for people to put a name to their feelings,” John Richey, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and associate professor in the department of psychology at Virginia Tech, told The Mighty.

According to the Journal of Neuropsychiatry, psychiatrist Dr. Peter Sifneos coined the term “alexithymia” back in 1973 to describe patients who struggled to identify their emotions and therefore had trouble engaging in certain types of psychotherapy. 

The lack of emotional awareness people with alexithymia experience can sometimes also affect their ability to empathize with others. One studyfound that participants with alexithymia were less able to recognize emotional expressions in faces than people without alexithymia. 

“A child or adult with alexithymia often struggles to understand his or her own self experience,” Deborah Serani, Psy.D., who specializes in treating depression, said. “Individuals with alexithymia have difficulty understanding how others feel and think too.”

At the moment, there isn’t much research on alexithymia, so experts aren’t able to definitively say what causes it. Dr. Richey told The Mighty there is still much to explore when it comes to alexithymia, but he felt reasonably confident in the belief that alexithymia could be impacted by how much emotional labeling was modeled, and reinforced or punished in childhood.

Who Can Have Alexithymia?

Anyone can have alexithymia, but it’s slightly more common in men than women. Dr. Serani told The Mighty approximately 8% of males and 2% of females will experience this emotion-processing dysfunction.

Alexithymia also shows up in people with certain mental health conditions, most notably, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. In addition to people with mental illnesses, some studies have linked alexithymia and autism. 

In their piece, “Am I Ready for an Autism Diagnosis?” Mighty contributor Anonymously Autistic wrote about how alexithymia made it difficult to describe their experience of autism in therapy:

I have alexithymia. It is part of my autism that makes it hard to describe my autism. I have had to teach myself to describe my feelings because if I don’t consciously ask myself how I feel, I don’t know. Before I started asking myself this question, I never would have been able to explain what I was feeling because people always told me how I was feeling growing up.

If the description of alexithymia sounds similar to your experience, you’re not alone. There are tangible ways to work on expanding your emotional repertoire — we’ve outlined a few of them below.

Treatment for Alexithymia

Though there isn’t a treatment out there that targets alexithymia specifically, people with alexithymia can benefit from existing forms of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help individuals focus on identifying and understanding the connection between thoughts and emotions. For people with both alexithymia and depression, this can be particularly useful.

“When someone with alexithymia says, ‘I’m depressed,’ it could be that he or she is very sad. But it might also mean frustrated, lonely, disappointed, mournful, empty, fatigued, lost, helpless,” Dr. Serani explained, adding:

Much of depression can be reduced with shifts in thinking and feeling. So, it’s vital for a person who has depression to become well-versed in the textures of their own symptoms to know what techniques to put into action. While it can be very challenging for those who struggle with alexithymia to broaden their emotional awareness, psychotherapy greatly reduces [the struggle].

Dr. Richey also encourages people with alexithymia to pay attention to the physical sensations that accompany the emotions they do feel. For example, you might notice your heart beat faster when you feel angry or upset. You might notice your body feels sluggish when you’re sad. You might notice yourself sweating when you feel embarrassed or anxious. Learning to link your physical sensations to emotions takes time, but as you work on emotion identification, it will slowly get easier.

Whether you have alexithymia or not, struggling with identifying and processing your emotions can be difficult and sometimes discouraging. While your feelings are always valid, we want you to know there is hope. 

“The best thing I could say as a word of encouragement is that you’re certainly not alone. There are many people who struggle with alexithymia,” Richey said. “There are also many people who are thinking about it from a research perspective. So I think there is a community of people who are very interested in understanding this problem and developing better treatments.” 

If you’re struggling, we encourage you to reach out to a trusted mental health professional. If you don’t have a therapist or don’t know where to look for one, check out this handy therapist finder tool. And as always, if you need support, you can always turn to our community by posting a Thought or Question on The Mighty with the hashtag #CheckInWithMe. Our community wants to support you, no matter what you’re facing.

Manage your anxiety


Here’s what people shared with us:

1. ‘Today is just another day.’

“‘Today is just another day. Nothing more, nothing less. You can get through it because it’s just another day.’ It’s not supportive necessarily, but it’s my mantra every day and it works!” — Emily H.

2. ‘Take it day by day.’

“‘Take it day by day, moment by moment, problem by problem and breath by breath.’” — Tara W.

“‘One day at a time.’ That can even mean one second, one minute, one hour. Live in the now and focus on what’s happening then and there as the next day will have its own anxieties.” — Raechael A.

3. ‘Don’t believe everything your mind is telling you.’

“‘Not everything your mind tells you is true.’” — Janno C.

4. ‘Your feelings are valid.’

“‘Your feelings matter. You matter. Things do get better. Please talk to someone. I am living proof that this helps. Take a baby step towards healing and speak to someone.’” — Tina L.

5. ‘You will be OK.’

“‘Breathe. It will pass and you will be OK.’” — Mandi L.

“‘Everything will be OK. Things may be hard for you right now but you can overcome this and when you do, you will be stronger. Do what makes you feel better when your anxiety spikes. Whether it is listening to music, going fishing or just being by yourself. It’s OK to have time to yourself when you are trying to battle anxiety. It’s not easy, so don’t be hard on yourself. You are strong and you got this!’” — Heather R.

6. ‘You’re not alone.’

“‘You aren’t alone, as much as it might feel like you are.’” — Hayden L.

“‘You are not alone. You are loved.’ Now take a deep breath and repeat.” — Rachel G.

7. ‘Be kind to yourself.’

“‘Don’t be so hard on yourself.’” — Helen V.

8. ‘Allow yourself to feel your emotions.’

“Allow yourself to feel it, don’t try to deny it. Face it, name it, float through it and it ends.” — Jildiz J.

9. ‘Don’t take it out on others.’

“‘Don’t take it out on the ones who love you most.’” — Sergio E.

10. ‘You have overcome all of your tough situations before.’

“I remember something I read in one of my support groups, that the percentage of bad days I have managed to get through is 100%.” — Dina C.

“‘Remember the good times, remember the times you’ve overcome rough situations.’” — Makayla S.

11. ‘Take time for your anxiety.’

“‘Take time for your anxiety. Give yourself dedicated time to address your anxiety and take that time to reason out that you’re going to be OK. Because you are going to be OK.’” — Donna F.

12. ‘This feeling will go away soon.’

“‘As awful as it is now, it will go away. Stop trying to control it, that’s just gonna make it worse. Let it pass, learn to soothe yourself.’” — Alyx P.

“The most powerful thing I remind myself in the middle of my panic attacks is, ‘this is only temporary and will pass.’ This will fade and I will once again be in control. I will allow my body to rid my mind of this stress in this moment.” — Melanie J.

“‘You’re bigger than this moment. This moment, even though seems like it may never end, will pass.’ Also, with general anxiety, it’s an intense feeling, all-consuming even, but it’s ultimately an uncomfortable state of being. It doesn’t have to stop you from functioning and doing your day-to-day tasks. It takes practice and patience with yourself, but it is possible.” — Cassandra E.

13. ‘Having anxiety does not define you.’

“‘You are not less of a person because you have anxiety. Anxiety is a part of you, not all of you.’” — Katie S.

“‘Having anxiety does not define you. Always having these problems due to your anxiety does not define you. You and your actions define you. Nothing else.’” — Tracy W.

“‘The anxiety is not you. Your thoughts are not you. You are you, and you are loved.’” — Laura M.

14. ‘It’s OK not to be OK.’

“‘It’s OK to not be OK.’” — Beth C.

15. ‘You will feel better again.’

“‘Today will eventually come to an end and the anxious feelings will pass, you will feel better again and once you have, remember how you came out on the other side.’” — Noelle R.

16. ‘You are a warrior.’

“‘You’ve survived everything up to this moment. You will survive it again. You are a warrior.’” — Hillary H.

We hope these reminders help you on days you’re struggling to manage your anxiety. It can be a tough road to walk along, but the Mighty community is cheering you on. You’ve got this.

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