Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Counselors & More.

Three Mistakes in Bulimia Recovery

If you are recovering from bulimia, mistakes will happen. You might even feel overwhelmed. Learning from someone else’s mistakes is sometimes the best thing you can do to avoid making the same mistakes. I want to share with you my three lessons so you can avoid the mistakes I’ve made.

Number 1 – Trying to recover on your own.

I’ve tried recovery on my own for too long, but bulimia recovery is not something you can do on your own. When you struggle mentally, you have faulty patterns in your head. These patterns run your life and make you act out. Over time, it becomes harder to break them, because you really believe they hold true. For example, “If I don’t purge, I’ll gain weight,” etc.

When you reach out for help, you choose to listen to people who are not bulimic. Therefore, they see things differently and can help you to get out of your head.

Number 2: You Expect Perfection

This doesn’t exist. And expecting to hit a goal at 100% is not possible because you are not a robot. When you think: “I will never binge & purge again,” you are placing a harsh, expectation on yourself.

Instead, try to allow yourself some breathing space to avoid this mistake. Remember, you will still face the behaviors, cravings, binging and purging urges. Slip-ups will happen, because they are a part of the process. Its ok, we are all human.

Number 3: Don’t be too hard on yourself.

We tend to punish ourselves with a strict diet; we self-harm with food for feeling an emotion we are not “supposed” to feel; we are hard on ourselves for not being perfect with the way we eat or look.

I’ve been at the point when I hated myself so much that I even slapped myself in the face.

Instead of feeling compassion for my struggles, I was constantly beating myself up for “messing up.”

Becoming my own loving friend was the best thing I have ever done. I’ve learned how to take care of myself when I was distressed instead of being self-judgmental and accusing myself of being “weak.”

Always remember…

Be kind to yourself, embrace your imperfections and reach out for help when you need it, others have been there before you. Never give up and remember, you can get better.

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Early Intervention Saving Lives

Tactics For Early Intervention

Increase Awareness And Services

Fifty percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24. So, to treat mental health conditions early, and it’s critical we increase services available to young people. We must also increase awareness about those services, so that when a young person begins struggling, they know where to find them.

Increase The Pipeline

To increase services, we have to talk about workforce development. How do we incentivize people to enter into and remain in the mental health provider space? How can we reduce barriers to receiving the necessary qualifications to provide mental health support? How do we empower and support peer specialists and school psychologists/social workers?

If we want more services, we have to invest in the people who provide them.

Increase Preventative Measures

When it comes to our physical health, we often speak of preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of serious illness. For example, we talk about exercise, diet and adequate sleep to prevent the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. There are similar preventative measures we can take to protect our mental health too, such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, challenging unhealthy thought patterns, developing supportive communities and more.

We need to explore how we can bring education about self-care, healthy coping mechanisms and other protective factors to young people. Providing youth and young adults tools for resilience can help guard them from developing more serious mental health challenges when they encounter stressors later.

How To Make Change

Thinking about all of the pain young people are experiencing right now and how much systemic change still needs to happen can be overwhelming. It’s important to remember that, so often, change begins on an individual level — change can begin with us.

Addressing the youth mental health crisis and saving lives through early intervention starts with making the simple and intentional choices to show up for the young people already in our lives every day by doing simple things like:

  • Asking them how they’re really doing
  • Reminding them it’s OK to not be OK
  • Assuring them they are not alone
  • Helping to connect them to resources

If you want to get even more involved, you can advocate with your local school boards, city councils and state legislatures to increase mental health professionals, education and services in schools.

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Sharing Stories of Recovery

Having a mental illness can be lonely, isolating and scary. But when people share their stories of coping with mental illness or substance use disorder, it can provide inspiration and hope and be a welcome reminder that you are not alone in your challenges.

Below are just a few examples of websites where people share their personal stories of hope and recovery. In some cases, there are opportunities to join in the discussion or share your own story.

Voices for Recovery

Voices for Recovery is a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) with personal stories of people recovering from mental and/or substance use disorders. These individuals are celebrating their successes and sharing them with others to help educate the public about treatment and how it works.

Hearing Voices of Support

Hearing Voices of Support is an initiative of the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) to promote acceptance, support, hope, and recovery for people living with schizophrenia and related brain disorders.

SARDAA notes that people with schizophrenia or a related brain disorder “are often reluctant to talk about it for fear of being judged or discriminated against. We’re working to change that. We’ve invited people to speak openly about the voices they hear.”

Personal Stories of Triumph

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) presents a series of personal stories from people living with anxiety, depressive, obsessive-compulsive, and trauma-related disorders. You can learn about their experiences, how they have coped and what helped them find hope and recovery.

NoStigmas Project

The NoStigamas project is working to raise awareness, reduce stigma, foster understanding and create conversation through self-expression. It offers a variety of ways to share experiences of mental illness, through stories, art, photography, poetry, music and advocacy.

The project encourages you to share your story: “Just like everyone has their own path to healing, everyone has a unique way to share their story.”

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Managing Holiday Depression

Tis the holiday season and many start to feel build up of anxiety. Thoughts of all the events and gatherings with family, coworkers and friends may fill you with anticipation along with a little angst.

You may be feeling the pressures of holiday shopping, gift and travel expenses, hosting stress and a packed calendar of holiday events that make you feel depressed. High expectations from loved ones or loneliness for those who aren’t with loved ones can also add to the stress.

Here are a few tips to help you before the holiday season begins to bolster your mental health during the holidays.

Practice Meditation

Meditation can be a valuable mental wellness tool. Meditation can be particularly helpful if you are traveling or dealing with an unusual or changing schedule, thus why holiday stress and depression shows its ugly head. If you’re new to mindfulness, there are many online resources and app to help you.

Try to Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends avoiding using drugs and alcohol to try to cope. Substance use can make things worse. When you feel you need a relaxation aid, you can instead look for alternatives, such as turning to mindfulness strategies, or getting together with a friend to talk or see a movie.

Removing Yourself from a Situation

Many families have that one toxic member (or maybe a few of them) who can turn a seemingly fine conversation into a family feud. If you see things are starting to take a turn for the worse, do not let it escalate. There is no shame in removing yourself from the situation. Get up and leave the room or step outside until everyone cools down.

Get Some Fresh Air and Sunlight

Getting outside and getting some fresh air can help you relax and change your mood. Spending time outside in the sun can be an effective calming tool. Numerous studies have pointed to the mental health benefits of spending time in nature, including stress relief, better concentration, lower levels of inflammation and improved mental energy.

Don’t Let a Change in Schedule Impact Your Needs

Although the holiday season is an extremely busy time of the year, try to keep as much of a regular schedule as possible. If your in therapy, ensure you make your scheduled therapy visits. Keeping scheduled therapy sessions helps ensure you have built-in time to explore anything that comes up.

Managing mental illness is a challenge, and it can be particularly difficult during the holiday season. While the struggle can feel isolating, remember that you are far from alone. Seek help from a mental professional if you need to, maintain your self-care routines and include mindfulness practices into your days as you navigate your way through the holidays.

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Relax and Breath Deeply

At one point or another, we’ve all heard the saying “relax, take a deep breath” as a way to calm down, reduce stress or anxiety. Breathing exercises have long been used as part of stress reduction.

A focus on breath or various breathing techniques are part of stress reduction practices such as muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga. Meditation allows the breath to slow down naturally by focusing attention on the breath during meditation.

Breathing exercises involve consciously controlling the rate, rhythm, and depth of breathing to reduce stress and increase parasympathetic nervous system activity which helps us relax.

An example of a simple breathing practice is coherent breathing which involves slowing one’s breathing to a rate of about 5 breaths per minute. It can be done sitting upright or lying down. It involves slowly, gently, breathing in through the nose and expanding the belly for six seconds, pausing and breathing out gently and smoothly for six seconds. This pattern is continued, working up to practicing for 10 to 20 minutes a day.

Breathing practices have numerous advantages for reducing stress and improving well-being: they can be integrated with other mind-body practices, can be integrated into conventional treatments to alleviate illness symptoms and support mental and physical health, generally don’t have side effects and do not interact with prescription medications and are affordable.

This total improvement of well-being has shown to help provide better quality sleep in many individuals.

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