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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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