Author: Teresa

Surviving a Crisis

I sat there in the mammogram room, awaiting the procedure that would pinpoint the precise location of the anomaly my surgeon was scheduled to remove three hours later. I’d been slipping in and out of depressions and anxiety over the past few weeks as the enormity of the situation dwarfed my capabilities. That morning, I’d felt good despite already fasting for eight hours and being hooked up to an IV for several hours while awaiting all the little steps that took me closer to the operating room. Despite heated blankets, I was still running really cold: a sign of...

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The Goal of Mental Health: Resilience

When we talk about getting better, we often define our goal as achieving mental health. But what is mental health? What does it mean to be mentally healthy? How do we know if we’ve achieved this magical goal, the goal for which we hold out so much hope? At its core, achieving mental health isn’t about being permanently healthy. It’s about being resilient. Life will continue to throw storms and tough situations our way; happily ever after only exists in fairy tales. However, not every storm needs to throw us back into the depths of our disorder; we don’t...

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Stigma, in All Its Damaging Glory

There are few topics that hit as hard within the mental health community as stigma. We have entire organizations, like StigmaFighters.com, dedicated to ending stigma. There’s the #endthestigma hashtag on Instagram and Twitter. We hear people talk about stigma in society, stigma in the home, stigma in a faith community. Stigma is one of the reasons we struggle to accept our diagnosis. Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental illnesses is damaging. At best, it damages our relationships. At its worst, it prevents the suffering from getting the help they desperately need and, in some cases, leading to tragic conclusions....

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Healthy Relationships Are Possible

If there is a topic that comes up repeatedly in my support groups, it’s the role of relationships on the recovery journey. Some members have supportive relationships; some are co-dependent; others are downright toxic, including accusations of being “demon-possessed.” It’s one that is incredibly sensitive, and when we get to the week where we discuss “Safe and Healthy Relationships” in my weekly Living Grace group, it inevitably gets interesting. As I discuss in  “Practical Tips to Support Someone You Love with Mental Illness,” loving someone with mental illness is work. “Fine,” you might say, “but all relationships are work.”...

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Community Helps Us Heal Faster

I grew up in a very strong church community. My parents were deeply involved in our parish, so everyone knew them and by extension, me. We spent a lot of time at church, and all my friends were from church (or our parish elementary school, which I attended). I would periodically get involved in activities, like acting, outside of our church community, but I never picked up new friends there. As my illness set in at a young age, I found myself increasingly separated from my classmates. I felt perpetually misunderstood, mocked, and ostracized. Experiences I know falsely started...

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