“….But who takes care of you?” Part 2

January 29, 2017 / Claire Kopko  / 
self-care, cortisol

“…But who takes care of you?

Part 2: “Now I take care of me, too.”

In part one of this article, I detailed my experience with professional burnout. In this second part, I describe the importance of self-care and the physiological mechanisms that underlie what was happening, with the goal of teaching anyone who is experiencing something similar to take it seriously. Stress creates very real, and dangerous, physical changes.


The physical symptoms that I described in part one of this article were a warning sign that my body was not functioning in a healthy way, and the stress of my job was creating a severe hormonal imbalance. Consequently, I could not handle even the smallest uptick in my stress levels. I was already “functioning” beyond my capabilities, so when a small stressor, e.g. going out with my friends, came along, I was physically and mentally unable to do it. The thought of getting dressed up, interacting with others for an extended period of time, and going to bed later than I had planned, was unbearable. Unfortunately, for someone suffering from anxiety and depression, social interaction is not only helpful, it is a necessity for recovery.

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An Answer for Our Toughest Battle of the Day

January 16, 2017 / Alex Hanna  / 
toughest battle

Originally posted on NAMI. Feature image is also sourced from NAMI.
By Danei Edelen and Alex Hanna | Jan. 11, 2017

My psychiatrist once said to me, “The most important issue for anyone with a mental health condition is sleep.” At the time, I agreed with him, but I didn’t fully understand his comment. Like many with a mental health condition, I have struggled with sleep—getting out of bed every morning is always a challenge—but I didn’t understand why.

Getting up each day is just something people do. Even if reluctantly, most people can muster the strength to slip out from under the sheets, put their feet on the floor and stand up. For some of us, getting out of bed is not so simple. For some of us, it’s our toughest battle of the day. Now there might be plenty of people out there who think we just aren’t trying hard enough, or that we don’t feel the same sense of responsibility for daily chores. But that just isn’t the case.

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The Liberating Unknown

January 8, 2017 / Alex Hanna  / 
open road, liberating, unknown, freedom

As many of you read, I wasn’t doing too well a few weeks ago. A visit from my family soothed the burning wounds for a short period of time, but still they were raw. This slight reprieve encouraged me to head back to Pittsburgh with my mom and spend a few days at home with her, my dad, and my sister. Something which I hoped to be liberating.

The only thing that troubled my mind was that my dad and I bought the wrong sized dowels at Home Depot and we had to make a return trip. Other than that, the change in scenery was exactly what I needed.

A much needed getaway

After a pleasant and refreshing weekend, I flew home. It was a cool fall day, and while waiting at the airport, I had a chance to sit and reflect. I reflected upon how lucky I was (and am) to have such a loving and supportive family, spouse, and friends. I reflected upon the fact that this illness is more serious than I want to admit. I reflected upon the truth that this illness is bigger than me – and that I cannot beat it alone.

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