Your words make a bigger impact than you think

April 25, 2017 / Alex Hanna  / 
makeitok, make it ok

Recently, I submitted a story of my own struggles with anxiety and depression to makeitok.org in hopes of having my story shared with another outlet. I’m proud to say that they accepted the story and it is now published here. But for your convenience, here is my story.

What kind of stigma did you experience/observe?

Mental illness is no joke. It sucks. Suffering with anxiety, depression, and ADHD has made “adult life” rather challenging. Not to say it was easy as a child either. For me, an always-busy childhood helped keep everything in check. I would spend the school year going 100 miles per hour between school, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Then the summer, I would work six days a week, work out seven days a week, and do all of the AP class preparations and college preparations needed to continue the high octane life I had built. Then when I had the opportunity, I would utterly crash. Zero miles per hour, clutch disengaged, rolling wherever gravity would take me.

After college, I joined a high octane consulting firm to keep up the heat. 15 hour days? On the road 250 days a year? You bet! I still didn’t realize what was going on. Work became my outlet for two years, affecting nobody but myself (or so I thought). Marriage changed that quite quickly. It became very apparent (very quickly) that my all-over-the-place-ness, which I regularly combated with bouts of extreme cleaning and organization or full-on, days long “me” time, was not just affecting me. It affected my wife. And I couldn’t stand to see her hurting like she was. It is easy to have your dress shirts hanging the “right” way, ordered by color, immediately removed from the dry-cleaning plastic when you are alone. It is easy to not have a single dirty dish in the sink when you live alone. No one else is affected by this.

It is so easy to be blinded by naivety when you are only looking at yourself. When others are affected, especially other who you love, that’s when the light of reality shines the brightest. The pain in their eyes is the most haunting sight anyone can envision. When I saw that pain, I knew it was time to act. She kindly and lovingly supported me throughout the process of finding a doctor (even booking me appointments when I was resistant).

She owed (and still owes) me nothing. Her help getting me help saved me. Her undying, and unyielding love saved me.

Years later, she remains my rock. We’ve hit bumps along the way, but she has never doubted what we have, she had never doubted my love for her, and she has never doubted the future we are committed to sharing together. Even through the most challenging of times, she reminds me who I am. She helps me understand who I am. She never lets me forget who I truly am.

Anxiety, depression, and ADHD: they are a part of who I am. I live day in and day out with these illnesses. But they do not define me. I am me. And while they occasionally have more say over my life than I prefer, I will not let them win. Even if I fail today, there is always tomorrow. There is always tomorrow.

How did you overcome this experience?

To overcome is to completely extinguish. I am, and will forever be overcoming mental illness, every single day. Share your story and do not be ashamed that you have a mental illness. There are more of us out there than we know, but who are afraid to talk about it. Your words make a bigger impact than you think. You never know who may be reading, and whose life you may save.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

No matter what happens in this crazy world, there is always a brighter day ahead. There is always tomorrow.

The sunlight shines –
Shines so bright.
After the darkest –
Darkest of nights.
Your tired or fighting –
Fighting this fight.
But tomorrow brings hope –
Hope of new light.

Unshackling Myself from my Eating Disorder

March 16, 2017 / Jamie Doe (anonymous)  / 
eating disorder, breaking free

I’m back, and today I chose to write about the road to recovery from my eating disorder (ED). Who’s with me?!

Negative coping skills related to ED’s are in one word, exhausting. The behaviors, rituals, and all the thinking about food and my body consumed a large part of every single day of my life for the better part of an entire DECADE. Over time, I realized that I wanted to live life again – in the present. I wanted meaningful relationships and experiences – I wanted to laugh and remember the days where I just listened to myself, not my ED voice – I wanted to live life for me. And most of all, above anything, I wanted to be free. Liberated.

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My Road to Routine: Healthy Habits – Round Up

March 14, 2017 / Alex Hanna  / 
healthy habits, road

My journey comes to a close, but the road of healthy habits does not end. 

Routine behaviors – healthy habits – are a great way to establish a set of regular practices that carry benefits to your mental and physical health. The goal is to make these a natural part of your schedule – as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning. At that point, these natural activities – your healthy habits – can provide a regular stream of feel-good hormones (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) that keep your mood up, and your mind engaged on positive emotions. Sounds pretty useful. (more…)

7 Poems To Help You Deal With Anxiety

March 10, 2017 / Alex Hanna  / 
anxiety, storm, farm

It’s no secret to those of us who deal with anxiety that it’s not just being really, really nervous. Forty million adults deal with anxiety disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health , and only 42.2 percent of those people are in treatment. Recently, Psychology Today reported that the American Psychological Association released the 411 from its annual Stress in America study, and the results aren’t comforting: “In January 2017, for the first time in its 10 year history, the survey found a statistically significant increase in stress levels in America, compared to last year.” Troubling as this may be, if you’re reading this article, you’re in luck; there are things you can do to combat your anxiety, and reading poetry is one of them.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s “How to Deal with Stress and Anxiety” handout provides helpful, and more than a few of them point to the power of poetry. Whether you decide to “take a time out” or “slowly count to ten” or “take deep breaths,” poetry can be a piece of your self-care plan. After all, reading poems helps you press pause on life, focussing your attention on the moment (much like practicing yogic breathing). Ready to give it a shot? These seven poems might help.


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My Road to Routine: Healthy Habits – Week 5

March 7, 2017 / Alex Hanna  / 
healthy habits

I’m on a road: a road to developing a set of healthy habits. And as you read in week 4, this is an uphill battle to which I commit myself. I am finding, however, that I am being kinder to myself as I go along the journey – something we all can do a little more of (in my ever-so-humble opinion).

Routine behaviors – healthy habits – are a great way to establish a set of regular practices that carry benefits to your mental and physical health. The goal is to make these a natural part of your schedule – as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning. At that point, these natural activities – your healthy habits – can provide a regular stream of feel-good hormones (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) that keep your mood up, and your mind engaged on positive emotions. Sounds pretty useful. (more…)

My Road to Routine: Healthy Habits – Week 4

February 27, 2017 / Alex Hanna  / 
pebble stack, healthy habits, balance

I’m on a road: a road to developing a set of healthy habits. And as you read in week 3, this is an uphill battle to which I commit myself. I am finding, however, that I am being kinder to myself as I go along the journey – something we all can do a little more of (in my ever-so-humble opinion).

Routine behaviors – healthy habits – are a great way to establish a set of regular practices that carry benefits to your mental and physical health. The goal is to make these a natural part of your schedule – as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning. At that point, these natural activities – your healthy habits – can provide a regular stream of feel-good hormones (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) that keep your mood up, and your mind engaged on positive emotions. Sounds pretty useful. (more…)

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