Tag Archives: mental health

#PPDChat 08.18.14: Self-Care – Lists of Three

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I started this thing awhile back on Twitter, #listof3. It took off and I use it when I get down. Thing is, I haven’t used it in awhile so it’s been stuck on the backburner of my brain. Others have used it, however. It warms my heart to see others using it even if I am not because it’s comforting to see someone else lifted up because of you.

I was reminded of this #listof3 by a #PPDChat Volunteer late last week when I asked for suggestions for chat this week. I sat with it for a few days and decided to run with it today. Her suggestion read as follows:

“Name 3 things you’re thankful for, 3 things you wish your family knew, 3 things you want your kids to remember about you, and so on and so forth. I come up with 3 different things each time.”

We’re heading into that time of year when mamas are sending older kids back to school and schedules are drastically changing. In the midst of this chaos (regardless of whether or not you’re celebrating or missing your little ones), it’s important to remember to take care of yourself and focus on the positives in your life instead of all the little things running you ragged or pulling you down.

I sincerely hope you’ll join us tonight as we discuss our own #listof3, finding gratefulness tucked away even in the most chaotic corner of our lives. Who knows, maybe attending chat will end up on your list!

In the meantime, what are you grateful for today?

I’m grateful for coffee, sunshine, and sleep.

Your turn:

Fighting The Battle Against Suicide

The post below may be triggering for some. I blatantly discuss suicide and my own brushes with it as well as the recent news of the loss of Robin Williams. If you are fragile, you’ll want to skip this post. If you need to find some happy, go watch this video. It’s all of the awesome and then some.

The sun floated above the house in a swath of the kind of blue sky I long to see when I wake in the morning. The wind played with the trees, swishing the leaves and branches to and fro as birds and butterflies danced along with the melody Mother Nature played for them.

I stood in my bedroom, staring out at the phenomenal glory just beyond my physical reach and well beyond my comprehension. I stepped closer to the open window, staring down at the retaining wall at the edge of the house, calculating the angle necessary to hit it with my head. As my fingers brushed against the roughness of the screen, I drew back suddenly, as if I had been shocked into reality. I scurried downstairs, to a room well away from the retaining wall, and texted with a friend until the thoughts faded away.

I was not interested in beauty that day.  I was interested, suddenly, as I stood in my bedroom all alone, in leaving this world.

My divorce was final. I was no longer with my children. I could not find a job. Nothing seemed to be going my way. There was no sense in continuing with things. It was not the first time I felt like ending things and it turned out to not be the last. I dance with these thoughts from time to time but thankfully, so far, I have managed to fight them off. Believe me, the battle to fight them off is FAR HARDER than anyone who has never experienced them could possibly imagine. Sometimes, it is a daily battle. Some days, it is an hourly battle. Then finally, sleep, only to wake up and battle all over again. But I fight because my will to live is powerful and I am not done with my work here yet. I fight because my kids deserve a mother they can reach out and touch or talk to on the phone. I fight because I matter, I love, and I am loved.

There has been a lot of discussion this past week about suicide. The causes, the loss, how to cope, how to survive, and most of all, the matter of making the choice to go through with it.

Is suicide a choice?

Yes.

It is an easy choice?

Hell no.

If you wade through research, the average amount of time it takes from initiation of “I’m really going to do this” to completion is 10 minutes. I wish I had the link to this research but unfortunately, I don’t. (But there is this article you can read which references it.)

10 minutes to save someone’s life.

10 minutes to convince them they matter. That they are bigger than whatever demon is swelling inside of them and convincing them they are better off on the other side.

10.fricking.minutes.

In the grand scheme of life, 10 minutes is but a millisecond, but it is a millisecond with a number of chaotic screaming thoughts flooding your brain in an attempt to convince you to stop the life you know because it has toppled over and there is no other way to fix things.

In those 10 minutes:

It is not a matter of joy.

It is not a matter of prayer or faith.

It is not a matter of therapy.

It is not a matter of medication.

It is not a matter of love.

It is not a matter of religion, resources, and whatever the hell else you want to throw out there as a simple answer to the complexity that is suicide which is, frankly, a sandbox full of all the demons you have ever carried at any point in your life fighting each other for ownership of your soul.

In the throes of the “choice of suicide”, it is all about YOU and that huge ass demon screaming at you that yes, you are better off on the other side as it hacks away at any sense of self-respect, faith, or common sense you previously possessed. The bastard wears you down until finally, there is only one way out.

We all know the story of David and Goliath. It’s like that only sometimes, David doesn’t win.

It’s like Frodo vs. Sauron but all on his own.

It’s like Picard vs. the Borg all by himself. (And we saw how that ended – Locutus!)

I wrote an off-the-cuff status update on Facebook about the passing of Robin Williams. At last check, it had been shared over 200 times. Here’s what I said:

“I want to take a minute (or more) of your time to say something important.

Suicide is scary. It frightens us, particularly those of us who are vulnerable and know these thoughts intimately. These thoughts dance with us and sometimes have done so on a daily basis.

For people who know suicide intimately and have contemplated it, news like the passing of Robin Williams can be very triggering. It causes us to wonder how on earth we will survive if he didn’t make it. He had money. Access to care. He had just been in rehab. Dear Lord. If he couldn’t get better, what hope do “we” have?

Here’s the thing. Choose life. Choose to reach out. Choose light. Choose to fight. Every time you reach out for help, you are choosing to survive. It’s about creating opportunities for hope instead of succumbing to the darkness.

Unfortunately, we don’t know why he chose to leave us, but he did. And we’re left wondering what went wrong.

So if you want to honor his life, honor his time here, take from his death what you can and make it okay to discuss suicidal feelings. Because until mental health is a normal part of every day discussions, we will continue to be shocked when something like this happens, claiming we “had no idea.”

Know this.

There is hope. There is help. And if you are struggling, there are hotlines you can call. Things you can do. Start by reaching out to a friend, then a professional, and stay the course, even when the light fades. It will return.”

I have never had anything shared that much on Facebook before. The comments on the shares are tremendous – people are talking about mental health. But most of all, they are scared.

Because if Robin Williams, a man who had access to it all, committed suicide, then what hope do *we* have in surviving when we don’t have the access to care he did?

I questioned whether or not I should write about this here. I am not writing for page views. I am not writing to take advantage of a horrible situation. I am writing because until we make mental health check ins with each other part of normal, everyday conversation, things like this will ALWAYS shock us. Until we make mental health as normal as physical health, it will always be stigmatized, it will always be taboo, and it will always scare the shit out of us.

My heart has been heavy this week, along with millions of others. Not for the loss of Robin, but for HOW we lost him. I know that pain. I know what those moments of absolute desperation feel like as they strike terror into your very soul. Watching your body and hands go through the motions as your brain screams NO and questions your sanity but you are helpless to stop yourself. I’ve blogged about it before – here, here, and here. The second and third posts references the situation I used to open this post. There have been other times too, times in the car where I wondered what would happen if I just let go of the wheel and let myself drift into oncoming traffic – or into a tree. It’s been awhile since I have fought with these thoughts but the shadows of them are always there, lurking, waiting to spring forth and attack when the darkness threatens to swallow me.

That weight, the weight of sheer terror, isolation, and helplessness, is what spurs me to do what I do – to reach out to mothers struggling with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. No mother, hell, no human, should ever surf the tides of mental health alone.

So how do we change things? How do we make suicide less of a threat to ourselves and to those we love?

I wish I had the answer to that question. I have some answers, but not THE answer. No one does. All we have are suggestions.

We talk about our struggles, we don’t cover it up in polite speech or hide it in dark rooms and beneath whispers or under judgmental tones. We stop sensationalizing the horrors and instead write mindfully about the issue at hand. Let’s start there.

Suicide is not something we should dismiss. It is not something we cover up, and it is not solved by choosing joy, reaching out, or praying harder. It goes far deeper than any of that for it is insidious, tenuous, and a gut-sucking leech upon the soul of many of us who have walked this earth. Our lives, all of them, sooner or later, will be touched by suicide – someone we know, a friend’s friend, or our own. Is that acceptable? Hell no. Can we change it? Hell yes.

Baby steps.

Start here, with how to talk to a friend or a loved one about suicide. Carry resources and hotline numbers in your wallet or program them into your phone. Know the signs. Run toward the chaos and the danger instead of huddling away from it. Bring suicide into the light. Make it okay to not be okay. Not cool, but okay. Let them know you hear their pain, you acknowledge their hurt, and do what you can to encourage them to seek help. Don’t judge them. Don’t act shocked. Be compassionate. Be patient. Be understanding. Don’t justify their desire to end it but instead, talk to them about their reasons to live. Be their speck of light, as my good friend and amazing blogger John states in his own post about depression and cancer. Be the warm blanket they need to survive. Be the hope for them until they can be their own hope.

Will we still lose people?

Yes.

But those we save through our own daring to speak up may just be the ones to ultimately change the world. And in the process, we are already changing the world because we’re breaking the stigma of silence around suicide.

And that, my friends, makes the hell worth fighting through.

#PPDChat Topic 06.30.14: The Art of Journaling

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“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?

The world would split open.”

 Muriel Rukeyser

The act of picking up a pen, putting it to paper, and forming words with the ink is, as Cynthia Ozick calls it, “an act of courage.” It is spilling the blood of our hearts onto paper, allowing our emotions and thoughts to breathe as they have never done before. It is healing. It is a release. It is a butterfly creeping slowly out of a chrysalis. It’s exhaling after the storm passes.

Tonight, during #PPDChat, we will discuss the act of journaling as part of the healing process of a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. We have questions as we heal. We wonder who we are, where we are going, if things will ever be the same, and how we will ever get out of this hell. Journals are a safe way to explore these thoughts and can be complimentary to therapy.

While I never officially journaled, I did blog. Not always about what I was going through but the mere act of writing helped me to see things in a different light, to examine every side of the experience.

I sincerely hope you’ll join us tonight as we discuss “The Art of Journaling” and examine the various ways in which we can use this important tool to set us free and help us grow toward the new woman we are becoming through this experience.

See you on Twitter at 830pm ET!

Seeking Volunteers for #PPDChat Growth & Management

Hey, y’all!

It’s time to start growing #PPDChat beyond the borders of its current space. To do that, I need some help!

I started #PPDChat in 2010 with the goal of reaching out to women and families through a new medium. To bash stigma in the most public of places, on Social Media. It took off more than I ever imagined it would.

The hashtag has gone places, including trending the week of the National Football Championship.

It’s even transitioned into a closed FB group where over 300 mothers have grown into a close knit community.

But it’s time to take it to the streets and really push the boundaries of growing this community which is centered on the principles I hold so dearly and work to strive in my own life after battling against PP OCD twice:

Self-care: It’s important. As a person, as a woman, as a mother. Self-care is what keeps us going, what fills us up so we can give of ourselves to others. We cannot give to others if we are constantly pouring from an empty pitcher.

Self-respect & respect of others: Just because I have a mental health issue does not mean I am not a person. I absolutely am, you absolutely are as well. We’re just walking a road with a bit of fog on it and for some that fog is a bit thicker than for others. Eventually it will lift and the sun will shine. In the #PPDChat community, respect for others as people is one of the highest priorities.

Self-advocacy and speaking boldly: We are our best advocates. We know what’s going on inside our minds better than anyone else because we live there. Honesty with ourselves, our loved ones, and our professional caregivers is what will help us heal. (With the caveat of sharing with toxic people who shoot us down, of course – that absolutely will not contribute to healing). We empower each other to advocate for ourselves through a shared experience, through personal support, and through locating resources. With #PPDChat, you absolutely are not alone.

With these principles in mind, I am seeking volunteers to join together with me to reach out to new sources of women who would benefit from getting involved with the #PPDChat community. Your involvement may be as involved or as limited as you are able…remember self-care is important here so we do not want to drain you. Marketing, outreach, blog posts, sourcing new places to develop partnerships, etc.

Right now, the only conditions for volunteering are that you must be:

  • A survivor or a partner of a survivor of a PMAD episode (this does include antenatal mood disorders as well)
  • Driven & dedicated to help others who have found themselves in the same boat with this beast
  • Have an internet connection or willing to do footwork in your own community
  • Able to respond to emails calling for action and a minimum of 1 hour of action/advocacy a week

That’s it. Pretty simple. Right now, I’m gathering volunteers. First email will go out on July 15th so fill out the form below to contact me before then if you’re interested in diving right into this with me.

Can’t volunteer? Pass this post on to someone who may be interested as well. This is the year #PPDChat breaks out of the shell it’s grown into and really starts kicking some serious stigma ass.

Who’s with me?

 

#PPDChat Topic 06-23-14: Kicking The Summer Blues to the Curb

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We associate winter with the blues. Everyone stays inside to stay warm.

But summer is the opposite – some of us stay inside to stay cool. Or because it’s too much trouble to tote the little ones outside because OMG WE HAVE TO PACK ALL THE SUNSCREEN and everything else in the house just to go to the pool and dear sweet lord don’t forget that we need swim diapers, formula, a nursing swimsuit (OMG – nursing at the pool…)…the list goes on and on and on and on…you get the point.

Summer blues are just like Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. We’re supposed to be happy and carefree in the summer. Cheery. WHOOOO!! Water! Camping! No responsibilities. (Have you ever been a parent with three small children home for the summer? HAVE YOU?! I’d rather..well, anything.)

This chat will be chock full of tips and mamas chatting about how to manage the issue of parenting/adjusting to a newborn in the summer months. Summertime creates an entire extra set of issues, issues we all seem to just dance around. Well, tomorrow night, we’re gonna stomp on them and figure them out.

Join me on Twitter at 830pm ET. See you there!

#PPDChat Topic 06.16.14: Faces of #ClimbOut

#PPDChat Topic 06.16.14: Faces of #ClimbOutLast week, A’Drianne (@addyeB) hosted #PPDChat. She shared all about the upcoming #ClimbOut for Postpartum Progress (which, by the way, has surpassed the 100k goal!). If you’re interested in finding out more about this event, which happens this Saturday worldwide, you can read all about it here.

Tonight’s #PPDChat welcomes leaders of various Climbs throughout the world. Get to know the women who have fought through their own battles with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders and are now doing something to help raise awareness of this insidious issue which affects 1 in 8 new mothers.

The two primary leaders joining us tonight are:

Susan Petcher, who is leading a COTD team of 6 up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire on June 21st.  She blogs at Learned Happiness about motherhood and mental illness, writes for Postpartum Progress, crochets compulsively, and loves Minecraft. (You can find her on Twitter @learndhappiness)

and

Courtenay Petracca, leading the COTD Team Rhode Island. She is a mother of a 2.5 year old girl. Suffered from perinatal depression silently until my daughter was born. The best decision of her life was to call the hospital and get help when her daughter was 5.5 months old. (You can find her on Twitter @Cxs918)

I am SO excited to chat with all these passionate women tonight. I sincerely hope you’ll carve out an hour to join us at 830pm ET. See you then!

 

NIMH Gets Failing Grade for Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder Chat

Last week, a friend of mine tagged me in a link on FB to give me a heads up about a NIMH chat this week about Perinatal Mood Disorders. Of course we were looking forward to it and hoping it would be a worthwhile discussion. I nearly missed it on Friday morning (May 16, 2014)  thanks to a nasty case of food poisoning which knocked me off my feet for the better part of this week. But, I managed to dive in just 10 minutes into the chat.

It was…….awful.

Stilted.

Non-engaging.

Spouting of facts and just the facts, according to the NIMH. (They managed to screw up a few things. Don’t worry, I’ll go there. Oh, yes, yes I will.)

Self-promotion and only self-promotion. No real response to the powerful Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder Advocates who showed up until we started really pushing back. Even then, their response was still stilted.

Just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, the NIMH began repeating tweets from the beginning of the chat instead of answering the flurry of questions coming in from those participating.

If NIMH handed this chat in as a graded project, it would have received an F.

When I asked what was being done to encourage medical professionals to become better educated about PMAD’s, this happened:

NIMHChat Congress

Yep.

Congress MANDATED we pay more attention to PMAD’s. In fact, it got shoved in with the ACA. And we all know how well that’s going. After this response, I asked a follow up question asking how that was going – asked for hard numbers. Did I get numbers? Nope. BECAUSE THE ATTENTION MANDATED BY CONGRESS LACKS FUNDING AND THEREFORE ATTENTION.

I’m okay, I’m okay. *deep breath*

There was also this lovely moment in chat:

NIMHChat Snafu

I know, right?

Because we ALL got better by staying in bed thanks to depression, right? Right?

Instead of urging moms to get up, move, and care for themselves, the NIMH  provides them with excuses to stay in bed and well, suffer. Way to go, NIMH. WAY.TO.GO. *slow claps*

While I realize it is difficult to manage a large scale chat with several participants (something I have done myself, when #PPDChat was very well attended), there is absolutely no excuse for the following to happen during your chat:

1) Blatantly state misinformation/misleading facts about your topic. Particularly if said topic is subject to entrenched stigma and misinformation (which is why you are having the chat to begin with, right? Not because it’s a hot topic and you’re using it to draw people in…)

2) Not engage those who are participating – this is SOCIAL media, y’all. SOCIAL. ENGAGE. Like Jean Luc Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise. Even if you’re just going at impulse speed, ENGAGE for the love of ALL that is..well, you know.

3) Don’t repeat yourself word for word. It lets people know you’re unprepared.

4) Share resources other than your own. (see number 2 about social media).

5) Do NOT TREAT those participating with disdain, contempt, or as if they are idiots. They are attending your event which would be nothing without participants. Respond accordingly unless they are clearly bashing you (which we were not) and if they are bashing you, ignore them before you stoop to the level of responding with disdain.
Things to do during a Twitter chat:

1) Engage. Be Social. Greet people. Be happy and upbeat. SMILE through your keyboard.

2) Be knowledgeable and approachable.

3) Treat everyone as if they are your equal. They are there to learn, not to be kicked. Acknowledge their words, their struggle, their questions with the same respect you expect from them. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

4) Offer insight through connections and share resources from others in addition to your own. The only answer is not yours. Crowd-source and use the media at hand to enhance your chat.

5) Do your best to make everyone be heard, even if it’s through just RT’ing what they’ve said. Again, I realize this is difficult on a LARGE scale but if you have known experts participating, acknowledge them.

I truly hate when things like this go wrong because there is such a tremendous opportunity for exposure when a government agency holds a chat like this. I want to say I’m surprised at how things went but sadly, I am not. Instead of raising awareness and building hope, NIMH decimated the chat with a lot of tweets about nothing, leaving at least one person (and possibly more) with the idea that there is in fact, nothing a mother can do to prevent a PMAD:

NIMHChat PPD cause

And that, dear friends, is NOT the taste you want to leave in the public’s mouth when discussing PMAD’s. Because there is hope. There is help. We are not alone.

Go to Postpartum Progress to find women who are fighting back.

Or Postpartum Stress Center’s website.

Or Beyond Postpartum.

Or find me on Twitter @unxpctdblessing. Or search the hashtag #PPDChat. Message me for the private FB group full of women who KNOW this is hell and yet are fighting back against it with everything they have.

We’re all here for you when you’re ready to reach out for help.

(And THAT is how you end a chat about Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders).

*drops mic and hits publish*

#PPDChat: 05.05.14 – The Beast We Don’t Fear with @Alycianeighbour

Alycia is the kind of person every one deserves to have as a friend. She’ll laugh at all the inappropriate things with you, scoop you up when you’re down (even if she’s down too), and then take you to the park where you stomp at pigeons to keep them away. Seriously though, the woman has a very deep heart and has been through quite a bit (you can read her fabulous blog here). She’s the type of friend you can call even if you haven’t talked in awhile and it’s like you never stopped talking. Alycia’s spirit is grounded in her faith in God. It’s constantly challenged by her large (occasionally, okay, mostly chaotic) brood and her menagerie of pets, and soothed by her amazing husband and friends. Somehow, she manages to write and sorta stay sane enough to be friends with the likes of me.

Today’s #PPDChat is based on a post Alycia wrote for me, which appears below. She discusses her dogs (yes, it’s applicable) and how their personalities convey the type of people we might find in our lives. She urges us to find a person like one of her dogs, Tuesday. You’ll have to read the post to discover the details.

This is a chat you don’t want to miss. You’ll laugh, you’ll snort, and most of all, you’ll get some hard truth from both of us about life. See you tonight on Twitter at 830pm ET, 730pm CT, and 530pm PT!

Without further ado, here’s Alycia’s post:

The Beast We Don’t Fear

In our home of 8, there are a lot of beasts we deal with. Recurrent Depression, PTSD, ADHD, and a host of other beasts that show up, because this is Life and sometimes it gets really messy.

This is going to seem like a side note, but is essential in us learning to not fear when the beast shows up.

I have 4 dogs. Their names are Fat Tuesday (160lb English Mastiff) Black Friday (wanna- be alpha male husky 70lbs) Lady Monday (35 lb Shepherd recovering from a broken leg and tentative) and Walter (40lb total mix and MY dog)

I observe them a lot and do a lot of training with them, but never to take away from their inherent nature. The dogs also serve as emotional conductors in my house where nerves get raw and sometimes we need to snuggle and pet something.

(Yes you are seriously reading about dog posturing on a blog that focuses on mental health – hang with me)

Friday has a tendency to get mad easily and will try to take it out on the two smaller than him. Monday will cower and pee on the floor unless cornered and then she takes the teeth out. Walter won’t take his crap at all. But he’s outweighed. So both of them have learned to avoid Bad Mood Friday.

Unless Tuesday is around.

(This sounds like a three stooges routine huh?)

Tuesday is our negotiator and protector when there is a problem, or she perceives an impending problem. Children or dogs beginning to argue, she physically puts herself between them and will nudge the offender or bigger away from the innocent or weak. When someone new is around, she stands guard and on the ready for the unexpected and her services are needed.

Not much gets past a 160lb mammoth dog that is clearly ready to put you in your place.

We all need a Tuesday. I don’t mean we all need a dog as big as a horse, but we need people who will be our Tuesday as we sludge through our mental illness.

We need that one person (or a group is better – but a group dynamic can add emotions which confuse the initial purpose) who we know when we are having a weak day, getting picked on or having an angry day; will lean on us and steer us away from the attack (real or perceived – hurt is hurt, pain is pain – no sliding scale of judgment).

But as great as online groups are and their support can be immediate, we need to find someone tangible, someone who can hold us. Perhaps a relative, friend, family, counselor, etc. just somebody you can touch. Never discount the simple act of your hand on someone’s shoulder who is about to cave.

Alycia & TuesdayGo find yourself a Tuesday and give that person orders to protect you in your fight. You won’t be shunned, I can guarantee that despite your bleak view of the world right now, you will be embraced and you will be safe.

 

#PPDChat Topic: #Semicolonproject416 – Life Goes On

#PPDChat Topic - ; and Life Goes On There’s a fabulous group bringing attention to those who live with mental health issues – The Semicolon Project. Their mission statement:

“The Semicolon Project is a Non-Profit Organization dedicated to presenting hope, help, and support to the people and communities suffering from mental health issues. We are here to address depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction, and suicide. We aim to inspire and encourage people to do one of the hardest things imaginable: ask for help when they need it most.”

These are similar goals to #PPDChat. We are here to encourage people to reach out, address issues, and educate those who are fighting against this specific set of mental health issues. Our passion is dedicated to helping new families thrive as they find their way through new parenthood and for many of them, a new struggle with mental health challenges along the way.
According to The Semicolon Project’s Twitter profile, the meaning behind the semicolon is this:
“A Semicolon represents a sentence the author could’ve ended but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
Life is challenging with twists and turns. The toughest challenge, however, is to place a semicolon where you feel like there should be a period. Join me tonight as we talk about choosing to move past the tough and continue the sentence into the rest of our lives.
If you, or someone you love, are in crisis right now, there is help and there is hope. Reach out, seek help. If you need to call someone who understands and can help you, dial 800-273-TALK (8255). You are never alone.
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#PPDChat Topic 03.24.14: Say This, Not That

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Language. It’s how we communicate with one another. It’s what I’m using right now to convey a message. We have so many -isms and quotes about how to use language in polite company, don’t we?

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

“Think before you speak.”

“Keep the communication lines open.”

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

But those contradict each other, don’t they?

Yes, and no.

If you think before you speak, you won’t say anything horrible, therefore you won’t hurt anyone, but then the communication lines may be closed unless you only allow the positive out, right? And heaven forbid you grab a sword instead of a pen. A pen – writing – allows us to THINK before we “speak” – to work out what it is we want to say and to edit our thoughts carefully before sharing them with others.

My father drove home the point of thinking before I speak. My mother, on the other hand, emphasized keeping the communication lines open.

Do you have ANY idea how difficult that is to bring to a happy middle? DO YOU?

Sometimes I can’t help but laugh at my inability to speak up or comment on something because I know exactly what I want to say but can hear my father’s voice in my head telling me to “think before I speak” immediately followed by my mother’s voice telling me to “keep the communication lines open.” So sometimes I speak, other times, I remain silent. When I do speak, I do try to be succinct, compassionate, and non-accusatory. Does it always work out? Hell no, I’m human for crying out loud and to err is to be human or something along those lines.

But here’s the thing.

Language does matter. Tone matters. Perception matters.

That’s what we’ll be addressing tonight. Language. Tone. Perception. Not just our own, but that of those around us. Every single one of us has our own baggage. What someone says about you or how they choose to react TO you is not necessarily about you, or even about them. It might be something they’ve been dragging with them for years and it merely slips out at the wrong time. Or at the right time.

Language makes or breaks stigma. So do actions. This morning, I read this wonderful post over at Brain Pickings: The Unaddressed Business of Filling Our Souls: Mood Science and the Evolutionary Origins of Depression. It is a brilliant post in that she examines a book entitled “The Depths” by Jonathan Rottenberg (which is now on my MUST READ list). One of the points she mentions that Rottenberg makes is that emotion/mood are terribly languagecentric.

Think about it – we assign positives and negative stigmas to words which describe moods. Are we supposed to find “joy” when someone is depressed? No, of course not, but what if instead of reacting with pity, we instead dove in and asked if we could do anything to help? Or we saw it as Rottenberg sees non-severe depression (ie, paralyzing depression), just as part of the ebb and flow of the cycle of life?

How we describe ourselves and how we allow others to describe us affects our self-view and therefore affects our moods. It matters how much weight we ascribe to the words swirling around us in the dark.

Tonight’s chat will examine words commonly used to describe depression and those who are depressed or living with mental health battles raging inside them. It is up to us, the survivors and the warriors, to change the language we use to describe ourselves and our battles. Until we do so, the language used by others will not change.

I hope you’ll join in on Twitter tonight at 830pm ET to discuss this with me as we create a list of things for those who loves us to say…and not to say as we fight for ourselves.