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Community Corner: A dose of positivity

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Health, Mental Health, Moods

The Power of Positvity in the Forums

I am continually amazed by the power of positivity and how our forum members manage to hold onto it in the face of adversity. Here are 3 recent quotes from ReachOut forum members who have been through tough times, from drug addiction to depression, and chosen to share their experiences and help others through.

Take 2 minutes to join the forums today and either get the support support you deserve, or make the tough times count by giving support to others who need it.

"Hey everyone!  I'm still fairly new to reachout and as I read different topics in the forums it really does sadden my heart to see how much a lot of people are really hurting inside, it also gets me angry to see in some people's stories they describe how people tease, bully or make them feel like a "freak" because they are going through whatever they're going through. Just remember no matter what your going through no matter what anyone tells u or says YOU are a fantastic individual no matter if you are gay, straight, bi, male or female, young or old, or race. Nothing is impossible if you dream it you can do it! Never let anyone tell you that you cant! Also never let anyone belittle any of your problems anything that affects you mentally, emotionally or physically needs to be addressed immediately no matter how big or small a problem may be. Nothing is worth jeopardizing you're happiness! Try and stay focused everyone I know it can be hard but I know you guys can do it! You'll have your good and bad days like we all do. What separates us from others is the ones that gave up and the ones that fell but got right back up =) keep showing the world you're smile! I guarantee you eventually you'll give the world no choice but to smile back" (RicanSurvivor) 

"New to the scene and full of optomism. Hey ladies and gents my name is Joshua. I just joined this site for multiple reasons: 1) Sometimes I feel like no one understands me and I am sure there are others who feel the same way; I am here to open up and listen to anyone who needs it and I hope that can be reciprocated, 2) Sometimes it is a good thing to just vent your feelings without worry of offending someone or being judged by others, and 3) I finally want to be able to let my guard down with other people who may come into my life so that I can once again be the person that I know I am To everyone on this site, if you ever have a problem that you need help on or need someone to listen to, I am here. I will try to help everyone that I can because I believe the only way we can help ourselves, is to help everyone else first!" (collinsje09)

"One of the things I have learned from having depression is that time is one of the best healers. If today is the worst day of your life, then you can be proud of yourself at the end of the day for getting through it.  And I don't think anything is wrong with you at all! The road to getting better is bumpy at times; some days and weeks will be better, and some worse. It takes time to learn how to deal with depression, but I promise, it will pay off. I know you can do this."  (Dragonrider)

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Getting Covered: Finding the Right Healthcare Plan For You

by Meredith

In the ReachOut community, we know that it can take a lot of courage to seek help when you're concerned about your mental health. Feeling confused about your healthcare coverage, or worried that you may not currently be covered, can make this effort even more daunting. We get it, and we're here to help.

Because there have been a lot of recent changes to healthcare under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), it can be easy to get overwhelmed. You might have a lot of questions or just feel super nervous when the topic comes up.

The good news is there are now more affordable options for getting covered as a young adult, and particularly for mental and behavioral health services, than ever before and lots of support available to help you find the answers you need. Along with official resources like general overview pages on Healthcare.gov and state health insurance pages like Covered California, you can also get the lowdown on different mental health service options by hearing how others figured it out in communities like the ReachOutHere Forums* and on Feel Better CA, a site dedicated to young people's stories of battling depression.

Recently, ReachOutHere peer supporter Helena shared her own story of finding an affordable plan through the ACA with Feel Better CA and New America Media. You can watch it in full below and share your story on navigating health insurance in the ReachOutHere Forums*.

 

 

For more information, check out our fact sheet on Paying for Mental Health Services

*This program is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63).

 

 

 

Living with Chronic Illnesses

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Health

Coping with Chronic Illness

What does it mean to live with chronic illness? Here's how one ReachOut forum member put it into words in a recent post:

"I'm 15 and for most of my life have struggled with chronic illnesses from Depression and anxiety, to fibromyalgia, asthma and chronic migraines along with things that the doctors don't understand. Its been a constant journey or being diagnosed with one thing after another and never finding an answer for anything. I don't like to talk about it, and usually try my best to ignore everything because it makes me feel different. To be honest, it is very scary for me and I feel very alone."

Below is a response from another member, who can clearly relate to exactly what has been said:

"Hi crying_in_the_rain!
I want you to know that I really feel for you in your situation. I suffer from five mental illnesses and chronic joint and digestive pain that has mystified doctors for years. In high school, I felt like a freak -- I couldn't do stuff with my friends because I wouldn't be able to walk the next day or simply just couldn't keep up. I went to so many doctors who wouldn't believe that my pain was real (six years later it's still very real) or had half-assed solutions that put me in more pain. When I finally got a diagnosis for all my mental illnesses, and there were FIVE of them, I felt so overwhelmed and had no clue how to deal. Thankfully, my parents pushed me to see a therapist, who not only helped me with my mental illness, but also helped me reframe how I thought about my body. Instead of looking at all these diagnoses as separate, she encouraged me to see my body as a whole thing, working as best it could to function, and to love it because it's doing the best it can.

I also want you to know that you are NOT alone. I promise. One thing that gave me hope (the whole chronic illness thing doesn't help the depression as I'm sure you know) was finding a community. I was fortunate enough to have a disability alliance at my university, and they introduced me to local and online communities of people with chronic illness. I suddenly found a group of people who not only understood my experience, but they LIVED it. And because they lived it, and came together in a community, they had an abundance of resources for meet-ups, self care techniques, crisis resources (like they do on this site), and so much more. If you are interested, Tumblr has a huge community of disabled folks (these are people who have chronic illnesses, physical handicaps, and mental illnesses who all identify under the umbrella term "disabled"). They blog, talk together, create memes, spark political conversations about what it means to be disabled and how isolating it is, and even meet up locally. A great compliation of blogs on tumblr can be found here :http://chronic-illness-support.tumbl...sability-blogs. You don't have to be a member of tumblr to view their blogs either, so feel free to browse away.


I really hope that you know there are people out there who understand the frustration with doctors, the exhaustion of being in pain all the time, and the hopelessness mental illness leave you with. I also hope that you can find a community that can give you some hope. Know that there are people on this site and elsewhere that understand and can support and care for you!"

This is just one example of the kind of help and support you can find in the ReachOut forums. If you are suffering from a chronic illness and want more info, read this fact sheet, or are worried about someone else who is, click here.

Read other supportive responses in the forums here, or register to respond.

Processing the Passing of Robin Williams

by Meredith Mental Health

"Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle"

As we all start to process the passing of Robin Williams, this quote from Plato seems especially apt. While the comic actor was open about his ongoing struggle with depression and addiction, he was much better known for brightening up the screen with his unique energy and skill for silly voices. From Aladdin to Jumanji to personal favorite Mrs. Doubtfire, many of our childhoods were filled with his memorable performances. He was a master at throwing himself into roles so completely that even a simple shrill "Hellooo" could convey volumes about a character. For that talent, already being captured in slideshows and lists across the internet, he will always be remembered.

But the "hard battle" Robin Williams fought is also important. It brings to light a truth many of us know firsthand or from seeing someone we love experience: Depression is real and can affect anyone, regardless of who you are or what your circumstances are. There are no simple explanations for depression and the feelings of severe sadness and thoughts of suicide it can cause, but there are MANY ways and people who are willing to help you cope. If you're feeling triggered by the news and social media around Robin Williams, it is especially important to keep that in mind now. There is help available 24/7 from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

One way to start coping? Sharing any difficult feelings or thoughts you have with others in the ReachOut Forums. It's normal to be affected by the passing of a public figure and by talking it out you can help yourself and others better understand the emotional process. You may also hear from others who have discovered their own coping strategies for times like this.

Another way to deal is by keeping in mind that not all media coverage is created equal. Some reporters and commenters have a limited understanding of the complex issues behind suicide that may be reflected in sensational headlines, graphic details or insensitive questions that suggest there was "nothing to feel depressed about." The best way to combat these misguided discussions online or in print is to seek out alternatives with a more nuanced understanding of mental health and the many resources available for support such as Lifeline and The Trevor Project.

You may also want to apply this approach to real life conversations around mental health. If you encounter someone who says something hurtful or demonstrates a lack of understanding around what it means to live with mental illness, it is completely okay to say something. By sensitively sharing your views (rather than attacking theirs) you may be able to impact how someone thinks or even open a thoughtful dialogue. Of course, if you don't feel comfortable, you can also change the subject or walk away. Whatever you need to do to take care of you. You may also find it helpful to read up on the facts around depression causes and common myths.

No matter how you deal with potential triggers for depression, know that you are not alone. 

You may also find some of these fact sheets helpful:

After someone ends their life by suicide: how you might feel
How talking to someone can help
Experiencing grief

Do you have thoughts or feelings you’d like to share? Comment below or join our discussion in the ReachOut Forums.

Gay but no one knows

by Liz_ReachOut College, Friends, Mental Health, School

Two young teen boysWhen a forum member told the ReachOut community they were gay but their friends all thought they were straight, and said, 'I need someone to know and to tell me its going to be okay,' this is what they got:

"Thank you for being brave to come out to us here! You're great, and it will all be okay! There's no need to rush into coming out, especially if you don't think you are in a safe environment to do so. But I promise it will all be okay, and we still love you <3"

"Not only will everything be okay, but it is MORE than okay to be you. That is the one and only thing we will always be growing with until we die. Being you. If people dont like it. That is their issue. Does not mean those poeple are everyone. There are so many people that will love you for just being you. I already love you. You are my friend. Because no matter what size, shape, gender, race, or sexuality. We are all one, and need to respect that. I would youtube the word. "sonder" It ia an amazing 2 minute or less video on this new and fascinating word. It was posted on my birthday, and ever since. My life has changed. You are loved. Being attracted to someone is NOT a bad thing, and expressing your feelings neither. If anyone has anything to say about anything? It is a mirror reflection of something they can't fix in themselves. It will be more than okay. because there are towns out there that have more LGBTQIA that "straight" couples You are loved, and if you need to be reminded again. Hey you. I love you"

When the original poster wrote back to say, "...i feel like because im older that i should have came out by now but im just starting to figure myself out," the supportive responses just kept on coming: 

"Hey, starting to figure yourself out is a really great thing! If it makes you feel better, I came out only last year, and I was a sophomore in college then!"

"I just wanted to tell you that it WILL be okay. :} ... I can tell you it will make you hella happy to finally put a step in the direction of your real self. If you're not certain yet, then don't come out so suddenly; just go at your own pace. Sometimes it is pretty hard admitting something to yourself, or even digging deep enough into yourself to find the real you. When you reach that point, all you'll feel is liberation in finally finding everything. So it will be okay Danielle, we're here for you and we hear you; now smile? All will be well!"

"I understand that feeling of "I should have come out already or had myself all figured out way sooner." I've had that same feeling before. The thing is, nobody has it all figured out. And we all come to terms with things at different times. I came out in terms of my sexual orientation at 12, but didn't start really exploring my gender identity until like ten years later. Everything has its time. So, no pressure, okay? Give yourself time to explore and ponder and reflect. You don't need to come to a certain answer or conclusion. There is no deadline. Getting to know yourself is a lifelong project."

If you need support around coming out or exploring your sexuality and/or gender identity, register here for the forums or post in the LGBTQIA thread and get the help you deserve.

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