Interview with Molly McHugh (bipolar 1 survivor)!!

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a blog post on Molly McHugh’s website Molly has lived with Bipolar 1 for many years and writes about her experiences as well as alternative treatments, scientific studies related to bipolar disorder, and tips for dealing with the disorder.

Molly interviewed me to highlight some of the differences between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. I’m quite excited that I had the opportunity. Here is a link to the post on her blog.

Make sure you check out the other information on her website, especially if you deal with bipolar disorder.


I Was On the Radio!

Yesterday I was honored to be on a radio show called Moments of Clarity. It is hosted by Tiffany Werner, LMCH on WTAN radio in Florida. Moments of Clarity is a show promoting awareness of mental health and ending the stigma surrounding mental heath issues. I had the chance to talk about borderline personality disorder on the radio which was really exciting.

I thought I couldn’t listen to Moments of Clarity before since it’s on live radio when I’m at work, but I learned yesterday that the show can be streamed online after the fact. I’m looking forward to streaming the show from now on and listening to past episodes.

Anyway, here is a link to the show’s page. Check it out if you get a chance, and if you listen to the one I was on, let me know what you think.



Maria Bamford

My best friend sent me a track today from Maria Bamford’s album Ask Me About My New God. My friend sent it to me via Spotify, but here’s part of it on youtube.

Unfortunately this cuts off what I think is the best part, but I couldn’t find a longer clip. Bamford goes on to point out that people don’t get help because of stigma and that 7,000 veterans commit suicide each year. She says, “You’d think they’d die over there. But they come home and die.” Then through exaggerated fake laughter she says, “I figured it must be funny since no one seems to be taking it very seriously.” (I’m paraphrasing here).

So after listening to that I read a little about Maria Bamford and it turns out she is pretty public about her personal struggle with mental illness. She also uses her comedy to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. She has been on The Nerdist podcast as well as The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast. She has a live album called Unwanted Thoughts Synrome which is on youtube. Bamford has also done some voice work on Word Girl, Adventure Time, and CatDog.

Here is a link to an article about her that I enjoyed, and another cool youtube video. Yay for stigma fighters!!!


What’s Working for Me

Here are some of the things that are helping me lately, things that I am benefiting from, that don’t need a post all to themselves.

  1. Before bed each night I’ve been writing 3-5 things I’m grateful for. This is something people write a lot about and I’ve previously been kind of scornful of the practice. I’ve never had trouble feeling gratitude, so I didn’t think listing specific things would make a big difference for me. However, I changed my view while reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. She talks about the myth of scarcity and it resonated with me in a way that other things I’d read about gratitude hadn’t.
  2. I have serious self-esteem problems. There are times when I can’t think of a single good thing about myself. Once a therapist asked me something I like about myself and my answer was, “I’ve never punched anyone in the face.” That’s the best I could come up with, and it’s a pretty typical response. So for the past couple of weeks I have been keeping two lists–one of things I like about myself and one of things other people like about me. My goal is to write down things I can’t argue with. For example, instead of writing “I’m good at picking out presents,” I wrote, “I got Mom things she was excited about for Mother’s Day.” The first statement would be easy for me to argue with when I’m feeling bad about myself; I’ll think about all the times I should’ve gotten someone a cooler/more personal/nicer gift. The second statement I won’t be able to argue with that when I’m in a low mood because my mom’s reaction made it clear that she was very happy about the things I picked out for her. On my other list I am writing down compliments people give me verbatim.
  3. I’ve been reading more. I’ve always loved reading, but sometimes I get out of the habit. I start watching TV more or spending more time online. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. There’s often an ebb and flow with interests. But I made an effort to start reading more a few weeks ago and I think it helps in a few different ways. It’s a good distraction (distress tolerance) technique. It’s also a pleasurable activity. Plus, it’s aiding in recovery since I am reading books on self-esteem and other relevant topics.
  4. I’m using a sort of daily DBT checklist. It’s similar to ¬†couple of diary cards I’ve seen. It has different components of DBT listed on it, like connecting with your higher power, committing to valued action, using coping thoughts/skills, using opposite action, etc. There are boxes to check off for each skill on each day and an area to elaborate on how some of the skills were used. It’s very useful for me to think back over the day/week and note which skills I’ve been using or not using. The list came from a book called The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Diary by Matthew McKay and Jeffrey C. Wood. There is a DBT workbook by the same authors that the diary kind of goes along with, but they both can be used independently as well.
  5. This song. All of this guy’s stuff is great, but this song never fails to make me happy. And the video is just so funny and awesome. I try to save this song for very sad times so it doesn’t lose its power. It’s very wonderful.

So there are some things that are bringing me some good feelings lately. Maybe they’ll help someone else, too (I can only hope)!

Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown


I just finished a book called The Gifts Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. It was written by Brene Brown. One of the social workers at the partial hospitalization program talked about her books a lot, so I decided to read one.

Brene Brown is a researcher and professor. She is part of the research faculty at the University of Houston graduate school of social work and does qualitative research on concept like shame, fear, and vulnerability.

I’ve never written a book review before; it is definitely not my forte. However, I think it might be useful for others to get a little info on the book past what’s written in Amazon customer reviews.

The theme or main focus of this book is living authentically while believing that we are enough as we are. Brown calls this “Wholehearted living.” “Wholehearted living” is necessary for a true sense of belonging and real, deep connection with others.

At the beginning of the book Brown discusses developing feelings of worthiness through courage, compassion and connection. She also talks about how worthiness, love, and belonging will help while working on Wholehearted living. A chapter is spent talking about obstacles to Wholehearted living (shame, shoulds, beating ourselves up, etc).

The rest of the book–the majority of it–is about the 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted living that Brown has identified. Those guideposts are authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, gratitude & joy, intuition & trusting faith, creativity, play & rest, calm & stillness, meaningful work, and laughter, song & dance.

I enjoyed this book. I am not really into terms like “loving-kindess” and using Wholehearted with a capital letter, but I know sometimes it’s easier to pick a word or two and stick with it to summarize a concept. I liked that this book didn’t make crazy claims like a lot of self-help books; the author didn’t write as if she was going to change my life. I thought it was a nice overview of a lot of different things (the guideposts) because it gave me several things to think about.

Reading this book made me want to read more about Brene Brown’s research on shame. She talked a bit about shame and shame resilience. Shame is a big issue for me right now, and I got the idea from this book that the author has a lot of knowledge on working through shame.

My favorite part of the book was the chapter on gratitude and joy. Brown talked about the “myth of scarcity.” She points out that we are constantly fixated on what we lack. This isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea; tons of self-help books and articles preach the importance of being grateful. However, Brown comes at it from a slightly different angle, one that resonated with me more.

I have a habit of not letting myself enjoy good things/moments because I am afraid they won’t last. It’s like I’d rather not be happy than have to feel bad when things go wrong. In some ways this is a self-protective behavior, but it doesn’t always benefit me. I usually just end up missing out on happiness. Brown talks about this in her book. She says:

Most of us have experienced being on the edge of joy only to be overcome by vulnerability and thrown into fear. Until we can tolerate vulnerability and transform it into gratitude, intense feelings of love will often bring up the fear of loss.

Also, going back to the mindset of scarcity, she notes that we are often thinking and talking about all the things we don’t have enough of. Didn’t get enough sleep the night before, don’t have enough time to do whatever, aren’t smart enough, etc. Our default is to think that we don’t have enough of things. The concept of “not enough” is a huge part of our outlook and the way we function. We are convinced that we should always be doing more. If we have enough money to eat and pay our bills, we’ll just think about the fact that we don’t have enough money to travel. If we’re working a job we’re satisfied with, we’ll think about how we should be pursuing our passions or living our dreams. Our whole society is kind of driven by “not enough.” That truly eats away at loving ourselves, feeling worthy, and true connection with other people.

The author’s tone was very pleasant and this book flowed nicely. I’m glad I read it. It was definitely worth the time and money.

This book is available in paperback on Amazon for $9.50 and on Kindle for $8.52.