How to Support Someone who is Struggling with their Mental Health

This post has been in the works for a while. Honestly, I’ve been putting it off because I’m a little scared to post it. I’m scared because I feel pressure to make this post the most helpful as it can possibly be, because this topic is so incredibly important. But honestly, I know I don’t have the magic answer– I don’t even think there’s just one answer– but that’s okay. Maybe this post won’t be the MOST helpful, but hopefully you can get something out of it.

Watching someone you love struggle with their mental health is one of the most heartbreaking things. All we want to do is take their suffering away, but a lot of the time we don’t know how we can help. So here are a few of my tips for anyone going through this process, because when the persons struggling feels supported and the loved one feels like they are supporting, it can make all the difference.

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A Letter to Everyone Struggling with their Mental Health during the Holidays

The holidays are tough.

Firstly, remember that you’re not alone.

We’re all in this together. There are so many people out there ready to support you. There are people who care. I know, because I’m one of them. The holidays can be a lonely time for lots of people, even if you’re surrounded by others. But know that you may feel lonely, but you are not alone (there’s a difference I promise). You have the world– we are all living in this planet together. Being human. Struggling in our own ways. You are not alone.

Remember that you are loved.

Firstly, by the world. This earth needs you. It can’t spin the same without you on it. There are also so many people out there who love you, whether they express it in ways you can understand or not. Again, I know because I’m one of them. You impact everyone you come across. There are dozens and dozens and dozens of people who care about and love you. Pinky swear.

Remember that this is temporary.

The holidays will pass. Just like every other day, each day is only 24 hours and then you can start new again. It can feel like forever, I know, but it’s not. You can survive this.

Remember that whatever happens is okay.

Be gentle on yourself. This is one crazy time of year that brings with it a tornado of emotions. It’s okay if you do the thing you’re trying not to do anymore– restrict, binge, purge, self harm, drink, whatever it is. It happens. And that’s okay. Try not to beat yourself up about it. You’re human. But just because it happened doesn’t mean it has to keep happening– every day is a new day and you can always start again.

Remember that you are a badass.

You have fought to become the person you are today. And whether you are struggling, or in recovery (or both, because let’s be real, recovery is a struggle bus sometimes), you are a badass. Because you are fighting hard. Really hard. And you’re strong, and you’re gonna win. I promise.

Remember that you deserve all the good things.

No matter what happens– what someone says, what slips may or may not happen– you’re not a bad person. You’re an amazing person. And mental illness isn’t a character flaw. It doesn’t take away from the wonderful, magical, badass person you are. You deserve life, and health, and happiness. I swear it.

We’ll get through this together.

Hadley xx

How to Get the Most out of Therapy

I’ve seen my fair share of therapists in my life so far. And up until recently, they all went the same way: I would see them for a certain amount of time, feel like it wasn’t helping/I didn’t like them, and then ghost them.

Take it from me: this is not the best way to handle therapy. Up until I went to treatment for my eating disorder, I had no idea how helpful therapy could actually be. It was the first time I had ever left a therapy session feeling better. I am eternally grateful for my therapist there, because my time seeing her taught me a lot about how to get the most out of therapy, and I don’t think my relationship with the therapist I see now would be as effective without that experience.

So here are a few tips I wish someone had told me earlier (so maybe I wouldn’t have been a serial therapist ghoster):

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‘Seeing is Believing’ & Mental Health

Social media can be a beautiful thing. Trust me, the support and connection I’ve received since starting my recovery instagram account has been overwhelming in the best, most positive way. But there is a certain downside to social media– it breeds what I like to call a ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ mentality.

Let’s face it, how many times do we catch ourselves thinking that what we see on somebody’s social media accounts are a complete representation of their lives? I know I’ve been in that situation many times. But the truth is, what we are seeing is not the whole picture. It most cases, it’s not even close.

While this is harmful because it breeds comparison and competition (post on that to come), it also leads to a ‘seeing is believing’ mentality. And when it comes to our mental health, that is one of the most frustrating and detrimental things.

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Surviving the Holidays When in Recovery from an Eating Disorder

The holidays. What a beautiful, crazy, stressful beast.

Let’s face it– holidays in general are super stressful for anyone. When you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, they can be even harder. Not only do many holiday traditions revolve around food, but it’s also a time where many of us get together with extended family and friends. And come on, we all have that relative (or two, or three..) who enjoys commenting on our appearance and whether or not we have gained or lost weight (especially if our family knows about our eating disorder/recovery). Sadly, diet talk is inevitable. There is such a pervasive message in society that holidays are a time for ‘splurging’ on ‘bad’ foods– enter the obsession over ‘holiday weight gain’ and the million people talking about how their New Year’s Resolution is to join a gym/go on a juice cleanse/etc. Like, thank you Aunt Sharon, but I really don’t want to hear about how you are going to have to ‘work off’ your dessert. Am I right?

Anyway, I wanted to share some of my tips on how to get through this time, in the hopes that maybe they will help!

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Why Body Positivity is the Key to Sustaining Recovery from an Eating Disorder (in my humble opinion)

Okay. So. In order for you to fully understand why I feel this way, I need to give you a little bit of context about my history.

I was (medically, by doctors’ standards) overweight when I developed anorexia. This is important because when I was in treatment, coping with weight gain and physical changes is a part of a lot of people’s journeys. Girls would come out from meeting with the nutritionist and say excitedly, ‘guess who hit maintain!!’ And I was so, so happy for them, don’t get me wrong. Weight restoration is a very important part of a lot of people’s experiences and should definitely be celebrated. But it also made me feel like a fraud, because my healthy body was actually not going to look any different than my sick body. Actually, it was going to look ‘better’ by society’s standards than my sick body at some points in my journey.

This is something I grappled with a lot during the beginning of my time in treatment. Because when I received the diagnosis of anorexia I was suddenly in a category I wasn’t sure quite belonged to me. Spoiler alert, though, every single person in that room also felt not ‘sick enough’ and ‘invalid’ in some way. It’s pretty much the mark of an eating disorder– because from the eating disorder’s perspective, the minute you are ‘sick enough’ is the minute you qualify to get help and let go of it. So it’s gonna tell you that because it doesn’t want to go away. Don’t believe it, though. The truth is, there’s no such thing as not being ‘sick enough.’ In time I learned that it didn’t matter that I didn’t have to weight restore– I still deserved to be there and to recover.

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Group Therapy: Is it as scary as it seems?

The short answer? Yes and no.

If you’re reading this, and you’ve never been to group therapy and you’re thinking, ‘Oh, that seems like fun and something I would like to do,’ more power to ya, but you are in the minority.

Before I went into treatment, I was TERRIFIED at the prospect of group therapy. It literally seemed like my worst nightmare. And my first day, that proved to be true. My very first group we did ‘three minute check-ins,’ where you go around in a circle and each person has to fill three minutes by talking about what’s on their mind, or making the group sit in awkward silence (you have to wait out the entire three minutes). Needless to say, I went home after that first day thinking: 1) group therapy was not for me 2) it was a form of psychological torture and  3) I should quit treatment.

I’ll skip ahead a bit and tell you that not only did I not quit treatment, but group therapy became one of the most helpful, valuable aspects of my time there.

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