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Online Web Forums and Mental Health

More and more people are using online or web based forums to seek out advice. Why is this? Is it because of the anonymous nature? Is it because there is no other available options?

On a quick Google search, Reddit advice forums crop up. The advice pages range from general advice, relationship advice, dating advice, women specific advice, career guidance and even legal advice – yes, even legal advice.

The premise is for the user to login and engage with a network of online individuals who are supposed to provide some level of advice. Users discuss their problems and they are answered by the people of the internet. Every imaginable topic can be searched, questioned and debated on this forum. But, how safe and reliable is this information?

Along the same lines, the online community has mental health forums that offer support for those that need it. Sharing experiences and advice on medication can be useful, in helping people feel they are less alone and their experiences are not unique. The anonymous nature helps people connect more without the fear it can be traced or perhaps the judgement from friends, family and sometimes mental health professionals/doctors. It allows people to create their own persona, which can give them confidence when reaching out to the group.

That’s all great, but what if it goes wrong? What if the user is at a low point and is seeking genuine advice, and they receive poor advice? Or worse, they are made fun of, ridiculed or made to feel even more alone? What happens then?

These online forums have their benefits in connecting with others and sharing experiences, but it can go horribly wrong. Right now, there is a case ongoing in the United States with an individual online talking someone else into suicide by supporting their suicidal statements. Should they be held responsible? The user sought the community out for help, and instead, it turned fatal which ultimately could be avoided.

Here are some tips if you are reaching out online to these sub forums:

  1. Understand the individuals you will be conversing with are not professionals. In some cases, they may not have any more knowledge than you.
  2. Understand that just as you may be acting with a persona, they will be as well. Nobody acts 100% truthful on the internet.
  3. Understand that they cannot know the full extent of your struggle. Individuals that use these platforms are struggling with mental health issues themselves. In addition, they do not have your full medical history or know the full circumstances leading up to this particular incident.

In summary, these mental health forums can be helpful in creating a shared experience. However, there are risks associated with reaching out on the internet. Please be weary.

If you are experiencing mental health trouble, reach out to your doctor, friends/family or mental health professional.

Mania: What People Don’t Know

The following post was found on the site, Medium. It was written by the aspiring writer, l.m, who writes about bipolar disorder. She is a beautiful writer  – if you are interested in reading more, please visit her page.

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I’m running through a crowd of people, sweat dripping down my back, my legs numb from the exercise. I’m running from something terrifying, a monster of some kind. I’m afraid that when it catches up to me that I might die, that my family might get murdered too. I’m also completely manically psychotic.

Psychosis is the complete loss of control over one’s sanity. It consists of hallucinations and delusions, such as hearing voices or delusion of grandeur. It is absolutely horrific and often a person does not realise that they’re psychotic making it more terrifying. In relation to this, mania is believed to be a type of mood where a person experiences euphoria and happiness. This is where people get this wrong. Mania is not always euphoria. For some people, it is a mood that is painful and hard to come to terms with. It is often followed by depression making it a dreadful reminder of what’s to come. But it’s also associated with the belief that it is wonderful and that Bipolar Disorder is not terrible because it includes mania. There are many different stigmas that are grossly attached to the mood and it is vital that these misconceptions are smashed.

In some cases, mania consists of psychosis, which is one of the worse things about it. People that experience psychosis have different types of delusions, but one that is more common is delusion of grandeur, which is the belief that a person is famous or infinitely great. This becomes problematic when people start acting upon this belief. In my case, I experienced a delusion that was beyond my control and I struggled to believe it wasn’t true.

Mania is also associated with irrationality, which often results in painful consequences. This can be proven difficult when one has to clean up the mess of mania when depressed. I’ve experienced this first hand. When I was manic, I damaged my car countless times and made decisions that I’d never make if I were stable. After this time period, I crashed into a deep depression leaving me feeling shattered, proving that mania isn’t all that great.

Mania is not just happiness. It is also mixed moods. One can be angry and manic, sad and manic or irritable and manic. The different moods that are associated with mania are infinite. It’s tiring. The constant talking and moving, the inflated ego, the terrible decision-making and rushing heartbeat can become extremely tiresome. This is exacerbated by the lack of sleep that one gets. The worse thing about this is that despite being absolutely exhausted, you cannot stop the symptoms. You keep going until you crash.

Bipolar Disorder is trouble. What people don’t know is that the two moods, depression and mania, combined together is exhausting. It is the constant chatter, the late-night projects that remain unfinished and the racing mind.

Mania is not always euphoria. It is the terrifying realisation that you are trapped in a cycle of moods that is difficult to emerge from and it’s important that people know this.

Source: Medium

Author: l.m

How to Manage Negative Thoughts

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Most of us have experienced it – the terrible feeling of negative thoughts creeping into our heads telling us things like ‘you are not good enough’, ‘you are so awkward and annoying,’ or ‘you are such a failure.’

These hurtful and unwelcomed thoughts that pop into our heads are known as “automatic negative thoughts.” According to the father of cognitive therapy, Aaron Beck, it is these types of thoughts that attack our best self and cause us to spiral into a cycle of emotional pain and suffering. This cycle starts with a mindset that is anxious, unhappy or angry and leads into automatic negative thoughts (ANT). The ANT then feeds back into our mindset, ultimately perpetuating the unpleasant cycle.

So, how do we break this cycle?

While it may not be easy at first, the first step is learning how to recognize ANT. This means when a negative thought pops into our head we must take a second to pause and think, wait a minute…where is this thought coming from? Is this true or is this my inner critic speaking?

When we get stuck in negative cycles, it becomes harder and harder to ignore the negative thoughts. By stopping to test these thoughts, we can seek out another point of view – the opposite of our inner critic, our inner supporter.

For those of you who are familiar with RuPaul, you’ll recognize his famous line ‘If you can’t love yourself, then how the hell you gonna love somebody else?’ when you really think about it, he’s right! Instead of tearing ourselves down all the time and listening to our inner critic, we need to give our inner supporter a chance to weigh in.

When you really think about it, he’s right. Instead of tearing ourselves down all the time and listening to our inner critic, we need to give our inner supporter a chance to weigh into the conversation.

Maybe you just joined a running group and you catch your inner critic screaming ‘you are so much slower than the rest of the group, you should just quit running!’ Okay fine, inner critic that’s your opinion…but what do you think inner supporter? After thanking you for finally letting it speak up, your inner critic could counter ‘well sure, maybe you aren’t the fastest runner on the trail but if you keep at it, you are bound to improve. And besides, exercise is exercise regardless of the pace!’

It’s all about challenging those automatic negative thoughts and considering another perspective.

Need some help getting started? Here’s a list of categories where automatic negative thoughts tend to hang out in:

  • Black and white thinking – Grey areas exist. Don’t force yourself into the “if I can’t do it, I am an utter failure”
  • Mind reading – Assuming you know what other people are thinking is dangerous because it is very likely that your speculations are not based in truth. “She thinks I’m so annoying”… Does she really think that or is that what you are telling yourself?
  • Over generalizing – Making overly exaggerated statements “No one will ever love me again!”
  • Discounting the positive – Discrediting yourself for things you are good at “I received top marks, but so do the entire class so I’m not that smart.”
  • Self-blame – Assuming things are your fault “He’s not having fun, it must be because of me.”
  • Catastrophizing – Thoughts such as “Now the entire day is ruined” after you spilled coffee on your shirt in the morning.
  • Name calling – Calling yourself or others “stupid” is not helpful.

A Narcissist’s Love Letter

Writing can be incredibly therapeutic. By putting pen to paper we can find the words needed to verbalize our feelings. By understanding our feelings, we can better process the situation, our actions and what we have learned so that we can move forward.

The following passage is a letter written by an individual who recently left a relationship with a narcissistic and emotionally abusive partner.

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When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the way I feel when I’m with you. I love myself through you. I love seeing myself through your eyes. I love seeing myself through my eyes imagining how I look through your eyes.

I love having someone new to tell my stories to, to express my opinions, and to share my profound theories and beliefs about the important things in life. I love hearing myself say these things as I imagine how they sound to you, and how enthralled with me I imagine you are.

When I say I’m in love with you, I love having someone beautiful to wear, like a new outfit. I love the way you feel on me. I love the way I feel about me when you are with me.

When I say I’m in love with you, I love not being alone. I love not being that tree falling in the forest. I love having a full-time, personal audience.

When I say I’m in love with you I mean I love being your mystery, your riddle, being what keeps you up at night, your obsession. I love being your altar, your sacrament, your icon, your miracle. I love being your answer. I love being the object of your sacrifice. I love being your pain.

When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I’m in love with being your sun, monopolizing your orbit, being your gravity, keeping you drawn back to me no matter how hard you try to jump or fly, keeping you down. Keeping you mine.

When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I’m in love with breathing your air, sucking your blood, eating your dreams. I’m in love with being your drug, your dagger, your suicide note.

When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared….

Counsellor? Psychologist? Psychiatrist? Who should I see? 

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Have you ever wondered if you should see a counsellor, psychologist or a psychiatrist? These days there are a variety of different professions, all of which vary and it can get confusing for individuals that want or need to seek help.

Counselors: Counsellors are mental health professionals with a specified skill set who provide short-term care. Usually, they will have an undergraduate or masters level specialty in psychology. Counsellors help people in need identify triggering issues and encourage positive steps in life to resolve these short-term issues. Attending counseling and seeing a counsellor is a relatively short term processes.

Psychologist: Psychologists are more specialised than counsellors in that more required education is needed, specifically doctoral level training. They help individuals who have had a host of emotional problems that have built upper time – such as depression and anxiety. Psychotherapy is a longer term process and treatment is designed to identify emotional issues that exist in the background of a person’s life.

Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are trained, medical doctors. After they have finished medical school, they complete their residency in psychiatry for roughly four years. For this reason, psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication to patients, and psychologists are not. Psychologists and psychiatrists work in tandem to provide relief to an individual through psychotherapy (psychologist) and medicine (psychiatry).

In essence, if you or someone you know is going through temporary and relatively short-term struggles, a counsellor may be the best point of contact as there are smaller waiting lists and typically, no GP or doctor referral needed. If the problem has been persistent and ongoing, with major life and behavioural disruptions, a psychologist or psychiatrist may be a better point of contact.

Moving In A Positive Direction

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This was originally posted on Reddit by an anonymous source. It is a good reminder that although depression is not a choice, we do have the power to choose who we spend time with, how we spend that time and to be grateful for the things we have and the positive people in our lives.


It wasn’t instantaneous, and it wasn’t easy. I forget the speaker, but I heard or saw some kind of presentation on the fact that joy is a choice we make, not just something that happens when we’re lucky or make good choices. Because sometimes we’re unlucky, and even good choices don’t go well. So you can choose to be joyful even in bad circumstances, and over time it’ll happen.

I started cutting out negative, angry music and television and listened to/watched more positive things. I stopped hanging out with people who never do anything but drink and fuck around, and I started spending more time with people who were active and positive. I learned to recognize when I was slipping into negativity and depression. It’s ok to be angry or sad, but I stopped continuously beating myself up with those thoughts. And my depression is an illness, so I can’t avoid it, but I don’t have to feed it. My depressive periods never last as long or get as dark anymore.

The most helpful thing has been gratitude. When something goes well, or someone does something even a little nice for me, I try really hard to recognize it, be thankful for it, and to express my gratitude to the person. Recognizing the things that make me happy has just lit up my life, and motivated me to seek out even more goodness, and to be generous when I can.

And there is lots more to it– each step in a positive direction led to another, and it all compounded into a really solid framework for how I now live my life. There have been setbacks and failures, rough patches, and depression. But over time, it’s really just been a matter of making little choices toward joy instead of feeding a repeating pattern of negativity.