Mental Health in 2021: The Year in Review

According to USA Today, a poll that asked Americans to describe 2021 in one word indicated that the year was overwhelmingly bleak for many. The top five most common responses were:

  1. Awful/terrible/bad/sucked (23%)
  2. Chaos/confusing/turmoil (12%)
  3. Challenging/hard/rough (11%)
  4. Disaster/train wreck/catastrophe (6%)
  5. Okay/good (6%)

How were such dismal views reflected in mental health in 2021? Who was impacted the most and why? What helped Americans cope?


This article reviews American mental health in 2021 – a rundown of last year’s notable research findings, statistics, and events.

Mental Health in 2021: Statistics & News

According to a 2021 Mental Health America report, the top-ranking states for overall mental wellbeing (based on rates of mental illness and access to care) are:

  1. 5) Connecticut
  2. 4) Pennsylvania
  3. 3) New Jersey
  4. 2) Vermont
  5. 1) Massachusetts

The lowest ranking states are: Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada (with Nevada at the bottom).


January 5 Ketamine shows promise as a treatment for chronic PTSD by reducing symptom severity. Click here to read the study abstract. (Source: American Journal of Psychiatry)

April 1 – The Standard reports that 49% of American workers struggled with alcohol and substance use in 2020. Read the full article.

April 6 – Research indicates mental health complications in survivors of COVID-19 persist up to 6 months and beyond post-infection. (Source: Lancet Psychiatry)

April 15 – Psilocybin, the hallucinogenic chemical in ‘magic mushrooms,’ is found to be as effective for treating depression as a common antidepressant. (Source: The New England Journal of Medicine)

April 22 – 3 in 10 healthcare workers consider leaving the profession due to pandemic-related burnout. (Source: The Washington Post)

July 13 – Over half (53%) of United States public health workers report symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or suicidal thoughts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the CDC.

July 23 – Mental health workers are deployed to provide mental health support to first responders, the search and rescue teams, who worked for weeks to find victims after the condo collapse in Surfside, FL that killed nearly 100 people.

November 1 – Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive therapy, dies at 100. (Source: USA Today)

December 13 – Digital (computer and smartphone-based) treatments for mental illness may effectively reduce symptoms of depression. (Source: American Psychological Association)

December 17 – Rates of depression and anxiety increased globally during the pandemic. (Source: Psychiatry Advisor)

December 21 – The American Psychiatric Association endorses the Well Beings Mental Health Language Guide intended to address stigma around mental illness and provide readers with person-centered language. Read the news release.


Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 in the United States. (CDC)

A 2021 report published by Mental Health America indicates that most American employees are experiencing burnout. Furthermore, employees are not receiving the support they need to manage stress; workplace stress has a significant impact on mental health. Download the full report here.

At the end of 2020, 1 in 5 adolescents as well as 1 in 5 adults reported that the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. (Source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

Addiction & Recovery

The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that nearly 60% of Americans use drugs and/or alcohol with over 20% of the population reporting illicit drug use.


January 1 – A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence estimates that the opioid crisis cost the economy over $1 trillion in the United States in 2017.

February 28 – According to a growing body of research, Topamax continues to show promise as a pharmacological treatment for alcohol use disorder. (Source: Neuropsychopharmacology)

June 12 – The anti-inflammatory drug ibudilast shows promise as a treatment for alcohol use disorder. A small study found that it decreased heavy drinking. (Source: Translational Psychiatry)

June 25 – Research suggests that life achievements are linked to sustained recovery. (Source: Journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors)

July 5 – A pilot study indicates that high-dose gabapentin therapy may reduce harmful alcohol consumption. (Source: Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research)

July 21 – Wearable devices measure and track stress reactions to help to prevent relapse. Read the article from Washington State University Insider here.

August 3 – Alcohol consumption is linked to nearly 750,000 cancer cases in 2020. (Source: CBS News)

September 27 – Yale researchers predict that graphic photos showing the severe consequences of smoking, which will be printed on all cigarette packages in the U.S. beginning October 2022, will save an estimated 539,000 lives. (Source: Yale News)

November 30 – Researchers explore nutritional ketosis as a treatment for alcohol use disorder. (Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry)

December 5 – TMS therapy reduces cravings and heavy drinking days. (Source: Biological Psychiatry)

December 17 – Researchers predict that a one-year increase in alcohol consumption in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic will cause 8,000 additional deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, 18,700 cases of liver failure, and 1,000 cases of liver cancer by 2040. (Source: Massachusetts General Hospital)

Overdose Statistics & News

In 2019 there were 70,630 primarily opioid-involved drug overdose deaths in the United States. 72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids. (Source: CDC)

The states with the highest overdose death rates are:

  • 5) Pennsylvania
  • 4) Maryland
  • 3) Ohio
  • 2) Delaware
  • 1) West Virginia

February 3 – Researchers develop experimental vaccines to block opioid-induced respiratory depression, the primary cause of overdose death. (Source: Scripps Research Institute)

February 17 – Demi Lovato reveals that she suffered from three strokes and a heart attack in 2018 as a result of a drug overdose, leaving her with permanent brain damage. (Source: ABC News)

March 4 – A 75-year old New York doctor who saw patients in a hotel parking lot is charged with murder for 5 opioid deaths after writing massive quantities of prescriptions for opioid drugs. (Source: CSB News)

April 2 – The CDC reports that overdose deaths were at their highest in 2020, a 38.4% increase compared to the previous 12-year period.

September 1 – Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, is dissolved in a bankruptcy settlement that requires the company’s owners, members of the Sackler family, to pay billions of dollars to address the impact of the opioid epidemic. (Source: New York Times)

September 9 – Disparities in opioid overdose deaths for Black people continue to worsen. Read the press release. (Source: National Institutes of Health-NIH)

September 22 – An NIH report indicates that methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths nearly tripled between 2015-2019. Read the press release.

October 28 – The American Medical Association commends the Biden-Harris Administration “for responding to the spike in drug overdoses with an evidence-based, humane approach to increasing access to care for patients with a substance use disorder and harm reduction services.”

November 22 – Researchers develop a wearable naloxone injector device to detect and reverse opioid overdose. Read the news release from UW Medicine.

December 1 – Fentanyl strips prevent overdose and save lives. (Source: MSN News)

December 7 – The first safe injection sites in America open in New York in Washington Heights and East Harlem. (Source: Psychiatry Advisor)

December 9 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announces it is dropping the name of the philanthropic Sackler family, whose name is linked to America’s opioid epidemic. (Source: NBC News)

Discrimination & Reform

January 18 – The American Psychiatric Association issues a public apology for their past discriminatory practices. Read the news release here.

February 25 – The House passes the Equality Act, which “prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.”

March 3 – The House passes the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021.

March 10 – The Emmett Till and Will Brown Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2021, a bill that establishes lynching as a federal hate crime, is introduced in the House.

April 8 – The CDC director declares racism a serious public health threat. (Read the media statement here.) The American Medical Association releases a response statement applauding the CDC.

May 1 – A study indicates there are significant increases in anxiety among Black emerging adults from exposure to police violence. (Source: American Psychiatric Association)

June 1 – Research establishes a link between substance misuse and transgender-related discrimination.

July 30 – Research suggests that a 2017 executive order banning foreign nationals from select Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States harmed the health of Muslim Americans. (Source: Yale News)

August 17 – Researchers find persistent racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States. (Source: JAMA)

October 29 – The American Psychological Association issues an apology for its longstanding contributions to systemic racism.

December 1 – A study indicates that youth who face discrimination are at a greater risk for developing a mental disorder and are twice as likely to experience severe psychological distress compared to youth who don’t experience discrimination. (Source: Pediatrics)

Mental Health in 2021 Legislation

In February, the Mental Health Justice Act of 2021 to create a grant program for training and dispatching mental health professionals (instead of law enforcement officers) to respond to psychiatric emergencies is introduced.

The House passes the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021 in March.

In May, the House passes:

Also in May, the Senate passes the Improving Mental Health Access for Students Act to increase suicide prevention resources for students.

On October 26th, the House passes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021 to expand services for victims of domestic violence.

The infrastructure act signed to law by the president in November mandates automakers to install anti-drunk driving technology systems in all new cars.

In 2021, recreational marijuana use is legalized in New York, Virginia, New Mexico, and Connecticut. While marijuana is still federally controlled, it is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia and medically allowed in 36 states. Read more about marijuana legalization in the United States here. (Source: U.S. News)

The States Reform Act to end federal prohibition of cannabis is introduced in November, and a Florida representative submits a legislative proposal to decriminalize all illegal drugs.


Mental Health in 2021: Conclusion

2021 – the second year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic – brought with it more distress, loss, and hardship, with no end in sight as COVID deaths in 2021 surpassed those in 2020. While the year delivered a few legislative victories and promising research findings in mental health in 2021, overall, it wasn’t a great one.

Data suggests that mental health in 2021 suffered, with increased rates of depression, anxiety, and substance use. Healthcare workers experienced severe burnout. Overdose deaths skyrocketed while thousands of lawsuits were filed against opioid makers such as Purdue Pharma who started and sustained the opioid crisis in America, profiting off the suffering and tragedy of addiction. (See the Opioid Settlement Tracker to learn more about opioid settlements and how the money is spent.)

Meanwhile, a wave of civil unrest in America, triggered by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, continued into 2021 with protests, rioting, and violence. While the movement gained strength in 2020, in 2021, many Americans looked away. At the same time, there was a political push for a more “patriotic” retelling of history – to limit what schools could teach about slavery. However, steps in the right direction were taken by both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association when they issued public apologies for the harm they caused.

Although drug overdose deaths increased, there were significant strides taken in 2021 to win the “war on drugs” – by ending it with an awareness that this is not a war; it’s a treatable illness. 2021 saw the establishment of evidence-based, harm-reduction measures as well as legislation to decriminalize and legalize drugs. Meanwhile, medical research in 2021 revealed promising treatments to heal both addiction and mental illness.

To conclude, last year – in general – sucked. Despite this, it wasn’t entirely bad in mental health in 2021. And, 2022 could be the light at the end of the tunnel! In fact, the same poll that suggested 2021 was a “trainwreck” of a year found a majority of Americans are still hopeful for 2022.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

mental health in 2021

12 Examples of Microaggressions that Target LGBTQ+ Individuals

Microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals, both intentional and unintentional, are commonplace.

A microaggression is defined by Merriam-Webster (online dictionary) as “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.”

The concept was originally coined by Harvard psychiatrist, Chester M. Pierce, in 1970 to describe the insults and dismissals he witnessed White Americans inflict on Black Americans. The term microaggression has since expanded to include other stigmatized and marginalized groups.

Microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals are harmful and have been linked to serious mental health problems and suicide. What’s more, microaggressions contribute to stereotypes.


This article provides 12 examples of microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ persons.

To start, here are some useful glossary terms from The LGBT National Help Center.

The acronym LGBTQ+ stands for

  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Trans or Transgender
  • Queer or Questioning
  • [+] may represent Questioning or Agender, Bigender, Genderless, Gender Nonconforming, Gender Queer, Pangender, Pansexual, etc.
  • Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to other women (sexually, emotionally, and/or romantically)
  • Gay: An individual or a man who is attracted to individuals of the same gender
  • Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both men and women
  • Transgender: A person whose gender identity differs from the one assigned at birth
  • Queer: A reclaimed slur that refers to and celebrates individuals who are gay
  • Questioning: A person who is uncertain about or questioning their sexuality or gender identity. (Note: This is in reference to the internal conflict one experiences.)

Agender (or Genderless): Someone who does not identify with any gender (or as having a gender)

Bigender: An individual who identifies with two or more genders

Gender Nonconforming (or Gender Variant): Individuals who do not conform with society’s expectations of their gender role

Gender Queer (or Genderqueer): A person who identifies outside the gender categories of male and female

Pangender: Individuals who identify with two or more genders or with all/any genders (or as a non-male/non-female gender)

Pansexual: Someone who is capable of being attracted to all genders


The above list is in no way comprehensive. I recommend doing your own research. (Start with the resource section at the end of this article.)

Note that sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing. Sexual orientation refers to sexuality or attraction while gender identity refers to how a person views and thinks about themselves in terms of gender.

Source: Wikimedia Commons contributors, ‘File:1*YwY44v93qVAkje3 wADZkw@2x.png’, Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

When considering gender, imagine a gender spectrum vs. a binary consisting of male and female. This concept of gender spectrum is supported by scientific data.


12 Examples of Microaggressions that Target LGBTQ+ Individuals

1. “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

This Christian slogan was intended to be catchy and humorous – while at the same time condemning gay men as unnatural. The indication is that God didn’t intend for people to be gay. Therefore, if you’re gay, you’re an abomination in God’s eyes.

2. Assuming that a gay man has multiple sexual partners.

Gay and promiscuous are not one and the same. The idea that a gay man sleeps with multiple men (as opposed to being in a committed relationship with one person) is a stereotype.

3. Forms that include checkboxes for male/female only and documents that use he/she (vs. they).

Limited-choice binary forms are microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals and invalidate the 5.6% (about 6 out of every 100) Americans who don’t identify as either male or female.

4. “I went through a bisexual phase in college, but I got over it.”

This suggests that bisexuality is temporary and/or something that one can “get over.” Similarly, when someone who is bisexual is asked, “When are you just going to pick one?” – the indication is that bisexuality is a temporary state that ends when someone chooses one or the other. It’s insinuated that someone who is bisexual is indecisive or that bisexuality isn’t real, but something leading up to something real.

5. “What is your sexual preference?”

The word preference indicates choice. In reality, one doesn’t consciously choose to be sexually attracted to someone. It just happens.

No one wants to be ridiculed or discriminated against for being gay. (Oppositely, it’s in our very nature to seek acceptance and connection. We desire inclusion and belonging.)

Instead of “preference,” use orientation when talking about attraction.

6. Intentionally using the wrong pronouns.

The implication is that someone’s gender identity is wrong. This microaggression may be used to push a religious or political agenda, but it’s harmful to reduce a person to an agenda.

Furthermore, the intentional use of non-preferred pronouns is a form of bullying. Bullying may lead to poor mental health, substance use, and suicide.

Directing a transwoman/transman to a bathroom that doesn’t match their gender identity and/or the incorrect use of “ma’am/sir” are similar forms of this microaggression.

Since you won’t always know how an individual prefers to be addressed, keep it simple… just ask.

7. “Were you born boy or a girl?”

Like asking one’s “preference,” this microaggression targets LGBTQ+ individuals by implying that someone who doesn’t identify with their biological sex made a conscious choice to reject their biological sex.

Instead of “born boy or girl,” someone’s biological sex should be referred to as assigned gender.

8. Automatically assuming that something happened to the individual (i.e., childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc.) that “made” them the way they are.

This microaggression implies that a person is LGBTQ+ because something bad happened to them. The assumption tolerates a person’s LGBTQ+ identification, but only to excuse it. (For example: “She became a lesbian because she was tired of dating chauvinistic jerks.”) This discredits the complexity of sexual orientation and gender identity.

9. “I’ll pray for you, but I can’t condone your choices.”

The idea that being LGBTQ+ is a sin implies that it’s a willful act against God. In reality, being LGBTQ+ is not a choice.

10. “How do you know you don’t like [men/women] if you haven’t tried?”

Sexual orientation is not the same as taking a car for a test drive or trying on pairs of jeans. You wouldn’t question a straight man about his relationship with a woman or encourage him to have sex with at least one man before committing to marriage.

11. “Who’s the man and who’s the woman in the relationship?”

This implies that relationships are defined by stereotypical gender roles. It undermines non-traditional relationships, suggesting that for a relationship to be legitimate, there must be a male and female.

12. “I never would have known you’re transgender! You’re totally passable as a [man/woman].”

You wouldn’t compliment a lady by telling her she’s “passable” as a woman.

Also, take a moment to consider insecurities you have about your looks. Have you ever struggled with body image or felt self-conscious? Imagine being in the wrong body!

Conclusion

In sum, microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals can be unintentional or well-meaning, but when LGBTQ+ persons are subjected to microaggressions time after time, it’s damaging. What’s more, microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ individuals contribute to stigma and perpetuate false stereotypes.

Microaggressions that target the LGBTQ+ population thrive in environments where it is acceptable to:

  • Voice judgments about a person’s morality
  • Discredit or devalue someone’s personal experience
  • Bully or intimidate
  • Make invasive comments about a person’s sexual relationships

To conclude, microaggressions that target LGBTQ+ persons are harmful. You can prevent using them by increasing your awareness.


LGBTQ+ Resources


microaggressions that target LGBTQ+

19 Powerful Memoirs About Mental Illness & Addiction

memoirs about addiction
Image by max leroy from Pixabay

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

19 Powerful Memoirs About Mental Illness & Addiction

UPDATED MAY 22, 2021

1. The Big Fix: Hope After Heroin (2017) by Tracey Helton Mitchell

Amazon Description: “After surviving nearly a decade of heroin abuse and hard living on the streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, Tracey Helton Mitchell decided to get clean for good.

With raw honesty and a poignant perspective on life that only comes from starting at rock bottom, The Big Fix tells her story of transformation from homeless heroin addict to stable mother of three—and the hard work and hard lessons that got her there. Rather than dwelling on the pain of addiction,Tracey focuses on her journey of recovery and rebuilding her life, while exposing the failings of the American rehab system and laying out a path for change. Starting with the first step in her recovery, Tracey re-learns how to interact with men, build new friendships, handle money, and rekindle her relationship with her mother, all while staying sober, sharp, and dedicated to her future.

A decidedly female story of addiction, The Big Fix describes the unique challenges faced by women caught in the grip of substance abuse, such as the toxic connection between drug addition and prostitution. Tracey’s story of hope, hard work, and rehabilitation will inspire anyone who has been affected by substance abuse while offering hope for a better future.”

2. Come Back: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back (2008) by Claire Fontaine & Mia Fontaine

Amazon Description: “In powerful parallel stories, mother and daughter give mesmerizing first-person accounts of the nightmare that shattered their family and the amazing journey they took to find their way back to each other. Claire Fontaine’s relentless cross-country search for her missing child and ultimate decision to force her into treatment in Eastern Europe is a gripping tale of dead ends, painful revelations, and, at times, miracles. Mia Fontaine describes her refuge in the seedy underworld of felons and addicts as well as the jarring shock of the extreme, if loving, school that enabled her to overcome depression and self-loathing. Both women detail their remarkable process of self-examination and healing with humor and unsparing honesty.

Come Back is an unforgettable true story of love and transformation that will resonate with mothers and daughters everywhere.”

3. Drinking: A Love Story (1997) by Caroline Knapp

Amazon Description: “It was love at first sight. The beads of moisture on a chilled bottle. The way the glasses clinked and the conversation flowed. Then it became obsession. The way she hid her bottles behind her lover’s refrigerator. The way she slipped from the dinner table to the bathroom, from work to the bar. And then, like so many love stories, it fell apart. Drinking is Caroline Kapp’s harrowing chronicle of her twenty-year love affair with alcohol.”

4. A Drinking Life: A Memoir (1994) by Pete Hamill

Amazon Description: “Hamill explains how alcohol slowly became a part of his life, and how he ultimately left it behind. Along the way, he summons the mood of an America that is gone forever, with the bittersweet fondness of a lifelong New Yorker.”

5. Drunk Mom: A Memoir (2014) by Jowita Bydlowska

Amazon Description: “Three years after giving up drinking, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. It was a special occasion: a party celebrating the birth of her first child. It also marked Bydlowska’s immediate, full-blown return to crippling alcoholism.

In the gritty and sometimes grimly comic tradition of the bestselling memoirs Lit by Mary Karr and Smashed by Koren Zailckas, Drunk Mom is Bydlowska’s account of the ways substance abuse took control of her life—the binges and blackouts, the humiliations, the extraordinary risk-taking—as well as her fight toward recovery as a young mother. This courageous memoir brilliantly shines a light on the twisted logic of an addicted mind and the powerful, transformative love of one’s child. Ultimately it gives hope, especially to those struggling in the same way.”

6. Dry: A Memoir (2003) by Augusten Burroughs

Amazon Description: “You may not know it, but you’ve met Augusten Burroughs. You’ve seen him on the street, in bars, on the subway, at restaurants: a twentysomething guy, nice suit, works in advertising. Regular. Ordinary. But when the ordinary person had two drinks, Augusten was circling the drain by having twelve; when the ordinary person went home at midnight, Augusten never went home at all. Loud, distracting ties, automated wake-up calls and cologne on the tongue could only hide so much for so long. At the request (well, it wasn’t really a request) of his employers, Augusten lands in rehab, where his dreams of group therapy with Robert Downey Jr. are immediately dashed by grim reality of fluorescent lighting and paper hospital slippers. But when Augusten is forced to examine himself, something actually starts to click and that’s when he finds himself in the worst trouble of all. Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return to his same drunken Manhattan life―and live it sober. What follows is a memoir that’s as moving as it is funny, as heartbreaking as it is true. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a Higher Power.”

7. Girl, Interrupted (1993) by Susanna Kaysen

Amazon Description: “Kaysen’s memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a “parallel universe” set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.”

8. Go Ask Alice (1971) by Alice

Amazon Description: “It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth—and ultimately her life.”

9. The Heroin Diaries: Ten Year Anniversary Edition: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star (2017) by Nikki Sixx

Amazon Description: “When Mötley Crüe was at the height of its fame, there wasn’t any drug Nikki Sixx wouldn’t do. He spent days—sometimes alone, sometimes with other addicts, friends, and lovers—in a coke- and heroin-fueled daze.

The highs were high, and Nikki’s journal entries reveal some euphoria and joy. But the lows were lower, often ending with Nikki in his closet, surrounded by drug paraphernalia and wrapped in paranoid delusions.

Here, Nikki shares the diary entries—some poetic, some scatterbrained, some bizarre—of those dark times. Joining him are Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Slash, Rick Nielsen, Bob Rock, and a host of ex-managers, ex-lovers, and more.

Brutally honest, utterly riveting, and surprisingly moving, The Heroin Diaries follows Nikki during the year he plunged to rock bottom—and his courageous decision to pick himself up and start living again.”

10. Lit: A Memoir (2010) by Mary Karr

Amazon Description: “Lit follows the self-professed blackbelt sinner’s descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness–and to her astonishing resurrection. Karr’s longing for a solid family seems secure when her marriage to a handsome, Shakespeare-quoting blueblood poet produces a son they adore. But she can’t outrun her apocalyptic past. She drinks herself into the same numbness that nearly devoured her charismatic but troubled mother, reaching the brink of suicide. A hair-raising stint in ‘The Mental Marriott,’ with an oddball tribe of gurus and saviors, awakens her to the possibility of joy and leads her to an unlikely faith. Not since Saint Augustine cried, ‘Give me chastity, Lord-but not yet!’ has a conversion story rung with such dark hilarity. Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober, becoming a mother by letting go of a mother, learning to write by learning to live. Written with Karr’s relentless honesty, unflinching self-scrutiny, and irreverent, lacerating humor, it is a truly electrifying story of how to grow up–as only Mary Karr can tell it.”

11. Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity (2008) by Kerry Cohen 

Amazon Description: “Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen’s captivating memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction–not just to sex, but to male attention–Loose Girl is also the story of a young girl who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning.”

12. A Million Little Pieces (2005) by James Frey

Amazon Description: “At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey’s acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.”

13. My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean (2018) by Amy Dresner

Amazon Description: “Growing up in Beverly Hills, Amy Dresner had it all: a top-notch private-school education, the most expensive summer camps, and even a weekly clothing allowance. But at 24, she started dabbling in meth in San Francisco and unleashed a fiendish addiction monster. Soon, if you could snort it, smoke it, or have sex with it, she did.

Thus began a spiral that eventually landed her in the psych ward–and then penniless, divorced, and looking at 240 hours of court-ordered community service. For two years, assigned to a Hollywood Boulevard “chain gang,” she swept up syringes (and worse) as she bounced from rehabs to halfway houses, all while struggling with sobriety, sex addiction, and starting over in her forties. In the tradition of Orange Is the New Black and Jerry Stahl’s Permanent Midnight, this is an insightful, darkly funny, and shamelessly honest memoir of one woman’s battle with all forms of addiction, hitting rock bottom, and forging a path to a life worth living.”

14. Parched: A Memoir (2006) by Heather King

Amazon Description: “In this tragicomic memoir about alcoholism as spiritual thirst, Heather King—writer, lawyer, and National Public Radio commentator—describes her descent into the depths of addiction. Spanning a decades-long downward spiral, King’s harrowing story takes us from a small-town New England childhood to hitchhiking across the country to a cockroach-ridden “artist’s” loft in Boston. Waitressing at ever-shabbier restaurants, deriving what sustenance she could from books, she became a morning regular at a wet-brain-drunks’ bar—and that was after graduating from law school. Saved by her family from the abyss, King finally realized that uniquely poetic, sensitive, and profound though she may have been, she was also a big-time mess. Casting her lot with the rest of humanity at last, she learned that suffering leads to redemption, that personal pain leads to compassion for others in pain, and, above all, that a sense of humor really, really helps.”

15. A Piece of Cake: A Memoir (2007) by Cupcake Brown

Amazon Description:There are shelves of memoirs about overcoming the death of a parent, childhood abuse, rape, drug addiction, miscarriage, alcoholism, hustling, gangbanging, near-death injuries, drug dealing, prostitution, and homelessness.

Cupcake Brown survived all these things before she’d even turned twenty. 

And that’s when things got interesting. . .

Orphaned by the death of her mother and left in the hands of a sadistic foster parent, young Cupcake Brown learned to survive by turning tricks, downing hard liquor, and ingesting every drug she could find while hitchhiking up and down the California coast. She stumbled into gangbanging, drug dealing, hustling, prostitution, theft, and, eventually, the best scam of all: a series of 9-to-5 jobs. 

A Piece of Cake is unlike any memoir you’ll ever read. Moving in its frankness, this is the most satisfying, startlingly funny, and genuinely affecting tour through hell you’ll ever take.”

16. Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America (1994) by Elizabeth Wurtzel

Amazon Description: “Elizabeth Wurtzel writes with her finger in the faint pulse of an overdiagnosed generation whose ruling icons are Kurt Cobain, Xanax, and pierced tongues. In this famous memoir of her bouts with depression and skirmishes with drugs, Prozac Nation is a witty and sharp account of the psychopharmacology of an era for readers of Girl, Interrupted and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.”

17. Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (2005) by Koren Zailckas

Amazon Description: “Garnering a vast amount of attention from young people and parents, and from book buyers across the country, Smashed became a media sensation and a New York Times bestseller. Eye-opening and utterly gripping, Koren Zailckas’s story is that of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics—yet—but who routinely use booze as a shortcut to courage and a stand-in for good judgment.”

18. Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines (2009) by Nic Sheff

Amazon Description: “Nic Sheff was drunk for the first time at age eleven. In the years that followed, he would regularly smoke pot, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. Even so, he felt like he would always be able to quit and put his life together whenever he needed to. It took a violent relapse one summer in California to convince him otherwise. In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling us the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and the road to recovery. As we watch Nic plunge into the mental and physical depths of drug addiction, he paints a picture for us of a person at odds with his past, with his family, with his substances, and with himself. It’s a harrowing portrait—but not one without hope.”

19. With or Without You: A Memoir (2014) by Domenica Ruta

Amazon Description: “Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving town north of Boston, in a trash-filled house on a dead-end road surrounded by a river and a salt marsh. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious local figure, was a drug addict and sometimes dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches, and whose highbrow taste was at odds with her hardscrabble life. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter a love of stories. Kathi frequently kept Domenica home from school to watch such classics as the Godfather movies and everything by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, telling her, “This is more important. I promise. You’ll thank me later.” And despite the fact that there was not a book to be found in her household, Domenica developed a love of reading, which helped her believe that she could transcend this life of undying grudges, self-inflicted misfortune, and the crooked moral code that Kathi and her cohorts lived by.

With or Without You is the story of Domenica Ruta’s unconventional coming of age—a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit ’90s youth and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process. In a brilliant stylistic feat, Ruta has written a powerful, inspiring, compulsively readable, and finally redemptive story about loving and leaving.”


recommended memoirs

For additional book suggestions, visit Must-Read Books for Therapists and 25 Top Therapist-Recommended Books.

Guest Post: My Experience with Depression

“I had absolutely no direction in my life. I was a loose cannon. An unguided projectile… I viewed life in a negative, nihilistic, cynical, and overall pessimistic way.”

depression
Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay


Note: This article, or parts of it, may have been posted to other blogs. It is not entirely unique to this site.


Guest Post: My Experience with Depression

Depression, also known by some as the silent killer. And for good reasons.

Little did I know I was going to find this out firsthand.

Early on in life, before the age of 16, everything was perfect. I had loving parents and, in general, a loving family. I had plenty of friends. I excelled in sports and did well in school.

Things were easy back then. The only ounce of responsibility I had was making sure I got passing grades. And what if I didn’t listen in school and got detention as a result? Well, he’s still a young kid who’s figuring out life. Got into a fight? Well, he’s still a young boy who doesn’t always thinks before he acts.

But my perfect world didn’t last.

My Experience with Depression

Around the age of sweet 16, my life started changing rapidly.

I stopped feeling happy and optimistic. At first, I thought it was just a phase everyone my age went through and that it would pass as quickly as it came. But it didn’t. I had a difficult time adjusting to my ever-changing environment and handling the pressure I believed was being put on me.

I didn’t know what I wanted for my future. My friends and schoolmates already knew what they were going to study when they went to college the next year. I, however, did not. I had no direction in life. I was a loose cannon, an unguided projectile, an immature and wild kid, busy with partying and drinking.

I started getting into frequent fights; I’m not a violent person, but the anxiety, negative emotions, feelings of helplessness, and an overall sense of feeling lost in this world led to physical confrontations with others. The fights were a reflection of my poor mental state.

anger
Image by Annabel_P from Pixabay

Then I turned 18. My parents told me it was time to start taking responsibility for my choices and actions because this time “it was for real.”

In college, I decided to pursue the field of nutrition. Not because I had a strong desire to become a dietician, but rather, because people I knew from my home town were going this route, and I figured since I was interested in exercise/health, it might be a good fit.

Newsflash, it wasn’t.

I quit school two months in. Turns out choosing what course to study based on friends rather than what you want in life is not the smartest idea. (Who would’ve thought, right?)

The following year, I gave it another try. This time I studied occupational performance. Long story short, I managed to earn a college degree despite my depression.

After I graduated and started working as an occupational therapist in a physical rehabilitation center, things got better. I was motivated to help people relearn lost skills, improving their quality of life.

But in time, my thoughts turned dark again, becoming negative and nihilistic. I slept less and my sleep quality was poor. I would randomly wake up at night and cry because I felt so terrible. I withdrew from friends and family. I even discovered a way to measure the severity of my depression; when my mood worsened, I craved alcohol. Drinking was a way to self-medicate.

alcohol use
Image by succo from Pixabay

I continued to plow away at work, but an excessive sense of responsibility, perfectionism, and anxiety was eating away at my mental health. I was head deep into my depression.

One day, I woke up and found I couldn’t get out of bed. I had nothing left in the tank. I realized I needed to take some time off work to deal with my depression and get my life in order again. I called my parents and asked to come home.

At first, I didn’t leave the bedroom. There were successive days I didn’t get up to eat or shower. I was in constant mental pain. It was hell on earth.

One evening, I managed to get out of bed and sat down to eat dinner with my parents. They were silent, and looked tired and sad. Until this moment, my depressive haze prevented me from seeing how my illness impacted my family. I decided: that’s it, no more. It was my guilt that fueled the decision to fully contend with my mental illness.

Up until now, I was only living for myself, not participating and valuing what my parents, family, and others did for me. So, something needed to change. I needed to turn my life around. And with my life, my attitude.

I started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants. I took a sincere look at self, including undesirable traits I’d been afraid to face. I set goals for myself. And when I had zero desire to get out of bed, I pushed through. I made sure I did something useful every day.

After several months of therapy and medication, life became manageable. I talked more, was less irritable, and as a result, my life and that of those around me improved. At times I even looked forward to things!

How Depression Changed Me


Although the depression was tough on me, and there were times I didn’t know if I was going to make it, it brought about some positive changes.

I became more mature and resilient; I learned to put things in perspective and take necessary responsibility. But the two most significant aspects that changed were my so-called “intellectual arrogance” and the pessimistic way I viewed life.

Before, I considered myself a fairly intelligent fellow. The problem with this was that I overvalued intelligence, viewing other aspects in life as inferior.

Moreover, my attitude was overwhelmingly cynical and negative. What I failed to realize is that focus shapes experience. And if you only pay attention to the negative, you miss the beauty life has to offer. Now, I actively search for the good and beautiful things happening around me.

What Helped Me Get My Depression Under Control

In addition to medication and therapy, I found the following to be helpful:

  • Seeking help. We can’t do everything on our own, no matter how much we’d like to. There are times when you will need help to cope with your depression. In addition to professional help, seek support from family and trusted friends. You may find that feeling heard and understood is what carries you through the darker days.
  • Setting goals. I had no desire to do anything in life. I had no goals. For severe depression, I would advise setting smaller goals you think you would mind doing the least (minimal effort) and/or goals which you found important in the past (before your depression took over).
  • Taking responsibility. Although depression can be debilitating, practice taking responsibility for the things in life under your control. For me, it was easy to blame others for everything that went wrong, believing the world to be wretched and unfair, but it didn’t do me any good.
  • Exercising. Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. Exercise releases endorphins, the “feel good” brain chemicals related to pleasure. If you don’t enjoy exercise, try a hobby that requires some level of physical exertion. As an additional benefit, engaging in exercise can take your mind off the stressful things in life.
exercise
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

My Depression Warning Signs

For me, there are clear signs that indicate my depression is coming back or worsening. Keep in mind that warning signs vary from individual to individual. What might be a warning sign for me may not for you.

  • My desire to do anything decreases. Hobbies I enjoy like weightlifting and running suddenly mean very little to me. But it’s not just about hobbies. Things like getting out of bed and showering suddenly become difficult because I have zero motivation or energy.
  • My thoughts get darker and more negative. It becomes increasingly tough to see the positive things in life or the positive in people. I become cynical and pessimistic.
  • Overthinking. I tend to overthink when things go bad, which is basically what depression is for me: feeling bad.
  • Anxiety. Negative thoughts and overthinking lead to increased levels of anxiety. My anxiety about the little things in life may seem insignificant to others who don’t have a mental illness, but a simple act such as calling or visiting a friend can freak me out and lead to rumination.
  • Ruminating. Intrusive thoughts run through my head and there’s no “off” switch.
  • Irritability. I become increasingly irritable; I’m in a foul mood all of the time and the smallest things piss me off.
  • Increased desire to self-medicate. I experience a strong desire to drink. Alcohol impacts the brain by triggering a release of dopamine. This rush of dopamine creates feelings of pleasure and happiness.
  • Decreased sleep quality. My overall sleep quality gets worse, partly due to constant overthinking and ruminating. Anxiety and stress are also big factors. And when I’m able to fall asleep, I wake up throughout the night.

Conclusion

Depression is a terrible disease that may go unnoticed if the signs aren’t recognized or known. A person with depression might attempt to maintain a positive front, possibly because they don’t want to complain or they’re afraid of being misunderstood.

There are multiple symptoms of depression; my symptoms went hand-in-hand, playing off one another and creating a vicious circle of negative thoughts that sucked the energy and lust for life from me.

Depression symptoms are different for different people. Learning to identify the symptoms will help you to recognize depression in others. Furthermore, an increased awareness enhances empathy and enables you to better support someone with depression.

I give the following advice to anyone with depression:

  • Don’t give up.
  • Seek professional help.
  • Seek support from your family and close friends.
  • Set goals and work hard to achieve them.
  • Take responsibility for the things you can control.
wellbeing
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Is there a cure for depression? No. Do I think I will ever be totally depression-free? Maybe. What I do know for sure is that my illness is manageable and livable at the moment. I look forward to what the future has in store for me. Which is a lot more than I anticipated at first.

depression

About the Author:

Kevin Mangelschots is a writer and occupational therapist with seven years of experience in the field of physical rehabilitation. He is a long-time fitness enthusiast. Kevin lives in Belgium and has created a platform for other bloggers to share their life stories where he writes about his own experience with depression at retellinglifestories.com.

5 Quick & Easy Mood Boosters

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Need a boost? Here are five evidence-based, instant mood boosters for when you’re feeling down.


5 INSTANT MOOD BOOSTERS

Click here for additional tips to improve mood and reduce stress.

Listen to music

Turn on the radio or search for your favorite song on YouTube. Music can evoke a powerful emotional response. Listen to something upbeat with a positive message to boost your mood. Music activates areas in the brain that are responsible for processing emotions.

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” 

Confucius

In one study, participants who listened to upbeat music while actively trying to feel happier experienced improved mood as well as increased happiness over the next two weeks.

A 2017 study indicated that listening to your favorite songs impacts the brain circuit involved in internally focused thought, empathy, and self-awareness. Interestingly, it doesn’t matter what type of music you choose; the mood-boosting effect is consistent across genres.

Music may also play a role in restoring neuroplasticity or as a therapeutic intervention. In 2013, researchers found that listening to uplifting concertos from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was linked to enhanced cognitive functioning. An additional benefit to listening to music is improved mental alertness; memory and attention in particular may be enhanced.

Find a green space

Go hiking, find a sunny spot to sit outside, or simply open the window and listen to the sound of the rain falling. According the U.S. Forest Service, spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve mood, reduce anger/aggressiveness, and increase overall happiness. If you’re upset or frustrated, you’ll recover more quickly in a natural setting, such as a forest. Nature is a highly effective mood booster!

Alternatively, consider a stroll in the park for a boost. Researchers found that individuals with depression who took an hour-long nature walk experienced significant increases in attention and working memory when compared to individuals who walked in urban areas. Interestingly, both groups of participants experienced similar boosts in mood; walking in an urban area can be just as effective!

More recently, researchers found that people who regularly commute through natural environments (i.e. passing by trees, bodies of water, parks, etc.) reported better mental health compared to those who don’t. This association was even stronger among active commuters (walking or biking to work). If you commute through congested or urban areas, consider an alternate route, especially when you’re feeling down.

Spending time outside does more than just improve your mood. A 2018 report established a link between nature and overall wellness. Living close to nature and spending time outside reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Exposure to green space may also benefit the immune system, reduce inflammation, and increase sleep duration.

Read/view something inspiring or humorous

Do you have a favorite inspirational book or collection of poems? Do you like viewing motivational TED Talks? Do you enjoy comedy shows? Maybe you like watching videos of baby goats or flash mobs on Facebook. (I do!)

One study found that viewing cat videos boosted energy and positive emotions while decreasing negative feelings (such as anxiety, annoyance, and sadness). Internet cats = Instant mood boost. However, if cyber cats are not your thing, search around to find something enjoyable to read or watch for your happiness quick-fix.

Plan your next adventure

I’m happiest when I’m traveling the world. Unfortunately, I have limited vacation days (as well as limited funds), which means I don’t get to travel as often as I’d like. Happily, planning a trip may produce the same mood-boosting effects as going on a trip.

In 2010, researchers found that before taking a trip, vacationers were happier compared to those not planning a trip. A 2002 study indicated that people anticipating a vacation were happier with life in general and experienced more positive/pleasant feelings compared to people who weren’t. In both studies, researchers attributed happiness levels to anticipation. (The brain releases dopamine during certain activities, causing us to feel pleasure. Dopamine is also released in anticipation of a pleasurable activity.) For a mood boost, start planning!

Cuddle a pet

Spending time with your fur baby will instantly boost your mood. According to research, pets are good for your mental health. Teens undergoing treatment for drug and alcohol abuse experienced improved mood, positive affect, attentiveness, and serenity after brushing, feeding, and playing with dogs.

A 2018 study indicated that dog therapy sessions reduced stress and increased happiness and energy in college students. Earlier this year, researchers found that just 10 minutes of interaction with a pet reduced stress by significantly decreasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.

Other studies suggest that animal-assisted therapy reduces anxiety and loneliness and combats homesickness.

Research also indicates that pets help seniors and older adults cope with physical and mental health concerns. Dog ownership is also linked to better cardiovascular health and a longer life.

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”

Charles M. Shultz

The next time you’re having a bad day, listen to your favorite song, go hiking in the woods, watch a TED Talks, start planning your next vacation, or spend some quality time with a furry friend… you’ll feel better!

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The Remarkable Link Between Diet & Mental Health

What foods are associated with increased psychiatric symptoms? What should you eat if you want to boost your mood? Learn what researchers have found when it comes to diet and mental well-being.

diet

You may have heard of the “food-mood connection.” Research indicates that our food choices greatly impact not only physical health, but mental well-being. Some foods seem to boost mood and reduce psychiatric symptoms while others are linked to depression and anxiety.


Mood Thugs

Sugar negatively impacts mood and slows memory and learning. High-sugar diets are associated with smaller brain volume. Furthermore, sugar will make you less alert and more tired. A recent study found that the idea of a “sugar rush” is myth.

Sugar is not the only villain; fat can be just as harmful. One study found that a high-fat diet may lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, trans fat may lead to poor memory function.

If you have bipolar disorder, avoid processed meats such as jerky, hot dogs, etc. Researchers found that nitrates in processed meats are associated with mania.

Mood Champions

A diet high in fiber and vegetables (with limited added sugar) has been linked to improved mood and a reduction in depressive symptoms. Interestingly, women seem to benefit more than men, and the effect is even greater when exercise is added. A vegan or plant-based diet is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.

Fruits and vegetables are good for mood, but raw fruits and veggies are better. A raw diet is associated with higher levels of mental wellbeing and lower levels of psychiatric symptoms. According to a recent study, the top raw foods associated with mental wellness are apples, bananas, berries, carrots, citrus fruits, cucumbers, grapefruit, kiwi, lettuce, and dark, leafy greens.

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So how many servings of fruit/veggies should you eat per day for optimal mental health? At least 8, according to one study that found happiness benefits were evident for each portion for up to 8 servings per day.

What nutrients should you include in your diet for improved mental health? Research indicates the following are important for mental wellbeing:  Omega-3 fatty acids (fish, flaxseed, walnuts), phospholipids (egg yolk, soybeans), niacin (liver, avocado, brown rice), folate (legumes, beets, broccoli), vitamin B6 (chickpeas, tuna), and vitamin B12 (sardines, fortified nutritional yeast).


In sum, skip the fast food and soda; head to the salad bar instead to feed your mood and your belly!

diet

Guest Post: Diabetes Took a Toll on My Mental Health

Diabetes can take a toll on anyone. Michele Renee was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 22. In this post, she describes her experience with the disease, including how it affected her mental health. She also shares the key to finding peace with her illness.

Diabetes can take a toll on anyone, if not taken care of properly. When it comes to mental health though, diabetes is known to affect certain aspects of day to day life.

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Guest Post: The Toll Diabetes Takes on My Mental Health

I first found out I had diabetes type 2 when I was 22 years old. I was overly stressed and eating my feelings way more than I should have. The stress and unhealthy lifestyle were what triggered my diabetes symptoms.

I have always dealt with depression and low self-esteem, but once my symptoms were triggered, I started to deal with memory loss, and a foggy brain. The best way to describe that experience is like you learn something that doesn’t quite make sense, but you could see where the concept is headed but you still can’t figure it out.

Then five minutes later you completely forget the meaning of the concept and where it was headed. I dealt with this constantly. I was in college during this time, and I ended up failing quite a bit of classes because I just couldn’t understand what I was learning. Also, on a test day, I would forget almost everything that I had studied.

HOW I MANAGE DIABETES DAY TO DAY

I started having to keep an ongoing list of “To Do’s” and would have to revisit the list four or five times before I remembered to finish the “To Do” item.

This crossed over into my conversations with my friends and loved ones as well. Some days I wouldn’t remember what I said in a conversation from the day before. The short-term memory loss was horrible!

But once I started eating according to a diabetes diet, the fogginess and memory loss started to go away.

I also dealt with insomnia and poor sleep, and in a lot of ways that was a result of the foods I was eating. Once I changed my diet, and started exercising more, I slept a lot better.

Diabetes & Other Mental Health Issues

On top of diabetes, I also have a few other mental illnesses. One of them being bipolar disorder, rapid cycling. My highs would go for a week, then I would feel normal, then I would be low for another week, in terms of mood.

During my highs, I would often forget to eat, and that would leave me feeling shaky (a result of low blood sugar) and anxious. Some days, I would forget to eat for hours because I wanted to finish whatever inspiring project I was working on at the minute.

On my low mood swings, I would feel so depressed and sad, and sometimes even numb that I would binge eat. The binge eating would either be fast food or sugary foods (both of which I HAVE to avoid). This would cause me to feel nauseous and I would often get horrible migraines (a result of high blood sugar).

Insecurities From Diabetes

Dealing with both diabetes and my other mental health issues caused me to gain a ton of weight in the last fours years. I have gone through times where I lost the weight, then gained it back six months later.

It left me feeling very insecure, and like I had a bigger body than I actually do. I stopped taking photos of myself, and was mortified everytime I took a group photo with my friends. I found myself disgusted by my looks.

This led me to judge myself harshly when I deviated from my diet, and honestly probably pushed me to deviate more and more. The bad food was my comfort from my harsh criticism. It became a vicious cycle.

Healthy Living

Now, I try not to judge myself as harshly anymore. After beating myself up for so many years, I came to realize that I can find peace in this illness. I have managed it with diet alone and that is honestly a huge feat.

Most people who are diagnosed have to take either insulin shots or an insulin pill. I have pushed myself to find a healthy lifestyle that works for me. Once I did that, I started practicing accepting my flaws.

That is the hardest part of learning to love yourself, in my opinion. I also gathered a really strong support system that I go to almost every day when I am feeling super low or when I am feeling extremely insecure.

I also remind myself that no one is perfect, and we are all a work in progress. I have started putting little affirmations anywhere I can; I even made wallpaper affirmations for my phone!

Mental health is hard to handle when you are diabetic, but if you learn to love yourself, the process of managing it gets easier.


By Guest Blogger, Michele Renee

Read more of Michele’s inspiring posts at Life With Michele Renee, a lifestyle and wellness blog!