Break the Stigma: Life With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

PMDD feels like a sad nightmare while you are awake.

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Twenty-four-year-old 4th grade teacher from New Jersey describes her experience with premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The author of this essay has opted to remain anonymous.

It was Christmas. The first Christmas without my uncle, who had passed away six months before. It was the first Christmas after my breakup, which ended a month after my uncle’s death.

My family had taken us to Philly for a Christmas brunch at a hotel across from Rittenhouse Square. I was, at the time, a day away from getting my period. In other words, everything sucked.

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Break the Stigma: Q&A with Bipolar Disorder Patient

There is so much bipolar can be.

Do you ever joke about being “bipolar” when you shift from excited to stressed in a short period of time? Do you refer to the weather in the same manner for its warmth one day, and chilly winds the next? Many of us are guilty of doing this, but it’s crucial we become more aware: bipolar disorder is a real illness, and it causes heavy turmoil for those affected – more so than a simple mood swing or a drop in temperature.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 2.8 percent of U.S. adults have bipolar disorder, which is considered to be very common. I got the chance to speak with one of the people behind those statistics: Mike, a 26-year-old video editor who has been battling the disorder since he was 16 years old, later diagnosed when he was 20. His experiences shed some light on the complexity of this mental illness. Read on to hear his story.

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My OCD and Me: Why Being in a Relationship is Torturous

I saw my friends last Saturday night. My college group who I feel most at home with. You know the type: the people you can spend hours talking to about politics or your anxieties, the ones who acknowledge and appreciate the fact that you never show up empty-handed, the individuals who make you feel special for simply being you. Those kinda friends.

And it should’ve been great. It should’ve been comforting. It should’ve been exactly what I needed after months away from them, months I’ve spent trapped in routine and in my mind. And it was, I guess. I mean, the few hours I spent with them, I was able to plaster on a smile, laugh at the right times, crack some jokes. But the entire time, all I could do was evaluate my feelings. For my boyfriend, who sat next to me and caught my stray tear before anyone could notice. For my friends, who I couldn’t bring myself to look in the eyes during conversations. For myself, the gnawing hatred and shame that threatened sickness.

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What My Fear of Flying Taught Me

Last week, I boarded a plane to Charleston for a bachelorette weekend. I’d been dreading the flight for months. Airplanes are not on my short list of comfort zones, so I try to avoid them at all costs.

Why can’t we just drive? I thought to myself, fancying the idea of a 12-hour car ride over a one-hour plane trip. But I had no choice. Either I went on the airplane, or I didn’t go at all.

So, without allowing myself to overthink, I made a promise to myself: I’d feel the fear of flying and do it anyway.

It seemed simple enough. And maybe it would be for most people. But I’m not most people, and I’m a bit more tormented by fear and obsessive thinking than the average person.

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Empathy Is Not Wrong, Society Is

People told me I wanted attention. That I craved sympathy. That I needed to be everyone’s best friend. That I was nosy and dramatic. Soon, these became things I told myself, too.

I’ve always lived my life in shades of gray, leaning neither toward black nor white. Life is too complicated to subject yourself to a one-track way of thinking.

But this isn’t always easy. From a very young age, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of pain for simply being human. And I always thought that I was wrong. I always thought that, somehow, I was actually a bad person for feeling things so deeply.

People told me I wanted attention. That I craved sympathy. That I needed to be everyone’s best friend. That I was nosy and dramatic. Soon, these became things I told myself, too.

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“But You’re SO Skinny,” And Other Lines I Rebut

I’ve never been confident. I think the only time I ever really believe in myself is when I’m writing. Maybe that’s why I do it so often.

I’ve always struggled with my appearance. No matter what my family or friends or boyfriend say, I’ll never look in the mirror and like what I see. Sure, there are days where I’m thankful for my…

Okay, pause.

I just tried to come up with a few parts of myself that I actually like, and I rebutted every single one of them. My eyes? Too small and easily irritated. My legs? Too long with too muscular calves. My hair? Too thin, stringy, and greasy. Lips? Too big. Stomach? Too squishy. Skin? Too sensitive and blotchy.

It’s sad how many faults I can find. But you know what else is sad? That I waste hours of my day obsessing over them. Hours of my life that I am blessed to have.

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My OCD and Me: Treading Water in a Drought

I bet they don’t tell you in the movies, or on social media, or even in psychology class, that OCD can affect the way you love, too.

Many people assume they know what obsessive-compulsive disorder is: Making your bed a certain way every morning. Always being early to class or work. Organizing your toiletries so they’re color-coded in the bathroom closet.

But society doesn’t understand the things they cannot see – the things that people with OCD feel, the obsessive thoughts we cycle over, the guilt and shame we sleep with.

It started when I was in preschool, after a particularly traumatic experience with a boy who was three years older than me. He locked my bedroom door, tugged me into my own closet, and pulled my pants down.

He threatened me not to tell my parents what he made me do, and what he did to me. From that point forward, I felt I needed to tell them everything – every thought I had, even the crazy fleeting ones, the judgmental ones, the panicked ones.

“I just had a thought of putting a knife in your back,” I cried to my mom one evening. I was six.

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