The Endless To Do List

There are numerous forms of self-sabotage. In my last post, I spoke about one of the most frequently-used, procrastination. But sometimes, self-sabotage comes in forms that are less obvious. In fact, sometimes, these self-sabotage disguises itself as downright productivity.

If the below look familiar, you may be unintentionally self-sabotaging.

Your To-do list continually grows, and is never completed.

To clarify, I’m not talking about your “life” to do list. Obviously, there’s always something we “could” be doing, or always some goal we eventually want to reach. But if on a regular basis you find that your daily list is significantly longer than you could ever accomplish, you may be self-sabotaging.

Now, of course if your kid gets sick or your car breaks down, you’ll probably be moving particular items (doctors/mechanic appointments) to the top of the list, and it may well make the time to task ratio disproportionate. But if you regularly don’t finish the key, pre-planned items on your to-do list, that’s another story.

While lists are great, we – or at least I – often use them as a brain dump. Everything I could possibly think I might have to do goes on my list.  And this makes it super easy to “get a lot done”, without getting a lot done. For instance, say I’ve had a goal of being published on a particular site, I’ve decided to finally write an article to submit. Except that I’m super afraid it’ll be rejected. If the only only thing I got done all day is write that article, it would be a huge step towards my goal (I can’t control if it’s accepted, but I’ve done all I can). But, if I keep adding small things to my to-do list such as “text this friend”, “add xyz appointment to the calendar”, “order such and such on amazon”, I could end up checking off twenty items on my list, feel incredibly productive, and completely avoid writing that article. I’m sabotaging my own efforts to write that article, despite it’s publication being a big goal.  Afterall, my brain subconsciously reasons, if I never write it, I can’t submit it, and therefore, I can’t get rejected.

You’re Constantly “Too Busy”

It’ll please you to know I’m not going to go off on my “why I hate too busy” tangent here.  I understand that many of us are running around to make ends meat, especially those with families, who are accounting not only for their own time, but that of others.  But, similar to the constant to do list, if you are routinely having to reschedule or miss important appointments, if you’re frequently uttering phrases like, “I haven’t had five minutes to pee” (and literally mean it) or “I’m so busy I haven’t had a chance to eat today”, you may be self-sabotaging by over-committing. Why is this self-sabotage? Because if you have more appointments, meetings, etc than can fit on your calendar, unless none of them last more than a few minutes, it’s virtually impossible that you’re going to get them all done. If you can’t find ten  minutes in your day to pee or to grab a quick snack, you aren’t going to get through every calendar item. You’re setting yourself up for “failure”, and that is a form of self-sabotage.  It might not be intentional, but it’s still sabotaging your efforts.  It leads to constantly feeling rushed, never feeling finished, and that cycle is difficult to break. This can also seriously affect your health.

You’re always in the same stage of the process.

 For me, it’s often the planning/brainstorming/ideas stage. For some people, it might be the analysis stage or the final review before going “live”/public/etc stage. For others still, it might be the promotion/marketing stage (i.e. I may get all the way through self-publishing my book, but I’m so scared of getting all ½ star reviews that I never actually do enough promotion to let anyone it’s published).

The point is, we stall with all appearances of being detail oriented and productive.  And of course, some stages take a while. Obviously, I would like my novel to be edited carefully before I self-publish it, so I don’t want that process rushed. But let me tell you that for the last year, I’ve been in the “I’m thinking about getting it edited” stage. Let me also tell you that my dad is an editor. And yet it took me over a year to ask him if he’d help me edit it. Because once it’s edited, if I want to publish it, that means I have to move forward towards the publishing stage. Which then means it’ll be out there. Which means people may read it. Or they may not (feels like rejection). And if they do they may hate it (rejection). And I may feel like a total failure because supposedly writing is “my thing”, and yet people hate it. It’s less painful, in the short term at least, to keep thinking about getting it edited.

So if you find you’re spending three times as long on a particular stage of the process than truly seems necessary, and every time you think “OK maybe I should move forward” you find one more thing you need to quadruple check/brainstorm/analyze, review, you may be self-sabotaging.

So what can you do?

When it comes to to do lists….

  • Create a list of no more than three items that you really want to get done. As in, if you get no other tasks done today, you’ll be happy if you do these three.  Remember that all days don’t have to be “conquer the world days”. JIf you’re honest with yourself when doing this list, you’ll know what warrants “making the list” in your current situation, and when you’re adding just so you have something to cross off. Also, remember it’s three max. The more complicated/intense the tasks are, the fewer to include.
  • After you’ve created this main list, have your “B” list. Basically, if you have a bang up day, get your primary list done, and still have plenty of time to spare, start on these. They’re often items that don’t have a serious time stamp, but need to be done at some point – i.e. you may need to clean the tub this week, but you probably (hopefully) don’t urgently need to clean it today.
  • Next comes your parking lot list. If you’re not familiar with a parking lot, this is basically your brain dump.  In meetings, it’s often items that are off-topic, but you want to address later.  It’s similar for the to-do list. This is all those items that you eventually may want to get to, but they’re not necessarily related to the major tasks at hand. The parking lot list is great for those who, like me, get random ideas and thoughts out of nowhere. Something might pop in your head, and you don’t want to forget it, but you know it’ll veer you off course to address now.  Both your B list and your parking lot list can live somewhere that you can access if you need, but aren’t in plain sight and therefore aren’t as distracting.

For Your Calendar…

Give yourself twice as long for each appointment as you think you’ll need. Why? When was the last time your doctor was right on time? Or the last time your department meeting wasn’t at some point sidetracked and ran over the allotted time? If you schedule back to back to back meetings/appointments with little breathing room, it’s really easy to get “too busy” if there’s any hitch in the schedule at all. And if one of your appointments or to-do items involves an underlying fear, you could almost go to Vegas with the odds that it’s the one that you won’t have enough time for.

For Both: Set Boundaries….

Set boundaries for things that are really important to you as an overall human being. If it’s absolutely essential to your mental health that you meditate for thirty minutes a day, this item could be one of the three on your list every day. If your spiritual health relies on going to church/service each week, put that on the calendar and make it a non-negotiable (obviously these are barring emergencies/illness etc). If it’s important to you that your whole family sits down for dinner at the table every night, make it an appointment for yourself.

This might seem off topic, but often, we can self-sabotage by being so busy we don’t take care of ourselves. If we’re exhausted because we got two hours of sleep, we’ve eaten every meal in the car for the past week, we feel spiritually disconnected, we are not in a good place for moving towards our goals. And that’s where self-sabotage does its best work. Our fears often magnify when we’re exhausted or anxious or depressed or feeling disconnected from ourselves, and self-sabotage thrives on fear.

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What Are Your Dreams?

What are your dreams? Seriously. I’m asking. Not “what are the dreams that will sound safe and acceptable to my friends/spouse/family.” Not “what are the dreams that I dare to have without really putting myself out there because I’m afraid of failure.” Not “what the dreams that I can have within the confines of logical/rational/paths we’ve been told we must follow.” Not “what are the dreams I can have while still managing to clean the tub and the floors this weekend.” What. Are. YOUR. Dreams?

Here’s the thing. We rarely really offer up the full extent of our dreams up. We’re afraid someone will object, point out that we can’t do it/aren’t qualified, suggest a safer/more secure (financially) option. We’re afraid people will placate us and say “aww that’s nice” but when we want to go for it we’ll get, “OK, realistically…”. Maybe we’re afraid they’ll get thrown in our face. Held against us. “You’re so unrealistic….” and that kind of thing. (Been there? Yeah, me too.).

 

dream

 

But you know what? That’s BS.

To step back and clarify for a moment, I absolutely get that because of illness or disability, there are certain things some of us can’t do. And this is not a “you can be anything you want to be” speech, because I get that in some cases, we just cannot. Or maybe it’s not medically safe for us to do so even if we can. My point is that often, we are afraid to speak our dreams because we think others will object, degrade or belittle them, or make us feel badly about them/incapable/etc. 

Now obviously, there are certain things that regulations require we can and cannot do. I cannot perform surgery because I’m not a surgeon.  If a job requires me to be 6’0, unless I’m allowed to do the job on stilts and am comfortable doing so, I’m never going to do it because I’m 5’0 on a good day.  But regulations and legal requirements aside, I’m tired of people putting down our dreams. Yes, we have to feed our families and pay our mortgage/rent/bills. Yes, there are tasks that need to be done like getting groceries and cleaning the house.  But there can be some sort of happy medium between your wildest dreams and feeling like you don’t fit in your life because you feel so stifled into logic and tasks that you are put down for dreaming.

So here are my dreams, in no particular order:

  • Grow Spread Hope Foundation into a viable organization that I can run and grow into my life’s work. I have a lot of love and empathy to give, I have a lot to offer others, and a passion for doing so. I’m particularly passionate about helping support other advocates, and this is becoming an increasingly significant part of SHP.
  • Incorporate my travel experience, knowledge, business into that. (The how is TBD, but hey, these are dreams).
  • To not feel alone in doing all this, but to have a “partner in crime” (not real crime guys, don’t worry), or teams to do this with.  Because I don’t think this can be done alone, nor should it have to be.
  • To have farm land and  gardens and goats and a Scottish highland cow. And to be able to cook meals from those gardens (not the goats! The plants!) and to be significantly more sustainable.
  • To have a family and to celebrate large family holidays and gatherings together, all sides of the family. I want to have gifts under the tree and play games together and have our own traditions that we as our own little family start and share with all who celebrate with us.
  • To adopt a lot of dogs. Shelter dogs of course. To rescue them and have them live long happy lives. And of course be part of our family. (This is long term, since current pup must be the queen bee of dogs).
  • To publish a book. Hopefully my novel (more on this coming up!).
  • To be completely loved and supported and accepted for being me. Not me with improvements and changes and this and that. Me. Who I am. It’s not that I won’t grow and learn and change a bit. But I don’t want to ever have to in order to be enough. We all deserve love for who we are, not who people want us to be.

So what are your dreams?

A Few Reminders For When You’re Not Feeling “OK”

You've been here before, and you made it through. You can do this. We are here to help.

 

It so often seems we won’t be able to get through it. We doubt our strength, our ability, ourselves. But I like to sometimes play a little “game” with myself, and remind myself how much has changed in the last month, six months, year. Not to dwell on the negatives, but to remind myself that the current state won’t last forever. For example: This time last year, I wasn’t married, I had a different car, a different job, I hadn’t been to Greece. All of those pretty big things changed in less than a year. So when you feel like you can’t get through it, remember, you’ve been here before, and you got through. Even though it may not feel like it, things will change.

 

You are not your thoughts. Depression lies.

 

Depression lies. It tells us that we are incapable, unlovable, unworthy. It tells us that we’re a failure. It tells us that every negative thing that we’ve ever thought about ourselves or someone has said about us is true. And it is an extremely convincing liar. And it isn’t just as simple as choosing to not believe them, no matter what anyone says. Perhaps keep a compliments notebook (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s a notebook where you write the positives people say about depression makes you forget). Or write bright neon stickies that say “depression lies” and put them someplace you’re likely to seem them when needed. Whatever works for you.

 

One bad hour does not make a bad day. There are 23 more hours when your can day improve.

 

I once remember telling my therapist that I ruined another day by doing … something, I don’t remember what. She looked at me and, basically, asked “Why?”.  She further clarified, “Why does something that took up less than one hour make it a bad day.?  You have 23 other hours to make it a good day.”  And it’s so true. Barring traumatic events, of course, one bad hour is simply that – a bad hour. So instead of blaming yourself and turning a bad hour into two, three, etc, allow it to be what it was, and work on improving the next 23.

It’s Ok to not feel OK. And it’s Ok to admit it. Nobody should have to wear a mask throughout life, simply for having an illness they would never have chosen to have (because who would choose to have an illness?). So on the days that you don’t feel Ok, I hope these thoughts help a little. I know that they have for me. And don’t forget to take extra good care of yourself on these days. You deserve it.

 

 

 

15 Minutes of Fame

Hi all! It’s been a  minute little too long since I’ve posted. Life’s been happening, a summary of which includes the following: a family trip to Spain at the end of June, getting in a pretty nasty car accident and possibly totaling my car (waiting on the official word, and yes, I’m ok), and temporarily going  off of my meds (safely, with prescriber help) for personal reasons that I’m not yet ready to share  with the world yet. If so inclined on my thoughts on this, you can read about that here. But… I’m back! And with some exciting news!

Today (Tuesday, 8/8), I’m going to be doing a takeover of Savvy Coop’s Instagram account. If you’re not familiar with Savvy, it’s an amazing patient-owned platform for patient advocates, and I’m one of the co-op members, which is super exciting. Definitely check them out on IG, as well as on their website. The takeover is an opportunity to share with others what Spread Hope Project is all about, as well as my insights and story as a patient (ok so it’s more like a full day of psuedo internet “fame”, but close, right?)

So if you happen to be on IG, take a sec, follow Savvy_Coop (and while you’re at it, might as well follow SpreadHopeProject too!) and check out my takeover tomorrow. I’m so grateful to the folks at Savvy for this opportunity!

Finding Little Glimpses of Hope

It’s been a tough couple of days. Even those of us who make it our mission to spread hope have down times – after all, it’s why we know the value of offering hope to others. The dreary weather today, and lack of sleep, doesn’t help. During these times, finding hope can be a challenge. The world looks bleak and dark  – both literally, with the storms we’re having today, and emotionally.  It’s these times, though, in which hope is particularly essential. So how does one go about finding, and even spreading, hope when depression or anxiety takes a turn for the worse, giving the feeling that there is little of it to be found?

There is, of course, no concrete answer that would work for everyone. We’re all individuals with our own set of ideas of what we find hopeful. But here are a few tips I’ve found that can help me in darker times, and I hope they help you as well.

Ask others. Reach out to family, friends, loved ones and ask them to name a few little, day to day things, that give them hope. Not all of their answers, of course, may apply. But they may help you look at certain experiences or situations slightly differently. Or it may help you seek out their suggestions. One thing I have found in doing the 365 Days of Hope project is that there is a vast array of items, activities, and experiences that represent hope to others, and while I connect with so many of them once suggested, I never would have thought of them as “hopeful” on my own.

Help others. One of the most consistent truths I’ve found is that doing for others, even in tiny ways, makes me feel better. To clarify, I don’t mean doing for others at the expense of yourself. Taking on a coworker’s project when you’re already struggling with anxiety and depression most likely will not have a positive effect. But holding a door, buying a coffee for the person in line in front of you, complimenting someone, or stopping to see if someone who looks to be having trouble is OK, are all simple and free or inexpensive ways to help others without having to give up much of yourself.

Allow yourself to feel how you feel. That’s right – you have every right to experience what you’re experiencing. You have an illness that affects how you feel, and while it sucks, to be totally blunt about it, it’s not your fault and there’s often little you can in the acute stages. So give yourself permission to feel this way. Fighting it often only makes it worse. You then feel bad about not being able to change how you feel, on top of struggling with your illness. That can really destroy hope. So let yourself feel this way, and try to remember that at some point, it will end. There is the simplest of hopes in knowing that you can, eventually, get through this.

Pay attention to your senses. Is there anything at all that helps lift the struggle momentarily? Anything you see that is pleasant or hear that you enjoy? It may even be a smell that evokes a positive memory, or the feel of something soft and comforting. Make note of it. If you can, keep a list that’s easy to reference if needed. These will show you that, even in dark times, there are things that can ease it ever so slightly, if only for a minute. That offers a glimpse of hope. Hang on to those things. Surround yourself with them if at all possible. But at least just know they exist.

You Are Stronger Than You Imagine

 

 

 

What Makes Us Hopeful?

We’re almost a week into our 365 Days of Hope campaign, and while we clearly have a long way to go still, there seem to be a few trends based on the suggestions we’ve received so far. It got me wondering – what makes us hopeful, and why?

Now of course, we’re all different and everyone has their own reasons for suggesting the photos they did. Maybe it was to feed their (and our) inner child. Maybe they love the item or activity suggested. Maybe it’s what comes to their mind when they specifically think of hope, based on their life and experiences. So far, here’s what I’ve found.

  • Flowers. There were numerous suggestions for flowers, gardens, and things of the like. Flowers and gardens make me think of growth – blooms, or buds that will soon become a bloom. They also make me think of warmer weather, and along with it, sunshine. Anyone who’s struggled with SAD can attest to how warm weather, longer days, and sunshine can feel hopeful.

 

  • Nature. Nature has a way of taking us briefly, out of that finite moment, and helps us soak in the broader aspects of life. It refreshes and rejuvenates me. Which offers hope.

 

  • Childhood fun . From rolling down hills to swinging on swing sets to indulging in treats of our youth, kid-like fun is well represented on our list.  My guess is that childhood makes many of us think of a simpler time – without mortgages and busy work schedules and just general responsibility. It was probably the last time many of us felt carefree, or as close to it as we can come. I also had numerous requests from places and items from my childhood, which I think bring up the same feelings.

 

  • Family. There were a lot of suggestions based on doing things with family and close friends. To me, this highlights our support systems, which can help us keep hope, or in some instances have hope for us, even when we struggle with it ourselves.

 

  • The beach. Let me caveat here that we’re based in the Philadelphia area, with the beach about an hour away. If I lived further inland, it may not be the case. Again, though, I think the beach, and everything surrounding it, reminds people of childhood, family, and vacation (aka a feeling of freedom), all of which, can represent hope.

 

  • Pre-technology/pre-internet times. This one is incredibly interesting. There were numerous suggestions for things like reading an actual newspaper, writing in a journal (not a blog), reading a book (not on an app or kindle), mailing a letter in a mailbox, turning off all electronics. Perhaps it’s that, like some of the above, this seems to transport us to a “simpler” time. Maybe it’s that the constant barrage of posts, alerts, emails, and the like make us feel overwhelmed, and pausing from them helps alleviate that.

 

  • Doing for others. We have suggestions such as donating to charity and to the food bank, saying hello to a stranger, complimenting someone. These truly hit home. I think many of us feel best when helping others. Whether it’s listening to a friend in need, to a random act of kindness, to just being friendly and interacting with those we’d normally pass by staring straight ahead, there’s a feeling of purpose when we feel we’re positively affecting another human, or even animal.

There were plenty of other suggestions that fall outside of, or in between, these trends. Still, these were rather revealing. As adults, we often feel overwhelmed. We’re in a constant routine of work and life and bills, spending our days with electronics and modern technology constantly at us. We have to always be “on”. If we’re battling a mental health condition or chronic illness, we add to that the anxiety or depression or pain or physical difficulties or exhaustion (and so much else) that come with these. And because of this, feeling loved and safe with our support systems, being reminded of times when things were simpler, where our goal seemed to be to have fun and enjoy life to the fullest, and where hope was as easy as saying hi to someone we didn’t know. Of course, there are exceptions as there are to everything. But these suggestions, and the fun we’re having doing these activities and taking these photos, are a valuable lesson. It’s possible to find hope in the tiniest thing, the smallest moment. And they give me something to go back to when my illness is rearing it’s head (literally, in my case), and I feel so hopeless. Perhaps I can look at these photos, remember these moments, and be reminded of that there is hope, after all.

Things That Give Me Hope

Here I go, using the all-encompassing “things” again. But it’s early in the week and it’s dreary and I’m having a MECFS flareup, so that’s all I have, I’m sad to say.  And because it’s early in the week and it’s dreary, I thought it might be nice to share those items, situations, occurrences that give me hope.  Perhaps it’ll spark a memory for you, and do the same. They are in no particular order.

  • Being out and about in a city as it wakes up for the day.
  • Relaxing with an early morning cup of coffee.
  • Warm summer mornings.
  • Dog snuggles. With any amenable dog, not even just my own.
  • Waking up in a new town or city on vacation.
  • A good belly laugh. The kind where you laugh so hard you cry. Especially when it serves as a bonding moment with someone else.
  • Falling asleep to the sound of the rain.
  • Standing on top of a mountain after a hike, seeing everything below
  • Quality time with loved ones
  • Participating in activities that remind me of childhood- games I played as a kid, scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, pillow fights, etc.

What are some activities or experiences that bring you hope?

A Hug From Us To You

This morning, I really needed a hug. It was just one of those mornings – tired, stressed, battling some depression and anxiety, and trying to hold it all in. And finally, I let it all out, and I got not one hug, but two. It didn’t solve all of my troubles, or any of them, but it felt good. It felt like someone was there for me, even if they couldn’t quite understand what I was going through. Sometimes, knowing that someone is there to support you, even if only in that instance, can help you put one foot in front of the other and make it through the day – or at least the hour, which is a start.

So here is a hug, from us to you. We were lucky enough to get them when we needed it, and so we’re passing it along, in an effort to spread support and hope. Please, do the same. You never know who might be struggling in silence, who may feel that nobody understands, that no one is there for them.  Let them know that you are. It may even make you feel better too.

 

 

Mental Health Month

May is known for a lot of things. May Day. May Flowers. Memorial Weekend and the unofficial start of summer. And while I enjoy all of these things, May is also important for another reason that’s close to my heart… and brain. May is Mental Health Month. While I personally think every month should be mental health month, because the topic needs that much awareness and education and support, I appreciate the designation. It brings to the forefront, or makes an effort to at least, a topic that so many still feel is taboo.  It gives those who may not always feel comfortable talking about it a “reason” to do so. It helps those who might be on the fence about standing up to fight against stigma a gentle nudge in that direction – after all, so many people are talking about it, and there’s “safety in numbers” right? And while I wish society didn’t need this “permission”, this “safety”, the bottom line is, it does.  So at least Mental Health Month gives us a place to start.

Throughout out the month, the Spread Hope Project will be ramping up our efforts. I mentioned some of our upcoming plans in my last post, and I’m sure I’ll have a few surprises up my sleeve – even to myself.  The benefit of a brain that’s thought patterns look like spaghetti flung against the wall is that you do often come up with new and creative ideas when you least expect it (like at 2am, or in the shower, for instance). Of course, I’m always open to ideas too!

So please, follow along on our Mental Health Month journey on here, on Instagram, and on twitter hashtag with the #spreadhopeproject. Heck, use it yourself! In fact, you know what? Let’s start right now (random spaghetti at the wall idea that came to me as I was writing this):  Let’s see how many people we can get to use the hashtag #spreadhopeproject on twitter today! If you want to follow me, you can do so here. But even if you don’t (I won’t be offended, don’t worry), give the Spread Hope Project a shout out with the hashtag above.

Thanks for the love, and the HOPE!

World Bipolar Day

Today, March 30, 2017, is World Bipolar Day. For those who battle bipolar disorder, this is, of course, every day. But for those who do not, it’s a great day to be reminded of the importance of education and support.  Mental health, to the general public, often flies under the radar – at least until the media decides to target it.  But in everyday life, it tends not to be addressed frequently. It’s not openly visible, so it’s easy for those not close to it to ignore.  And due to stigma, mental health tends to be a topic shied away from by many.  It takes a lot of courage to stand up and be open about your mental health, and there’s still much concern about repercussion.  So we need days like World Bipolar Day to bring legitimate (not media sensationalized) attention to mental health, both as a whole, and as individual conditions.

I do not personally battle Bipolar Disorder, and so it would be unfair of me to discuss the intrinsic details of this condition specifically. But as someone who battles mental health and mood cycling disorders, I can speak to those topics. And as someone who has to contend with these conditions every day, I’d like to try to keep this message positive, and to offer some suggestions. Suggestions of what you can do to help offer support, and to learn more about mental health.

  • Reach out. This is, to me, the absolute most important step. Whether a friend or loved one, or someone you just know is struggling, let them know (or remind them) that you are there for them. Often times, I find support comes from the most unexpected places, and I’m always incredibly grateful.
  • When you reach out, give it time. Mental health is intensely personal, and it’s possible we’ve been “burned” in the past by opening up to someone who stigmatized or judged us, or downright used what we told them in confidence against us.  So don’t give up after the first reach out. You may just get a thank you or an “I’m OK” the first time (even if we aren’t). But keep trying, without being pushy.  If and when we are ready to talk, and we know that you earnestly want to listen and help, we will probably come around.
  • Educate yourself.  Make sure that you are learning from respected, legitimate sources that aren’t biased against mental health. If you’re unsure, ask questions.  Do what you need to in order to make sure that you’re getting accurate and up to date information.
  • If you hear someone stigmatizing mental health, gently and nicely say something. You don’t need to preach, but there are ways to nicely say “Actually I have a friend that battles xyz and that’s not quite the case” or “That might be true sometimes, but we shouldn’t generalize”, or something of this nature. Try to educate instead of chastise, because education is key – people can’t know what they don’t know.
  • Volunteer with/participate in organizations that support mental health and/or specific conditions. Whether you find a local chapter and offer ways to help, or participate in a benefit walk/run/event, this is a great way to not only support, but to meet others who also support the cause. Of course, we encourage you to participate in the Spread Hope Project’s efforts, and are happy to answer any questions about how you can do so!
  • Be careful with language. Language may sound unobtrusive, but it can both hurt people directly and perpetuate stigma.  A general rule that I offer people is this: “If you replace mental health/the name of the condition with that of a ‘physical’ condition (say heart disease, diabetes, asthma) and what you’re saying sounds inappropriate or insensitive, then the same is true when it’s said about mental health.”  If you’re unsure of the best way to word something, ask – we’d love to help you!

To all of those people that battle Bipolar Disorder, we’d like to share with you this:  You are courageous and strong, even when you do not feel so. Please, continue to fight each day, even when it seems impossible, because your life matters so much. Despite how you may often feel, you are not alone – there are so many others out there that understand and support you, and we are just a message or an email or a text or a call away.