The Eye-Opening Guide to Depression and Mania That You Need to Know

Exploring depression and mania and how neither are one-size-fits-all.

Source: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Currently, 1 in every 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental health disorder. That could be your sister, brother, cousin, or neighbor — anyone can have a mental health disorder.

There is a myth that we can simply control our feelings (and it’s supposedly as easy as that!). It’s often thought that depression isn’t real or we possess the ability to ‘snap out of it.’

It’s as if we can flip a switch and turn our symptoms on and off.

If you don’t want to feel anxious, don’t feel anxious.

If you don’t want to feel depressed, don’t feel depressed.

With that logic, it would be like telling someone with knee pain to not feel the pain. But mood disorders are so much deeper than we feel; they can wreak havoc on someone’s life.

Presently, there are about 5% diagnosed with depression globally. While there are about 7.5% of people who have experienced mania. It’s essential to keep in mind that these stats are based on people who have been diagnosed.

Mood disorders can actually be explained on a spectrum. There are two types of moods on the spectrum that are considered extremes:

Depression and Mania.

There aren’t any levels or stages that someone enters into, though. Instead, there’s a degree of severity to depression and mania — helping to understand how mental health varies greatly.

Instead, it is a helpful tool for understanding how mania and depression can look.

Source: TheCalculatingMind

The mood spectrum model is never used as a diagnostic tool (or away to diagnose someone with a mental health disorder). Instead, the mood spectrum visually represents how mood disorders will vary.

I found the mood spectrum model extremely valuable when learning about psychiatric disorders. Seeing the mood on a spectrum can help us understand the different variations of symptoms to which depression or mania can present or show themselves through someone’s behavior.

It’s important to understand that someone may exist on the mood spectrum at any level, even without having a complete mental health diagnosis or disorder.

Understanding mood disorders

Mood disorders are a category of mental health disorders; every type of mental health disorder is categorized. Mood disorders cover mental health disorders ranging from depression to bipolar.

Bipolar is when someone exhibits mood swings from depression and mania. Although someone with bipolar experiences depressive and manic symptoms, they won’t experience them simultaneously.

Though depression and mania may be opposites on the mood spectrum, both disorders can take a severe toll on someone’s quality of life.

Within bipolar and depression lies various subtypes or variations that can occur from one person to the next. Depression or an episode of mania will never look the same for two people.

There isn’t just a single type of depression or mania that someone can experience. One-size-fits-all simply doesn’t exist.

Through my studies in psychology as a graduate student, I have learned that every disorder will look differently from one person to the next. No two people will experience identical symptoms — each person’s mental health is unique.

Much like any other disorder, there will be variations in how the disorder presents — mental health disorders are not exempt from this.

There is certainly more than one type of depression or mania — meaning there is a range of symptoms people can experience that you may not have known could happen.

Note: the contents of this article are not meant to treat or cure any disorder. Nor is the information listed here enough to replace mental health treatment from a licensed mental health professional.

Depression

Depression is a disorder that can negatively impact your life and cause you to think, feel, and act differently. In fact, both extremes on the spectrum will negatively impact someone, either with depression or mania.

Growing up in my toxic family, I always noticed how my depression symptoms were treated as something that was nothing more than the sniffles.

It wasn’t that big of a deal.

I was treated as if my symptoms were nothing more severe than the next ‘depressed’ person. In fact, my toxic family acted as if I was a liar, a fake, and seeking nothing but attention.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these are the typical list of symptoms (or diagnostic criteria) of depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

(Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Depression)

This is only an essential list of symptoms that are most common to see and used for diagnosis. Not everyone will experience every symptom on this list. But this also does not mean symptoms are merely confined to what is on this list.

Different Variations of Depression

Mental illness will look different for everyone, so we cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. The variations in circumstances, genetics, and environment can influence people in drastically different ways.

Throughout my life, I have noticed how differently depression can affect everyone. I noticed how my depressive episodes would look drastically different than a friend experiencing the same disorder.

Variations occur with any disorder — not just mental health — it’s to be expected.

Major Depressive Disorder

People who live with major depressive disorder experience periods of depressive symptoms but also have periods of being at their baseline. This type of depression doesn’t frequently occur for someone, but that doesn’t lessen the severity.

A depressive episode can last anywhere from a few weeks to months — some symptoms can persist for a year.

Dysthymia

Also known as persistent depression, it is where someone experiences ‘mild’ depression symptoms every day with little to no relief. But don’t let the word mild fool you; mild symptoms can still affect someone’s quality of life.

Compared to a depressive episode, someone will experience symptoms of depression daily. Dysthymia can last for nearly two years, but the symptoms won’t be as severe as major depressive disorder.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression isn’t always caused by some significant reason — other than it being a complication of giving birth to a baby. Sometimes these feelings of depression can be misunderstood as the baby blues.

It’s not uncommon for someone to experience the “baby blues,” but that should typically last for only 3–5 days.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Typically people with SAD will experience a lessened mood in the fall, which continues until the conclusion of winter. Also known as seasonal depression, this disorder occurs with changes throughout the year. The parts of life we most certainly have no control over include the changing seasons.

Although it is common to see seasonal affective disorder during the fall or winter months, it is possible to experience SAD during the spring or summer.

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression is a sub-type of major depressive disorder where someone displays psychotic symptoms. Psychosis refers to hallucinations that can appear in the following ways:

  • auditory (hearing voices, etc.)
  • visual (seeing people or other things that others do not see)
  • olfactory (smelling something that doesn’t exist, etc.)
  • Tactical hallucinations (being able to feel sensations without anything actually causing them)

Mania

Mania is defined as a state where someone has an abnormally elevated mood, far from who they usually are — and is noticeable by others. The elevated mood others notice must last longer than just a few days.

In most cases, mania must typically be present for at least one week to receive a diagnosis. An elevated mood for a few days isn’t uncommon. Sometimes experiences in our life can make our mood better — it’s normal.

What matters is how the person’s elevated mood affects their behavior, interaction with the world, and duration. During a friend’s manic episodes, I witnessed them exhibit reckless behavior.

Symptoms of Mania

  • feeling very happy, satisfied, or overjoyed
  • talking very quickly
  • feeling full of energy
  • feeling self-important
  • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • being easily distracted
  • being easily irritated or agitated
  • being delusional, having hallucinations, and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • not feeling like sleeping
  • not eating
  • doing things that often have disastrous consequences — such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items
  • making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful

(Source: NHS.UK, “Symptoms — Bipolar disorder”)

Someone with mania can place themselves higher than the moon, setting their immediate sights on the far distant stars. But, not everyone who experiences mania will experience this exact feeling.

But not every person I knew with mania would participate in drug use or promiscuity. Sometimes, it looked like reorganizing their entire home with little to no sleep.

Different Variations of Mania

Like depression and other disorders, there will be variations in the types of mania someone can experience. Understanding how mania can fluctuate and vary can help you understand how mental health is truly different for everyone.

Mania is associated with irritability, agitation, negative energy, and a pessimistic attitude and outlook on life. The mania that I witnessed through family and friends was not always consistent from one person to the next. 

There were definite similarities, but there was a clear distinction between each person’s manic episodes.

No two people will have the same manic episode.

Euphoric mania

Most commonly known as euphoric mania, someone will feel absolute euphoria that is expansive. This type of mania is what we typically think mania will look like exclusively.

[Euphoria is] a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.

Source: Dictionary.com

This type of mania has the potential for reckless acts, as the person may feel grandiose — or even invincible. Behaviors like this will still be present in other forms of mania, but they may not be as present at such an extreme.

Dysphoric mania

This side of mania is the opposite of what we typically view mania. In fact, someone experiencing dysphoric mania will have depression symptoms — otherwise called a “mixed episode.”

In fact, around 40% of people who experience bipolar have experienced dysphoric mania. There can be a mix of symptoms simultaneously and/or proceeding or following the other, lasting days to even a couple of weeks or more.

Hypomania

Hypomania is considered a less severe form of mania (but don’t let the less severe fool you). Hypomania is still noticeable to others; there are still changes to someone’s mood, affect, and energy level.

For hypomania, symptoms only need to be present for 4 consecutive days to qualify for a diagnosis. This type of mania may seem less intense, which is true — but it can still bring complex challenges to someone’s quality of life.

Sub-threshold

For sub-threshold mania, someone is displaying symptoms of mania but not enough to be considered full-blown mania. This is where someone is teetering between mania and being at their baseline.

Sub-threshold can be someone who experiences mania for 1–3 days, therefore not meeting diagnostic criteria. Someone with this type of mania isn’t going to look very much like what we typically imagine mania to be.

Baseline

There is a spot within the mood spectrum between depression and mania— this is considered someone’s baseline. For comparison purposes, a baseline is essential in a clinic setting to know someone’s daily functioning.

a line serves as a basis or reference point for observing behavior. Because this behavioral performance is stable, it is often used to assess how interventions and manipulations would affect the outcome.

Source: Psychology Dictionary

The baseline can also be described as average — whatever that may look like for someone. This is where someone is closer to who they usually are — or how they would be before displaying depressive or manic symptoms.

That’s where we all fit, somewhere between the two extremes.

When someone is at their baseline, then they are considered stable. Someone functioning symptom-free or nearly symptom-free — with the help of intervention — can be considered stable.

Stable means being at your baseline or where you are ‘normal.’ Although the word normal is highly discouraged, it’s a good indicator to understand how someone may feel.

Being or feeling normal is entirely reliant on who that person is ultimate. Normal isn’t one-size-fits-all as well.

While working for an adult psychiatric unit, I saw people reaching their baseline after weeks of depression, mania, and even psychosis. Quite frankly, someone you meet in a manic or depressive episode will almost always be completely different from when they left.

If someone feels normal, whatever that may be, they can bounce around somewhere in the middle between the two extremes of mood disorders.

But this really boils down to how all these ties into what we need to know. What makes all of this information so important?

Why does this matter?

So, why does all of this matter — why do we need to understand that depression and mania can vary. Well, mental health is just as important as physical well-being.

There are many stereotypes in society that can hinder someone from reaching out to receive treatment. Understanding how different depression or mania can look is crucial.

Everyone deserves treatment — fear shouldn’t be a block for them anymore. I was afraid to receive treatment for years — even after learning about mental health through my undergraduate years. I thought I was not normal or would be viewed differently.

I have seen firsthand just how mental health is misunderstood. That depression, mania, or any health mental health disorder is considered fake.

But that isn’t the case.

Taking care of our mental health looks very different for many people. Mental health is essential to maintain as we move through life.


Much like everything in life, there is a grey area. Not everything will be the same for everyone — one-size-fits-all isn’t realistic. Depression and mania affect someone’s quality of life; seeking help is always the best option. No one should have to go through this alone.

Any type of depression is necessary and needs proper medical treatment from a licensed mental health professional. Mental health is complex and unique to each individual.

From my personal experience with various family and friends, depression and mania can undoubtedly look drastically different from one to the next.

‘One-size-fits-all’ simply doesn’t exist.


Stay Connected with This Author: https://linktr.ee/ThatPsychNerd (check out my ‘Story Spotlight’ to read more of my work! Happy reading! 🌞)

*Author’s Note*

Over 3 months off from writing and I am back, and ready to share some new and exciting work with you! As That Psych Nerd, I want to share my love of psychology with other fellow psych nerds! See you soon!

As Originally Posted on Medium

How Prevalent is Narcissism?

Understanding how common narcissism truly is.

Source: Davide Ragusa on Unsplash

With narcissists becoming more popular, it’s essential to understand what narcissism is. Narcissism is a set pattern of behavior laced with grandiosity, arrogance, low self-esteem, and an overinflated ego.

Narcissistic personality disorder is the only disorder that can honestly label someone as a narcissist. Otherwise, people can most certainly have narcissistic traits. This is where people can usually get their wires crossed: are they are narcissists, or do they have narcissistic traits.

Everyone has narcissistic traits; it’s not inappropriate to care about yourself. From your looks to your self-esteem, it’s all completely normal. Now narcissism is a long pattern of narcissistic behaviors that impact someone and others around them.

So the issue that it comes down to is: do we look at the rate of people with NPD, or do we look at those with elevated narcissistic traits? For the purpose of this article, we are going to explore the prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder.

Is NPD common?

There are roughly 0.5% of the population in the United States that have a narcissistic personality disorder. But it is important to note that only people clinically diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are included in this statistic. This is a relatively low number, but there are always conditions behind these statistics that we have to keep in mind.

Not every narcissist out there is clinically diagnosed (and maybe they should be), so that’s a thought to consider when looking at this statistic. Someone can display the symptoms for years, cause havoc — but never be seen or treated.

Not every narcissist wants treatment or even to see a doctor. Even if that narcissist sees a doctor, they may not be diagnosed because they withhold information.

Overall, there are many different reasons why someone wouldn’t want to seek treatment. In the end, a narcissist doesn’t see anything wrong with them or their behavior. Their self-esteem may not be able to handle that kind of blow also.

So know that not every person you meet who is rude or off-putting is a narcissist. A narcissist is someone with a long pattern of behavior that makes them a narcissist.

I have met a few narcissists in my life, but (unfortunately) for me, they were all family members. Other than that, I really haven’t met too many narcissists in the outside world.

I didn’t have enough time to honestly know them — or they simply had narcissistic traits.

What is NPD?

Narcissism can come from childhood abuse and many different factors. Through narcissistic personality disorder, it is essential to understand its root. Why does it happen? Understanding the disorder behind a narcissist can help spread more accurate information about narcissists.

It has been shown that childhood abuse is connected to depression, aggression, anger, hostile behavior, anxiety, and personality disorders in adulthood.

Through abuse, that child develops to survive in their environment. With a combination of genetics, parenting, and overall treatment within their life, the stage can be set for someone to develop a narcissistic personality disorder.

Not every unkind person is a narcissist

Understanding a narcissist is all fine and good. Still, the narcissistic traits are what people are genuinely interested in (they just don’t know it yet).

The human personality can be divided into so many subparts. There are many different facets and aspects to understanding someone’s personality.

I have met some genuinely mean people in my life, outside of my family, but deep down, those people were not narcissists. People under intense stress can act out of character, causing them to look like a narcissist.

So it is essential to know that someone can be selfish, rude, gaslighting, and simply not narcissistic. But they can sure act like a narcissist sometimes! Or so it feels.

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Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes and from different walks of life. No two narcissists will act the same. But we still have to be careful when using the term narcissist — it needs to be saved for the people who are genuinely narcissists. If you’d like to read more on my journey with my narcissist, I encourage you to check out my narcissistic abuse story.

Overall, narcissism is not prevalent is terms of size and how many people are diagnosed. But that does not lessen the significant impact that person may have on other people’s lives.

So you may never encounter a true narcissist in your life, but knowing the signs and symptoms can help you stay safe and alert.

As originally posted on Medium

Surviving a Toxic Family

There’s so much more to life than a toxic family.

Source: Thoa Ngo on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

Surviving a toxic family is only half the battle. Once someone has been realized from their family’s hold on them, their whole life is turned upside down.

Toxic families require a lot of time, with arguments, dismissals, and feuds; it feels never-ending. In a toxic family, you have to be involved; in fact, you are involved one way or another. The specific roles of toxic families and households explain how the family functions.

Sometimes the only way to escape a toxic family is to move out at 18 or cut them off from your life right now. Regardless of what you choose to do with your toxic family, in the meantime, you need to survive.

I have not and will not ever talk to my family again when writing this article. I only have a few people in my family worth keeping in my life. I cut the rest off.

Nobody is worth my happiness and safety.

Effects of a toxic family

The effects of a toxic family can be devastating.

I incurred damaging effects on my social life as I was growing up. When I was in my teen years, I took on adult responsibilities because the adults in my life had caused such turmoil. The adults in the family were wrapped up in their own world that they couldn’t see beyond themselves.

So when I became an adult, I had no friends–not one. I have never felt so alone before. But like most 18 years, I dove in headfirst to try and make up for whatever I missed. And I found some great people and not-so-nice people along the way.

I learned what I wanted in life because of how my toxic family treated me.

I wanted to avoid the experience that I had with my toxic family. If I pretended that it didn’t happen — if the lies my narcissist told me were uncovered, maybe things would have been different.

How a toxic family impacts development

As mentioned before, I had stunted socialization. I was so isolated from my friends because of my family I knew that wasn’t the norm.

A toxic family is broken down into many parts. Each family member serves a purpose — whether they know it or not. It can be hard to understand that, but it is the truth.

But now, I have a new sense of hope. I survived difficult times in my childhood–I’m stronger than I will ever know.

It’s hard to say that there are specific rules and tools that you can use to help you survive a toxic family. Every situation and family are unique and different. With each family posing their own issues and risks. Sometimes leaving isn’t an option.

So I want to give general advice as a survivor of toxic families.

Look out for yourself

You are the most important person in your world. It may not feel like you have anyone supporting you — but you can fill that void. It’s a challenge but start by meeting your needs. Making yourself happy and knowing how to get yourself to an actual calm state.

Everyone deserves to feel happy and relaxed. A toxic family can create a considerable roadblock.

Get time away from them

Try to get yourself out for a walk or some private time in your room. Again, everyone’s circumstances are different, so this may not be feasible. But you should try to limit contact when you can.

Know that this is not forever

The present moment that you are in will not last forever. I wished someone had told me this. I wanted to know that my life would not be stuck in this family. I truly believed that I would never be free.

Learn lessons from your family’s behavior

If leaving isn’t an option, and they have to be in your life, just observe. Learn the patterns of your family members and understand how this situation should be different. What are those lessons from the family time that you have learned?

I saw the narcissist shining clear in my family by observing my family. And how the family surrounded them to help them get away with rude behavior.

I am not my toxic family; I am the seed that sprouts from the rubble.

No matter what, I am strong and capable. My toxic family may have given me a rough start, but I can choose where my life goes from here.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

What Really Makes Someone a Good Person?

Some food for thought and my unnecessary 2 cents.

Source: Sam Manns on Unsplash

Through understanding my own toxic family, I have wondered what makes someone a good person.

Suppose a narcissist can lie and feign innocence (that’s totally believable to the outside world) while doing good things. How can we honestly tell if someone is a good person based solely on their actions?

Behaviors are a complex set of actions, either good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. If someone does nice things, does that make them a good person?

Intention matters

Behind every behavior is an intention — what that person hopes to achieve or accomplish. The intention is what I have been heavily looking towards in all relationships in my life.

I want to know that the person is genuine in their actions. The narcissist in my life has left me with this hypervigilant state — to always try and spot trouble early.

I don’t care if you’re nice or mean to me; I care about what your intentions are. I want to know that you have a good, verifiable reason for your actions towards me.

But is intention important to everyone?

To me, the intention is everything. It is what I want to shine through in all of my actions. Aside from intentions, seeing someone’s long-term behavior is the blueprint for how everything else will be.

I am hypervigilant. I want to make sure that I never go through the bad things that I have gone through in the past. But I can’t always stop that.

So tell me, Do intentions matter for you?

As originally posted on Medium

Understanding the Link Between ADHD and Anxiety

People with ADHD 50% more likely to have an anxiety disorder.

Source: Alex Vámos on Unsplash

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, is a common mental health disorder, along with anxiety. ADHD and anxiety are two different types of mental health disorders that can both influence one another.

Many people with ADHD are known as the person who is always running late or are a perpetual mess. Behind that late, messy friend lies someone who could very well be experiencing anxiety.

People living with ADHD are nearly 50% more likely to have an anxiety disorder than people without ADHD. With an alarming statistic like that, it’s essential to know how ADHD and anxiety can intermingle and affect one another.

Anxiety and ADHD

Someone with ADHD may experience anxiety because of their poor attention skills or hyperactive behavior–I know this was partially true. I already had anxiety as a child growing up. The lack of attentive skills and time management really affected me.

I felt like a failure compared to my friends. I couldn’t manage my time as well as other people, which meant I had to limit my opportunities. I knew that i wasn’t able to take on extra responsibility, and if I did I would have to work hard to stay on track.

Research has actually shown that ADHD can actually worsen anxiety symptoms with restlessness and issues with concentration. With the symptoms of ADHD being hyperactive behavior and inattentiveness, there can be moments of the world you miss simply because you couldn’t pay attention.

Anxiety pulls your attention to focus on your anxiety symptoms, which can distract you from your daily tasks. Coupled with inattentive behavior, it can snowball into a mess. Before you know it your day is over and you haven’t been able to accomplish what you set out to do.

For example, I struggled to focus and concentrate in school while in lectures. It was difficult, and it caused me to have added anxiety. I felt that my inattention was due to a lack of motivation or willpower. I felt like the weakest, most unmotivated, lazy person in my entire life.

For me, the ever-nagging thought that I would forget something or neglect something by accident. Maybe I would be the office chatterbox. I was terrified of how I indeed was because of my ADHD. I wanted to branch out from that, but it was hard.

Can ADHD impact anxiety?

Research suggests that someone with ADHD experiencing anxiety may have heightened ADHD symptoms. Anxiety and ADHD seem to crash against one another, aggravating symptoms and causing more distress.

With the symptoms of ADHD, they are bound to interact and cause or aggravate someone’s anxiety. The inability to focus AND properly plan leaves a massive gap in my day.

I have little understanding of time awareness–I am entirely time blind, thanks to my ADHD. Couple that with the stress that anxiety brings, there heightened struggle everyday.

With the increase in stress, anxiety can increase too. If someone lives with a lot of anxiety and has ADHD, the symptoms can keep worsening, creating a chain reaction of issues.

The duration, severity, and comorbidity of the disorders combined can feel overpowering.

Long term effects

The long-term effects of ADHD and anxiety can be the vicious cycle that keeps those suffering looped in. In the long term, people have to learn to survive; they learn to adapt to these symptoms. Adapting is a difficult thing to reach, especially when it feels hopeless.

Constantly seeking relief from anxiety and ADHD symptoms may lead some people to lean towards harmful behaviors such as drug use.

Overall, ADHD and anxiety have lowered my self-esteem and confidence in my abilities simply because I couldn’t work as my classmates did. Sitting still and doing the same thing every day feels like torture.

Through time I learned to treat myself as the girl who wasn’t too bright because she couldn’t keep track of her keys and wallet. I turned my ADHD into a joke so I could pass. I was worried that I would be the target enemy if people saw just how forgetful and inattentive I could be. Of course, I didn’t really feel like in my friendship groups, but more at work.

I had to turn my struggle into a joke because I didn’t want people to see how much of a mess I was. Having to live with this mantra in your head can really eat away at you.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

My Narcissist Taught Me How to Be a Good Person

It’s simple — I just need to be the opposite of them.

Source: Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

I stand on the other side, still alive through the trying times that my narcissist has put me through. The lies that I had been fed for years were finally coming to an end.

I have faced the most challenging days of my life and held firm throughout the dusty storms through this time. Now, I am left with the constant reminder that I am scarred and haunted by my narcissist.

I think back frequently to the times that my narcissist truly impacted me. How their words made me change who I was because I was afraid. That was the key, though, wasn’t it? To keep me afraid? Being afraid causes me to be more submissive to their lies and deceit.

Through all the manipulation tactics and smear campaigns, I learned to be a good person. I was so horrified at how I was treated that it felt nearly impossible to fully break free from.

I learned what not to be because I needed to be better. I grew to hate the narcissist so much that I despised all they were. I wanted a life that was the opposite of theirs; I needed change.

But from the destruction grew beautiful flowers that I will carry with me forever.

Life lessons

My narcissist would always tell me to “do the right thing” because I dared to resist their demand. Through my defiance, I grew a name for myself as a trouble maker.

I was the evil person in the family, and I didn’t know what to do. I saw the only option was to be a nice, more obedient person. I was a greedymoney-hungry liar who was ruining the family. But I later came to find out that I had been lied to (obviously) — that’s a story for another time, though.

So I set out on a mission at this time to be a better person — through the guidance of my narcissist, of course. I learned to stay quiet, and I learned to observe. I challenged my gut instinct and suppressed the questions that I had.

Through this time, I wanted to show my narcissist more respect. I frequently went out of my way to help the narcissist. After all, I believed this was the way to be a better person: do what the narcissist said.

But my narcissist saw power and control as a way to gain respect. The respect they wanted was done by manipulating and controlling various family members — I wasn’t the only one.

How not to behave

As I process my narcissist’s impact on me, I realize that they have given me the best lesson of all.

I have learned how to be a good person. The narcissist is a shining example of how you should not behave towards family and friends.

I learned to be opentransparent, and clear about my intentions and actions. I wanted to show that I had nothing to hide. Which is entirely true, I don’t. I treat people with kindness, as that is how I want to be treated in return. I do not do good things to brag about them later.

Being open and transparent shows that I have nothing to hide. I have learned through my narcissist that secrets that you keep will always come back to haunt you. You cannot hide what you don’t want others to know.

Whatever you do in the dark comes to light one way or another.

I don’t need to hide the truth because I would never tell a lie to save my own skin or gain money somehow. Hiding the truth because they need to protect their reputation; it’s a vital part of who they are.

I can get through anything

Through the times I have spent enduring the narcissistic abuse, I have learned something valuable through processing all of this.

I have learned that I am a strong individual; I am a good person with good intentions. I want to be happy, and I want to spread love, not fear.

I know that through trying times, I am strong. I am sturdy, and I am capable. At the end of the day, I know that I am loved and cared for — and that I have put love out into the world.

I can rest peacefully knowing I have set out with life to have good intentions.

I now live with a solid moral ethic.

I did not run my life on lies that I created to inflate my ego.

I want to tell the truth, even if it is hard. I cannot keep living a lie to make others happy.

I have learned how to be me.

Through all of the struggles in my life, I am glad that I have been given these valuable lessons. I will never act in the way that the narcissist acted. I sympathize with them, though. They have no idea how much hurt they have caused — and the potential for our relationship to be healthy and like a family.

And I’ve also learned that I don’t need to hold people in fear to be treated with respect. I earn respect through my actions and behavior every single day.
You will see my intentions through my actions — and they are nothing but pure.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

Does a Narcissist Believe Their Own Lies?

Yes, they do — here’s why.

Source: Fabien TWB on Unsplash

Within the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disordergrandiosity and an extremely high self-image must be maintained. But how can someone create and keep up with such a facade? Well, it’s simple: they lie.

Lie’s are an easy way to get the instant gratification a narcissist needs to get them through this one moment. Lies are how a narcissist can keep power and control over you; they are the foundation for a narcissist’s world.

How can someone tout themselves as being flawless? How can someone do absolutely no wrong? We are all human, and we have all made mistakes in our life. Someone who tries to hide their flaws is shielding themselves from the truth.

So, when you are faced with a narcissist who is obviously lying to you, just know that they believe their lies (unfortunately).

They need to lie to get their way

It doesn’t matter what lie they are trying to push. The lie they have constructed is meant to satisfy you for the moment — whether the lie includes aggressive tactics or not.

Lies fuel the image that a narcissist is creating. Lies are how a narcissist can manipulate the situation.

I found that my narcissist lied to different people — with a different lie — to say what that person needed to hear. Lies are a way that a narcissist can manipulate you — along with gaslighting and blame.

But how does the narcissist not get caught by people questioning their various lies? Well, if someone says anything confidently, you are inclined to believe that. The narcissist in my life always said everything with such conviction that you had no choice but to believe them.

Of course, when I began to question them, their cockiness would turn to aggression.

A narcissist’s lies are their truth

The lies are anything that the narcissist needs you to believe; lies are the pillars for their life.

We all have expectations in our lives; we want certain things. Sometimes, we aren’t able to get what we want. When a narcissist is faced with this, they will do anything to get what they want.

I can only speak of the narcissist I had in my life, but they were keen on making their life seem luxurious. They made such extravagant purchases and would routinely make a fuss to show us the rich problems they had.

Their truth has to be big, extravagant, and over the top. From fancy campers to luxury cars to consistent home redecoration, it only screamed: look at me and see how amazing and powerful my life is!

But it was all a facade — simply leased items, mountains of debt, or even fraud.

Nothing will stand in their way

The lies are a slight bump for the narcissist to get what they want.

Lies are short and quick — achieving the desired results in the short term. But, in the long run, the lies can snowball into a monstrosity. The number of times that I have caught my narcissist in a lie is too many to count.

A lie is a simple way for them to achieve what they need at the moment — the future isn’t anything they’re concerned with.

If appeasing you, or someone else, will make their problems go away, they will do that. With the persistent need to be the best, a narcissist must fulfill a neverending hunger.

At the end of the day, a narcissist is someone with deep-rooted insecurities, who will do anything to get by in life.

The lies a narcissist tells are meant to free them of any responsibility or blame — and ultimately shift that onto someone else. Or lies can be a way for the narcissist to seem even more powerful.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

What Living With a Mental Illness Really Looks Like

From daily symptoms that don’t seem to dissipate, to the effect on our self-esteem — mental health disorders can take a toll.

Source: Kevin Bosc on Unsplash

For some people, mental illness or mental health, in general, is a somewhat taboo topic. How mental health was spoken about throughout our childhood is crucial in our attitude and beliefs around mental health presently.

Sometimes the culture you grow up in does not tolerate mental health talk. Either emotion wasn’t allowed to be expressed or heavily frowned upon.

Mental health can sometimes be viewed negatively — as if this is a topic we shouldn’t talk about. But why is that? Why shouldn’t we talk about mental health?

I specifically grew up with a family that didn’t discuss our mental health. If you have any mental health issues, you are‘ lazy.’ Frequently, the word ‘crazy’ would be thrown around to tell everyone that mental health was a joke.

I want to take this time to really explore what mental illness can look like on a day-to-day basis. We can’t change how we were brought up or the lessons we’ve learned throughout our life — but we can always educate ourselves.

Daily symptoms

Symptoms of mental illness aren’t experienced in a regular schedule — it’s sporadic and maybe even constant at times. It is so difficult to really pin down what anyone might feel.

Think of a mental health disorder as a chronic pain disorder. Symptoms flare up on their own, and they have little rhyme or reason at times.

Reading through the lists of disorders, like ADHD, and depression can be beneficial in understanding the specific struggles associated with each disorder.

I live with anxiety daily. It is tough to try and avoid my anxiety. Some days it is just there, and there isn’t anything I can do about it. It can be challenging to get up and move with constant anxiety, leaving you stagnant and miserable. And on my good days, I try to do as much as I can — I worry when my next good day maybe.

Overall, daily symptoms will look different for every person based on their own disorder, unique life circumstances, and even their personality.

Possibility of no recovery

It’s important to understand that treatment does not always lead to recovery. Recovery is when someone is fully recovered from their disorder. Treatment will help you relieve your symptoms, but recovery does not always happen.

Recovery can take years of treatment that some people don’t have the strength, money, or hope to complete.

Sometimes, there is no chance of full recovery with mental illness, specifically bipolar, personality disorders, or schizophrenia. Sometimes anxiety and depression can be in remission–even OCD too, but that can be hard to achieve.

It’s important to understand that recovery or improvement of symptoms cannot come from seeing a doctor alone. Change has to occur in nearly every part of your life. That change can be challenging for some. Letting go of maladaptive coping mechanisms and building healthy habits can be life-changing for some.

But this does not mean that your life is hopeless. People who live with mental health issues can still live full, happy lives — we just have to cope in unique ways and take more time for our mental health.

Low self-esteem

Anxiety and maybe even paranoia daily can wear away at your self-esteem through all the ups and downs. My self-esteem was struggling because I felt like I was failing. I had so much anxiety and despair in my heart that I felt lost in the path I was taking.

I was worried that people could see how anxious I was. That I was one second away from crying and losing my mind. So I preferred to stay away from other people. If I don’t have people around me, I can’t get hurt.

With this poor self-image and low self-esteem, it is difficult to socialize. I felt a massive struggle trying to relate to my peers — especially as a teenager.

Living every day with a mental illness can be a challenge. In times of struggle, it’s hard to stay with our heads above water. But know a mental health diagnosis, is not a death sentence — nor a mark on who you are as a person.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

3 Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Knowing the signs of a toxic relationship can help you stay aware.

Source: Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

When any relationship begins, it rarely intends to turn toxic — not consciously, of course. But certain behaviors in the relationship can give you an idea of how this relationship may be in the long run.

Warning signs can be hard to spot — that’s why we must know them. Being educated on toxic relationships can help you spot, identify, and potentially avoid a toxic relationship.

Toxic relationships begin in similar ways, with a pattern of behavior being exhibited by the other person — or both parties. There are 3 critical features of toxic relationships that are relatively consistent amongst various toxic relationships. Now please be aware that these are only 3 warning signs. There may be more — each relationship is different and unique.

1. Love bombing

The efforts to win you over by showing excessive affection and attention are called love bombing. This can often seem like such an out-of-this-world experience, or you’re left stunned — and flattered — by the attention.

The constant admiration, whirl-wind type of romance that sweeps you off your feet can feel intoxicating. Maybe this person, who you may have just met, is telling you that you’re the one or you are both meant to be together. At a glance, this may seem so sweet and loving. It’s like a dream come true!

But if anything seems like it’s too good to be true, then it is.

But then that love bombing is used as a way to gain your trust. Love bombing can come in the form of gifts or money in a way to win you over.

Love bombing is a strategic plan to win over the person’s heart–then that love turns to control.

2. Isolation

Spending time with your new partner is such a wonderful thing; you can’t get enough of each other. But there is a point where you are both spending so much time together that you become isolated from friends and family.

Isolation is another key sign that this may be a toxic relationship. When you are isolated from your friends and family, you cannot see them or spend time with them. This is restrictive and controlling behavior that keeps you isolated.

Not being able to move freely and talk to who you would like leads you to be cut off from the world around you. You still need to have a life outside of your relationship.

If your partner threatens you or guilts you into not seeing family and friends, you should know that is not okay. If friends feel like a threat to your partner, that is a red flag that should be addressed.

3. Codependency

From the isolation and love-bombing, you become landed in codependency. Codependency is when one partner leans on another partner excessively.

This means someone will become reliant on the other person. Codependency can be in the form of socialization, financial, or anything that causes you to overly rely on your partner.

One partner is unable to be autonomous without the other partner.

Someone doesn’t just wake up one-day co-dependent. The other person had caused their partner to become reliant on them. Through excessive conflict, isolation, and love-bombing, someone can be forced to become co-dependent.

Take Maid on Netflix, for example. Alex, the main character, is in a relationship that keeps her isolated from her friends and family. Due to Alex being isolated from the outside world, she becomes co-dependent on Sean, her partner.

A healthy relationship will typically have two fully independent people— where neither one is controlled by the other.

If you feel like you may be in an abusive situation, please know there are resources available — it’s okay to get help. If you are unsure and want to talk to someone, I encourage you to visit: https://www.thehotline.org/

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

Understanding the Disorder Behind a Narcissist

Breaking down narcissistic personality disorder.

Source: Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

Narcissists are a topic that has been flooding media for the past few years. There is a lot of misinformation about what a narcissist truly is. To begin, we have to understand narcissistic personality disorder to truly grasp what a narcissist is.

Narcissistic personality disorder is listed in the DSM-5 as a clinical diagnosis. NPD is a real disorder, and narcissists are real, BUT you can’t just call anybody that seems selfish a narcissist.

There must be specific criteria met that far surpasses selfishness or arrogance. Some people can be selfish and/or arrogant and not be a narcissist.

Symptoms of NPD

Narcissism itself is a personality disorder. This person who had NPD is diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional. No article or quiz will tell you if someone is a narcissist (or if you are one yourself!)

Like any other disorder, a narcissistic personality disorder will have a strict set of symptoms that must be met to qualify for the diagnosis. Below is the list of NPD symptoms that a doctor will use to diagnose:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • A belief that they are special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonally exploitive behavior
  • A lack of empathy
  • Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
  • A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes

Some of these symptoms can be challenging to see at first — you have to spend time with the narcissist to notice these patterns of behavior. After reviewing the symptoms, we can clearly point to self-satisfaction and superiority. There’s also a lack of empathy, along with overt, negative behaviors.

It’s unfortunate, really, because the narcissist could receive help. But as we all know, treatment doesn’t resolve issues; it’s only a bandaid. You have to work to make the treatment work.

What causes NPD?

Through this entire process, a narcissist may seem content and truly powerful when they may feel empty, worthless, and are battling insecurities on the inside.

A narcissist is insecure and weak — so they need to compensate by being controlling and attention-seeking.

Narcissistic personality disorder can be caused for various reasons. Still, there is typically an environmental, genetic, and neurobiological cause behind the disorder developing. Now, this isn’t too uncommon–other mental health disorders are caused by environmental, genetic, and neurological disorders.

But there are specific adverse life events that someone can experience that would lead them to develop NPD. The Cleveland Clinic has listed a few reasons to why NPD forms:

  • Childhood trauma (such as physical, sexual, and verbal abuse).
  • Early relationships with parents, friends, and relatives.
  • Genetics (family history).
  • Hypersensitivity to textures, noise, or light in childhood.
  • Personality and temperament.

Throughout the narcissist’s childhood, they must have faced some damaging abuse or neglect. The narcissist in my life was abused as a child — it was something that had been disclosed to me through other family members.

How to treat NPD?

Someone with NPD will be unwilling and heavily resistant to changing their behavior. Those with narcissistic personality disorder are forever in love with the hyped-up, grandiose image that they paint themselves as.

With any type of mental illness, there will be a treatment option. A combination of various therapies and medication can help mitigate the adverse effects of the disorder.

NPD can first be treated/assessed by seeing a licensed mental health professional. From there, a psychiatrist (or other qualified professional) can recommend treatment options.

Understanding where NPD comes from can help you better understand a narcissist. Understanding narcissism doesn’t excuse the behavior. The effects of a narcissist’s behavior are real and damaging — a diagnosis doesn’t erase that.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak