Vulnerability is not something we normally equivocate with self-esteem. We are much more inclined to picture an impenetrable sort of confidence, a version of ourselves where nothing can breach our walls of strength and self-adoration. Yet vulnerability is not only an incredibly powerful tool for those already on the road towards building self-esteem–it is also a very good place to start.
As this decade is reaching its end, I am reminded of how long behavioral addictions have haunted me and exactly how far I've come. Around 2010, I first began exploring my sexuality as a teenager and I quickly learned how helpful sex could be as a coping skill for a struggling and defiant teenager like myself. Over time though, I wasn't just relying on sex to cope.
Recently, my excellent therapist suggested that I try to start needing reassurance less often from other people. My schizoaffective disorder makes me doubt myself and second-guess myself a lot, so I often ask other people if something I’m doing or did or that happened is okay. But doing that only reinforces the idea that I’m not capable. So I’m trying to be more independent. Here’s how needing reassurance less often is going.
What is interoceptive exposure and how does it help rid you of phobias? If you live with fears or phobias, chances are you want to keep yourself as far away from them as possible. Fear can cause high anxiety and can contribute to panic attacks. Living with extreme fears can reduce the quality of your life as you avoid people, places, and situations because of phobias.
When one is severely depressed, work is usually the last thing on one's mind. In fact, many people, including me, have to battle active suicidal ideation and struggle to get out of bed each day. Unfortunately, work doesn't stop just because you are not in the right state of mind to do it. If you are one of the lucky few who can take time off from work, go ahead and do it right away. But if your workplace or job does not allow for you to take a break, here is how you can stay productive even when you are severely depressed.
I fake normalcy because having a mental illness is isolating and makes me feel different. Facing the outside world can be difficult. Here are five coping methods (positive and negative) I noticed I do when I leave the house that help me fake normalcy.
I’ve been a pretty massive introvert with anxiety for my entire life. Compared to the population at large, my threshold for social interaction has always been exceedingly low; even after a simple night out with friends, I generally need at least a day of alone time to recover. Of course, I’ve struggled with severe anxiety for my entire life as well, and because of that, I thank God that I’m an introvert. I sincerely believe the fact that I’m an introvert with anxiety makes it easier to keep my anxiety under control.
Deciding to tell a family member or friend about your posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis can be a stressful decision. It's tough to open up about your mental health, especially after going through a traumatic experience. Will people understand? Will they judge you? 
How do you feel about the transition between fall and winter? Where I live, it can almost seem as though we do not have a fall. Sure, there might be a few weeks when the weather cools down and the leaves change color. But the temperature might freeze too fast for your mind and body to react properly. Here are some ways to prepare before winter starts.
It might seem pessimistic to plan on having postpartum depression, but if it's something you're nervous about, it's best to be prepared with a postpartum depression support plan.

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Lora Leese
Hi Antoinette... I'm going to see my Dr today at 2...I do have ADHD an Rsd... I'm so overwhelmed when I talk to anybody..even over the cell phone!! I recognize in what your saying I can relate...are you on any meds? An if so are they helping with your Rsd....oh yeah I also wanted to add my Mom wasnt nurturing..I never got told I Love you or felt " safe" ... comfortable...I read articles where they said lack of maternal love could b where it stems from...I get it....I really do...but I feel at this point it's so embedded in me...just like the air that I breathe..I want so bad to let go of it! I no as soon as I step out the door it will show it's ugly little face again!! Any feedback from anyone will be greatly appreciated
George Abitante
Hi Lizanne,

Thanks as always for your kind and thoughtful comment! I hadn't considered that this may be particularly timely advice, but you make a great point that this is an excellent time to be thinking about how we can communicate effectively with family.

Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Hi Arlin,
Thank you for adding that important question: What did I miss out on because of my safety behavior? That is an excellent way of gauging the help vs. harm a certain action is.
marilyn rowe
hello and thank you for this site....I am about to lose my own mind here. My son is 33 y.o. and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia since 18. At the age of 18 a middle aged man preyed on my son, got him into the gay life style ( he was not gay ) and has taken every dime of his ssi since then..My son contracted hiv while living with this man. 4 years ago my son came back home but still gives this man every penny he gets...the man bouught a house with the money and leads my son in to believing it is his house..makes my son pay utilities, insurance, and taxes. no one lives in eldest son is attempting to purchase the house from this man so his brother can always have a place to live in life but the man is dragging his feet...won't evey give my son the 60,000 he owes him. I am too old to deal with this anymore and I need to let go, I just don't know's killing me...I support my ill son in every way, house, food, transportation, clothing, etc...everything.....i am going to die before him...oh jesus
Laura Barton
Hi Scootee. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story. I know that's not always an easy thing to do and it definitely sounds like you've had some hardships because of stigma. Recognizing the scope of stigma and how it ripples out can certainly help in our battle against stigma. I think what you bring up at the end is very important: sometimes ignorant people are unreachable. I don't think this means we should give up though. Rather, it's one of the reasons I think we should focus on building ourselves and each other up to be less affected by the stigmatized ideas of other people. I wrote a blog about this sort of thing, titled What if Mental Illness Stigma Never Goes Away? Feel free to check it out here:

I love your drive to tackle stigma in the wake of what you and your parents faced. Keep at it and know you're not alone!