Having friends is an important human need; but some kids may find it more difficult to help these relationships; here are three ways to help them develop key social skills:
#1. Meet the teacher
In order to first determine what the exact issue is, other than your child expressing that no one wants to be his friend, it may be best to meet with his teacher. As an educator, he or she can sometimes give a good sense of the peer interactions between your child and the other kids. Your child’s teacher may even be able to suggest “more positive classmates” for possible playdates.
#2. Teaching social skills
Some children who struggle with hyperactivity or impulsivity control can find it more difficult to establish friendships because they may be harder to control emotions or even wait to take their turn during gameplaying. Parents can emphasize the good social behavior when it comes to sharing and taking turns with others. Role playing can sometimes be helpful to teach specific situations.
#3. Playdate preparation
Before a playdate, experts suggest parents go through some social skills they’ve already taught their child. If another child is coming to your house, practice what it means to have good manners and as the “host” how he can make his friend feel comfortable in your space. Encourage your son or daughter on how to understand social cues, so they can recognize if their guest is having a good time or if they should move on to another game or activity.
Young Adult (YA) novels are one way teenagers learn about life, relationships, sexuality/gender issues and mental health; here are five books not to miss:
Author Amy Reed regularly draws on her own experience with mental health challenges in her books. As reviewed by L.D. Lewis, Crazy tells the story of “an emotionally embattled artist, Izzy, whose teenage angst is discovered to be the early and intense throes of bipolar disorder.” The story is told through Izzy’s email correspondence with Connor, a young man she met over summer. “Both the portrayals of Connor and Izzy are important additions to the depiction of mental illness in YA,” said Lewis.
#2. (Don’t) Call Me Crazy
There’s no single definition of mental health or what it means to have challenges in this arena. Touted as a “conversation starter” this book, edited by Kelly Jensen, contains 22 writers, athletes, and artists contributing essays, comics, lists, and illustrations that explore their personal experiences with mental health challenges, what can help us understand others’ brains better and how we can talk about this issue.
#3. Fans of the Impossible Life
This is Kate Scelsa’s debut novel. In it she tackles misfit teenagers, depression and sexuality. The three characters, Sebby, Mira and Jeremy are interesting and authentic and the story is told in alternative perspectives between the three friends, with a humorous and true dialogue. Their stories illustrate just how difficult it can be to just get out of bed in the morning and it reminds us about the importance of true friends.
#4. Little & Lion
This award-winning book (2018 Stonewall Book Award) by author Brandy Colbert, follows Suzette as she returns home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England and to her stepbrother who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and who needs her emotional support. The author confronts misconceptions about mental health, bisexuality and the “complicated nature of loyalty.”
#5. Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over
This important non-fiction by Amy Bleuel is a collection of real-life stories from suicide-awareness organization Project Semicolon. In 2013, Project Semicolon began to spread a message of hope: “no one struggling with a mental illness is alone; you, too, can survive and live a life filled with joy and love. In support of the project and its message, thousands of people all over the world have gotten semicolon tattoos and shared photos of them, often alongside stories of hardship, growth, and rebirth.”
We all want what’s best for our children, but it can be difficult to know when and how much to push them to experience new things; consider these:
Know your child
All the fun and wonderful memories from your own childhood that you want your child to experience may actually just be too much for them. Take a good look at your child’s personality and understand what their interests are, removing your own wants for them. Pushing them into sports when they don’t like anything about sports won’t be the best plan. Try to disregard what motivates you and really focus on what motivates them.
Start off small
You’ll know by trial and error what your child is ready for. If you’re not sure if they’re ready yet for a big commitment, explains journalist Katherine Martinelli, try something small. For example, instead of a camp that lasts the entire length of summer, try a week-long summer camp or even a day-camp. You’ll want to give them a taste and introduce them to small, positive experiences and then reward them for trying something new.
How to help
If your shy child is nervous about joining a sports team, experts advise easing them in, so they aren’t thrust into an anxious situation. Before the league begins, get your child comfortable with the atmosphere, take them to meet with the coach and visit the area where practices will be held. You can also ease their apprehension by offering them a trial period and they can reevaluate after a few weeks.
What is pushing too hard?
As Martinelli discovered, there is such a thing as pushing your child too hard. And if your kid “becomes too distressed or shows dysfunction,” you’ve likely gone too far. An example of this is pushing them to experience something that they are afraid of i.e. a child wanting to avoid going to a birthday party because he’s afraid of clowns and if you force them to go and he cries the entire time, you’ve likely pushed too hard.
The long break ahead may not look so fun when you have children with mood challenges; here are some tips to keep the whole family on track:
Kids with mental health challenges are dependent on the predictability of routine and structure – something that is opposite to the school’s out summertime break. As much as is possible, stick to the same schedule as throughout the school year, including the same time for meals and bedtimes. As writer Beth Arky points out, some kids may need help with understanding this new summer schedule because there is less structure than being in school and may need a visual reminder. In such cases, you can post a daily schedule on the fridge so they always know what’s expected.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Make plans for activities as early as possible and then keep your child posted as to what they can expect. Many kids with bipolar disorder don’t do well with surprise adventures, but if they know that they will be going swimming every day at 3 p.m., they can prepare in their mind for these outings. This also means preparing to keep the same home routines when traveling on vacation.
Get out in nature
An important aid in mental wellbeing for children with energy to burn, is being outdoors, especially when this also involves being active i.e. long walks, swimming, hikes, playing soccer, exploring in nature. Children often get too comfortable in the confines of their home and believe their home is a “safe cocoon,” especially for those who have trouble with social interactions. However, it’s imperative to get away from the screen and out into fresh air and to exercise.
Go easy on yourself
You’ve prepared for the summer break for months, made plans for activities, adventures, and then you see some worsening of behavior or regression in your child. Don’t be hard on yourself for not being able to avoid this—it’s not your fault. Remain calm, firm and consistent and try as best as you can to maintain a sense of fun.
You need fun too!
Parents of kids with developmental, emotional, or behavioral problems often feel isolated and lonely, says Arky. “It can be difficult watching all the other neighbourhood children set off for a camp yours can’t attend.” Don’t forget you’ve been looking forward to summer all year too. You definitely deserve some fun, so book a sitter and get together with friends or just for a summer picnic with your spouse – it’s critical for your wellbeing and ultimately to help better care for your child.
Many people living with bipolar disorder struggle in the area of relationships. However, you can learn to reconnect with people and make amends.
Photo: Getty Images
By Karl Shallowhorn
There is one particular aspect of living with bipolar disorder that some people struggle with. This is the area of personal relationships. As a result of our illness, there may have been (or continue to be) situations in which we have encountered difficulty with managing our connections with friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors.
One reason attributed to this aspect of our lives is the sometimes erratic behavior that can result from our condition and from symptoms of the illness. Whether it be engaging in risky behaviors, illicit drug and alcohol use, or exhibiting wide mood swings, people in our lives can be driven away.
The damage produced in some of these instances is unfortunately irreparable. I have heard of so many cases of individuals whose relationships are so fractured that there is no way to mend the deep fissures that exist between them and the other people in their lives. This is heartbreaking. In many cases we just want to be accepted and because we live with a condition that can cause impaired behavior, we are often judged based on that.
So, as I’m saying, some relationships may never be restored. However, there is hope. Some may be. There are things one can do to facilitate healing and create a newfound bond.
One of the first things to do is to assess the relationship. What is your part? And what is that of the other party? Were your actions something that can be attributed to an aforementioned symptom or was it how the other person reacted to what you did?
After doing this assessment, if in fact, you believe the behavior is something that is directly related to having bipolar disorder, then that’s a start.
In 12-Step circles, one of the elements is to make amends. Now, making amends isn’t just about saying, “I’m sorry.” What it is really about is addressing the actions that created the disruption in the relationship and then correcting the behavior.
For instance, if a person is in a relationship with a significant other and they go on a wild spending spree, it isn’t enough to apologize. It is important to do the best they can to replace the money and not engage in the behavior again.
Another thing to consider is timing. Depending on the situation, it may be worth waiting for the proper moment to approach the individual with whom you’re having difficulty. For instance, if the incident that occurred was recent, then it may be worth considering waiting until the right moment to address it with the other party. But, this is where exercising good judgment comes in. Sometimes we just know when it’s best to approach the other person and this may be more of a gut feeling then anything. So follow your intuition.
And certainly, the setting is important as well. You should certainly consider where you will speak with the other person. Having this conversation probably wouldn’t be best when there are a lot of other people around simply because you may not know how the other person is going to react. Choose a private location where you feel safe.
Yet another thing to consider when looking to restore relationships is that by being honest and forthright about your part in what is going on can make a big difference. Like I’ve said, living with bipolar isn’t a “get out of jail card” and cannot necessarily be blamed for all of our inappropriate actions; however, there are certainly instances when this may be the case.
Finally, it’s important to consider that the other person may benefit from psychoeducation about bipolar disorder. For all you know, their understanding of your condition may be based on the many myths and misconceptions that exist. By providing them with valid information about bipolar, you can ensure that they are better educated and may hopefully gain a better understanding of where you’re at.
It is possible to have healthy relationships while living with bipolar disorder. Over the course of my 37 years living with it, I have been able to cultivate satisfying relationships and can honestly say that I have a great support system. It takes work and self-awareness, but it is possible.
It’s hard not to be jealous when you see someone get what you believe you can’t have.
It’s hard to say, “I’m so proud of you! Good job! You deserve it! I’m happy for you,” when life is so much harder for you than people who do not have bipolar disorder.
I lived this for many years. One day I got tired of being a miserable, depressed wretch and I started to do good works when I was really sick.
When I was unbelievably jealous of a friend, I looked inside myself and asked my SELF what good it did me to be jealous of someone else. It makes so much more sense for me to manage my own depression and then create a life I can enjoy.
This was life-changing and very, very hard. It took years. If you are just starting this process, don’t give up! The rewards happen eventually. Be nice to others who have what you want. Praise them for their good luck and then learn to create it for yourself.
I realized that if I treat the depression, I can decrease the jealousy. It works. I realized that being generous was always rewarded. Bitterness is never rewarded.
Sometimes I just want to yell and scream that life is not fair when I see what others get that I can’t have because of my bipolar. This doesn’t serve anyone. This kind of miserable thinking kept me unhappy for many years. I still get depressed and it’s bad, but I am not unhappy. There is a difference.
When a friend gets what I want, I remind myself of how much I love the person who just got the good news. I choose generosity and say: “That is wonderful news.”
These celebrities have shown pets can provide unending comfort, security, companionship and love.
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is a companion pet that offers support to an owner who has a mental or emotional health condition. ESA’s are typically dogs who accompany people wherever they go helping reduce anxiety and the feeling of alienation in public places.
#1) Bradley Cooper
The “Silver Linings Playbook” actor can often be found taking his beloved Chow-retriever mix, Charlotte, for a walk. He rescued her during an adoption drive in Santa Monica, California. “I fell in love with her immediately,” he said. He has also been known to bring Charlotte to his movie sets.
#2) Selena Gomez
The singer, who recently opened up about her struggles with anxiety and depression after canceling the remainder of her Revival tour in 2016, has six dogs for comfort and support—most are rescues. She said of Chip, a Corgi mix, “He just wants to be loved. It doesn’t matter who you are.”
#3) Miley Cyrus
Miley has had multiple dogs that she can be seen cuddling on Instagram. The star, who has been open about her struggles with depression, adopted a Rough Collie named Emu Coyne after her Alaskan Klee Kai, Floyd, passed away in 2014 and later posted on Instagram including the phrase: “It’s taken some time to be ready for this next step and loving again.”
Ryan’s late dog George went practically everywhere with him, including TV appearances. Ryan was able to fly with George (thanks to his Emotional Support Animal registration) and often talked about him as a trusted friend: “George is way more interesting than me. I’d much rather talk about him.”
#5) Britney Spears
The pop princess has five dogs for emotional support, including an adorable Yorkie named Hannah. When she first got the dog, Spears tweeted, “I want you all to meet my new little baby girl Hannah Spears. How cute is she?!?!” and “Hannah” replied from her own twitter account: “Aww thanks mommy—I love you.”
Today I’d like to talk about emotional resiliency. The ability to bounce back from bipolar’s ups and downs. The two emotions that give me the most grief are guilt and shame.
Did you know that they’re different?
Guilt is when you cut someone off in traffic and you feel…well, GUILTY, but shame, shame is when you feel there’s something deeply wrong with you. Partly because I come from a perfectionist family, but also because when I’m hypomanic I talk all the time, I’m deeply ashamed of having bipolar disorder and I’m working on it.
I don’t need shame’s consequences…self absorption, broken relationships, off-kilter behavior.
Let me give you a prime example: Last week I was upset because my employer had not returned an email.
And I was thinking: “I am high maintenance. They are going to replace me. I might as well quit while I’m ahead!” I almost quit.
Come to find out, employer had been on vacation and that’s why she hadn’t returned my email! Close call.
How about you? Do negative emotions like envy, guilt, shame, despair or depression dominate your life?
There’s a replies section below and I’d really like to hear from you and I will write back especially if you jot down your ideas now.
I’m Allison Strong for bp magazine’s bphope.com vlog. We really do care about what you think and how you feel.
It may feel good in the moment to procrastinate, self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, or refuse help during mania or depression.
But those behaviors, especially when repeated routinely, only wind up causing problems—and ultimately interfere with our goals. It’s not like we plan on screwing things up, so why do we tend to get in our own way?
“Self-sabotage is a creative act with a positive intention, largely geared toward providing some sense of protection or safety,” says Kenneth Fields, a licensed mental health counselor in Hawaii and a licensed professional counselor in Oregon. “It takes a lot of intention and practice to build new behavioral responses to situations that might be perceived as threatening.”
Most of the time that creative act is subconscious—a crafty, cunning pretense with self-defeating consequences.
What looks like a useful diversion winds up derailing strategies that really could lead to the life we want to live—strategies such as making ourselves vulnerable or pushing past our comfort zone, both of which frequently bring unforeseen, often promising opportunities.
There’s no time like the present to test drive a new approach.
“The most dangerous way we sabotage ourselves is by waiting for the perfect moment to begin,” says author and blogger Vironika Tugaleva. “Everything has a learning curve…Surrender your desire to do it flawlessly on the first try. It’s not possible.”
Resist second-guessing yourself, and refuse to focus on past failures. Instead, trust that the more positive actions you take—practicing self-acceptance, and managing symptoms with self-care routines, for example—the better your chances for a lasting recovery.
In other words, clear the obstacles and the path becomes more clear. Read more >>
Curb Cravings with Mindfulness
LONDON, JAN. 30, 2018—Mindfulness strategies may help prevent or suspend cravings for food, drugs and alcohol by occupying short-term memory. Research from City, University of London, published in Clinical Psychology Review, found that a routine mindfulness practice often led to an immediate reduction in cravings.
According to a review of studies on the topic, strategies included using exercises that promote a greater awareness of bodily sensations, develop an attitude of acceptance toward uncomfortable feelings, or help people view themselves as separate from thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness-based interventions are not new, but increasingly are used to target cravings in an effort to change behavior. Read more >>
5 Celebrity Mental Health Advocates Who Adore Their Pets
It’s no surprise that everyone loves their pets! Pets offer a furry shoulder to lean on when dealing with depression and anxiety – their companionship is irreplaceable.
#1) Ellen DeGeneres: Comedic host Ellen DeGeneres has been open about the depression and intense anger she experienced when she revealed her sexuality on the 1997 sitcom Ellen. She is also an outspoken animal-lover, whose compassion for animals motivated her to establish her own line of pet products because “dogs and cats deserve nice things too.” DeGeneres’ compassion for animals also inspired her to adopt six rescue animals (three dogs and three cats) that she “cannot imagine not going home to.” Read more >>
Comedic host Ellen DeGeneres has been open about the depression and intense anger she experienced when she revealed her sexuality on the 1997 sitcom Ellen. She is also an outspoken animal-lover, whose compassion for animals motivated her to establish her own line of pet products because “dogs and cats deserve nice things too.” DeGeneres’ compassion for animals also inspired her to adopt six rescue animals (three dogs and three cats) that she “cannot imagine not going home to.”
#2) Halle Berry
Halle Berry has previously opened up about the depression and low self-esteem she experienced after the dissolution of her first marriage in 1996. Berry describes that she had to reprogram herself to believe “just because someone didn’t love [her], didn’t mean [she] was unlovable.” Nowadays, her dog, Jackson, provides her with all the love and compassion she needs. Halle describes “one of the sweetest joys in [her] life” is coming home to find her animals lined up at the door, waiting for her.
#3) Ryan Reynolds
The “Deadpool” actor has recently opened up to the New York Times about his struggles with intense anxiety. Over the years, Reynolds has used a multitude of coping methods—both healthy and unhealthy—to manage his anxiety. Nowadays, along with his actress wife Blake Lively, he finds solace in his two rescue dogs Baxter and Billie. When he first met Baxter in 2008, Reynolds instantly “just fell in love with him,” and was compelled to “pick him up along the way,” while browsing pets with a friend.
The Grammy award-winning singer has been outspoken about her experience with postpartum depression ever since the birth of her first child, Angelo, in 2013. In addition, the notoriously private singer is also mom to a dachshund named Louie who she adopted in 2009. Since then, Louie has appeared on the cover of Nylon Magazine with Adele, and has been described by Adele as “the love of [her] life.”
#5) Chris Evans
The actor, who also plays Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been vocal about his experience with anxiety and negative thinking. To silence the “brain noise”, Evans turns to both his therapist as well as his rescue pup, Dodger, who he met on the set of the 2017 film Gifted. Evans describes Boxer as “such a sweetheart” who is “full of love” for kids, other dogs, and “pretty much everything [else].”