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Hey there dream weavers! Do you know what day it is? It’s Friday! And you do you know what we do on Fridays? We talk about our feelings! So it should come as no surprise that it’s time for this week’s Friday Open Thread.

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Two weeks ago we made some Fall Resolutions. We thought about how this year getting “back to school” would be different and all the changes we were going to make. Some of those panned out, others didn’t. That’s okay! Still, I bet for some people with all these big plans came some anxiety or anger. Maybe some of us know that going into the cold weather means the onset of some seasonal sadness or depression. That’s why this week I’m thinking a lot about positive coping skills!

Positive coping skills are healthy ways to deal with anxiety, depression and anger. Things that you know preemptively to use to help you to cope with stress or difficult situations.  You know, things other than outbursts, self medication, anxious avoidance or self harm. The good stuff that helps you get through the bad shit.

I have a lot of trouble with anxiety. Like anxiety about being busy with school, when relationships are good, when relationships are bad, and generally existing in this world as a human person. But fortunately over the years I’ve developed some really great positive coping skills! Here are some of my most-used coping skills:

  1. When I feel extremely overwhelmed by the number of things I have to do that day, I write them all down in sharpie on a sheet of computer paper, cross off two that I’m not going to do and check each other thing as I complete it.
  2. In all sorts of stressful situations, I calmly repeat affirmations in my head. Some of my favorites are “I have other strengths,” “I don’t have to be the best,” “I accept things the way they are” and “That is in the past and I’m moving forward.”
  3. When I feel jittery and overwhelmed I take five deep slow breaths. If that doesn’t work I take a hot shower and take deep breaths in the shower.
  4. If deep breaths doesn’t work, I do guided meditation and mindfulness, focusing on each part of my body feeling relaxed.
  5. When I feel frustrated by a situation I write a list of things that I like about that situation or are funny about that situation.

So those are some of my coping skills! Maybe you have others! Maybe yours involve going for a run or drawing or calling your best friend! Whatever you do I want to know how you keep yourself going! Tell me how you are all actively and positively coping with the changing weather and our changing moods!

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 261 articles for us.


  1. I suffer from pretty bad anxiety, and my life has been the roughest it’s been ever over the past few weeks due to some personal drama, heartbreak, and betrayal. Couple that with some on-coming season depression, needless to say I’ve been a wreck. My usual anxiety/stress/heartbreak coping mechanisms-immersing myself in positive friendships and distractions and going out, doing the things I’m best at and have to do with my values to assert my self-worth, watching kdramas or listening to kpop, exercise, writing, blogging, affirmations, shopping, etc-aren’t working, I think because this is much worse than my typical angst. It’s rough, needless to say. I really wanna get out of this and avoid resorting to some unhealthy coping mechanisms (like obsession and over-thinking. Which is already happening. Ughh)
    So I’m actually coming here for some advice!

    • That sounds incredibly hard. Do you ever blog anonymously? I keep an anonymous blog where I can really let it out, and that can be very helpful. I guess maybe it is kind of just like keeping a journal, but someone could come across it. I don’t know. It helps me sometimes. I really use it to poke and prod at my emotions, especially if something is bugging me. I haven’t done it in a while, but I saw my therapist this week (I haven’t seen him since a month or two after my divorce, when we left it open ended “as needed”) and he pointed out pretty quickly that I definitely try to avoid anger or sadness. I let myself get out of the habit of really digging into the feelings because I thought that I was dwelling and over-thinking. Sometimes though, that is what you have to do.

    • I think one of the most important things is to give yourself time. It’s okay to be sad! It’s okay to be hurt! It’s okay to grieve! Doing positive things (positive friendships and distractions, doing what you’re amazing at, asserting self worth, feel-good media etc.) are important in the long run, even if they don’t seem to make a difference straight away. Be super proud of yourself for being able to do those things!

      It takes time. Personal drama takes time to settle, and scars take time to heal on a heart (as do the knife wounds in your back) but as long as you do your best to take care of yourself, you’ll come out the other side.

      Please take care, I promise you’re amazing and deserve happiness :)

    • Watch comedies! That’s my advice! It is absolutely imperative that you access humour and make time to laugh – I mean, REALLY make time to force yourself to laugh. This is so healthy, on so many levels.

  2. Anyone have any suggestions for the partner of someone dealing with anxiety disorders and depression? This has been an incredibly turbulent year for me and my gf, and the lack of mental health resources for her has been really defeating. We’re both at our wits’ ends (for different reasons, of course), and I just wish that there was more I could do to help.

    It’s kind of a mixed feeling I have posting here because it saddens me that so many people here probably know exactly what she’s going through (and as an outsider, it’s the worst), but I know that I’ll at least be speaking to a sympathetic group. Maybe all I need are hugs. I dunno. I never expected to have mental health suddenly become a personal issue, and it’s been hard coping with it on top of both of us doing grad school.

    • Sending hugs your way! I don’t really have any answers or suggestions for you, but I do deeply sympathize. One of my closest friends is dealing with some pretty serious mental health issues, and it’s an awful feeling to want so badly to help, but instead feeling clueless and powerless. I wish all the best for you and your girlfriend, and I hope you’re both able to find the help and support you need.

    • Been there … Still there, really. I don’t have any specific advice (hell, I’m still trying to figure this out myself) other than just be there, you know? I like to think that showing you care, and showing love helps – it really fucking sucks to feel so powerless, especially when the person suffering is someone you care about so much, like, you would gladly wrap yourself around them and absorb all the shit they’re feeling just to make them feel okay … But I guess the closest thing you can do to that is make them feel validated, and loved, and maybe gently nudge them in the right direction. I like to keep in mind that even the worse days only have 24 hours.

      • I have also been through this and I am sorry that you have to, too. But, I must say my partner is doing a lot better now and the depression is gone. So, that can happen! But not/seldom without adequate treatment, I’m afraid.

        I only have one piece of advice, and it may sound harsh: don’t let the relationship become a “caretaking relationship”. You are her lover first, nothing else. First and foremost take care of yourself, otherwise there will be no relationship left when the situation clears. The best you can do is help her get treatment, if that is possible in any way. I also paid for parts of my partner’s treatment, even though that was not the ideal situation.

        Wanted to share this resource for everybody with not enough means to pay for ordinary treatment:

      • I feel this in such a big, big way. First off, I’m really really happy that you are seeking advice and input, instead of jumping in blindly. It’s good to get perspectives and alternative strategies. Plus, it’s pretty obvious that you’re not the only one coping with this sort of thing!

        I’m reading this question from both sides of the coin. My partner is on the ASD spectrum and has very severe depression & anxiety. I have the holy trifecta of anorexia, depression and generalized anxiety. I have lost myself to previous partners’ depression. I’ve lost sight of who I was in the face of staggering depression. There is literally no way that that will help either of you.

        My biggest piece of advice – and I think this is kind of an umbrella suggestion that covers a lot of what’s been said – is establish how the two of you will communicate about these issues. Talk about it on a good day.

        My partner had an awful few weeks recently. I made sure to take time that was purely for myself – lavender tea, 420, Netflix, derby, whatever. I helped him get his prescriptions and helped him call his psychiatrist. I snuggled him when he needed contact, and helped him make a list of things he could do to make his apartment less anxiety provoking.

        What I did not do: Insist that he change his meds. Blame him. Be condescending. Blame myself. Allow his depression to become my own.

    • The things I have found most important for me — my wife has a plethora of mental health issues, so does my bff and my mom — are not allowing myself to fall into the ‘fix it’ trap and taking time to take care of myself.

      I constantly have to remind myself that the brains of the people I love are not leaky faucets. It’s not a matter of me finding the right wrench, tightening the right bolt, and skipping off into the sunset knowing that everything is okay. I’ve struggled with this a lot, the notion that I should be able to fix things for them. But I’ve found that shifting my focus from fixing to support did a lot for my own mental health. Approaching it as, “It sounds like you’ve had a shitty day. Can I make you some tea?” has been a way more supportive way for me to interact with those I love than, “Oh, this is the problem, why didn’t you x? Did you try y?”

      And remember to take some time for yourself, too. That can be hard and feel betray-y and abandon-y, but it is one hundred percent legit to take time to decompress and get your own ish unwound. <3

    • Speaking more from an afflicted not a partner perspective here, my advice would be to always make sure that you know that her thoughts and issues and struggles are hers and not yours.
      All you can do is be there, but that,sometimes, is like the world, already.
      And for hands on advice:
      Walks. Go for walks. Send her on walks.Go for a stroll toegether.
      You need to get out of the space and headspace you’re in together and get out into a place with sky,etc.
      Also, the exercise and sunlight really does help with depression.
      And then, is there really no (counseled) self-help group, phone line, whatever?
      I wish you the best, hang in there.

    • Hugs. Hugs hugs hugs hugs hugs hugs hugs ALL THE HUGS.

      Also, it is really sweet of you to ask this question.

      This is going to be a lot of word-vomit because I am very tired, but if I don’t answer this now I probably won’t get to it, so. Here are Cat’s totally random miscellaneous thoughts on how to support a loved one (friend, family member, girlfriend, ex, whatever) who is not coping particularly well with life, from the perspective of someone who has been on both ends of these sorts of situations.

      1) Get support for yourself. This doesn’t just mean seeking out, for example, counseling for yourself, though that can be a good idea. This means things like if you’re in the ER with a friend who just attempted suicide, you can and should call another trusted person for backup. (Something I unfortunately had to do earlier this year. Keeping your loved one’s secrets is important, but keeping your friend safe and you sane is of utmost priority.)

      2) Be really clear about where your boundaries are. Often the person is really really mortified at the thought of inconveniencing you as well as being desperate for help, so saying something like “look, if you’re overwhelming me, I will tell you” — and then actually doing so — can be really helpful, in a way that ignoring the person, being passive-aggressive, whining behind their back, whatever, really really isn’t.

      3) Remember that the person is not her mental illness. She’s not her medication or her side effects or her psychosis or her depression. Sometimes she’ll be the person you know and love, and sometimes she’ll seem like she isn’t, but she’s still in there somewhere, so treat her with respect and dignity.

      4) No matter what, stay calm. Act like whatever they’re telling you is the most normal thing in the world. This is their reality — try to meet them where they are. This will both keep the other person calm and demonstrate to them that you’re taking them seriously. Ask neutral, non-judgmental questions (“when did this start?” “can you tell me more?” “what did it feel like?” “what happened after that?”). Or just sit in silence with your loved one. As several other commenters have pointed out, there’s nothing you can do “fix” the problem. The best you can do is let her know that she’s loved and that you support her.

      4+) No, seriously, let me stress this again. It’s really tempting to go all problem-solve-y and be like “you must go into counselling” or “you must get medication” or “you must excerise more” or whatever, but probably the best thing anyone ever said to me in a crisis was that she would help me research treatment options in my part of the world, but that she supported me no matter what I chose to do.

      5) Offer concrete help. “I’m here for whatever you need” or “you can talk to me any time” are really, really great sentiments, and you should definitely express those if that seems appropriate, but much more helpful are things like “I know you’ve been having a hard time — would you like to come over some evening for ice cream?” or “do you want me to come with you to a doctor’s appointment?” or “do you want me to help you research some treatment options?” or “do you want me to bring over your favorite flavor of juice?” Similarly, problems don’t go away over night. Offering juice the day after a breakdown is nice. Offering juice a month after a breakdown is even nicer.

      • These are very helpful, Cat. I struggle with pretty bad anxiety myself, and have friends who struggle with anxiety and depression as well. I’m bookmarking this list, and printing out the “50 ways to take a break” page to put on my wall. This is all perfect timing with the amount of big feelings and big changes I and most everyone in my life seem to be experiencing right now.

        Well-timed post!

    • It’s really hard for me to give any extra advice. I’m sure you’re doing nearly everything you can, so keep it up! Always listen to her issues, but also take care of your mental health also.
      I understand what you’re going through. I have a friend with depression, and another sort of disorder that she has not been able to diagnose (or have diagnosed). It’s really hard, because even if we try our hardest, it seems like we have not helped, huh? But that’s just not true. Every little amount of support can help a person. It probably won’t alleviate their depression, but it helps them cope. It helps them know that they are never alone.

      Best of luck, and may you receive a bunch of hugs~

      • This is all super solid advice.
        I don’t have much to add. You mentioned that the mental health services are not helpful, but since you are students it might be worth looking into resources from other schools.

        I really dislike relying on generic advice, but the live well/learn well stuff can be helpful when I’m really anxious. It’s practical nature reassures me.

    • Thanks everyone for the hugs and the kind words <3 It's good to know that most of the advice you've all suggested are the things I'm working towards: supporting her, letting her take the reins in how she seeks treatment, reminding her that I love her and that she's worth everything even if we have some pretty bad days (which are only 24 hours at a time, love that, thanks Melissa). I'll also definitely take up the advice of going for walks, amidola. She's recently joined a gym and is enjoying that, so I'm hoping that'll help, too.

      I think the hardest is that she is incredibly functional despite her mental health issues, so it's only when she acts out of character or when she directly tells me how she's having a bad day that I honestly…remember? Or I don't take it into consideration as much. So, because she's so functional, most people don't know what's going on (unless we tell them), and I get lulled into a sense of "everything is totally normal this can be a normal reality" but then something happens and it's another shocking reality check. I guess in a sense it's tough to operate on a level of "always assume that she's depressed" while at the same time remembering that she still loves me and is trying hard to act with the best of intentions. The lure of denial is very overpowering sometimes :(

    • My partner and I both have (different) mental health issues, so I’m a bit like you, but also a bit like your gf. As an anxious depressive with sometimes severe challenges, I can say that it’s often hard to ask for help because when you’re feeling hopeless and worthless, help does not seem like a meaningful concept. I’ve found two things that work:

      1. Trying something anyway! Things I’ve had tried on me: massage, walks, music, watching Disney’s Robin Hood, warm teas, escorts places, hugs, phone calls, etc. It’s hard to do this wrong. The worst thing that ever happened was when I was 16 and hysterical and my mom walked me outside and locked the door behind me to make me get fresh air. My mom does not understand mental illness very well. However, that thing helped me, because I was so angry that I spent an hour power-walking the neighborhood in the sun, and that turned out to be a helpful thing. That was many years ago, anyway.

      2. Talking about depression when no one is depressed helps. This sucks so hard, because on a good day it feels like a jinx to talk about bad days, and because it can feel so comforting to wall that part of me off when it isn’t happening. I have to do it, because depression brain makes me incapable of understanding my needs and what helps me, and it does the same for my partner. I cannot learn to help and be helped during a depressive episode, so you have to talk about it in a stable moment. (My partner actually said this week on a good, hypomanic day, that part of what really helps him is thinking about the depression during the lifted mood, because he forms the association with ‘many days I feel great.’ I can say from bitter experience that depression is often about the pernicious lie that you are doomed to never feel okay or normal again.)

      Unfortunately, mental illness is a thing that one manages, not banishes, at least in the current healthcare landscape. But you can work with it, and learn what helps you love her and she can learn what helps her most. (For me, it is exercise and breathing and being gentle with myself.) I hope this is helpful! I have years and years of hard-earned experience.

      • Thank you, this really was helpful since you can share advice from both perspectives. I’m going to be showing her this thread later, but I’m encouraged by your suggestion to talk about her depressive episodes even when she’s having good days. I’m always scared that talking about it will trigger a breakdown, and she’s hesitant in talking to me about it because she seems to have adopted a “fake it till you make it” attitude in coping. Communication is key, though. Maybe having it as a regular conversation can help her remember the good days and make those better days the “normal” rather than letting her slip into the mentality that the bad days are the new normal.

        • Just one more voice of support … I’m trying to figure things out myself too in a similar situation, and somehow it makes it easier to see all the solidarity from everyone. These issues really affect a lot of people and it amazes me how unwilling people often are to talk about them … I am always nervous to tell friends about my partner’s PTSD for fear it will be either minimized or used as a reason to tell me to end the relationship. And my partner has internalized a lot of that stigma, making it hard to seek treatment even when it could be beneficial. I’m just taking it a day at a time and trying not to allow myself to be taken advantage of … Healthy and unhealthy dependence get so messy and hard to sort out, since I also rely on my partner for a lot when I’m dealing with my own anxiety.

          … Man I really want to have an autostraddle coffee shop because I feel like it would be just full of amazing people who know the right things to say and just make it better.

    • I hate this for you. My partner and I have dealt with my PTSD and anxiety for over a year now. It is so difficult to watch her suffer because of me and so hard for her to watch me spiral. What I can tell you is that while your patience may be slowly wearing, it will be one of the things that will save both of you. For me (the person with anxiety) I had to realize that it was my responsibility to heal myself, not my partners AND for the love of God I needed to express what I was feeling to my partner before she lost her head. Our communication ceased when my anxiety peaked. It wasn’t until I went to the ER and was referred to a specialist that I was able to find a road to solace.

      Finding a therapist who is supportive of the patient’s queerness was key for me (and partly why it took a year to seek treatment). My suggestion for her would be to ask her general practitioner for a referral (or perhaps medicine if she wants to go that route). As for my partner, involving her with my therapy hasn’t been easy but it includes her in my recovery and that is key in mending what has transpired this past year between us.

      That’s how I’ve handled it but I’m sure its different for everyone. Goodluck.

    • There are various neurotransmitter chemicals in our brain nerve synapses that affect how thoughts and perceptions are processed . If those become out of balance for an individual , their thoughts and feelings become altered…. much like an electrical “short circuit”‘
      Rebalancing that chemical imbalance is the apparent solution to regain normal thinking and feeling. The use of various SSRIs or other prescribed anti- depressant drugs can help, as well as, behavioral modification, like exercise and other activities designed for your gf.
      Try to find a way to get her to talk to a psychiatrist, who can prescribe meds, and has professional knowledge for determining a proper course of help.
      Best of luck for both of you!!

      • Actually, today had progress! She finally got an appointment with her general physician (who had cancelled the last…4? appointments last minute), and she’s gotten a prescription for an SSRI. We’ve known for a couple of months that medication would probably be helpful (because we recognized that there was something physically preventing her from experiencing normal emotions rather than just communication problems), but the mantra we’d been hearing from the specialists was “therapy targeting your anxiety will make all your problems go away”. No, it’s the depression that’s wreaking havoc on our lives, not her anxiety, so thank god now she has SOMETHING that can help. The doctor said that she might start feeling better within a couple of weeks, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that she’ll be feeling more like herself by my birthday (which is in a month).

        • Oh! POF! that is GREAT news!! You made me smile so big for both of you! Now ……HUGS for you and your gf!
          Fingers and toes crossed!

        • That’s fantastic news!

          Do please remember though that anti-depressants can take WEEKS or even MONTHS to work, that they may never work at all, that they may work and then stop working, that the first dose you try may be desperately wrong and that you may have to switch meds many many times before you find what works for you. SSRI’s can and do change (and save) lives. Just be prepared for the very real possibility of them “not working” or even making matters much worse.

  3. Over the past three weeks I’ve been concentrating on three goals. Everyday i should wake up and go to bed at specific times, see friends and eat at least one hot meal with vitamins. So far it has really improved my mood. Not perfect, but a whole lot better.

  4. Positive coping is so important! I’ve learned the past few winters that getting drunker than usual is NOT a positive coping mechanism, but spending a lot of time outside is! I’m still not really prepared for cold weather/seasonal depression because it’s still in the 80s and sunny where I live.

    I like your ideas. Taking a shower always helps me too! I feel like it clears my head of whatever’s bothering me.

    • A big YES to the shower thing. I have found that my optimal number of showers is 1.5 per day, specifically one real one almost every day with super quick ones in times of stress that are less than two minutes and barely involve soap for temperature adjustment/to wake up/to calm down.

  5. So this thread is perfect timing because I’ve had to like purposely choose not to self harm 10x more than usual this week and I think I’m running out of positive coping methods (cause NyQuil and other things aren’t good)

    But so far what I do is:

    Watch Carmilla The Series (they’re really quick and it’s really calming ot me for some reason).

    Take a long, hot shower. I don’t let the world exist beyond my shower.

    One of my therapists gave me a stuffed dog last week so I’m really about talking about all the shit I’m scared of in the middle of the night to Trip the Therapy Dog and/or God.

    I watch Law and Order SVU just cause I’ve seen them all and that’s comforting. So I guess watching something or reading something where you know the ending can help.

    Read tons and tons of fanfiction cause someone’s shit is getting resolved there and it makes me feel a lot more hopeful about resolving my own.

    I call my friend when I need right in the moment help. But, usually we write long ass messages to each other back and forth and that really helps.

    My little sister and I text each other or just watch a movie together. If I’m at a point where I can tell her, sometimes I lay on my mom’s bed and she plays with my hair as I try to calm down. If not, I lay on my little sister’s bed and she talks just so I can make my head quiet for a little bit.

    Sometimes I just lay under my bed and count all the bad stuff happening and follow it with two good things I’ve got.

    The one thing that always seems to work is like asking how someone how they’re doing. Cause it gets me out of my head for a bit, so anytime I can listen to someone or give them a hug or just let them talk about themselves just really helps me calm down. And like just connecting with someone is really important to me. My therapist sings BStreisand’s People Need People so that’s kind of ingrained in my self care process.

    Thanks for this! I hope everyone has a great weekend.

  6. Recently, I’ve starting writjng down the situations that make me anxious, while they are happening or right after. This really helps me, because when im done the situation isn’t mine anymore it’s the paper’s. I even keep notecards in my desk expressly for this purpose.

    • Anxiety used to make me feel hungry, especially for sweets and other comfort foods that calm me down or make me feel sleepy. I’ve spent the last year healing my relationship with food which I used like a drug to avoid feeling unpleasant feelings. Now, anxiety makes me feel horny and I’ve been masturbating instead to calm myself the fuck down. (Am I the only one this happens to? I bet not.)

      • Oh wow. Me too! I wouldn’t say that anxiety makes me feel horny, but that I used masturbation and food as an escape technique from stress and real life. Not so much over the last month though. Its been a lot better.

  7. When I’m anxious or depressed, I fall asleep. I don’t know if it can be called positive coping because it’s not something I choose to do. It’s more like

    *Depressive thoughts*

    “Hey, I’m so tired all of a sudden! I just want to sleep forever!”

    *Falls deeply asleep and takes a three-hour nap in the middle of the day*

    I’ve never met someone else whose body reacted to anxiety by being sleepy. Does anyone here do that?

    • YES! I get super anxious and fall asleep. And since I get socially anxious, that can turn into sleeping in sometimes socially unacceptable places. It’s kind of a catch 22.

    • When I’m depressed I sleep more. Naps would be nice! Do what you need to do to get through

      • Yeah pretty sure I have dysthmia (low level chronic depression), and i basically sleep most weekends. All i can do is think “FRIDAY FRIDAY FRIDAY” during the week so I know I can sleep on weekends. Saturday is usually my “get shit done” days where I *only* sleep in until 11 or 12, and most Sundays is sleeping in until then, and then takinig a 3 hour nap later…or just sleeping in REALLY really late. I live alone, so this affects no one but me, so I have a hard time gauging if this is *normal* or not. I also have zero life, and bet if i actually had things to do on weekends I would sleep less.

    • I also sleep when I get depressed. Sometimes it helps, but sometimes it just gets worse when I wake up.

    • I don’t have anxiety or depression, but when I feel down it’s not rare for me to take a nap.
      I have a dear friend who suffers from both anxiety and depression, and she sleeps constantly. I guess it’s a sort of escape from her emotions. Not sure if this is a positive coping method, though.

  8. I’m about to embark on a few months of voluntary unemployement to reorient/focus myself and finally (after 5 years) write and finish my phD thesis(hahaha, yeah, that is totally going to happen..ahem, no it is.) Well, to be honest, I really need to shake off my last job that was like a bad relationship and burned me out something bad.
    I’m scared of the time off,though, because there’s two ways this can go:

    1.I manage to straighten out my life, apartment, career, relationships, shit.
    2.I fall into a pit of depression and anxiety in the void that awaits me.

    Not to go for option number two is going to take some serious work.
    2 hours of daylight a day
    Meet people 4-5 times a week
    Working out-going for a walk counts.
    Decent food, at least an effort to get,care for and cook it.
    “More Culture” concerts, museums, etc.

    Btw., for all of you struggling with straightening your place out, or keeping it straightened out, I can heartily recommend:

  9. First of all – this was posted so early today, thanks!

    I have been stressed lately. I mean, I usually am, and usually I can deal with it … But it’s been particularly hard for the past two months or so. I feel like I am 3.2 seconds from a breakdown at any given moment yet somehow, I still haven’t had one? I’ve relapsed with self-harm but it still hasn’t been as bad as before (sixteen days without!) and somehow, I still manage to wake up and go on with my life every day. So, I must be doing something right. (That being said, I am terrified that one of these days, it’ll happen, and I won’t know what to do.)

    To cope, I like to take in other people’s problems. That might not seem like the healthiest thing to do (and it isn’t, really, because I effectively end up ignoring my own shit), but it works. It makes me feel like I am not purposeless, because maybe I can help someone else, and that’s worthwhile. And it helps me forget.

    Like many others here, my person is not okay. And I don’t know what to do, and it sucks.

    Two weeks ago, I said my main resolution was to keep my shit together – and I kind of have. So, success, I guess! (?)

    In other news, I have a nine hour shift tomorrow, and I am already dreading it. Ughhhhhh.

  10. ahhh coping. i need to figure out some healthier methods because when mindfulness and meditation doesn’t work after a long week of hell, my first thought is, hmmm that red wine looks delish

  11. I also have bad anxiety & am trying to settle back into university life (deadlines! exams! no strict routine!) after a year and a half away which is difficult. Thankfully I’ve got a tonne better with coping mechanisms. My standard ones are:

    – herbal tea. so much herbal tea.
    – focusing on my breathing. If this is difficult alternate nostril breathing is easier.
    – reciting poetry to myself/ listening to some calm spoken word. Warsan Shire is my fave.
    – lighting a candle & focusing on its scent & heat
    – distracting myself with the washing up, talking to a close friend etc.

  12. Right now I have a higher than normal level of stress at work due to some difficult groups I’m teaching, so my anti-stress strategy when I get home is to drink tea, eat cake if there’s some on hand, and either distract myself with a book or procrastinate on Tumblr where I can find cute animals which I then also send to my girlfriend. I’m also making more of an effort to find friends here and it’s going surprisingly well, so hopefully I can establish a better local support system (virtually all the people I’m close to live in other countries). Tea is my answer to most problems, to be honest, so all problems get processed over tea.

      • Yep, representing good old British stereotypes here! I always bring a stash with me when I come back from visiting the UK, but now I’m down to my last few bags of PG Tips and will have to start drinking the (inferior, less soothing) alternatives on sale here. I’ve discovered an Irish import shop just over the border in France though, so next time I’m over there I will stock up on Barry’s for when I need a Proper Cuppa.

    • I also drink tea when work gets stressful but it probably doesn’t help that I drink a pot of coffee in the morning and then I send the afternoon trying to calm down.

    • Yes, tea is the answer to so many problems. Getting good tea can be tricky, sometimes you just want a real cup of strong brewed English tea.

      I also definitely get how hard it is to find a support network as an expat; and how awful it can be when your people are all across the globe. I hope expanding your circle brings you some good people.

  13. I definitely need to start coping better… Been under a lot of stress lately, re: a close family member dealing with terminal cancer, school, work, family, relationships, crushing on straight girls who decide to kiss me in the corner of my lips and throw my world in a fit, etc. So I decided to join a sorority, play flag football, get super busy and avoid the situation at hand. Which isn’t healthy because then I break down and release a lot of emotion in one moment. Rinse. Repeat.

    It’s an unsustainable cycle. But one that is real hard to break in the situation I’m in.

  14. I haven’t really been doing much in the way of active, positive coping. I’m tired and sad and overwhelmed and I just don’t want to deal with it. (I don’t want to cry like every day anymore either though. so. rock & a hard place.)

  15. “You know, things other than outbursts, self medication, anxious avoidance or self harm.”

    Shit, I’m doing it wrong. I’ve been coping with a spectacularly awful situation primarily by anxious avoidance and alcohol. Maybe I should take this as a sign to start using some of those healthy coping skills. Maybe I should go get my art journal or something… Maybe.

  16. I have chronic depression and social anxiety. While the depression isn’t super bad right now I can certainly feel a difference from how it was a couple weeks ago. I kind of think it might be seasonal because there is certainly a pattern from previous years.. Anyways, that’s besides the point.

    My main coping skills for when I get overwhelmed, stressed, depressed or have anxiety are fairly similar to yours. I really love deep breathing and mindfulness exercises. I also enjoy progressive muscle relaxation exercises.

    I often have a hard time expressing my feelings, especially with people closest to me, so when I start to notice some of those negative feelings creeping back in I book an appointment with a counselor, which is exactly what I did last week.

    The last thing I do is write poetry, it’s like the lifeline between my heart and my mind, it allows me to be completely honest with myself. I tend to get trapped in my mind a lot more than I’d like and writing poems allows my heart to speak and forces my brain to take the back burner for a bit.

  17. This friday open thread is so perfect for me!

    I’m going to try your coping skills because many times I feel overwhelmed by everything I have to do or study, or because I’m so hard on myself that if I don’t get grades as high as my classmates’ I get so disappointed in myself.

    The good part is that I know what I’m doing wrong and I’m taking baby steps towards not being so hard on myself… I think I’ll get there sometime (I hope).

    I have some copying skills myself:

    1. Stop whatever I’m doing and start playing the piano. Playing it is so soothing I forget almost immediately that I was anxious.
    2. Going for a walk is very calming too.
    3. And hugging. A bear hug is super calming, really, you should try it when you’re anxious.

    Thanks for your coping skills!!

  18. Wow, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve just started grad school, way across the country from my family and friends. We had a 3-week field school which was crazy in many ways, but we all told ourselves that things would be better once we got back to real life. Well, we’ve been back at real life for a week now, but I can’t say it’s better. We didn’t have a single break between field school and our real classes, so no chance to breathe, really. I haven’t been able to eat much all week, my stomach’s been hurting so much with the stress. To top it all off, my friend/sorta-girlfriend is coming for a week, starting next week. I don’t really have the mental energy to take care of my own life, let alone play host, so I’m pretty worried about that, even though I’ve been dying to see her for the past month.
    I went to the campus counselling centre today (seriously, the little pride flag in the therapist’s office, and the “genderbread person” were SO reassuring), and they were very understanding. The therapist taught me a breathing pattern thing which might help a bit. I’d love to be able to eat, though…

    • Good job there! I called mine and was told they didn’t really provide that sort of support– because apparently my desire to learn some relaxation techniques was not related to psychological support? But if I was thinking of harming myself or others, or wanted to talk about sad feelings that might be contributing to tenseness, they would be happy to make me an appointment.

      I did not make an appointment. I scheduled a massage for tomorrow.

  19. was everyone’s week? Mine was sort of like a shitshow but then it turned out to be in my favor. My hair was still good! =) I went to the Greyscale Goods event in Hollywood and saw Hannah Hart! And a lot my favorite people from AS ♥ They wondered about me getting bar service. It’s my cute face. Hahahaha. Or my ability to wave like a crazy person.

    When I’m not feeling 100% I know one thing I can always do is my Metal earth because it totally takes all my concentration, all 125% of it to do so my mind doesn’t get too occupied with all the bad feelings. Music usually helps too. My mom happened to point out a few weeks ago it was a good thing I went to the gym to relieve my stress. I told her that’s why I had beer in the house too. I think she disapproves of this. =p

    Here’s the A-Camp zine with my spider Metal Earth I did a while ago. The zine also reminds me of the safe space we get the chance to share every year ♥

    • Last week I went camping in Santa Barbra with a bunch of amazing queer people. We were by a lake that sadly had the policy that allows boats, but not people in the water. I may have had a little too much to drink because I don’t fully remember taking the camera around my neck off and neatly placing it, or wrapping my sleeping bag around me, Lol. But still the area was amazing.
      Picture of the lake.

      Related note I went camping with the person a fellow straddler wrote a haiku about. Needles to say the info in the haiku is why we got to the camp spot later than expected.

      Other news I became one of the new admins of the Orange County Straddler group. We hope to get more activities going in the SoCal area to bring more queer and safe space to fellow straddlers.

    • Agree totally r.e. Kinesthetic activities that require concentration. I find doing ceramics really chilling. Putting a teapot together requires total focus and everything else disappears :)

  20. Any advice for coping with a ‘just friends’ situation? We just had the ‘are we dating talk’ and I learned that we aren’t.

    I know I need to get there, and I want to, but I’m finding it really hard. So far I’m coping by definitely not checking for messages, or looking at her Facebook page, or thinking about how amazing it would be if we were dating. Definitely not doing that at all.

    • That’s actually a really good start. I read somewhere you can also ask other people like your friends not to mention the person in conversations so it really avoided. I hope in the future you can think of it as a ‘Wow, I’m really glad I didn’t try and push through with that’ thing. We’ll never know what the future holds unfortunately. But hugs all the same ♥

    • honestly, i think my biggest piece of advice is just to be patient with yourself. it sucks right now, but that won’t last forever.

      all the coping mechanisms people have mentioned are great ideas for your situation, too. take care of yourself, keep busy with positive things. delete the facebook app if you need to. take time away from your phone or computer or whatever. (i didn’t let myself look at facebook at all for a while after my ex and i broke up–somehow that felt easier, i think, because while it was definitely about her, it was a whole thing i was avoiding, not just her.)

    • Thanks, this was really helpful. I just keep reminding myself that friends is great, friends is not a consolation prize.

      • Yeah, me too! Me, too!!!! I have just gone through this EXACT same thing! And once I decided that friends is great, it started to get a lot better! :)

    • give yourself some time to feel sad, spend some time with other friends, and (once you feel ready) go back to looking for someone to be more-than-friends with (in whatever method works best for you)

      this may also be a good time to tackle a project you’ve been putting off, as the sense of accomplishment can help lift the fog of sad and start the shift of your mood back to regular

  21. I fully agree with the shower thing, or a bath. I used to like to go for long drives for hours when I was younger and didn’t have a monthly fuel budget to stick to.
    Folks have said watching various tv shows I also agree with that. I think when I get involved in a show or film I get that whole Greek theatre Catharsis experience which is good. Obviously depends on the show.

  22. This is really timely, since I’ve had a shit week. My front bike tire was stolen right from my parking spot by my apartment. My bike is my only means of transportation and I feel frustrated and angry and violated. Plus it was a really expensive tire so I’m going to have to replace it with a shittier one since I can’t afford to spend that much money right now. Ugh. I definitely need some healthy coping skills since my go-to coping mechanisms are to eat large quantities of chips, drink too much or take too many naps.

  23. Holy cow this. As someone who isn’t coping particularly well with life — for a whole host of reasons, among them depression — this couldn’t come at a better time. (Though actually I had an insanely good day today. GO FIGURE.) Many, many hugs to all of you struggling. Please take care of yourselves. <3

  24. Dancing/lip-synching alone in bedroom with headphones on, taking a break and reading fanfic, feeding self properly, playing ukulele.

    And I know it’s laid out as something to avoid in the intro to this article, but a little self-medication now and then has really, really helped me. I know it’s not for everyone though!

  25. Listening to music (sometimes really loud, while driving), laughter and sometimes taking a walk at the beach just by myself helps me cope with a lot of things. Punching bags can be handy as well ;). Started kick boxing again just to relieve work related stress.

    I also eat a lot of my feelings so I dunno, man.

    No, but seriously laughter and music keep me sane and also that above it all, I can look forward to coming home and giving my cats lots of hugs, whether they like it or not. :)

    • loud music while driving is kinda the best/worst. it nearly always helps, but sometimes i feel kinda guilty using gas just to drive around aimlessly. expensive coping mechanism.

      • I guess when you live in L.A. or any place that has crazy traffic that you kinda get stuck in on a daily basis and instead of letting the road rage get to you just blast the music and focus on that (and driving of course). /run on sentence.

        • oh I gotcha, fair enough. I was thinking about driving and music for the sake of itself vs music to alleviate frustration while already driving, I guess.

          but yeah. basically, just. music. all the time.

  26. Unfortunately, I am not coping. I’m struggling with severe depression, generalized anxiety (my therapist also says social), and gender dysphoria. I have a strained relationship with my mother due to my depression and status as a pansexual, fairly feminine trans boy. I take medications, but the side-effects are horrid. I’m still in high school and my grades are slipping. I have a lot of trouble focusing in class because of all of these stressers, and the depression frequently keeps me from caring about homework. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing any school work or looking at colleges because I don’t picture myself living past this year. I’m at a loss.

    • Is there anyone you can talk to? I mean, talk to us on the internet, obviously, but the internet doesn’t hug and sometimes we all need a hug. Do you have any supports in school? (If not, what would be helpful? I ask because I am a teacher and I want to help my students very, very badly.)

      I deeply empathize with your situation, and there are things you can and should do to love yourself, but the one truth of depression is that you keep going and even though it never feels like it will happen there is going to come a day when something happens and you look up and realize “this is happiness, I had forgotten” and that day is beautiful and worth waiting to feel!

    • Oh hey, I sound like the college version of you.

      So, I have no idea what your teachers are like, but is it possible for you to talk to (at least some of) them and let them know things are rough in You-Town right now? They might not be willing/able to do much, but they may be willing to cut you some slack with assignments. They might also be able to be there as some emotional cheerleaders, depending on your school and your relationship and such.

      Do you have other supportive people in your life (siblings, friends, that one guy down the road, whoever) that you could talk to about one or more of these things? Because if so, let them know that things are rough and that you might need some support, whether that comes in forms of hugs or study groups or someone to stress bake with.

      Also, there is zero shame in not immediately heading off to college, particularly since college can be a really shitty place to be if your mental health is shitty. This is the reason I have recently made the decision to not apply for grad schools next year–1.) I cannot handle applications right now 2.) I cannot handle grad school right now. It can seem really intimidating and weird to not go off to college, especially if all your friends are going and because there’s this huge push to send anyone with reasonably decent grades to higher education, but make your decisions on what is right for you now.

  27. This week has been super stressful and bad so I’ve been coping by watching a lot of movies and also bought a kitten with was very helpful :) and will hopefully be good for future stress relief. I also tend to eat really crappy food which works well sometimes

  28. I’ve dealt with some difficult situations this past year and I realized that my way of badly coping with the anxiety that came with it was over eating, which is obvs not healthy. So instead of that I did the opposite, started eating healthy (there’s something about cutting carbs that just makes my body feel better), going for long walks by the beach by myself, exercising in general makes me feel more content, and also when I’m too much in my own head I play guitar and sing a lot.

    • Forgot to say, writing. Like, journal style or stories or poetry sometimes, most of the time it just helps.

  29. Roller Derby is legit my #1 coping strategy.
    It forces me to get out of the house and see people. And not just any people, supportive people. We also don’t really have to talk about the shitty things that are happening in our lives. Instead we get to re-connect with our physical selves and each other. It’s great.

    I get that that may not be for everyone, but physical activity is a huge help to me

  30. I’m struggling with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. So far my only positive coping mechanisms have been to pretend like I am the person I wish I was in order to get through the day to day, dressing all spiffy to at least feel alright on the outside, and oversharing about my mental state so that I don’t feel as much like I’m trapped in my own head.

    Also, as an alternative to telling everyone in my life that I couldn’t leave the house because I was too depressed, I’m considering saying that I was busy Practicing the Dark Arts. I’m thinking it will make me seem whimsically enigmatic. Thoughts?

  31. I decided to get a haircut. Tomorrow. Caring for long hair is kinda the straw that broke the camel’s back and I’m 95% sure is contributing to my three months of pain via my preference to wear it up because it drives me nuts to have it touching my skin. Yeah, there’s some sensory issues here…(the hole in the story: chronic migraine– wheee– and I officially medicate for that.)

    More practical: allow large dog on lap, hot water bottle, ice packs, yoga, walking in the woods , and eating dark chocolate chips and lightly salted peanuts. Both in your mouth at the same time are like a better Reeses Cup.

    Although a slightly scary man lost his cat and has been wandering around in the woods yelling, inhibiting my long solo walks. I’m pretty sure he actually lost the cat but not entirely sure. Either way, he distresses the dog enough that I avoided the woods today.

  32. regular exercise does help, though it is SO hard to motivate myself to do it.
    eating health(ier) makes me feel better about myself even if i don’t feel physically different.
    the only positive coping strategy that i really use during anxious situations is something a therapist told me once. Inhale for a count of 4, and exhale for a count of 6. Exhaling longer than inhaling signals your heart to slow down, which automatically makes you less anxious.

  33. I don’t have any mental health issues, so whatever I say may not apply/help at all.

    Whenever I am down, I significantly reduce my time from the internet. Every little thing that’s even remotely negative brings me down. I focus more on personal drawings, instead of drawing for others (which I do a lot). Writing down my thoughts really enables me to pinpoint my source of sadness, and see what I can do about it. I also meditate, thinking of scenery I love, such as rain or forests. Throughout it all, I make sure to compliment my efforts and have patience with myself. One thing that helps me a lot, if not the most, is wondering how I will feel in 4 years. The future is always uncertain, but I always view it positively. It gives me hope that whatever I’m going through right now doesn’t have to be the case in the future.

    Reading all of you guys’ comments just makes me wanna bake goodies for everyone. I send you all joyful vibes<3

    • I really like the “wondering how I will feel in 4 years.”

      I am often stricken with a sense of immediacy. I want my transition to be “complete” NOW, I want to be finished with this or that work project NOW. But looking forward, I think things will be amazing. I have to be mindful of the now, but not lose sight of where I’m going.

      • Yes yes, I’m so glad you understood what I was trying to say! When I typed the comment, I wasn’t sure if it made sense.

        “Be mindful of the now, but not lose sight of where I’m going.” Beautiful quote, that’s one for the books. Best of luck with your transition, Amber~ Journeys can be enjoyed, as well.

  34. Almost all of the comments really make me feel so sad. Things really can get better everyone. I have been struggling recently as well.

    I love your coping skills, Lizz. Number one really strikes me as great! I’ve had some work anxiety lately, just a to-do list that seems to continually grow. This seems like a really legitimate way of saying “This is what I can accomplish today, the rest of you can effing wait.”

    So, I know we’ve all been told this… but seriously, therapy. It helps. Therapy helped end the marriage I was in which had us both depressed. Therapy helped me to find the strength to acknowledge that I needed to transition, and to do it! We left things on an “as needed” basis at the beginning of this year, and recently, I decided that it was needed. So I’ve reconnected with my therapist, and only one session later, I’m feeling a lot better. So yeah, there is that. You have to find someone with whom you have the right chemistry, but it can be invaluable. Ask about sliding scales for payment!

    And you definitely have to pet furry creatures!

    I learned in therapy that I had been avoiding the more troubling things. Anger and sadness. I would start to talk about them, but then say “but it’s okay because of ____________.” But really, I didn’t feel like it was okay. So he told me that I really need to feel those emotions, not avoid them. So yeah, it stinks to be sad or mad, but it’s legitimate and I won’t get over it until I let myself feel it and try to work through it.

    So yeah. I can distract myself with funny shows when I need to. But what is going to help in the long run is facing these feelings.

    • Yes, this. Finding the right therapist was such an important step for me. I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember – constant social anxiety, and generalized anxiety that flares up under stress. I spent years developing coping mechanisms, but none of them really tackled the problem itself. It wasn’t until I found a therapist that I clicked with that I started to see genuine progress. I’m still nowhere near where I’d like to be mentally, but I finally feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve let go of a lot of shame about my anxiety and its effects on my life (like making dating/sex really, really difficult), which has actually helped to lift some of the anxiety.

      I was in therapy for about a year as a child, but it didn’t help much – I think because it was something my parents wanted me to do, not something I chose. My mom is a therapist, and I used to read her books on the treatment of mental health conditions for fun (odd reading for a child, I know). I developed this arrogance where I thought I understood what therapists were all about and that because I knew the techniques they used there was nothing I could get out of the process. That was stupid, and I’m glad I eventually grew up enough to realize that.

      I finally sought help during my first year of law school when my anxiety suddenly got much worse – to the point that even small interactions, or even thinking about interactiong with people, caused anxiety so acute that I’d start to gag. Anxiety has always made be feel nausous, but I’d started actually throwing up sometimes, which was new and very unpleasent.

      I got one positive thing out of seeing that therapist. She helped me see that it was not only my psychomomatic anxiety symptoms that were holding me back, but my feelings about being judged. I was terrified of people wittnessing me in the midst of an anxiety attack and certain they would dislike me if they picked up on it. She helped me see that that wasn’t really true – even if I literally threw up in front of everyone (1) no one would even know it was the result of mental illness unless I told them, and (2) anyone who was really a friend would be sympathetic and understanding, not judgmental. Knowing this has stopped me from limiting myself to activities that won’t trigger my anxiety. Sadly, however, she turned out to be very ignorant about LGBT issues (she attributed both my bisexuality and the fact that I had dated a trans girl as evidence of not really knowing what I wanted in life). I stopped seeing her shortly after that for obvious reasons.

      It took me almost two years, and going through a huge amount of personal drama, to get me try again with another therapist, but I’m really glad I did. For me, therapy gives me a chance to actually do something productive with my complaining. When I vent to my friends and family it helps in the moment (and I am deeply greatful to everyone in my life who’s been willing to listen), but I don’t learn anything from it, and later on I end up repeating the same unhealthy patterns of thinking or behavior that upset me in the first place.

      Discussing my problems in a more structured setting, with someone who can point out patterns in my thinking, when I’m being too hard on myself, when I seem to be ignoring the real issue, etc., really helps me to see what’s actually going on in my head. Having this knowledge makes it easier to know what steps to take to improve my life, and having someone to talk about my progress with keeps me motivated to continue moving forward.

      OK, I just realized this comment is getting way too long, so I’ll end it with this: if you are struggling with any mental health issues and you have the ability to access therapy, please consider a least trying it. And if you are in therapy and the person you’re working with is disrespectful to you or just isn’t someone you can work with (1) don’t be afraid to trust your instincts and stop seeing that person (2) Don’t give up – there are a lot of different types of therapists with a variety of different approches. You can find something that works for you.

      Good luck and lots of hugs (if wanted) to anyone struggling with mental illness or just going through a hard time right now. Life is really difficult sometimes, but as much as it doesn’t always seem like it, things can get better.

      • YES. So much yes.

        For me, therapy gives me a chance to actually do something productive with my complaining. When I vent to my friends and family it helps in the moment (and I am deeply greatful to everyone in my life who’s been willing to listen), but I don’t learn anything from it, and later on I end up repeating the same unhealthy patterns of thinking or behavior that upset me in the first place.

        I feel the same! I have friends who are amazing and really let me vent, but I try not to lean on them too much in this regard. I want to be a fun friend to be around and focus on the positive. Everyone has to vent sometimes. My friends are great and similarly, I appreciate them listening! However, as you said, we can really learn from speaking to a therapist.

        I was planning to take this weekend and really poke at some of my emotional hangups (in the anonymous blog I keep for that kind of thing.) But I don’t know, having talked with my therapist and being told that it is okay for me to be mad or upset about the things that are bothering me, I feel so good. I guess I thought I should be over things, it has nearly been a year and so much of my life is going so well. But he told me that it takes the time it takes. That seems obvious, but being told so really helps.

  35. One thing I have learned after years of trying to drink or smoke or medicate my troubles away is that long walks taken daily are the best thing for my soul. I’m lucky to be able to get up from my desk at work and go walk for an hour. On the weekends, I hike several miles and it’s like all the stress just melts away.

    I also try to limit my caffeine consumption so I have enough to wake up but not enough to cause anxiety. I used to be in a vicious circle of chemical dependencies, coffee to wake up and be productive, alcohol to calm down and sleep. I’ve been sober for over 3 years and life has been much easier, and the world is much nicer. That’s what works for me, anyway.

  36. Just an fyi Mercury is about to go in retrograde and this is gonna lead to a lot of feelings. As someone who is programmed anxious as shit like myself, hold on its going to be a rough week.

  37. Oh hey timely thread! I’m back to school at an intense grad program, my partner and I broke, my grandmother has cancer, and I have a long, ugly history with depression. So there’s lots of coping happening. I am doing a few things that really, really work:

    1. Swimming. There is a night and day difference between pool days and not pool days. Also, I didn’t used to be able to swim front crawl, but I swam a mile yesterday, so if you want to learn, you can! I like swimming because in order to be efficient and fast and perform well you have to be CALM. I get in the water and one by one things go quiet for me, and I leave feeling good about what I’ve done and having put a lot of scary, irrational feelings and worries to bed.

    2. Yoga/Breathing: Similar to swimming, but I don’t need a pool.

    3. I finally found a therapist I find helpful. I’ve been looking since Sept. 2008… Never give up!

    4. Come up with a plan: I have learned what I need to do, so that there’s minimal “oh shit, oh shit, what do I FUCKING DO?” when mental illness hits.

    5. The biggest, hardest thing is making peace with my brain. Depression is not something that just happened to me, its something that has taken up residence long term in my skull and my bones and thinking of it as the other or the enemy set me up for an adversarial relationship: the harder I shoved it out, the more it sank into me. It is an illness, but it’s an illness that I share space with. And I’m not scared of it anymore, because I am not trying to exorcise it. It is here, with me, and it is not me, but it’s not going anywhere, and I am learning and relearning to manage it.

    When I’m actively in a tailspin, the best thing that I do for myself is letting go of meta-anxiety or guilt about how non-sensical the things my brain tells me are. I still know that they don’t make sense, but in the past, when I would be borderline psychotic or very suicidal, a lot of what fueled that state was being frightened and guilty about the way I felt. That fear and guilt did not make me suicidal, but it made it harder to heal and recover.

  38. Hm I don’t think I actually cope unless distracting one’s self is coping than I totally do that.

    Cause it’s October:

    and we’re feministy queer women:

    but this is Niobesnuppa’s best yet:

    You can make the huldr, skogsra and troll all gentlemanly with the right haircut and jacket in the bunad setting or a sexy farm maid.
    There’s a Sami setting but I’m not versed enough to tell men’s wear from women’s wear just that it’s Sami.

    If anyone is interested I can link them to some games that have more than one African textured hair, believable skintones and facial features cause those are unfortunately rare and chancy to find.

  39. I’m currently in my childhood bed(room) in my parents’ house, as I’m home for Yom Kippur. The combination of being in the physical space I was when my anxiety and depression were at their worst and the fasting/repenting/solemn holy day are not the greatest. On the other hand, I can see how far I’ve come, as there was a time I didn’t leave this room, and many people at my home synagogue knew me when I was at my worst.

    These have worked for me:

    1. Writing. I’m a writer, so this comes naturally to me. I’ve written diary/journal-style, as well as songs and even a one-act play.
    2. Feel-good movies. I like to pop in a dvd or Netflix some of my favorite movies- anything Disney, Legally Blonde, Bring It On, Mean Girls… They will put a smile on my face.
    3. Walk my dog. My dog is an unofficial therapy dog, meaning she’s not trained or licensed as a therapy dog, but she’s very therapeutic for me. She puts me in the caretaker role. So I either take her for a long walk, take her to the dog park, or snuggle and watch a movie.
    4. Feel the feelings. When I get the feels, sometimes I need to listen to some music and let myself cry. I try not to do this for too long, but I find that if I try to suppress my feelings, they’ll come out in other ways (like panic attacks).
    5. Remember “the distance [I] have come”. There is a song by Scott Alan, sung by Natalie Weiss, called “The Distance You Have Come.” I think of me at my worst, when I was depressed, agoraphobic, having panic attacks daily, and I think of all I’ve accomplished.
    6. My tattoo. I got “chai”, which is the Jewish symbol for “life”, tattooed on my wrist. I literally have life inscribed in my skin. I did it. I’m still here.

    I hope this helps anyone who’s going through some bumps in the road right now. Love & hugs!

    • Totally agree with unofficial therapy dogs. It’s been a little tougher being a single person living in apartments with my dog, but I love her and want to make sure that she has the exercise she needs. So we take regular walks and such, and it really helps that for at least twenty minutes a few times a day, I have to get up and get moving in fresh air. AND OF COURSE SNUGGLES!

  40. Oof. This thread. How did you know?

    The last few days I’ve felt like I’m spinning in circles. I’ve done a few things lately that I’m realizing were coping mechanisms whether I was conscious of them or not: I got my hair cut, I’ve been binge-reading comics, binge-watching Batman Brave and the Bold, etc. But, I feel like… like there is this underlying thread of anxiety that I can’t quite grasp. It’s made up of all these different fibers: I’m trying to figure out health insurance but the stupid website is down today, I’m waffling around about what to do about my student loans, I have a potential opportunity for a full time job that could make me more comfortable financially but that probably wouldn’t make me happier or get me closer to any career goals, I moved to a new city two months ago and I want to make friends but I’m learning that I’m more introverted than I realized… buuuh. Lots of little-to-medium sized things knotting together to be bigger things, to be this weird ball of nervous energy that’s lodged in my chest and that I can’t get out.

    My stomach/digestion is weird, my stupid periods have been weird (sorry for the TMI) and I’ve been trying to work on some creative projects but I’ve been totally inconsistent/had a terrible work ethic about them, so instead of making me feel good or relieving stress they’re just adding to it. And, since I’ve decided to vomit out all my feelings on this thread, the last year was really shitty for me in terms of mental health and sexuality/identity stuff, so I told myself that I wasn’t gonna do dating-y things until I figured my shit out enough to be in therapy. But, that’s still going to be a while and god I just want to make out with someone or hook up with someone or at least get to feel up someone else’s boobs and maybe be drunk, too. I want to be in martial arts classes again so I beat some shit up and feel better, but I can’t afford that yet and researching new city things feels so fucking intimidating that I’m not making any progress.

    Baaarf. OK. I hope it’s cool that my coping mechanism was to get really personal with the internet.

  41. Summer is coming in Australia, but my depression and anxiety is still going strong in the aftermath of my personal drama lately (which I kind of feel like I’ve been chronicling in these threads!)

    Here’s some of the things I do:

    – Comfort media
    It doesn’t necessarily have to be ASMR or Emma Roy’s drawings ( !) but anything that makes you feel happy or at ease is really good. Personally? I’ve got Game Grumps playing on my phone nearly all the time.

    – DeAnne Smith
    Other comedians as well, but I’m a little bit in love with DeAnne so I’m just going to say that. Watch her play Nerdy Love Song with her kitten interrupting, or watch Consensual as Fuck, and you’re going to smile at least!

    – Relaxing video game
    This is a different strokes different folks thing. I’ve personally been playing a LOT of Animal Crossing lately because when your biggest problem is a giraffe being snooty about the price of her banana-split hat you feel like you’re doing well.

    – Art
    I don’t know exactly why, if it’s due to my recovery or my break up or my free time, but I’ve been writing a lot more lately. A friend asked me this morning if I have a writing blog and I’ll admit, I’ve been thinking about it. Maybe when I get more of a back log built up? (I am planning to do NaNoWriMo this year… Wish me luck!!)

    – Tattoos & Treats
    This has been mentioned but it is awesome to get, or think about, tattoos. I think in particular because it is something positive you do to your body that you have control over? Also you take reminders of your better attributes, or things you like, and have them permanently etched onto you. Personally I’ve got a set of a lady with a pink mohawk doing a strip tease down my back drawn by Erika Moen to celebrate my growing confidence and comfort in my sexual identity and body but more recently I got a heart on my sleeve… Because I figured I might as well make it visible!

    I’m planning to add more onto it. I’ve also emailed Kate Leth ( about a design I really want her to do for me… Fingers crossed!

    • Omg I’m so jealous!! My dream is to get an Erika Moen tattoo!! Also I love Kate Leth, what an amazing writer and human being! Plus, such a babe.

      • I commissioned her early last year, before Oh Joy Sex Toy started :D I was super lucky with my timing. Here’s a picture if you’re curious:

  42. Purring cat is how I handle it.

    My anxiety has been way ramped up lately. I was accosted in a park- boob grab- which triggered past stuff and I just had this crazy-feeling ever-present bodily-felt anxiety the past two weeks. But it’s starting to break! Feeling so much better.

    In general i’m working on creating good self-care habits… it’s slow change, it’s good. And I started therapist shopping this week- oh boy. I’m moving towards incorporating yoga into my habits and routines. I feel overall so much better when engaged in mindful movement.

    • I’m sorry that triggering incident happened, that sucks. This photo is totally adorable :D I MISS having a cat!

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you. I hope you have loving, supportive people around you while you process the anxiety; remember you have as much time as you need.

    • Wow! I had a similar thing happen this year, with the sexual assault and the triggering of things. I’m still coping. Take time. Talk to people. Ask yourself if you’re really okay, don’t try to move on too fast because you think you should.

  43. Well, I’ve been a longtime follower of this cute little community here but never contributed to it before until now…

    This is so relevant for me right now it’s scary. I recently moved back from home the hell hole that is NYC after finishing up undergrad. I’ve never really felt happy being home so being back is making me regress back into my old self that I worked hard to overcome. Being away for most of my 4 years was the best breath of fresh air that I could have and so being back makes me feel trapped and demotivated. I recently came out to my mother who didn’t take it as awful as I imagined she would but she still criticizes me about my lack of a boyfriend and appearance while I’m learning to accept myself and how I look. I just got this ballin’ haircut from my friend that I was upset with at first because I was so concerned about how I would be perceived. And I’m working on not caring about what my mother or other people think of me and my style as long as I think I look great!

    Anyways it’s been a rough couple of weeks because of home struggles living with a depressive family, looming layoffs, nyc environment and an elderly grandmother who isn’t very nice herself, a recent breakup with my girlfriend who needs time to figure out stuff for herself and can’t handle too much outside stress right now.

    I still hold her dear to my heart but need to give her some space which I’m finding hard to do because she was also one of my best friends that I would talk to about my stress. My other friends are also going through rough times and I have a hard time opening up and making new friends which is why I’m stepping out of my comfort zone with this post. Lol

    My biggest stress adder I guess would be my current job. I’m one of those lucky ones with an art degree, HA! And currently work at a fashion production factory where the pay is shit,the work is demanding, the place is such a disorganized mess most of the time. And I think my boss and new girl is treating my unfairly because I’ve made a lot of work related fuck ups so I’m afraid to confront him because of my work right now.

    Some coping mechanisms my friends are suggesting is a goal list one of which is to learn to drive except i totally didn’t get to the DMV on time. So I guess right now I feel like everything is going wrong and I’m not happy with life right now.

    My current coping mechanisms usually tend to be; watching t.v. on the web, listening to music and finding new and old songs, hanging out with friends, sleeping going to the cemetery next door (sounds morbid except that it’s Greenwood and is actually really pretty and calming part of BHS) looking stuff up, drinking tea, going out for walks and trying new things. But I feel like I’m still wasting my time and should be motivating myself to do more art despite the lack of space. Monetary concerns make public transportation hard sometimes so going out is tough. Avoiding booze and cigs like the plague to avoid dependency.

    I need better coping mechanisms. I’m considering buying a bike after toying with the idea for a long time because I can finally afford one. I think it will bring a calming rush that walking outside doesn’t always bring. I’m trying to read more Buddhist teaching to calm my mind. And I’m looking for art/fashion/costume collectives to join because I miss being active. I know shit happens and tomorrow will be better and some things happen for a reason but right now the persistence is so great.

    I have so much wasted time being negative that I need a change. Woo…that was a long first post but needed to get that off my chest. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one having a bum time but I hope we can all get through this hump in life soon. Thanks everyone!

    • Welcome to the feels parade.
      And uh Greenwood as in Greenwood Cemetery or uh you live in Alabama….if you don’t mind my asking.
      Cause if it’s the Greenwood I think it is:

      • Ahaa, sorry it took so long to respond. I didn’t even know someone commented until I came to check. Dumb email not telling me.

        Anyways, nah I live in NYC so it’s THAT Greenwood. Such a nice place despite the dead people buried in there.

      • @lolau Thanks for the welcome into the feels parade. ;) It’s getting better. I’ve been talking to my ex about us and what not and being the best I can be for me and her. Work is getting better but my boss is such a dick sometimes. But I guess that’s work life. I just think the emotional roller coaster that is life this year has just been such a rough ride recently for everyone I care about including myself. Odd…

        I’ll definitely keep your advice in mind. Today was a pretty great day after all so it’s not always bad. :) And thanks for the sketchbook idea! I need to start that again.

    • Hey! Yeah, welcome to the feels parade, @dream666! I tagged you cause I wanna make sure you read this hahaha So, I don’t have much advice for you, but I want you to know you’re heard. Also, small coping things…. notice when you smile. Like, if there’s something that makes you smile, try to take a minute to be mindful of it. And do that thing more often. Also, be appreciative of the moment. If there isn’t much to make you happy right now, do what you can to absorb every last drop of pleasantry that occurs, ya know?

      Also, also, also! Keep a sketchbook by your bed. Before you go to bed at night, draw the way you feel. Just let it come, don’t force it. You will be producing a work of art every night, which is more than most can say. And you’ll be using your art degree at the same time!

  44. I will return to the question of coping skills probably tomorrow (spoiler alert, almost all of them involve muppets and/or buffy and/or rabbits) because right now I’m getting ready to go on a date and I’m all psyched and nervous! It’s our third date, which in the world of okcupid dating is more like a second date because that first one is always that weird “let’s hang out and make sure no one seems dangerous/the wrong kind of weird/republican” meeting. But she’s awesome and pretty and the right kind of weird.

    Easing my nerves is how undeniably rad my outfit is.

  45. The timing for this was perfect. It was the first week of classes and I already have so much work to do. Luckily fridays are little more relaxed than the rest of the week. I also had an amazing night tonight. A new friend came over and we made tomato soup, grilled cheese, and hot cider. We also watch The Muppet Movie and as a Muppet fanatic it is so nice to watch it with other people. I usually watch Muppet movies on my own but now I have a friend that wants to watch them with me and it is so exciting.

  46. When I’m feeling down, cute little critters/animals/pets cheer me up. When I was having a REALLY bad day on Tuesday my wife sent me a picture of our cat. Today she sent me these ♥ There’s a whole lot of cat going on so…but I got permission to share the pictures. =)

    • ^o^ Baybehs, kitty baybehs.

      Someday the Friday Open Thread theme title thing should be ‘Show Me Your Kitties’

  47. I don’t always practice my positive coping skills, but I’m getting much better at forgiving myself and moving on from the negative ones. Be patient with yourselves, friends. Lord knows this shit aint easy.

  48. Coping skills? That’s a joke right?

    I have not been coping so much as surviving. The past month or so, I’ve had inklings that my depression was coming back to punch me in the face, and I keep telling myself that I need to get an appointment with the counseling center. Earlier this week, I had a really scary episode of suicidal ideation and I have never done that before and I have no desire to do that again. Today we started discussing depression in my clinical psychopharmacology class and I went 9/9 with the diagnostic criteria (which again, never done that before, usually I max out at like 7). And to top it off, I’m having dysphoria like hell right now. Which is really weird for me because I thought I had got this under control? I hadn’t really had any dysphoria in like 6 months and then bam, worst dysphoria of my life.

    Also, in doing some research into bipolar disorder for the class and looking at the diagnostic criteria, I saw a lot of myself there, so that’s probably something I should bring up at some point in time with a therapist.

    And so I’m just really, really struggling with life in general and particularly with classes and I’m just not getting the work done I need to and I have 2 tests, a lab report, and a presentation next week and I just don’t know how I’m going to get all that done.

    Coping wise, at least I sort of have a plan? I’m definitely making that appointment with the counseling center ASAP. I’m definitely talking to a few of my professors (particularly the clinical psychopharmacology one because I may need to not be in class a few days while discussing depression) to let them know that things are not all well in Me Town. I also might be having a discussion about gender and mental illness with my parents, which shouldn’t go terribly? But we’ll see. And I’m planning on telling some of my close friends that I need some cheerleading from them about life. I’m not sure how to phrase it exactly because “oh hey by the way I almost tried to kill myself this week just so you know” seems both over dramatic and not dramatic enough about my mental state. I also might give my one friend a warning call/text that he might be getting a breakdown call in the future (because I’ve been on the other side of that from him and I know he’d get in a way that most of the other people I know might not).

    Things that have definitely help/helped: decided unequivocally that I’m not attending grad school next year. I’m not doing applications. Hallelujah, that weight has lifted.

    Also, I just try to go kayaking. Because I can have real people feelings on the river and have mostly-normal emotions (yay adrenaline) and because my friends I go boating with are fantastic and lovely and do an excellent job of reminding me that I’m not as worthless and awful as my depression tells me I am just by existing (because they are amazing friends). Also, because fall is gorgeous and the weather is still pretty nice and warm and I want to take advantage of that (though we need some rain, goddamnit! The rivers are all super low!).

    And I’ve been flirting with a cute boater and trying to see where that goes.

    • I wish I could say something helpful, but I just want you to know that someone’s listening. :)

  49. So normally my anxiety is pretty good – I don’t get panic attacks as much as I used to, and things don’t stress me as much since I dropped to a half-load at school. That said, this week has been testing.

    I broke my foot two nights ago when I was dancing too hard (I wish I was kidding) and I was freaking out because I couldn’t walk or feel my toes and I was freezing cold to the touch and i was crying and it was just awful. We got to ER and waited for five hours with nothing more than ibuprofen to ease the pain and they told me not to eat in case I needed surgery. I keep panicking because I have a huge fear of surgery and I will go to huge lengths to avoid it if I can.

    I finally get to see a doctor at 4.30am after being there since 11 and not having slept yet, only to have her tell me that they can’t do X-rays overnight. I get a compression bandage and crutches and told to go home and have a sleep. I can’t sleep and haven’t at this point because my foot is so fucking sore. Very tired, very stressed, not entirely sure what’s happening and in the car home I lose it and just start sobbing because it’s all too much and I hadn’t slept in 36 hours and I was so so over it.

    I go back to the hospital when they tell me to (three and a half hours later) after not sleeping and get my foot looked at by a couple of physios and basically get poked and prodded for an hour. They give me an X-ray and bandage me up with instructions to partially weight bear if I can and see my doctor in a week so they can cast it if they need to.

    I have the sexiest moon boot in the world to show for it, bruises under my arms from the four hours my crutches weren’t adjusted properly and I was fully weight bearing (I hadn’t been xrayed yet so I couldn’t do anything), and I have to sit in the shower because hot water makes it swell so much I can’t stand.

    There is no glamour in injury, friends. Everything is so tiring and takes me about three times longer on crutches. I took 15 minutes to make toast with cheese on it today. Shit sucks. I can’t open a door for myself and stairs are a nightmare, especially with my house being two storey.

    Seriously, any wise words or advice would be super great at this point because oh my god I am struggling, you guys.

    • Injuries suck, man.

      I guess my best advice is to ride it out, try not to beat yourself up too much, and keep in mind that this at least is temporary (even though a month on crutches can feel like an eternity). Also, maybe see if you have some fantastic friends that’d be willing to make like a big thing of lasagna or other such dish or two that would just require you to reheat it because cooking+crutches sucks?

      I hope you heal fast and well and wish you all the best.

    • Wise words: Situate a sleeping arrangement downstairs, or invest in a mini fridge and put it upstairs (depends on where your bathroom is). It sucks to have to face it, but you are in the long haul to recovering from a difficult injury. Make it comfortable from the beginning. Putting yourself through excessive physical exertion will only make it more difficult to cope, and may extend the length of the injury. Also, your hips will start to hurt from the moon boot. Buy a pair of cheap runners from Wal-Mart. The kind that velcro, the ones that old folks wear. Cut off the big foamy soles of those suckers, and invert the one that would have gone on the broken foot, and gorilla glue it to the other, sandwhiching in between. I hope this is making sense. I can draw a picture!! :D

      Throw out the other one! This works waaay better with flip flops. But seriously, save your hips!

  50. My anxiety has been awful lately, my regular anxiety with dermatillomania on top of it all. But whenever I need someone to talk to my big sister is almost always there for me and she helps me get through a lot. Fall should be called sibling appreciation season.

    • Oh hey… you’re the first person outside of dermatillomania support forums that I’ve ever seen mention it. I know all about what that shit is like, so if you want someone to commiserate with, feel free to send me a message.

  51. My issue is the frustration of not being able to have cis lesbian friends who really understand that I am really female.
    AS helps greatly by welcoming transfemales here. Thank you!
    But face to face conversations in a social, and public, and safe, setting ….to have getting to know each other, without apprehension, are rare. And true understanding needs those conversations to enable true friendships. For many of us transfemales, you cis lesbians are who we are attracted to because we feel connected to you emotionally. Not being able to have you feel connected to us emotionally causes … least for me, much emotional loneliness and sadness in the heart.
    I have found help coping with those feelings by sitting quietly, relaxing, and going within myself to remember my female center…..those female feelings that I know define my gender. It gives me comfort and relieves my sadness… remind myself of the truth.

    • This was so beautifully said, @sh45! I’m a cis female lesbian, but gender identity is a whole other ballgame for me. I relate better to masculine of centre/genderqueer, and the lesbians I’m friends with are girly, while the women I date are MOC.

      Having to defend the very existence of your female state of being is so different to me than defending femininity, or your masculinity. There is a bond seeded in womanhood, historically displayed in femininity. I’m often snubbed by straight women because of my MOC presentation. It hurts. A lot. Because they are judging the book by its’ cover and unintentionally isolating me, pushing me away from that bond that is a birthright, for you and for me, as women.

  52. I need to work on my coping mechanisms and also probably finally get in touch with my university´s mental health services. They have about a month´s waiting list too see a psychologist/psychiatrist but that could be worse. 2014 is proving to be a very challenging year for me personally, both my grandmothers died recently and my mother just got diagnosed with a rare, dangerous form of breast cancer.

    All that on top of my childhood trauma and general life issues + anger management issues (that are only directed towards my family) I need to take action and do the right thing = get help.

    • Dude, get on that list! I know it’s really hard when relief doesn’t seem imminent once you’ve tackled that giant hurdle of actually doing it, but a month, too, shall pass.
      Next month you’ll be “Damn, I could’ve been in therapy already if only I did call in last month, and now it’ll be December and next year, and maybe things won’t be that bad”, and then it’ll be January, and things might, and you’ll be, “I could’ve been in therapy for two months already!”
      So what I’m saying is, try to be kind to your future self, not just today’s and don’t condemn yesterday’s.
      You don’t need to tackle childhood traumas right away, but just having someone to guide you and talk to while going through your current shit sounds like a good idea.

  53. Prescribed Xanax is shit gets out of hand. Mostly breathing and meditation techniques when things aren’t do bad that it requires pharmaceuticals.

  54. Y’all, I’m getting sort of worried. I am very familiar with depression and anxiety. I was in therapy for years when I was younger, so I am well acquainted with how it slowly creeps up on you. The past couple of weeks I think it’s cropping up again and I am very frustrated. My life is great. I have a loving steady. Family stuff has calmed down. School is stressful but I manage just fine. But I know depression also doesn’t care. I’m giving myself a few more weeks. If I’m just having an off month, then I’m having an off month. If all of the gray feelings continue, I’ll look into seeing someone. Sorry about that – just had to get it out somewhere.

    Anyway. Coping. I clean. Whether it’s the dishes, the floors, or myself — I clean ritualistically. I associate cleaning with clearing my mind. I also rearrange furniture. I also draw, create mixes, and go on long walks alone. I also listen to The National on repeat. And, last but not least, I indulge in retail therapy. I bought this awesome shirt from Wicked Clothes recently as an example.

  55. I’ve been having a motherfucker of a time these past few weeks. Shorter days, massive levels of on-the-floor-skint and very high stress levels because of things outside of my control. It’s been utterly shit, if I’m honest, but things seems to be improving now.

    For one, I have finally got my head around the fact that if your ex girlfriend spends lots of time posting passive-aggressive idiocy on a forum, it’s probably best not to read that forum, even if you’re being mature and calm and not seeking out her posts. You ARE going to see them, self. So in the past weeks I have given up going on a site I cared about, but the effect on my mental health has been that, wheee – it’s better! Not, like ‘fixed better’ (Ha! :D ) because I am still sad about many different things and grieving things, but better as in markedly easier in my own mind. Phew.

    My coping skills seem to involve realising I haven’t listened to my favourite music in a while or watched any TV I enjoy, and reminding myself to do that before depression gets bedded in, and then doing that, and feeling happier. Oh, and WALKING. Walking does magical things to my brain. Especially long walks while plugged in to good music. Or just listening to the sound of the waves on the beach below, or birds tweeting, or whatever. Anything but the inside of my own head.

    Stress sucks. I salute all of you who have had shitty weeks, and I am right there with y’all. Sistas. Or, er, something like that.

    • Oh man, sorry you had to leave a safe haven – and more sorry that it wasn’t safe for you anymore. We have open arms for you!!

  56. Mostly I’m dissociating. It’s not a happy thing, but it’s all I’ve got when I have to live with my dad, who sends his kids away for having any kind of obvious disability and chronically misgenders me. It lets me go about the rest of my life in some kind of good mood. I’m sure it’s going to catch up with me in other ways, but, what can I do?

    • You have so much on your plate, dudette. My mom did the same thing with me. It does catch up with you. But just keep living one day at a time, and you will find yourself catching up with it, too. It all comes full circle, and you can learn how to relate again, as long as you keep that fire in your belly.

  57. I am going back to school on Monday and I am very behind in school which is causing a lot of stress plus I have exams this terms. I have been trying to find coping methods that are more productive because although Tumblr and YouTube might make me feel better they also waste a lot of my time.

    These are some I plan to start use or that I do:
    -> Do a page of my Wreck This Journal
    -> Read a chapter of a book (reading TMR trilogy at the moment)
    -> Tea
    -> Have a bath
    -> Talk to a friend
    -> Take some deep breaths
    -> Go for more walks
    -> Have a healthy snack

    • I do a lot of these things, too! I want to recommend an belly massage! Which sounds weird, and it kind of is, but involves very lightly massaging the skin over your organs (so, below ribs to top of pubis). I think it’s a good way to feel connected to yourself, and also feels amazing because those are parts of our bodies that we often neglect – we often take care to touch our legs from shaving/drying, and our backs, hair, face, etc., but the very most central part of our bodies gets neglected, and often feels embarassing to have a partner touch because media does a lot of programmed shame about our midsections. Always remember to brush upwards at the end, bringing the blood back towards your heart :)

  58. Guys, if there’s anyone still around, please know I am going to read all of these and comment on all/most of them. This thread is particularly important to me and I feel like these comments are all verbal representations of why I am hungover for the first time in 4 months when I’m a recovering binge drinker, and why my celibacy plan got to 3.5/4 weeks of celibacy followed by a lot of Saki and way more people than can safely be making out on one couch.

    Just putting this out there. I know that sex is a really private thing, and I regretted sharing my issues a few weeks ago, but I’m curious if anyone else self medicates with casual relationships only to have them sneakily turn into more, and more is still more than you can handle? Anybody? Am I alone? My friends think I should be Fat Shane for Halloween (ya know, like Fat Monica).

    Cause for me, whoring isn’t just a coping mechanism, it’s what’s for breakfast.

    • Probably not, but I stick to one person possibly because training and find new people is too much for my introverted self to take.
      Still the escapism in sex is there cause I will spend about 48 hours plus with my person basically fucking and napping. Leaving the bed only for usage of the toilet or a frisky but definitely needed shower.
      Sometimes that is exactly what I want and need but sometimes it’s just what happens. Even if I had or we had plans to do more than that. Like socialize, play video games, work on an art thing, or there was something one of us was suppose to do the next day and it gets missed.

      I do not know what you shared a few weeks ago but sex is a intimate and vulnerable thing if one can not talk softly and considerately when another shares things about it than one should just not talk.
      Sex puts everyone in the rainbow and not in a vulnerable place people need to remember this, consider this always.

    • I’m sorry to hear about the hangover. I hope by now it has eased, if not vanished.

      As for the other, I have more thoughts on sharing our sex lives than fit neatly into a comments box. There’s a radical honesty to it, especially when we’re still told that we shouldn’t be sexual (while continually being over sexualised). Anyhow, no tangents, you do you. Things turning into more? I think we can never predict or control the routes these things take; they seem to have a life of their own.

    • Hey you! I’m going to be reading through everything and probably late late commenting on wednesday, and I can’t wait to read what you have to say. You’re always insightful and thoughtful, so thank you.

    • @gunna-see-the-light, @bethbookworm, @amber-mccrey, and @jajs. Thank you for sharing and for your support!! I’m tagging you so that there’s a higher chance that you see this. I had a rough week. I don’t even know what else to say. This whole thread was actually kind of overwhelming. But you guys made my week brighter, you really did. I realized that I can’t do it all alone. I’ve been doing it on my own. But I think I’m gonna give AA another shot. I replaced alcohol with sex. Should probably deal with one problem at a time. Thanks, internet friends. :)

  59. I’m having a really hard time right now. My girlfriend gave me the “I need some space” talk two weeks ago. I gave it to her more than willingly and then last night she dropped “We need to talk about our future” on me in the middle of a bar while she was drunk. We’ve been having trouble communicating lately, because she works a lot and I’m a bottler, so I don’t know how to talk about the things I’m stressed over. So all of this is coming down on us at once and it is, in reality, our first real road block. We’ve been together almost a year and there haven’t been any fights up until now. Until her need for “space” and “me time”. I get that need. I do. But where does “me time” stop and “time away from you” begin? What have I been doing that’s pushing her away? Is it even my fault?

    She’s the first girl I’ve ever loved. Not my first relationship, but the one that lasted when it was easy for me to walk away from the others. I do love her, very much. But I can’t hold a torch for someone who isn’t as invested in me as I am in her. I guess I just need to know how to let someone like that go. I’ve never been very good at that.

    • I’m so sorry for your situation:(

      I was recently in a similar situation and I know how you’re feeling.Please try and take the best care you can of yourself even if it’s just little things(i.e listing your positive attributes, watching funny videos and staying away from Facebook).

  60. I just wanted to say thank you, to this group therapy thread and pretty much everyone on it:-)
    Almost ten years back, I was hospitalized for severe depression, which was just very, know, you can’t walk right some days?
    Anyways, it was a close call.
    So now, you know, I have a great job and I am funny and smart and responsible and I have an awesome gaggle of friends, and everything.
    But there is always, always the darkness lurking at the corners, and sometimes, when I haven’t been taking care of myself (something I am notoriously horrible at) I can feel it. I can feel fear creeping back in, I can feel death sitting on the couch next to me.
    And maybe it will always be there in some way or another.
    It is a struggle, and it’s one that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, but when the sun breaks through the clouds, you know it, and you know how to appreciate it, and how many people really do?
    All of us are broken in one way or another, the art of it is to keep rattling on without the pieces scraping painfully against each other.
    When they do, it’s time to readjust and then…keep going.

  61. Being quite a sensitive person and an anxiety sufferer , this is really timely.Anxiety has screwed around with me for along time ,but it’s most troublesome in relation to uni and affects my concentration majorly.

    My tips:

    -decrease anything you can (semester units, leaving work earlier)



    -feeling the feelings( sucks, but super important)


    -funny videos

    -physical affection

    -identifying triggers

    -be really vigilant about who gets to be in your life (i.e if you have an ex that is with messing your head, get rid of ALL contact.This is an act of self kindness!)

    -picture how you want things to be -make a mind map with a positive plan

    – kid like activities (drawing ,crafts and kids movies-good for sadness)

    -sharing your experience with other , if you feel brave enough.Sometimes it’s tiring lying about something that isn’t even your fault. I’ve always been shocked how vulnerable people will be with you if you make the first move.

    SELF COMPASSION: remember that you are suffering, so congratulate yourself on ANY little thing you achieve. This does not mean you are going to fall in a pit of slob -like, unmotivated behaviour,it encourages you to keep going!

    Learn to build your self esteem and understand that your illness does not define you, it’s just part of you( still working on this).

    I genuinely believe that people with mental illness experience the world better than others ,at times. We know how bad things can get so we really do appreciate the beautiful details of life that other people are privileged enough to take for granted.As I once read: “being sensitive is like experiencing life in high definition” .

  62. Well hello there.

    I’m not sure I cope; I hide. I withdraw completely, mostly because when I’m depressed I can’t be bothered with the slightest thing. Take last week for example, I had every intention to contribute to the open thread; I have a lot of opinions on clothes and how they represent us, but despite having the tab open I just couldn’t make myself write. By the time it got to Wednesday I gave it up as a lost cause.

    What I want to do when I feel bad is talk. I don’t. I tell myself everyone has things in their own life to deal with, and even if they found a spare ten minutes across conflicting time zones, they wouldn’t get it. Perhaps this is what comes from not trusting people, or having the people closest to you be straight white men (I’ve still no idea how that happened), who will never get your experiences. I bend over backwards for others, and find so often that they aren’t there when I need them; I often wonder where people’s intuition is when it comes to these things.

    I grew up comfort eating, and I will forever carry the scars of that. The way it changed my body taught me from an early age what it is to be a woman, what is required, gave me 20 years of other people’s opinions on my skin. I could write a whole essay on it, but it is enough, for now, to say I never broke that pattern; and now I torment myself for it.

    I bake, I feed others. I buy inordinate numbers of books. When I had my own place I would nest, I could fill my home with beautiful things, wrap myself in light and comfort and feel safe. But I will not nest here, here is not home.

    Baths have always been a little slice of heaven for me. How I miss them. I’m a true fish, and water is so reviving. I would love to be in that warm cocoon now, alas it is not possible.

    • Are you in a place where there may be a support group you could attend to be able to talk?

      Do you ever try to mentally put yourself in that heavenly place (like the bath?) Sometimes when I feel panicky or anxious, I will think about this amazing session of yoga I attended at the beginning of summer. It was a beautiful early summer morning, and the yoga was hard work, but felt great. The lady directing the practice had the perfect soothing voice, and I just try to think about the end, when we were laying flat on our mats, just feeling the sun and warm air and the earth beneath us. That is a place/experience that I will slip (mentally) into to help myself find some serenity.

      • I was never any good at visualising things. I have a hard time staying with it. I spent so much time needing not to be in the moment it’s hard to stay in it when I want to.

        Support is thin on the ground here. It’s one of the problems of being an expat and not being fluent in the local language.

        I’m doing okay. Spending a few weeks being broken hearted while time rich and cash poor waiting for a new job to start have left me a bit off centre though.

        • I feel you on the expat thing. It’s really hard. For me, just daily functioning takes a lot more energy than usual, and tending to my own emotional needs often gets lost in the shuffle. I hope you find some friends/support soon.

    • Maybe you could reconsider nesting in places that aren’t home? Nests are, by virtue of need, makeshift homes. They are safe havens for wanderers. You are intentionally depriving yourself of comfort, no?

      Also, if baths aren’t possible, perhaps you could try to recreate the sensation? Are dryers used there? Put a blanket in the dryer and then wrap yourself in it? Or steam a couple towels, and put one on your back, and one on your front? :)

  63. I’m so happy to be posting this right now after a week without internet–in my gf and my new apartment!!! It’s a really happy time but also has been emotionally tumultuous to say the least. I’ve really needed coping skills but this last week I forgot to even breath what with moving, work, school, and working more. My main means for coping right now is my wonderful partner. She is amazingly caring and loving. <3
    Other stuff that I do when I have time to actually stop and think about it are:

    -Watch movies/t.v. shows I like

    -Read AS

    -Listen to new music

    -Listen to classical music while sketching people OITW

    -Take a walk/just get outside

    -Take care of my plants

    -Work out

    -Eat all the chocolate I can possibly stuff into by body-with my gf 'cause it's better that way

  64. It always takes me a few days to get around to the Friday open thread, but I love reading what everybody else has already written. Particularly this week. I’ve been dealing with my own depression lately, and it’s so encouraging to know that other people are also struggling and refusing to give in.

    My top coping mechanisms:
    – Exercising while listening to audiobooks, and then taking nice warm showers
    – texting or talking with my sister and/or a few other close friends
    – writing my feelings out
    – taking my Wellbutrin. Seriously, I forgot it for one day last week and had a major crash the next day. My brain/body chemistry really needs the help!
    – Allowing myself to take some quiet time alone, preferably reading a novel while lying in the sun (or similar). I’m an introvert, but my work requires a lot of intense interaction with people, so I need to be very proactive about giving myself time to recharge.
    – Doing something new. I like changing up my routine and having little mini-adventures, like having lunch in a new cafe or wandering around a new part of town. And I always remind myself that if I end up not liking the new thing, it’s ok because now I know and I won’t have to do it again.
    – Reading AS. Such an unexpectedly warm, safe little corner of the Internet, full of beautiful and honest people. So grateful for this site and everyone on it.

  65. Man. Not sure if it is too late to comment. I appreciated the other comments, and this is just a rough time for me. Just moved to a new country with my girlfriend – a country I used to live in, but which is new for her – and she is trying to cope. We got a civil partnership for legal reasons, and I am hoping we will have the money to get married in a few years, when we are ready to celebrate it and not forced into it by homophobic border laws. We are siper broke, the apartment is shitty, my degree is going to require a lot of time at university to make it relevant for this country, and I fucked up by studying my passion and not anything practical. My dad has basically disowned me for getting angry at him for cutting my mom off child support for my youngest sibling. He kind of replaced his first family with a new wife and new kids. My mom is living hand to mouth. He has a maid. I have struggled with depression and self harm for a long time, and man, even though I have been so much happier for years with my amazing, kind, perfect girlfriend, and put all my energy into maintaining a stable everyday life with her, the chaos of moving and poverty and my family (my mom is mentally ill) and my old demons are getting to me. I am exhausted all the time, and went to the doctor to talk about how I had been depressed for years and how at one point, I had delusions for months and the only time I sought help, I was told I was probably lying to get drugs. The new doctor I had finally screwed up my courage to go see kind of shrugged and said it was probably depression, and asked me a bunch of invasive questions really coldly before saying I needed a new appointment before he could refer me to a shrink. I missed the next appointment because I was out of town, and will probably have to end up paying a fine. I do not want to see him again. The process is just too humiliating and exhausting, but I am worried if I get too exhausted, I might crack under the pressure and start being delusional again. I still get little delusions sometimes, but they used to control my whole life, to an extreme and frightening degree. My gf knows but there is just so much to do right now. I am just tired of trying to be an adult and I just want to hide under my blanket, haha. On top of it, I just got put into a situation where I need to immediately prepare a Master’s thesis….no shit. I have no idea where to go from here. One day at a time, one battle at a time.

    • Are anxious avoidance, self harm, not eating and netflix not healthy coping mechanisms? Haha advice welcome pls

      • Wow- you’re really dealing with a lot. No real advice to offer, but sending all good wishes your way as you deal with the move, the master’s thesis, the family situation, etc. I hope you find a doctor/therapist soon who can give you the support you need and deserve.

      • Ok, my advice would be:Chill.
        Make a list.
        Shit that’s bothering you, what you need to do to make it better, and steps for that.
        Do not, I repeat, do not expect or try to achieve anything by tomorrow.
        This takes time.
        Try to regain control.
        How urgent are things really?
        What can be canceled or postponed to an indefinite future?
        What can’t?
        What totally can but would make you feel a million times better if you could change it?
        And the poverty:Can you not pay rent?Can you not buy food on a basic level?Or does it merely inconvenience you?
        If you can’t live or eat, tell your dad in those words, if he still doesn’t give shit, call him dead to you for life and get an easy Job as a nightguard/receptionist that allows you to work on your thesis or work at a grocery store for a few hours a week. Maybe another roomate?
        Do you need cable?A landline? New clothes?Starbucks? Meat more than one time a week?
        Make a list for the absolute necessities and see if you can meet those.
        Poverty is defeating, but you do not have to give it all the power. And it might just be temporary for a year or two until things are settled and maybe you’ll be able to haul yourselves out of the shithole once you have your masters.
        I was like way below the poverty line poor during most of university AND PhD, and that was ten years worth of wondering if people would notice holes in the instep of your jeans, loosing a few pounds as the end of the month grew closer, riding the bike when it was waaay too cold to save money on public transportation, not turning the heat on in winter whenever possible, like at night, or when you went out to work, and treasuring a Chai Latte at Starbucks like a Million Dollars.
        I’m not romanticizing anything, but so many people are so badly off, at least for you it’s going to be somewhat temporary and you are going to learn something from these times of hardship that will give you a much better outlook on life a couple of years down the road.
        But remember, whatever you win, it’s not going to matter, if you lose yourself.
        So, take a chill pill, make sure you do not end up on the street and think about what would be really FUN to do your master’s on (because you’re going to be spending quite a lot of time on it, and why not do something that has always Interested you or just have fun with? If you enjoy what you’re doing, however impractical, own it.)
        And for a calming thought,remember that you’re going to die. All of us are.
        It does not matter how productive, rich or well adjusted a member of our society you will have been, what will, is that you did stand up to your dad at a massive disadvantage to yourself, that you lived through all of this, and that you have love in your life, so honestly, I know it might seem shitty right now, but dude, chill out, it’s all going to pass, I promise, you’ll feel tons better in a couple of months already, and you already have the essential things people strive for a lifetime! A conscience, family, a girlfriend, you do something that you love and you are going to have humility and compassion no matter how well off you’re going to be, because you’ve had this.
        It’s going to pass, go for a walk, (seriously, the sunlight helps) hold your girlfriend’s hand and go explore your New/Old Place.
        And a little burn out Tipp: Your taking care of/worrying/working day has a maximum of ten hours. Set your time, do Lunch breaks,even. But after eight p.m. You’re just not going to be productive anymore. Not even worrying, so after that you cook dinner, watch a movie, whatever.

        • Amidola, thank you so much. My utilities and included in my rent, and I made rent (late) this month and I can make it next month, but I have no idea what I am going to do after that. There is a lot of paperwork to jump through for welfare. My partner and I have both been working temp jobs that are off and on, with unstable paychecks. We have heating and electricity and even internet as long as we make rent, but food is a struggle and so is transportation. I have some good shoes and just got a tablet on a payment plan after my old laptop died, which was dumb but what can you do, I need internet somehow and I need to do research. It is a struggle even to get a minimum wage job because I am in a non english speaking country….I speak the language, but I am still a foreigner. The main problem is food – it is just so exoensive, and eating one meal a day makes me feel tired all the time. But you know what. You are right. I need to make a list and just deal with things one by one. And I hope that this is just temporary and will pass. And your comment made me cry. You are so right. I am so lucky. My gf comes from a stable family and is also educated, we have options, we just need to get things stabilized. You know what, should I just cut my dad out of my life anyway? I love him so much,but I once called him when my mom was threatening to kill my brother and herself and he basically said she was bluffing and he didn’t want to worry about it. I made the scary choice between not phoning the cops or phoning them (I didn’t) and everything turned out ok, except I had my little sister live with me during my undergrad because my mom put her in foster care. My dad helped out with the money to take care of her but he refused to take her in. I graduated at the top of my class anyway (in English…not the most employable degree). He has no idea he did anything wrong. Should I cut him out? I keep trying to have a relayionship with him but I just hate him. He and his two new kids are all doing great in a fancy home with all kinds of extracurricular activities I never did growing up with him as an angry, crazy alcoholic. Haha I am bitter.

          Man, I hate myself for not studying to be a dentist. I just want security.

          You know, I am so much luckier than so many people. I need to count my blessings. I have hardly any debt…I am going to be ok.

    • Wow. I am sending you positive vibes. I just want you to know you’re going to be okay. You said so. :)

  66. It’s crucial, but at least its not just me. I’m literally numb. I normally cope with music when I can. I used to be able to self-medicate as well. Sometimes I want to again when it feels like I no longer care about anything. But it took so long to get sober and so I almost can’t bring myself to do it ever again. Temptation arises often though, because it feels like it’d help me cope.

    -comfort eating
    – disassociation
    -writing/typing anxious thoughts
    -dream journal
    -keep to myself

    That’s pretty much all I’ve got anymore.

    • Hi! :) I’m glad you commented. Keep doing the positive stuff. Stay sober. I know what you mean. It feels like you can go back again and it will be okay, but it won’t ever be the same as before. Don’t try. It really is this way, and it really is staying this way. Keep coping. Just keep swimming. You are not all you have. You have people here, and there are resources out there for you. Private message me when you need to talk.

  67. A good tip on dealing with daily negativity/anxiety that I picked up from Sunday Assembly, is keeping a ‘good thing’ diary.

    At the end of the day, just before you go to bed, you write down 3 good things that happened that day. They can be really simple things like:

    – I had a nice lunch
    – I saw my good friend
    – My neighbour said hello and asked how I was
    – My hair looked good today
    – Somebody paid my a compliment
    – I enjoyed watching [something] on TV
    – I heard my favourite song on the radio
    – I read an awesome article on Autostraddle
    – etc etc…

    …or of course they can be ‘big’ things that were good. Then when you get up the next morning you re-read the 3 things you wrote the night before.

    The idea is basically that the last thing you do before bed is focus on the positive things of that day, not focus on the negative. And likewise in the morning you are focussed on finding 3 more good things that day.

    It sounds silly but it helps generally keep you mindful and manage negative thoughts.

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