MANDATORY CREDIT: Lucinda Ellery/REX ShutterstockEmily Bruce's hair showing bald spots. Bruce has been suffering from Trichotillomania for nine years
Trichotillomania, Oxford, Britain - Oct 2015

Thousands of women suffer in silence from a condition which gives people an overwhelming urge to pull out their hair.

Emily Bruce was just 16 when she began pulling out her brown hair as a coping mechanism for stress. But it was nine years before the single training co-ordinator from Oxford shared the disorder she discovered was Trichotillomania with family and friends.
 (Rex Features via AP Images)

My compulsive hair pulling and skin picking could be solved with a precision medicine approach

resident Obama’s call for the scientific community to embrace a precision medicine revolution gave me hope for some forward motion on two disorders I’ve quietly struggled with since my adolescence: trichotillomania and dermatillomania. Taking a precision medicine approach to these two conditions, which run under the radar of the medical establishment, could answer some longstanding clinical questions and potentially identify the first-ever effective treatments for them.

Trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling disorder, and its cousin, dermatillomania, or skin-pulling disorder, are grouped together with other related conditions as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). These aren’t “bad habits.” Instead they are complex, grooming-related mental illnesses that cause people to inflict damage on their bodies in a way that is difficult to conceal or control.

Body-focused repetitive behaviors are chronic, lifetime conditions that currently have no cure — or even an effective drug treatment option. The long-term remission rate with behavior therapy, the current gold standard, is only 10 to 20 percent.

I began pulling out my hair around age 11 and picking at my skin shortly after that, consistent with reports that these behaviors often emerge during puberty. Before long, I had visible bald patches on my head and scabs on my face, which only worsened the slew of negative emotions I was experiencing as a preteen. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing to myself; neither did my mother, my teachers, or my pediatrician. If it hadn’t been for a sanctimonious boy in my middle-school science class who liked to teach me long words at random, I wouldn’t have known what trichotillomania even was.

Even now, when a thriving community of people can share their stories on outlets like The Mighty, it is still challenging to move past the initial shock and stigma and into more nuanced discussions.

That trichotillomania, dermatillomania, and other body-focused repetitive behaviors such as onychophagia (compulsive nail biting) and rhinotillexomania (compulsive nose picking) are only now beginning to come out of the shadows belies how common they are. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, researchers estimated that 13 percent of U.S. adults engage in a body-focused repetitive behavior. That makes them more common than any other type of mental illness aside from anxiety disorders, which affect about 18 percent of U.S. adults. The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, an organization I volunteer for, uses a more conservative estimate of 4 percent, but even that still encompasses nearly 10 million American adults.

Compared to what we know about other mental illnesses, the knowledge gap is huge when it comes to body-focused repetitive behaviors. Patients often have to teach their own physicians about their condition, as I had the misfortune of experiencing myself.

I quit cognitive-behavioral treatment for my trichotillomania after only two sessions because I was already familiar with several practitioner’s manuals and realized that my therapist was omitting several of the most important therapeutic techniques.

Two years earlier, as a university student, I was disappointed to see body-focused repetitive behaviors limited to a one-sentence footnote in the textbook of my first college-level psychology class. My independent, unverified observations that the texture of my hair affected the severity of my pulling episodes, or that skin picking runs in my maternal line, drove my intellectual curiosity to take action and begin to fill in the research gaps myself.

The same year I quit therapy, I presented preliminary findings from my first research study, a neuropsychological comparison between trichotillomania and obsessive-compulsive disorder, at an annual meeting on these disorders. That I was able to present my own research alongside that of established researchers, and to have them take me seriously and ask thoughtful questions, is testament to how much ground remains to be covered.

The author presenting results of her research at the TLC Foundation’s annual conference in St. Louis in April 2017.MATT RAMEY

One big area of controversy is how body-focused repetitive behaviors are classified in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Up until then, trichotillomania had been considered an impulse-control disorder; dermatillomania wasn’t included at all. The DSM-5 relocated both disorders to the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, but some experts are unsatisfied with either category and believe that these behaviors should have a separate classification.

Given so many large-scale unknowns, body-focused repetitive behavior researchers are embracing Obama’s call to action with the BFRB Precision Medicine Initiative. While precision medicine initiatives for diseases like cancerand amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are being supported by federal funds, the National Institute of Mental Health has said it won’t fund further studies on body-focused repetitive behaviors until it sees demonstrated outcomes for specific genetic or neuropsychological targets.

In keeping with the trend of crowdfunded research, the TLC Foundation has raised nearly $2.8 million to run the BFRB Precision Medicine Initiative, which is being spearheaded by investigators at UCLA, the University of Chicago, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

I haven’t been back to therapy since those two lackluster sessions, and I am far from cured of either trichotillomania or dermatillomania. I’ve pulled out probably half of the hair on my scalp over the past decade, and I still pick at every imperfection I notice on my face, sometimes to the point of bleeding.

But this year, after presenting my second research study, Jon Grant, the chair of the TLC scientific advisory board, congratulated me on a “very well-done, very detailed” study. A compliment like that makes the years of confusion and curiosity worth it, and gives me confidence that with the right focus, there could be so much more exciting research to come.


Me vs. Fibromyalgia: 3 Key Devices to Relieve Chronic Pain

On Monday night, I was relaxing on the couch watching Law and Order: SVU with my English Bulldog, J.Z., when I realized I forgot to take my vitamin D… again. That’s the second time this week that I’ve messed my meds/vitamin routine up.

I let out a frustrated grunt and J.Z. looks at me like, “What happened? How can I help?? Can I eat it?”

It had been an exhausting day and realizing I dropped the ball (twice) makes me feel bummed out. But as I thought about all of the pills I take in one day, I decided to cut myself a break. So many pills! It’s a miracle that I keep my routine straight as much as i do.

Then, I slipped into a daydream where I pressed an “Easy Button” and all of my conditions were healed.

As I came back to reality, I looked down to my heating pad and thought it kind of resembled an easy button. And this inspired me to share some gratitude for the great gadgets that give me relief from Chronic Pain.

Here are my must-have technological devices, I hope that you may find relief too!

Quell Relief

Sleep is one of the biggest and first things affected by Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia. Painsomnia is a very real struggle day in and day out. What’s that? Have a quick peek at Painsomnia.

I’ve compared the effects of this to being asked to operate heavy machinery after staying awake for three days straight. It’s disorienting and can rob me of my confidence and focus, so finding a drug-free way to combat this was always high on my list.

It took a few days of getting used to wearing the Quell Relief device on my calf for hours at a time. A few therapy sessions on the right setting, and I could feel the pulses begin to work their magic. Through Bluetooth, I control the settings from my smartphone and have been able to track my sleep, therapy, and pain levels. This device has completely changed my sleep routine and for the most part, Painsomnia is a thing of the past. Dreamy, huh?

This is worth the investment warriors, you won’t regret it. (Plus, Quell offers a 60 day money back guarantee.)

Compression Boots

The second my feet hit the floor every morning, I’m reminded of my condition. There is A LOT of leg and foot pain that comes with Fibromyalgia. My feet feel like they’ve been put between two cement blocks, hit with a hammer and lit on fire. Next, comes the pain in my calves and then up to my knees… it’s an unbearable way to start every day.

For my birthday a few years ago, my husband purchased a pair of compression boots. I use them every night for 30 minutes and they have been “feet” changing! Not only do they give my legs and feet relief but they’re relaxing for my entire body. Think of them like a gentle “hug” for your bottom half.

Arthritis Gloves

Since the very early stages of my diagnosis my hand pain has been a major problem. I have written about them looking like lobster claws and how sometimes holding my toothbrush feels like climbing Mount Everest.

One of my closest friends, Christine, came to the rescue when she found these arthritis gloves. I wear them for 20 minutes at a time, as often as I need to. On good days, 1-2 times a day and on bad days way more. There are no side effects and my pinchers get some relief.

The medical field has made massive advancements with technology as its backbone. With one out of three people in the U.S. suffering from some type of chronic illness, companies are working diligently to figure out new ways to treat patients without the use of a pill.

It’s no “Easy Button,” but this does means more relief and less pills are on the horizon. Maybe then, J.Z. and I can pay better attention and figure out how Benson knew the guy at the deli was the real murderer.

“Me vs. Fibromyalgia” is a biweekly, one-of-a-kind series designed to give readers and warriors affected by Fibromyalgia a comprehensive look into the facts of the disease and the story of a driven, high-achieving business woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’ve chronicled nine years of experience with Fibro including chronic pain and fatigue, low energy, doctors, relationships and more, and hope to offer answers and support to those who seek them.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. All information presented should be regarded as friendly advice and opinions based on my own experience and research.


To the People I’ve Lost Because of My Borderline Personality Disorder _ Rehab Center

The road of my life has been long and filled with soaring ups and devastating downs. Today I realize and acknowledge the impact I had on my own life with borderline personality disorder. I felt like I was never good enough and let myself down daily by not being able to fulfill my own expectations. My mental illness is a blessing and a curse that both enlightens and eats at my soul.

It’s not easy being me and I know it’s not easy being around me. I want to be loved so badly and yet don’t know how to accept myself. I want to be happy and yet I have a voice inside me saying I don’t deserve to be loved. I want to stop my pain but I just don’t know how to do it.

As I continue on this journey without you beside me, I wish I could find the words and the courage to tell you I love you. I wish I could find a way to apologize for the times I let you down but alas, the courage does not come and I am left in my world of self-hatred.

Life is not easy and I know it has not been easy for you to watch me suffer. I know you tried, but you never found the right way to show me you loved me. In the end, either you left or I left before you could.

Some days I think it would be easier to disappear from this world, but I have so much more to learn and give. Each day I am learning more about myself, ways to live with and embrace this medical condition plaguing my mind.

I’m sad as I reflect on our memories and I know you won’t be there to share any more. I cannot change the past, but I’m learning I cannot live there either. I acknowledge I’ve made mistakes and I know I cannot change those. For me to be able to love myself, I must be able to forgive myself even though it’s the most difficult thing I’ve had to do.

As I continue my journey I realize I have reacted or behaved inappropriately at times and damaged relationships I held so dear. I wish I could tell you I did not do so out of malice or hate, but out of a lack of awareness of how deeply my illness controlled me. Please know, this is not an excuse, I am not denying responsibility or the part I played. I know I hurt you with my words and actions and I hate myself for that. I just wish I could turn back time.

There is a person inside of me who is screaming to get out. Screaming to tell you they are still there and to beg you not to leave. I keep hoping that person will emerge victorious over the demons that keep her prisoner. She is a gentle soul who loves deeply, laughs happily and lives life to the fullest.

This journey is a painful one as self-awareness and self-awakening occur, but the light at the end of the tunnel is self-love and happiness, so I will fight on.

There are many things I want to say but none as important as I’m sorry, I love you and I wish you well.




55 Life Hacks That Make Life Easier

Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time? You’re in luck. We have collected 100 of these practical life hacks into this one big list that is easy to digest because they’re all images! By tweaking little things, it can make your life much easier. Enjoy!


83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric


84 write random letter


85 use a rubberband


86 dorm smell bad


87 lean your phone on your sunglassess


89 how to waterproof your shoes


90 take a picture of the name card


91 iron inside out


92 old newspaper


93 tumble try shoes



94 soap bar


95 make a hole


96 drop the battery


97 use a coozie


98 when taking a picture


use a clean dust pan


try a pants hanger


use your cellphone light


use a spring from an old pen


quick and easy iphone speaker


user binder clips


wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage


put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle


clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach


use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq


doritos are great for kindling


use nail polish to identify different keys


use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies


freeze grapes to chill white wine without


use paper clips to organize your cables


almost finished your jar of nutella


sick of having a box full of tangled


unroll the rim to increase the capacity


cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff


remove the stem from strawberries


turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder


for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes


how to fold a fitted bed sheet


tired of snoozing past your alarm


place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on


ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot


use bread clips to save flip-flops


take pictures of friends holding items


how i always know which headphone is the left one


put a stocking over the end of a vacuum


How to make sure you drink enough water


user a can opener to open blister


good sandwich guide


turn your muffin pans upside down


50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor
the right way to make a blt

Adults with autism overcome childhood language challenges

Results of a small study of adults with autism at Johns Hopkins has added to evidence that their brains can learn to compensate for some language comprehension challenges that are a hallmark of the disorder in children.

Studies analyzing electrical activity in the brains of children with autism have shown that they have difficulty sorting out pairs of words that are unrelated—like “clock” and “frog”—from those that are related—like “baby” and “bottle”—making it hard for them to process written or spoken language. Moreover, investigators believed that for most children with autism, this struggle with language persisted throughout their lives.

Results of the new research from specialists at Johns Hopkins Medicine, published in the March issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, suggests that at least some adults with autism process unrelated words as well as adults without the disorder and their brains use distinct learning strategies to do so.

“There is often an assumption that people with autism will always have problems understanding the meaning of language,” says Emily Coderre, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But our results suggest that adults with autism seem to use an alternative mechanism to process language that results in a different pattern in the brain.”

For the study, the researchers recruited 20 adults with autism spectrum disorder, considered mild to moderate. All participants had “normal” verbal abilities, according to standardized tests. Those with autism spectrum disorder were diagnosed by a specialist on the team based on their score on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Some participants were diagnosed early in life, and others not until adulthood. Many participants went to regular schools with special education tracks. Some participants had graduated high school, and some went through college. The research team also recruited a matching group of 20 participants without autism to serve as a comparative control group. Participants overall ranged in age from 18 to 69. Six were female, 35 were white, one was Asian, two were African-American, one was Hispanic and one was mixed race.

All participants completed a 90-minute computer task that asked them to decide whether two pictures or two words were related (e.g., baby and bottle) or unrelated (e.g., frog and clock). The task designers chose 400 pairs of tangible nouns, half of them in the form of words and the other half displayed as pictures.

One hundred of the noun pairs were related words, 100 were related pictures, 100 were unrelated words and 100 were unrelated pictures. The screen showed a picture or a word for 1 second and after a brief pause displayed the second picture or word.

While the participants completed the task, the researchers monitored their brain’s electrical activity using an electroencephalogram (EEG) that recorded activity from 256 electrodes. For their analyses, the researchers looked at the brain activity from nine small clusters of electrodes on the front left, middle and right of the head over the frontal cortex; in the left, middle and right of the top of the head over the central brain; and on the left, right and middle part of the back top of the head, where the parietal lobe is located.

When analyzing unrelated pictures or words, people with typical development have a spike on the EEG during the 200- to 800-millisecond window following the second word or photo, known as an N400 response. Researchers believe the N400 response reflects the brain’s ability to recognize that something is “off” and that two words or pictures aren’t related in a meaningful way.

When looking at related and unrelated pictures, the people with autism had the same N400 spike on the EEG readout as the people without autism.

Contrary to findings from earlier studies in children with autism, adults with autism also had the N400 spike in electrical activity on the EEG when looking at related and unrelated words. In the controls, the response occurred at 250 to 500 milliseconds in the front of the head and from approximately 400 to 800 milliseconds over the top and top rear of the head. The response in the adults with autism started later, from 400 to 800 milliseconds in both the top and top rear of the head.

From 400 to 800 milliseconds, the N400 spike was relatively evenly distributed over left and right sides of the head for the control participants, whereas in adults with autism, the spike was stronger over the right side of the head. Coderre says that these differences between the groups—an earlier onset of the N400 response for controls and a more right-sided N400 response for the adults with autism—suggest that the two groups used different strategies to think about the meaning of the words. She points out that overall, the adults with autism showed a similar N400 response to the controls, suggesting that they weren’t impaired at teasing apart the unrelated from the related words, contrary to previous studies in children with autism. “It appears that although the adults with autism in our study have brains that are ‘wired’ differently than those without autism, our findings strongly suggest this different wiring can still enable them to achieve good cognitive and language abilities, at least on this one measure,” she says.

“It is possible that some adults with mild or moderate forms of autism may have developed compensatory learning strategies that allow them to process language as well as people without autism,” says Coderre. She plans to repeat this experiment in children with mild to moderate autism to verify that the differences seen between adults and children are due to learned responses.

“If we can understand those compensatory strategies better, then teachers can use this information in language programs for children or those with more severe language deficits to help them develop these alternative strategies faster and earlier,” she adds. “I hope our study sends a hopeful message to people with autism or their parents.”

Coderre says that one limitation of her study is that they used single words for their analysis, simplifying it, whereas others in previous studies used full sentences in their study design, which may have affected the results. She also points out that they asked participants to think about whether the two words were related or not, which may have prompted them to use more explicit compensatory strategies. In future studies, she plans to repeat this experiment using an “implicit” task, in which participants aren’t told to think about the relationship between the words, allowing her to verify whether these results were due to learned compensatory strategies in adults with autism.

About 3.5 million people in the U.S. have autism, according to the National Institutes of Health, and about a quarter of those are nonverbal. Those with speech have difficulty with complex language processing, like understanding meaning, emotional states in the voice or metaphors.


When You Have an ‘Unpopular’ Mental Illness

At age 23, after several years of experience with high anxiety, major depression, trichotillomania, disordered eating and a long list of issues I didn’t yet understand, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). This may seem like the cherry on top of an already difficult situation – especially considering the stigma associated with personality disorders. In reality, I was overwhelmed with much needed validation and relief. I finally had an explanation and I wasn’t alone. Once I stepped out into the real world, however, I felt silenced.

When I was able to share my diagnosis out loud, I noticed an entirely different response than when I previously shared my experiences with depression and anxiety. The term “personality disorder” itself often seems to be enough to scare people away from the entire conversation. It became clear early on a lot of people don’t want to hear about it, much less learn about BPD in order to advocate and support those who are affected. I assume this comes from a place of fear and intimidation, largely due to the lack of public knowledge and the destructive images and ideas we’ve learned to associate with personality disorders.

People with BPD or other personality disorders are assumed to be violent, abusive or helpless. However, many people with BPD actually tend to be notably empathetic, passionate, loyal and perceptive. We also just happen to experience extreme and often overwhelming emotions, mood swings, impulses, fear of abandonment and identity instability. Additionally, these symptoms tend to arise without a moment’s notice, hitting us like a tidal wave. Sometimes BPD looks like panic attacks, emotional meltdowns, self-harm, dissociation, impulsive decision-making and euphoric highs – all in one day. Other days, we live and exist just like anybody else. The unpredictability of BPD means we never really know what each day will bring.

While mental health awareness and advocacy do seem to be on the rise, the stigma surrounding mental illness is still strong. I’ve noticed an increase in people willing to seek help and disclose information about their mental health, particularly with anxiety – the most common mental illness in the United States – and depression. While this is to be celebrated and anxiety and depression are serious mental health concerns, mental health care and awareness cannot end there.

There have been countless times that friends and peers – even people who consider themselves advocates and allies to people living with mental health issues – have dismissed or invalidated my mental illness the moment I show symptoms. The same people who take to social media to preach respect and compassion for those battling depression are – in my own experience – often the same people who choose to remain ignorant to other, more stigmatized mental illnesses. Not only is this problematic for obvious reasons, but it can be incredibly isolating for people who don’t fall in those more widely understood categories of mental illness.

In reality, borderline personality disorder is not all that uncommon. BPD affects between two and six percent of the population (mostly young women) and is believed to be more common than both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although a lot of information about BPD is still unknown, there are many popular misconceptions about and even therapists known to turn away patients affected by BPD. The fact is people living with BPD, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder (DID) and other highly stigmatized mental illnesses should have access to the treatment and health care they need to live stable, happy lives. We can each either choose to remain ignorant to the prevalence and reality of the broad spectrum of health or we can recognize people all around us are battling these monsters – even if we can’t see it – and acknowledge they deserve to be heard, validated and loved.



This is What it’s Like to Live with Borderline Personality Disorder (from Someone Who Knows)

“You’re too much.”
“You’re Intense.”
“You go zero to 60 in .2 seconds.”
“Stop being sensitive!”
“You must like chaos.”

I consistently replay these quotes in my head. The people who spoke them have come in and out of my life.

I feel emotions far more than the average person. Although on the surface that may not sound entirely life-altering, it’s crippling.

I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder.

I live every day on the surface. Every emotion is ready to be set off—no matter what. When I’m happy, I’m euphoric. When I’m angry, I’m a monster. When I’m sad, I’m depressed. I have no in between. I’m either green, or red. I have no yellow.

Putting my disorder into words is impossible. My mind is a maze, and it makes me sick to even think of it.

All I want is to be close to people. I want a relationship where I can share, love, be safe, but I become “too intense” and “too much” for anybody to handle. So, ultimately, I’m left with nobody. It’s a terrible cycle.

I suffer every day. I suffer with feeling overwhelmed all the time.

I find it difficult to communicate. What I feel in my heart and my head doesn’t translate. I can love you with my mind, body and soul while my words are the exact opposite.

I’m not trying to start drama and I’m not an attention seeker. When I “overact” it is not easy for me to recover.

I hurt. I hurt others. I’m depleted at the end of the day.

I am constantly afraid of the idea of being alone; abandonment is hell. I latch onto people and let go before they are able to let go of me.

Many believe that I am mean, narcissistic, a manipulator.

My moods change consistently and I have zero control over my emotions. I feel everything 24/7.

I was told there are two Monicas. The “Monica I love” and “the disorder.” The “real Monica” is nurturing, empathetic, passionate, enthusiastic, loving and happy.

Once that Monica is gone, you’re left with “the disorder,” which causes manipulative behavior, lying, distorting reality and pessimism.

How is it possible to have these contradicting traits locked into one human?

I’m going to open up my heart. I’m going to become vulnerable. I am going to be raw. There have been nights I didn’t want to be alive. There have been spirits of what I’d like to call “insanity.” I’ve had moments where I ran into the street while the one I love chased me—and I was hoping and praying a car would take me out of my misery.

Out of the pure pain of thinking the one I love would leave, I’d bang my head against a wall as hard as I could, hoping I’d be knocked out.

“I HATE YOU! I LOVE YOU! DON’T LEAVE ME!” Should be tattooed on my forehead.

I tried overdosing three times October, two years ago. I’d had enough. I was bullied out of college and couldn’t handle the pain. I couldn’t handle being abandoned again.

I wanted to die.

I wanted people to care about me. No matter what it took. I wanted people to hurt and realize their wrong-doings. I wanted to punish the ones who didn’t understand. I wanted them to hurt as much as I did every single day.

When I’m down, I’m at rock bottom.

When I hurt, everyone needs to hurt.

I’ve read articles upon articles on how to deal with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing uplifting to be heard. I read constantly how people like me drain the ones around us. We drain the energy out of the ones we love. We leave them with nothing.

One article even stated, “Run as fast as you can.”

I’m here to tell you that although I’m difficult, I am worth it.

You may not understand me 100 percent of the time. (You may not even understand me five percent of the time, but I am still human.) I feel emotions to the extreme. I long to feel accepted and cherished.

Do not be afraid of me.

We as BPD sufferers are the “difficult ones,” but we aren’t impossible.


5 Things I Ask Myself Every Day to Help Manage My Bipolar Disorder

Living with a mental illness can be challenging. Over the years, through all the ups and downs, I have learned to tune into myself and listen to what I need. I have found that I can manage my symptoms much better with careful planning and a deep sense of self-awareness. As I have learned my triggers, I have learned to create a lifestyle and environment that helps stabilize me. In addition, I have learned how to avoid and set boundaries for situations that cause chaos and wreak havoc in my life. I try to make it a point to ask myself these five questions at various points throughout my day to help keep me on track and protect myself from a breakdown.

1. What am I grateful for today?

I try to start every day in gratitude. I like to do this first thing in the morning before I even get out of bed. This is especially important during depressive episodes. It helps to balance my natural negativity and give me something to keep me grounded.

2. What do I need today?

Every day is different and I never know how I’m going to feel when I wake up. I have found it’s so important to reflect on what I need to do on any given day. Is it rest? Is it an adventure? Is it time to get work done? Time alone? A conversation with a friend? Time to create? This question is especially important as I go into the day so I can figure out my expectations for the day and communicate those to my loved ones.

3. If I can only get one thing done today, what is it?

I find I get depressed on days I feel I didn’t accomplish anything. So, I like to check in with myself and see what I want to get done on any given day. Maybe it’s just, “I want to take a shower today” or “I want to write a chapter for my book” or “I want to get a specific thing done for work.” If I don’t check in with myself and have that conversation, I am more likely to get disappointed with myself at the end of the day and feel like a failure or get depressed or anxious.

4. What can I take off my plate today, so I can get the most important thing done?

I have come to learn those busy days that are packed full of things to do do not work well for me. They tend to cause stress and irritability and that triggers episodes of anxiety, depression, anger, mania and the like. There is always something I can take out of the day but if I don’t stop, look at my schedule and see what I can move and shift, I will get caught in chaos, which is never good for me. I have learned to set boundaries and have learned to be OK with changing appointments around or saying no to something I know will end up causing problems for me later on.

5. Where can I find time for rest today?

I tend to forget to recharge and I let myself get burnt out, and a burnt out me is not a pretty sight. I have tried to make it a point to focus on self-care and find time and space for rest. I believe that healing comes in the quiet. If we don’t stop and let ourselves rest and replenish we can never really heal or flourish. Along with my illness, I juggle motherhood, marriage and a career. There are always a million excuses for why I can’t rest or don’t have time to stop, but for the sake of my health, I know I have to. Sometimes rest is just a cup of tea in the afternoon. Or maybe it’s a yoga class, dinner with a friend or a bath. On the good days, it’s an afternoon at my favorite tea shop, alone or sitting on a blanket in the park and writing. There are so many ways to find and create rest during the day but if I don’t stop and seek it, I won’t find it.

These questions can be helpful, regardless of what you are dealing with. They have especially come in handy for me as I have dealt with grief and loss, and they have given me a rhythm for my day. If you find yourself struggling through your days, stop and add these questions to your daily routine. They have consistently helped me to gain insight and stay ahead of emotional episodes and breakdowns. Hopefully, they too will help ground you and guide you through your life journey.




Mum with rare incurable disease that dislocates her joints multiple times a day becomes plus size model – Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

mum diagnosed with a rare incurable disease has embarked on a career as a plus size model.

Stephanie Harding, 30, of Southport, says she refuses to let her diagnosis control her life as she battles dislocations including rolling her ankles daily.

She took part in her first professional shoot on Thursday after winning a competition to model a curvy range for a local Merseyside store, Sparkles Boutique.

Mum-of-two Stephanie suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), an incurable hereditary disorder which affects the connective tissues in the body, the Southport Visitor reports.

At present, there are few EDS specialists in the UK, and Stephanie wasn’t even diagnosed until last year, despite showing symptoms since birth.

Stephanie Harding (Photo: Sparkles Boutique – Craig Wilko)

She said: “I was constantly tired and/or in pain, I knew something wasn’t right. You know your own body, don’t you?

“But whenever I’d go to the GP, they’d blame my weight or depression. I was made to feel silly and like a hypochondriac.”

EDS, which affects around one in 5,000 people, weakens the tissue that holds the body together.

It causes hypermobility and frequent dislocations of the joints, stretchy skin, problems with internal organs and constant pain.

Stephanie says she suffers dislocations every day as well as “fragile skin” but does not experience the stretchy skin element of the condition.

“My ankles constantly roll daily and I have a permanent hip injury because of it,” she said.

Stephanie, who says she loses entire days of her life due to being “wiped out with pain”, finally saw a specialist in London last year.

She continued: “He made me feel like he believed me, like he understood.

“He told me about EDS and it was like he could read me.

“I know GPs can’t know everything but there are so many people with rare conditions, and they shouldn’t be dismissed.”

Stephanie said she was going to set up a blog combining her love of fashion and beauty with raising awareness for EDS and other “invisible illnesses”, as well as taking part in more fashion photoshoots.

She added: “I loved the photoshoot. It was a massive confidence boost and [local photographer Craig Wilko] was great.

“A year ago I’d never have imagined doing something like this, but there comes a time when you have to stop caring what other people think and just do what you want.”


People who press snooze are smarter, says science

Because a sleep in truly is a genius idea.

Evolution is a tricky thing, but it’s generally something that’s pretty hard to deny.

According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, people who are in control of their sleeping habits are showing a degree of intelligence.

Authors Kanazawa and Perina suggest that the ‘snooze’ button is an invention which has shaken our evolutionary ‘wake up with the sun’ nature to the core. Essentially, being able to adapt to this new way of sleeping (the ‘five more minutes’ phenomena) means you’re more intelligent.


Rather than waking up with your alarm like a mindless robot, you’re more in tune with your body and likely to act on what it needs.

Whether that’s a few more minutes curled up in a warm blanket, or following your career goals, it’s an evolutionary change that will make you more likely to prosper.

It also shows that you are more creative and independent.

These findings were linked to a study out of Southampton University, where 1229 men and women were surveyed. It was found that night owls, i.e. those who went to bed late and let themselves sleep in in the morning had more income and a more comfortable lifestyle.

Essentially, sleep is good and you need to listen to what your body wants!