Pharmacophobia: What It Means To Fear Your Medication

Put yourself in this situation. You’re at a doctor’s office, being diagnosed with an illness or condition, and you’re prescribed medication. Most people are totally fine taking that medication and going on their merry way! But for a small group of folks, that decision is nowhere near as easy because of something called pharmacophobia. If you have pharmacophobia or any other phobias, you know exactly how scary it can be! 
We all want what’s best for ourselves when it comes to our health. But being diagnosed with an illness and prescribed medication can make you feel everything from scared to ashamed. It can be really difficult to cope with! And no doubt you have a few questions and concerns when your doctor recommends prescriptions like:
What are the positive effects of this medication? 
What are the possible adverse side effects of these medications, and what should I do if the effects are getting severe? 
Is there a best time to take the medication, and should it be taken on an empty stomach or with food? 
These are normal questions for patients to want to know answers to!
If you are hesitant to take prescription medications, you’re not alone. An estimated 30-50% of people don’t take their medications as prescribed, and pharmacophobia is a significant reason why. In a 2020 study, 21% of respondents self-identified as pharmacophobic. However, there are plenty of options to help improve your pharmaceutical experience.

What Is Pharmacophobia?

In short, pharmacophobia is the fear of medication and any sort of pharmacological treatment.

People with pharmacophobia may feel nervous or upset seeing or hearing about medication in a variety of settings, from a television show to seeing a pill container in someone’s bathroom. 

Pharmacophobia manifests itself differently for each individual, depending on what triggers them. For example, having to take drugs regularly can be extremely difficult to deal with for some; for others, the phobia may induce severe panic attacks. The anxiety they are experiencing may be so acute that they require hospitalization.

What Causes Pharmacophobia?

One of the most common causes is a negative medical experience. That could be an allergic reaction, choking on a pill, or watching someone you love deal with a severe illness. There doesn’t even have to be a direct link to prescription drugs — your brain could still make that connection for fun. Alllll of that dread culminates in a fear of having the same response the next time you take medicine, which might make it difficult to “trust” the prescriptions. Even after talking with your doctor about the benefits, you may still decide not to take it at all.

The Nocebo Effect

We’re pretty sure you’ve heard about the placebo effect. It basically happens when you’re given some form of medication, told that it is going to help you and it does actually make you feel better, but in reality, you’ve only been given a sugar pill. Well, folks with pharmacophobia have the exact opposite of that, something called the nocebo effect

Say you’re being prescribed medication, and your doctor warns you about some possible side effects. The nocebo effect can cause people with pharmacophobia to have a negative reaction to a drug, just because they think they’re going to. It can even outweigh the benefits of the drug. 

You’ve heard the old saying “mind over matter.” For some people, merely thinking about side effect ideas can cause unfavourable symptoms. It’s difficult because, on one hand, you want to take the meds and feel better, but knowing about the adverse effects makes you even more afraid to take them. And when you begin taking your medication, you will be extra conscious of how your body adjusts to them.

Although thinking positively is great, it can also be unrealistic all the time because shit happens. But trying to be generally upbeat about treatments and medications will help. The brain can change the way nerve cells communicate by emitting chemicals called neurotransmitters that attach to molecules on neurons known as receptors, so positive thinking actually has a physical effect! 


Treating pharmacophobia is tough because it’s taking medicine that creates fear in the first place! So because drugs probably won’t help… other treatments are your best bet! There are a couple of approaches you can take with it, so let’s have a look at them.

Exposure Therapy 

This form of behavioural therapy is used to manage anxiety problems and is a popular option for phobias. But it’s not easy. The patient may experience increased anxiety at first as the therapist introduces the medication to observe and touch. The therapist will make sure not to induce any harm, of course. The goal is that the more you are around this medication, the more comfortable you will become with it. 

Patients learn about the symptoms and strategies to help reduce feelings of discomfort. The therapist will determine the length of therapy based on the needs of the patient.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

Because it is a problem-focused and goal-oriented kind of therapy, CBT can be helpful for pharmacophobia. Patients learn how to recognize and examine specific sensations, respond better, and think when their worries manifest emotionally and behaviourally. CBT is commonly used to treat patients with OCD and anxiety disorders.

This form of therapy works to identify specific troubles and establish a treatment plan. Patients also practice coping strategies outside of sessions, to work on their thought processes, troublesome feelings, and actions. 

Mindfulness and Meditation

Meditation and Mindfulness, when combined with treatment, can be extremely beneficial to people who have pharmacophobia. This can assist in diverting your anxiety by refocusing your attention on items you may not have an emotional relationship with. Breathing, redirecting energy, and emptying the mind are examples of relaxing and relieving tension in the body and mind. 

Mindfulness meditation consists of several activities that can be done anywhere as long as the mind is present—easing the mind’s detachment from continually overpowering weighty thoughts to assist in achieving peace of mind. 

If you totally relate to the feelings mentioned in this article or have some of the symptoms listed, we hope it helps… but we also recommend talking to your doctor. Anxiety over taking medications is quite normal and is nothing to be embarrassed about. 

It’s a new journey, but you’re doing the best that you can, and that’s really important! You can be on medicine and still live your best life. As you go through this process, keep a diary to jot down your feelings and consult with a therapist for coping strategies. You’ve got this!!

How Long Can Postpartum Depression Last?

Pregnancy, birth, and the first months of a newborn’s life can bring about a range of emotions for new parents, including happiness, grief, and sometimes overwhelm. Alllllll of these emotions are normal. But because it’s “supposed” to be a delightful experience, parents may feel compelled to be happy, even if they’re struggling with their new reality.

It’s a journey that nobody can ever be fully prepared for, and that’s all right because being a parent isn’t about being flawless. It’s about learning as you go. Being responsible for a new human being can and will create changes in your life — and bring with it mood swings, fluctuations in sleeping patterns, several diaper changes, irritability and more.

There might also be a sensation of fear, which will sometimes be accompanied by intrusive thoughts like: 

I don’t know what to do anymore. 

Why can’t I remember that?

I’m incredibly unwell, but my baby needs me.

I’m overwhelmed and I can’t stop these tears.

I feel so helpless. Why won’t this feeling go away?

These emotions can frequently lead to despair, tension, worry, and a sense of not being or doing enough. Some of these feelings are often referred to as the baby blues, which are natural and can last between one to two weeks for new parents. 

Baby Blues, What Are They? 

Having a child may be an exciting time for parents, but it is also very common for new mothers to go through a period of “baby blues.” Even though they’re short-term, baby blues can be overwhelming! They’re brought on by all the changes that come with having a new baby, such as worry, loneliness, anxiety, and stress. 

Here are a few of the signs you might notice if you’re experiencing baby blues:

  • Difficulties focusing or making decisions
  • Mood fluctuations of irritability or anxiety
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Severing relationships with friends or relatives
  • Feeling emotionally drained

Baby blues can begin when the baby is 2 to 3 days old and typically only last a few weeks. If these emotions persist for much longer than that, they can be classified as a more severe underlying medical condition known as postpartum depression. This is when you’ll want to reach out to your doctor!

What Is Postpartum Depression? 

Postpartum depression, also known as (PPD) is a kind of clinical depression that develops after giving birth. Stress and physiological changes may make you feel like so much is happening at once and you can’t catch a break during this highly vulnerable phase. With PPD, most of the baby blues symptoms persist for much longer than a few weeks. 

The first joke you hear when you tell someone you’re a new parent is “HA, have fun never sleeping again.” It might be funny when you’re years down the road and looking back but definitellyyyy not while you’re going through it. New moms often get so little sleep that they may feel like they’re constantly in a fog. That feeling gets incredibly overwhelming over time with postpartum depression.

Some moms tell themselves that they just have to push through it without help, especially if they’re the kind to have overcome adversities in the past. They might think that they’ve done hard things before and they can do this too. And it’s not a bad thing to believe in your own resiliency! But it does mean that you may choose to suffer in silence and not communicate what you’re going through with your partner or your loved ones. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. 

Unlike the baby blues, which endure for a shorter time, postpartum depression requires assistance from a physician or a licenced psychotherapist​​. Here are a few other signs to look for.

Signs of Postpartum Depression

If you have any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, it might be a good idea to get in touch with your doctor and or mental health therapist. The following are some of the most prevalent symptoms:

  • Having little or no drive or ambition
  • Disinterest in interacting with the infant, family, and/ or friends
  • Appetite changes, such as undereating or overeating
  • Having strong feelings of wanting to harm the baby or oneself
  • Inability to make decisions, difficulty with memory and concentrating
  • Alteration in sleep pattern by oversleeping or undersleeping
  • Extreme irritation, impatience, hostility, anxiety 
  • Feeling insignificant or like a terrible parent
  • Extensive sadness and uncontrolled sobbing
  • Inability to enjoy previously enjoyable activities
  • Feeling disinterested in and disconnected from the baby, or as if your kid is someone else’s baby
  • Intense pains, aches, headaches, or gastrointestinal problems regularly

How Common Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is highly prevalent, affecting up to 15 percent of women. In addition, one in every 1,000 women may also suffer a severe illness known as postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is an emergency and if you or someone you know may be experiencing it, reach out to a doctor to discuss it as soon as possible.

How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last? 

Untreated postpartum depression can persist for months or even years, but with the help of a doctor, life becomes more bearable. Treatment can help regulate symptoms, and for most, symptoms will fade with time; however, 38 percent of women with postpartum depression may experience long-term symptoms. 

When postpartum depression is left untreated, parents are more likely to have long-term consequences like immune system issues, heart conditions, chronic pain, and sleep problems.

Close to half of the women who receive medical assistance continue to have symptoms more than a year after childbirth. In contrast, approximately one-third of those who do not receive medical therapy still have symptoms of depression up to three years after giving birth.

What Does Treatment Look Like?

Your specific circumstances will determine your doctor’s treatment options. If you have any other health causes, your physician may refer you to a specialist or mental healthcare professional.

There are several methods your doctor can use to differentiate between baby blues and the more long-term type of postpartum clinical depression. We know it can be really difficult to share your symptoms with your doctor and talk openly about them, but we promise you there’s no shame in anything you may be experiencing. So many new mothers experience postpartum depression and they’ve all gone through similar challenges.

In combination with other treatments, your doctor may recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help you feel better (or other types of therapy!). Your doctor may also prescribe medications, like an antidepressant such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Your doctor will work with you to determine the best dosage, and discuss if it may interfere with breastfeeding. 

What Else Can You Do?

We want you to know that you are not alone in dealing with PPD and that none of this is your fault. While you seek treatment from a doctor, there are a few small things you can do at home to support yourself. This won’t make your postpartum depression disappear but it will provide some short term relief:

  • Participate in a support group
  • Take as much time as possible to rest
  • Share your emotions with friends and families
  • Ask for help from others

Many parents feel this intense pressure to meet society’s expectations of feeling nothing but joy with their baby’s birth. It’s overwhelming! And once you add dropping hormone levels into the mix…well, that’s just not a cocktail of emotions that anyone wants. Bringing a baby into this world is a HUGE life change and new parents are allowed to feel everything from happiness to anxiety to grief. New moms may feel frightened about how many changes their bodies are going through, how their new baby is adapting to life outside the womb, AND how all of this is not quite lining up the way they thought it might. It’s a lot. Like a LOT a lot. Remember that you’re not alone. And remember that you’re not weak for feeling this way!

8 Signs of Toxic Masculinity

When we begin talking about the signs of toxic masculinity, we often see that the term “toxic masculinity” itself brings up a lot of strong reactions in people. “Being a man isn’t a bad thing!” “Feminists are trying to take away our masculinity!” And we really do get it.

At face value, pointing out certain behaviour from men as toxic masculinity can make it sound like being a man is bad, wrong, or problematic. But it’s not! Men can be great! Without men, we wouldn’t have Mr. Rogers, The Rock, Harry Styles, that nice barista who always remembers your order, or our wonderful fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, and the millions of other amazing men in the world. 

So obviously being a man isn’t inherently bad. But sometimes, societal expectations put pressure on men to act in “typically” or “traditionally” masculine ways that end up hurting themselves and others.

So what’s toxic, what’s not, and how can you tell the difference? Let’s DiveThru this idea to understand what toxic masculinity means, and the ways we can reach happy, healthy, and positive masculinity.

** Note that this article is primarily dealing with cisgender men within a North American context, and often talks in a men versus women kind of way. There are lots of different genders and cultures that are affected by toxic masculinity. Okay, on with the article! 

What “Toxic Masculinity” Really Means

If you’ve ever heard someone say “man up,” “boys will be boys,” or “be a man,” there’s probably some toxic masculinity behind that. Toxic masculinity is defined as a set of cultural and societal norms of masculinity that emphasize physical violence, aggression, emotional repression, as well as homophobic and sexist behaviour as the way men are “supposed” to act. Now, this isn’t saying that all men behave this way. A lot of it depends on men’s peer groups, socioeconomic factors, and upbringing. It’s not so much an individual man problem, as it is a societal one. 

There’s also a particularly harmful effect on men as a result of toxic masculinity. Men are more likely to commit suicide than women, less likely to reach out for mental health support, and less likely to go to the doctor for preventative care. Men perpetrate violent crimes, and are the victims of those crimes, more often than women. Then there’s the issue of men not feeling like they can talk freely about their emotions because they’ll be judged for it. So, yeah. Toxic masculinity harms men too. But let’s get a bit more specific with what is toxic and what isn’t.

Signs of Toxic Masculinity

What exactly makes masculinity toxic? Here’s a few signs of toxic masculinity:

  • Violence
  • Aggression
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Homophobia
  • Misogyny 
  • Refusing to seek help when struggling (mentally or physically)
  • Engaging in risky behaviour that might cause harm to oneself or others
  • Engaging in unhealthy behaviour, like smoking and drinking

Everyone can get into a negative, aggressive headspace sometimes. We’re not saying getting angry or a night of heavy drinking once in a while are necessarily signs of toxic masculinity. It’s when the behaviour is consistent over time and harmful to themselves or others around them that it becomes an issue. And it’s also when men think that those negative beliefs and behaviours exemplify what it means to “be a man.” This is where the whole idea of excusing bad behaviour by saying “boys will be boys” comes in.

Not All Masculinity Is Bad

This is so important to remember! You can be a man (or a masculine person) in a million different ways, and you’re even allowed to be proud of being a man. No one should be telling you otherwise. The big difference is when there’s only one acceptable idea of what “being a man” means, and especially if that idea includes being dominant, physically aggressive, financially privileged, tall, strong, etc. Think Gaston in Beauty and the Beast.

At that point, masculinity becomes toxic because of the pressure to “act like a man” in a certain way or risk being ridiculed for not fitting in. Not every man is gonna look like Gaston, or be aggressive, dominant, or a millionaire. And that’s okay! That’s what the criticism of toxic masculinity is trying to say: those expectations are unrealistic and often damaging for men, so screw ‘em. Let every man express their own, unique version of masculinity.

Positive Masculinity

So what counts as positive masculinity? There are so many examples! A 2013 paper in the Journal of Counseling & Development looks at positive perspectives on masculinity to counsel men. Rather than focus on the negative things that should change (see: toxic masculinity), the study suggests that mental health professionals encourage positive traits that are already present in Western masculinity. This includes a desire to provide for loved ones, forming groups, helping others, engaged and enthusiastic fatherhood, self-reliance (but asking for help when needed), and sooo many other great things. 

Positive masculinity can be empathetic, emotionally intelligent, fun, and supportive of those around you — without having to sacrifice pride in one’s masculinity. Heck yeah! A win for the dudes. 

Celebrating Masculinity

So now that we’ve talked about some misconceptions, how do you celebrate healthy masculinity? Well, you can celebrate it however you want!

Become an Advocate

You can become an advocate for healthy masculinity. Jaylen Brown spoke openly about the culture of toxic masculinity in Boston and how it can lead to violence. The Boston Celtics player took part in a documentary about mental health and professional sports, and how the image of the stoic athlete can be damaging.

Express Yourself

There’s always the option to experiment with your look, choosing styles that might be different from society’s expectations for men. ASAP Rocky, Lil Nas X, Harry Styles, David Bowie, and Prince are just a few examples of men that went outside the box. If it feels like you, give it a shot! You won’t know if you rock a dress until you try it.

You can express your sexuality openly in a more traditionally masculine career, like Carl Nassib, the NFL player who came out as gay in July 2021. In the video, he expressed his appreciation for the support from his friends and family, and said he would be donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ organization that focuses on mental health crisis support, such as suicide prevention. The league and his team also announced their support for Nassib on social media.

Fight for Human Rights for Everyone

Healthy masculinity can also include using your voice to speak out on violence against women and children. Pearl Jam has used their platform many times in support of women’s issues. During their South America tour in 2018, they wore orange shirts in support of the anti-femicide movement, and let the audience know that they back the people that are fighting for change, gender equality, and women’s safety. 

There’s also Ashton Kutcher, who pivoted from his acting career to focus on fighting human trafficking. He and Demi Moore co-founded Thorn, a company that develops software that aims to detect, identity, and prevent online child sex trafficking. Thorn provides the technology free to law enforcement and has identified more than 17,000 victims. 

Did you notice that all of these men are pretty different, and express themselves in a bunch of different ways? That’s, like, kind of the whole point. But you don’t need to go above and beyond. You can be a masculine person, doing your best, everyday, to be an authentic version of yourself. So long as you’re happy and comfortable in your skin and trying to minimize harm to yourself and others, you’re good! Be a man, in whatever kind and fun and weird and wonderful way you choose.

“Winter Blues” or Seasonal Depression?

Do you get the “winter blues”? Even if you like wearing oversized sweaters, drinking PSLs, and stepping on crunchy leaves, pining for warm summer months is totally normal. Getting bundled up and giving off ASAP Rocky/Rihanna Met Gala vibes makes our hearts happy, but when the cold air makes our lungs hurt? Noooo thank you. We’re counting the days until July comes again.

But there’s a difference between being sad about shovelling snow and seasonal depression. When the winter blues start to interfere with your daily life by making everyday tasks harder than they’d usually be, you may be experiencing seasonal depression. If you’re wondering if you have the winter blues or are dealing with something more, let’s DiveThru it. 

What Is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal depression, aka Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka SAD, is a type of depression that’s experienced in the fall and winter and goes away when spring comes around. There’s also a rare form of SAD that occurs in the spring and summer months. 

Unlike depression, which can affect anyone at any time of year, SAD is distinguished by a depressive episode being triggered by the change in the seasons for at least two years in a row (though not always consecutively). If the phrase “winter is coming” triggers the same level of dread in you as it triggered in Game of Thrones characters, maaayybe it’s time to consult a therapist. 

What Causes It?

Researchers theorize a few different causes for SAD. Reduced sunlight can lead to reduced serotonin levels — which affects our mood, happiness, sleep, and lots of other important functions. Basically, lower serotonin levels = lower mood regulation = potential depression symptoms. 

There’s also a link to seasonal depression and melatonin levels. That’s the hormone that regulates your sleep patterns. The days are short and the dark lasts longer, so our body thinks it’s time to snooze, even though it’s only 7 p.m.. Rockin’ that retirement home sleep schedule and sleeping too much can take a toll on your wellbeing. 

Who’s Affected By It? 

Bad news for the far north and far south: seasonal depression is found more often in people who live far away from the equator. This is thought to be related to the shortened days in the winter compared to places with a more consistent level of daylight. Okay, but do places near the equator have cozy fall nights with hot apple cider??… Yes?… Oh, well, never mind then. 

It’s also more likely to affect people between 18 and 30 years old. (As if your 20s weren’t enough to deal with!) As you get older, if you haven’t experienced SAD before, the odds of you experiencing it goes down. And you may want to talk to your family, because seasonal depression is more likely to be present in those whose family members also deal with it. 

Seasonal depression is more common in people with other disorders, such as bipolar II disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, and anxiety and panic disorders. 

What Are The Symptoms?

There are some symptoms associated with seasonal depression that you should look out for. Because it is a form of depression, there are the common symptoms of depression, which include:

  • Less interest in stuff you like 
  • Feeling agitated 
  • Low energy 
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Lower sex drive 

A few of the fall/winter seasonal depression symptoms are: 

  • Overeating, usually associated with cravings for carbohydrate-heavy foods 
  • Weight gain 
  • Oversleeping 
  • Social withdrawal 

If you find yourself sleeping a little too much, social distancing (for non-pandemic reasons), and enjoying way more of those pumpkin shaped sugar cookies than you usually do, you may be dealing with something more serious than the winter blues. Luckily, there’s a few options available to help you out. 

How Can You Treat It? 

One way to help seasonal depression is light therapy. That’s where you get a very bright light (way more than your run-of-the-mill bulb) and shine it at yourself for at least 30 minutes a day, usually first thing in the morning, to simulate daylight. Pretend it’s a solar eclipse and don’t look straight at it, of course. Actual sunlight is preferable, but sometimes that’s not an option, so a specialized light box is the next best thing. 

Antidepressants are also an option for treatment. This 2006 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that light therapy and antidepressants both work for treatment, and it’s more up to patient choice and doctor recommendation. As well, this 2002 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders suggests that cognitive behavioural therapy to change your attitudes and behaviours around the winter months (mixed with light therapy) can have good long term results in patients, but the data is limited, so, you know, take it with a grain of salt and talk it out with your therapist.

But remember! The symptoms of SAD can overlap with the symptoms of other conditions, so always consult a doctor before trying out treatments yourself. So, yes, “treat yo’ self!” in the Parks and Rec kinda way: get that PSL you’ve been craving all week, but leave the SAD treatment advice to the experts. 

How To Stop Dissociating With 5 Practical Tips

You know when you’re driving on the highway and it dawns on you that you don’t remember the past five miles? Or maybe you’re reading a book and you realize that “one more chapter before bed” suddenly turned into “oh shit it’s 3:26 AM.” These are everyday examples of dissociation, where you disconnect from what’s around you, your own thoughts, or your sense of time and place. 

It can be disconcerting AF to feel your grasp on reality slipping. Dissociation, like most mental health issues, is made worse by stress. Feeling like you’re stuck in a feedback loop of symptoms>stress>worse-symptoms>more-stress is tough. But you’re not alone and there is help available. Let’s dive thru how to stop dissociating together! 

What Is Dissociation?

Urban Dictionary defines dissociation as–jk jk. According to the American Psychiatric Association, dissociative disorders can affect every part of mental function, with the most common issues being memory, identity, perception, and one’s sense of self. 

Common symptoms of dissociation include (but are not limited to): 

  • Memory loss 
  • Feeling detached from yourself or your emotions 
  • People and places feel distorted or unreal 
  • A blurred sense of identity 
  • Significant stress 
  • Inability to cope with stress 
  • Other mental health problems like depression or suicidal ideations 

People who have experienced trauma are particularly vulnerable to dissociative disorders. Dissociation can develop as a way to keep difficult memories off your mind. This can present in a number of ways, the most common being repressing memories of a specific event, like intense combat or a sexual assault. Stressful situations can temporarily worsen symptoms. 

There are treatment options for you or your loved one to consider. Psychotherapy is the primary option and you’ll want to look for a therapist who has experience with trauma patients. While there are no specific medications for dissociation, antidepressants or other drugs can help control symptoms of the related mental health concerns. 

Types of Dissociative Disorders

There are three major types of dissociative disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM-5 to its close friends). 

Dissociative amnesia is a loss of memory ranging from specific incidents all the way up to (though more rarely) a complete loss of memory. 

There’s also dissociative identity disorder, which was formerly known as multiple personality disorder. You might feel the presence of more than one person living in your head or feel like you have multiple identities. Each identity has its own characteristics, like mannerisms, accents, or even the need for glasses. 

Depersonalization-derealization disorder can sometimes present as an out-of-body experience. It can also make the things around you feel dreamlike or otherwise unreal. These symptoms can last only a few moments at a time but can persist for months or years. 

You don’t have to have one of those disorders to experience dissociation — as mentioned, it can also be a symptom of anxiety or a trauma response. Dissociation is ultimately your brain’s way of dealing with something reallllyyyy difficult, whether that’s an event or an emotion. If you’re experiencing a lot of the symptoms we’ve been talking about, it would be best to seek out a mental health professional and get some answers. 

How to Stop Dissociating With 5 Practical Tips

In the meantime, we may be able to help with a few tips on how to stop dissociating. Contrary to what television shows would have you believe, dissociation is not caused or fixed by being hit in the head with a frying pan. Fear not, we’ve got coping tips!

1. Ground Yourself 

No, you didn’t miss curfew or fail a test! We’re talking about keeping yourself present in the moment. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise! This practice is great for keeping you alert. Engage all five senses and mindfully notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Increasing your sensory input helps you stay in the moment. 

2. Take Care Of Your Body 

You only have one body, so listen to it. Eating well, sleeping enough, and being active can all help your mental wellbeing. Exercise releases endorphins, improves your mood, boosts your energy and improves focus. Feeling good physically can help you feel good mentally, making dissociative episodes less likely. 

3. Avoid Potential Triggers 

Dissociation can be part of your body’s trauma response. If you’ve experienced dissociative episodes before, then you might already have some idea of what triggers them. So, take notice of what those triggers are for you and try to change things up where needed! If you’re not sure what your triggers are, try journaling or other mindfulness exercises to work through your feelings. 

4. Show Yourself Compassion  

You have nothing to be ashamed about! Dissociation can be a shitty thing to deal with, but it’s not your fault. A little self-love can go a long way. 

5. Talk To A Therapist 

If you have the ability to see a mental health professional, it’s definitely the best option. Especially if your dissociation is related to another mental health issue, a therapist can help you untangle your symptoms and work with you on ways how to stop dissociating.

It can be v stressful to experience dissociation. We hope these tips help you, or at the very least make you feel less alone in what you’re going through. You’ve got this!

How to Address Misgendering When It Happens

You’re having a great day. You nailed that presentation and your boss was totes impressed. Now you’re going to treat yourself and grab take-out from your fave restaurant on the way home. But when you walk into the restaurant, the host says “sorry sir, it’ll just be another five minutes” — except you’re a woman. It was just a single word that was probably an accident, but now your good vibes are gone and you’re never wearing that pantsuit again. 

That would be a shitty feeling, right? Now imagine that nearly every interaction you have was like that. For trans or non-binary people, that can unfortunately be the case. We’ve all said the wrong thing before. Pobody’s nerfect, after all. What’s more important is making things right after your slip of the tongue. 

What Is Misgendering? 

Misgendering is when someone is referred to by a pronoun or honorific that doesn’t match their gender identity. In case you don’t remember English class, pronouns are substitutes for nouns, e.g. he, they, her, she, his, their. Honorifics are title prefixes, like Ms., Mr., Mx., or Dr. 

Misgendering can be done accidentally or intentionally, but has negative impacts either way. You might make assumptions based on a person’s primary or secondary sex characteristics like voice pitch, facial hair, or chest. But you know what they say about assuming… so ask! It’s also just a basic sign of respect to call someone by their preferred name and pronouns. Using the proper terminology helps create a safe space where people can feel more comfortable being themselves. 

Let’s dive thru some ways to address and prevent misgendering! 

What To Do If You’ve Misgendered Someone

Say sorry right away and continue the conversation. If it was just a slip of the tongue, move on as though you said “pass the salt – sorry, pepper.” Most trans or non-binary people don’t want the conversation to be derailed into a discussion on their gender. Apologize quickly and move forward. If the person you misgendered isn’t present, you don’t need to apologize, but you should still acknowledge your mistake before continuing your sentence. 

Key Dos & Don’ts When Apologizing

DO focus on the other person, not yourself. You might feel awful, but your feelings aren’t what’s important at this moment. 

DO apologize like you mean it. Take accountability. None of that “sorry if I offended you” bullshit

DO thank the person if they were the ones who corrected you. 

DO work to regain their trust. Your words may have affected their view of you as a safe space. That doesn’t mean saying you’ll do better next time; it means doing better next time. 

DON’T put someone in a position where they feel like they need to comfort you. That means no tears and no self-pity. 

DON’T make excuses or get defensive. Saying pronouns are confusing for you is doubling down on your mistake and trivializes their feelings. OH and if you hear someone say they/ them pronouns are grammatically incorrect, they’re wrong. Just ask Merriam-Webster

DON’T ask the person for help. It’s not their job to help you respect them. If this is something you do on a regular basis, even if it’s not intentional, you need to work on getting better ON YOUR OWN TIME. Nobody else is responsible for your personal growth. Self-improvement could be as simple as thinking before you speak (TBH that’s just a good idea in general) or practicing using pronouns that you’re less familiar with.  

If you’re the one who was misgendered, you’ll probably feel a million emotions all at once, and we’re here to tell you that all of them are totally valid! Having your identity dismissed can be super painful. You deserve respect. Whether or not you feel comfortable speaking up is totally up to you. 

4 Ways To Prevent Misgendering

So, what else can you do to help reduce misgendering? Here are some everyday ways to make yourself more inclusive. 

Normalize Sharing Your Pronouns

Put your pronouns in your email signature. When meeting someone new, say “Hi I’m _____! I use ____ pronouns. Even if you’re cisgender (you identify with your sex assigned at birth), sharing your pronouns can make a positive impact by normalizing the idea. 

Avoid Gendered Language 

Gendered language is everywhere in our society. Common terms and phrases like mankind, manmade, fireman, and “hey guys” all have a gender neutral version. Try humankind, artificial, firefighter, and “hey everyone/ folks” instead. If gender doesn’t need to be specified, don’t! If you don’t know someone’s pronouns, use they/ them pronouns until otherwise clarified. 

Correct Others When Possible 

It’s important to note that this should only be done if you’re comfortable and feel safe doing so. If a friend or family member uses the wrong terminology or deadnames someone, call them in, not out, by politely explaining why the term they used isn’t appropriate and what they should say next time. It’s an opportunity for growth and doesn’t need to be a confrontation. Speaking up means it’s one less time a trans or non-binary person needs to correct someone. Unfortunately, sometimes people take a correction as a personal attack and can react aggressively. We can’t stress enough, only do this if you feel safe! 

Start Early 

If you have kids, there are plenty of age-appropriate ways to explain concepts like gender and sexual orientation. Learning about inclusivity from a young age makes it easier to understand more complex issues later on. Just because your generation had to re-learn some stuff doesn’t mean everyone has to! 

These are just a few ways you can help create a safe space for everyone! When in doubt, be kind and treat others the way you want to be treated.