You-phoric (or phobic)?

This week I wanted to write about something a bit different than usual. A week or so ago I finished binging HBO’s Euphoria. This how describes itself as “An American adaptation of the Israeli show of the same name, “Euphoria” follows the troubled life of 17-year-old Rue, a drug addict fresh from rehab with no plans to stay clean.” The primary character deals with addiction, depression, and manic episodes. I will start this off by shouting in all caps THIS SHOW CAN BE VERY TRIGGERING, so proceed with caution if you are planning to watch.

What I was surprised to find is how much I related to on several layers with this character. While I am not addicted to drugs, I use different variables to control when I am feeling less in control of what is around me. This has bubbled up as anorexia and bulimia historically (which I am incredibly thankful to be 6+ years into remission for), drinking (in the past), and more presently list-making and organization. I still find myself attempting to unplug my brain in a multitude of ways when I get into depressive states. I also experience a wave of high highs and low lows regularly.

What this show also triggered for me is a glamorization at times of these mental health issues. This has been something I have seen for some time from Girl Interrupted when I was in high school to 13 Reasons Why today. It can be confusing to try to find the answer to what is the right balance here. As my readers know, I am a big believer in normalizing the conversation about mental health issues in general. I believe this extends to all ages, genders, and humans in general. However, I also feel uncomfortable with trying to make any of these issues “sexy.” As someone that actively struggles with depression and anxiety, I can confirm it is not sexy or cool at all. It is hard, exhausting and often downright ugly. I also find that it is easy to be “seduced” into old habits when viewing particular material if I am not careful. I don’t have the answers here, and I am not suggesting these shows should not be made by any means (I am a high key huge fan of Euphoria and think it is a beautifully made and essential in many ways to shine a light on addiction and mental illness). I do believe we need to be cautious and aware of a ripple effect content can have in general.

I am curious if any of you find shows that touch on mental health or triggering subjects more helpful or harmful? What do you think the right balance is?

As a side note, lots of interesting changing variables are coming up in life, and I am nervous but hopeful. I am looking forward to chatting about this in the upcoming weeks. Thanks for checking in, and I will talk with you next Thursday ❤

Imposter Cycle

Hey Everybody!

Sorry for being MIA last week, I have been working through some vicious anxiety and exhaustion cycles, and as you know self-care and love are number one in those times. I did want to chat with you all this week about something I have been trying to grapple with mentally.

I am not unfamiliar with imposter syndrome (it is something I grapple with daily). At times it can become so heavy that it motivates me to find ways to alleviate it (healthy ways, but definitely ways that take a lot of time and effort). There are, however, days like today, which I feel like I might not be an imposter. In these moments, I feel relief, and I think perhaps the possibility of change is less needed. These moments always fade away within a few days and melt into a new anxiety-ridden form of imposter syndrome.

And so begins the never-ending cycle of stress & anxiety -> drive to change -> momentary positivity -> fear of change -> stress & anxiety.
It can be an incredibly draining and frustrating cycle, and the fact that it IS a cycle makes the change feel like it is indeed the right path.

I don’t have advice on how to break this cycle today, but if you are also stuck in it, know that you are not alone! I would love to hear about what helped you break out of a similar cycle, and if that was a positive decision for you.

I am not going to lie change is something that is still very scary to me. I am still working on every day, and you all make me feel less alone in this journey, and I can’t thank you enough. Talk to you all next week ❤

Two-Faced

I wanted to talk about what I like to call “game face” with you all this week. To be absolutely honest, I have been struggling with both anxiety and depression for the past couple of weeks.

I have been in hiding under the covers mode almost 24/7, but I still needed to get shit done (work, appointments, etc.). A game face can so many things: it can mean smiling in a public-facing situation when you are really in a full-blown panic mode internally, putting on a brave face in front of people who need you to be strong for, or really any other flavor of having to act in a way that is entirely the opposite of what you are feeling.

Game face is something that is not easy for me to achieve at all times. At times it can be downright impossible. I have spent mornings crying for a few hours, and I have to ice down my face to look like a “normal” functioning human for an event or to-do task. It is not only not intuitive, but it can be confusing and lead to dissociation and mood fluctuations.

Smiling depression, defined by Healthline as , “a term for someone living with depression on the inside while appearing perfectly happy or content on the outside. Their public life is usually one that’s “put together,” maybe even what some would call normal or perfect.”, is not uncommon, and can be a characteristic of many people struggling with intense depression.

I wanted to discuss this for a few reasons. The first reason being that if you are suffering from this, I want you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Secondly, I think it is important to remind ourselves that it is ok to feel what we are feeling and be where we are every day. I do believe it is essential to try to break out of pre-loading our daily outlook as unfavorable. It’s not always easy to wake up in a cheery mindset, I wake up in full-blown panic more frequently than I care to admit, but we should try to practice gratitude and mindfulness each morning to start on the right foot whenever possible.

I would love to hear any advice about best handling having to show up to required/unavoidable events when you are in an emotional shitstorm (for lack of a better word). I would also like to know if any of you are regularly experiencing smiling depression, and what triggers you to have to go into game face mode.

Have a wonderful Thursday, and I will chat with you all next week ❤

Simmering On Low

Warning there is some life realness coming up in this post. This has been a rough week for so many reasons. It has been both mentally and physically exhausting.

I have been up to my ears with anxiety, to do tasks, I am PMSing, and overall, I am thoroughly exhausted. I know I am not alone reaching a point of burnout, and it is not easy to navigate. For me, this doesn’t only bubble up as extreme anxiety, disassociation at times, along with a fun crew of other mental symptoms…it also means migraines, nausea, and lack of appetite. As much as I have wanted to hide away and not deal with life, thanks to some of my support system, I have tacked what needed to be done somewhat head-on (with a few crying breakdowns sprinkled in between for fun).

What I have noticed is as this burnout “session” has been progressive over the past month or so I have been less and less productive in my downtime. I have been using the intensity of my weeks as an excuse to do nothing that even smells productive over the weekend. I have been doing as much as I can do not to engage, think or even move at times over the weekends, which takes us from the land of self-care into the territories of avoidance and escapism. With this helpful new nugget of self-discovery, I am going to make an active go of doing at least a day of productive project work over the weekend (drawing, writing, cleaning, trying new recipes, etc.) something that will get my brain stimulated and moving forward.

Despite all the griping this week was not all negative, there were several moments of laughing, love, and productiveness, which I am grateful for on so many levels. I want to take a quick moment just to shoutout how even when you might be feeling like you just went through the digestive system of an angry octopus it is incredibly essential to remain grateful for all of the good (big or small) that you are experiencing.

Going into the weekend with this new self-challenge is both exciting and a bit scary. It is comfortable and easy to stay in the patterns we know, and it is always possible we might slip up, but guess what y’all…That does not mean you shouldn’t try and try again till you reach your goals. Not to sound preachy but the older I get the more I think life is really about just trying learning and growing, and that is all done at our own individual paces my friends.

I will still be spending plenty of time to self-care, and get some R&R over the weekend because I earned it gosh darn it. I would love to know if you have any advice for dealing with burnout? Or, if any of you are feeling stuck in a burnout the situation and would like to talk about it (or anything else for that matter).

Have a wonderfully restful and productive weekend, and I will see you all next week ❤

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Mental illness can be a very taboo, uncomfortable, and complicated subject to approach. For so many people, mental health issues have been something to hide away from others, things we want to try to ignore and possibly things that have caused us shame. It was not until recently that I had started working on starting conversations about my mental health complications that I realized how many people are feeling the same things that I am, and how many people out there genuinely want to help (but may not have the toolsets that make them feel capable of helping).

With that said, as someone who has lived within my mind for sometime anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions are not something you can read a handbook to understand. Over the past years, I have heard many assumptions about what people thought my behaviors, personality quirks, and habits might mean…and this was understandably frequently wrong. Not only were assumptions others were making incorrect, but I was also finding myself misdiagnosing myself based on how I was behaving.

While everyone is different, and what I am about to say may not be accurate for everyone, I want to speak to some common misconceptions that I have experienced. I hope to possibly shed some light and provide insight for those who might have a relationship with someone with mental health conditions, or for anyone who is trying to find answers on their own mental health journey.

Number one I feel like people tend to assume (as I once did) that it is always a black and white story. I have very high levels of social anxiety, but that does not mean I don’t want to be social. How this manifests can be very different for people, but I tend to reach out and start non-verbal conversations (text, direct message, etc.). With my specific anxieties, I can become incredibly exhausted when having to have verbal communications. What I have learned is that this can be interpreted as a lack of interest, a brush off or just being rude (which is incorrect 99.9% of the time in my case). Overcoming this hurdle is still one I am very much working on, but I do recommend that the big answer on both sides is communication. If you are feeling brushed off, it is always ok to ask if there is a reason that the person you are communicating with prefers to talk in less direct ways. Starting the dialog is critical, and frequently, the truth will set you free in these cases. When assumptions are made in these situations, it can cause adverse effects with all parties involved. People can feel shunned that have no reason to, or people might isolate more with a fear that they can’t hold healthy interactions with others. The big picture here is communication is always a win. In today’s society, people tend to shy away from more subdermal conversations because of discomfort, but it is truly the only way to start a conversation that facilitates stronger and healthier relationships.

Number two you don’t have to try to fix people who have mental health conditions. As I was struggling to start talking to others about what I was feeling, I found that I had walked into a hallway of motivational poster conversation. “You have nothing to worry about!” “But you are great,” “Look on the bright side.”…etc. I think it is beneficial to think of mental health conditions as any other medical condition. If you run into a friend in a hospital who has a broken leg, it isn’t your job to fix their leg. However, you can support and help out in ways that your friend might need. Taking this example even further you do not have to avoid mentioning the leg at all, it is a real thing that is happening, and not treating it as an invisible elephant in a room can be appreciated. Similarly to a broken leg, mental illness can be treated over time, but it is a process and not something that people will be able to “snap out of.”

Lastly, something that I believe is so important for everyone to realize is that mental health problems are not uncommon. It is easy to feel incredibly isolated if you are experiencing mental health conditions, and I am here to tell you this is NOT true. This belief comes from a long history of skirting mental health issues under the carpet, which is something we need to work hard to prevent. We are living in a world where Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, where mental health conditions affect 1-in-4 people at some point. This is a crucial time to start having conversations with yourself, people who suffer from mental health conditions, and people who don’t to begin normalizing this global issue. While that might sound like a huge hurdle to overcome, it starts with the basics. As long as we are continuing to avoid assumptions, have honest communication, and being honest with ourselves and others about mental health struggles, we are moving in the right direction.

What are some tools you have found for communicating with people about mental health? What are some obstacles you have run into when trying to start these conversations? Are there any tools that would help you feel safer when trying to communicate about your mental health conditions?

This weeks post is being featured on Mindabout a digital community meant to help women excel in areas they find hard to and diminish the inevitable loneliness experienced. Please check them out when you get a chance.

Have a great week, and I will see you all next Thursday ❤

No Shame Game (Breaking Free From Shame & Stigma)

As someone who grew up with anxiety, depression, and social trigger based fears, I always felt like it was a secret that was not meant to be shared outside of a very tight social circle of family and friends. I have met other people through my life who have experienced the same sort of seclusion or stigmatizing.

When I was a teenager, there was a brief stint of time where I had opened up to a therapist about some of my anxieties and feelings and was directed quickly (and aggressively) to a psychiatrist who medicated me the first day of treatment. I went through several miss-diagnoses, which involved me being put on several trial medications. At the end of this period I was lucky enough to have family that strongly requested that I was taken off of medicine, and after recalibrating I was able to get back to my formerly anxious but functioning state. This experience reinforced that thought in my head that the things I feel are not things that should be shared, and that it was possibly even dangerous to do so. I want to add the disclaimer here that there are so many amazing therapists and psychotherapists out there, and that medication can be a real and productive answer for people who have several types of mental health conditions.

Another type of wall that many people who are struggling with Mental Health conditions might be familiar with (I know I am)…is the “brush off” or “easy fix” feedback from others. After hearing “just go out for a walk,” “It can’t be that bad,” ” but everything is going so well for you,” etc. it can feel like a hopeless battle reaching out for support. Mental health conditions are not necessarily intuitive to people who are not experiencing them and can be easy to dismiss. This has caused me to isolate even more in the past, and have self-defeating mindsets about being alone in my situation.

Speaking of that scary word ALONE…I finally started being more vocal about my struggles, and it took me thirty-something years to get here, but what I am seeing is that we are far from alone. We are living in a world full of difficulties and stress that can very much seem like an uphill battle, but there are so many of us that are feeling these same things. While we can’t necessarily make mental illness more intuitive to people who are less familiar with it, we can tap into a giant fricken support system across everyone who IS living in this reality. What is truly exciting about doing this, is we can work together as a group to not only create better resources for people like us, we can also develop resources for people who want to learn how to communicate with us more productively!

So how do we start???

Number one is to START TALKING TO PEOPLE: Speak with people about what you are feeling, speak to people who are trying to find people to talk to. We all need support, and starting the conversation is a crucial part of finding a solution.

Number two is to practice not reading into less constructive feedback. While being told, “it is all in your head” doesn’t feel great, and isn’t the most helpful, from my experience it comes from a positive place. I am working on developing an arsenal of responses to less feedback useful where I can be honest about the fact that the answer is appreciated, not the most helpful and what might be more useful on my end.

Bottom line is a mental illness, or a mental health struggle is nothing to be ashamed about. So many people are hiding these huge internal fights, and us being more open about our struggles will pave the way for normalizing a problem that affects so many people. Living a double life (as I had done for so many years) where you are showing a positive or “cleaner” side of yourself while bottling up intense emotional chaos is toxic, and this is unfortunately common within the mental health space. We are all human, we are all deserving of love and support, and being honest about your needs is not only an incredibly important to being a happy and healthy person, but it also is imperative for changing the tide for mental wellness stigma, and improving the climate for others now and going forward.

What are some difficulties you have run into with being open about your feelings? Have you had trouble with knowing what to say when others have reached out to you? I would also love any tips and tools for making contact with other people who have similar experiences or who can relate to what you are going through.

This weeks post is being featured on Bettering YOU a mental wellness blog , which focuses on empowerment, wellness and helping people become a better version of themselves, please check them out when you get a chance.

Have a great week, and I will see you next Thursday!

#RoughWeek

I will be the first to say this has been a rough week.

I have been exhausted, emotional and a bit all over the place. I was stewing in this weird state when I knew I had to share/talk to someone about it. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to open up for a multitude of reasons. You feel silly, you logically know that you “should” be fine, you don’t want to bother other people, but just as you wouldn’t hesitate to have a bandage for a cut or to ask for medical help, it is just as ok to open up about your mental space to loved ones and/or a therapist.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what value is created by sharing certain things, but once I do open up, I find that it is invaluable. Having an outside perspective (outside my mind) can help me break huge, scary, monster anxieties into smaller blocks. Even if it doesn’t being able to be in your real state with others is cathartic for me. I find that I frequently have defense mechanisms, or specific protective masks on, which it is exhausting, especially in times of high stress.

While my current real state might be highly anxious, tired and drained, I am grateful that I am in the presence of loved ones who not only appreciate me no matter the state but that fully inspire and embrace that truth wherever it may lay on the emotional map of my day to day life.

I am curious, for those who are reading about how you have dealt with sharing your anxiety or more difficult feelings with others? Has it helped you?

Either way remember you are not alone in your struggles, and it is ok to feel what you feel and be who you are every damn day!

See you next Thursday ❤