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!

Somewhere Out There Is…

Hello, Fellow Adults!

This week has been an exciting week, I have been looking into possible networking events, and social events to try to expand my career and social connections, and so far it is pretty freaking scary.

Trying to make friends, or other types of connections organically as an adult is one of the trickiest things for me personally. It wasn’t like the good old days of elementary school where you are planted in front of people with a juice box and forced to find connections (such as your love for goldfish crackers or drawing).

I have signed up to attend meetups, book clubs, entrepreneurial woman’s groups and beyond, and what I have found is, first of all, it is tough to motivate me to do unrequired tasks outside of my home. Most of the time, I am already tired, and it is very tempting to stay in my pajamas and watch another episode of Big Little Lies. Secondly, when I do get out, I am very much in my head and when I do talk to people at these events it is in a sort of head voice personality…overly polite…overly loud…and frequently excessively sweaty.

I am very aware that these types of interactions are healthy, and really one of the only ways to make these connections as an adult, but it is a real struggle trying to keep proactively putting myself out there.

I want to stress to myself (and others going through similar troubles) that this is not a hopeless situation, and this is not a reflection on anything wrong with us. This world can be overstimulating to anyone, let alone someone with anxiety, and it is perfectly normal to be drawn to the comforts of home.

With that said, I am going to challenge myself to find one event or gathering on a bi-monthly basis where I can start putting my networking feelers out there and test the waters. I would love if anyone reading, who is up to it, would be down to challenge themselves to this same task.

If you are going to challenge yourself to put yourself in more social situations, please let me know how it goes! And, if you have found any tips and tricks to make the process more comfortable, I would be very appreciative if you share them because lord knows I can use some help in that department.

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

Enough IS Enough

This week has been so crazy busy, and I have had moments where I noticed I had some toxic thoughts. These “toxic” thoughts can come out of nowhere…for example, I had to wash out my blow out and deal with my curls again, and I was feeling down on myself and my looks. At that moment, I had to remind myself not to compare myself to others when it comes to looks, lifestyle, and journey/timeline. It is so easy to get caught up in the prescriptive standards of society, but as I gently reminded myself, I am enough (and so are each of you).

I might have mentioned this in prior posts, but every one of us has days where we have limitations for whatever reason on what is possible to achieve. I am someone who has trouble with those limits in these moments (what will happen if I don’t do this…what will they think…just push through it), but listening to yourself and doing what you can IS ENOUGH!

That being said, you have to be honest with yourself. It is easy to hide behind certain comfort excuses when we are scared or apprehensive of approaching something on the to-do list. It is always important to grow and face your fears, and move forward when you are capable of doing so. I know I had had panic attacks when I was scared to go to a meeting or scared to address a big issue, and a flood of words came out of my mouth…I can’t…I’m not good enough…I need to escape this. Often I have not had the choice of not facing some of these things and found even though I was terrified once I got through it, I had amplified it in my mind to something much scarier than it was.

I have also had days where I just needed to stay in bed and would have made myself sick mentally (and perhaps physically) if I had not done so, and on those days staying in bed was enough.

We are all on our own journey, and we are all our own beautiful selves. If you need that reminder today, here it is! You are awesome, you are unique, and you are ENOUGH!

Let me know if you are someone who can listen to what your mind and body are telling you with ease, or if you sometimes struggle with it (like me)? Do you have any tips for being more in tune or at peace with going at your own pace?

See you next week ❤

Self-Care(ful)

Let me start by saying it is ALWAYS necessary to practice self-care! I feel like sometimes I have to be hit by a wall of heavy crap or fall apart before I am like wow I need to practice self-care. I mean there is maintenance stuff I do such as working out, cooking and now this blog…but I mean allowing yourself to rest, relax and pamper yourself.

Something that I have been working on and something that I think is important for everyone to realize is that you do not need a reason to “treat yo-self.”

You don’t have to earn self-care; it is a vital part of a healthy life and should be practiced regularly. Everyone will have their idea of what self-care means. For me, it can be ordering a delicious pizza with my boyfriend and watching tv, sleeping in, doing some art, or just taking a look at the Reddit front page. I have been better at being ok with myself doing these things when I feel like I want to.

With that said I have noticed some personal habits that border on some “trigger word behavior” ESCAPISM…AVOIDANCE…DIFFUSION…oh no! Sometimes it is easy to blur the lines between self-care and coping mechanisms/distraction. I have noticed myself indulging in some retail therapy, oversleeping, and hiding in a few ways from facing some daily stressors. While it hasn’t become a significant issue in my life, it isn’t a pattern I want to keep participating in. Sometimes it is easier to fall into these comfort and dopamine releasing activities, but in the long run, doing this every day becomes expensive emotionally, financially, and when it comes to being able to handle things on a day to day bases.

Bottom Line is that daily self-care is something we should all be doing, but make sure it is a self-care routine that adds value to your life (sometimes just laying in bed adds a lot of value to my life) and makes sure it is not a way for you to avoid dealing with your life. Running away (while tempting) does not mean your problems will vanish, it often means that you will have a larger…and scarier wall once you are forced to face it head-on. It is good to occasionaly give yourself a really nice ocassional treat be it a fancy dinner, a new outfit a full day in bed, but these should be treats and not crutches for us to lean on.

I am hoping that some people are reading through this, and if you are let me know in the comments what your favorite self-care practices are, and if you have found yourself falling into unproductive habits ever masked as self-care?

Have a great week, and see you next Thursday ❤