Happy International Self Care Day!

July 24th is International Self Care Day! I hope you all took some time for yourselves and practiced a little self love. Sometimes we forget to allow ourselves to reset and we exhaust ourselves by trying to give when we are on empty.

In case you haven’t taken any time out today to practice a little self care, do so now. Drink a glass of water. Pick a movie and pop some popcorn. Color. Take a bubble bath. Give yourself a mani-pedi. Whatever it takes.

Remember, I’m always here if you need a friend. Drop a comment below with your favorite way to relax. Happy International Self Care Day!

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Five Ways To End The Stigma On Mental Illness.

Mental illness is a common issue in today’s world. 1 in 5 people suffer from some sort of mental illness. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I am one of the 1 in 10 adults who live with depression. In the 16 years since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve learned a lot of not so wonderful things. One of those things is that there is a stigma that comes along with the diagnosis. A lot of people, whom are uneducated in what mental illness is or how it affects people, will label you a “psycho” without learning anything about the illness or the person diagnosed with it.

That brings me to this post – five ways to end the stigma on mental health.

One: Educate yourself. People are ignorant. It’s wise to educate yourself on all aspects of mental illness. Seek out resources. If someone you know has been diagnosed, focus on their diagnosis. I usually request that my friends or family do a little research on depression. It’s not just “feeling sad” or “being numb to the outside world.” Sometimes it’s needing a break between menial tasks because it took all your energy to do that one little thing. Sometimes it’s lack of motivation or passion for the things that you once loved. In my particular case, it’s a chemical imbalance. I’m not a “nutcase” or “someone who needs severe psychological help.”

Two: Learn to recognize the signs. If your friend or loved one is becoming more reclusive than normal or they are just “not themselves,” maybe it’s time to reach out to them. Maybe they stopped painting. Maybe they stopped hiking. Maybe they haven’t showered in a week or haven’t called you in a while. Maybe their dishes are piling up and their laundry has been sitting in the basket for a few days. These are all signs that they might just need a friend to reach out to them.

Three: Be encouraging. Be empathetic. Let them know you understand that they’re not okay and let them know that it’s okay to not be okay. Do not belittle them. Do not say “It’s all in your head.” (I mean, duh, mental illness.) Do not call them a “psycho” or a “nutcase.” Do not use labels such as: unstable, demented, wacko, or psychotic.

[Personal moment: Do NOT use their mental illness against them in an argument. Just because someone, like myself, has been diagnosed with depression does not mean we are terrible people. It does not mean I am a bad mother. It does not mean that I am psychologically unbalanced. My blog is not a cry for help. I promise you that I am more stable now than I was at seventeen. Making my blog seem like an unsafe place for me to write was a huge jerk move. But screw you. I’m going to keep writing anyway. Those who know me and are actually not ignorant on mental health will know the truth.]

Four: Challenge misconceptions. If you hear someone speaking about mental health in a derogatory way, challenge their viewpoint. Debate the myths. Educate them on the truth. It’s not laziness. It’s being exhausted and overwhelmed. It’s not being a Harley Quinn-esque “nut job,” it’s having a chemical imbalance or a misfire in the brain. Some pain isn’t physical and some wounds aren’t visible.

Five: Accept the person. Let them know that you love them and that their mental illness is not what defines them.

And there you have it. Five ways to end the stigma that sticks to mental illness. It’s time to stand together and knock out the bad misconceptions. It’s time to stop fearing mental illness. Stop assuming the worst in people with a mental illness. Build them up, don’t tear them down. Together, we can break the stigma.

The Components of Self Care

“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.”

Just a quick reminder that you need to take care of yourself, too.

There are 5 components to self care: physical, personal, emotional, social, and psychological. Each component plays an important role in your self care routine and in turn in your overall mental health.

Remember that self care isn’t just bubble baths and candles. It’s finding time to eat and eat healthy. Its drinking water when you want another cup of coffee or soda. It’s talking yourself up and overcoming your own personal negativity.

Self care is self love.

Intrusive Thoughts.

What are intrusive thoughts?

The Mayo Clinic says an intrusive thought is an unwelcome involuntary thought, image, or unpleasant idea that may become an obsession, is upsetting or distressing, and can feel difficult to manage or eliminate.

Let me make that a little more simple.

You’re driving along and you’re in the middle of crossing a bridge and your brain has a pop-up window that says “I wonder what would happen if I just drove off the side of this bridge.” That is one example of an intrusive thought. They can even be even more alarming. Maybe you’re at a sleepover and your brain starts to think about how easy it would be to injure or murder someone in their sleep.

Yes. They’re creepy.

And yes. They are incredibly common. 2% of the population worldwide have unwanted thoughts like this. I know 2% doesn’t sound like much, but that’s roughly around 150 million people.

The biggest reason they cause distress isn’t always the disturbing thought itself. It’s more so due to questioning oneself afterward. We tend to read into things more than we need to. What does it mean? Am I a bad person? Do these thoughts make me a terrible person? Am I going to hell for this? Etc.

What I have to say is: You are not your thoughts.

How do you let go of intrusive thoughts?

  1. Recognize and be aware of the thought without judgement.
  2. Remind yourself that the thought is just that – a thought.
  3. Remember that you do not have to act on these thoughts.
  4. They do not define you. Repeat that to yourself.
  5. Practice self-soothing and self-care.
  6. If needed, reach out for support.

Intrusive thoughts can be symptoms to bigger mental health illnesses such as Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, or Bipolar Disorder. If you find yourself overwhelmed by these types of thoughts, I recommend reaching out to a medical professional.

Leave a comment below if you’ve ever dealt with intrusive thoughts. How did you react or respond to them?

Mental Health Milestone.

I’ve been writing Ghost of You for around four years now. Maybe longer. I’ve taken breaks from writing it because it deals heavily with depression, loss, grief, and dark emotions that I had a tendency to struggle with. Writing certain scenes would send me in a downward spiral crashing myself back at rock bottom.

But I hit a milestone with my mental health.

I wrote an emotion-fueled scene where my main character finally deals with the emotions and thoughts she kept buried in her head. A full-blown breakdown with 5 years worth of ignored feelings, thoughts, and memories.

And I didn’t break down myself.

I’m so excited about this! I was able to keep myself in check while digging deep into my personal experiences to fuel my writing. It was amazing. I wrote raw, heartbreaking material without breaking my own heart.

Hitting this milestone reminds me that I’m finally getting to where I need to be. I’m stronger than I was 10 years ago. I’m going to be alright. I feel that my struggle with my mental health isn’t a rickety bridge over a lava filled canyon. It’s more of a attainable mountain climb.

I just had to tell you all.

Did any of you have a moment that made you realize you were going to be alright? A moment of clarity where you saw how much you’ve grown and changed? Comment below!

Project Semicolon

New design for Developed in Darkness gear.

Based around Project Semicolon, I made this awesome watercolor design.

Founded in 2013, the movement’s aim is “presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury”.

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.