24/7 Hotlines: Call or text 988 or text 741741

Without Form and Void

Sometimes I get to feeling sorry for myself. Caught in the crossfire of contemplation or wedged between one idea or another. I don’t know what else to say without continuing to be vague and esoteric.

Collage Art

Since quarantine started I have loved making vision boards and collages that express who I am or my dreams/goals for the future. The collage in this photo is just something fun I made for a friend. I thought it would be cool to share this one because the collages do not always have to represent you. They can be fun photos you found on Pinterest or instagram that you can just throw together digitally or on a poster board. I would love anybody that is seeing this to create their own. Whether it’s digitally or on a piece of paper. Create something that speaks to you or that is just fun to make. Express Yourself!!


Reflecting on my progress shows my struggles in the rear view
A bright future beyond the limit’s sky’s, shadows unscripted fear to

a memory lane with dreams that’s haunted by reality.
Lack of confidence in myself has built a bridge that passes peace,

Barricading potential that can breach illumination
Gazing at constellation that can blind the human faces

To grasp what I desire surrounds perception, thoughts, decisions
My expectations distinguish the layout within walking distance.

Audacious to pursue what hindsight can reverse
Disciplined to acknowledge the pain forged by actions, words,

that can unleash years of trauma sealed in the abyss
of self perpetuating conflicts internalized within.

The aura of progression and all of its components:
Fragments of shattered concepts structured with emotions.

A barrier that’s put up if falsified belief.
can be removed when self-doubt no longer hides whats seen.,

When acceptance of every tribulation I’ve sustained,
coincides with experiences that my life must face.

That established a foundation of various attributes.
While surpassing set standards that I had to prove

Every Second passes by, a quintessential piece,
To grow as individuals, develop and succeed.

Whats kept within my reach can eclipse my memories.
Those lessons I achieved have helped my self esteem

To a future I envision. Ascend where I was placed in,
But how do we ascend when we learn on a daily basis?

A Love Letter.

This is a love letter to the abused,
For my friends who’ve dug fault lines so deep into their soul
They don’t understand when a compliment bounces off their armored skin with a hollow t h u n k
And stare blankly ahead with confusion when even the closest of people try to lift them higher
They think to themselves, ‘What’s wrong with me?’
When there’s nothing wrong at all

This is a love letter to the abused,
For the wise and the meek to realize that they can take off their armor
That they can shed their tears without hesitation or fear
Allow yourself to rise from your soot and ash,
You are worthy of more than limitations you’ve set
Unburden your soul and unclench your fists for you deserve to smile for yourself

… This is a love letter to the abused,
From one kindred spirit to you.


Submitted by: Faljak

Talk with the creator of this expression and join the conversation here

“Who Am I?”

There are a lot of people who will ask, in most any plethora of scenarios:

“Tell me a list of traits you’re proud of.”

“What are some positives?”

“Give me a reason why you’re a good person.”

We always sit there listening to nothing but that off-beat clock on the wall, avoiding awkward looks that seem to give the gist of, ‘well I tried I’ll see you next week I guess’, as we attempt rather poorly to come up with just one pitiful answer.


You know how disgusting it is? To not look yourself in the mirror? To see not glass, but broken shards? The past? The scars and fears? The demons lurking over your shoulders in every corner of those four walls?

All it ever took, was that one answer to get going. To get anyone going.

So who am I? Not by definition of one fucked up stigmata so screwed into my core, blaring like a goddamn police siren every time someone asks, “What’s wrong?”

My answer? What else but, “Fine.”

It’s not fine. But I can tell you what is.

Who am I but talented. You know that one professor you have that kicks your ass with work? Makes you think outside of the realm of reason? I had one. She made me think, made me understand things… And even then I was presented with a new word to my arsenal: ‘Polymath’. In layman’s terms it means having the ability to be good a great many tasks but still being shit to yourself. I was always my worst critic, and still continue to be to this day.

Who am I but selfless. I have always emphasized that the ability to make someone smile would be greater than anything. So I cultivated that. I grew with that in my heart, and with that came another greater term: empathy. The ability to know and understand, to learn and guide… Where someone falls, you should know I will have my hand right there for you to help you back to your feet. Compassion, in its more pure form and reality, comes from the most deplorable of lifelines.

Who am I but resilient. Know where you come from, but why let it drown out who you are now? It’s useless to continue to lick those wounds, pick at scabs that continue to bleed and blind you day in and out. It took me years to realize it, yes, but once you let go and live. You’re actually alive. Abuse, night terrors, addictions, starvation tactics, self-harm and mutilation… The list worsens from there, but it takes a real strong mind, body, and soul, one that is steadfast and vigil, to overcome, oversee, and make peace with it all.

Who am I?

I am someone who deserves not the toil and tremor of depression, the affliction and pitfalls of trauma, the snares and fears of anxiety. I can learn and expand beyond even those.

I am someone who does not need this wall that blockades me from the world; sheltering me from everyone and everything, surrounding me in my fear and degradation. By one foul brick and mortar at a time, I am greater than this and the masks I’ve put up to keep everyone at bay.

I am someone who knows she is limitless with potential, yet nowhere near some gross definition of perfection.

I am worthy. I am good. I am —



-Submitted by: Faljak

Talk with the creator of this expression and join the conversation here


There comes a point in time when you have to step back. When you have to remember that the disease, the traits it comes with, is not you. It does not and never will be capable of defining you. And admittedly, it took me years to realize this, to make this breakthrough without breaking a few other things in the process.

Your presence will never lie; you do not lie. No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape who you’ve become, but you can rewrite who you once were.

I used to tell myself:
“She was right about me all this time. They were right about me.”
“For fucks’ sake what have I done to myself? To everyone?”
“What do I have to show for all these years?”

And worse still,
“This world would never miss some piece of shit like me.”

And you know, I made the attempts, I came up with my plans as unorthodox as they were and they failed. One right after the next they were thwarted. There was a reason, they told me. It took me a very long time to understand what they meant. And I spent my days to weeks to a near month imprisoned in the walls of some hive-mind Institutional facility of nothing but smiles and medical snares —

You’d maybe think that was the epiphany for me. It wasn’t.

People often tell you, “You can’t help someone who doesn’t want the help,” Or even, “You can’t get the help if you don’t want it for yourself.” And they’re right. I’ve hurt people. I hurt myself. And to this very day I still hear things that try to convince me to do those very same things.

… Cleaved wounds tilled into my skin in hopes I had staved away some essence of those demons who constantly haunted me, numerous sleepless and unending days spent as some insomniac… Paranoid that I would fall into the void if I closed my eyes once. And when I did I was plagued with terrors beyond rebuke, flashes of unending things I dare not repeat lest they tease my waking hours.

I had no help. No despondent course of action until finally… I made one more plea. And that was all it took.

Should I be some brave form of myself, I would perhaps be able to look myself in the mirror for more than a split second. I would be able to smile at the reflection rather than cringe or nearly cry. I would not have to judge the bastard falsely beaming back at me, pointing a finger, scowling… In some deeper part of my being I know that smile is turning into something less masqueraded and truer to course.

If I knew how to be brave I would cast aside the fear of pulling down this baseless construct of a wall surrounding myself from others, of letting someone close enough to me… To love me. To hear me. To hold me. Hopeless as it may seem now, it is a goal, which I strive for with every pitiless strum of my heart, one that is chased by baseless threads of terror and trauma —

When I learn how to be braver, I will no longer fear to antagonize the ultimate enemy: Myself. I will have every skill to combat my own war, my own corruptibility, to brace back my storms and know when I need anything more and anyone else to pull me from my tombs. I am the greatest thing standing in the way of my goals, and I always have been, I always was the scariest and most traitorous thing to date. But maybe… Just maybe… There is hope yet shining through.

Bravery, I believe, should not be misconstrued with the term conquest; to have the ability stand in the face of your demons is enough, but to blatantly dismantle them is another. You cannot do everything. Not all at once. And certainly not on your own. That’s another thing I’ve learned the hard way.

But to know bravery perhaps, to know and understand where you stand while facing your more destitute selves… That is, placing yourself toe-to-toe with them, flipping them the bird and righteously yelling of your freedom… Perhaps you should be mindful that they had a hand in sculpting who we are now, who you will become. If only just a bit.


Submitted by: Faljak


I – You – Me – Us.
Remember what you say this day. And those therein.

No one knows your strife, who you were in a redacted essence.
Your wits and good guidance be-damned and screwed to the sticking place
Lest we all fall back into a cycle,
Over and over,
Tilting back into that same phase of incriminating definition;

You know your stigmata,
Be it so bright it blinds those who look at you now?

Hear they not our cries and pleas?
Our so-called excuses for restitution of reality that we greedily seek?
Drugs and antidotes and therapies so fruitlessly plundered
From the ministry and hierarchy
Normality, we ask so wantonly;

But to be normal would be to lose who we have become or what we have aimed for,
We are as we have always been so leave us are we are

I – You – Me – Us.
Remember what you say this day. And those therein.


Submitted by: faljak


“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You do not know how to SEE,
You only see through a veil your mind creates, those eyes no one else knows about
You only see the good in those around you
Even if they tread you underfoot
You only gaze at others through the eyes of an old soul,
Expecting them to look back at you the same way

“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You do not know how to love
You choose only to love your hate, your rage, your terror
And worst of all, have found comfort in it all
You have found love not in yourself,
But in your abusers
Yet your heart is greedy and so full of the ability to GIVE

“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You know so much and explain so little,
Tell me do you know how your intuition works?
Can you explain your own emotions if asked?
Can you give yourself the time of day without thinking of someone else first?
You have grown complaisant to your pain,
You have come to anticipate it and thank those who give it

“But you are B L E S S E D,”
They told me.

As you fill your wounds with lacquered gold,
A scarred statue who feels so profoundly it connects to the souls around them
You cover yourself in the finest of cloth to hide from the snares in your mind
You have turned your demons, your monsters, into your familiars – who now service your needs
Your veins beat to a drum singing of L O V E,
And W O R T H

“My dear, you are blessed.”

Mental Health Monday

Every day needs to be a mental health awareness day, but Mondays seem to be one of the days to focus on mental health the most. Maybe it’s because many people start the work week on Mondays, or the work email is avoided until Monday and everything is piling up?
Whether your weekend events didn’t go as planned, or you didn’t have time to catch up on sleep…it’s still important to reflect on mental health.

Today, I am sitting at my desk and reflecting on “What did I even do this weekend?” Yesterday, I cleaned my house for the majority of the day and although I desperately wanted to go outside and take my dog to the park, I couldn’t bring myself to step outside. Sometimes my depression and anxiety stop me from leaving the house and taking a shower is an accomplishment. It was a beautiful day outside yesterday and I wish I took advantage of that…oh well!

Saturday, I planned to split the day cleaning and then go out with my family, but I ended up sleeping in until 11:30am. Wow…I haven’t done that since high school! Maybe my body was telling me something? Instead of beating myself up for an unproductive weekend, I can at least give myself a chance to breathe and realize I really needed to stay in and take care of myself.

Monday is one of my longer work days, covering 12+ hours, but I make the most of it and remind myself, “Okay, this can either be the start to a great work week or it can be terrible…so let’s make the most of it!”

So, what are you doing to reflect and be prepared for the week?
I listen to great music, bring my logic puzzle book with me when I need a minute away from my checking emails, phone calls, etc. and go for a walk to force myself to take a lunch break, and breathe!

Mental Health Monday img

Beauty Standards

“If tomorrow women all over the world looked in the mirror and if they liked what they saw reflected back at them, then we would have to reshape capitalism as we know it.”

Screw your beauty standards. We have women being told how to be “beautiful” and men being told what to find attractive. (I’ve always wondered to what degree the media determines what we believe we’re attracted to). All these standards do is create low self esteem in women and further the gap between the two genders, which is why gendered relationships tend to be dysfunctional. The adopted persona of the societal idea of a “man” interacts with the idea of a “woman” instead of two people communicating with each other. That’s my opinion, at least.
Anyway, beauty standards are crap, make up should be fun, not required, for BOTH females and males, and it bugs me how these ideas of beauty get into people’s heads, sometimes without even being conscious to the extent that it is influencing their thinking.

"7 ways to be great"

7 Ways to be Great

1. Be gentle and kind

2. Show respect to everyone you meet (whether you think they deserve it or not)

3. Pay attention to the little things (often that makes you stand out from the crowd)

4. Do everything wholeheartedly, with passion and love

5. Be flexible, adaptable, and open to change

6. Don’t complicate your life with lots of oughts, musts and shoulds

7. Encourage other people to be all that they can be.

Language and concepts

Having an adequate vocabulary to properly express experiences and thought processes is crucial to maintaining a healthy mind. I know there have been google searches that have granted me comfort and relief when I’ve found out there is a word for what I was experiencing. In addition, discovering that others share the same unconventional viewpoints and beliefs as myself has literally kept me sane. For example, it was quite satisfying when I came across the concept of animism held by Native Americans, and lately I’ve been finding solace in the works of Jung. These are just a couple of examples, there have been times I’ve met an individual or have had conversations with people on social media groups that have greatly alleviated me from feelings of distress and loneliness by sharing resonating ideas.

Are there any instances of this in your life? What are they? I’d love to hear about them.


I’m learning to come to terms with the fact that there is no cure to my stutter. Speech therapy I took as a child helped significantly, but there will always be some disconnect that occurs from what I know I want to say to when I physically need to say it. I always worry that it makes me appear unintelligent, and it’s frustrating to be unable to properly articulate what I mean to say, constantly having to swap words and phrases, and embarrassing whenever I can’t even properly introduce myself to someone.

Ironically enough I love public speaking, and as a mental health advocate and someone who loves to publicly present on a variety of things, including poetry, I’ve never let my stutter stop me. I do wish it never existed in the first place, but if it’s taught me anything its the importance of using your voice to speak about important matters. I’m starting to accept that it’s a part of me, just another one of my quirks that makes me who I am.

When Culture Holds You Back

(Trigger warning- substance use)

Growing up, I was always astonished at how quickly my peers not only accepted, but embraced all that was handed to them: the music they were supposed to like because of their race, the values and morals that everyone in their neighborhood seemed to share, the clothing that everyone else wore, and general opinions on life situations. I RARELY ran into anyone who ever questioned this, the majority of people viewed anyone who didn’t follow their own lifestyle as a different kind of human being. Unfortunately, the culture I grew up around is detrimental to personal growth, there is not much value placed on education, marijuana is part of the lifestyle, and being unambitious, sometimes even lying to receive and stay on government support is considered the norm.

I can keep going on with how this culture is destructive on an individual level. A huge emphasis is placed on gender roles, men are supposed to be strong and unemotional, woman are supposed to be feminine and want to start a family, and anyone who strays from these ideals is considered a social deviant. It’s perfectly common to start a family at a very young age, jeopardizing the ability to make significant progress in one’s personal life. If a father figure isn’t in the picture, no one blinks an eye, in fact, it’s almost expected.

And there’s plenty of things that I only know vaguely about because I made it a point to stay away from, like the gang activity that would occur not only in my neighborhood but in the very building I lived in. And the drug issue- I’ve had people overdose and die in the hallways where I lived. I’d leave my apartment to find human piss in the stairwell.

Now I’m just ranting, but you get the point. These are not ideal living conditions. So my question is, how do we better a culture that is not self aware? How do we tell the children that there is a different way to do things, that you should and can go to college, that they are capable and they DESERVE opportunities and a chance for a different life?

This is a long post, but the first of many. I plan on writing more about this topic because it is something that I feel very passionate about, and I see all of these issues and I want change. Hood culture is the root to many issues in America at the moment, and not many seem to be aware of this or willing to speak on the subject. Nothing’s going to change if we don’t talk about it.

Combining Technology and Mental Health

I wasn’t too sure which category to put this information about, so I chose Best & Worst because research is my passion and this study is one of the best ideas ever (okay, maybe that was a little biased)!

This morning, a woman who coordinates the radio show for my company told me about this amazing man named Adam Gazzaley who works for UCSF.
This man has created a new way to help people with PTSD, ADHD, and other disorders by rewiring their brain through technology.
You can listen to their interview here:

Let me explain:

They use a virtual reality video game device to help with memory tasks as well as connect it to a cap worn on the participant’s head to transmit the mapping signals in someone’s brain (if you’ve ever had an EEG, it is just like that). This means, it can teach the game where the brain needs the most help in rewiring and the game adjusts to the participant’s needs.

The best part about this study is that it is an alternative to medication, can reduce the use of pain medication for those with back pain, and so much more!

My Fiance has experienced significant trauma in his early childhood, which has impaired his memory and brain functioning tremendously (focus is the main struggle). He just registered for the study in hope it will help him and contribute to their research.

We hope this opportunity will help other young adults as well – so check it out! This will most likely be the new “prescription” for many people in our generation needing alternative ways to handle their mental health.


Red Panda

Tai, a young man from Alabama, came to visit his fiance for winter break and agreed to check out the Young Adult Connection Group in Middletown. Tai decided to join us on the night of “personality tests” and when he found out his spirit animal, he saw it was a bear.
Tai returned the following week with this masterpiece – his interpretation of his spirit animal. He instantly wanted to represent his spirit animal as a panda, but was convinced to draw specifically a red panda.
We hope Tai will join us next year at the connection group too – he’s full of life and is a great addition to our Young Adult Connection Community.

Artist: Tai

oh, well

As someone who’s a little strange and doesn’t exactly follow societal standards, I find myself hyper-aware of people’s reactions to me. I get a lot of dirty and weird looks from strangers, and even get insulted to my face sometimes by people I don’t know. I take everything really personally and there’s days when leaving my house and having to be around people is incredibly draining. Within the past few months I’ve spent an immense amount of energy rebuilding my self confidence and I’ve found it easier to deal with these things. I keep in mind that I am not responsible for the way people react to me, and that whatever they are responding to is a reflection of what they see in themselves (or lack in themselves). One of my favorite quotes is “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are,” and keeping this in mind helps. Regardless, I try to see the good in everyone and not take everything so personally. It makes me happy 🙂

The Greatest

The Aussie woman behind the platinum blonde wig has quite a story and although many people know about her success in the music industry, many don’t know her recovery story as well. If you haven’t guessed who am referring to already, I am talking about Sia Furler or as most people know her as just “Sia.”

In her early years of fame, Sia showed her face to the public and performed independently as well as with the band Zero 7. She didn’t become extremely popular in the US until her powerful album debuted in 2014 called 100 Forms of Fear. However, Sia wrote many pop songs for artists such as for Rihanna (Diamonds), Flo Rida (Wild Ones), and many collaborations with artists such as David Guetta (Titanium). So we have heard her music and her voice for a long time, but why have we not seen more of her til recently?
Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Sia struggled with balancing her mental health with the fame. She was so stressed and overwhelmed, she unfortunately developed an addiction to prescription pills and alcohol which made her spiral into a deep depression. On top of losing her boyfriend in a horrific accident in 2010, Sia started isolating herself. At one point, she was so depressed and was planning to end her life until a friend reached out to her to seek treatment.

Since then, Sia has committed to being sober and maintaining her mental wellness by keeping her face hidden from the media while still writing music for other artists and singing some of her own. She introduced a new genre of music “mystery” to world and proves how popular her music can be and how talented she is even if her back is to the audience. (Check out her interview and wonderful appearance in Carpool Karaoke with James Corden!)
Carpool Karaoke

I have the privilege to see her (or most of her) in concert at Mohegan Sun tomorrow 10/26! She has been such an inspiration to me and has helped me through some of the toughest moments in my life, as well as some of the best moments too. She has also incorporated a lot of dance in her videos and guest stars wearing the famous wig (Heidi Klum, Maddie Ziegler, Shia Labeouf, etc). which makes her music more entertaining and interesting.
Sia with Maddie

Do you have a favorite song by her? Is there another artist in recovery that you feel has inspired you?

VOICES: Art Expressing the Journey of Mental Health Recovery in Youth

Hey Everyone! If you will be on the Shoreline on Sunday, October 9, you might want to check this out!

1:00-3:00 PM
Branford Art Center
1227 Main Street, Branford CT


VOICES is an experiential art exhibit that represents the work of more than 30 courageous and talented young people touched by mental health challenges. The goal of this exhibit is to expose and destroy the myths surrounding mental illness thereby reducing the stigma, negative attitudes and hurtful behavior toward youth living with mental health challenges. These artists are like any young person in that they long for purpose, connectedness and belonging. Additionally, like many young people in contemporary society, they also struggle with self-acceptance, difficulty sustaining healthy peer relationships, body image issues, substance abuse, self-injurious behavior and other mind fields found in navigating the battleground of adolescence and young adulthood.
You can check out the event on facebook VOICES: Art Event or here —> https://www.facebook.com/events/635382789973540/

For more information contact Ann Nelson at annnelson17@comccast.net or at
Sponsored by Ann Nelson Advocacy, NAMI Shoreline and Branford Art Center

Little Miss Sunshine Emotion Wheel

Last week, when Collin was given the opportunity to design an emotion wheel with images to represent each emotion, he instantly thought of “Little Miss Sunshine.” Little Miss Sunshine of course represents “Happy,” but some of the other characters like “Mr. Tall” soon became “Mr. Lonely,” mostly because he’s the only one at that height!
Collin’s creativity truly captures the emotions of these characters. 🙂

Artist: Collin

To Try is to Succeed By Brianna

Bri’s favorite color is purple, last week she identified “feeling happy is the color purple,” so it was no surprise that when she designed her advocacy T-Shirt, she chose it to be purple. On the front of her shirt, she included a pocket square and on the back it says “To try is to succeed.”
A beautiful interpretation of breaking the stigma!
Artist: Brianna

It’s Okay to Talk By Collin

It’s Okay to Talk  – Collin’s a big advocate for mental illness. One of his goals while designing his T-Shirt was to design a baseball tee for young adult men. He specifically chose this population because it’s very difficult for men to express emotion due to the stigma of needing to be strong and emotionless. He was inspired by OK2TALK.org which is all about advocacy and talking about mental health. On the front of the shirt, it says #It’sOkaytoTalk and on the back it says “No Man Left Behind”
Artist: Collin

Emotion Wheel – Comic Book Edition

Hailey created an emotional wheel using words that describe her life. Although all of the words are considered “negative,” she particularly chose words that most young people would relate to.
In each section, she drew and wrote dialogue between characters to represent each emotion.
For Example: Avoidance for Hailey looks like a pile of pages flying around everywhere and the character’s hands are covering her head, she says “If I don’t think about it, maybe it will go away?”

Artist: Hailey

A.B.’s Love Thyself by Andre

Andre, created a T-Shirt that says “Love Thyself” and on the back of the shirt it says “Before You Love Another.” Part of the goal of this activity was to design a shirt you would proudly wear to break the stigma of mental illness. When asked who his target audience was, Andre said “Everyone!”
He believes it is extremely important to love yourself (thyself) before you love another. What a simple, but beautiful way to express self-love. 🙂
Artist: Andre

You Be You By Johnathan

John designed a bright colored baseball T-Shirt that says “You be you” and on the back it says, “Only you can control you.” He’s absolutely right, only we can control our actions and thoughts. So why not be you? Let’s break this stigma!

Artist: Johnathan

You Are Not Alone in the Dark by Kim

You Are Not Alone in the Dark – Kim designed a gray T-Shirt that says “Shine a Light” with an image of a match in the pocket square glowing. On the back of her shirt, she wrote “Warrior, Fighter, Survivor.” Each word is written in the color of a flame. Bright and bold contrast with the dark T-Shirt, she is sure to stand out from the crowd! Kim shared with the group that she wants to bring this design to her NAMI chapter on campus to actually use this design for a shirt. What a great idea!
Artist: Kim

Authentic Strides by Perry

Perry, who requested to do an advocacy activity, created a T-Shirt that says “Authentic Strides” and on the front has an image of a shoe with wings and on the top of the shirt, colors of fire and light. On the back, he writes, “Each Step With Integrity.” Perry’s slogan/mission is “Be true, be you!”
His target audience is especially for those advocating for anyone who feels different. His goal is empowerment – no matter what your gender, sexuality, mental health, etc.


-Artist: Perry

K.W. defeats her Monsters

Kim created two monsters to represent her self-injurious behaviors and her Borderline Personality Disorder. The clock’s hours represent a new struggle and feeling she experiences. Living with this mental illness, she explains how she can feel one way one minute and switch the next.
The tornado of red represents her negative coping skill of cutting and in the whirlwind, there are many objects she used to hurt herself.
These monsters may be a part of Kim’s story, but it doesn’t take away how strong she is as she defeats the monster daily.

Artist: Kim

J.G.’s Procrastination Monster

Jessica shares her monster’s story with the group: the fence represents being prevented in getting anywhere and getting things done with a scary monster hiding in the darkness. She includes fire in her representation of her monster too. Perhaps this monster’s name is “Procrastination?”
Artist: Jessica

A.O.’s Intrusive Monster

Ayo creates a monster filled with intrusive thoughts. On her monster’s belly, there’s a touch of depression. However, in spite all of the chaotic thoughts of “What should I say?” and “I’m so sad, but I don’t know why,” a little voice says “But I can do it…”
Even with all of the doubts, Ayo creates a two-sided thinking monster who may help her in the long run.

Artist: Ayo

H.C.’s Hollow Monster

Heather, who is in school to become an art therapist, inspires us with her “monster” inspired by Toby Allen’s “paranoia” monster.
Heather explains her hollow monster is created out of dirt and is hollow inside to represent the emptiness she feels. The hour glass in his belly represents her eating disorder and the eye ball as a staff represents his extra hyper vigilance around his surrounding world along with the spinning thoughts around his hat.
Artist: Heather

G.M.’s Mad Scientist Monster

G.M.’s Monster – Gavin, a new member to our Young Adult Connection group created his monster, inspired by Toby Allen’s illustrations of mental illnesses. Although Gavin did not explain what his monster represents to him, we can all say his monster looks a bit like a mad scientist. Gavin will be returning to college this fall…so it is very fitting!

Art by Gavin

C.S.’s Anxiety Monster

Inspired by illustrator Toby Allen’s “mental illness monsters,” Chelsea created a multi-colored anxiety monster to describe her experiences living with her illness. She writes: “He is many colors and the colors change representing how each day my illness manifests differently. He can sit on my shoulder, always able to peck at my ear and bug me like my illness does with intrusive thoughts and negative emotions. His head is stuck to one side, giving him a distorted view of reality. He is bird-like, but flightless, representing how difficult my illness makes it to stay motivated to move forward in life.”
Artist: Chelsea

S.G.’s Monster (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Sara is inspired by Toby Allen’s illustration of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) monster. Relative to the anxiety monster, the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Monster can be found stalking battlefields or lurking near traumatic events and natural disasters, feeding off the collective trauma and fear. On her monster’s back are various targets to remind her of experiences. 

Artist: Sara


Monster by S.M.’s (Mental Wellness)

Steve strives for mental wellness – he created a very detailed monster to represent various aspects of his life. Starting with Batman outlining his monster, with both red and blue wings representing the fire and ice (mania and depression) of Bipolar Disorder, green to represent the awareness ribbon color for Bipolar. On the belly of his monster is to represent the transgender community, which has been a very big turning point in his life. Behind the bat is caution tape for blind pedestrians. Steve is legally blind, but uses extremely powerful contacts to help him see. Followed by lightning because of the intensity of his illness and rainbows because he loves rainbows. What an amazingly detailed monster!

Artist: Steve


-start rant- Since last week, I’ve had a rage building up inside me pertaining to how men speak to and address women. This anger is nothing new to me, but it started up again when I was in the emergency room and a random man started saying to me “Hey baby, how’s it going? Don’t hide from me sweetheart.” Me, in hospital gowns, getting hit on while I’m amidst a crisis.
So today, that rage escaped. A random man who got off the bus says to me “Hey sexy” and I tell him “Please don’t call me that.” He responds with “Why? You ARE sexy.” I explain to him how I don’t find that a compliment (because I feel like I’m being sexualized by a complete stranger) and he goes on to say “Whatever, I’ll lick your p****” and proceeds to walk away.
That right there crossed a line. I engaged in a heated discussion with him, trying to break through his ignorance by emphasisng that one should not speak to a person in such a manner, it’s rude and disrespectful. He tries the “well I’m a guy and I’m attracted to women” explanation, as if this was an excuse for the disrespectful comment he made to me.
It’s the blatant sexual harassment that seems to be so normalized in masculine culture that enrages me to my very core. Has no one told these men that it’s NOT OKAY to speak to another person in such a manner? And why don’t they see to care? Has no one attempted to free them of this ignorant mentality that being a straight man somehow gives them leeway to speaking to women however they please?
I know personally, I’d like for anyone to speak to me like a PERSON, as two human beings engaging in conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude who’s opposed to flirting and whatnot. It’s natural for people to be attracted to people. But the manner in which some men approach the situation, the mentality that “I’m a man so I’m going to say what I please to this attractive female” is the problem here. I hold the opinion that masculine culture is limiting and toxic, and these behaviors and views must have been taught, and since no one seems to be challenging them, they continue.
I probably sound like some kind of angry feminist, but really I’m just a person who’s tried of being harassed and disrespected by random men because I happen to be born into a female body, and I wish there was an effective manner in raising awareness to this issue. -end rant-


School’s right around the corner, as is autumn, my favorite season. I have a lot to look forward to from here on. I’m also happy because I’ve started working on personal projects again, I had been unable to due to stress and mental blocks.
What is everyone else looking forward to these next coming months?

S.T.’s Monster- Inspired by Pokemon

Shane, a new member of the Young Adult Connection Group said he wasn’t sure what to create for a monster. He shared that he had an image in his head, but didn’t know how to put it on paper. Shane’s monster looks a lot like a Pokemon.

He loves to play Pokemon Go, which is a is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. Shane also has geckos at home as pets too… perhaps this is what has inspired him?


V.S.’s Monster

Val’s monster was described as “cute” by her fellow group members, but her monster is far from that. On her monster’s body, you will see the moon, stars, and the sun representing the day and night feeling of her mental illness. The sharp teeth destroys her voice when she is around unfamiliar people and his sharp claw cut her deep making her wish she was never born. This “cute” curly hair only covers half of his head – representing the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Half of the hair is missing from his head from the stress of pulling out his hair. The strained cloudy wide eyes are a representation of her complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is the size of a cell phone, but makes a huge impact to her day.

Artist: Val

Steps to Self-Care

If you haven’t seen the flier yet, Michael posted information about a free workshop September 9 with Constance Arnold, who will help teach us some Self-Care techniques.

I also found a great visual for those of you who work in the mental health field – this definitely applies to our working peer support and outreach specialists and social workers. It’s a great visual to recognize the steps to take care of yourself when you feel burned out.
Steps to self-care

I always look for tips to staying healthy while working in this stressful environment and I thought this was a very “cute” layout to visually show us ways to practice self-care.

Do you have any tips to practice self-care?


I’ve been going through a lot of personal changes and I have been hyperaware of other’s reactions towards me, particularly people I’m close to, like my family, therapist, and friends. I cut my hair and dyed it, and I’ve come out to a few people about preferring he/him pronouns. This has all been making me anxious and confused, yet somehow I’ve been a lot happier with myself. Yesterday I looked in the mirror and I actually recognized myself. I can’t even recall the last time that’s happened.
I’ve noticed my therapist and a couple acquaintances acting differently around me , however it is possible that I am simply perceiving their behavior incorrectly. Or maybe it isn’t a negative thing, maybe they’re trying to get accustomed to my identity??? Either way, I’ve been a lot more comfortable and happier with myself, and the way other’s react to me is a reflection of where they’re at and as long as I know who I am that’s what matters. At least, that’s what I tell myself. It’s been weird, but I know it’ll get better 🙂

Book: Diary of an Oxygen Theif

The summary mentioned a comparison to Holden Caulfield and F. Scott Fitzgerald, so naturally I had to buy it. Boy, did this book make me uncomfortable. The story begins with the narrator describing how he enjoyed emotionally abusing girls, which strongly reminded me of my ex. The last part of the novel is filled with the narrator’s overwhelmingly realistic paranoia and karma for what he put so many girls through.
I saw so many aspects of my life reflected in this novel and it was difficult to read but I’m glad I sat through it. Novels, or movies or other forms of art that makes one uncomfortable can be a great way to self-reflect and challenge the past and old beliefs we may hold.

Faded – Accidental Art

Faded – Accidental Art – For someone who struggles with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), it would seem terrifying and difficult to be told to spill water on your perfectly colored art. Collin faced the challenge and look now at the new creation this water did for it!


Geometry – Accidental Art

Geometry – Accidental Art – Geometry may remind you of math class, but this is far from that! This piece was designed to show accidental art in a sophisticated and beautiful way.

Quilt Squares – Accidental Art

Quilt Squares – Accidental Art – When life hands you water and markers, you make a mess!
This piece created by Val was designed to look like patchwork found on a quilt. Each layer is full of colors smeared together, but that’s okay. The anxiety was worth it! 😉

– Val

I Do What I Want

I Do What I Want -Art When I asked Hailey to name her art, she called it “I Do What I Want” because whenever we do a project, she does it however she wants. Creativity has no rules and she made this flawless piece of art by doing what she wanted.


Smudge! – Sara decided to do the impossible…smudge all of the colors she could and dousing the page in water. It takes incredible strength to let the water take over the art!


Diamonds – Accidental Art

Diamonds – Accidental Art – As young adults, we are taught to color inside the lines to make the picture look perfect. Diamonds – Accidental ArtThis time, we dripped water all over the art and Kim’s “Diamonds” accidental art now looks like beautiful stained glass!


College Degrees to Avoid

I came across a great article about college majors and which degrees do not offer much after obtaining it. It doesn’t discount how difficult the courses were, however, all of the hard work might not pay off or get enough resume attention.

Some of the degrees I was shocked to see on the list, especially graphic design. Our world is full of websites, books, CD covers, etc. I was sure this major would be blooming in this century. Perhaps it is a degree to avoid because there’s only so much one can do/ find work.

You can read the article here with explanations for each degree on the list or here: http://money.lifeplunge.com/worst-college-degrees-for-your-resume/9/

So here’s the list of Worst College Degrees For Your Resume, did yours make the list?
1. Graphic Design
2. Kinesiology (Exercise Science)
3. Anthropology and Archeology
4. Religious Studies
5. Visual and Performing Arts
6. Music
7. Art History
8. Philosophy
9. History
10. English
Did any of them come as a shock to you? What do you think of the list, any degree you would add to the list?


I’m a huge Pinterest fan and one of my boards is dedicated to body art – henna, permanent ink, facepaint, etc.
I found a wonderful post about “44 Quote Tattoos That Will Change Your Life” – some of the tattoos are song lyrics, movie quotes, and famous words by people of great wisdom.
Check it out! —> 44 Tattoos or Here: http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Quote-Tattoos-37802431?crlt.pid=camp.dVXHEFqrmZ29#photo-40997706

I have a monarch butterfly tattoo on my wrist that symbolizes change/transformation, but I’ve been thinking about getting a second tattoo for about 2 years now. I have a song quote by Ray Lamontagne called “Be Here Now.” which ironically is one of the 44 quotes in the article. I love this quote because it reminds me to be grounded and in the present moment.

Does anyone have a tattoo/want a tattoo and what does it symbolize for you?



I came across a great quote while I was on Pinterest and I decided I needed to share it on here. Recently, I’ve been dealing with a lot of self-hatred because I feel disappointed in all of the things I haven’t accomplished. When I saw this quote, it refreshed my thinking process to a more positive one. It reminded me of everything I’ve worked hard on in life and how there’s no right way of doing things. My path is customized to my life; I’m not following someone else’s journey.

Pinterest Quote

Have any of you experienced this before? Just remember how valuable you are and start LOVING yourself!


Life – This piece is colored in marker done by Ayo, young adult in the Middletown Young Adult Connection Group. She graciously energized the tree with color and let her imagination take it away.



As most of the “forum family” knows, I love reading articles on Psychology Today and other magazines/newspapers about Mental Health.
I just finished reading a great article on the girl who refused chemotherapy treatment and was put into DCF custody because she was not being taken to the hospital for therapy.
You can check out the article: When Adolescents Claim the Right to Refuse Treatment
or here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/talking-about-trauma/201604/when-adolescents-claim-the-right-refuse-treatment

It’s very controversial because young people should (in my opinion) be able to make choices for their own body and not be forced to do something that they don’t want to, but some may disagree because a “young person isn’t mature enough to know how to take care of themselves.”

So my question to all of you:
Do you think someone who is diagnosed with cancer (or any disease) should be able to make decisions for their treatment at any age…or is there an age minimum in your opinion on when they are deemed “fit” to make these choices for themselves?


Patchwork – This is a collective piece that looks like a quilt of ideas.

Each square is designed by Kim, Val, Shelby, John, and Nanii in 3 minutes.


Kim, Val, Shelby, John, and Nanii

Geometric Girl

Geometric Girl – This is a collective piece that became triangle based. Each person added their touch in 3 minutes.

Someone even added in a face!
– Kim, Val, Shelby, John, and Nanii

The Not-So-Grim-Reaper

The Not-So-Grim-Reaper – This was a collective piece done by Nanii and John in under 3 minutes.

One person stylishly drew a blossoming bouquet of colorful flowers and the other twisted the image with good ol’ Grim!
-Nanii and John


Menagerie – This collective piece became a menagerie of bugs, fish, food, etc. and in some way it ties together. Who says spiders can’t eat carrots?

-Shelby, John, Nanii, Kim, and Val

Flip Me Upside Down

Flip Me Upside Down – This is a collective art piece completed by the young adult group.

Each artist contributed their own artistic talent to the picture, submitting their own touch to the piece in 3 minutes. This piece is called “Flip Me Upside Down” because the original artist started by drawing trees and hills, but the other artist turn the hills into trees.

Look from both angles and see the full image.
-John, Nanii, Kim, Val, and Shelby

The Calm Before the Shake

The Calm Before the Shake – Steph unveils different expressions through her art.

This collage is truly a collection of herself – everything from the braille background representing being blind to the phrase “Positively Uplifting Energy”.


Garden Slumbers

Garden Slumbers: Collin used a magazine photo of a outdoor bed and turned it into a garden full of gentle words and phrases to represent someone when they feel calm and at peace.


The Mind of a Girl

We decided to do collages for group one week and this young adult cleverly created an image full of inspiring words and creative phrases to represent to mind of the girl. #HeatherArt

– Heather


For what I believe is the first time since I made the conscious decision to be a person in recovery, I have been struggling to the point where it’s difficult for me to function yet have the ability to hide it to an extent when seeing people in person. I’m usually a very hard worker and always try to be as productive as possible, but lately I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to do what I need to do. I feel like I keep making excuses for myself. I’ve been having such a difficult time focusing. I’m having to get used to taking things slow and praising myself for getting small tasks done.

How do you deal with loss of motivation and decline of functioning?


Every now and then I’ll see someone on my Facebook/Instagram newsfeed post photos for a challenge they are trying out. Whether it’s a 365 day photo challenge, or a 30 day workout challenge, I tend to check in to see how they are doing. Many times a person gives up after the first 10 days, so here’s a question for you…

Was there a “challenge” that you’ve tried and actually finished? There’s a challenge I came across Pinterest which involves 21 days of taking control of your nerves. (Great for people with anxiety).

Anxiety Challenge


I want to try it out, but I have commitment issues and I don’t want to disappoint myself if I don’t complete the challenge. I guess I start it…tomorrow!

For those who have been successful with challenges, what has helped you complete them?


Splat – This dark inner circle describes a girl who has been challenged with many obstacles. Feelings of being forgotten, sadness, and the blank outer shell shown is nothing, but her true self to the world. In the mess of the darkness, she uses watercolors to share her messy yin and yang and the guard dog protecting her from the outer world.

Artist: Savannah

Inner Circle

This piece was done by one of our group members at the Young Adult Connection Group in Middletown.

In this watercolor piece, you will see the inner child and soon the outer rings consuming the mind. Words plaguing the brain like “disordered eating” and “social anxiety” are just a few to describe what this young adult tries to hide from the world.
Soft colors mask the darkness behind this piece; blinding us to believe this is a happy, level-headed, lovable person.

Artist: Chelsea

Picasso Mind

This Picasso-like watercolor piece describes the broken mind of a person living with an anxious brain. In this mix of colors you will see both happy and disturbed, the trees and the masks she hides behind to prove she’s “kept together” and confident.

Artist: Valerie

Coping Techniques

For the past couple of years, I’ve been receiving therapy treatment through EMDR. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing and works for those who’ve experienced trauma. It’s honestly saved my life and has helped me function enough to the point that I can actually drive a car now after a car accident and begin to trust again.

I came across an amazing article on how to “Self-Administer” EMDR when alone and I had to share it!
EMDR done at home is different than the therapy in an office with a licensed professional, but it does offer a new coping mechanism and a familiar option to help push through the anxiety.

Check it out! http://hubpages.com/health/How-To-Do-Self-Administered-EMDR-Therapy

What other techniques have you adopted to help you cope?

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

I have always loved Florence + the Machine and each album she’s released has been phenomenal.
I have a problem where I grow attached to older albums and I tend to be harsh towards newer albums until I soon become obsessed over the new album.

Florence’s album “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” came out just as my best friend came home from a 6+ month treatment facility in Wisconsin. Florence is one of the many artists we blast on road trips, so it was natural for us to dissect her new album together.

Florence normally includes biblical and greek mythology references in her music and each song is full of beautiful harps, strings, etc. This album, however is full of brass instruments and is more “stripped down.” She said she listened to Taylor Swift’s advice and followed her heart on this album; it is a collection of songs of heartache from a bad relationship. Each music video is part of her Odyssey to getting over her relationship.

My favorite song in her new album is “Queen of Peace.” I included the video – the original music video is extremely intense, but there is a bit of nudity so I didn’t want to post it on here.

Queen of Peace
I purchased tickets to see her this summer (SHE’S AMAZING LIVE!!!) because 2016 has been full of tragedy and I felt this was a chance to spend time with my mother while we can. Florence has helped both of us during dark days, so it will be a nice getaway to see her in concert.
Are you going to any concerts this year? How do you connect to their music?

The Magical Pill

I take my medication in the evening, but sometimes if I have an impromptu overnight stay somewhere and I didn’t pack them, I can miss a dose. Sometimes I might also fall asleep early and/or forget, but I am definitely getting much better because I know the major difference and side effects from missing a dose.

Apparently, there’s a new “Smart Pill” that can be taken to remind you to take your medication. There’s an app on the phone that it alerts to and also can contact providers (to make sure you are following through with medication management).
“(It’s) a pill coated in digestible metals — copper and magnesium — which react with stomach acid to send a tiny electrical signal through your body. This charge zaps a Band-Aid-like patch on your skin, which sends a signal via Bluetooth to an iOS app that notes you’ve taken the pill. The skin patch, worn for days at a time, also transmits physiological data like step count and time spent being active versus resting.”
You can read about it Here
or here ->>>> http://www.buzzfeed.com/stephaniemlee/this-smart-pill-tells-your-doctor-if-you-miss-a-dose#.kyO4yODlP
Right now, only some medications work with the “Smart Pill,” such as medication for hypertension. However, they are making progress with introducing more medications like anti-psychotics.
It might actually save a life, but it seems a bit odd in my opinion, a pill that will actually determine if you took your medication!?
What do you think? What are some tricks you use to remind yourself to take your meds?

Live Through This

As a survivor of suicide, sometimes it’s hard for me to not think about it again…and again. In the past, I’ve thought about what I did wrong that failed my attempts and what I could have done to succeed (what my other alternatives were).
Today, I am focusing more on what I am doing to better myself so when I do have suicidal thoughts, I don’t act on them. It’s a very difficult thing to do, but it is possible!
I have also tried thinking more about what my purpose is here on Earth. Now that I’ve been through this, it’s my turn to give back to prevent this from happening to someone else.

I came across this amazing blogger (Dese’Rae L.Stage) who shared her story about going through a very difficult time while staying in an abusive relationship. When Dese’Rae’s depression consumed her, she hit rock bottom and attempted suicide. After her failed attempt this is what she did: “I’ve collected the stories and portraits of attempt survivors across the country, people just like you and me, and I’m finding that the louder I yell, and the more people I convince to yell with me, the more we inch toward breaking down those walls of stigma and shame, and the easier it becomes to just live through this.”

Out of all of the survivors, the person who I felt connected to and who expressed very similar thoughts of survival was Tile Celeste.
She talks about her rethinking process after her attempt. She needed to figure out what part of her was worth holding onto. She says: “I started figuring out who I wanted to save: the Tile that I didn’t want to be gone.”

Which person do you feel most connected to? Who stood out?

Check out the project here: Live Through This
or here ->>>>> http://www.refinery29.com/2015/09/82628/live-through-this-suicide-attempt-survivors#slide

Finding something to do

For me, boredom is the most difficult feeling to deal with. It leads to all other negative emotions. I tend to very much enjoy my solitude, and prefer keeping to myself and doing something along the lines of reading or making art. I often wonder if I’m missing out or if there’s something wrong with me because I don’t seem to enjoy going out and drinking or whatever it is peers my age do as much as other people. But I’ve tried it before and it’s okay, to an extent. I’d rather be hiking in the woods or going to art shows, and a bunch of other things I don’t have easy access to.

This winter I’m trying to find things to preoccupy my time. I’m definitely going to read intensely and crochet things I can sell. What do other people do when they’re home alone? Anything you enjoy that you would like to suggest?


When I started working on my trauma therapy, my therapist asked me to come up with an animal as my protector. I thought he was joking at first, but then I realized how important it was to have that spirit animal as my protector. Doing trauma work is incredibly exhausting and in many cases, scary because the past experiences are brought up.

This is Jasmine. She’s a black panther with green eyes and she is special. I decided to draw her because I wanted to show my support group how I envisioned Jasmine as if she was truly sitting beside me.


Owl and Spider

Owl and Spider – Once upon a time there was an owl named Peter who decided to eat a spider because he was hungry…

In our Young Adult Connection Groups, we often create art. One week we drew our “spirit animals.” One very talented young woman took the spirit animal test and resulted in being the spider. She decided to be a little more creative by drawing an owl eating the spider.



Art. A wonderful medium for expressing emotions and thoughts too profound and intense to be held within. Ever look at (or read) a work of art and think, “This artist understands me, I’m not alone in what I feel.”?
What are some of your favorite artists? Works of art that you can deeply relate to? One artist I feel understands me in ways I can’t describe in Chiara Bautista. When I first saw one of her illustrations I immediately felt a strong sense of nostalgia, followed by a spiritual experience. I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with the general category of “art.” Are you an artist yourself?

I’ll Start Tomorrow

Happy New Year! It’s that time where people make resolutions to eat healthier, go to church more, learn a new language, etc. Unfortunately, most of the time these resolutions start to fade and the excuses we make up for why we “can’t do it today” are just as bad as Aunt Rita’s stale fruit cake.

Before we know it, we are pushing our resolutions back further and further until we say “Never mind, I’ll wait til next year!”
So how do we stop procrastinating and actually follow through with a real New Year’s Resolution?

Well, maybe instead of choosing a “I am going to lose 20 lbs” resolution, it’s time to think more about our attitudes and how we present ourselves. Last year might have been a bitter and angry year for you, perhaps this year it’s time to focus on positive. A simple change in how you react to things can make a bigger impact for a New Year’s resolution than the crash diet that never worked out.

I was on the train home months ago and I met this lovely young woman from Australia who was talking to me about how she made a resolution to be more BOLD. It made me think about how being bold can represent various features. Being bold could resemble confidence, it can resemble fashion style, it could even represent a firm stance on a situation.

This year, I plan to be more reserved. I don’t want to be an introvert or stop talking to anyone, but I want to let myself not worry about other people’s drama and opinions.

What is your Resolution?

I’m becoming everthing I hate

Manipulative, sadistic, histrionic, unstable, emotionally masochistic, slightly abusive, the list goes on. All things I absolutely DESPISE in another human being, yet it appears I come off this way to the people I’m closest to. I’ve even been told I play the victim, although I don’t agree with this one at all. It seems I always hurt the people I’m closest to. This is why I keep my distance. I don’t mean to hurt them, but I always do. And it really makes me hate myself. Yet at the same time, I cant bring myself to feel anything. I’d like to blame it on the lack of meds, but I don’t even know anymore. I guess I’m just a fucked up person.

How to Cope With the Holiday Sadness

The holidays can be extremely difficult for many of us because it brings up memories of loved ones who have passed. Whether the memory was making Grandma’s famous cookies or the ritual of having Christmas dinner at your sister’s house, it can hurt and still affect us deeply after years of the passing.
There’s never a perfect time of year to grieve, but the holidays can certainly trigger those feelings of sadness. The holiday season can also make it tough for those who’ve recently divorced, traveled across the world and won’t be home for Christmas (or any other holiday), or struggle with depression in general.

Here are “10 Ways to Cope When the Holidays Hurt” by Suzanne Degges- White Ph.D.

1.Don’t completely isolate yourself from other people.
2.Allow yourself space to acknowledge your loss and the pain it has produced, but do not let yourself use the loss as an excuse to escape through alcohol or other addictive substances.
3.If a particular ritual is just too painful to try and continue this year, accept that there are limits to what you are capable of doing and forgive yourself for that.
4.Create a special new ritual that honors the person who is no longer with you.
5.Light a special candle and offer a silent or spoken tribute to this person.
6.Add a special decoration to your collection and display it in this person’s honor.
7.Choose a special recipe that was always a favorite and prepare it each year – saying a special prayer in their honor before consuming it.
8.Ask yourself and your family what this person loved most about the holiday season – and engage in this aspect of the holiday with especial fervor! If it was the lights of the season, throw your heart into decorating your home with the lights that always brought a smile! If it was the cookies, bake your heart out – even if you aren’t the most talent chef, enjoy doing something that your loved one would have enjoyed seeing happen. If it was the carols and songs of the season, let the CDs, Sirius, or Pandora serenade the silence with the songs this person loved.
9.Remind yourself that at this time of year, the shortest day falls on the last day of autumn. Winter may bring the coldest weather, the deepest hibernation of animal life, the barren trees may stand out starkly against the winter sky, but remind yourself that once the first day of winter has arrived, the days are once again growing in length and the nights are beginning to shorten. This is a magic time when we can feel the change in the natural world on a very deep level. The grief or loss you feel may ebb and flow like a tide, but remind yourself that there is a natural rhythm in life and it truly is always darkest before the dawn.
10.Honor your feelings, but don’t allow yourself to get so wrapped up in the loss that you forget the gifts that this person had brought to your life! When we let ourselves get sucked into a place of abject grief and darkness, we are sacrificing the joy that this person inspired in our lives and in others. Feeling sadness and grief is natural and normal; forgetting about the positive life force this person had been is not.

Do you do anything in particular to help cope with the holiday sadness? My mom makes special floral arrangements for Christmas and she makes special ones for loved ones who have passed. One person in particular loved sparkle and “bling” so she is sure to make that arrangement with glitter and other decorations in her honor. It’s healing to make this a new tradition because although having the holidays with her at the house is no longer available, bringing the special arrangements to the graves is still something.

You’re Not Alone – Find Information and Support

TED Talks

I love watching motivational videos and hearing success stories of those who have overcome it all. TED talks, in my opinion, are amazing because they educate the viewers, but many of them also inspire the audience to work on themselves, share their ideas with the world, etc.

For example: Guy Winch, a doctor in psychology, talks about emotional first aid and how we need to practice taking better care of our mental health just as we do for our physical health.
This is one of the best TED talks I’ve seen because I connected extremely well with everything he discussed and took in the tools and tips he gives to the audience so I can better myself too.
How to Practice Emotional First Aid

Do you have a favorite TED talk? Don’t like TED talks and prefer a different program?
Do you have a favorite guest speaker?

TED logo

or watch it here: https://youtu.be/F2hc2FLOdhI


Do you enjoy reading your horoscope online or in a magazine? Perhaps you are checking out the farmer’s almanac to predict the future?

Well, I came across a study that related birth months to predicting mental illnesses (with actual research and proof behind it!) So you will be given a real reason why your body acts the way it does instead of reading the vague prediction of you succeeding at the office or going on a date with the cute Taurus guy from class.

Here’s the study:

In a 2012 study (link is external), a group of researchers at Queen Mary University in London investigated whether the risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression increased depending on one’s birth month. These researchers looked at more than 29 million people from England’s general population, 58,000 of whom were diagnosed with one of these three conditions.

Winter babies were at the greatest risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with January being the most common birth month for this group. Spring babies, meanwhile, appeared to be at greatest risk for depression, which demonstrated an almost significant peak in May.

Schizophrenia had significant lows for people born in July, and bipolar disorder had significant lows for individuals born in August and September. People born in November were significantly less likely to experience depression.

More research includes the probability of people with April, May, and June are at a higher risk of attempting suicide.

It is believed our biological clock has something to do with it – specifically our mood. Winter babies are having a more difficult time adapting to summer light, but then low Vitamin D (impacting the brain development) and infection (many illness in the winter, and allergens in the spring) is also linked to mental health challenges.
Now that we are aware of which months are more likely to develop certain mental illnesses, doctors can provide more support such as light therapy, monitoring mother and child for infections, practice meditation, etc. No fret!

When’s your birthday? Do you feel this study is pretty accurate/ help you understand why you are the way you are?

My birthday is in January and I was born in a snow blizzard, so it makes perfect sense as to why I was more likely to develop my illness. (Not the ONLY reason why I developed my mental illness).

Albums from the Heart

One of my very best friends and I have very similar taste in music, so whenever we hear a new album, song, or artist, we have to share what we’ve heard with one another. Sometimes we hear the same album and burst as we discuss our love for the music.
My “New Years Resolution” for 2015 was to listen to full albums written by the artist and listen to each song in order and no skipping, so I can fully accept and figure what I have learned from the artist’s composition. I know the artist put the songs in the specific order on the album on purpose, so many times it tells a story.

Last night, my friend shared a song from an album I actually have on my iPod, but I have never heard before; it was inspiring and deep.
This morning he sent me a trailer for the album itself and I wanted to share it. Not only is the video magical, but it touches on the human mind and how we think (and what the album is about).

Check it out:
A Fine Frenzy – Pines

Do you have an album you feel is the best composition you have ever heard or connected to? This year I have learned so much by the artists I love (but tend to choose a select few songs from each album). One of the best albums I will always default to is Coldplay’s X & Y. The music hits me deep and sometimes I drive home crying because it gets me to the core. Another album I adore is Hillsong United’s Zion album. It’s a very spiritual and emotional album too, but it lifts me up and makes me feel connected to my higher power.

or here: https://youtu.be/XR-dfql-uwg

Medicalizing Normal: I am Valerie and I am not my illness!

It seems to be that today, we are fighting terribly to end the stigma of mental illness, but we are still clinging on to our diagnosis labels.

“What do you mean?” you may ask.

Let’s break it down:
We tell the world we don’t want to be judged and labeled by others for having diagnoses such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. but when we talk about ourselves it is very common for us to label ourselves with our diagnoses.

It can be comforting to know what our illness is especially if it makes a difference in the type of medication and therapy received (I know when I was finally diagnosed with a primary diagnosis of bipolar it was an “AHA!” moment for me). But still, I find myself identifying who I am as my illness.

However, if something negative occurs, some people like blame it on their illness…well no, sometimes we’re just being a**holes. I can admit it.

I do notice that if I do share my diagnosis, I am worried about judgement even by those who also have a diagnosed mental illness because it’s almost like being “depressed” is the new normal, but bipolar, schizophrenia, etc. is “CRAZIER”

I read an article that discussed how “We gravitate towards diagnosis, because it can provide an important organizing framework that explains behavior and phenomena that can otherwise be incredibly perplexing and hard to make sense of” (Costa).

This can get dangerous though. I’ve noticed over the years, we look up on the internet our illness (or for those not diagnosed, symptoms) and we tend to morph into the character role of our illness.

So my question for you: do you find yourself labeling yourself with your mental illness (or any other diagnosis)?
Do you find it relieving to finally have a diagnosis confirmed by a professional?
Do you think labeling your diagnosis can be more destructive or makes you more vulnerable to discrimination?

I believe no one is normal. It is not a bad thing to not be normal because we are all unique individuals. Having a mental illness does not make someone less or better than the next and not having a severe diagnosis (or a diagnosis at all) doesn’t mean your symptoms and experiences aren’t valid.
So hello,
My name is Valerie and I have two cats named Louie and Cleo. I love to edit music and choreograph dances. I do a lot of intricate bead work when I’m stressed as well as zentangles and reading to keep me grounded when I am manic. Although I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, it doesn’t do anything, but give me an extra challenge. It tests my survival skills when I am severely depressed and actually connects me deeper with my faith.

Latest Features Come to TurningPoint!

Hey guys, we’re pretty excited to be adding a couple of new features to our website! We’ve added a Media Room as one of our latest features where you can see the most recent news or highlights, plus share your artwork or poetry. We hope to have a regular cartoon feature from our BFF Michael who is awesome–but please share your own wellness / recovery / coping art! You can access the Media Room from our home page or the menu bar at the top or bottom of any screen. Click Here to get right to the new page!

Also, we’re giving you a sneak peak at the new online resource locator map that’s been under development by young folks around the state. Check it out, rate the services or supports you’ve used, add any listings of programs & clubs you want to recommend! Hope you like it. 🙂

Visit Our New Resource Map!

Help us make this resource map THE place to go find great stuff for young people in CT by sharing your recommendations! Add whatever locations or resources you think are missing, rate the programs and services you’ve used, etc. And tell your friends to check map.TurningPointCT.org out!

Please note: The map is still under development. We’ve got a team of young adults around the state adding new data all the time, but you can help by adding in your high school club, college wellness center, favorite youth group, job center, etc….

TurningPointCT.org wins a Graphic Design USA Award!!

We are proud to announce that our young adult website, TurningPointCT.org, has won another award! We would like to thank Graphic Design USA for recognizing us in the 2015 Health & Wellness Design category. And a very special thanks to our design team at Taylor Design!

Click here to see more details on TurningPointCT.org’s award!

Connect with peers @ CT’s new Young Adult Warmline!

Warmline – Developed by JoinRiseBe & Advocacy Unlimited to connect young people to community resources, motivate our peers to move forward, and inspire hope by demonstrating the positive outcomes of recovery. Call 1855-6-HopeNow to speak with a young person who can guide you towards wellness. Available Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 12-6pm.


Tis the Season to Be Criticized

It’s that time of year where everyone gathers together to celebrate the holidays. Although it’s supposed to be cheery and festive, the experience might feel as overwhelming as it was for that turkey before he landed on your dining room table for Thanksgiving.

I don’t know about you, but I have a large family who LOVES to drill me with awkward questions about my future (specifically my job and school), about my appearance (gained/lost weight), and my social life (has my boyfriend “popped the question” yet?). I honestly have to rehearse what I am going to say and see if I can answer their questions in under three minutes, so my whole night isn’t ruined. I know they don’t mean to criticize, but sometimes I want to hide to avoid those dreaded questions.
And then there are family members who do like to criticize because…well, I don’t really know why?

So, what do we do to survive the criticism? We need to enjoy the celebrations just as much as the next person!

Psychology Today has introduced to us “5 Tips for Surviving Criticism From Family Members!”
1) Start viewing criticism as misguided caring.
2) Speak up! Let family members know how they can better express that they care.
3) Encourage prioritization.
4) Give gentle reminders that you are worthy of unconditional love.
5) Understand that purposeless negativity is just that. Purposeless negativity.

Click below to read the full article:

5 Tips

or here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-art-closeness/201511/5-tips-surviving-criticism-family-members

Some people are affected by their families so much that they decide not to show up at holiday events because it’s too overwhelming. Attending the Christmas bash at Aunt Susie’s house may urge you to drink or use other negative coping skills to manage the unwanted feelings of shame, embarrassment, anger, etc. So hopefully this article will help you identify how to survive this season.

We want everyone to be able to enjoy the delicious homemade decorated cookies without wondering which person is going to comment next.
Peace to you all! And may you survive the battle of the criticism!

Novels that help

Does anyone else have a book or books that have significantly helped them at some point in their lives? I know mine is (surprise, surprise) The Catcher in the Rye. Aside from studying it twice in high school, I remember reading this book several times from the ages of 13 (right about the time when I started in therapy) until now. It became almost like a checkpoint in my recovery, each time I read the book it was a reminder of how far I’d come since the last time I’d read it, and there was something about the way I will always be changing and growing as a person, yet Holden and the rest of the characters would always remain the same that was very comforting and reassuring to me.
I’d love to hear other peoples’ favorite books!

Overwhelming Emotions

I was browsing Psychology Today (one of my favorite websites/magazines) and I came across an article that I felt was so relevant to me.
With bipolar, it’s often difficult to regulate my emotions because I swing from mania to a deep dark depression (as well as high anxiety). Being manic doesn’t necessarily mean happy, but sometimes it’s impulsive, jittery, and restless. In this article, the author discusses how we cannot control our emotions, just how we react to them; I feel that is so true!

When I start swinging from one emotion to the other, I need to prepare myself for the rock bottom feeling I might get or too manic that can lead to dissociation. That means, instead of wallowing in my sadness, sleeping in bed too long, etc. I have to find a healthier coping strategy. Going for a walk, mindful breathing, coloring, or even watching a good childhood favorite film (I watched Mary Poppins last night) can make a world of a difference.
I have learned so much about myself when the emotions start to consume me. In the past, I would let them take over and blame myself for reacting poorly. Now, I can identify what I can do to prevent it from becoming too out of control.
Check out the article.
What do you do when the emotions start to get overwhelming? What coping skills do you use?

Overwhelming Emotions

Bucket Lists

I took my boyfriend’s sister out for her birthday on Monday and we decided to stop in one of those shops that sells interesting gifts, knick knacks, and those hilariously inappropriate cards. We came across a journal that was a bit crude, so naturally I was curious to read it. It was called the F*** it journal. It is optimistically pessimistic because it gives you 100 writing prompts to write 1,000 things you know you will never accomplish/obtain in your life.
For example: Sure, I would love to be Queen of England someday, but I know that will never happen. My boyfriend might treat me like a queen, so that’s good enough for me! So for those who hate to make bucket lists because they know the list is too “out there” to actually finish, this journal is for you!

We both got the journal and we are giving each other a year to finish the prompts and then on her birthday next year, we will read each other’s journals.

It gives us time to truly think about our wants and what is realistic for us to accomplish in our life. Also, it gives me a chance to prove to myself that maybe I can actually do something that I put on the F*** it journal I didn’t think I could do.
Let’s see, maybe I will win the Nobel Peace prize or have a pet lion?!

I have an awful time setting goals that are way over my head, so this is actually a very good grounding tool to bring me back to the present and come up with realistic expectations for myself. Plus it’s fun and I will get to learn even more about my “sister from another mister!” Maybe you will consider doing this journal challenge with someone close and will have to a chance to read their journal too?

Finding Light in the Darkness

Are you a person who connects more with the light or the darkness?
Depending on my mood, sometimes it’s hard for me to see the light, but after reading this beautiful article, I have seen a different perspective on how they balance each other out quite well.
When I think of darkness, I instantly choose the words “sad, lonely, doldrums, etc.,” which are all depressing words! In contrast, when I think of light, I choose the words “happy, faith, hope, etc.” Choosing between the two, I would think most people would (hopefully) go for the light, but for me, I am grateful for the darkness because if I hadn’t gone through the darkness, I would not have known how rewarding it is to capture the light.

In this article, Dr. Diana Raab shares her story and I want to share how she found light in the darkness.

“In addition, it’s important to be mindful of the signals that life offers you. Be confident in your ability to balance the light and the dark, and know that the darkness does not have to overpower everything in your life.”
Moon and tree

Finding Light in the Darkness


If you’re like me, I tend to think about everything I said, did, etc. and obsess over it. I replay everything in my head about 100 times to see what I did wrong, what others now think because of what I said or did (or maybe I didn’t say or do enough etc.) Unfortunately, this can cause so much anxiety that it disables me from focusing and getting my work done because I will be more preoccupied with everything going on around me.
Does this happen to you?
What does catastophizing look like for you?


Suicide Prevention Mental Health FIlms! "Breaking Taboo"

We are a non profit working hard on our film series “Breaking Taboo” to break the taboo against Mental Health & Suicide Prevention. We are trying to reach as many people and get as much support as possible in our mission to Save as many lives as possible! Please like* our facebook: www.facebook.com/BreakingTaboo and support us if you can: www.breakingtaboofilm.com and indiegogo campaign: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/breaking-taboo/x/12237851

Thank you!!!

We need to have "The Talk"

Many of you are probably rolling your eyes when you read “the talk” because that phrase automatically connects to sex.

When I mean “the talk” I’m actually referring to mental health supports for college students. Have parents discussed what counselors they should contact on campus or the agreement that if going to school is too overwhelming that adjustments can be made?
Even the most prepared kids academically are unaware of the stress that can occur when they take off for college.

Have guidance staff discussed this information to seniors while they are preparing applications for school, reviewing SAT scores, and scholarships?
Maybe it’s time to get everyone on board to have “The Talk” so everyone is aware of the help they can get.

What are/were your plans for transitioning into college? Did anyone talk about MH services or what happens if you need to come home?

How Academic Planners Saved My Life

Back to school seems to be the hot topic right now because everyone is finally settling in for the beginning of the school year.
When I was in high school, we were given planners to write down homework, but I used it for so much more. In college, we had them too, but I do know not all schools offer them for free.
If your school does not give out academic planners, I recommend investing in one. I am a person who needs to write everything down to function, so having the planner kept me on track.
Teachers are often posting assignments online and sometimes it can be a little chaotic if we don’t have access to the internet or if the teacher changes the due date for the project.

I loved having a planner too because I could set small goals each day to accomplish a certain amount of the work that needed to get done over the course of a month. Also, it was a great reminder if there is a club going on or an event planned far in advance…it can be marked up.

What are some other tools you are using to help you stay on track?

Release the Stress and Just Dance

For those of you heading back to school…whether it’s college or high school, we can get caught up with the anxiety of the new classes. Sometimes we magnify the situation and instantly start to question if our teachers like us, if we will pass this test, if we will be social butterflies, etc.

Sometimes when I get myself caught up in these thoughts, I force myself to stop doing my studying/work and put on a great song and dance. It’s a three minute break to be silly and relax. It helps me put in perspective that I will be okay and I can’t let the stress and anxiety take over my school life.
So, I have included a great song with a powerful chorus. One of most favorite albums is called Strange Desire, by the band Bleachers.The lead singer and song writer is Jack Antonoff. Most people know him as lead guitarist in the band Fun. and Steel Train.
I chose this song from the album because it’s all about wanting to get better. “I didn’t know I was broken til’ I wanted to change. I wanna get better!”

Ironically, the lead singer Jack Antonoff deals with anxiety especially with a phobia to germs which affected his life physically as well as mentally. He started writing music for his new band secretly while his illness started taking over his life.
I think he’s a great artist and when I found out about him, I could hear his music intertwined in other artists’ music like Taylor Swift.
Jack Antonoff picture

Okay, so my point is, sometimes we need to take a moment and change our setting. Whether it’s going for a walk or dancing around to a great song, it is very important to take a moment for yourself.
What other ways do you destress? What would you recommend for someone to listen to for music?
I Wanna Get Better Music Video

Mommy saves money

As a mom, I know first hand how busy life can be. And that it can catch us off guard some days. Maybe there’s a baseball game. A piano lesson. An unexpected trip to the doctor when your child isn’t feeling well. A last minute letter just has to be mailed within the hour.

Check this article-

Family Dinner Night With Hamburger Helper & Free Ground Beef!

Thank you

Share 5 Positive Things About You

Positive things-
I am very strong person with B positive blood group.
Always finish my task before timeline.
Always smile and have great communication skill.
Hard to make me angry.
I love animals.

Negative things
Anybody can make me emotional fool.
Dont know how to save money 😉
I have my own business and i am hard worker but i dont have boss skills.
If i get angry hard to control.
and the last one i think nothing 🙂