I’ve been trying to be really intentional about getting outside lately. With daylight savings leaving me with just a few hours to get some vitamin D, it’s really pushed me to get outside when I end my work day. I don’t want to waste any of those precious hours of sunlight.
Since daylight savings, I’ve probably gone to see more sunsets in a few weeks span than I have for months. I think as much as I hate how early the sun goes down now, it makes it a lot easier for me to get out to watch the sunset on a week day when I get out of work. Living on the shoreline, there isn’t a shortage of places to watch the sunset close to home. I can get a walk in and see the sunset and be home by like 5pm and have the rest of the night to wind down and do work if I need to.
Some pictures from one of my recent local sunset adventures:
I’ve discovered so many local land trusts and parks that I had previously never explored because I am trying to stay close and do shorter walks due to only having a few hours of sunlight.
I’ve also been trying to be really intentional about getting out on the weekends. I try to do longer hikes on the weekends when I have more time and daylight. Recently, I took a day trip by myself where I went to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. I saw two stunning waterfalls and saw a cute lighthouse along the Hudson River.
This weekend, I did a more local hike in Meriden, CT to Castle Craig. This was kind of a kill two birds with one stone adventure. I wanted to do the stunning hike with great views of the reservoir in the park and I timed it so it was dark by the time I finished to see the Festival of Silver Lights going on in Hubbard Park.
Video from my hike to Castle Craig at Hubbard Park:
My Decision To Start Drinking Again
In the past, I wrote a post where I detailed why I chose to be sober. Recently, I’ve started to drink again in extreme moderation, like I’m talking I started with sips while with my boyfriend and I’ve worked up to maybe having a drink. But most times, it’s not even a whole drink.
I think the main reason I’m able to enjoy alcohol while out with friend’s is because my mental health isn’t in a place where I feel the need to become numb to not deal with my feelings. I have coping skills to help with that now where I don’t feel the need to use substances as a crutch.
The song Dear Alcohol sums up pretty nicely how I used to use alcohol as a crutch. Below are some lyrics, and I also embedded the song if you want to take a listen to it:
I got wasted ’cause I didn’t wanna deal with myself tonight My thoughts get drowned until I feel alright And I keep drinkin’ ’til I’m someone I don’t recognize I got wasted I got wasted ’cause I didn’t wanna deal with myself tonight My thoughts get drowned until I feel alright I keep drinkin’ ’til I’m someone I don’t recognize I got wasted
It’s nice to be able to sip and have a drink here and there for the taste while out to a dinner with friends or even during a relaxing night at home with my boyfriend. I don’t want to drink to feel the effects because frankly, I don’t like the effects that alcohol gives me because I get anxiety when I get past a light buzz. As soon as I feel like I might not be in control of myself, I get anxious so I rarely drink enough to feel anything past a slight buzz.
But I think the important thing to me is that I’m in a place where I truly don’t feel like I need to numb myself anytime I feel negative emotions. I’m not reaching for alcohol when I’m feeling upset. I’m drinking while enjoying spending time with close friends, and it’s really just to taste fun drinks.
This might feel like a step backward to some, but to me it speaks volumes that I have a better grip on my mental health. I’m proud of myself for getting to this point.
Dealing With Massive Debt
Last year, I sat down and talked about struggling financially in a podcast here on TurningPointCT. While I was pretty honest about some of my struggles, I didn’t share how much debt I was in. Honestly, I might not have known back then because I was too anxious to even sit down and deal with it.
Earlier this year as I was preparing to leave my partner of five years, I was forced to sit down and take a look at my finances. I knew I didn’t make much. I knew I had been spending more than I made for quite some time, knowing I was paying for things I could not afford to. But, I was expected to pay for things. In an effort to not be a that person who doesn’t contribute their share, I threw everything on my credit cards. I was so afraid of admitting I was poor to my partner that I ended up with $20k of credit card debt.
I was throwing the minimum payments on my four credit cards every month, never having a late payment. But, the interest caught up to me and I found myself not able to keep my head above water. The interest was shooting me above my credit limit on every single one of my cards. It got to the point where I couldn’t keep up. My entire paychecks were going towards my debt, leaving no money for anything else. I quite literally could not feed myself.
After months of not being able to feed myself, I realized I had no choice but to do something about it. After some researching, I contacted a group that does debt consolidation. I qualified for the program and started my journey towards tackling my debt.
I didn’t tell my family. They knew I was poor. I made jokes about it all the time, but I didn’t want them knowing it was more than just being poor and the absolute mess I made of my finances. I quite literally put myself into financial ruins because I was so embarrassed that I was so poor at 25 years old. Nobody thinks they’ll be 25 and not able to afford to keep themselves alive.
I now put money towards my debt every two weeks when I get paid. I also have a team working to lower my debt with creditors. A part of the process is literally not paying your credit card bills. This obviously results in calls from creditors and debt collectors you’re not supposed to answer, which can be really uncomfortable.
I didn’t care much, until a debt collector contacted my entire family looking for me. Like I’m not just talking my parents and siblings, but my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Not a fun thing to explain when you didn’t tell your parents or even your brother that you were dealing with this. Then having to explain to my cousins and uncles…awful.
The journey has been rough. I hate that I waited so long before I dealt with what was happening. I cannot believe I did not start this process sooner, before I had racked up $20k in debt. But, I think what’s worse is that my shame around not having money and not just being honest with those close to me who could have helped is worse. But, that stems from other issues like not feeling worthy and feeling like a burden. I did not feel worthy and I felt like a failure because I couldn’t afford to contribute to household things.
This is a really vulnerable thing for me to be sharing. But, I know a lot of other young people might be facing similar struggles financially. If you’re struggling with debt or feeling like you just cannot afford to be alive, I see you and I feel you. I’ve lived it. I want you to know that you’re not less than or unworthy of others because you’re not financially well off. I also want you to know that there are programs that can help you with your situation. It sucks, but you’re not trapped and destined to be stuck in the situation you’re in.
Losing My First Grandparent
This year, I lost my first grandparent. I’m very lucky to have made it to 26 years old with all four of my grandparents. Not many people can say that.
But this year, I dealt with what felt like my first major loss. When I was in fifth grade, I lost my aunt to breast cancer, but I was so young then, I’m not really sure I understood what was happening. I knew she was gone, but I don’t remember truly grieving. Sure, I was sad, but I don’t think I understood fully what death meant.
I spent so much time with my grandfather. There was nothing he loved more than his family. And I truly believe he would have done anything for us. He proved it time and time again. So naturally, when I found out he was taken to the hospital, I dropped everything to be there. I was there every single day. I think the hardest part was seeing my dad and his siblings completely heartbroken.
The night before he passed, I stayed with my brother to keep him company as he was on the nightshift (we didn’t want my grandfather being alone when he passed). While he got some shut eye, I spent time watching videos my grandfather took of me playing guitar for him on his guitar he gave me. I was pretty young in the videos, but I kept watching them over and over. When I left at midnight, I even listened to the videos of me playing on my ride home.
Getting Through His Passing
After he passed, I was upset. But at the same time, I was also really numb throughout the whole thing. I was able to keep it together. I have a younger sister who’s 16 years younger than I am so I tried to be a constant for her while both of my parents struggled with the loss – I wanted her to have a bit of normalcy.
When the service happened, I gave a eulogy. Public speaking is tough with my anxiety, but I knew my other family members would not be able to get through a speech like that. It wasn’t hard to write about him because he was such a constant in my life. He taught me to play guitar and my love of music overall came from him. He taught me how to drive and we spent hours on the road together. I spent countless weekends with him.
I held it together through the whole speech. The was well received. My family cried. I had people I didn’t know coming up to me and telling me how nice it was and one man told me he hoped his grandkids would speak about him in that way when he passed.
After he passed, I found myself picking up the guitar again. My guitar is my grandfather’s electric guitar he gave to me when I was around 13. Playing guitar feels like a way to connect with him even though he’s no longer earth-side. Music was one of our strongest connections. I loved playing for him and he loved listening to me play. He was so proud of me and always showing off my playing to his friends and my family.
It’s been three months since he passed. There are moments when I go to text him about my photography because I’ve gotten back into it lately after being in a funk. He loved my photography. He had one of my prints of Yantic Falls in his room that I had made for him. And when I was really into photographing birds, he was always telling me if he saw a cool bird. He was the reason I got so many great pictures of eagles in Norwich.
Everyone grieves differently. I know a lot of my family members are still having a hard time. I think what’s helped me personally is remembering all the good times I had with him and doing things where I feel connected to him. For some of my family members, that in itself is tough. But when I remember, I remind myself how lucky I was to get all the time and memories I did with him and how he’s no longer in pain.
Getting Back Into Hobbies
Earlier this year, I was in a funk where I just did not feel like myself. My mental health was absolute garbage because I just had a variety of things that life threw my way. The song below pretty much perfectly sums up how I was feeling during that period:
Lyrics to Slipping Away
I’m slipping away In every way I can’t stay awake (and I don’t know why) I’m slipping away (and I don’t know why)
[Chorus] I’m trying to make it through each day I’m falling apart now in every way I’m finding it harder to get by There’s a hole in my heart and I don’t know why
[Outro] Now I’ve come to realize I’m slipping away…
I spent a lot of time listening to this on repeat and while dissociating. Dissociating is very much my brain’s way of trying to protect me from the negative emotions. I was very much just going through the motions every single day. But the song is quite literally a ballad about depression, so it was very fitting at the time.
Recently, I’ve been making a solid effort to try and get back into things I know help me and bring me joy. Working a full time job, having a house to upkeep, and just having all of my other adulting to do sometimes makes hobbies feel like a very daunting task. It’s almost like things that I like to do are just another thing to check off of my to-do list.
A Cancelled Trip
I was supposed to go to Acadia National Park last month, but Hurricane Lee had Bar Harbor in a tropical storm/hurricane watch zone. So, I unfortunately cancelled my trip. BUT, since I knew I was really struggling to make it through the work days due to anxiety, I decided to keep the two days I took off.
The first day, it rained, but I was so determined to make the most of my day off that I went out and did a local adventure. I went to Middletown, CT to have a waterfall adventure. During the trip, I also got out of my comfort zone to break out my tripod to get some footage of me on my solo adventure for my travel blog. I get weird about doing it in front of other people, so I figured a rainy day was the perfect day for that.
The second day, I drove by myself to the Poconos to explore waterfalls in Pennsylvania! After loving having videos and such of me and my adventure the day before, I was a lot more comfortable whipping out the tripod and setting it up in a pretty public park. Both days of solo adventures reminded I am capable of doing things on my own.
Since that time off, I’ve been on plenty of solo adventures. I’ve gotten back into using my camera to get long exposures of waterfalls. Sometimes it does still feel daunting to set time aside to adventure, but I do make sure I get out and connect with myself and nature because I’ve been reminded how healing it can be for me. These adventures are something for me to look forward to.
Recent Photos I’ve Taken On My Adventures
A Long Overdue Update
Howdy, it’s been a while since I’ve written here on my blog. So, here I am with an overdue update after ten months. I’ve had a lot of life changes since my last post here on my blog. There’s been a lot of good that’s happened since, but unfortunately, there’s also been some trauma.
This year, I’ve left relationships that no longer served me well and that were just not great for me. I’ve been better about protecting my own peace and being more mindful about who I surround myself with. Some of the people I removed from my life were people who I had been friends with since childhood. But, I learned that’s not a great reason to stay friends with someone. There were a lot of things these people did to me that I let slide, things that hurt me. I had finally had enough. So, I removed them from my life and I can say I have not regretted my decisions since.
Additionally, I left a romantic relationship I was in for five years, leaving behind five animals that I adored. But, it was what was best for me and my mental health. I left with next to nothing money wise and living situations were shaky for a bit. But, I did make it out on another side and I’m now living somewhere safe.
While I did have a lot of big changes and some traumatic events happen that I won’t get into here because they’re things I haven’t really dealt with yet, I am in a safe place now. I am happy with an absolutely amazing partner who I’m extremely thankful for.
I wish I could say that having a safe place and a great support system is enough to make my mental health great, but when you’ve had as much trauma as I have throughout my life, it can creep back up when you least expect it. Right now, I’m currently going through it. It’s to the point that my anxiety is affecting my day to day life and it can be crippling.
I’m finally to the point where I’m ready to get back into therapy to work through things that I never really processed. I’m ready to deal with things that I’ve shoved down to not deal with. I reached out to some therapists who specialize in anxiety and PTSD. I specifically looked for ones who are in the town I live in because I want to make sure it’s not a stressful thing for me to get myself to and from therapy.
I’m nervous, but also excited to be taking the step to go back to therapy. I know there are things I have to work through with a professional because my anxiety is starting to really affect my quality of life at this point. The traumas that happened earlier this year I really need help working through.
So, that’s what’s new with me. I’m hoping to write again soon as I start the process of going back into therapy, write some more in depth posts about some of the traumas I’m comfortable sharing publicly, and things I’m doing in my day to day life to help in my healing.
Dog Mama x2
Last week, we got a second dog, little Miss Maizey!
When I saw a post from our breeder that she was looking for a home, I immediately asked my boyfriend if we could get her. It was the second time our breeder tried to get a home for her (I remembered seeing the post for her a couple months back).
Thankfully, it didn’t take much convincing and my boyfriend said we could take a look at her. I think it helped that she was older than our dog, Rip. We got Rip as a puppy and he’s fully trained. My boyfriend messaged the breeder that night. She was eager to have us meet with Maizey to see if we would be a good fit.
Long story short, we ended up getting her! She is a little snuggle bug. Her and Rip are absolute besties. They have so much fun running around and playing together. She’s a little peanut compared to Rip who’s a whopping 80lbs.
Maizey is on the Left; Rip is on the Right!
We are so happy to have her as the newest member of our family!
We probably won’t be getting another animal anytime soon because we’re up to 5 animals now LOL, three cats and two dogs. We’re so blessed to have 5 awesome animals to love.
Anyone else fall off the face of the Earth for a bit when they’re feeling sad, or is it just me?😂
New Job Update
I recently left my part-time job for a full-time position because I’m just at that age where I need me some benefits. 😂 I left to proofread audiobooks for 8 hours a day, and while I had a feeling I was going to love the job, I wasn’t prepared for how much it was going to change the horrible mental state I had been in for months.
Before I get into that though, I’m going to give you some background on how I ended up becoming an audiobook proofer. When I was in college, I worked a lot of various jobs, from helping to set up shows in Mohegan Sun’s arena to making Sandwiches at Subway.
Somewhere along the way, I ended up at Tantor Media assembling audiobooks. It wasn’t a job I had ever applied to, a friend who worked there asked me if I wanted to fill in for someone who was going to be out for an extended period of time. I was someone who almost never turned down money (because I was so terrified of not having enough money once I got into the real world) so I of course accepted.
The funny thing is, they ended up liking me so much that I ended up staying. Of course, I also loved the working there because it was an easy job and I also was working with two of my friends. Plus, it was just a great company to work for. They had all kinds of stuff for us throughout the year from therapy dogs, weekly snacks available, two parties during the year, ice cream trucks, and more. Unfortunately, those things were killed off by the pandemic because the job is hybrid now.
I liked the company so much, I planned to work there full-time after college in assembly. My plan was to make my way to being an audio proofer, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the stars for me. When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, my job didn’t survive as the company went completely digital. Upset was an understatement of how I felt about my job being killed off.
BUT, this year, I made my comeback at Tantor! A position happened to open in the exact department I was looking to get into all those years ago. I applied just like anyone else had to and I went through the whole interview process and thankfully, they offered me the job! I was absolutely ecstatic, because who wouldn’t want to read books all day and get paid with benefits?
I’m halfway through week three of my new journey as a proofer, and I’m seriously loving it. Reading has always been a way I’ve coped with my mental health, so even though I’m working, it doesn’t feel like I’m working. Being able to sit and read all day has honestly completely changed my mental health. I was having a VERY hard time dealing with suicidal ideation and only a select few really knew how bad things were for me.
But now, I really am in disbelief that this job change has improved my mental health so much. I was feeling so hopeless and like things were never going to get better. I never thought I would be okay in my head again. But, here I am, shocked that the cloud of depression that was suffocating me has lifted.
I’ve never been a huge fan of change, but I’m so glad I took the leap to go for something that I really wanted. I really just cannot express enough how I’m really in just utter disbelief that I am still here and genuinely feeling so much better mentally. One of the main reasons I did not do anything to myself was because I had this new job that I was looking forward to. I’m really glad I held on. I really never thought I was going to make it out of that dark period.
I guess things really do get better.
What If I Runaway To Mars?
So, the other day I discovered this song while making Reels for my travel blog, and obsessed is an understatement. I vibe with the music and the lyrics.
As nice as it was to literally escape from work, house work, and taking care of my puppy who is a bit of a maniac, when I came home, it was back to reality. As Eminem would say, snap back to reality, oh, there goes gravity.
Reality really punched me right in the face when I got home. It was back to exactly what I was trying to run away from, except when I got home, I had the added bonus stress of starting a new job AND having COVID. So, I was home and trapped at home with work with no escaping it.
Since taking a trip didn’t fix my life, I guess that means I’m going to have to start trying to face and deal with the issues I have at home. But, that requires therapy, and I don’t have the money for the co-pays right now, but maybe my TWO new jobs will help me pay for that.
Another Mountain Attempt
So after hiking Mount Bachelor in Central Oregon and having a panic attack during that, I swore to myself that I would never hike another mountain…well at least not anytime soon.
Welp, this weekend, I took a trip to Vermont and guess what? I hiked another mountain. I hiked Mount Pisgah. I hiked 2 miles up a mountain, gaining a total of 1,650 feet in elevation. If I said it was easy peasy, I would be lying. To be honest, I was dying.
So last time, the thing that caused the pain attack was just the throbbing all over my body from blood pumping through my veins to get me up the mountain. Yesterday I was with my friend who is a nurse and I just decided to ask like hey is it normal that my neck is literally throbbing?
She assured me that it was fine. I was relieved, and then I explained how the throbbing reminded me of being on the verge of a panic attack, which she was like well yes, that’s because when you’re anxious your blood pressure goes up.
After realizing it was normal, I kept going, as draining as it was. After the pain of hiking up and lots of breaks along the way, I made it up. This hike was a lot of almost straight up elevation gain, but I pushed through to the top.
It might have taken me a while, but that I still made it to the top. That mountain hike taught me that slow and steady wins the race.
You can read about me having a panic attack on a 9,000 foot mountain right here on TurningPointCT 😂
Reasons I Hate Going Out In Public
Don’t you hate when you go out in public and the public has the nerve to be there too?
I’m not going to lie, I’m that person that pretty much avoids things during the regular season. For example, I never, ever go to the beach in the summer because I really cannot stand the crowds.
And when it comes to Mystic, I tend to only go in the off season and in the middle of a cold winter night so I can enjoy places I enjoy in peace.
It’s not really that I don’t like people. The problem is I get overstimulated and uncomfortable when I am in loud, crowded places.
I am so anti-crowds, the one and only time I went to Salem, Massachusetts was in late November after all the Halloween lovers are long gone. I don’t think I’d survive if I went when the streets are so crowded you’re elbow to elbow with people.
I’m way too easily over stimulated to be in crowded places. I still get to experience stuff, I just have to do it on my own terms.
From a young age, I was always outside. I grew up in Salem on 77 acres of land to hangout on. We had trails, a pond with a small beach, kayaks, a playscape, lots of cool berries to play with…I mean, what more could a kid ask for?
I have so many memories of spending time finding salamanders with my brother, building sand villages with him, and making potions and “food” with plants we found outside. My friends and I used to get these purple berries we called paint berries and mash them up and paint with them.
As I’ve gotten older, my relationship with getting outside has changed. Instead of being creative and playing with plants and dirt, my outdoor time is spent taking photographs, walking my dog, playing with my dog, hiking, or just sitting back and enjoying the peace of the outdoors.
No matter what you decide to do outside, it’s going to have some benefits to your mental health. Be sure to watch my video about the mental health benefits of nature right here on TurningPointCT!
Having A Panic Attack On A 9,000 FT Mountain
I was really on the fence about whether or not I wanted to share this with the world, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who can benefit from me being vulnerable about this.
So, as I mentioned in my last post, I took a trip to Oregon at the end of September. I got back a couple weeks ago, but I’m finally over the embarrassment of having a panic attack and wanting to unalive myself on a mountain in Oregon. Thankfully, no one (except my brother) was around to witness it.
So, my trip was to Central Oregon in the Cascade Mountains. I decided that since I was in the mountains, I was going to hike a mountain. I did absolutely no training and I have never hiked a mountain before, not even the smaller ones over here on the east coast.
So for my first ever mountain hike, I pick Mount Bachelor. I read the AllTrails reviews and there were comments like “easy for a summit hike” and I was like, psh, I can do that. It was only a 6.5 mile hike and I hike that mileage in Connecticut. But, I was in for a rude awakening.
The thing I didn’t account for was the elevation and its lack of oxygen as we got higher and higher up the mountain. I literally felt like I could not breathe and it triggered a LOT of anxiety. My brother wanted me to keep going, but I wanted nothing to do with it. My anxiety had taken over my head.
At one point, I made my brother carry my backpack for me because I thought having less weight would help. It did at first, but soon, the anxiety came back and the feeling of breathlessness was bound to bring on a panic attack, I’d dealt with it before when I used to lift.
I kept pushing, but I started to hyperventilate. Then, the full-blown panic attack came and I begged my brother to go on without me. I told him just go to the summit without me, I knew nobody else was stupid enough to hike this mountain for a sunset besides us so I knew I probably wouldn’t get murdered. As much as he didn’t want to abandon me, I finally convinced him to go.
I made it to 8685 feet before I called it quits. I had just over 300 feet in elevation to go, but I just didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. I wanted to start heading down where there was more oxygen. If it wasn’t so close to getting dark, I would have had more time for breaks instead of hauling ass up a god damn mountain to make it to see the sunset.
I tried to wait for him because he had our floodlight to navigate down the mountain in the dark, but my hands were starting to get numb because it was so cold towards the summit. So, I called my brother (because we were so lucky to have service, it was the only reason he agreed to separate) and told him I was going to head down as much as I could while it was still kind of light.
It ended up getting dark and I was hiking alone in the dark down a mountain with just my crappy phone flashlight to guide me. What a time. Thankfully, my brother caught up to me quickly because he must have been literally sprinting down the mountain.
By the time we were heading down the mountain, my entire body hurt (not even an exaggeration). I quite literally wanted to just lay on the ground in the dark and just be left there to die. I had similar feelings on a MUCH shorter hike in the Berkshires at Bash Bish Falls, but at least then, my entire body wasn’t in pain. I just really do not like steep inclines.
But, I kept going as much as I didn’t want to and we did eventually make it to the bottom of the mountain alive. However, I was in so much pain, I made my brother drive us the 20 minutes back to the resort we were staying at. He suggested I stretch before getting in the car and just moving my limbs around to try and do that was agonizing.
But, I survived to tell the tale. That was on our very first day of the trip and even though my entire body hurt that night, I ended up not being sore the next day and I continued to hike all week. Just, I didn’t do anymore mountain hikes until the last day when I hiked the mile down to the shore of Crater Lake and then the mile back up (which was hell and I wanted to give up, but I had no choice but to go back up to get to the car).
After that, I learned that I should train next time I want to attempt to climb a mountain and that if I do climb a mountain again, I shouldn’t do a sunset hike where I don’t give myself enough time for breaks. Hopefully those lessons stay with me because I feel like I definitely learned them the hard way.
⬇check out some footage from that hike that completely kicked my ass below⬇
What It’s Like Having COVID When You Have Really Bad Anxiety
At the end of September, I went to Oregon and had the time of my life. But, I came back with COVID.
Towards the end of my trip, I started to get a sore throat. And of course, after having gone through this god damn pandemic, my first thought was lol I probably have COVID. But, I didn’t want to buy a test because I barely had the money to be on vacation.
I hiked miles and miles at Crater Lake National Park with my sore throat because I was on vacation and I was going to experience it as long as I was not bed ridden. I mean, how often am I going to be in Oregon exploring a beautiful National Park?
⬇peep my highlight Reel of my day at Crater Lake National Park below ⬇
Anyhoo, I continued vacationing it up outside where I wouldn’t be putting others at risk (besides my brother, who was in the car and hotel with me). Ended up having to get a mask because I wasn’t trying to infect the whole plane, even though someone had the nerve to infect me on my flights over. I also bought cough drops, so the smell of those probably gave me away as being a carrier of the plague.
I was supposed to go to the 1-Up Event at Post University the day after I got back from Oregon, but due to being sick, I knew I couldn’t chance it. As soon as I got home at like 11:30pm, I took the test.
Well, I guess not immediately, because I spent like 20 minutes trying to read the instructions because I was so nervous about messing it up and I really just had no idea what I was doing. It was my first at home test.
After studying the instructions like I would for an important exam, I finally got the courage to open the swab. I was so stressed out, I dropped it on the floor. Not even kidding. So, I had to open my second, and last test, to use that swab.
I did the thing, timed the 15 minutes while staring at the test the whole time. I was studying the images of “positive” and I knew I had to have it based on what I was seeing with mine. Instantly, I start to panic.
I start to get all weird, asking my boyfriend if I should sleep in the guest room because I didn’t want his gift from Oregon to be COVID, but thankfully he didn’t seem too worried. However, I was very worried.
Despite feeling not too under the weather, I started to panic because you know, we all consumed all of the news for the last couple of years about how it is killing people and how it’s causing all kinds of health problems along with long COVID. So, I start convincing myself I’m going to become a statistic, one of the ones that dies.
I start thinking to myself that as much as I loved my trip to Oregon, it was NOT worth dying over. I start to plan for if I die, what will happen to my things. All the while, I’m not that sick, but I’m terrified it’s going to get worse like when I had it last December (and back then, I really did think I was going to die because I felt that awful).
A couple days goes by, and it never gets any worse. In fact, I started to feel better. But, even though I felt better and was seemingly fine, I ended up with a lingering cough that showed up after I felt better. It took almost nothing to trigger it. And, I went to Google for answers, and then convinced myself I must have permanent lung damage.
It’s been a couple weeks and I’m happy to say I appear to be completely back to normal and that annoying dry cough is gone. So glad my brain had me convinced I was going to be another victim of COVID. The anxiety really just makes me think the worst of the worst is going to happen. Thankfully though, the worst case scenario doesn’t happen. But if it ever does happen, my brain will have prepared me for the worst LOL.
Be sure to read my post I wrote about living with health anxiety to read more about how my anxiety always convinces me I’m going to die 🤣
The End of a Chapter
For those of you that don’t already know, this is my last week as TurningPointCT’s Project Coordinator & Peer Leader! As much as I love this position, I have accepted a full-time position closer to home at a company I used to work for and I also accepted a part-time position being a social media manager for a company out on the West Coast! The second position is of course remote.
For those of you who have been keeping up with our content, you’ve probably heard me talk about how much I have been struggling financially. This is why I have made the tough decision to leave the project and take on two jobs totaling in about 60 hours of work a week. It will be a big adjustment going from my main job being 20 hours a week to working 60 hours a week between two jobs. And, that doesn’t even include my work for my travel blog.
I worked for TurningPointCT for a little over a year and a half, and I have made so many new connections through this job and I’ve really loved getting to help others who have been through similar struggles to me. And, it’s been great getting to work with people who really get me!
While I will miss working on the project, this isn’t goodbye. I will probably come blog and still share content when I have time! I really do enjoy writing these blog posts for all of you to read. So, you can definitely expect to hear more from me in the future!
P.S. – Please keep my sanity in your thoughts and prayers as I make this transition, xoxo
Read Kailey’s post about her ginger cat, Moe, here!
Perfect is An Illusion
Here is your reminder for today: Social media is not real life. Social media is simply a highlight reel. But, a lot of it is also an illusion. I know I am guilty of sharing things to make it seem like everything is great. Perfect is an illusion. You never truly know what someone is going through.
Did you know that September 1st is Ginger Cat Appreciation Day?
I’m here to show some love for my ginger cat, Moe! I appreciate him every day, but it’s definitely cool that him and all of his orange friends have a day for them!
Moe brings so much joy to my life. When I first met him, he was pretty anti-social and he liked to do his own thing. If one of us came into the room, he’d be outtie.
However, in the last couple of years, he has really warmed up to me. Before, it used to be a special moment if he let us sit with him, but now I have so many moments with him where I just sit with him and pet him. He likes to be pet on the top of his butt and he even makes cute little chirp noises.
I am so thankful for his acceptance of me and that he really has warmed up to me. Before, he was never much of a purrer, but now I know just how to get him to do his really soft purrs. They’re so quiet, you really have to get close and really listen for them, but they’re there!
Looking at his cute little face is enough to completely change my mood. He really is the sweetest kitty, as most orange kitties are! Moe is really such a blessing!
Making New Adult Friends
In 2019, I moved away from Connecticut. I moved to Washington with my then fiancé, now husband. It was hard moving across the country from my friends in Connecticut. I struggled with making new friends and being away from all of my friends back home. Below are some things I’ve done to make friends in a new place!
Bumble for friends
Positives: low effort, can filter based on profiles
Disadvantages: no one really wants to meet up, the danger aspect of meeting a stranger, awkward trying to make a friend of the opposite sex
Military pages / Community pages
Positives: finding a few people you really connect with and aren’t crazy, people that are going through the same hardships, the ability to have friends to travel all over the world to see if you get close
Disadvantages: some military wives are crazy, the short term friendships for hanging out in person, not always finding people that fit into your hobbies, dealing with what you get
Local Events / Classes
I have meet some really awesome people from a local brewery. The owner has become a good friend. I’ve meet many people through her and by being at that brewery for events. I now have people I can invite to my own events. Being a regular is not a bad thing.
Getting to Know Your Neighbors
Personally I have had a blessing because my neighbors are very similar and have the same interests. I’ve met more people from their group and we’re able to do things outside my comfort level and try new things.
The Biggest Thing with Making New Adult Friends
I would say setting your expectations is a huge part of making new adult friends. I would say talk about your expectations with a new friend the second time you meet. I am a very go with the flow type person when it comes to girl friends. I don’t care what we do I just want to spend time to talk. But I also enjoy a night out. Understanding if someone might be “flaky” is huge. I never expect someone to go through with plans because then I let myself down for trusting that. Expecting someone to never go through is easier for me personally to go with the flow. I like to invite a lot of people to a bigger event that way if one person bails I’m not left completely alone.
It’s no secret that black cats get a bad rep. Many people avoid them because they think they’re bad luck. However, as someone who has not one, but two black cats, I can tell you that’s not true. My two black kitties bring so much joy and companionship to my life. They deserve to be appreciated!!
Our oldest black cat Voodoo, is a sass master, but also the best snuggler. Out of our three cats, she is the cat I know I can always count on when I just want to hug and kiss and pet a kitty without running away. She has been one of my biggest comforts and supports since I lost my childhood cat at the beginning of the week.
Our youngest, Ash, is the cutest, fluffiest black kitty. He’s only a year old and he has quite the personality. He always has his tongue out, he loves to eat paper, and he is just a funny little kitty. He and I share a birthday so he’s also my little birthday twin. He is currently in his teenage phase where he is too good to snuggle with mom and dad, he’d rather be off doing kitty stuff (aka lounging in the sun in the cat tower by himself).
While today might be National Black Cat Appreciation Day, everyday is Black Cat Appreciation Day in my house. I really wish the stigma that surrounds these sweet kitties would end because they do not deserve to be treated as lesser than other cats.
Did you know that August 15th is National Relaxation Day? Take a break today from that go-go-go lifestyle we are all so used to living these days!
If you’re wondering why it’s so important to take moments to relax, here are a few reasons:
it can reduce stress
it can improve brain function and memory
it can help ease anxiety and depression
it can help boost your immune system
If you’re like me and you’re scratching you’re head thinking you don’t have the time to relax, don’t worry! Relaxation doesn’t have to be an all-day affair. Here are some easy and quick ways you can relax almost anywhere:
deep breathing – if you’re new to this, there are guided deep breathing exercises you can find on YouTube
mediation – there are plenty of guided meditations that you can find on YouTube if you’re new to it
progressive (deep) muscle relaxation – you can find a guided one here
visualization – close your eyes and use your imagination to create a visual image of a relaxing, soothing or healing place. imagine the sight, the sound, the taste, the motion, and texture to make it as real as possible. typically, I will typically put myself in nature by a waterfall.
listen to music – I always keep headphones on me for this. you can find some relaxing reggae music here on our website!
Read what relaxation means to various young people in Connecticut here and here.
Saying Goodbye To My First Pet
On Tuesday, I unexpectedly had to say goodbye to my first and only childhood pet, Treasure.
While it was completely unexpected the day it happened, it unfortunately wasn’t a giant shock because she was 13 and a half and she had definitely been on the decline for some time.
On Tuesday, I went to my parents to scan receipts (because I am a broke 25 year-old). I scanned my receipts and after chatting with my mom a bit, I went to go look for Treasure before I headed back to my house.
When I found her in my parents’ closet, I noticed she was breathing really rapidly. I knew it didn’t look normal and a quick Google search confirmed that. She was struggling to breathe. I immediately made the decision that she needed to go to the emergency vet.
I called the closest ER vet to my parents’ house and that was 50 minutes away. I waited for my dad and my sister to get home so they could say goodbye. I knew before we went that it was probably the end.
The 50 minute ride to Middletown was pretty traumatic for me and the cat. As I drove, she was panting to the point she was drooling from the stress of the car ride. I called my brother on the way because I wanted him to have a chance to say goodbye. He met me there.
When I finally arrived, they took her right away and brought her to the back. I didn’t even get a chance to say anything to her before the vet tech took her because they saw she was in such distress. After what felt like forever, we were called into a room and told that she was in severe heart failure. Ultimately, I made the decision that humanely euthanizing her was the best choice so she wouldn’t have to continue to suffer.
There was more waiting and I had seemed to be holding it together well as I made arrangements for what would happen to her after. I was all business and I’m sure the woman doing the paperwork was probably wondering how I was so calm.
When they finally brought her in, I instantly broke down. It was like the reality finally hit me as soon as I saw her. She was wrapped up in a blanket and still struggling to breathe. I only got a couple minutes to have my final moments with her. The doctor said sooner the better because they had to take her off of oxygen to bring her back to me and she was uncomfortable. She passed in my arms while I pet her.
It was hard, but I was so happy that I was able to be there for her and I was able to get an actual goodbye. When I moved out and made the decision to leave her with my parents because she was an only pet and that was the only house she had ever known, I was heart broken. And, my biggest fear was getting a call saying she’s gone and feeling the guilt of not being there. As much as the way things went down sucked, I’m glad I was there for her because I was always her person.
Losing her was hard because growing up, she was my best friend. I was her person and she followed me around much like a dog would. She was there when I went to sleep and there when I woke up. She was always there for me and for many years, she was my reason to live. I loved her more than I loved myself. Any time I was ready to leave this world, I stayed because I couldn’t do that to her. I had friends and family who loved me, but in my mind, she was the only one that mattered. To me, she was my child. She was the cat that made me the cat mom I am today.
I will miss her forever. I will never forget the love she had for me. She might not have known it, but she was my unofficial therapy animal and my best friend. She lived to be a nice old lady, and for that, I’m thankful. Wherever she is, I’m happy she is no longer suffering.
Pete Davidson in Trauma Therapy
So if you’ve been on the internet at all this week, you’ve probably seen all of the articles and posts about how Pete Davison has been in trauma therapy for months due to Kayne West’s repeated harassment. I’ve got a lot of feelings about the whole thing.
So, the first thing I want to acknowledge is how much I hate the fact that it is all over the internet. This poor man has the whole world knowing he’s in trauma therapy because of “news” sites. He didn’t post this himself. It’s all in tabloids and those gossipy websites. That in itself is probably traumatizing that the world now knows he’s been in trauma therapy.He didn’t tell the world on his terms.
Secondly, the harassment from Kayne was absolutely unreal and the worst part was, the whole world was watching the harassment happen. Even worse, people on the internet joined in on the bullying and they were talking about harming Pete and calling him names such as “Skete” as Kayne loves to refer to him as.
The fact that one of Kayne’s videos depicted a character that was obviously Pete getting buried alive was horrible. I don’t care how Kayne felt about Pete, it was wrong and I’m sure it was traumatic for Pete. Between the emotional toll and just fearing that Kayne was going to do something to him or one of Kayne’s followers was going to try and harm him, I’m sure it was a lot. At the end of the day, Pete is a real person with feelings. He’s also got a history of struggling with his mental health and Kayne has also struggled, so it’s unreal that Kayne would do that to someone.
What I do want to highlight is the fact that Pete has been someone who clearly cares about trying to get himself help. I commend him for getting the help he needs, it’s not always easy to get help. And as much as it sucks that him going to trauma therapy is all over the internet, it is an important reminder that celebrities are people too. It’s also showing that therapy is an option.
Although Pete hasn’t spoken about this yet, we might hear about it from his perspective in the future as he’s someone who is pretty open about his mental health.
National Middle Child Day
Did you know that August 12th is National Middle Child Day? How great is it that all of us middle children that get forgotten get a whole day for people to remember we exist!
Typically, middle children feel forgotten and unseen. They are neither the first born, nor the last born. They’re just the inbetween.
When I was 16, I became the middle child. Sure, I spent most of my life as the baby of the family, but I will say even though I was much older, I definitely did end up getting the middle child treatment. This was especially true because my sister was 16 years younger than me. Of course my parents were going to give her more attention. High schoolers aren’t viewed as needing as much attention.
That’s not to say that my parents completely forgot me, but my mom definitely favors my brother because he was her first baby and then my sister obviously needed more attention than I did because she was an actual infant. She also just got all kinds of attention because suddenly there was a cute baby for everyone to obsess over.
Even at 25, I still kind of feel the effects of being a middle child. My brother is married with a baby and my sister is just starting middle school. I live on my own and have four animals, but my parents definitely don’t care as much about my animals and me as they do about my other siblings. But, I’ve had ten years to get used to it after being the baby for 16 years.
I don’t think anyoneactually forgets about us middle children, but sometimes it sure does feel like they do. Us middle children do matter and we are loved!
National Spoil Your Dog Day
Did you know that August 10th is spoil your dog day? I’m so excited that I have a dog I get to spoil today!! Although, to be fair, my dog gets spoiled everyday because I love him.
Earlier this week, I wrote about National Cat Day, because my cats have been a huge part of my recovery for years. For those of you that don’t know, I became a first time dog mom at the end of January this year. I had loved dogs before, but I had never had my own. The adjustment from being just a cat mom to a dog mom was pretty hard for me in the beginning, but he is not a crazy baby puppy anymore and he actually just sits and relaxes with me now instead of being a madman 24/7.
Anyhoo, back to National Spoil Your Dog Day! As I said, it doesn’t have to be a national holiday in order for my dog to get spoiled, but I of course made his day a little extra special. We woke up nice and early and took a walk along the shoreline at Bluff Point State Park and he had a blast sniffing around and getting to explore.
After, we went to Starbucks to get him his pup cup. At this point, he knows when we are at Starbucks and he will excitedly whine and bark as I’m trying to order his pup cup for him. The baristas always laugh because sometimes he is so loud with his excitement that they can’t hear me or they’re like ah yes, a pup cup!
Since it’s been pretty muggy and hot lately, when we got home we spent the rest of the day relaxing on the couch together watching TV. When he was a tiny puppy, he had way too much energy to just lay down and snuggle me, but now that he’s a little bit older and way less hyper, we are able to get some snugs in.
When my boyfriend got home, we then took Rip for a car ride because he LOVES car rides! However, unlike most dogs, he doesn’t love putting his head out of the window.
If you missed this month’s Spoil Your Dog Day, be sure to celebrate next year! Our dogs that love us so unconditionally and that try to lift us up when we are down deserve all of the spoiling. If you can’t wait until next year, I definitely recommend some spoiling days before then!
International Cat Day 2022
Happy International Cat Day!! Today we celebrate our furry friends that help our mental health by decreasing stress, offering companionship, purring the pain away, and serving as a therapy animals!
Growing up, our family cat Treasure was quite literally my lifeline when my mental health was doing really badly. If I was having a bad day or crying, she was always there. She slept with me every night and I was definitely her person. She might not have known it, but she really saved me in so many ways. For years, she was my reason to keep living even when I really didn’t want to.
Today, I have three kitties to lift me up on those days when I’m really struggling. When I’ve having a really hard day where my depression and anxiety is crippling, I will go into bed and just snuggle and pet my cat Voodoo. She is really the one who is the snuggliest and she is super chill with me petting her, kissing her, and sometimes just burying my face into her as she purrs.
Our orange tabby cat, Moe, likes to stick to himself, but he definitely has a soft spot for me. My boyfriend got him before he even knew me, but I definitely seem to be more of his person. For years, he was not a purrer (unlike Voodoo) so when we heard him purr, we would be so excited. Now, I know how to pet him just right to where he’s purring and he does cute little chirps when I scratch his back! Petting him and even just looking at him is enough to lift my mood.
Our youngest kitty, Ash, we’ve had for about a year now. He has the same birthday as me so he’s my little birthday twin. He has such a personality and he always makes me laugh. Since he was a baby, he has ALWAYS had his tongue out and his teethies. It’s so funny and cute. Another bonus is he’s part Maine Coon, so he’s also really fluffy and calming to pet.
I am thankful to all of the cool cats in my life that bring me so much joy. They help my mental health without even trying. I’m so thankful to all of them for always being there to bring a smile on to my face!
I’d like to talk about those physical symptoms of anxiety that convince you that you’re dying. I am someone who really struggles with anxiety. Lately, I’ve had a lot of those physical symptoms that have me on Google searching for answers to see if I’m dying (cue intensified anxiety).
So one of my main symptoms that I personally experience when I’m extremely anxious is shortness of breath. This is one of those anxiety symptoms that is associate with really serious medical issues. Yet, it’s something that I deal with every day.
When I was in college, this anxiety symptom was so bad, I demanded that I get an x-ray of my lungs done. My primary care doctor at the time was nice and he filled out the forms for me to go get one done. Essentially, the x-ray showed that my lungs were perfectly fine. They suggested that I see a therapist.
Despite knowing this fact, the symptom still really gets to me. It’s really hard not to spiral when you have a symptom that leaves you feeling like you cannot breathe. Sometimes I’ll find myself taking big breaths of air in because I feel like I am just not getting enough oxygen. And of course, this symptom obviously causes my anxiety to skyrocket.
If you’re dealing with symptoms like this, I would first recommend getting checked out by a doctor to make sure it is no something medical going on.
If it turns out that it is a symptom of your anxiety and not anything medical, I definitely urge you to get support. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our resources. Also, be sure to take time to practice self-care and breathing exercises.
Lastly, if you’re dealing with some of the more extreme physical symptoms of anxiety, know that you’re not alone.
I’ve been dealing with some serious burnout lately and it’s definitely been really affecting me in both my personal and professional life.
For those of you that don’t know, I work three different jobs. I am the Project Coordinator here at TurningPointCT.org, I work for the blog Low Carb Yum, and I also have my own travel blog. I’ve really been throwing myself into all of my work and it really feels like all I do is work.
I’ve been trying to work extra hours because honestly, I really do need the money. And since my travel blog is so new, I really have to put a lot into it to try and get it off of the ground.
On top of not working, there have been a lot of days that I just haven’t left my house. Part of it is having no will to do anything because I’m so mentally and physically exhausted. The other part has been this heat wave we have been having. And, the other reason is the fact that I really just don’t have the money to even drive at this point.
Unfortunately, that’s just where I’m at right now. We live in this culture where you feel the need to hustle already, but now it has become a necessity. I’m doing all of these things AND keeping up with my responsibilities in my own life. Even though I’m burnt out, I’m cooking home cooked meals since I can’t afford quick and easy takeout, I’m doing the dishes that come along with that, I’m doing laundry, cleaning…ya know, adult stuff that you can’t just not do.
I’ve been trying to do more things for myself, but honestly it’s hard especially when I feel like I can’t leave the house because I don’t want to spend ANY money. At this point, I’m just taking it day by day.
If you’re dealing with burnout, know that you’re not alone. Many of us are also dealing with it right now.
988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be: 👉🏼 Thoughts of suicide 👉🏼 Mental health or substance use crisis 👉🏼 Any other kind of emotion distress People can call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. 988 serves as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the United States, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.
I’m at a point in my journey where I’m making decisions for my happiness that doesn’t make sense to anybody else.
I’m not asking what anybody thinks about it, but I’m just doing it. I’ve finally learned that I do have a say in my own life and my happiness.
I used to be terrified to do things without someone else’s approval. If there was something I wanted to do, sometimes I would be so anxious about someone telling me I couldn’t do it that I wouldn’t ask. I wouldn’t even try because I was too anxious.
In recent years, I’ve learned that it is up to me whether or not I can do things. My life is not dictated by anyone else. I don’t need anyone’s approval to do something that makes me happy.
One of those things I was too afraid to do for so long was travel. I never felt like I could be one of those people who traveled so I was too afraid to try. Last year, I finally started going to all of the places I had wanted to go, and I’m never going back.
Realizing I had the power to just get into my car and go if I wanted to go was life changing for me. It was exactly what I needed to see that nobody can stop me from doing the things I want to do for myself and my happiness.
You’re not a failure just because you’re not where you thought you’d be by now.
I used to feel this way about myself. But, I’ve really come to terms with the fact that the way I used to view things is not the reality. When I was growing up, I thought being an adult meant having it together and having it all figured out. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that there are a lot of adults who are still trying to figure things out.
We have had a lot thrown at us that have not really helped us. We had a global pandemic happen. This made getting jobs tough and it also isolated us all. A lot of the adults who are nagging you saying you should be further in life because of the “when I was your age” bullshit didn’t have to navigate a global pandemic. I finished up college and graduated during the pandemic in 2020 and I didn’t have anyone to ask now what because the pandemic had still been so new.
Now, we have rising prices that are at record highs. We hit the highest gas price ever recorded in Connecticut this year. This is inevitably affecting our ability to save money. It’s causing many of us to put ourselves into debt just trying to keep our heads afloat. That debt could stay with us for years after this all finally comes to an end.
We’re living in some pretty weird and uncertain times. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You’re not a failure because you’re not where you thought you’d be by now. Give yourself some grace.
** trigger warning – could be triggering to people who are in recovery from an eating disorder
I’m not going to lie, I am having a really hard time with my liking my body right now. For those of you that don’t know, I have a history of disordered eating. I was never really heavy, and I’m not exactly fat now, but I weigh significantly more than I did in my eating disorder days.
For those of you that don’t know, I have recently started a travel blog. With this comes content creation, some of which I am in. It’s summer and hot out, so obviously, I have been wearing shorts because let’s be real, it’s too hot for pants. But every time someone takes a video of me walking away, I hate how my legs look and I will usually end up not using that clip unless it’s super far away.
Like today I went to Fort Shantok to get ready for a post I’m going to be putting together and I had my sister take a video of me walking away from her. I was so back and forth about whether or not I wanted to use it. I really liked the clip itself, but I hated how I looked. I ended up using it anyways, but I used the part of the clip where I was furthest away from the camera.
More triggers came tonight when I was going through my old photos of me at Fort Shantok in the past for the post. The worst part is, I remember when those older images of me were taken, I honestly thought I looked fat in those. I remember not wanting to post any of them because I thought I didn’t look skinny enough. Looking at them now, it’s unbelievable that I thought I looked fat. Body dysmorphia is a bitch.
It has been so bad, I didn’t even want any pictures taken of me when I was on vacation in Maine at the end of June. This is not like me at all. I have always been that person who wanted their picture taken because I like having them to look back on.
On the trip, I asked my sister-in-law to take a picture of my boyfriend, my puppy, and I in Acadia National Park. When I saw the pictures, I was so disgusted, I didn’t ask for any more pictures to be taken of me during the trip. The only picture I have of me from the park that I like is of the back of me where my body is hidden.
I also had the same issues and feelings on a recent trip to Vermont and New Hampshire. My new favorite pose in front of the camera is my body and face turned away from the camera and sitting so legs hidden out of view. I pretend that I’m doing them to be artsy, but the reality is, I really just don’t want to look at my body and I don’t want other people looking at it either.
I think my biggest fear right now is relapsing and falling right back into the eating disorder. If it’s not the eating disorder, I’m worried it’ll be obsessive working out. I’m happy to have the self-awareness of how my mind works and what the risks are, but man it’s still really hard to deal with these feelings.
There is the logical part of me that knows I’m not fat. I’m able to look in the mirror and acknowledge that I look good. It’s just something about having photos taken of me. Like even today before I went to Fort Shantok, I looked in the mirror and I thought I looked awesome. But after videos were taken of me, it was game over. My confidence I had before I left the house was crumbled.
I don’t know what the solution is right now, but my giant bandaid on the problem is just avoiding getting my picture taken. I want to find balance, but I need to be patient with myself. This kind of thing takes years…for some, it’s a life-long journey navigating their eating disorder recovery.
If you’re looking to know more about journey with eating disorder recovery, be sure to listen to the podcast I did with my friend here on TurningPointCT.org: Eating Disorders Podcast
The Overturning of Roe V Wade
I’m going to just start this post out by saying I cannot believe that this is a reality and that this has really happened.
I’m also going to say that I am very glad that we live in Connecticut, which is one of the safest states when it comes to getting an abortion. We are lucky enough to live in a state that gives us the right to make decisions about our own bodies.
But, other women aren’t as lucky as we are. And that’s a really scary thing. Women across the country are going to be forced to have children they might not want. They’re going to be forced to continue high-risk pregnancies that could ultimately kill them. They’re going to be forced to continue pregnancies with fetuses that are not compatible with life, which means they might have their child die inside of them and give birth to a still born. Or they’ll give birth to a child that won’t survive more than a couple hours outside of the womb.
A lot of people will say that women who don’t want children should go on birth control. What they don’t know, or refuse to acknowledge, is that birth control isn’t 100% effective. I’ve known people who have had their birth control fail, and that was with them taking it exactly as directed because they knew they couldn’t afford a child. I’ve also known people who have gotten pregnant with an IUD, which is the most effective form of birth control. These methods are great preventatives, but they can fail. Oh, and there’s also the issue of accessibility. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to access birth control.
On top of that, there’s the fact that ALL of these birth controls come with undesirable effects. I have a copper IUD, which is non-hormonal and it’s supposed to be the most effective, but it comes with a lot of awful physical and emotional side effects that I have to deal with, one of which is having an extremely heavy flow (because I have a foreign object in my uterus that’s irritating my body). It’s so bad, my doctor actually thinks I should get it taken out because the amount of blood I lose each month is not good for me. But, with everything going on, I’m afraid to get it taken out because I know I am not ready to have a child.
At the end of the day, women should have a choice in what happens to their bodies. Women should not be forced to carry out a pregnancy they don’t want or a pregnancy that can be fatal to the mother or baby. Abortions save lives, in more ways than one. If someone isn’t ready for motherhood, or someone was raped and is forced to have a child, or if someone is forced to watch their child that is not compatible with life die, it’s traumatic. It will have lasting effects on their mental health, which could put them at risk for suicidal ideations.
I could say so much more about this topic, but I think I’ve made my point. It’s scary that we had this right taken away from us. It was bad enough people in the past fought so hard for us to have this right, and now many women across the country have had that right taken away from them.
It shouldn’t be this way, yet it is. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit worried about what’s next.
If it’s out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind too.
I used to get extreme anxiety about things I couldn’t control. It used to absolutely consume me.
I’ve learned that it’s best to let go of things that I cannot control. As much as my anxiety makes me want to always be in control of situations, there are so many times in life where I just do not have control. And, I have to be okay with that.
Stressing out about things you can’t control does nothing but hurt you. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t let those things you can’t control take up space in your mind.
I used to be that person who shoved all of my feelings down. I would pretend that things didn’t hurt me, even when they did.
Shoving them down and not acknowledging my feelings made things so much worse. I wasn’t able to heal because I wasn’t allowing myself to accept that I had been hurt.
For a while I just had accepted that I was depressed and anxious because that’s just who I am as a person.
It took me years to realize that my mental health was awful due to traumas I had shoved down and not dealt with. This realization came when I had to get into those traumas during therapy.
While bringing those past traumas up and facing them wasn’t easy, it made a huge difference in my healing journey. Once I acknowledged that I had been hurt in the past, I was really able to start making some serious progress in my healing. It made me so much more self-aware.
While it might seem easier to just pretend you haven’t been hurt, it’s so much better in the long run to face those wounds. Facing them head on isn’t easy, but it’s a necessary part of healing.
For those of you that don’t know, I have a history of substance use. It was never really a heavy thing, and it didn’t last long, but it did happen.
Lately, I’ve been having a lot of feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and depression. It’s been so bad, I’ve been wanting to turn to substances again. I haven’t really drank alcohol since I became legal to drink, except for a couple sips here and there when someone asked if I wanted to try something.
I chose to stop drinking before age 21 because I was using alcohol to numb myself and self-medicate. I knew if I kept drinking, I was going to go down a pretty bad road. Yet, here I am at 25 wanting nothing more than to drink to just become numb. It’s not something I want to do for social reasons. It’s something I want to do alone in my house.
While I’ve been having these cravings for weeks, I haven’t acted on them. There have been times where the thoughts of stopping at the package store for some wine, or stopping at the gas station for a pack of cigarettes have crossed my mind. The anxiety of going down the route of numbing myself like I used to has been enough to keep me from buying these pretty easily accessible things.
There’s also the aspect of this not being the time to pick up a habit to numb myself. One of the other reasons I had stopped drinking was because I did not want to spend the money on alcohol. In this economy, I can’t afford to go buy alcohol to numb myself.
So instead of turning to the bottle, I’ve been trying to fill my cup. I’ve been trying to get out in nature. I’ve been trying to move and nourish my body. I’ve been spending time with loved ones. I’ve been trying to find the little joys in life and I’ve been trying to enjoy them.
Times are hard. I’m just trying to take things day by day.
Healing isn’t becoming the best version of yourself.
Healing is letting the worst version of yourself be loved.
Struggling with your mental health does not make you unworthy of your own love or anyone else’s love.
On those days that are hard, try to show yourself some love and compassion. You do not have to be perfect or at your best to be worth of love.
Healing isn’t linear. You’ll have good moments, and you’ll have bad moments. We can’t be the best version of ourselves all the time. As well all know, life happens, and it’s not always kind to us.
It’s no secret that social media is having a serious impact on our mental health. While there is a lot on social media that is good and even educational, there is definitely a lot on our feeds that can impact our mental health.
The thing about social media is it’s essentially just a highlight reel of what people want you to see. People are posting the best of the best in terms of images. Many are highly edited, and there are so many people touching up their bodies and faces. While many of us know that many pictures are not realistic and highly edited, it’s hard to ignore and it’s hard to feel like there’s something wrong with you because you don’t look like that.
On top of looking like perfection, feeds are filled with people sharing things such as vacations, lots of photos with friends, and things that just look exciting. You see people getting engaged, married, and having babies. I don’t know about any of you, but when I see all of these posts, I definitely start to look down on myself and wonder why I’m not out doing cool stuff constantly or why I’m not at the stage of life everyone else is at.
But, then I remind myself that those people going on vacations could be drowning in debt. Those people posting photos with friends could hate everyone in the picture or be having the worst time of their life. People getting engaged, married, and having children could be in toxic or abusive relationships. You really never know the whole story. People just show you what they want you to see and what they want you to believe.
I’m guilty of this too. For example, I post pictures of my puppy constantly showing him being all cute on our adventures. The reality is, he’s still a puppy in training and those adventures are not fun for me. In fact, they’re extremely stressful. He barks at other dogs, he pulls on the leash, and sometimes he decides to attack his leash because he wants to play tug of war right there on the trail. But, I don’t show that on social media. I only show people what I want them to see.
The other thing I hate seeing on social media is the toxic positivity. I see so many insane quotes and views that are people ~trying~ to be helpful, but the message is kind of like a slap to the face. You know, the ones that tell you stupid things like “choose happiness!” As someone who is mentally ill, I can assure you, I do not go out of my way to be depressed and anxious. If it were as simple as choosing happiness, my life would be a whole lot easier.
Tips For Protecting Your Mental Health On Social Media
Unfollow, block, and hide triggering people and things. If there are accounts that share images that make you feel upset, it’s probably best to unfollow them or hide their posts. If it’s a family member you can’t remove because it might cause drama, you can simply unfollow or hide their posts from your feed.
Follow accounts that do bring you joy. Not everything on social media is bad. Follow accounts that post things that bring you joy. Follow accounts that post uplifting content. Follow accounts that make you laugh. You do have a say in what your feed is filled with.
Limit your time on social media. Social media isn’t real life, even though it might seem like it is (especially with all of the isolation we dealt with the last couple of years). The pictures are all curated to pull you in. Spend some time away from the screens and you’ll see that most of those pictures are not realistic.
You Have A Great Life In Front of You
You have a great life in front of you, but your great life is in FRONT of you, not BEHIND you.
Continue to heal from your past traumas, but leave them in the past.
You have so many great things coming. Keep striving towards that better life, you have a great life waiting for you!
It’s no secret we are dealing with severe inflation, and it’s definitely having an impact. I live with my boyfriend. And yet, even though I have someone (with a great paying job) to split bills with, right now, it’s still not enough. Neither of our incomes have gone up with inflation, so even with the team work, we are both barely keeping our heads above water as we are quickly hurdling towards an inevitable recession.
I’m now at that point where I’m like welp, I can’t afford to put gas in my car, so I can’t really drive anywhere. Going for a drive used to be a form of self-care for me as well as taking small day trips out of state to escape the mundane life of working from home day in and day out. So between having some of my self-care practices now impossible and the fact that I can barely afford to keep myself alive, it’s understandably having a pretty negative impact on my mental health.
It’s not uncommon these days to get an email or a text saying my card was declined for a bill that’s due. It’s not uncommon to get notifications that I’m getting close to exceeding my credit card limit, or that I have in fact exceeded it.
Before this inflation thing happened, I always had a fear that I would not have enough money to make it on my own. Because of that, I always forced myself to work work work multiple jobs and side hustles to try and ensure I had enough. Hell, my family has been saving bottles for me for years and I redeem them for cash. I did all that work and now my worst fear of not having enough money is my reality.
For a while, I stopped all the side hustles simply because I didn’t have the time or the energy. I got tired of running myself into the ground. But, now I’m at a point where it’s not an option to not hustle to try and just make ends meet. The problem is, my side hustles have always been selling clothing and nobody really has the money to buy things that aren’t necessities right now.
Yesterday when I went grocery shopping at Aldi, there was a cart in the parking lot that someone had left, and I actually brought it back not because I was being nice, but it was because I wanted the free quarter that was in the cart. It’s scary that I am feeling that desperate.
As much as it embarrasses me to share all of this, I’m sharing it because I know I’m not alone. I know there are others dealing with this. These are scary and stressful times. It’s having a huge impact on us all both financially and mentally. We can’t save. We’re gaining debt. Being a young adult trying to survive on their own was hard enough before the inflation happened. I’m just hoping we’ll all be able to recover from this.
I used to always fight for closure and chase answers and explanations that I was never going to get. It did more harm than it did good.
It might seem hard to move on without closure from certain situations, but I promise you, you will be much more at peace if you just let things be and let people go.
Having anxiety, I know how hard it is to just let things be. It’s extremely hard for me to not be in control of situations, but unfortunately, we cannot control other people’s actions towards us.
There were a lot of situations where I was waiting for closure for months or years, and it was awful. Eventually, I accepted that I was never going to get the answers or closure I thought I needed. I moved on with my life.
Letting it go is much easier said than done, but it is possible. And it will make you feel so much better when you let go of the need for closure. You can give yourself the closure you need to move on.
For those of you that don’t know, I have been diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I was diagnosed while I was in college. I remember sitting with one of my therapists and she actually took out a book and she read off all of the symptoms of PTSD. When she asked if I was experiencing each symptom, I answered truthfully. By the end of the list, it was determined that I met the criteria.
The diagnosis broke me. While part of me was relieved to have an explanation for some of the symptoms I was having, another part of me felt like I was broken beyond compare. I felt like damaged goods. I had already known I had all the symptoms, but getting the diagnosis made it that much more real. I had such a hard time with it, I actually stopped going to therapy shortly after, it was just way too much for me to handle.
When people think of PTSD, they typically think of veterans. They don’t typically think of a 20 year old girl (I’m sure I had it way before 20, that was just when I finally got diagnosed). So, when you tell people “I have PTSD” typically they won’t believe you or they’ll say something like “how can that be?” It makes you not want to tell anyone.
I never had one big tragic event happen to me. My PTSD stems from years of just repeated trauma. A lot of the situations, I feel like I put myself in and I think about that a lot. When I was in my “rebellious” stage where I just really didn’t care what happened to me, I put myself into a lot of situations that were traumatic and they left their mark. A lot of these traumas scarred me and left their mark on me.
This repeated trauma over long periods of time is the cause of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, or CPTSD (which is not yet an official diagnosis). This is the reason why my official diagnosis is PTSD. CTPSD is still something that they’re working to understand more clearly.
I think the hardest part about living with this is it’s completely invisible to those on the outside. The symptoms I deal with can’t be seen by those around me, but the effect they have on me is unreal.
Lately, I have been getting triggered a lot more than usual. I have lived in the part of Connecticut my entire life. So naturally, there are a lot of places that I frequent that have trauma attached to them for me. Just yesterday, I texted my best friend that I would do anything to move far away from Connecticut because I’m tired of just driving around and getting triggered to the point where I feel physically sick. And it’s the truth, as much as I love Connecticut and my friends and family here, I want to run away because I frequently drive by places that are triggering just by living my day to day life. I want to go somewhere where I’m not reliving trauma just by driving around.
Today, it was a phrase that triggered me. I was sitting in the parking lot with my boyfriend eating a bagel and something he said just immediately sent me back to the past and I felt unsafe. My stomach suddenly was in knots and it was hard to act normal and just keep eating my bagel. After all, we were just enjoying breakfast having a normal conversation. It’s not easy to say “hey that string of words you just said in normal, casual conversation just caused an anxiety attack.”
I live with this invisible beast, always waiting to consume me and throw me back into the past. Sure, it’s in the past and it’s in my head, but physically, it feels like I’m right back in the burning fire that is the past trauma. But, because it’s invisible, nobody really takes it seriously. It’s especially hard to get people to take my diagnosis seriously because I have never been to war and people are convinced it’s just veterans who deal with it.
If you’re someone who is also affected by this, I see and feel you. While PTSD Awareness Month was started because of war veterans, the narrative is starting to change to show that they are by no means the only people who can be affected by PTSD. It can affect anyone.
Sharing this part of me sucks. It’s hard. But, I share this with the hope to raise awareness that this can in fact happen to anyone. I hope that more people understand what it is like for people to live with it and I want those who deal with it are not alone. There are others who deal with it.
She survived because the fire inside her burned brighter than the fire around her…
There were so many times in my life where it felt like my world was literally crumbling around me. A lot of those times, I was ready to give up. But, I didn’t because I had a strong desire to make it out on the other side.
It was by no means easy to pull myself out of those dark places. It took a lot of work and it took a lot of patience with myself. I kept pushing forward because that fire inside of me burned brighter than the chaotic fire around me that was trying to bring me down.
Listen, we’d never force you to read a book, BUT…we’ve read some books that have really helped us with our healing!
Ally chose to share these books with you all today because each one has had a profound impact on her perspective of her own trauma and behavior. It has helped her heal and helped support others in their recovery and healing.
What are some books that you’ve read that have helped you with your mental health?📚🧠
I don’t know who needs to hear this but shoutout to everyone out there who’s making progress that goes unrecognized because you don’t show your darkest moments.
You’re winning battles that no one knows anything about, so keep going❤️
There were so many times in my recovery journey where I was ready to give up, but on the outside I acted like nothing was wrong. Nobody knew I was trying to claw my way out of a dark place. Nobody knew I was in survival mode. There were even times that my friends had no idea how bad things were because I didn’t want to bother them with my issues.
Your progress matters, even if you’re not sharing it with the world. Keep doing you and keep pushing forward.
I used to constantly feel like I wasn’t good enough. In fact, I thought people hated me so much, I would bend over backwards for people who really wouldn’t do the same for me. I would drop everything to go help someone. I was giving people money I didn’t really have to give. I was giving the best parts of myself, my caring and compassion, to the wrong people who didn’t appreciate it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough, I was just giving my all to the wrong people.
I have cut off and distanced myself from those people who have made me feel not good enough. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t have to desperately try to get people to accept me by giving my all and then some to them. Your worth shouldn’t come from whether or not people like you. There are so many people out there who know your worth.
The Problem Seems To Have Resolved Itself
There’s nothing more calming than a waterfall, am I right!?
I am someone who has struggled with my mental health a lot. Going out into nature has always been something that has helped ground me when I’m struggling.
Out of all things nature that have helped me, the sound of running water has such a calming effect on me. Whether it be the sound of waves crashing on the shore, a running stream, or a waterfall much like this one.
Celebrating AAPIH Month As Someone Who’s A Quarter Filipino
For those of you that don’t know, I am a quarter Filipino. From the time I was a child, it has always been one of my favorite things to tell people. I have always loved being mixed-race, even though a lot of people find it hard to believe that I am anything but white. (See my post Being Mixed But White-Presenting for more on that).
While I might not LOOK Asian, I am an entire quarter Asian. It’s not some minuscule percentage or far away in my bloodline. My mom is half Filipino, and her father (my grandfather) is 100% Filipino. He born and raised there. This has always been something that has been so cool to me because I’ve heard so much about my family in the Philippines and their heritage growing up. I was so interested in it, that I even did a life history on my grandfather in high school for my Human Development class.
I grew up with a lot of Filipino influence. I grew up eating Filipino Chicken Adobo and to this day, it is still one of my favorite meals. My grandfather has always loved to cook, and he brought pancit (a traditional Filipino noodle dish) to EVERY family gathering we have ever had. I love lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) and it’s something I’ve made with my family before.
In addition to growing up with Filipino food, my mom has always tried to immerse us into the culture in various ways. For those of you that don’t know, many people in the Philippines speak Spanish because the Spanish colonized there. For this reason, my mom was tried to teach me Spanish when I was a little kid. She taught me how to count in Spanish and she also taught me how to say “hello my friends” and “goodbye my friends.”
She’s also taught me other words. One day when I was calling cows “moo moos” she got all confused and said “ghosts?” because Filipinos call ghosts “mumus.” Mumu is short for ‘multo’ which means ghost or apparition of the dead and it was derived from the Spanish word muerto which means “dead.” It’s also because of her that I call McDonald’s “McDo” (pronounced “mac-doh”) because she told me that is what the Filipinos refer to it as back in the Philippines.
In addition to learning some Spanish and cultural things like that, I’ve also had lots of Filipino things over the years from a Filipino Barbie doll to traditional clothing and shoes from the Philippines. I loved having all of these little pieces of my heritage as I was growing up. I still have all of these things to this day and they’re things I still cherish.
At the end of the day, I love being Filipino. I’m proud of it, and it’s a huge part of my identity. While people might look at me and just view me solely as a white person, they cannot take my Filipino heritage away from me – it’s in my blood.
Other people might not see it when they look at me, but when I look at myself, I see all of the subtle ways my Asian genetics influenced my physical appearance. I have my grandfather’s very Asian eyebrows that are shaped like straight up triangle mountains (although, nobody would know because I pluck the bottom, but the beautiful arch is still there). I have a darker complexion, darker hair, and brown eyes. Others might not associate these things with me being mixed race, but I do.
I can’t imagine not having the Filipino part of me not being in the mix. I might not be 100% Filipino, but as I said, it is still a huge part of my personal identity. I am proud to be a Filipina.
Better Sleep Month
Did you know that May is Better Sleep Month?
You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about Better Sleep Month on a mental health website. The answer is, getting a good nights sleep is extremely important for maintaining your mental wellness.
As someone who has struggled with getting enough sleep over the years, I know the consequences not getting enough sleep has had on me. In fact, recently, I have been not getting enough sleep and it has definitely made me much more irritable and it has made my anxiety a lot worse.
With the hectic lives we lead, it can feel impossible to get enough sleep. I know I constantly find myself thinking “there just isn’t enough time in the day” and I end up staying up ridiculously late just to try and get everything done. The problem is, then I lose sleep, and it just really isn’t worth it.
More recently, I’ve tried to just prioritize the things that I need to do. If all of the things don’t get done by the time I need to be getting to bed, I have decided they can wait until tomorrow. I am giving myself some grace to get the sleep I so desperately need. The world won’t end if I don’t get EVERYTHING done (as much as it sometimes feels like that is the case).
So now that I’ve told you about how being sleep deprived has negatively impacted me, let me give you some tips to help you get the rest that you need for both your physical AND mental health. If you’re having some issues getting good sleep, here are some ways to try and get some better rest:
Stick to a sleep schedule. This is something I have started to implement to help with my own sleep issues. I now try to make sure I am in bed by a certain time and the routine has helped a lot. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Create a restful environment. It’s hard to fall asleep in an environment with a lot going on. I always try to make sure my room is completely dark, a comfortable temperature, and my phone is always on do not disturb to ensure I don’t get woken up.
Include physical activity into your daily routine. This can help promote better sleep. I know if I was very active during the day, I have a much better chance of falling asleep with no issue because my body is tired enough to fall asleep when I get into bed.
Try and manage your worries. This is absolutely easier said than done. As someone with anxiety, I used to have a really hard time getting my intrusive thoughts to leave me alone as I was trying to sleep. In fact, they used to keep me up all night and some worries were so bad, I was actually afraid to sleep. To try and help combat this, try writing in a journal before bed to get those worries out and to set them aside until tomorrow. You can also try meditation.
If you’ve been struggling with sleep, I hope some of these tips might be able to help you! You deserve to get the rest you need!
What are some things that help you get a good night of sleep?
Mental Health Awareness Month
How Reading Has Helped Me With My Mental Health
From a young age, reading has been something that has really helped me with my mental health. Not only is reading a relaxing activity, but to me, it’s so much more than that. When I was really struggling with my mental health and I really just couldn’t deal, reading was my escape.
I would get lost in novels and immerse myself in the stories to escape my own reality. It was easier to put myself in someone else’s shoes in a fictional world than it was to deal with my own issues. Even if I was reading stories that were filled with drama, twists, and turns, it was still better than dealing with those things in my own life.
I did a lot of reading when I was younger. I had a kindle fire tablet that I used to read. It was great because I could just download books for free without having to find space to store them all. I would carry it around with me and do my chores while reading my book. It was also great being able to read in the dark in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep.
Aside from reading being an escape, it was also a way for me to see that I wasn’t alone in a lot of the things I was feeling. A lot of books I read were written from the first-person point of view (the person is telling their own story from their perspective) so you really get an insight into their thoughts and feelings as well as things they’re struggling with. It was nice to be able to connect and relate with the characters in my books, even if they weren’t real.
I’ve been having a really hard time mentally lately, just generally having a pretty rough go. I’ve started to read again and it has been the escape that I so desperately needed. Sitting down in a cozy spot with a good book is just such a nice mental reset for me. I love getting lost in my books and forgetting what’s been bothering me, even if it’s only temporary. I also just love having reading to look forward to.
It wasn’t easy for me to get started reading again. I kept making all of these excuses saying I can’t read, I need to do this or I need to do that. The thing is, I was really ignoring my needs and I was not practicing any kind of self-care. In fact, I haven’t really been doing anything for myself lately and it’s part of the reason why my mental health has crumbled. That’s why I made the time to read because I desperately needed it and I deserve to do things I enjoy that aren’t related to work or caring for others.
One Day You’re Going To Meet The Happiest Version Of Yourself…
Here’s the thing…
One day you’re going to be the happiest version of yourself, and it’s all going to be so damn worth it.
Recovery is HARD. Healing takes time. Even on the days you want to give up, remind yourself that one day you’ll be the happiest version of yourself. You’ll look back and be so glad that you kept pushing through the hard parts of healing. And I hope you’ll be proud of yourself, because recovery isn’t easy.
Women’s Health Week: Why It’s Important To Take Care of Your Physical Health
I have always been very good about going to every doctors appointment. If I’ve been really sick and not sure if it was serious or not, I’ve always played it safe and gone to see a medical professional. I have been seeing VARIOUS specialists for years now.
I have my primary care doctor. I have my OBGY. I go to the dentist twice a year. I have a GI doctor (for IBS-related issues that stem from my anxiety). I have a podiatrist because I found out I have very flat feet with absolutely no arch my junior year of high school. I regularly see a dermatologist because one of my biggest fears is getting skin cancer. Most recently, I started seeing an endocrinologist because last year I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, which was no surprise to me because of a family history of thyroid disease. I’ve also seen various naturopathic doctors in the past to try and help with balancing my hormones.
While a lot of people might read that list and think, wow, you’re too young to have so many doctors…shit happens. I spent years treating my body like absolute shit. I struggled with disordered eating for most of my life (kinda still do), and that causes SO MANY health issues that nobody ever tells you about. On top of that, I smoked cigarettes with the actual intention of doing harm to my body. Thankfully, that was just a short stint.
I’ve also just had health issues. I had mono and a Lyme disease diagnosis back to back and it was after that that I started having significant GI issues between the month-long round of antibiotics and the mono causing insane inflammation. My very first pap smear, I had came back with abnormal cells so instead of not having to have another one for three years, I had to keep going back because cervical cancer was a concern. THANKFULLY, my last one finally came back with no abnormal cells. It was something that was a stressor for years (especially when the pandemic hit and closed everything down making me unable to get into the doctors on time for my yearly pap smear).
The reason I try to stay so on top of my health and regular blood work is because I know I have not been kind to my body, I’ve had some things in the past that have wrecked havoc on my body, and I just have a family history of certain things so I try to look out for those. As I mentioned earlier, thyroid disease is super common on both sides of my family so I started getting regular thyroid panels done when I was in college
Last year, I was officially diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, which is an autoimmune disorder. Essentially, this means my body is slowly attacking my thyroid and eventually it won’t be able to function on its own and I’ll need to go on medication. There’s no predicting when that might be, but given my family history, it’s likely that it will happen. My endocrinologist has also told me pretty much at every appointment I’ve had with him that I’m more likely to miscarry because of my diagnosis.
The thyroid controls a lot in the body hormone wise and it’s not uncommon for thyroid diseases to cause mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Anxiety is typically associated with hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid), while depression is typically associated with hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid). This is one of the main reasons why I have been getting blood work for my thyroid for years. My mental health at one point was so bad, I was looking for answers and explanations everywhere.
If you’re trying to focus on your mental health, it’s important to also take care of your physical health. It might not seem like they’re connected, but they are. I’m not saying it’s easy, because I have been that person who neglected their physical AND mental health because I just didn’t want to be alive. But, you deserve to be mentally and physically healthy.
I also do want to acknowledge that I am VERY lucky to have insurance and my mom’s help to be able to see all of these doctors to try and maintain my health. If not having insurance is a barrier to getting regular check-ups, I would recommend looking into getting Husky through Access Health CT. Below is some information about them:
Access Health CT is Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace, where you can shop, compare and enroll in quality healthcare plans; and it is the only place where you can qualify for financial help to lower your costs, and if eligible, enroll in free or low-cost coverage through HUSKY Health Program (Medicaid/CHIP) or the Covered Connecticut Program.
I really feel like I hate the world sometimes… but then I realize, the world is beautiful. What I really hate is people (I don’t really hate people, I’m just very anti-social because of my social anxiety).
I spend a lot of time exploring and adventuring alone because I get super anxious that people might not want to go and do things I want to do. I like to stop at all the random parks and things that catch my interest along the way without feeling like I’m dragging people to places they don’t want to go. Honestly if I could, I would pull off at every sign I saw if there was enough time in a day LOL.
As much as I love having company when I go exploring new places, my anxiety stops me from asking anyone because of the fear they might not want to do all the random things I want to do. I have one friend who is always down to do the random stuff I want to do, but it’s tough to find times we are both free because of ~adulting~ and work.
Honestly, this is part of the reason why I got a dog, so I would have an adventure buddy who I knew would always be happy just to be with me, no matter where we were.
The truth is…healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed.
I wish I could tell you when you heal, all of your trauma and the memories of those traumas goes away, but the trauma is something that sticks with you for the rest of your life.
Healing is finding ways to cope with the traumas and the damage those traumas caused. Learning to cope and healing doesn’t mean that the damage never happened. It just means you’ve managed to move past the damage to create a fresh start for yourself.
“I don’t think people realize how much strength it takes to pull your own self out of a dark place mentally. If you did that today, or any other day, I’m proud of you.”
May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
This is a time to raise awareness about mental health and awareness about people who are struggling with their mental health. It’s a time to work towards ending the stigma that surrounds people living with mental health issues.
Living with mental health issues is hard. We are often misunderstood. There are still people who think mental illness isn’t real. And, there are still lots of people who think we share our stories and experiences for attention. The reality is, we share our stories to raise awareness and to end the stigma.
How will you be recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month this May?
National Humor Month: How Humor Helps Your Mental Health
You know what they say…laughter is the best medicine. It’s not just a silly saying. Laughter really is some of the best medicine. It can really help your mental health in various ways.
Some of the ways laughter can help your mental health are:
it diminishes pain
it protects you from the damaging effects of stress
it brings your mind and body back into balance
it lightens your burdens
it inspires hope
it connects you to others
it keeps you grounded, focused, and alert
it helps you release anger and forgive sooner
it strengthens resilience
it improves mood
it adds joy to life
If you’re wondering how laughter can do all of these things, it’s because your brain releases endorphins when you laugh — hormones that cause a feeling of pleasure and a relaxed mind. Laughing also activates your body’s stress response mechanism. This process changes your heart rate leaving you in high spirits. Additionally, laughter stimulates rapid blood circulation. When this happens, you may experience a calming sensation that takes away tension and stress.
Humor is definitely something that has helped me when my mental health has been bad. Growing up, my brother and I used to laugh SO MUCH. When the two of us are together, we just act so immature, even now in our mid-twenties. We have inside jokes from childhood that still make us laugh until we cry. We find the dumbest things funny when we are together. But, there’s nothing better than laughing so hard that I’m literally crying. It’s one of the best feelings.
I get this way with my friends too. It’s easier to laugh and have fun with people who you’re comfortable around and who have the same sense of humor as you. My best friend Robyn is one of my favorite people to go to when I just need a laugh. We will just laugh and laugh at the dumbest things, but it’s so good to just laugh and act like idiots together (which this has definitely happened in some of the podcasts we have done together here on TurningPointCT). Humor really does help you connect to others.
Another way humor has kind of helped me deal with my mental health is through memes. I am actually in a group called Aborted Dreams: Share Your Memes where I can always count on finding some mental health memes with dark humor. A lot of people who don’t struggle with their mental health don’t get these memes when I show them to them, so I will only share these memes with certain people. But, the dark humor is not only hilarious to me, but it helps me realize that there are tons of other people out there who just get what I’m going through – they’re another way to feel connected with others. Humor (and memes) are one of my favorite ways to deal with my mental health.
Below are just some examples of some of the dark humor memes I laugh at (being mentally ill for as many years as I have has given me a very, very dark sense of humor):
If it’s not memes, I’m scrolling through funny reels on social media. I also have comfort TV shows, most of which are comedies. The Office, Parks and Recreation, and BoJack Horseman are some of my favorites to watch when I’m in a depressive episode.
Anyhoo, I will leave you with this. Laughter really is the best medicine. Find people you can just laugh with for hours and hours. Find people to send memes back and forth with. Find shows that make you laugh until you cry. Follow funny accounts on social media. Your mental health will thank you.
You Don’t Always Need A Plan…
You don’t always need a plan…sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go…and see what happens.
Sometimes, my anxiety gets me so wound up that I panic if I don’t have a plan. I would get so overwhelmed that I would just shut down.
While I still have a lot of moments like this, I’ve found the calm in just going with the flow and allowing myself time to breathe.
I don’t constantly need to have something going on, and I don’t need to have everything planned out. Sometimes it’s better to just be.
When people think of sexual assault, they think that strangers are the only danger. You’re taught to expect this from strangers, but never people close to you. You’re taught that it tends to happen when you’re under the influence.
My sexual assault story doesn’t involve a stranger. It doesn’t involve a night out. It doesn’t involve any substances. I was completely sober and I was sexually assaulted by someone I considered a “friend” at the time.
When I was 20, I moved in with my best friend and her boyfriend because their roommate had moved out. I came in to essentially cover the rent they were missing out on from him. The problem is, a couple months after I had moved in, my friend decided she didn’t want to be with her boyfriend anymore.
As the distance began to grow between them, he started to develop feelings for me. After she left, I stayed because I just wasn’t ready to go back to my parents. I was enjoying the freedom of not being under their roof.
But as I said, her then recent-ex began to have feelings for me. He would make comments about how we were the same person and he would hint how much we had in common. Despite me repeatedly telling him that I was not interested, he continued to push.
Eventually, he convinced himself that my feelings would change towards him if he had sex with me. This was something I did not want at all, and I expressed that several times. Despite me saying no, he went for it anyways.
I dissociated the whole time. My body went numb and thankfully, I felt nothing. But, it didn’t change the fact that it happened. It didn’t change the fact that my boundaries I tried to set were disrespected.
I called my best guy friend and had him help me gather all of my things and I moved out that night.
That assault has had a serious effect on me and my relationship. I jump a lot of the time when I get touched now, even by my own boyfriend who I trust completely. There are times that I am afraid to close my eyes when I’m intimate with my own boyfriend. Other times, I will dissociate while we are intimate.
Despite my boyfriend knowing that this happened to me, it’s hard for him to understand why I am jumpy when it comes to being intimate. After all, he is my boyfriend, I trust him, and it is consensual. The problem is, my body remembers the trauma from that one time. And it’s hard for someone who hasn’t been through it to understand. It isn’t a conscious thing.
It’s something I wish I never had to go through. I never took any action. In fact, I had convinced myself that it wasn’t rape for years. I remember a conversation I had with my therapist expressing these thoughts. I told her I didn’t think it was because I gave up and just took it because my repeated no’s didn’t work. But, it was absolutely rape because it wasn’t consensual and I didn’t want it. There was absolutely no part of me that wanted that.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I have decided to share my story to let others know that they are not alone. Below are some sexual assault resources.
Today, I had the honor of being a part of UConn Avery Point’s first ever Fresh Check Day!
At the event, I ran the Uplift activity table where students came to make their own self-care kits. We provided boxes they could decorate as well as various items to put into their self-care kits. Some of the items they could add into their boxes were:
A paper clip: to help hold your life together when it seems like it is falling apart!
A rock: to help keep you grounded when your life seems to get out of hand!
An eraser: to make all of those little mistakes disappear!
A Hersey’s Kiss: to remind you that you’re always loved!
Fidget toys: for a distraction when you’re feeling anxious!
They also had the option to create their own stress balls out of balloons and flour.
The students really seemed to have a great time putting together their self-care kits and making their own stress balls. And the best part is, they left with a useful tool kit to turn to when they’re having a hard time!
we operate in this environment of technology and everything moves so fast, but the pace we are actually supposed to be moving at is the pace of nature.
unfortunately we live in a society that seems to think working yourself into the ground means success. we are so busy constantly doing things, multi-tasking, and trying to do it all at the expense of our mental health.
we aren’t meant to constantly be going. we aren’t meant to lose sleep trying to get a million things done in a day. we need rest. we need to take breaks to just be.
I missed out on a lot during my time in college because I worked multiple jobs while going to school. not only was I missing out on a lot by trying to balance it all, but it also lead to some serious burnout and my mental and physical health suffered.
this is your reminder that you don’t need to be speeding through life. take some time to slow down and enjoy the moment your in. your physical and mental health will thank you.
Yesterday, we teamed up with CT Stay Strong to run the Mood Matters booth at Capital Community College’s Fresh Check Day!
Fresh Check Day, the signature program of the Jordan Porco Foundation, is an uplifting mental health promotion and suicide prevention event for colleges that includes interactive expo booths, peer-to-peer messaging, support of multiple campus departments and groups, free food, entertainment, and exciting prizes and giveaways. Fresh Check Day aims to create an approachable and hopeful atmosphere where students are encouraged to engage in dialogue about mental health and helps to build a bridge between students and the mental health resources available on campus, in the community, and nationally.
At our Mood Matters booth, we did an activity where we asked students the question “How Do You Maintain Your Mental Wellness?” The wrote the ways they like to maintain their mental wellness on sticky notes and put them on a poster board where others could see.
The point of the Mood Matters booth was to raise awareness, educate, and decrease stigma about anxiety and mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression, among college students. We also shared resources and treatment options for mood and anxiety disorders.
Things That Have Helped Me In My Eating Disorder Recovery
Recovering from and eating disorder is HARD. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it has been a walk in the park, because it has not been. Trying to break the cycle of disordered eating isn’t easy. Learning to love the skin your in takes a lot of work. But, here are some things that have helped me in my personal recovery.
Changing The Way I View Food
One of the worst things you can do is view food as “good” and “bad.” Labels in general are bad. You shouldn’t be avoiding foods because they’re “bad.” Really the only reason you should be avoiding foods is if you’re allergic or if you have a sensitivity.
Diet culture loves to tell you to avoid this and avoid that or that thisis horrible for you or that is horrible for you. Pretty much everything is okay to eat in moderation. If you restrict yourself from eating something like sweets or carbs, you’ll end up with a really unhealthy relationship with those foods.
For example, you could 1. be terrified of eating them and have meltdowns when someone tries to get you to eat then or 2. end up binging them and beating yourself up over it when really eating any food should not be causing you distress.
Restriction literally can cause you to end up on the binge eating spectrum of eating disorders. My advice to you is to allow yourself to eat the food. And, don’t let anyone tell you that any food is bad. Like people thinking carbs are evil when your body literally needs them to function. They only reason you should be mindful of how many carbs you’re eating is if you’re diabetic or another legitimate medical reason.
Not Caring About What Size Clothes I Wear
I used to be obsessed with what size I was. In fact, I squeezed myself into clothes that were way too small for years just because I wanted to be able to say “I’m a size (insert small size here).” Squeezing myself into clothes that were obviously way too small did a lot of harm.
Not only are clothes that are too small uncomfortable, but due to them not fitting comfortably, they make you feel heavy. Jeans that are too tight result in muffin tops (even if you’re relatively small). Shirts that are too tight give the illusion that you’re heavier than you are because they don’t fit your body. And, that’s okay! There are clothes out there that do fit you and your body!
Once I started buying clothes that actually fit me, I felt a lot more comfortable in my body. Not having to squeeze and force yourself into clothes that are too small just because they’re a smaller size significantly helped me view my body in a different light.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what size clothes you wear anyways. They’re all BS and sizes vary depending on brands. Like I can comfortably fit into anything from an extra small to an extra large. At the end of the day, it’s about finding clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in.
Not Comparing Myself To Others Online
This is a tough one that I do still struggle with from time to time. I used to scroll through my feed and ask myself why I am not as skinny and toned as some of the people I saw online. But, then I would remind myself that every body is different. We all have different genetics.
I also try to remind myself that the internet is not real life. A lot of photos you see on social media are very touched up and photos are edited with the intention of making the subject look smaller because that’s what the media and a lot of society praises.
Keeping Pre-Prepared Foods In The House
Something that has really helped me is buying easy to make, pre-prepped foods that are pretty much ready to eat. Some of my struggles with disordered eating stems from both my depression, which leaves me very unmotivated to cook/eat, and from just being very busy. When I was working multiple jobs and going to school, I fell into the habit of just not eating because I was too busy (and tired) to prepare myself anything to eat. If I did eat, it was a small snack here or there.
Now, I buy things that are quick and easy for me to make to help get myself to eat regular meals. It’s not completely fool-proof, but it does help. Even though I’m 25 years old, chicken tenders and chicken nuggets are a staple because I can just throw them in the oven and I can get easy protein. Pasta, specifically protein pasta, is also a staple because of how easy pasta is to cook. I also get a lot of pre-prepared meals that I just have to heat up!
These are just some of the things that have helped me with my recovery. They may work for you, but they may not. Everyone’s recovery looks different.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual harassment, assault, and abuse can happen anywhere, including in online spaces. That’s why this year’s campaign is Building Safe Online Spaces Together. For too long harassment, cyberbullying, and sexual abuse and exploitation have come to be expected as typical and unavoidable behaviors online. Building safe online spaces together is possible when we practice digital consent, intervene when we see harmful content and behaviors, and promote online communities that value respect, inclusion, and safety.
People might try to judge you based on your past, but you are not your past.
There are a lot of people who knew me in the past and I can guarantee you they would not believe how different I am today.
I used to be completely self-destructive, harming myself in anyway I could possibly think of. I smoked, I drank, and I just all around made really bad decisions for myself and my well-being.
I did plenty of things I am not proud of in the past, but I am not that person anymore. I have learned so much from my past self, but I have chosen not to dwell on the person I once was. I am not her anymore.
Don’t let anyone judge you by who you used to be. You are you right now in this moment. Your past can stay in the past.
When I first got my puppy Rip, I wrote a post about the stress of having a new puppy. To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. I felt completely isolated and there was definitely a lot of crying involved from being so overwhelmed with training and just making sure he stayed safe and out of trouble.
But, I am happy to report things have gotten a lot better since the beginning. Last Saturday, Rip turned four months old and while he is definitely still a handful, things are a lot easier now. Before, leaving the house used to feel impossible because I would worry about him the whole time I was gone. All I could think about was him having to go out while I was gone and I was always just a nervous wreck.
I couldn’t just bring him with me. When he was really young, I had to actually get him used to the car. Turns out dogs don’t instinctually love cars LOL. I had to slowly work my way up to him being able to do longer rides. It was hard at first due to his tiny bladder and car sickness. But, things are a lot easier now that he is more comfortable in the car!
While things are definitely much better than they were, there are still days that are way harder than others. On days when he doesn’t want to nap and I can’t get anything done or any time to myself, it’s definitely hard. On days when training doesn’t go well, I get frustrated and negative self-talk comes in telling me I’m not cut out for this. On days when he won’t stop chewing furniture, I go a bit crazy.
I think the biggest issue right now is he’s not fully vaccinated yet so I can’t actually take him out of the car on his rides just for his own safety. I can’t wait to be able to just take him with me on walks in nature. It’s hard feeling like him and I are confined to the house. He should be ready to go to public places soon though and I’m sure it’ll help a lot!
But, at the end of the day, things are getting better and he is definitely on his way to be being a nice, polite doggo. He might be a bit fresh now, but I mean look at him, how could I not love him!?
Where Do You Feel Completely Free?
Sometimes, you just need to take a step back from your responsibilities and go somewhere where you can escape the stress of everything you have going on. For me, it’s usually going out into nature. While state parks are a great option, I tend to go to lesser known trails and parks that don’t get crowded so I can feel more connected with nature.
I don’t know who needs to hear this today but, peace is the result of re-training your mind to process life as it is rather than what you think it should be.
I used to really beat myself up over thinking I was not where I was supposed to be in life. I graduated later than all of the people I graduated high school with, I lived with my parents longer than I thought most people do, and I just constantly felt like I wasn’t where I should be in life.
At this point in my life, I’ve learned to accept and love where I am in life and what I’m doing. My journey looks a lot different than other people’s journeys and that’s okay.
It’s easy to compare yourself to what other people are doing because of social media, but we really only see a tiny glimpse of what people CHOOSE to share on social media.
Learn to love the life you’re living now…find your peace.
So for those of you that don’t know, Machine Gun Kelly is one of my favorite artists. I wrote a post a little while back about Machine Gun Kelly songs that helped me through one of the worst depressions of my life. I think one of my favorite things about his music is how unfiltered it is. He talks so openly about his struggles with his mental health and addiction so unapologetically. I love how he is just unapologetically himself.
On March 25th, Machine Gun Kelly dropped his new album Mainstream Sellout and of course, I listened to the album the first chance I got that day. To say I was excited was an understatement. As I listened to the album, I was once again just in awe at how open and unfiltered the lyrics were. There were so many lines that I just immediately connected with.
He has a lot of haters, but I really just think it’s because they don’t understand him. But, people who sit on the internet and make fun of people they don’t even know just have no life anyways. Like calling him a poser just because he originally started in rap and talking about his style or claiming he’s a poser. And like people wonder why he is depressed and anxious…people are constantly coming at him with the most ridiculous shit.
I think the most ridiculous insult I’ve heard is that he is stealing Blink-182’s sound, even though Travis Barker, A LITERAL BAND MEMBER OF BLINK-182, has been involved with producing MGK’s two most recent albums. In fact, Travis Barker was literally the drummer on both albums.
ANYHOO, below are some of my favorite songs from the album along with some of my favorite lines.
Yeah, part one: why is it so hard to live? Part two: I shouldn’t have done what I did Part three: everyone’s left me alone Part four: I don’t want to live anymore Yeah, I’d rather be a freak than somebody’s puppet Release your leash, I don’t belong in the circus They cut each my wings soon as my name was in cursive Now I’m six feet deep, I guess my life wasn’t perfect
Everybody’s so nice lately (Everybody’s not nice) Polarized feelings, I don’t wear them on my face lately (I don’t wear them on my face) Internalized evеrything the headlines say latеly (Everything they say) Demonized just because I was an angel face baby (Baby)
I spend a lot of nights thinking I might go to sleep and never wake up I spend a lot of money on these therapy sessions Even though I’m not showing up I spend a lot of time healing my mind and my heart But I still put these drugs in my gut
Killed the me I used to be I might die in California In my mind, I had a dream Saw a demon on my shoulder Yeah, I know, I should probably let it go (Let it go) Yeah, I know, I might die in California, die in California, mmm
Ayy, someone cut the lights off please I’ve been kinda sad lately I know that I’m good for you (Yeah) But you kinda bad, baby (Mm) We’re just doin’ love chants, brewin’ up the potion I had a premonition I was overdosin’ (So) Someone cut the lights off please I don’t want you to look at me I paint my nails black If I ever look happy then it’s an act Every day is an anxiety attack I wish I could take it back To when I was drinkin’ water out the tap With the Cleveland logo printed on my hat Tell me, was it my fear of bein’ complacent That ended up leavin’ me so jaded? I’m miserable even though I made it
And tonight the moon is full, so take me anywhere outside I cannot kiss you yet, you’re magic, so I’ll just stare at you instead I get insecure and panic ’cause I know you’re too pure for this
[Chorus: Machine Gun Kelly] You’re too good for me, I’m too bad to keep I’m too sad, lonely I want you only
Based on the lyrics I chose, it’s probably obvious that I have struggled with depression. I think he does a really good job of describing what it’s really like.
Even though I didn’t put every song on the album in this post, I want to make it clear I love them all. I just tried to showcase the ones I felt showcased how I feel about my mental health.
I think anyone who has struggled with their mental health will be able to relate to most of these songs. I know I was really able to relate to a lot of the lyrics.
This album is great.
Yes, I am an angsty, depressed, and anxious 25 year old. Thanks for noticing.
Getting Out In Nature Is My Self-Care
Due to having a puppy, I have very brief periods of time to myself where I can either work, do house work, feed myself, or run errands. This morning during one of my puppy’s naps, I decided to go to one of my favorite local spots to get outside and away from the screens and my responsibilities for a brief moment with just myself and nature.
It was so peaceful at Yantic Falls even though it was sprinkling the whole time I was there. Sometimes, going out exploring in the rain is better because there’s less people and you tend to almost have these beautiful parks to yourself.
While part of me wants to constantly go go go and get things done because of the fact that our society as a whole praises people who work themselves to death, I am really trying to remind myself that there is a life outside of work. There is more to life than just working myself to death. I’m trying to make sure I experience things and find some kind of balance between work and the everyday responsibilities that come with being an adult.
Below is a short glimpse of my little mini adventure at Yantic Falls this morning 🙂
In about a week, I will be 25. I’m not going to lie, I never planned to make it to 25. Most of my life I spent wishing I was dead. Between being self-destructive by drinking, smoking, starving myself and literally planning to end my life, I never really planned on living a long life. I really never thought I’d make it through those dark years of my life. Yet, here I am about to turn 25.
I really couldn’t tell you what specifically changed my tune about wanting to continue living. And, I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t still have days where I really don’t want to continue on. But, for whatever reason, I am committed to trying to live my life to the fullest now.
I feel like I have reasons to live now. I have a happy home, four great animals, a beautiful niece, and I’m literally an advocate for others who are struggling much like I have my entire life. Younger me would be so proud, but also surprised.
I’m pursing my passions instead of living my life the way others expected me to. I don’t really care what others think of me. I’m not afraid to be my authentic self. I live my life for myself.
But as I said, as someone who has suffered tremendously with suicidal ideations for so many years of my life, I really never thought I’d be here. I really can’t tell you how many times I was teetering on the edge of ending my life. Making a plan, getting rid of belongings so nobody would have to do it when I was gone, deciding who would get what little money was in my bank account…it’s scary to think of how close I was to not being here.
On the days that are hard, I remind myself why I continue to keep pushing forward. I really do have so much to be grateful for. There’s also so much in the world that I have not experienced yet. While I have my fur babies, I want to have children. I want to see the world. While 25 seems so old, I’m still really young. I still have a lot of living to do.
Cheers to 25. I am thankful to have made it to a quarter-of-a-century.
Ignoring My Responsibilities
When I’m overwhelmed, I tend to avoid everything by mindlessly scrolling on social media.
I’m not saying it’s the best coping skill, but sometimes it works and it feels a lot better than dissociating staring at the wall for hours paralyzed by my anxiety🤷🏻♀️
I used to be that person that was always there whenever ANYONE needed me. I was the person everyone could count on.
I’ve been the person to front people money again and again who I knew probably wouldn’t pay me back.
I’ve gone and picked people up in the middle of the night who probably wouldn’t have done the same for me.
I’ve been a listening ear to people who would never just sit and listen to me when I just needed to vent.
Eventually, I had to put an end to being the person that everyone went to because it was exhausting.
Not only was it taking a toll on my mental health, but I would find myself stressing out about these people and their problems while none of them even thought about the toll their problems were taking on me.
I had to learn to say no. I had to learn that it is not my job to be the fixer of everyone else’s problems.
I had to learn that while yes, sometimes it is nice to help others, it can become a toxic cycle when it’s one-sided. It also becomes toxic when other people’s problems consume you to the point where you’re ignoring all of your own needs and problems.
When I stopped being that person, I lost a lot of “friends” that I constantly helped out.
But, it was honestly a weight lifted off of my shoulder. Now I put my own needs first because I realize how important it is to be the person I was to all of those people to myself. I need to be there for myself because me and my problems matter too.
Today is the International Day of Happiness! I thought about writing a post about happiness, but I found myself struggling a bit. So instead, I decided to make a video that gives you a glimpse of some of the things that bring me happiness!
Have you ever had someone try to shame and blame you for your anxiety or depression?
I’ve heard all kinds of ridiculous things like “if you just change your mindset, you’ll be happy!” or “it’s like you want to be miserable” or “you literally work yourself up”
like yes, my brain, which is technically a part of me, gets me wound up for reasons that do not make sense to others. but, that does not mean I am actively choosing to worry to the point where I feel PHYSICALLY sick.
Trauma causes mental illnesses. Chemical imbalances cause mental illnesses. People do not simply CHOOSE to be mentally ill. This is not a choice. And it is really a life-long healing journey trying to recover from these invisible disorders.
Believe me, nobody would purposely choose to be mentally ill. Much like nobody would choose to be physically ill or injured. It shouldn’t be such a hard concept for others to wrap their heads around.
How Trauma Has Changed My Life
Nobody likes thinking about how trauma has affected them. But, there’s no hiding the fact that trauma has had an impact on my life. Whether I like it or not, there are a lot of things I do and don’t do because of past traumas.
Trauma isn’t always one event. Sometimes it’s repeated events. Anything can be trauma, it’s different for everyone. There are some things that I would consider traumatic that I have flashbacks about that people would probably argue aren’t trauma. The problem is, they are traumatic because those events have completely altered me.
Before I get into how trauma has affected me personally, I’d like to give you a list of some of the effects of trauma:
Unable to relax
Alcohol and substance misuse
I’d love to tell you I’ve only dealt with a select few of the issues on that list, but I have struggled with all of them as a result of traumas in my life. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking there’s no way someone who’s only 25 has dealt with that much trauma in their life. But, due to a lot of mental health issues, I put myself in a lot of really bad situations, but there were definitely things that happened to me that were completely out of my control.
I think one of the worst things I’ve dealt with are flashbacks. There are days when it’s constant. I’ll have periods where they won’t be an issue, but then they’ll come back full force out of nowhere. This typically leads to anxiety or even panic attacks as I relive the traumas.
The flashbacks also lead to dissociation. Sometimes the dissociation is not being able to differentiate the flashbacks from reality. Other times, the dissociation is literally my brain completely shutting down in an attempt to protect myself from my own thoughts. In other words it’s a bunch of nothing-ness while I stare at a wall with no thoughts for hours. Dissociating is something I’ve even turned to during traumatic events to escape the reality of what was happening to me.
Oh and don’t forget how the flashbacks also negatively affect my sleep. The flashbacks love to come as I’m trying to fall asleep at night. Some nights they will be so bad, I will be terrified to close my eyes. So instead of taking the chance of closing my eyes and getting sucked into a flashback, I’ll keep my eyes open and stare at the ceiling until I’m too tired to fight it anymore.
My traumas have lead to a lot of suicidal feelings. Sometimes when I think about the things that happened to me, I can’t help but think why? There were many times when I thought about ending my life after traumatic events.
Another way I tried to deal with my trauma was by using substances. I used alcohol and marijuana to numb myself. I didn’t want to feel anything. Getting so stoned or drunk that I was barely there was an escape for me. It was my way to avoid the flashbacks and the anxiety.
That’s the other thing about trauma. A lot of traumas are tied to people, places, and things. I avoid a lot of people and places because of my trauma. I have lived in the same area since I was a kid and there have been a lot of times that I have honestly thought about moving away because I drive by triggering places just in my everyday life.
I avoid places where I might see someone from my past that I went no contact with. If I can’t avoid these places, I am anxious the whole time. There have even been times where even going to one of these places was mentioned and I’ve had a panic attack that lead to hyperventilating and tears. How do you tell someone that you can’t go a certain restaurant or another normal place without feeling like you’re going to die? How do you explain that to someone who has never been through it?
While I don’t want my trauma to control my life, I feel like it definitely does sometimes. Sometimes, it makes me feel completely helpless. It’s like a never-ending hell. I hate that there are places I can’t go to because they’re attached to certain things that have happened to me. I hate that I have to live in fear going to certain towns because I might see someone who did something to me.
But, this is the reality of being a trauma survivor. It doesn’t matter how many years have gone by, the effects are always there. Sometimes the symptoms are in my face, other times it’s subconscious because I’ve been living with these things for so long. This is my life with CPTSD from years of repeated trauma.
If you’ve dealt with something traumatic, I am so sorry. I really would not wish any of these aftereffects of trauma on anyone. I know how hard it has been for me. But, if you are struggling, there is help out there. Check out some of our resources to find help.
If you liked this post, be sure to check out Sasha’s post MyThoughts On Traumaright here on turningpointct.org.
I have been so overwhelmed lately, so when my friend who lives in Vermont said she was off this weekend, I quickly made the last minute plans to make the four hour drive up. I have taken on way too much work and it has taken such a toll on my mental health. I have found myself pretty much avoiding work and emails because it has all been too much.
I’ve been drowning in work. I recently started a new travel blog with my mom. I’m working this job at TurningPointCT, working on my other blog with my mom, as well as working on my mom’s main blog. I’m ALSO caring for a puppy, and trying to do all the things that come with being an adult such as cooking, cleaning, etc. Somehow I am managing to get everything done, but again, at the expense of my mental well-being.
Even though my trip up to Vermont was only a day and a half, with the half part being a total of 8 hours of driving, the one full day I got of exploring was such a breath of fresh air. I might have walked a whopping 10 miles bouncing around to see everything I possibly could in a day, but it brought back some of the life that had been drained out of me from the constant, around-the-clock work schedule I’ve found myself in.
You can get a glimpse of my day in Vermont below 🙂
Find more information about Ally’s FREE peer support for teens and young adults here.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanism: Smoking
So for those of you that don’t know, I am a former smoker of both cigarettes and marijuana. While smoking definitely started out as a social thing, it definitely became something that became a coping mechanism for me.
I really was never a heavy marijuana smoker and I really only did it when I was with friends who were doing it. The amount of times I smoke marijuana was so few that I never learned how to use a bowl, bong, or how to roll anything. I had never even bought marijuana myself. Cigarettes on the other hand, that was a daily thing for me.
I had my first cigarette when I was a freshman in college. My best friend smoked them and even though I had always told myself I would never, one drunken night, she offered one to me and I smoked it. I remember the insane head rush, but I also remember it not tasting that great.
The reason I kept smoking was because it was kind of a social thing. I liked stepping outside with my friend to have a cigarette and just talk. Later, it became a me thing instead of just a social thing. A lot of my freshman and sophomore year of college memories include cigarettes. Driving to and from school blasting my music with the windows down while I smoked my cigarettes. Taking smoking breaks during my shifts at Subway because I just didn’t feel like being inside. Taking smoke breaks with friends because it was something to do.
I don’t know if I was addicted to the nicotine, or if I just really liked the act of doing it. I really only smoked for about a year or two, but as I said, they were a big part of those couple of years. But, I really liked the actual act of putting it in my mouth and taking a drag. It was like a really shitty for you form of calming breathing. The breathing in, then taking a deep inhale to fill your lungs, and then the long, deep exhale.
There was just something calming about the act of smoking a cigarette. In fact, after I had stopped smoking, I would pretend to smoke just to calm myself down. I thought I was crazy to pretend to smoke to calm myself. But, when I brought it up to my therapist, she wasn’t surprised because it really was like a deep breathing exercise. It’s something I still do to this day.
Another reason why I smoked was because I really was not in a great place mentally. I was actively trying to harm my body in every way I could think of. Much like my battle with anorexia, in my mind, smoking was another way to get a slow, painful death. I wanted nothing more than to make myself suffer because I felt like I deserved it. I just didn’t want to live, but I also didn’t want to actually commit suicide. So, I opted for the casual way to harm my body by doing things I knew were bad.
I don’t remember why I stopped smoking. I think it was because I got really sick and I knew that smoking wouldn’t help me get over it. Quitting smoking while I was sick actually made it worse because I had what they call “smoker’s flu” which is essentially just more mucus and congestion as your lungs try to push all the shit out of your lungs that you’ve been inhaling for years. It was not a fun time.
During this sick period, I got steroids from a walk-in clinic to help me fight off the sickness, and I had my first panic attack while I was at work. I later went to my actual primary care doctor and she was like oh jeez when she found out they gave me steroids because she knew that I had anxiety. The way she put it, the steroids had a stimulant effect on me and that was what caused the panic attack. Because of that, she wouldn’t even chance giving me an inhaler even though I was so congested I could barely breathe.
I haven’t smoked since I quit. But, I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about it often. There are still times I’m driving around in my car and I think to myself “man, I wish I had a cigarette right now.” On days I’m really stressed out, I think about how easy it would be for me to just go buy a pack of cigarettes. And for those of you thinking “why don’t you just vape?” it’s because it’s not the same. Been there, done that. I vaped before I even smoked cigarettes.
Despite having these thoughts of wanting to smoke, I also have my anxious brain that stops me from doing them. I’m not at a point in my life where I’m actively trying to destroy my body on purpose anymore. Every time I think about smoking, my anxious brain tells me “hell no, lung cancer.” As much as I hate my anxiety, it does have me too afraid to pick up smoking ever again. I guess it’s useful for that.
Even though I only smoked for about 2 years, I still have to put on my medical records that I am a former smoker. And even though I haven’t smoked since 2016, 5 years later, I still think about it a lot. While I probably won’t ever touch cigarettes again, I can’t help but wonder if those thoughts will ever go away. Or, if they’ll be with me for the rest of my life because of a couple self-destructive years in college.
Life Is Too Short To Worry About The Stupid Things…
In this video, the TurningPointCT team wants you to know that life really is too short to worry about the stupid things.
For those of you that don’t know, I am multi-racial. I am a quarter Filipino, and while it might not seem like much, it is a big part of my identity. My grandfather was born and raised in the Philippines and my mom is half Filipino. It’s not like my Filipino genetics are generations and generations away. But, because I am for the most part white-presenting, a lot of the time, this part of me gets very invalidated. Because I look white, I am basically told “well you’re just a white person.” It makes me feel like I can’t talk about that part of my identity without pushback.
It’s really unfair because growing up, my mom always tried to teach me about Filipino culture and she even tried to teach me some Spanish words as a child. For those of you that don’t know, the Spanish colonized in the Philippines so there are a lot of Spanish Filipinos. For example, my grandfather’s mother was the Spanish Filipino and his father was native Filipino without any Spanish mixed in.
Not only did my mom always try to teach me about Filipino culture, but I had an array of things from the Philippines that I still have to this day. I have a dress and sandals from the Philippines that was once my mom’s. I have handmade purses and other trinkets from the Philippines. I even have a Filipino Barbie Doll. It was always something that was a part of my identity. It was always my favorite thing to tell people whenever I shared fun facts about myself. So, it really hurts when I’m just told “you’re just a white person.” It’s extremely invalidating.
I was not always white presenting. When I was younger, I was much darker than I am now. As I’ve aged, my skin pigment has definitely lessened. But when I was younger, I definitely looked like I could be a different race. What’s interesting though is my brother who is only 14 months older than me looked completely white. People never in a million years would have thought he was Filipino. He had blond hair, fair skin, and blue eyes. Me? Not so much. I had dark hair, brown eyes, and dark skin.
It wasn’t just my brother though that I didn’t look like. My cousins on my dad’s side all were very white looking so I always kind of stood out when I was with them. And, I was with them every week because my grandparents and aunt took us everywhere. I was the dark one amongst the fair-skinned children. Thankfully though, I did have cousins who looked more like me on my mom’s side (aka the Filipino side).
So yes, while I am 75% white, at the end of the day, I am still Filipino and it that will never stop being a part of me. Am I mostly white? Yes. Does that mean it’s okay for people to throw that in my face when I speak about my Filipino family and culture? No. You can’t tell someone they don’t represent a race just because they are white-presenting. Believe me, I am more than just a white person.
And even though I am not bi-lingual, that does not make a part of my identity invalid. Also, I would like to point out I wish I could speak Tagalog, but my mom had never learned. When I asked my grandmother why none of her children learned, she said they were not interested because yes, my white grandmother could fluently speak it.
I got the same answer from my grandmother on my other side who was an immigrant to this country from Germany. She spoke Polish and German and none of her kids were interested in learning either. I COULD have known at least 4 languages, but that is another conversation.
Regardless, just because someone is white-presenting, that does not give you permission to decide for them that they are or are not something based on what they look like to you. In this day and age, there are so many mixed people and really you’re better off just not assuming that someone is this or that just because they appear a certain race or ethnicity on the outside. It’s just plain rude. I know plenty of people who are mixed with darker skinned races who present white, but guess what, they’re other races besides white-European.
So next time you try to tell someone they are white just because they are white-presenting, don’t. Let them tell you for themselves what their race/ethnicity is. Bonus tip: don’t tell someone who is actually mixed race that they cannot present their race because they don’t look it, especially after they have told you that they are more than just white.
I’d also like to note here that not everyone likes to argue with me about what I am. There are a lot of people who do openly ask me what race I am because I really do not think that I look completely white. I definitely have features that some people have described as “exotic” (LOL, not even kidding). Being mixed is cool and unique. I definitely would not change it for the world. And if you are mixed and white-presenting, do not take shit from anyone, your identity is completely valid.
As someone with a history with eating disorders, there are a lot of times that I either forget to eat because my hunger cues are messed up. Additionally, depression makes my will to cook or eat nonexistent. It is not unusual for me to go almost the whole day without me eating.
I’m still very much in recovery when it comes to working on my disordered eating, but I do try and help myself eat. One of the ways I help myself is by trying to keep things that require little effort to make/eat in the house that have at least some nutrients I know my body needs. Even with these easy items in the house, there are still days I only eat one meal because I decided to work through lunch or dissociate for hours.
Regardless, below are some things I keep in the house to try and make sure I am eating throughout the day!
Music has been something I have always used as a way to cope when I’m struggling. There’s just something about music that helps me release the weight on my shoulders. Listening to music is great, but being able to play an instrument and sing is another level. It’s something that I have been doing since I was in middle school and while there are times I don’t do it for months are years, I can always sit down at the piano or pick up my guitar and play like no time has passed.
Last night, I put my puppy into the crate for a nap and I sat down and played my guitar and sang some of my favorite songs. I’ve been really struggling with adjusting to having a young puppy and I knew playing would probably help relive some of the stress. My grandfather taught me how to play guitar when I was younger and he even gave me one of his guitars when I was in middle school. He is a big reason why I feel so connected to music, so naturally, whenever I play, I send him some videos.
I used to be really conscious of hearing myself sing in recordings. My grandfather always recorded me singing and playing, but it always made me cringe. Videos of me just playing guitar or piano I loved, but I couldn’t stand to listen to my voice. Now at 24 years old, I am somehow now at a point where I have more confidence in myself and I’m comfortable sharing my voice with the world.
I recorded myself last night singing “Wide Open Spaces” by The Chicks because it’s a song that my mom always listened to while I was growing up and it was also a song that always had a lot of meaning to me. The lyrics have always spoken to me, but they speak to me more now that I’m older. I decided to post that video to share with everyone who seems to love to hear me play, but it was also something I did for myself. You can watch my video below:
I am lucky to have playing music to help me cope. How does music help you cope?
Combating My Depression With Starbucks
I’ve been having a rough go lately. Taking myself to Starbucks has been a consistent form of self-care for me. Whenever I haven’t eaten all day, I bring myself there to get myself egg white bites because lately, I haven’t had the energy or the will to cook. I always get myself a hot chocolate because I don’t drink caffeine. Caffeine makes my anxiety way worse. I don’t know what it is, but hot chocolates make me happier. So do the egg white bites.
This year, Eating Disorder Awareness Week starts on February 21. This year’s NEDAwareness Week will center around the theme, “See the Change, Be the Change.” This means that the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) will spend the week acknowledging the evolution of the eating disorders field (#SeeTheChange), as well as encouraging people to engage in advocacy and raise awareness of eating disorders in their communities (#BeTheChange).
As someone who has personally struggled with an eating disorder and also as someone who has watched people close to me battle eating disorders, this is something that is really important to me. While most of us are aware that eating disorders exist, I feel that many people do not quite grasp how they affect the people who struggle with them as well as their loved ones. Eating disorders can literally be life-threatening, it’s about more than just being skinny. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who think that only skinny people have eating disorders and that’s just not true either.
If you are someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, I encourage you to share your story. Below you can find stories that other young people have shared about their struggles with eating disorders:
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, just know that you are not alone and that there is help out there. Below are some resources that might help you if you’re struggling with an eating disorder:
Avatar: The Last Airbender – Uncle Iroh’s Best Advice
Avatar: The Last Airbender is a favorite show of mine that I find myself watching over and over again. There are so many things to learn from the show and the growth of the characters throughout the series is inspiring. One of my favorite characters is Uncle Iroh. Throughout the series, Uncle Iroh continually gives troubled Prince Zuko advice. This is necessary as Zuko makes some pretty questionable decisions due to anger and pain from unresolved trauma.
Below are some of my favorite words of wisdom from Uncle Iroh.
1. “Is it your own destiny? Or is it a destiny someone else has tried to force on you?”
This quote from Iroh really is like a punch to the gut, but in a good way. I spent years pursing things that I didn’t want to because people told me I had to. I spent years doing track even though I hated it and the sport caused me serious anxiety. I spent 3 years of college in a major I couldn’t stand because people told me it was a good career path.
At the end of the day, you are the one who lives with the decisions you make. You can create your own destiny. You do not have to pursue a destiny that someone has forced on you. I promise you, you will be miserable.
2. “While it is always best to believe in oneself, a little help from others can be a great blessing.”
The key takeaway from this is it is okay to ask for help. It might seem weak to ask for help, but there are just some situations and things that are just too heavy for one person to deal with on their own. In the past, I was that person that never wanted to ask for help because I didn’t want people thinking I wasn’t capable and I also didn’t want them thinking that I am a burden. I now realize it is okay to ask for help and it is also okay to accept help from others when they offer. You do not have to do everything alone.
3. “You have light and peace inside of you. If you let it out, you can change the world around you.”
In the series, Zuko spent so much of his time being angry and taking it out on the world around him. But really, he did have light and peace inside of him, it just took a lot of growth for him to see it and use it.
I used to let my depression and past traumas consume me. I was angry at the world and honestly, there was a bit of comfort in the darkness because it was really all I knew. It took me years to finally let go of the anger and the pain of what happened to me. But, in the process, I was able to let out the light and peace inside of me.
You might feel like you’ve lost your light permanently, but I promise you it’s still in there. It might take some time to find it, but it will come back.
4. “Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving, you will come to a better place.”
When you’re in a dark place mentally, it’s easy to feel stuck there. It’s hard to imagine life without the weight of your depression and anxiety on your shoulders or whatever other stressors you might have. But, there are better things ahead, you just have to keep moving.
There were so many times in my life where I felt trapped and consumed by my mental illness. There were times where I was ready to give up and just call it quits on life. Eventually, I did get to a better place. Things aren’t perfect, but I am not where I once was. If I had just stopped because I couldn’t see things getting better, I would have missed out on so much.
5. “In the darkest of times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength.”
You have so much more strength than you know. Allow yourself to have hope, even when things seem grim. Hope is what keeps us going even when things seem like they’ll never get better. We all have the inner strength to give ourselves hope.
These are just some of the wise things that Uncle Iroh said throughout “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” If you haven’t seen the show, I recommend you go watch it!
Women Empowerment Interview Series: Kailey from TurningPointCT
In this video, Project Coordinator, Kailey, sits down to talk with previous intern, Serena. Serena is a 22 year old 1st year graduate student working towards her MSW. She is a local board member for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and is competing for the title of Miss Connecticut this April. Additionally, Serena started a social impact initiative “The Butterfly Effect: Advocating for Mental Health Awareness and Empowering Others Within Communities”
The other night, I took my puppy out to do his business in the middle of the night and I heard rustling in the bushes. The puppy and I were so scared, we bolted into the house.
There are a lot of things, rational and irrational, that my anxiety has made me afraid of. Despite these fears, I’ve started to try and push past them to be able to live my life.
I used to be terrified of planes, but due to wanting to travel, I’ve made myself become comfortable and used to flying. I still get a bit anxious flying, but nowhere near as anxious where it is uncomfortable the whole flight.
Heights have always scared me, but I love to hike and see the views from the top of things. So, I slowly made myself comfortable with being up high on the tops of cliffs and mountains to be able to enjoy the views without panic.
Sure, anxiety makes me afraid of a lot, but I continue to try and push past these fears because I don’t want to miss out on life because I’m afraid of everything.
When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to be an adult. Now that I am here being an adult, I have other feelings.
Being an adult comes with so many responsibilities. Paying bills, taking on debt to have the things you need, working your life away to pay for those things and to pay off debt, sometimes to still go without and be drowning in debt.
Growing up, I had expected being an adult to be expensive, and I slaved away at multiple jobs in my teens and very early 20s to try and save up and prepare for these expenses and things while I didn’t have a ridiculous amount of bills. The problem is, even though my savings were great because I was able to put thousands and thousands away, it wasn’t enough. When the time finally came where I needed to buy big ticket items and pay my monthly bills such as phone, insurance, and just feeding myself…the money dwindled really quickly. This was especially true when unexpected expenses happened, like my car having to be fixed seemingly every couple of months.
I found myself having to rely on a credit card just to ensure I was fed. When the debt began piling up, it started to give me anxiety, I decided it was best that I just not spend money on food. I decided something like feeding myself, which would keep me alive, was not as important as ensuring my bills were paid. I now understand why my parents were always so stressed out, especially because they were young parents with two young kids only a year apart.
Not only am trying to balance the financial aspects of being an adult, there’s also the part where you have to take care of the things you own. There’s keeping the house clean, keeping up with laundry, and making sure your car is regularly getting things like oil changes, brakes, tires, etc. I really don’t know how people can do it all without losing their minds. I know I am slightly losing my mind. Maybe it’s because on top of all of those things, I have 4 pets. Who knows.
While the bill paying and upkeep of things is awful, being an adult isn’t all bad. The one thing that you do get is the freedom to do what you want. Now that I am an adult, I do a lot of things for myself that I would have never done in the past because I felt like I would have needed permission.
I’ve started traveling. Not anything big or extravagant because I can’t afford that, but I take day trips that are within driving distance because airfare is expensive and so are hotels. Plus, I can’t afford to take giant chunks of time off from work. Being a young, broke adult is trash, but I do try to make the most of it with these trips because working my life away and not doing anything for myself is no way to live.
While adulting is definitely less fun than being a kid, it’s not all bad. Nobody really tells me what to do anymore, but the consequence of that is everything is my problem now. If you feel like you can’t wait to become an adult…I promise, you can. Soak up all the moments where bills and work aren’t consuming your life.
If the stress of being an adult is becoming too much for you to handle, it is okay to reach out for help. If you’re not sure where to get help, check out our resources page.
If you’re looking to connect with others who have been through it, join our Discord server!
When You Try To Open Up About Your Mental Health But You Get Shut Down