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What Do We Do When We’re Sad?

Anyone else fall off the face of the Earth for a bit when they’re feeling sad, or is it just me?😂

sad

-Kailey

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.

Taking A Trip To Run Away From My Problems

Last month, I dropped a grand I didn’t really have on plane tickets to take a trip to Oregon for a week. Why? Because I needed to get away from my responsibilities at home.

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.

Stay tuned.

-Kailey

Getting Outside

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.

My brother and I with a salamander and a worm

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!

-Kailey

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.

That mountain in the background is Mount Bachelor – I took this picture from the parking lot

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.

A trooper carrying my heavy ass backpack on the front of his body😂

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).

At the bottom of Crater Lake

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.

– Kailey

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.

-Kailey

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 🤣

Ginger Cat Appreciation Day

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!

National Black Cat Appreciation Day

August 17th is National Black Cat Day!

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.

If you’re looking to know how pets can help your mental health, check out my post Benefits of Pets on my Recovery Journey right here on TurningPointCT.org.

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.

at the emergency vet.

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.

Treasure was always the star of all of my Snapchats and other social media. I had even made an Instagram for her.

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.

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.

kailey and treasure
Me and my sweet Treasure Ann.

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.

Snuggling baby Voodoo on a day where I was struggling to get through the day.

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.

Sir Moe, how could I not love that cute little face!?

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.

If you look closely, you can see his cute little teethies!

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!

If you’re looking to know more about how pets can help your mental health, check out my post Benefits of Pets on my Recovery Journey right here on TurningPointCT.org.

Also check out my video of me hanging out with kittens at Two Wrasslin’ Cats in East Haddam, CT!

Dealing With Scary Anxiety Symptoms

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.

Taking My Power Back

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.

A Reminder

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.

You Can’t Change The People Around You

A Part of Healing

One Thing I’ve Learned About Life…

One thing I’ve learned about life is nothing stays the same. So smile big, laugh often, and never take this life for granted.

If you’re feeling hopeless or stuck, remember that what you’re going through right now will not be forever.

There are better things coming, so keep smiling, laughing, and doing the things that bring you joy.

One day you’ll be out of whatever it is you’re going through.

Social Media and Its Effects On Mental Health

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.

You’d never know he can be naughty by the pictures I post of him!

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.

Financial Hardships

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.

Things That Will Help Bring You Peace

Things that will help bring you peace:

  • just let things be
  • let people go
  • don’t fight for closure
  • don’t chase answers
  • don’t expect an explanation

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.

PTSD Awareness Month: PTSD and Me

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.

Shoutout To Everyone Making Progress

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.

You Are Enough

Just in case nobody’s told you lately, but you ARE enough.

You’ve always been good enough. Sometimes we don’t realize that because we have been giving parts of ourselves to the wrong people.

There are people out there who will accept you, flaws and all. Those are the people you should keep close, the ones who love you unconditionally.

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.

Generational Trauma

Celebrating AAPIH Month As Someone Who’s A Quarter Filipino

my hair is covering the shirt, but me wearing my Philippines shirt

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.

me with my mom’s parents

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.”

me with my mom

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.

my “Modern Filipina” Barbie and my dress from the Philippines that was once my mom’s

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?

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.

Adventuring Alone

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.

Do you

Always Remember…

Always remember that the life in front of you is far more important than the life behind you.

The things that happened in your past don’t define you. Keep your head up and keep moving forward ❤️

Healing Doesn’t Mean The Damage Never Existed

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’m Proud of You

“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?

You Deserve To Be Happy

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):

this would be an example of one I’d only send to certain people – ps, I am fine, but I have definitely struggled with suicidal ideations in the past

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.

My Sexual Assault Story

** trigger warning: sexual assault

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.

Move At The Pace of Nature

I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but…

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.

Slow Down, You’re Doing Fine…

Slow down, you’re doing fine…you can’t be everything you wanna be before your time.

I used to constantly beat myself up for not being where I THOUGHT I should be. I was comparing myself to others and just not giving myself credit for the things that I was doing.

It turns out I was right where I was supposed to be the whole time.

Give yourself credit for the things you’re doing now and appreciate the moment you’re in.

The day will come where everything will fall into place. Be patient with yourself.

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 this is 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!

Takeaway

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.

What are some things that have helped you?

Take A Second To Realize How Far You’ve Come…

You Are Not Your Past…

You are not your past.

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.

Puppy Update

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.

Where do you you feel completely free?

Check out our video Mental Health Benefits of Nature right here in our Media Room!

Finding Peace

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.

Better Days Are Coming

Let’s be honest, sometimes recovery is hard.

You’ll constantly hear people telling you things like “stay positive” and it’s definitely not always easy when you feel completely broken.

This is your reminder that staying positive doesn’t always mean being happy all the time.

On the hard days, remind yourself that better days are coming.

Recovery isn’t linear. There will be good days and there will be bad days. Keep your head up, you’ve got this.

Mainstream Sellout

** trigger warning: suicidal ideation

** explicit language

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.

born with horns

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

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

god save me

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

Last month, took a gun in the room alone
Last month, almost blew my head off
She screamеd and I never put down the phonе
I gotta be somewhere, please hang up

Now, smile for the camera
Breakups are entertaining
My mental imbalance
Mixed with the drugs create me

Do it again, do it again and die
I’m a lost boy, I’m a lost boy
She’s a goth girl, she’s a pop girl
I know a one way, I know a one way
To a lost world, to a lost world

5150

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 1]
Bruises don’t heal overnight
I’m a few sips from pulling the trigger
Self-abusive, on the borderline
If having you’ll be my grave digger

[Pre-Chorus]
Leave, leave, leave me now
Please, please, save yourself
Leave, leave, leave me now
Before I hurt someone else

[Chorus]
You’re crazy (5150)
I won’t go (5150)
You make me (5150)
I’m damaged (Please don’t fix me)

papercuts – album edit

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

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

ay! (feat. Lil Wayne)

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

Only playlists I like are the sad onеs
Yeah, I let the mеdicine in, I know it don’t help in the end
But I got depression again
I had a meeting at 7, I skipped it and slept in and woke up at 7 PM

die in california (feat. Gunna, Young Thug & Landon Barker)

Lyrics That I Connected With:

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

twin flame

Lyrics That I Connected With:

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

Takeaways

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. This album is great.
  5. 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 🙂

Thoughts On My Upcoming 25th Birthday

** TW – suicidal ideation

balloons that write 25.

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🤷🏻‍♀️

Does anyone else do this?

Learning To Put Myself First

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.

Living With Seasonal Depression

What Makes You Happy?

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!

What makes you happy?

Social Anxiety

I don’t know about you, but I am the queen of leaving events early (if I even choose to go to events).

My anxiety makes it extremely uncomfortable and difficult to be in social situations where I have to interact with multiple people at once, especially if they’re people I don’t know.

Sometimes I feel guilty and rude slipping out early, but the physical symptoms and the mental symptoms of anxiety together are enough to make me not care because the panic usually takes over.

For the most part, people that know me understand this, but it’s hard when I feel like I have to explain myself to strangers.

Do you ever feel this way at social events?

When Someone Tells You Your Mental Illness Is Your Fault

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:

  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Dissociation
  • Unable to relax
  • Sleep problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Grief
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal feelings
  • 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 My Thoughts On Trauma right here on turningpointct.org.

Things That Did Not Help My Mental Health

Trip to Vermont For My Mental Health

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 🙂

I can’t wait to go back in a month for my birthday when the weather will hopefully be a bit warmer!

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.

Kids Are Talking: Mental Health in the Mirror

Being Mixed But White-Presenting

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.

me with my mom who is half Filipino.
this is a picture of me with my mother’s parents at my high school graduation. when people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m Filipino, I always show them this picture and say “that Filipino man next to me is my grandfather.”

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.

my “modern filipina” barbie doll

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).

picture of me with my brother and cousin from my dad’s side who had blonde hair and blue eyes.

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.

In this blog post, Kailey talks about what it's like being white-presenting as someone who is a quarter Filipino.
a selfie of me from present day. this is from a few days ago and because it’s winter, I definitely am very pale looking. not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when I’m paler like this, you can see the yellow undertone of my skin that I have from the Asian. oh and those eyebrow arches? those are from my very Asian eyebrows. you can’t tell they’re super Asian because I pluck the underneath to hide their natural giant triangle shape, but it is what gives me that nice arch hehe.

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.

When You’re Just Trying To Have A Good Day

Getting Unwanted Advice

@turningpointct.org when you vent to someone and get unwanted advice instead of validation #validation #mentalhealth #venting #fyp ♬ original sound – Schitt’s Creek

Things I Keep In The House To Make Sure I Eat

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!

@turningpointct.org I struggle with regularly eating throughout the day. Here’s some stuff I keep in the house to help! #nedawareness #edawarewness #fyp ♬ original sound – turningpointct

Music Therapy

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.

me with my grandfather’s guitar he gave me

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:

@ohbabyitskailey picked up the guitar for the first time in months, a bit rusty #guitar #thechicks #wideopenspaces #singing #music #countrycovers #fyp ♬ original sound – Kailey

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.

@turningpointct.org some Starbucks to warm my soul #starbucks #depresso #depressed #mentalhealth #fyp ♬ CLOSE MY EYES – Ki

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2022

eating disorder awareness week

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:

Hotlines

Finding Groups and Treatment in Connecticut

You Might Be Mentally Ill If…

** Note: I am not a doctor, just a mentally ill young adult/peer. This is just my experience and this video is not a way to diagnose yourself.

@turningpointct.org currently working in the middle of the night instead of sleeping #mentallyill #mentalhealthtiktoks #emotionaldamage #fyp ♬ Emotional Damage vs Pompeii – WILLIAM LI

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!

When I Tell My Depression We Have To Get Up

Anxiety Stuff

When You Don’t Feel Depressed For The First Time In Weeks

Asking My Anxiety The Real Questions

Anxiety: I Am Scared of Everything

Growing up, I was so scared of everything, my family used to joke that I was afraid of my own shadow. The anxiety was and still is REAL.

@turningpointct.org why yes, I am scared of everything thanks to my anxiety #anxiety #generalizedanxiety #scared #areyouscared #mentalhealth #fyp ♬ original sound – Watcher

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.

Being A New Dog Owner

If you liked this episode, be sure to check out Kailey’s post The Stress of Having A New Puppy.

Kailey’s puppy, Rip
Ally and her boyfriend with their dog Lola

Adulting

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.

little Kailey once so full of hope for the future

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.

me when I think about the days when I didn’t have to work my life away to pay stupid bills

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

When Someone Tells Me I Don’t Have Anxiety

@turningpointct.org when people try to tell me I don’t have anxiety despite the fact that I have a diagnosis #anxiety #generalizedanxietydisorder #mentalhealth #fyp ♬ Use this sound if you are gae – lottie mae

Annoying Anxiety

Anxiety and Forgetfulness

One symptom anxiety that often surprises people is forgetfulness. You can learn about how anxiety can cause forgetfulness here: How Anxiety Can Cause Forgetfulness.

@turningpointct.org did you know that anxiety can make you forgetful? I struggle to remember where I put something down 5 seconds ago. #anxiety #anxietysymptoms #fyp ♬ original sound – M (she/they)

Getting Overstimulated In Public

@turningpointct.org me trying to calm myself down after I get overstimulated in public and it leads to anxiety #anxiety #mentalhealth #nobigdeal #fyp #anxious ♬ original sound – Hannah Bate

Taking On Too Much Responsibility

Let me just start by saying, it has been a week. Last week, I got a new puppy. I love him to death, but he is a lot of work and I need to play with him, keep an eye on him, and let him out every hour. This has made me sleep deprived and having to choose between cleaning my house, taking care of myself (eating, showering, etc), and working while the puppy naps.

I’ve been negleting a lot of house work…yesterday I was finally able to pick up while Rip was in his crate taking a nap.

I have been choosing work because I have responsibilities with work (and for those of you that don’t know, I have two jobs). As a result, not only am I sleep deprived, but I’ve also fallen into a habit of not eating or drinking. Due to my history of disordered eating, it was easy to just choose work and not nourish my body. Both of these are huge triggers for my anxiety because physically taking care of yourself plays a huge tole in mental health.

This week, I also had to choose between shoveling snow and all the other things I mentioned above. Due to how much snow we got, I had no choice but to get outside and shovel while the puppy was asleep in the crate. He couldn’t go to the bathroom if I didn’t shovel so I had to shovel my walkway and driveway in the front as well as my actual grass backyard so he can learn not to poop and pee on our patio outside of the door.

As if the snow wasn’t enough, our plumbing in our downstairs basement became shot last night. The toilet wouldn’t go down and as it was plunged, shit, yes literal shit, came up through our shower in the downstairs bathroom. Due to the excitement of the whole fiasco, which is still not fixed, the puppy wasn’t able to sleep so in my time I would have used as catch up time, I spent it keeping the puppy out of trouble while also trying to keep our cats out of the shit water in the bathroom while boyfriend was trying to work on it.

Honestly, I feel like absolute garbage. While I’ve started to get more sleep because I’ve started sleeping on the couch, it’s been broken sleep so I can let Rip out regularly from the crate. Last night while the plumbing issue was happening I was fighting to keep my eyes open, but I had no choice but to stay up to keep the puppy out of trouble.

While it HAS been a lot of work training the puppy, Rip IS crate trained and pretty much house broken, having no accidents in the house anymore (and we have had him just short of a week). He goes into his crate on his own and doesn’t scream or cry for hours on end. He does sleep through the night and makes it from midnight to 5am when my boyfriend gets up to let him out.

little man loves his crate, he goes in completely on his own after play time with mommy

While things are hard right now, they will get better. They’ve already gotten better, as he is crate trained and I can do things for an hour or two at a time during the day. Now that the snow is seemingly gone, I’ll won’t have to dedicate time to shoveling us out. Although, it is supposed to snow again Friday, but it should be nothing like what we had with that blizzard dumping 2 feet on us.

Yes, I’m exhausted. Yes, I take on too much. Yes, I am stressed out to the max and it is affecting me physically. But…I keep telling myself this is temporary. Things will get better as he gets older. I’ve already seen in the last week things getting progressively better. But, right now, I am in a bit over my head.

Maybe this is some kind of lesson that I take on too much. I’ve always been like that, and while people are like stop working multiple jobs, I’m sitting here like lol I can barely afford to be alive as it is, that’s not an option, especially with everything going up in price. While things are hard, at the end of the day I do have a roof over my head, four awesome animals to keep me company, and a boyfriend who loves me.

For now, I will continue to tell myself:

“Be strong now, because things will get better. It might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.”

Calming Sound of Running Stream

@ohbabyitskailey just some calming sounds of running water for your feed #fyp #winter #connecticut #ct #stream #nature #naturevibes ♬ original sound – Kailey

Things I Wish People Knew About Mental Health

As someone who has been living with mental illness for many years, there are so many things that I just wish people could know and understand about mental health. Due to stigmas, there are still a lot of misconceptions about what people with mental illness struggle with. This makes it incredibly hard for people suffering with mental health issues because of judgement and people just not fully grasping what we go through. I understand not everyone deals with mental illness, whether personally or with a loved one, so that is why I put together this list of things I wish people knew about mental health! I’m hoping to give some people that don’t know some insight into what it is really like.

  1. Just because I look okay on the outside does not mean that I am doing well mentally. Some people are really good at masking their depression. If people weren’t good at masking their depression, we wouldn’t have so many people saying “I had no idea anything was wrong” after someone dies by suicide.
  2. Everyone’s experience with mental health is different. Everyone has different symptoms. For me, my depression can make it really hard to do everyday tasks, including feeding myself, because I just do not have the will. When I made a TikTok talking about how depression makes doing some things hard and how people usually just chalk it up to laziness saying mental health is just an excuse, there were a lot of mean comments saying it is laziness. Here’s the thing though, being so depressed you can’t get out of bed is a lot different than being lazy.
  3. I avoid a lot of things because of my anxiety. I miss out on events and parties because of my anxiety. I’m 24 years old and I’ve never been to the Big E because being in loud, crowded places makes me anxious. I’ve had so many people try and get me to go with them, and while I feel bad turning down plans, I know not going is better than being anxious and uncomfortable the entire time I’m out. I also don’t say a lot out loud because I am afraid I’ll sound stupid or because I’m afraid of people not liking me because I have a different opinion than them. I’m even too anxious to tell most people what I would like to do because I’m afraid they won’t want to do it so my brain tells me it’s just better not to tell them and to ask what they want to do.
  4. Sometimes, it becomes too much and I might unintentionally take it out on others. When I explode, it might seem like I’m an asshole, but sometimes I get overstimulated or there’s something that triggers my trauma. Like for me, any time anyone asks me ANY kind of question, I immediately get on the defensive because I grew up feeling like I had to defend myself because I was told I was always lying (even when I was telling the truth). So now, I always feel the need to defend myself, and I get really worked up, even if the person’s intention is not to attack me. It is a built in coping and defense mechanism.
  5. I wish people knew that there is a gray area. Mental illness is not black and white. Yes there are a lot of bad days, but we can also have good days where we genuinely are okay. And, on the days we are okay, that does not immediately mean we are healed! 
  6. Communicating my needs can be really hard. As I said, a lot of the time I am too anxious to say things out loud. Sometimes I feel like no matter how hard I try to explain my anxiety and depression to people, using both research and my own lived experience, people still find a way to invalidate me and say “no it’s not from mental health, you’re just lazy” or “you can’t blame your actions on your trauma” when really, trauma rewired my brain. Trauma DOES change the way you think and act. I am not just using it as an excuse and you want to know why I say that? Because I actually acknowledge it, I have done lots of therapy to try and work on things, and when I notice it happening, I am aware of it and I do try to do something about it. I promise I am not just some asshole. And while I have worked on it so much and I have gotten a lot better where it does not control my life, there are still times where it becomes too much and I cannot control it.
  7. People saying they want to kill themselves is not for attention. Do you really think that is the kind of attention a depressed person wants? Take it seriously. Most of the times I did actually tell someone (which is not something a lot of people will do, myself included, because they’re afraid of getting sent to inpatient), it was because I was actively thinking of doing it and planning it in my head. A cry for help is a lot different than doing it for attention.

If you liked this post, listen to our podcast Things We Wish People Knew About Mental Health where three peers share what they wish people knew!

The Stress of Having A New Puppy

Last week, I became an aunt. This week, I became a dog mom to an 8 week old German Shepherd puppy! While becoming a dog mom is extremely exciting, it comes with a lot of responsibility…and stress. There’s creating a structured schedule, house training, and crate training, just to name a few. It is a lot, but even more when there is a blizzard. We happened to get him the night before Winter Storm Bobby. Due to my boyfriend being a lineman, I was pretty much on my own for the first night/day. I’ve never had a dog before, only cats, so this was extremely stressful for me.

I did all kinds of research and the breeder gave us lots of information and tips, but, I was still so nervous and worried about screwing it up. My only experience has been with adult German Shepherds who have already been house trained. My anxiety was through the roof, but I had to step up to train and take care of the pup because I didn’t have a choice but to do it on my own.

The first night, I only got 4 hours of sleep. That made the first day of training immensely hard because I honestly felt like dog poop. My anxiety was through the roof due to lack of sleep. I was being extremely hard on myself because while he was going to the bathroom outside, he was still having accidents in the house. I knew this was normal and to be expected, especially in the beginning, but that didn’t stop me from telling myself it was my fault.

Not only was I trying to train a puppy, but I was also trying to keep up with shoveling the snow outside on my own and we easily got 2 feet of snow where we are. I had to shovel the backyard consistently for our tiny puppy to be able to go to the bathroom comfortably, and I had to keep up with the driveway so my boyfriend could make it into the driveway when he got home (which, there’s no way of knowing what time that could be).

There was one point during the first day where I just completely broke down. I was crying just feeling like a complete failure and texting my boyfriend about how frustrated I was with myself. Even though he was at work, he took the time to remind me to take a break, relax, and that things will be okay. Even when he’s not here, he is still my biggest support system. By now, he knows that I can be really hard on myself, and he has had dogs his whole life so he knows how this whole process can be.

After that, I took some time to compose myself while the puppy took a nap. I reminded myself that puppies have accidents, and it’s not my fault and it’s not his fault either. He is a puppy. After he woke up from his nap, I immediately took him out and he went, I was so happy! I started taking him out as soon as he woke up and anytime he went to the door. We didn’t have anymore accidents that day! I finally felt less defeated and I’m sure he was happy to be able to go outside to relieve himself instead of having accidents.

While having a puppy is a lot of work and it can be really stressful, it is so worth it to put in the time and effort to properly train them and get them adjusted to their new home. The first month is probably the hardest as he adjusts to his new home and gets house broken. Once he gets house broken, I know it will get easier.

He is worth the stress. I mean, look at that face!

In this post, Kailey talks about the stress of having a new puppy. She talks about how she's dealt with the adjustment.

Don’t Be Ridiculous

Living With Health Anxiety

Have you heard of health anxiety? If not, you’ve probably heard the old term for it…hypochondriac. Hypochondriac has such a negative connotation around it, so I’m actually pretty glad that they have stopped using that term. It’s now recognized as a somatic symptom disorder and an anxiety disorder.

So back to what health anxiety is, for those of you that haven’t heard of it before. Health anxiety is the misinterpretation of normal bodily sensations as dangerous. Healthy bodies produce all sorts of physical symptoms that might be uncomfortable, painful, unexpected, and otherwise unwanted — but not dangerous.

Normal sensations in the body that can produce fear and worry include changes in heart rate, blood pressure, saliva levels, depth of breathing, balance, and muscle tone, just to name a few. These can be normal and harmless bodily changes, but when a person believes they are symptoms of some horrible disease, it causes anxiety.

People who suffer from health anxiety can be people who are always at the doctors, or people who are so afraid to find out if they have a terrible illness that they just don’t go to the doctors. I have been on both sides.

Most recently, I have been kind of convincing myself that I probably have skin cancer because I go outside all the time. I look at every spot on my body and wonder to myself if it’s skin cancer. The fear stemmed from seeing Snapchat news stories saying things like “Woman’s Acne Scar She Had For Years Was Skin Cancer” and also someone I went to high school with’s mom died of skin cancer last year.

I have been wanting to start getting a yearly skin check for years, but I have been too afraid to call. In October, I asked my primary care doctor if I needed a referral for to get a skin check, but due to having eczema and having gone to the dermatologist within the last year, I could call and schedule it myself. It is now January and I have not scheduled that appointment. I actually wanted a full skin check while I was there for my eczema, but as soon as the dermatologist was done checking my hands, she left and I didn’t even get a chance to ask if she would also do that.

At the end of December, I got sick with what I assumed was COVID. I was SO SICK. I had a horrible fever, my head was pounding, my throat was so sore, and even just hurting my eyes moved. In terms of COVID…it was mild. In fact, it never even got into my lungs, I had no congestion or cough. But, I convinced myself I was going to be one of the unfortunate people who died. I thought I was going to become another statistic. The anxiety was unreal.

A lot of my anxiety symptoms are physical. Before I understood this, it used to cause me a lot of anxiety. I would find myself on Google searching things like “shortness of breath” or “rapid heart rate” or “heart palpitations.” And of course…while sometimes anxiety would come up in Google, other times, horrible diseases would. The worst thing I could have done was run to Google, yet anytime ANYTHING feels weird, I have the urge to Google and then get lost in Web MD, which promptly tells me “you’re dying.”

I’m not going to lie, there are nights that I literally can’t fall asleep because I start thinking about things like the impending doom of skin cancer I might not even have. There are nights I am terrified that my teeth are all going to fall out of my head. I worry about my thyroid getting worse even though while it’s not optimally functioning, it has not been in the red zone ever and I’ve been regularly getting tested for years due to family history. If I’m abnormally tired, I automatically think something crazy like “cancer, I’m probably dying.” The thoughts never seem to end.

If you do happen to have health anxiety, there is help out there. The most effective treatment for health anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT aims to help you overcome fears by correcting irrational thoughts and changing problematic behaviors. It is possible to have anxiety and a serious medical condition, so do be sure that you’re yearly getting a physical exam so if you are ill, it can be caught early.

If you’re struggling but you’re not sure where to get help, be sure to check out our resources page.

Becoming An Auntie

Last week, I became a first time aunt. My brother, who is a year older than me, had his first child. I am now the auntie to my beautiful niece. She has been long awaited, as she is also the first great-grandchild for my mom’s parents. She already has everyone wrapped around her little finger.

It didn’t quite hit me until my brother was updating us as he and his girlfriend were at the hospital. I found myself feeling all kinds of emotions that I wasn’t expecting. I also had the urge to cry. Not from sadness, but in happiness and just disbelief that I am going to be a tiny human’s auntie.

It became even more real when I got the text that she had made her entrance into this world along with a picture of her. From the first picture, I was in love. Every hour, I was texting my brother “Any more pics???” because I wanted to see as much of her as possible. I didn’t want to miss anything because I couldn’t go visit in the hospital due to COVID.

When I finally got to meet her, I immediately held her and I held her for two hours while she slept in my arms. I spent most of the time just staring at her little face in complete awe. Sometimes, she’d scrunch up her face in her sleep, other times, it was completely calm. She slept for so long in my arms, her parents were shocked that she was still asleep by the second hour. It’s because she was so comfy in auntie’s arms.

I can’t wait to spoil her rotten and make her all kinds of fun things. I had started making her things before she was actually born. I also started buying her cute things before she was born as well any time I saw anything remotely cute. I am so excited to have a little bestie.

stuff I made for my niece before she was born

I Wish I Could Be Chill

When Someone Tries To Give Me Unsolicited Advice About My Mental Health

@turningpointct.org when someone tries to give me unsolicited advice about how to deal with my mental health #mentalhealth #anxiety #depression #mentalhealthtiktoks #fyp ♬ original sound – bethannebrice

High Functioning Anxiety

It’s Not Your Job To Fix Other People’s Problems

@turningpointct.org reminder that it’s not your job to fix other people’s problems #notmycircusnotmymonkeys #notmycircus #putyourselffirst #mentalhealth #fyp #fypシ ♬ original sound – becca 🖤🏳️‍🌈✨

Growing up I spent a lot of time trying to fix other people’s problems. I thought that if I could fix problems for other people, it would make them like me and that it would also make me feel better about myself. The problem is, while I was running around making sure everyone else was taken care of, I was ignoring my own issues and my own needs.

This is your reminder that it is not your job to fix other people’s problems. It is so important to make sure you to put yourself first.

My Newfound Fear of The Cold

I’ve lived in New England my whole life. You’d think by now, I’d be used to the cold. You also would think that I know how to deal with the cold at 24 years old. The truth is, when it was ridiculously cold, I usually just avoided going outside because I have Raynaud’s Disease. Due to my avoidance of the outside in the winter, I never had to think about how to properly protect myself. For whatever reason this year, I have started to brave the cold because I want to experience fun winter things.

kailey in the catskill mountains
me experiencing ~fun~ winter things in the Catskill Mountains

It all started last week when I took an impromptu trip to the Catskill Mountains. My friend and I were really just going to New York to go to some bakery she had read about in one of her baking books. From there, we were only 20 minutes away from the Catskill Mountains so we decided to take a drive through them on the byway and we stopped at Kaaterskill Falls. It was so cold that the 200 foot waterfall was completely frozen. When we were in the mountains, it was a mere 18 degrees. I was bundled up pretty well, but the paths were pure ice and I did not have spikes for my boots.

kaaterskill falls
Frozen Kaateskill Falls

I didn’t feel how cold it was until I got back into my car. Once I felt how cold my face was, I began to get anxious. My heart started to race and I was on my way to having a panic attack in the mountains. I felt my chest start to tighten and I had intrusive thoughts telling me that I had somehow damaged myself by being out in below freezing temperatures. I didn’t even have anything covering my face and my anxious brain was convinced we caused permanent damage in the mere 30 minutes I was outside. I was able to calm myself down thankfully because I was the one that drove. Being anxious while driving is never a good combo, especially when you’re driving on curvy mountain roads in the winter.

A couple days after my trip to the mountain, I was on the phone with my grandfather. I call him every time I drive by a local spot to check for eagles because I always get excited when I see them. On that particular phone call, I was talking with him about my trip to the mountains and how cold it was and how cold my face got. He then mentioned how the cold can literally damage skin. After learning this fact (which is something I had obviously assumed, but never thought much about), I began to really fear the extreme cold. Over the last week while it was literally in the single digits, I opted to not leave my house in fear of somehow destroying my skin.

eagles
a picture I took of the Bald Eagles yesterday in the 24 degree weather

After this conversation with my grandfather, I recounted it to my boyfriend over dinner. He was like, yeah Kailey, it’s called frostbite. We live in New England, this is something you should have been taught. And honestly, it’s definitely likely that somewhere along the way, someone probably warned me about covering my skin in the cold, but my brain could have just shoved it away.

After the conversation with my boyfriend, I (stupidly) went to Google and typed in “frostbite” in an attempt to educate myself. While I was definitely educated, I also managed to make myself more afraid. I went on to Amazon and ordered all kinds of protective gear for the cold to protect every inch of my skin from the cold because as afraid as I am, I still really want to go outside and experience outdoor winter activities. In fact, this week I am taking a trip to Vermont’s Green Mountains with a friend, so that’s why I wanted to make sure that I am completely prepared with protective gear from the cold.

While the knowledge that the cold can damage my skin permanently gave me some pretty serious anxiety, I have chosen to try and use the knowledge to prepare myself for situations where I will be exposed to the cold. There is a certain beauty that comes with the cold winter months. As someone who loves photography, I want to be able to get out and capture that beauty. I spent years avoiding things because of my anxiety and I missed out on so much. I am trying to make up for lost time and missed experiences. So, I am choosing to face my fears in the safest way possible.

12 More Times “BoJack Horseman” Got Real About Mental Health

This post is a continuation of the post 12 Times Netflix Show “BoJack Horseman” Got Real About Mental Health because the show touches upon the struggles of mental health a lot.

1. Low Self-Esteem

2. The Pain of Being Born

3. You Don’t Have To Be Miserable

4. Feeling Completely Broken

5. Feeling Sad & Broken

6. Not Liking Yourself

7. Pretending To Be Happy

8. Worried That It’s Too Late To Change

9. Not Wanting To Get Your Hopes Up

10. Grounding Skill To Help With Anxiety Attack

11. Trying To Get Through Each Day

12. Feeling Terrible About Yourself

I Have Anxiety

Machine Gun Kelly Songs That Helped Me Through One Of The Worst Depressions Of My Life

** trigger warning: suicide

** explicit language

Anyone who knows me knows I love Machine Gun Kelly. To be completely honest, I never listened to any of his music until last year when one of my friends showed me a song she really liked from his new album. I was like hm, I kind of like this, and that led me to explore his music starting with his new album.

For those of you who don’t know, Machine Gun Kelly was solely a rapper, but his most recent album Tickets To My Down Fall was pop punk. And let me say, I love it. My friends have always described me as angsty, so it was perfect for me. And, a lot of the lyrics just spoke to me. People like to joke that Eminem dissed MGK so hard that he changed genres, but like even if that’s the reason…I am totally okay with it. The album is phenomenal.

Anyhoo, I started with that album when I was exploring his music, but I did also explore his music that came before and I did also find a lot that I liked. Once I got a taste for what songs I really liked, I threw them into a playlist that would become my go-to playlist and would later become my depression anthems. I would play this playlist over and over again all throughout the day just to make it through. Most of the days, I was just sitting on the couch staring at the wall, being too depressed to do anything.

The songs helped though because the lyrics and the music helped to improve my mood. I don’t know how to explain it other than I literally felt the music. I felt the music, but it also made me feel something besides the depression (although some of the lyrics absolutely validated my depression). Lyrics that make me feel not alone in my suffering are the ones I cling to, and there are so many lyrics in MGK’s songs that did that for me.

Death In My Pocket – Machine Gun Kelly

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Chorus: Naomi Wild]
I got death in my pocket and nothing but time
All these bones in the closet, in the back of my mind
I just leave ’em there, I don’t even care, no
Holding up a flare, I could use a prayer, oh
I got death in my pocket, but I feel so alive

[Interlude: Machine Gun Kelly]
Don’t know why, but it feels like my world is crashing down
I just bought a brand…
Fuck, how much darkness does it take to get this flashy?

[Verse 1: Machine Gun Kelly]
Don’t know why, but it feels like my world is crashing down
I just bought a brand new car, I wanna crash it now

I think I’m OKAY (with YUNGBLUD & Travis Barker) – Machine Gun Kelly

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Chorus: Machine Gun Kelly]
Watch me take a good thing and fuck it all up in one night
Catch me, I’m the one on the run away from the headlights
No sleep, up all week, wasting time with people I don’t like
I think something’s fucking wrong with me

[Verse 1: Machine Gun Kelly]
Drown myself in alcohol, that shit never helps at all
I might say some stupid things tonight when you pick up this call
I’ve been hearing silence on the other side for way too long
I can taste it on my tongue, I can tell that something’s wrong, but
I guess it’s just my life and I can take it if I wanna
But I cannot hide in hills of California
Because these hills have eyes, and I got paranoia
I hurt myself sometimes, is that too scary for you?

Glass House (feat. Naomi Wild) – Machine Gun Kelly

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 3: Machine Gun Kelly]
Lately I’ve been sick of living and nobody knows how I’m really feeling
I always hated to smile, but it keep what is killing me hidden inside
I didn’t sign up to be the hero, but I don’t want to wind up a villain
I put my daughter to bed, then attempted to kill myself in the kitchen
Yeah, I should’ve screamed, but nobody listened
So I passed out with the blood drippin’
In this glass house, feeling like a prison

At My Best (feat. Hailee Steinfeld) – Machine Gun Kelly

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 1: Machine Gun Kelly]
I wrote this song as a message for help
On behalf of anybody findin’ their-self
I wrote this letter to numb your pain
‘Cause everyday I wake up, I’m feelin’ the same
I got issues just like you got issues
I’ve been hurt, I seen the scar tissue
If I showed you, would you run away?
Do I gotta hide ’em for you to wanna stay?
Do I, even need you? Should I leave you?
Do I, gotta be you, just to please you?
Do I, say I’m all good, when I bleed you
Through my heart? Quit tearin’ mine apart

[Chorus: Hailee Steinfeld]
I shout, I swear, I get angry, I get scared
I fall, I break, I mess up, I make mistakes
But if you can’t take me at my worst
You don’t deserve me at my best

nothing inside (feat. ian dior) – Machine Gun Kelly

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 1: Machine Gun Kelly]
I keep doing that thing where I’m thinking again
I got skeletons in my closet (Closet)
I got nightmares sleeping again
I gave you my heart, you lost it (Lost it)

and…

[Outro: Machine Gun Kelly, Machine Gun Kelly & iann dior]
I’m running low on serotonin in these empty moments
I’m having trouble operating without my main component
I’m running low on serotonin in these empty moments
I’m having trouble operating without my main component

can’t look back – Machine Gun Kelly

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 1]
I thought about
Giving up everything I own and then moving out
I’m a prisoner in this home
I keep my curtains shut, sabotage everything I love
For a temporary feeling that only left me numb, damn

[Pre-Chorus]
Some days, I’m a kamikaze
There’s no way you can fucking stop me

[Chorus]
I can’t look back when the memories look like that
I took the blade out of my pocket, cut the strings that were attached
I’m bad, and they say they that the good die last
My hesitation is the enemy, I guess this is the end of me

title track – Machine Gun Kelly

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 1]
I sold some tickets
To come see my downfall
It sold out in minutes
I saw friends in the front row
They’ll leave when I’m finished
And the light in my name’s gone
‘Cause the ones who gas you up
Only come around when the flame’s on and
(I gave you my life, oh, oh-oh)
Ayy, fuck it

[Pre-Chorus]
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
I use a razor to take off the edge, “Jump off the ledge,” they said
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
“Take the laser, aim at my head and paint the walls red,” I said
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’m crazy, I’m off the meds, I’m “better off dead,” they said
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
I use a razor to take off the edge, jump off the ledge

play this when i’m gone – Machine Gun Kelly

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 1]
I’m writing you this message just so I can say that I love you
I had to let you know that everything about me was you, yeah
I think it’s time for me to leave, but I’ll never leave you
I just looked at your pictures, so the last thing I did was see you

[Pre-Chorus]
I’m twenty-nine, my anxiety’s eating me alive
I’m fightin’ with myself and my sobriety every night
And last time I couldn’t barely open up my eyes, I apologize

[Chorus]
I’m not gonna lie and tell you it’s alright, it’s alright
You’re gonna cry and baby, that’s alright, it’s alright
I wrote you this song to keep when I’m gone
If you ever feel alone
You’re gonna cry and baby, that’s alright, it’s alright

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my post about Machine Gun Kelly’s new album Mainstream Sellout!

I Gotta Put Me First

@turningpointct.org sometimes, you gotta put yourself first💯 your mental health is a priority!! #mentalhealth #selfcare #igottaputmefirst #mentalhealthtiktok #fyp #fypシ ♬ I gotta put ME first – Citiboii SRT

When Someone Says “But You Didn’t Seem Anxious!”

@turningpointct.org when someone says “but you didn’t seem anxious!!” … I’M JUST REALLY GOOD AT HIDING IT🥴✌🏼 #mentalhealth #anxiety #fyp #imanactor #fypシ ♬ Stephen Glickman LIVE in NYC Dec 17th Link in bio – Gustavo Rocque

Cleaning My Stupid House After My Stupid Depressive Episode

@turningpointct.org cleaning my stupid house after my stupid depressive episode that lasted weeks #stupidwalkchallenge #mentalhealth #fyp #depression #ct ♬ оригинальный звук – _malifisenta007_

Kailey’s #TenYearChallenge: From Insecure to Confident

left is 2012, right was taken yesterday 1/10/2022

It’s hard to believe that 2012 was 10 years ago. 10 years ago, I was a finishing my first year as a high schooler and starting my second year of high school. My life revolved around school and sports. I cared a lot about what I looked like. I straightened my hair every day, wouldn’t leave the house without makeup, and I took way too many pictures of myself because I was obsessed with posting pictures to get likes on social media. I was struggling with disordered eating. At the end of 2012, I became a big sister.

2012 me thought she was confident, but it was really just a façade. I spent so much time obsessing over what I looked like. I was constantly worried about how I might be perceived by others. I wanted nothing more than for others to like me, even if it meant being someone I was not. In high school, all I wanted was to fit in. It did not matter what it took to fit in. I just wanted to be accepted by those around me.

I spent most of my time trying to fit in instead of trying to find myself. I spent time doing things I thought other people expected of me. I felt like I needed to hide the things I liked from others because I felt like if people knew my interests, they’d think I was weird. I was really just a shell of myself.

As I said, in 2012, I also became a big sister. I was 15 at the time and I was not expecting my parents to have another kid. I think I had a really hard time adjusting to the idea because I knew it was going to be a huge life changing thing. Trying to figure out high school was hard enough, but it was made harder by throwing a baby sister into the mix.

10 years later, in present day, I don’t feel like I have to hide parts of myself from others. I am very comfortable with who I am as a person, weird quirks and all. I have spent a lot of time getting to know myself and I finally do things because I want to.

I’ve finally started traveling. Before I didn’t think I could be someone who travels, but I have learned that I can be whoever I want. I’m not afraid to tell people what music I like, and I’m not afraid to show the world I’m a crazy cat lady. People can either accept me as I am, or they can not like me. It doesn’t matter either way because I like myself, and that’s what matters.

While the last 10 years were a wild ride, everything I experienced helped to shape me into who I am today. I’m curious to see what the next ten years throws at me!

12 Times The Netflix Show “BoJack Horseman” Got Real About Mental Health

I fell in love with the show “BoJack Horseman” because of how real the show got about mental health. When I first started watching it, I was just expecting a comedy, but it was so much more than that. I happened to be watching the show when I was really struggling with my mental health and I felt very seen while watching. The show talks about depression, addiction, heartbreak, and more. Below are just some examples of the pretty accurate portrayals of mental health in the show.

BoJack getting dark, but real, about how he feels about himself:

BoJack getting real about wondering how others can just be happy:

When BoJack says what we’re all thinking:

Wanting to feel better, but not knowing how:

Feeling numb:

Pushing people away because we feel like people would be better off without us:

When Diane got real about life being a bitch:

When Sarah Lynn got real about being on the verge of losing it:

Sometimes living with addiction can feel like you have no control over your own life:

Mr. Peanut Butter talking about the art of distraction to avoid dealing with life sucking:

When Diane got real about anti-depressants:

I know I used to feel this way:

I truly believe this show is such a treasure. By talking about all of these various issues, it helps to normalize things we people with mental illnesses think and feel on the regular. “BoJack Horseman” is so much more than just a comedy.

You can see more times the show got real about mental health here.

Panicking For Seemingly No Reason

Twenty One Pilots Lyrics That Just Speak To My Soul

When I was in college, I got really into Twenty One Pilots. One of my friends was really into them and that was what initially caused me to explore their music. The first two years of college was a bit of a rough go for me and I went through a lot. I was really struggling with anxiety and depression. I was coping by smoking, drinking, and many other bad decisions. I was doing anything just to feel numb.

One thing that really helped me was music. Music and lyrics both really helped me in so many ways. I would listen to some lyrics and just be like YES, SOMEBODY ELSE GETS IT. I was a commuter all through college so I would blast my music on my 40 minute commute and just scream sing my heart out. The music made me feel seen and honestly it made me feel alive. It made feeling my heavy emotions bearable because the lyrics reminded me that I was not alone in my feelings.

Twenty One Pilots songs were heavy on my rotation throughout those years. Somehow I had completely forgotten all about my love for those songs until yesterday. Yesterday I suddenly remembered their album Vessel existed. It has been on repeat in the car and during my work day ever since. I still know all of the words and you bet your ass I am still scream singing them almost 6 years later. Below are some of the lyrics that really spoke to me when I was really, really struggling.

Goner – Twenty One Pilots

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

I’m a goner, somebody catch my breath

I’m a goner, somebody catch my breath

I wanna be known by you

I wanna be known by you

[Chorus]

Though I’m weak and beaten down

I’ll slip away into the sound

The ghost of you is close to me

I’m inside out, you’re underneath

Heavydirtysoul – Twenty One Pilots

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 1]

There’s an infestation in my mind’s imagination

I hope that they choke on smoke

‘Cause I’m smokin’ them out the basement

This is not rap, this is not hip-hop

Just another attempt to make the voices stop

Rappin’ to prove nothin’, just writin’ to say somethin’

‘Cause I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t rushin’ to sayin’ nothin’

This doesn’t mean I lost my dream

It’s just right now I got a really crazy mind to clean

[Pre-Chorus]

Gangsters don’t cry, therefore, therefore I’m

Mr. Misty-eyed, therefore I’m (I’m)

[Chorus]

Can you save, can you save my

Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

Can you save, can you save my

Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

For me, for me

Migraine – Twenty One Pilots

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

My mind ship-wrecked, this is the only land my mind could find

I did not know it was such a violent island

Full of tidal waves, suicidal crazed lions

They’re trying to eat me, blood running down their chin

And I know that I can fight, or I can let the lion win

I begin to assemble what weapons I can find

‘Cause sometimes to stay alive, you gotta kill your mind

[Chorus]

Am I the only one I know

Waging my wars behind my face and above my throat?

Shadows will scream that I’m alone

But I know, we’ve made it this far… kid

Car Radio – Twenty One Pilots

Some Lyrics That I Connected With

Sometimes quiet is violent

I find it hard to hide it

My pride is no longer inside

It’s on my sleeve

My skin will scream

Reminding me of

Who I killed inside my dream

I hate this car that I’m driving

There’s no hiding for me

I’m forced to deal with what I feel

There is no distraction to mask what is real

I could pull the steering wheel

[Chorus]

I have these thoughts

So often I ought

To replace that slot

With what I once bought

‘Cause somebody stole

My car radio

And now I just sit in silence

The Run And Go – Twenty One Pilots

Some Lyrics That I Connected With

[Chorus]

Don’t wanna call you in the nighttime

Don’t wanna give you all my pieces

Don’t wanna give you all my trouble

Don’t wanna give you all my demons

You’ll have to watch me struggle

From several rooms away

But tonight, I’ll need you to stay

Truce – Twenty One Pilots

Some Lyrics That I Connected With:

[Verse 1]

Now the night is coming to an end, ooh

The sun will rise and we will try again, ooh

[Chorus]

Stay alive, stay alive for me

You will die, but now your life is free

Take pride in what is sure to die

[Verse 2]

I will fear the night again, ooh

I hope I’m not my only friend, ooh

[Chorus]

Stay alive, stay alive for me

You will die, but now your life is free

Take pride in what is sure to die

Friend, Please – Twenty One Pilots

Some Lyrics That I Connected With

Living like a ghost, you walk by everyone you know

You say that you’re fine, but you have lost your sway and glow

So I stopped by to let you know

[Chorus]

Friend, please remove your hands

From over your eyes for me

I know you want to leave

But friend, please don’t take your life away from me

Oh Ms Believer – Twenty One Pilots

Some Lyrics That I Connected With

Oh, Ms. Believer, my pretty sleeper

Your twisted mind is like snow on the road

Your shaking shoulders prove that it’s colder

Inside your head than the winter of dead

I will tell you I love you

But the muffs on your ears will cater your fears

My nose and feet are running as we start

To travel through snow, together, we go

Together, we go

Interesting Reaction TikTok

2022: Off To A Rough Start

My New Year’s celebrations did not go as planned. On Thursday, I woke up with a fever. My first thought was COVID. But, due to everyone testing around the holidays, there was a shortage of tests available. The first available testing date was the 6th so I decided not to schedule one.

I was never able to get my hands on a test to confirm whether it was COVID or not. But considering how high the numbers were (especially when you take into account how many people WEREN’T able to get a test), the chances I had it are pretty high. It’s actually pretty scary how many people have it and how the hospitals are at capacity right now.

New Years Eve, I spent curled up on my couch reading because I still had a low-grade fever. I was asleep by 9pm and I was not awake to kiss my boyfriend at midnight or to tell him happy birthday at midnight. I was sick on his birthday so I didn’t have the energy to do anything special for him. Normally, I would have made breakfast and a special meal for him later in the day.

As if me being sick wasn’t enough, Wednesday we found out my boyfriend’s dog, Gabe, had a tumor on his spleen. He had been lethargic on Christmas, but we were not prepared for cancer. He had seemed fine. There was hope though, they said they could remove his spleen because it hadn’t spread. The plan was for him to have surgery to remove his spleen on Monday. We were told that would give him another couple of years of life. We were hopeful.

Fast forward to New Year’s Day, and Gabe wasn’t doing well again. My boyfriend’s dad and stepmother brought him to the hospital that morning. We figured they would just do the surgery he was supposed to have on Monday, but when he got to the vet, they found out the cancer was also in his heart. There was nothing they could do. We found out over the phone. There was so much internal bleeding that he wouldn’t make the car ride home. They were at the animal hospital in Rhode Island so we would never make it in time to say our final goodbyes. It was so sudden that we did not have any time to mentally prepare for losing him.

Before I heard the news for myself, I knew just by seeing the look on my boyfriend’s face while he was on the phone. I instantly began to cry. The tears silently streamed down my face while he finished the phone call. As soon as he got off the phone, I managed to get out “is he gone?” before my voice broke. He wasn’t gone yet, but they were preparing to put him down. That was how we started 2022.

There were a lot of tears. I was heartbroken and I only got to know him for 4 short years. But in those 4 years, Gabe loved me unconditionally. Before my boyfriend and I got our own house, I was at his dad’s every single day since I met my boyfriend. I was never a dog person, but Gabe and his other dog Rayne turned me into a dog person. I love them both like they were my own. I would spend days at the house while my boyfriend and his dad were at work just to make sure the dogs got plenty of attention during the day. I would do anything for them.

Gabe was always so happy. But, he also had anxiety just like me. We were connected in that way. He understood me in a way most people don’t. He protected me, and I protected him. I will cherish every moment that I had with him. He helped me so much when I was in some of my darkest moments. He always made me feel so loved. I really don’t know what we did to deserve dogs.

While 2022 did not start off the way I had hoped, I am still hopeful. It’s easy to want to focus on the hard times. Instead of focusing on the negatives, I am still looking forward to good things that are to come. I’m still a bit sick, but I know this isn’t forever. Losing Gabe was hard, but instead of dwelling, I will think of all of how lucky I was to spend 4 whole years with him. I’ll also be spending as much time with Rayne as possible because her time is almost up.

2022, I will be here through the good and the bad. You can try and knock me down, but I will not let you.

Things I Learned in 2021

2021 has been quite the year. It has had its ups and downs. Despite 2021 being a rollercoaster of a year, it has taught me a lot about myself and the world around me. Some of these things were positive, but other things not so much. Below are some things that I learned this last year.

I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for.

If you had told me last year that I would be running a mental health project where I have to give presentations in front of groups of people, I wouldn’t have believed you because I have always been so shy. But, it turns out I am willing to put myself out there for things I believe in. If you had told me that I was going to be moving out of my parents, I would have made some self-deprecating remark about how I would never have the funds to move out, yet here I am paying bills and doing adult shit. In fact, I even bought a new to me car this year! I never dreamed I would ever be remotely financially stable enough to pull any of this off, I really thought I was destined to live in my parents house for the rest of my life or even homeless in my car. I have really shown myself that I am capable of so many things. Now that I know how awesome I am, I have no problem setting amazing goals for myself.

It is so important to do things for yourself.

This year, I have started to do things just because I wanted to. Before, I would have things that I wanted to do, but if I thought that someone might think it’s stupid, I would have just shoved down the desire and not done it. This year, I started to do things for me. One of those things I finally started to do this year was travel. Before, leaving home and my boyfriend to travel made me anxious. But, I finally got past that because I know that I want to see the world. This year, I traveled more than I ever have. I went to the Outer Banks, I went to Oregon with my mom, I went to New Hampshire several times, and Maine several times. Some of these trips were just day trips in New England or just the states over like Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but I started to go explore all of the different places that I wanted to see. I was sick and tired of living vicariously through my Instagram feed and I wanted to experience different places for myself. I even started to explore parts of Connecticut I haven’t before. I have a goal of visiting every state park in our the state. I do these things because it brings me so much joy to get out and see the world.

Do not let work control your life.

This one was a tough pill for me to swallow at first. I have always been a bit of a workaholic. I have been known to work multiple jobs at once, partially to keep myself busy and partially because I always felt like I needed to earn and hoard money if I was ever going to survive and afford things. This year though, I learned how to set boundaries that work for me when it comes to work. I have learned the importance of days off. I have learned that I do not need to be working every second of everyday just because I work from home and I can create my own hours. I have learned that working and making money is not the only thing there is in this life.

It doesn’t matter what others think of you.

I used to base my life around how I thought others perceived me. I always wanted to look put together, I always wanted to seem like I had it together, and I was always a little bit weary of my weirdness. This year, I learned to embrace myself, quirks and all. Everyone is kind of weird in their own way. I have decided I do not care what other people think of me. Am I a crazy bird lady? Yes, and I love that for me. Am I kind of obsessed with Machine Gun Kelly? Yes, his music speaks to my soul. Is the Twilight Saga my guilty pleasure? You bet your ass it is and I am not ashamed to admit it. Am I a little bit of a space cadet? Yes, but those close to me still like me even though I constantly space out and I can barely focus when people are talking to me. We’re all human. There are going to be people who don’t understand you, and that’s okay. They might judge you, but pay no attention to them. Their opinion doesn’t matter. Keep doing you.

You do not have to be productive every minute of everyday.

I used to feel guilty when I was doing nothing. I used to feel like I was wasting my time if I was not doing something productive or meaningful every waking moment of the day. I would literally get anxiety if I was sitting on the couch instead of working or cleaning. I literally used to do a side gig in my free time and I had convinced myself it was my fun time. This year I finally realized that is no way to live. Not only is it no way to live, it’s not sustainable. People need rest, and that is okay. We do not have to constantly be doing something. This year I started to make up for a lot of lost time I spent working my life away. Now, I let myself go out for walks in the middle of the work day if I feel like I need a moment to breathe away from the computer. I’ll also let myself play games on my phone like Candy Crush (because yes I am an old lady) and Pokemon Go (yes, I am stuck in 2016). Watching TV at night used to give me anxiety because I felt like I should be working, but now I am totally okay with relaxing on the couch watching TV with my boyfriend to unwind after the work day. I’m okay with sleeping in and having lazy Sundays without freaking out that we need to be deep cleaning the house or running errands. I have finally learned how to give myself much needed breaks.

I am more than just my mental illnesses.

I used to define myself by my mental illnesses. This year, I started to view myself as more than just my mental illnesses. Sure, they are a part of who I am, but they do not define me. I am more than my anxiety. I am more than my depression. I am more than my social anxiety. I am more than my complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Once I stopped defining myself as the diseases and their symptoms, the world really started to open up for me. I no longer felt confined by my diagnoses. I stopped letting them control me. I started to do things that I wouldn’t before because I was afraid that my anxiety would prevent me from doing it or because I was afraid something might trigger my CPTSD. I am a person with dreams and aspirations. I am a person who has a lot of accomplishments. I am not just some mentally ill adult. I prove this to myself and others everyday.

Be kind to yourself.

This is something I have always known, but it has never been something I am good at actually doing. I used to be such a perfectionist. I thought I had to do everything well and if I didn’t, I was a failure. This year, I learned to remind myself that I am human and it is okay to not be perfect all the time. I am only human. I will make mistakes. There will be things that I am not good at. There will be days when my house looks like an absolute shitshow because I have been too overwhelmed to deal with the mess. It is okay to not be perfect all the time. I have learned to be kinder to myself instead of talking down on myself when I do things incorrectly or not well. I have learned to be patient with myself because there are some things that just take time. If I’m struggling to get something done, I choose kindness and patience instead of beating myself up over it. I spent so many years of my life bullying myself and I finally put my foot down. Being kind to yourself is so important.

What have you learned this year? Let us know in the comments 🙂

How COVID Has Changed Our Holidays Yet Again

We assumed last year would be the only holiday season affected by COVID-19. Unfortunately, we were wrong. While we have vaccines to help keep us protected, there’s new variants coming out. The news is filled with tips and tricks on how to stay safe this holiday season, how COVID will affect our travel plans to see loved ones, as well as doctors and experts talking about the most recent variant, Omicron. Another difference this year is the availability of at-home COVID testing kits that people are now using to determine whether or not they can even go to family gatherings. The reality of it all is that COVID is still affecting the way we do things, but we are adapting our lives around it.

I know for me personally, COVID has completely changed the holidays. There are a lot of family members that I can’t see because they’re immunocompromised. While they might be vaccinated, there is still the very valid fear that they can still get it because there have been a lot of breakthrough cases. While I might not be as afraid of the virus as I was when it first came out (I was terrified of getting the virus), I am still worried about accidentally giving the virus to a loved one. I know the chances of me having it and being asymptomatic are high because I am young and healthy so I try to be very careful around people I know are high risk.

During Thanksgiving, my family did end up getting together, which was awesome, but I got exposed to COVID at that gathering. I then had to quarantine and get tested to see if I caught it (which I didn’t thankfully). While we all want things to go back to normal, I just don’t think they will. I think this is just our new normal. There’s always going to be a chance that someone at your family gathering might have it because of the whole asymptomatic thing. But now that we actually had a family gathering where COVID was actually present, I’m worried that my family might be afraid to do another get together.

Over the last almost two years, I have had a lot of family members I haven’t been able to see under normal circumstances because of the fear of catching COVID constantly looming overhead. We constantly hear about people dying on the news, breakthrough cases, new variants, etc. It’s really scary stuff, especially if you are someone who has serious anxiety or if you’re someone who’s in the high risk category.

The other thing that I think is the most damaging is how the COVID-19 vaccine has literally torn some families apart. I wish I was exaggerating, but I have literally seen family members exclude family members for not having the vaccine. I’ve seen people let an unvaccinated child into their gatherings, but not the sibling who is an adult and unvaccinated. Vaccination status is literally keeping some family members from being allowed at gatherings that are happening.

I understand how the people on both sides feel, I really do. The people getting it are trying to protect themselves and their loved ones. The people not getting it are worried that there isn’t enough research because of how new the vaccine is. But ultimately, it is each person’s choice. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is a person’s choice who they want to be around, like if a vaccinated person doesn’t feel comfortable around unvaccinated people. That is completely valid because we know breakthrough cases are possible. What I feel is not okay is shoving your beliefs onto others or straight up turning against people for having differing opinions.

We all want this pandemic to end and we all want life to go back to normal. But to attack others for believing that they’re doing what is right for themselves is not okay. This pandemic has caused a lot of stress and anxiety. I know some people who are anxious about the vaccine and that’s why they won’t get it. I also know people who are so anxious about getting COVID and that was their reason for getting the vaccine. People are really struggling and understandably because we have been dealing with a pandemic for almost two years now.

We all want to be able to gather with loved ones without the anxiety that we might give or get COVID during the gathering. We want to be able to travel to loved ones across the country or across the world without the fear of catching COVID on the way to our loved ones. We’d love to not have to take a COVID test before seeing our loved ones. We would love for COVID to stop mutating. But, we are resilient and we are adapting to this weird new normal. We are finding new ways to connect and celebrate holidays. Thank goodness for video chatting!

We made it through the last COVID holiday season, and we will make it through this one too. I hope everyone has a great winter holiday season!

When Someone Tells Me “Just Choose Happiness!!”

My First Christmas Away From My Childhood Home

In May, I moved out of my parents’ house. The holidays, up until now, haven’t seemed like a huge deal because typically we all get together for a holiday party. Christmas though is going to be very different for me this year. It’s going to be really weird not waking up in my parents’ house on Christmas morning. Now that might seem weird because I am 24 years old, but the reason why it will be so weird is because I have a 9-year-old sister. Santa still comes to my parents’ house.

Christmas is always so much fun when you have a kid around. You get to see the excitement they have for the holiday all month long. There are the visits to Santa, decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, decorating a gingerbread house, and of course waking up at the ass crack of dawn to see what Santa brought.

While it’s so exciting that this is my first Christmas in my own home with my boyfriend, it also breaks my heart that my sister won’t be able to excitedly wake me up in the morning to open everything Santa brought. I won’t be there when she finds the half-eaten cookies and empty glass of milk. I won’t be there when she first reads the letter from Santa. It will also probably be really weird for her because now that my brother and I are both in our own houses. She is basically an only child now.

But as I said earlier, it is really exciting that this is my first Christmas in my home with my boyfriend. We went out and got our tree and I even ordered us a special ornament that has us and our three cats on it. Getting to decorate the house is awesome and exciting. Christmas morning I’ll get to wake up with my boyfriend and our three cats and that in itself is a gift.

getting our tree, the decorated tree, and our decorated fireplace

This year is going to be a Christmas where I establish new traditions. We haven’t decided a plan yet for what Christmas Day will look like with my family. I’m hoping to go to my parents in the morning to watch my sister open her gifts from Santa. But, that’s assuming she can wait! Maybe I’ll invite my family over for Christmas Eve. It’s so weird being an adult and having the ability to host things like holidays if I want to!

No matter what Christmas ends up looking like this year, I am sure it is going to be a great holiday!

Unrealistic Christmas List TikTok

@turningpointct.org

unrealistic thing I want for Christmas…people to stop stigmatizing people with mental illnesses. it shouldn’t be unrealistic, but we still have a long way to go until it’s destigmatized. ##mentalhealth ##endthestigma ##endthestigmasgainstmentalhealth ##fyp ##unrealisticchristmaslist

♬ original sound – keely

Social Anxiety TikTok

Quotes About Change

Change can be difficult and it can also be scary. There’s comfort in the familiar, but sometimes we need a change. Other times, the change is situational, like having to move because your parent got a new job. Change is an inevitable part of life.

Below are some quotes about change to help you through the different seasons of your life.

Every morning, we get a chance to be different. A chance to change. A chance to be better. Your past is your past. Leave it there. Get on with the future part.

Nicole Williams

You have the power to change your life. Just start with changing your thoughts.

Mel Robbins

Never forget that walking away from something unhealthy is brave, even if you stumble a little on your way out the door.

Mandy Hale

Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.

Barbara Marciniak

Many times you change, evolve, take a different path or road and the people you love are left behind. All that is left is a memory of you, of someone you are not anymore, a ghost, a shadow of smoke and bone, you are there yet you are gone.

e.v.e.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.

Alan Watts

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.

Gail Sheehy (b. 1937) American writer, journalist, editor

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.

C.S. Lewis (b. 29 November 1898)

Until you change your thinking, you will always recycle your experiences.

Unknown

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Socrates

There is a beautiful life waiting for you on the other side of your fears.

Unknown

It’s never too late to start being who you want to be.

Unknown

Kailey Shares What She Struggled With In High School

TurningPointCT Project Coordinator, Kailey, shares her story with Staples High School freshmen and their parents during their First Year Forum.

You can read Kailey’s post “Looking Back On My High School Years” to learn more about her struggles in high school.

Below you can find videos from Westport teens that they created for the First Year Forum at Staples High School:

Hard Truths I’ve Learned During My Healing

Working on your mental health isn’t easy. I wish it was all rainbows and butterflies, but it isn’t it, it’s tough. I have learned a lot of hard truths about myself and the world around me while trying to heal from my trauma.

1. Not everyone is going to support you.

Believe it or not, there are still a lot of people who think mental illness isn’t real. There are people who think therapy is a waste of time. There are people who are just waiting for you to fail. You might even lose friends because they’re not ready to change their lifestyle. When I chose to become sober, there were definitely people who just couldn’t understand why I was choosing not to party and drink. There will be people who don’t support you and just aren’t good for your recovery. But it especially sucks when it’s your family or the people you thought were your friends.

2. You will not always get the closure you need.

There were a lot of things that happened to me where I felt like I needed answers in order for me to get over it. The truth is, there are a lot of situations where you won’t get closure and that’s okay. Sometimes, you have to come to terms with what happened without getting an apology or explanation. You just have to accept it for what it was and move on. If you choose not to move past it, you will be stuck in that moment and trust me, living in the past can be hell. You can’t rely on others to give you the closure you need.

3. Time does not heal all.

Time does not heal all. Time is not a giant, magical band-aid that fixes things. If you’ve had a traumatic experience, it will probably stick with you. It might get easier to manage the trauma through different coping skills and therapy, but there is a good chance that it is something that will affect you for the rest of your life. You can’t expect time to heal everything, especially if you aren’t taking the necessary steps to try and heal. There are still things from my past that haunt me and force their way into my brain. I wish time would make me forget, but it doesn’t.

4. Recovery is not linear.

Recovery is not linear. There will be ups and there will be definitely downs. There were so many times that I was in therapy thinking “I’m healed!” but then as soon as I stopped therapy, my mental health would decline once again. I found that when I was not in therapy, I was not actively working on my mental health because I had just assumed I was healed. I was probably doing so well because I had someone holding me accountable and I had a space every week for me to sit down and work through things. I’m able to hold myself accountable better now because I’m more self-aware, but I still have those ups and downs. Sometimes even when I’m doing the work, life shoves me down and I am a mess again. You cannot just give up when things start to get dark again, you have to keep going. Things really do come in waves.

5. You have to want you to work on yourself. Nobody can do the work for you.

You cannot expect anyone to fix things for you. You have to want to work on yourself. If you’re just going through the motions because someone is telling you to, you’re not going to be able to heal. There’s a lot of inner work that you have to do in order to heal and help your mental health. Having a therapist can help guide you in the process because we all have to start somewhere, but even with guidance, you have to want to follow that guidance and care about helping yourself. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force them to drink it. You have to want it for yourself.

6. There is no quick fix.

There is no quick fix. Medication can help, but it isn’t a fix all, it works best if you do it with other methods (such as therapy). Therapy can help, but it won’t be instant and honestly, the beginning can be absolute hell as you start to really get into the deep stuff. Healing takes time. Honestly, it’s really more of a lifelong thing. My anxiety, CPTSD, and traumas will be with me for as long as I live. I will have to actively be mindful for the rest of my life.

7. What works for one person might not work for you.

Just because something works for one person, it does not mean that it will work for you. I think the negative thing about social media is people are always posting what works for them. People literally beg influencers to post their routines and habits and what’s worked for them in hopes that it will solve all of their problems. There is no one size fits all when it comes to recovery. Medication works for some, but it doesn’t work for others. Meditation might work for some, but it might not work for someone else (for me, being alone in my body is an absolute nightmare and it sends me into a panic attack every time because I feel like I’ve died and gotten trapped in my body). Going to the gym might be someone’s saving grace, but it could become an unhealthy obsession leading to an eating disorder for another. Everyone is so different.

8. Healing is exhausting.

Healing is no stroll in the park. You have to go deep into the trauma in order to heal. You have to sit with your negative feelings instead of shoving them down. I remember there were times I was in therapy and we were getting into some of my issues that were root causes of a lot of my trauma responses. During those times, I was not able to function in my everyday life. I was hysterically crying because in order to heal, I had to deal with those things so I could really understand myself and where my issues stemmed from. It was hard, but now I am self-aware and able to pin-point where a lot of my trauma responses come from.

9. Shoving down your issues and pretending to be okay just makes things worse.

Pretending everyone is okay does not make everything okay. Being able to convince others that you’re fine doesn’t mean that you are fine. I am guilty of shoving my negative emotions down and not dealing with them for the sake of others. I can tell you from experience that the outcome of that was NEVER good. Eventually, all of the negative shit would just build up and I would literally just snap and lose it. Of course on the outside, people had no idea there was anything wrong because I had just pretended that everything was great. All they saw was the result of me shoving everything down

10. Trauma is serious, and it really does change you.

Did you know trauma really does change you? I’ve had people tell me I’m just dramatic and that it’s all in my head, but it’s not. Trauma literally rewires a person’s brain. The way I respond to a lot of situations is directly related to past traumas. Situations that seem very normal and not stressful to someone who hasn’t experience trauma send me into fight or flight. Trauma makes it harder for me to regulate my emotions. Sometimes I get anxious for seemingly no reason and my body will stay in that fight or flight mode for what feels like hours. It’s because my brain has literally been changed by trauma. There are things I can do to help ease the symptoms, but this is something that I will live with for the rest of my life.

If you’re curious to the actual science of how trauma effects the brain, check out How Trauma Changes The Brain.

Takeaway

These are just some of the hard truths I have learned while I have been working on myself. I’m sure there are so many others. Recovery can be so draining and tough mentally. But, I promise you, it’s all worth it in the end.

What hard truths have you learned while working on your mental health?

Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness…

I feel like people with mental illness get a bad rep. Everyone always feels like they need to walk on eggshells around us. They feel that we are oversensitive, weak. But, the reality is we are fighters. We keep fighting even on the worst days.

Having feelings doesn’t make us weak. Having bad days doesn’t make us weak. It’s easy to look at someone who is an emotional wreck and just assume that they can’t handle life. But, you have no idea what could have happened to them that day. Something awful could have happened to them. They could have had something trigger them to having flashbacks of past trauma. Their anxiety or depression can just be really heavy and overwhelming that day.

As someone who has suffered at the hands of my mental illness, I can tell you people like me are not weak. I have pushed through and continued on days when my brain told me to just end it. I have gone to school and work on days where my anxiety was making my skin crawl and had me in fight or flight.

I’m sure there were days that it was noticeable to those around me, like the days I couldn’t stop the silent tears from streaming down my face while I was at work or school. If I were weak, I would have not showed up to work. Instead, I showed up and I pushed through those days.

I have had people treat me like absolute shit and walk all over me. I have been physically and emotionally abused. Sure, those things have done a lot of harm to me, but instead of letting them break me, I’m still here. There were a lot of days I did not want to be here, but I fought so hard to continue. Despite everything that I’ve been through, I still try to be a good person. I also still try to see the good in people.

At the end of the day, we are all human. We all have good days and bad days. None of us should be defined by our bad days. You never know what someone is going through.

“Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness. Those are actually the days I’m fighting the hardest.”

Unknown

If you need help now, but you’re not sure where to start, check out our resources page.

The Stress of Being A Young, Anxious Pet Owner

Last week, my kitten Ash got neutered. I had been putting it off for months because I was so anxious that something would happen to him during the surgery. I was so worried, I took him to our actual vet for the surgery. I wanted to make sure I had as much assurance as possible that there wouldn’t be any complications. I took him for the pre-operation blood work and paid the extra money to go to the vet even though everyone told me to take him to a mobile clinic because it’s cheaper.

The morning of his surgery, I was a nervous wreck. I was so worried that something was going to go wrong. I made sure I gave him all kinds of kisses and pets before I took him. He cried the whole 10 minute ride to the vet. I gave him lots of pets while we waited for the vet to come get him.

I hated having him be away from me. It was just so weird with him not being home. At 11am, 3 hours after I dropped him off, the vet finally called. I was so stressed that something happened because of how soon they called me, but I was relieved when they told me that everything went perfectly and he was recovering post-surgery. They told me I could come pick him up at 2-2:30pm.

When I finally got to go pick him up, the vet brought him out and they told me he is the friendliest kitten with the best temperament (which I already knew, of course). After she was done telling me about how much she loves Ash, she went through the after-care. I of course was a nervous wreck. I had never done this before. My mom took care of our family cat Treasure when she got fixed because I was only in 5th grade. It is so weird having to be the adult now.

When we got home, I brought him into my office where he would be staying separated from our other two cats while he recovered. Despite him being separated from the other two so he doesn’t play and open his incision, I was still a nervous wreck. I spent a lot of time Googling how to care for your cat after it gets neutered and got lost in that and of course it just made me more anxious.

Ash really does have the best temperament and he has been such a happy kitty since he got home. He still loves to snuggle with us and he’s still a little purr machine. He’s great about taking his meds and he’s being a good sport about being confined to my office and having to wear the cone of shame.

It kills me having him separated so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my office with him. He spends a lot of time sleeping, but he also likes to hangout in my lap while I work. I’ll take off his cone while he’s in my lap because I can keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t lick his incisions.

Ash kitten hanging out in my lap

I am so happy he seems to still be happy, but I cannot wait until I can let him out and be a free kitty again. I miss waking up to him sleeping in the bed with me. I miss coming home and immediately being greeted by him at the door. This is honestly the longest two weeks of my life, but it’s worth the wait to make sure that he heals perfectly.

comfy and content in my storage bin of clothes, he has claimed it as his bed for the time being

Funny Anxiety TikTok

@turningpointct.org when u trying to have a good day but then your anxiety shows up #mentalhealth #funnymentalhealth #anxiety #fyp #fypシ ♬ original sound – Chris O

Thanksgiving: Not My Favorite

actual photo taken of me at Thanksgiving

If you ask most people if they like Thanksgiving, the chances are they will say they love it. I feel like I am kind of an oddball out. Most people would argue, what’s not to like? You have a giant feast and you get to spend time with your family and reflect on what you’re thankful for. For me though, it’s not a fun holiday.

For many years, I struggled with disordering eating. As you can imagine, a holiday that is basically focused around food was not fun for me. One reason is because due to not really eating much, it didn’t take much for me to get full and feeling sick. Another thing I have never really talked about openly is that while I struggled with disordered eating, there were so many times where I was literally disgusted by the thought of eating. Even though our bodies need food for fuel, there was something in me that was absolutely repulsed by the thought of food and eating it. Forcing yourself to eat is not fun, especially surrounded by a bunch of people.

Growing up, my family would always make comments about how I needed to eat more and how I was too skinny, so going to any family event was uncomfortable because of that. That was always the comment. Nobody ever asked me “hey is everything okay?”

Aside from my disordered eating, Thanksgiving and other holidays have always been tough for me because of my anxiety. I have a big family, so all family events are very loud. I get so overstimulated to the point where I get extremely uncomfortable. Everyone talks over each other because there are like 5 conversations going on at once. It was always too much for me. From a young age, loud places always made me anxious.

When I get overstimulated like that, I shutdown and kind of revert into myself. Many times, I would cling to my mom. It wasn’t even just when I was a kid either, there have been a lot of times in my teens and adult life where I vividly remember physically clinging to my mom and basically hiding my face in her shoulder during family events.

Eventually, I just started hiding in places at the family event where there were no people. I would go outside by myself if it was the right season, but I also started to hide in the basement of my aunt’s house where most of the family parties were held. I remember one time going outside and finding one of my cousins who also has anxiety sitting outside because being inside was overstimulating for him as well.

When I started to drive, I always tried to drive separately from my parents if they would allow it so I could leave when things got to be too much. They never understood why because obviously we were all leaving from our house to go to the same place. I remember all of the times I felt literally trapped at family events feeling paralyzed with anxiety. This was the reason being able to drive myself was so necessary to me. I would always try and park in a spot where nobody could block me in because the last thing I would want to do is have to ask someone to move their car while I was trying to make a quick escape.

People on the outside probably just think I’m some miserable bitch who hates her family. I love my family, but honestly because I have such a big family, it doesn’t take much to have too much going on for me. I do well in small groups and one on one with people, but I have never been good in crowds and situations where a lot is going on. It makes going to family holidays hard for me. Believe me, I wish I was able to enjoy time with all of my family without getting overwhelmed. Thankfully, most of my family understands now and they don’t get upset or mad at me when I let them know I’m heading out.

If you’re someone who struggles with holidays, whether it is because of disordered eating, anxiety, depression, issues with your family, etc, I see you. You are not a bad person for getting overwhelmed by something that others enjoy. We’re built differently and we thrive in different environments, and that’s okay.

TurningPointMoment: Kailey’s Oregon Trip

Throwback video to my trip to Oregon in September. This trip was a turning point for me because it made me realize that travel is possible. This trip pushed me to start experiencing the world and I’ve been to New Hampshire and Maine since my trip to Oregon. Travel used to seem so far out of reach for me, but now I realize it is within reach.

@ohbabyitskailey thinkin about oregon💭#hiking #waterfall #tumalofalls #nature #oregon #centraloregon #canweskiptothegoodpart #fypシ #fyp ♬ The Good Part – AJR

Quotes I Really Needed To Hear When I Was Struggling

Quotes used to be something I heavily leaned on when I was struggling. When I didn’t have the will to actually read and immerse myself in books, I would go on to Tumblr and get lost in quotes. The quotes would validate a lot of what I was feeling and would give me advice. When I was struggling, I tended to isolate myself and it would just be me and my quotes. Below are some quotes that I really resonate with.

When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.

Alexander Den Heijer

You cannot always be happy but you can always be brave. And that is the beginning of everything.

Unknown

Let it hurt. Let it bleed. Let it heal. And let it go.

Nikita Gill

Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our life.

Akshay Dubey

Some people think that to be strong is to never feel pain. In reality the strongest people are the ones who feel it, understand it, accept and learn from it.

Unknown

Just because you took longer than others doesn’t mean you failed. Remember that.

Unknown

I’ve found that growing up means being honest. About what I want. What I need. What I feel. Who I am.

Epiphany

Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.

Josephine Hart, Damage

I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.

Oscar Wilde

Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren’t your problems. You stay kind, committed to love and free in your authenticity. No matter what they do or say, don’t you doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep shining like you always do.

Scott Stabile

You’ll meet a hundred different people who will describe you in a hundred different ways, don’t dwell too much on the kind of impression you make. Remember, there are a thousand paintings of the sun, but only one that rises and sets each day.

Ekta Somera

I think it’s important to realize you can miss something, but not want it back.

Paulo Coelho

Not everyone is going to love you back. That’s why you’ve got to love yourself.

Unknown

Just because it’s not happening right now, doesn’t mean it never will.

Unknown

You have saved yourself from drowning every time before this. You will rescue yourself again.

Nikita Gill, Powerful One Sentence Reminders To Read When You Are Doubting Your Growth And Healing

Don’t ever put your happiness in someone else’s hands. They’ll drop it. They’ll drop it every time.

C.Barzak, One For Sorrow

Hopefully these quotes help you if you’re in a tough place mentally!

For more quotes, check out:

My Experience With Social Anxiety

social anxiety

I have always been someone who is introverted. The thought of having to go somewhere where there will be a lot of people I don’t know is absolutely terrifying. When I am in those situations, I absolutely shut down. As my boyfriend puts it, when people come around who I don’t know, my entire mood changes and I’m like a different person. He says I literally unapproachable. This can come off as me just being rude, but the reality is I am literally frozen with fear. It’s gotten to the point where people know that if they’re having a party or get together, I don’t want to go. They invite me to let me know that I am more than welcome, but they know my answer before they even ask.

Obviously the people who know me know that I am not just some rude jerk. I do great in small groups. I am great one on one. Honestly, with people I know and who I’m comfortable with, I will talk non-stop. It’s not that I’m not social, because I really am such a social person. I have so many friends that I keep in touch with on a regular basis.

I love talking to people. But, the thought of initiating a conversation with someone I don’t know stops me dead in my tracks. It’s like all of those social skills I know and use on a daily basis disappear. I get really self-conscious about how strangers view me and I’m afraid of saying something stupid. The fear is so intense, it’s like I stop breathing just to make myself unnoticeable.

Social anxiety presents itself in other ways as well. It is present during my work. For work, we do ice breakers at the beginning of the meetings to connect because we have all been virtual for so long. These meetings include everyone from our company and even though I know all of their faces and I see them every month in this meeting, I still get extremely anxious. I panic because I never know if I’m going to be next because we popcorn it off to people. My breathing becomes rapid, my heart races, and I begin to sweat. I’ll think to myself thank god we’re not in person.

Before I speak, I run through what I’m going to say in my head and repeat it to myself over and over to try and ensure I don’t screw it up when I’m speaking. When it’s finally my turn to speak, my voice is shaking and it’s like I’ve forgotten how to breathe. I only vaguely remember my answer, and I begin to ramble in a panic, talking at lightning speed. I tend to talk a lot when I’m nervous.

Mind you, I am in the comfort of my home and this meeting is via Zoom. Still, the irrational fear of having to speak to all of these people sends me into a panic. They’re not strangers, they’re my coworkers, and they’re all so nice, yet having to speak and answer the fun question sends me into a panic.

In school, it was also an issue. I remember I was taking a news reporting class and there were several projects where we were supposed to go up to random strangers and talk to them to get a story and I had to talk to my teacher about my anxiety and how I literally was incapable. My portraits of strangers were all people I knew from my classes. My major news stories were both about my parents and their businesses.

I wrote a news story about my mom and her business (The Woman Behind the Successful Blog “Low Carb Yum”) and I wrote a post about my dad and his business (MarcAurele Wrestling: Not Your Average Wrestling Club). I was so lucky that I have two very interesting and very successful parents. I think that is one of the only reasons my professor allowed me to do my own family members for these major assignments. They were both great news stories.

The MarcAurele Wrestling piece was so hard for me because I had to get quotes from multiple people. Obviously getting a quote from my own father was no problem. But, I could not bring myself to go up to anyone in his gym. My dad knew this, my extreme shyness was not news to him. He sent people over to me and he told them before they got to me that I would be asking them a couple of questions. Even when they got to me, I was extremely nervous to ask them questions, even though I didn’t have to explain anything. I was so thankful for my dad that day. I would not have been able to finish that assignment without him.

Aside from the news reporting class, school was hard for me because of presentations. In middle school or high school, there was presentation I stopped mid-presentation because I started crying. I forgot literally everything I had prepared as soon as I got in front of everyone. It was horrible.

In college, I had a presentation to do about some new media studies topic and I remember as I waiting for it to be my turn I was in full panic mode. The physical symptoms were horrific. I felt like I was burning up, I felt nauseous, I was sweating and shaking, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. When it was finally my turn to go, I stood up and I honestly thought I was going to pass out from fear. I didn’t, but it was awful nonethless.

When it comes to presentations, I feel like people with social anxiety get extremely invalidated. You always hear things like “it’s no big deal” and “everyone gets nervous before speaking.” But, being nervous is much different than the “fight or flight” feelings that my anxiety brings when I have to give a presentation. For me, it’s not just nervousness. It literally feels like I am going to die. Sometimes the anxiety turns into a legitimate panic attack and anyone who has ever had a panic attack knows that it literally feels like you’re having a heart attack/dying. I really wish neurotypical people would understand this. Sure, “it’s just a presentation,” but to me, it feels like a life or death situation.

If you’re someone who has social anxiety, please know that you are not alone. There are a lot of people who struggle with social anxiety. There are a lot of people who understand exactly what you’re going through.

Looking to learn more about social anxiety? Check out our Social Anxiety Disorder PSA.

If you’re struggling with social anxiety and need help, but you’re not sure where to start, check out our resources page.

My Depression Vs. My Anxiety

Forgiveness

For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked. How do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet, at the same time, remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?

Bell Hooks, All About Love

I used to be that hateful person that holds grudges. During my recovery journey, I have learned that holding these grudges does absolutely nothing for me. There comes a time in grudges when you have been holding it for so long you forget why you even hate the person. Being upset with people is totally cool and valid, but there really is no need to hold a grudge.

I have learned a lot about forgiveness in the last couple of years. One of the main reasons I’ve been able to forgive is because I have really come to learn that most people are doing the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt. While I am someone who has been through years of therapy and someone who is extremely self-aware, I realize that not everyone has that same experience under their belt.

Most people are damaged. You really have no idea what anyone has been through. A lot of people go through trauma and most of those people do not talk about it. Trauma does some not so great things to the brain, something I unfortunately know from experience. These traumas seriously effect these people and their lives.

Whenever someone treats me in a way that I think is wrong, I allow myself to be upset because my feelings are valid. A wrongdoing is a wrongdoing. But, instead of dwelling on the action and thinking horrible things about the person who did them to me, I choose to step back and remind myself that I don’t know what’s going on in their life or if something happened to them in the past that has caused them to act this way. I know there are so many things I do that are just a trauma response. These responses never make sense to other people. I remind myself that they are human.

Just because I am able to forgive people who have wronged me doesn’t mean I feel the need to stay connected with them in any way. Being able to forgive and remind myself that I don’t know their story helps me to move past it and continue on with my life. Dwelling and staying in the past is not healthy. There is so much for you in the present and in the future. It’s not worth your energy to bottle up negative emotions and let them take up space in your mind.

When it comes to family and friends, but especially family, I am able to take that step back and actually walk through why people are acting the way that they are and I’m able to remind myself it isn’t personal. In fact, being able to take this step back and realize why someone might be acting in a way that’s not so great is usually a clue that they might be struggling. So, instead of staying pissed off and upset for hours, days, weeks, or years, I know that I should probably ask them if everything is okay and if they need anything, even they just need someone to vent to. This process has helped me immensely when it comes to my family.

Again, I am not saying that shitty behavior is okay, but most of the time, there is a reason. Emotions and trauma make people act out in so many ways and I know I have been one of those people that has done or said things I shouldn’t have when my emotions were high. But, at this point in my life, I do not want to spend my time angry and worked up and holding grudges. I want balance. I will cut off people if needed, but I will no longer allow myself to live in the past. I don’t want to miss out on my present life and my future life because I am too busy dwelling on the past.

Forgiveness is an act of letting go. To forgive is to begin to rid yourself of attachment to that which you cannot change.

Unknown

Becoming ‘The Older Sister’ At 15

Growing up, I was always the little sister. I had one brother who was fourteen months older than me. We were always super close, but he also did drive me nuts (you can read more about my relationship with my brother here). When I was a sophomore in high school, I became an older sister to my sister. I was 15, almost 16. I had been the baby for my entire life so for me to suddenly become the middle child at 15 was really weird.

I remember when my dad told me my mom was pregnant. I was at one of my sports practices and he texted me and told me that the reason my mom was being such a jerk to me was because she was pregnant. Of course, I didn’t believe him at first. It was crazy to me to think that my mom could possibly be pregnant. The reason my brother and I weren’t sat down and told early on was because my mom was 41 and they didn’t want to tell anyone until all of the testing came back that the baby was healthy (due to how old she was).

I remember when my sister was born. Her due date was 12/12/12, but she didn’t want to come out. I was upset because my brother and I had the birthdays 2/2 and 4/4 so by her not being born on her due date, she ruined the pattern. My mom had to get induced and on December 19, 2021, I officially became a big sister.

Being an older sister to someone so much younger than me was not easy. I was in high school and I still wasn’t very mature. Having a baby in the house was honestly rough for me and being a built-in baby sitter was a real thing. My parents both worked a lot so sometimes I even felt like I was playing mom. As much as I hate to admit it, I hated having a little sister who was dependent while I was in high school and college.

It’s not so much that I hated her (I do love her to death), but in high school in college, I was frustrated because I fel like I shouldn’t have to take care of a baby. My mindset was always “I worked hard not to get pregnant, I shouldn’t have to take care of a baby that I didn’t birth.” Which sounds horrible, but please understand that I was not mature and I was still very much trying to learn who I was because I was a teenager.

The one thing I have loved about being the older sister is getting to take her out. From day one, most people in public think she is my daughter. When she was younger, she would always say “BUT YOU’RE NOT MY MOM!” because children have no chill, but now she just kind of side eyes me like “oh my god, why do they think you’re my mom?”

And, as she’s gotten older, it’s become so much easier for me to be around her because I can be more of a sister than a care taker. Halloween weekend, I took her for the day on Saturday so she could help me get ready for trick or treaters at my house. She was so calm in the back seat reading her chapter book and honestly it was so odd to see her being so “grown” because I remember the days she would talk nonstop or just complain the whole ride.

We got lunch at 99 and she was super grown up and ordered her own food. Not only that, but she ate it all! After 99, we ran around to a bunch of different stores to prepare for Halloween. Along the way, I of course bought a couple of things for her because I love to buy her things when I get the chance. I bought her a Mandalorian mask and we also bought a mug for her to make for our mom.

After I was done dragging her around to literally 6 different stores, we went back to my house and she was able to make the mug for my mom. She absolutely loves making stuff for my mom (and the rest of us), she is so thoughtful. I literally have a tote filled with every drawing, sticky note, and letter she’s written me. I also keep a couple in my wallet. From the moment she could start writing, her favorite thing to write to me was “I love you.” She really is the sweetest kid.

When I brought her back to my parents’ house, we carved pumpkins that we had picked up while we were out and about. When she started cutting the pumpkin top open, I was definitely panicked, but then I reminded myself that she is older now and not a toddler anymore (although I did keep a close eye on her). She made the coolest pumpkin with a moustache and sunglasses. I was genuinely impressed by her pumpkin, I am not sure I would have done as good of a job as she did when I was her age.

our pumpkins

The reality of how grown she is really hit me hard while we were carving pumpkins. We were talking about what my sister’s plans were for trick or treating and my mom told her that she was going with a boy from school that she is friends with. When my mom told her this, she was like “oh my GOD people are going to think he’s my BOYFRIEND!” Apparently, my little sister is not so little anymore! Hearing her even say the word boyfriend shook me LOL. I guess I can’t be too surprised she’s in fourth grade…next year she will be in fifth grade which is middle school where we live. She reminded me of the fact that she will be in fifth grade when she told me she will be getting a locker next year. It’s really truly insane how time flies.

We ended the night with her trying on the new costume I bought her while we were out shopping. It was the day before Halloween and she didn’t have a new costume so I decided we should look and she picked out one that she liked. When she put it on, she was so happy with it. She was so so so excited. Her excitement and happiness made me so happy. I loved that I was able to get her something that made her so happy. She loved how it looked and I told her that she literally looked like a goddess. She wanted me to take pictures of her in her costume from her big sister.

in her new costume

Honestly, I love being her big sister. I love getting to take her out and spoil her. I love that she thinks I am the coolest person ever. I love that she loves spending time with me. Her love for me is unconditional. Even when I was a moody, cranky teenager who was annoyed by her infant/toddler sibling, she still loved me. She loved me even when I didn’t love myself. Being her older sister is one of the greatest feelings. She has never seen me as broken, to her, I am just her awesome older sister. She doesn’t even have to try to make me feel important.

I hope she knows how much I love her. I am so lucky to be her older sister.

my sidekick, forever and always

Being a sibling means you are part of something wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life. No matter what.

Unknown

The Struggle Before Getting To My New Major

**this episode contains explicit language

My Brother, My Rock

Sibling bonds are funny and complex. I have a brother who is only 14 months older than me, so we have always been really close. Growing up, he was my best friend. To this day, we are still really close, even though sometimes he drives me absolutely insane. When we’re together, it’s like we’re kids again. Honestly, the two of us together is like dumb and dumber and I know my boyfriend (who is an only child) sometimes watches my brother and I interacting and is like “wtf” because we really think the most ridiculous stuff is funny and we just feed off of each other.

me and the homie

Growing up, it always felt like it was us against the world. Even though he was only 14 months older than me, he took he older brother role very seriously. My brother honestly has one of the biggest hearts. He is one of the most caring people I know. I remember whenever I would be mad at my brother, my dad would always scold me and say something along the lines of, “Kailey, can’t you see your brother would do anything for you?” And, he would. There’s nothing my brother would not do for me. When we were kids, one year he gave me his old Game Boy SP to me for Christmas because he broke mine. Another year, he gave me his iPod Touch because he knew I liked to play with it.

When we got older and I needed a car but had no credit, he took out the loan in my name with no questions asked. He was ready to take on the responsibility at the potential expense of his credit score. When I was unsure of where I would be able to live and he was looking at houses, he made me a part of house shopping and always kept me in mind with whatever house we looked at. I am telling you, there is nothing that my brother would not do for me. And, I try to be there in all the ways he has been there for me.

I always know I can go to him with whatever I need. Whether I need advice, someone to vent to, or help with anything, I know he will do whatever he can to help me, no questions asked. I know I am his number one person he goes to with everything.

As I said earlier, he sometimes drives me insane. Not because there’s anything wrong with him, but sometimes he gets himself into situations where he is getting hurt or struggling and honestly I just lose it. I don’t lose it because I’m mad at him, it just kills me when my brother is struggling or hurting in any way. He is my best friend and he has been since I was born. It literally hurts my soul when he is struggling. I will drop everything to help him and help him in any way I can, no matter how emotionally charged I am.

But, there’s only so much I can do in certain situations. And because I am a super emotional person, especially when it comes to the people I care about, I just say whatever is on my mind, whether it should be said or shouldn’t. He’ll tell me I’m mean, but the reason I get so angry is because I care about him so much, not because I am mad at him. There have been times I’ve been so upset, I’ve blocked him because I just couldn’t watch the shit go down. It just wasn’t good for my mental health to just watch his world collapse.

Even though I am the younger sibling, I have always felt somewhat responsible for my brother. Not because he needs me, but somehow he is like an extension of myself. We were so close growing up. We told each other literally everything (and I mean everything). We always kind of took on each other’s problems. No matter how old I get, his problems will always feel like my problems.

Regardless, at the end of the day, I still love him. No matter how insane he drives me, he is still my best friend. I would still do anything for him. If he needs me, I will always be there.

No sibling is perfect, we argue, we fight. We even stop talking to each other at times, but in the end, we are family, and the love we have for each other always be there.

Unknown

When Seasonal Depression Hits

Take A Hike With Project Coordinator Kailey

After a morning of hard work, Kailey decided to get outside to enjoy the beautiful fall weather we have been having. She went for a hike at a new trail, the Tri-Town Trail, that’s up the road from her house.

@ohbabyitskailey nature keeps me sane #fyp #nature #connecticut #waterfall #hike ♬ The Good Part – AJR

4 Years

Last week was my 4 year anniversary with my boyfriend. I never thought I’d ever find someone who loves me unconditionally. I never thought it was in the cards for me because of all of my mental health issues. Before this relationship, I had convinced myself that nobody would ever love me. I thought everyone would just leave me because of my issues. I was so afraid of being abandoned that I didn’t want to give my heart to anyone again. I was afraid they would leave me just like everyone else. My boyfriend has shown me that I am enough and I am worthy of love.

my boyfriend and I, Halloween 2018 – fall is our favorite season and we both love Halloween!

I never thought I’d be someone who would find someone that I could be myself with. I had always felt like I needed to hide bits and pieces of myself. I was afraid if I shared too much, I would push people away. When I first met my boyfriend, I had this immediate connection with him. We met for the first time on the roof of the Summer Garage at Mohegan Sun. We got Krispy Kreme doughnuts and headed off to Napatree Point in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. He was so easy to be around and talking to him was effortless.

From day one were inseparable. I wasn’t looking for love when I met him. In fact, before I met him, I was ready to be alone forever because I had closed myself off to being vulnerable. While we were inseparable from the start, I wasn’t immediately ready to consider more than just friendship. But, we were spending every free moment we had together. We were seeing each other multiple times a day between our jobs and my intensive out-patient program (IOP). We were going out and adventuring everyday, multiple times a day. It didn’t take long for him to manage to take down the wall I had built around myself. Within two weeks of meeting him, we were dating.

Now, here we are, four years later and still going strong. Things aren’t always easy, but he is my best friend. People always expect sunshines and rainbows in relationships, but with life and outside stressors, conflicts are inevitable. Relationships take a lot of work and compromise. But, it’s all worth it. Today, we have a house and three cats. I love the life we have built together. We have really grown together through these past four years. He has been my biggest supporter and I try to be the same for him. It doesn’t matter what new hobby I want to try, he always backs me up with whatever it is I want to pursue. I really am so lucky.

our three babies: Ash, Moe, and Voodoo

I have someone who knows my whole story and still loves me. The spark hasn’t died out. Honestly, when I met him, he saved me from myself. Before him, I drowned myself in work. I was working three jobs when I met him and I was afraid to be with anyone. I am glad he helped me break out of that cycle. I’m glad he accepts me, mental illness and all.

Don’t ever think that you’re unlovable because of your mental illness. You might have had people in the past who didn’t understand you or who didn’t try to understand, but I promise you, there are people out there who would be more than happy to be with you. You are more than your mental illnesses and your mental illnesses do not make you unlovable. The right person is out there. You will find someone who loves you unconditionally, flaws and all.

Don’t be afraid to love again. Not everyone is like your ex.

Unknown

Make A Pizza With Me!

This morning I had very little motivation. This resulted in me only having a muffin for breakfast. This afternoon, I went to brunch with a friend and then when I got home, I worked and worked and worked. I got very caught up in it and I lost track of time. I knew I needed to eat, but my kitten was in my lap and I just didn’t have the will to make myself food. Finally, at 7pm, I found the will to finally make myself something to eat. Below is the pizza I made for dinner 🙂

@turningpointct.org I’ve barely eaten today, but I finally had the will to make this pizza for myself at 7pm…sometimes it’s the little victories!! #food #mentalhealth #smallvictories ♬ Smile All Day – Bounty feat. Spencer Ludwig
snuggly kitten while I worked
my tasty pizza!

Wanderlust

Wanderlust: a strong desire to travel and explore. It’s the opposite of being homesick. The word wanderlust originates from German, and describes the lust (or desire) to go wandering (or travel), and is not a desire to go anywhere particular.

Some days I want roots, a steady career, and stability. But other days, I want nothing more than to wander to my heart’s content. I want to count the stars in grassy fields and drive down backroads with the windows down and my favorite music playing as I watch the scenery go by. I want to get lost in the woods and explore places I’ve never been. Some days I understand why they call it wanderlust, because I crave nothing more than to wander endlessly in a world so caught up in walls and endings. Sometimes I feel suffocated by all of my responsibilities and I want nothing more than to just get away from it all.

During the week, I get out and explore all of parks that Connecticut has to offer. Connecticut is beautiful. We have the shoreline, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, forests, rolling hills…there’s beauty around around us. I’m constantly in awe of the beauty we have in our small state. But, as much as Connecticut has to offer, I have a burning desire to go out and explore past our state. There are so many places I’ve never seen that I want to see.

Two weeks ago, we were at Norwalk Community College for Fresh Check Day and our table was “100 Reasons.” The point of the table was to get students to think about what their reasons to live on are. When students came to the table, they could make a canvas that illustrated or stated their reason or reasons to live. I made one as an example and it was something that was so true for me. I drew a forest with a river and I wrote “There’s still so much of the world that I still haven’t seen….” And it’s true, I have such a longing desire to get out and just see the world. The world really does have so much to offer. Seeing pictures and videos from other people is great, but I want to experience it.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Oregon and New Hampshire within the last month. Going to the west coast and getting to experience the mountains and the canyons was unreal. This last weekend, I took a day trip to New Hampshire and it was honestly such an amazing experience. I took a drive through the White Mountain National Forest and I was in awe. It was past peak foliage, but it didn’t even matter. Just getting to see the mountains and rivers was enough for me.

After this last weekend to New Hampshire, I want nothing more than to hop around all of New England every weekend. I had never been one to spontaneously travel, but after doing it, I now see the appeal. We are so lucky to live in a small state where we can be out of state within an hour. The other states that make up New England are so within reach. It took me a mere 2 hours to cross the New Hampshire border, two states away from us and the total time to the White Mountains was only 3 and a half hours. It was so close, we only did a day trip.

Seeing how easy it is to travel and experience even just a couple hours from home was enough to get me itching to do it again. In fact, this coming weekend if the weather cooperates, I am planning to go to Portland, Maine for another day trip. My desire to get out and travel is pretty much all consuming now. My brother has always been the traveler of the family and I had never understood why he was driving all around the country seemingly every weekend. But, now I get it. I’m tired of living vicariously through others social media posts.

I think I was the only person who was standing in my way from doing things like this before. I had always had the mindset that I didn’t have the time to do things like this. I didn’t think that I could be one of those people who travelled a lot. I always had some kind of excuse. But, now that I have seen it doesn’t take much and it can happen even with very little planning, I am hungry for more.

I will continue to explore around Connecticut because as small as this state is, there are STILL so many parks that I haven’t been to. I bought myself a cute thing on Etsy to keep track of which Connecticut State Parks I’ve been to, but there are still so many town parks and land trusts that are hidden gems around the state. I really started to explore the parks of Connecticut I had never been to during the pandemic because doing things indoors was out of the question. I really don’t think I would have explored as much as I have if it were not for this pandemic because it gave me time to do things for myself.

Now that I have pushed past my block of excuses as to why I can’t travel, you can expect to see me doing a lot of exploring, even if I’m just starting out in the states surrounding ours. I want to experience as much as I can while I can. I don’t want to regret not getting out to see the world.

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

Helen Sontag

Below you can see some more photos from my day trip to New Hampshire:

Release Yourself

Some won’t appreciate you no matter how much you do for them. Release yourself. Go where you’re appreciated and understood.

Robert Tew

I am two things because of trauma:

  1. A caregiver. I care lot about people, and I always want to be there for people because I know what it’s like to feel like you have no one.
  2. A people pleaser. I am so afraid of upsetting those around me, I do things that I do not want to do just to ensure that people like my bosses and my coworkers won’t fire me or hate me.

I am one of those people who gives those around me my entire self. I don’t half do things for the people around me. I I do everything I possibly can to help those around me who are struggling. My entire world could be falling apart, I could be broke, and I would give what little I had or put myself into debt just to make sure that those around me are taken care of.

The problem is, I have absolutely done this for people that have not appreciated it. I’ve done it for people who do not have my back the way that I have theirs. And the reality is, some people won’t appreciate you no matter how much you do for them.

You see it all the time. People get cheated on all the time that do not deserve to be cheated on because they have given their entire self to the person. Children giving their all to narcissistic parents that only care about themselves and their own agenda. Sometimes giving your all is not enough. And it has nothing to do with you, it doesn’t mean that you are not enough. You could give them the moon and the stars and these kinds of people will still not appreciate you.

I have worked jobs that were minimum wage and I covered everyone’s shifts and worked ridiculous hours for pretty much nothing. My work ethic wasn’t appreciated and I eventually was able to leave those jobs for jobs where I was appreciated.

I’ve been in relationships and friendships where everything I was doing wasn’t appreciated. I am that person that will answer and come get you no matter what time of day it is. But after a while, doing that while not being appreciated is draining. It makes you wonder how everything you’re doing isn’t enough. It makes you feel like you’re not enough. You start to realize that these people wouldn’t do the same for you.

Release yourself. Go where you’re appreciated and understood.

The issue isn’t with you. What you’re doing is enough and there will be people who can appreciate you and everything you do. You don’t have to settle for people who don’t appreciate you. You deserve so much better than that. You deserve to be appreciated and understood.

Don’t ever feel like something is wrong with you when people don’t see your value. You are enough and there are so many people who will appreciate and understand each and every part of you, even the damaged and not so pretty parts. I am surrounded now by so many loving friends and a boyfriend who loves me with all of my quirks. You shouldn’t have to do things for people to feel worthy of love. There will be people who love you for you and not for what you do for them.

Things I’m Tired of Hearing As Someone With Mental Illnesses

For those of you who are new here, I’m Kailey and I have struggled with anxiety, depression, social anxiety, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I have had a lot of people say things that are pretty invalidating, but I’ve also had a lot of people who really did mean well say things that were just not helpful. Below are some of the things that I am extremely tired of hearing as someone with mental illnesses.

“Other people have it worse”

There is nothing worse than having your feelings invalidated. I am allowed to be upset by things. Everyone reacts differently to different things / situations. Also, just because people have it way worse than me doesn’t mean I have no right to be upset about my situation. Not everything is a competition. Also, the world doesn’t have to be ending for me to be depressed or anxious. Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere and I don’t even know why it’s there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been doing absolutely NOTHING and I’ve been so anxious out of nowhere to the point I couldn’t function. I have a literal chemical imbalance in my brain. It doesn’t always have to do with my situation, but obviously stressful and upsetting situations are definitely triggers and can make them worse.

“You don’t look sad”

In my 24 years of life I’ve had a lot of practice with putting on a mask. Just because I look like I’m not anxious or depressed doesn’t mean that’s not the case. I only show people what I want them to see. Of course, the people around me can read my face like a book and they’re able to tell. But for the most part, I try to post the good and I try to post positive stuff. I try not to go into the bad things going on in my life because I really feel that it’s nobody’s business but my own.

“Choose happiness!”

I know most of the people who say this are genuinely trying to be kind and positive. But, don’t you think if it was that easy that I WOULD choose happiness? Why would anyone choose to be miserable? Everyone wants happiness. As I said before, someone like me who struggles with various mental illnesses has actual CHEMICAL IMBALANCES in their brain. I did not choose this. I wish I could just choose to be happy. Sometimes I wake up depressed or anxious and I have NO IDEA why. I have no reason. The chemicals in my brain are not okay.Additionally, trauma has literally changed the way my brain works. Trauma isn’t always visible, it’s not always a giant event that people on the outside can easily point to. For people like me with complex traumatic stress disorder, it’s lots of continued trauma that’s happened over time.

“Don’t worry”

Ah yes, I hate when my anxious self is told to not worry. I have been a worrier ever since I can remember. I grew up on a lot of land and my dad and my brother would often go into the back of the woods. I would constantly think that something bad had happened to them and I was only in middle school. I would honestly think they had been seriously injured or somehow killed. That’s the thing about having anxiety. You get all of these intrusive thoughts that to normal people don’t make any sense. A “normal” person wouldn’t understand why I would think some horrible thing happened to my dad and brother afterbeing out of my sight for 30 minutes. Just yesterday I didn’t see my kitten for a majority of the day and I had convinced myself that he had somehow escaped to the point that I was checking my ring cameras to see if he had slipped out when I went to the post office. These worrying thoughts are constant and they’re about everything. I try to shut them up, but they’re constantly swirling around in my head sometimes to the point where I cannot focus. I wish there was an off switch for my worrying.

“You’re so lazy”

Depression can make you not want to do anything at all. If it’s not depression, it’s my anxiety. Sometimes my anxiety is so intense I cannot get myself to do things. The anticipation / thought of having to do things can bring serious anxiety, which causes me to procrastinate. It’s not that I’m lazy. Sometimes my anxiety is so intense, the physical symptoms can literally be paralyzing. My heart races, I get a numb and tingling feeling in my fingers, and it becomes hard to focus on anything besides these extremely uncomfortable physical symptoms. I tend to end up sitting doing nothing staring at a wall or scrolling on my phone trying to distract myself from the anxiety. Sometimes it lasts over an hour. Sometimes it lingers for the entire day. When it won’t go away for the whole day, I will go out into nature to try and ground myself. This could come across as I’m a lazy POS who avoids her work and goes and does fun things, but the reality is I’m mentally struggling and going into nature away from work and electronics is the best way for me to come back to myself and calm down.

“Mental illness isn’t a real thing”

This one really just drives me up a wall. There’s science, and people like me who are living proof. I’m telling you, none of us choose to be like this. Mental illness is not something anyone would choose. It’s crippling. It effects every part of your life from your relationships (friends, family, romantic partner), to school and work. I feel like a burden to those around me when I am having a depressive episode where I won’t leave the house. When my anxiety is really bad and I’m convinced everyone hates me, I’m not purposely convincing myself everyone hates me for fun. Having suicidal thoughts during those dark times are terrifying. There is nothing worse you can tell someone who suffers with mental illness than “mental illness isn’t real.” I live it almost every day. It’s not made up for attention. I’m not telling people I have mental illnesses because I think it’s cute or I think it’s an “aesthetic.”

“You’re doing it for attention” 

I heard this a lot growing up. When I was in high school and college, I shoved my emotions down for long periods of time and then I would suddenly just snap. I would go into hysterics and cry uncontrollably. I would scream things like “just fucking kill me” in a rage. I would throw furniture and I once punched a hole in my closet door. During one episode I even grabbed a pair of scissors and went for my wrist. As you can imagine, these are not positive ways to get attention. WHY would anyone do something like that for attention? I was literally just at my breaking point. Those “episodes” always ended with me leaving my house on foot and just walking with no plan except to escape. These were never thought out plans for attention. They were just explosions of negative emotions I had shoved down for months or years. Additionally, I would like to point out that I do not speak out about my struggles for attention. Some of it is embarrassing to share, but I share it because I know there are people out there who need to hear that they are not alone in their struggles. Believe me, those explosions are not my proudest moments. But, when people shove down their emotions like that, a reality is people snapping and when that happens, people think the person exploding is crazy or doing it for attention. It’s really just not the case, the reality is usually that person is having a really hard time and they’re overwhelmed by intense emotions and they’re just not sure how to deal with them in a healthy way.

The Takeaway

Next time someone chooses to confide in you about struggling, try to choose your words wisely. Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all. A lot of the time, when we open up, we really just want someone to listen. But, getting validation for our feelings also helps tremendously, so try not to question someone and how they’re feeling. Do not make them feel bad about they’re feeling. Just listen and validate.

Looking Back On My High School Years

graduation day – 2015

This last week, one of the “Question of The Day” questions in our Discord server was “What was/is your favorite year of high school?” My first thought was “huh, I don’t even know what happened during which year, it was so long ago.” And then, it dawned on me that I started as a freshman in high school TEN YEARS AGO…an entire DECADE AGO.

Besides realizing how old I am and cringing a bit at the thought of that, that question made me think about high school and just how different life was back then. High school had both its ups and downs for me. I dealt with so many things in high school that felt like they were truly the end of the world. But, I am happy to say I have made it to 24 and not only did I survive high school, I also managed to survive college! But this post isn’t about college, so I will stick to the high school stuff.

I grew up in the tiny town of Salem, Connecticut. Most people assume I mean Salem, Massachusetts because nobody knows where the hell Salem, Connecticut is. My town had one single school in it and it was an elementary school and middle school combined. I was in the same school from kindergarten through 8th grade. Now when I said one school, I meant just that. Salem does not have it’s own high school. Because of this, a majority of us end up at East Lyme High School and we make up a very small percentage at the high school.

my school 🙂

I remember being so nervous to start high school. Little small town me who was used to knowing everyone was going to get thrown into a school with a bunch of people I didn’t know. Sure, most of my fellow Salem peeps would be there, but I would still have to meet a lot of new people.

I didn’t know any of the East Lyme people. I didn’t know the dynamic they had and I didn’t know who was popular and who wasn’t. I remember at the beginning of my freshman year, I started dating the most popular boy in our grade (which, I hadn’t known). The popular girls were all talking about me behind my back and saying things like “I can’t believe he is dating some nobody from Salem.” Apparently they had all be trying to date this guy for years and I effortlessly was able to date him when first getting there. Even though we didn’t date long, because that’s how high school relationships tend to be, the fact that people I didn’t even know said those things about me just for dating someone still kind of bothers me to this day.

freshman year Kailey ready to go to the homecoming dance – 2011

High school is full of things like that, you know the jealousy and the talking behind others backs. Because of this, I really tried to stick to my very small friend group, most of who were from Salem. I never really felt like I fit in with a lot of the East Lyme people, although I did make friends with a couple of them who became best friends. Sports was one way I was really able to make those friendships. While adult life may have gotten in the way of us staying super tight knit, at the end of the day, we can text each other at any time and it’s like no time has passed.

In my high school, we all had lunch at the same time. That meant as freshman, we would literally sit in the hallway on the ground during lunch (I’m not sure if that’s something that happens at other schools). But to us, that was just normal. The upper classmen were the ones who were privileged enough to get tables. Despite sitting on the floor, we all made the best of it and we had a lot of fun during lunch.

When I think about high school, I really think a lot about sports. I played sports year-round throughout high school and to be completely honest, they kind of consumed my life. I don’t think I would have survived those years of sports sucking up all that time if I didn’t have friends on my teams.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy some of the sports. I really liked field hockey. I had only started playing when I was a freshman in high school. I hadn’t even practiced before tryouts. My freshman year I became varsity, and of course, people said things about me like “oh she was only picked because the coach is from Salem” but I really feel that I earned the spot. I later became the captain, although honestly, I don’t think anyone on my team actually voted for me because my team was filled with popular people and I was definitely not one of them. I had always wondered how I had gotten voted in or if my coach had just made me captain because I never fit in with the people my age on my team.

The other sport I did was track. I had never had any intention of running track, but the track coach had recruited me because he saw me beating everyone on the field hockey field during sprints. I remember being a freshman sitting in World History class when this old man I didn’t know came in and said “step into my office…” (aka the hallway) and he said I really should run track. And so I did. But, I hated it. Running for no reason other than to run was the worst, but I was good at it, so I kept doing it because it seemed to make others happy.

High school wasn’t all sports though. I spent a lot of time seeking out attention pretty much in all the wrong places. I had a LOT of boys that were interested in me and I would message them all at the same time. I would lead them on just to get the attention. The attention made me feel good. I wouldn’t say I didn’t have confidence in my looks, but I definitely hated myself a lot. Like a lot a lot. So having all these different guys swoon over me was awesome. I actually had one guy from my crafts class knit me a scarf.

A few of them were serious, but those were ones that very much started as friends and then later turned into other things. I wasn’t really allowed to hangout with people outside of school who were boys so most of these “relationships” were just texting and some I would hangout with in school during lunch of study halls. Even though these relationships of sorts never went anywhere, I still look back on these times really fondly because before anything else, they were my best friends.

When I was a senior, I had my first REAL relationship. In the beginning, things seemed really great. They always do. I was head over heels, partially because I had never had a real relationship. I had never had anything serious and established that lasted long. To be completely honest I thought something was wrong with me, but I also was afraid of being in a relationship prior to this because I was so afraid of getting attached to anyone and having them leave me.

Regardless, I had my first real relationship. He was my first. I loved him and I think he loved me. But sometimes love is not enough. At that age, we are so immature and people do things to hurt others, whether they realize it or not. This boyfriend had always made me feel like shit about my body. I had struggled with an eating disorder since middle school, but this relationship had made it worse, both during it and after it ended. My struggle with anorexia was really heightened from the toxic nature of the relationship.

junior prom – 2014

We ended up breaking up after high school when he went into the navy. But, I would continue to talk to him and be involved with him on and off throughout college. Towards the end of that period, I didn’t have feelings and he did. I think I was just trying to be a friend to him because he seemed to be struggling. He had felt guilty for what he put me through and he was trying to make up for it, but the damage had already been done. His actions in that relationship really harmed my future relationships because it damaged me a bit. I had no trust for many years because of him. Happy to say I have not had contact with him in years because I finally learned how to set boundaries for myself.

While high school was not all bad, I am so glad that I matured and have since worked heavily on my mental health. In high school, I don’t think I really understood much about mental illnesses and it wasn’t until I was in college that I had actually took the steps to work on it. The good news is I really do love myself more now at age 24 than I did when I was in high school. I was able to learn about myself and my depression, anxiety, and my eating disorder through lots of therapy and self-reflection when I got out of high school.

If I had known more about mental health in high school and understood it better, maybe I would have reached out for help sooner. I think high schoolers in this day and age have a much better understanding of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues due to social media. Believe it or not, people were not as open about it on social media as they are now. Although that’s not to say people sharing now aren’t still fighting to end the stigma.

Regardless, I eventually got the help I needed. I am still a work in progress to this day, but looking back on high school, I am so glad I am not the same person. I am so glad I got to know myself and love myself instead of looking for outside validation whether it be from people or social media. Looking back reminds me of just how much I overcame.

How To Make A Mental Health Crisis Box

@turningpointct.org how to make a mental health crisis box 💚 repost from our project coordinator, @mooreella ♬ original sound – turningpointct

Ella’s Distraction Tool

@turningpointct.org @mooreella stopped anxiety in its tracks and turned her day around with a distraction tool. How do you cope with stress? #turningpointmoment ♬ Pretty Boy Swag x What You Know mashup – asamr

Break The Stigma

Mental Health Books

Talking To Your Inner Child

Every Day, A Million Miracles Begin At Sunrise

@turningpointct.org

“Every day, a million miracles begin at sunrise.” Hoping everyone has a great Tuesday!🥰

♬ Good Morning Day – Headline Music

And That’s On Recovery

@turningpointct.org and 👏 that’s 👏 on 👏 recovery (repost from @mooreella ) #mentalhealth #peptalk #tabithabrown #coping #recovery #fyp ♬ original sound – turningpointct

Your Existence Is Not A Burden…

Just incase nobody has told you today…. Your existence is not a burden and you deserve as much as anyone else.

When you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s really hard not to feel like you’re a burden to everyone around you. I know the thought has gone through my mind many times throughout my struggles with my mental health.⁠

I’m here to tell you that those thoughts are wrong. You’re not a burden. People are helping you because they genuinely want to. They are there supporting you and helping you because they care about you. ⁠

Most importantly, you deserve just as much as anyone else. Your mental illness does not determine whether or not you are worthy of anything.⁠

You are worthy of love. You are worthy of friendship. You are worthy of happiness. You are worthy of success. You are worthy.⁠

Next time you’re feeling down and feeling like the world would be better off without you, remind yourself that you are not a burden and you DO deserve just as much as anyone else.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, but you’re not sure where to get help, check out our resources page.

Reflections – Surviving Crippling Depression

Around this time last year I fell into one of the deepest depressions I had ever been into. It was a crippling depression. I don’t want to go into the details of what caused the depression, but the depression was so bad, I was ready to end my life.

**Trigger warning; Talk of Suicidal Ideation

I’m not just talking about thoughts of suicide. I felt worthless. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anyone. I felt like I was a burden to everyone around me. I felt like my life was never going to get better. I felt like I was going to be a screw up for the rest of my life.

As I said, these were not just thoughts. I was beginning to make arrangements. I planning who my savings were going to because I wouldn’t need them when I was dead. I started to go through my room so my parents would have less stuff to go through. I felt like I had no other option than to end my life. I thought it was what was best for me and everyone around me.

Every time I closed my eyes, I pictured myself dying. It was never something that brought me peace. It was more of an intrusive thought. It was how my longing to die was manifesting. I would stay up most of the night just to avoid closing my eyes. I was honestly terrified to sleep. I was afraid of the images that came into my head when I tried to close my eyes and I was afraid of nightmares.

During the day, I was a shell of a person. I was very much just going through the motions. I would spend the entire day on the couch doing nothing. I would mindlessly scroll on my phone to try and distract myself. If I wasn’t scrolling on my phone, I was dissociating. I was straight up just staring at the wall for hours.

I was listening to the same playlist over and over again, my Machine Gun Kelly playlist. The music was depressing as hell, but I was here for it. Some of those darker lyrics I just really resonated with at that time. The lyrics honestly made me feel understood. Those songs were pretty much my anthems.

As I said, I was staying in the same spot all day. I was barely eating. I didn’t leave the house. I was terrified to go out and do anything. I was afraid of being out in public by myself. I had lost the part of myself that used to love going out and to explore and hike alone. I was no longer finding comfort in having time with myself. Being alone all day with my thoughts was a living hell. I was crippled by not only my depression, but also by my anxiety.

As I mentioned, I was afraid to go out and do anything alone. I did miss getting outside, so I begged my brother to go explore with me. This was the first outing I made during that time.

The reason I was home all day was because I had already graduated from school and I was working from home. But, I was so depressed, the working part wasn’t really happening. I had to literally fight myself to even get an hour or two of work done. It was causing my anxiety to be unbearable because I knew I should be working and because not working meant no money. It was just a vicious cycle of crippling depression and non-stop anxiety.

While that was absolutely one of the most difficult times in my life, I pushed through and I am still here to this day. I am so happy to say that I am in a much better place mentally than I was a year ago. A year ago, if you had told me that I would become the project coordinator of a mental health project that helps teens and young adults who are struggling, I would not have believed you. A year ago I did not feel like I was even worthy of being hired by anyone despite having a college degree.

If I had ended my life then, I would have never accomplished everything that I have in the past year. I made it to 24 years old. I finally moved out of my parents house. I became Turning Point CT’s Social Media Assistant. More recently, I became Turning Point CT’s Project Coordinator. I got a kitten. I learned that I’m going to be an aunt. I went to Oregon.

If I had ended my life a year ago, I not only would have missed these amazing opportunities and successes, but I never would have met my niece. My niece would never have known me. I would have never met my kitten, who shares my birthday with me. I wouldn’t be in the position I am now where I am able to help others like me who have struggled with their mental health.

my little Ash Kitten

I am thankful that I have made it this far. I doubt that will be the last depression that I go through. Recovery isn’t linear and there are so many ups and downs. It’s a part of recovery and it’s also just a part of life. You have to keep pushing forward even when you don’t want to.

Think about your friends and your family. You might think they won’t care if you end your life, but they will. They will miss you and they will spend every day wondering if there was anything they could have done to avoid it. They will wish you were there every single day probably for the rest of their lives.

If you are struggling, there is help out there. Check out our resources page for crisis hotlines and other helpful resources.

My Trip To Oregon

Last week, I traveled across the country and took a trip to Oregon. This trip was for a food blogger workshop (for those of you that don’t know, my other job is working for my mom’s blog Low Carb Yum). The trip was just my mom and I and we definitely made the most of it.

I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t dreading the trip. Don’t get me wrong, I was REALLY looking forward to getting to do some sightseeing, but I was not looking forward to being away from home or the HOURS of flying. I will say though, my worrying was for nothing. The trip was great in more ways than one.

Even though this trip was for work, it was a much needed break from my regular routine of work work work and housework. While I was initially dreading the hours of plane rides, those ended up being a really enjoyable part of my trip. Being on the airplane was really my time to just unplug and I needed it way more than I realized.

On the first flight I was next to my mom and we talked for probably the first hour. After that though, the rest of my flights on the way there AND back I spent reading. Reading was something that had always been a favorite of mine. In fact, immersing myself into books was one of the ways I escaped from the shitty things that were going on in my life. Getting lost in books really saved my life when I was younger. Since I’ve gotten home, I have started to read before bed again. The trip reminded me that I do need to unplug even if it’s just for an hour. Reading does that for me.

The other part of my trip that I did genuinely enjoy was getting to spend that one on one time with my mom. My relationship with my mom has definitely had its ups and downs, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to have a much better relationship with my mom. Every time we do these trips, I find out more little bits and snippets from her life and we are really able to connect.

my mom and I at Smith Rock State Park

On this particular trip, we talked a lot about our anxiety and I found out that she really has dealt with a lot of the same anxiety related issues that I struggle with. While I was really going through it and struggling with anxiety in college, I had no idea that my mother would understand what I was going through. It was no nice being able to openly talk with her about it and connect.

Now that we are both adults, it’s so much easier to talk to my mom. When you’re younger, it always seems like your parents are out to get you, and maybe they are, but most of the time they’re really trying to do what’s best for you (even if the execution is very poor lol). Now that I am older, I really try to remind myself that my parents are just regular people trying to navigate and deal with their own issues and past traumas.

Now the other reason why this trip filled my cup was because I was able to get out in nature. We were hoping to hit at least one park, but we managed to get to four in the three days we were there (even though we were in the workshop for pretty much two whole days). My mom was a very good sport about getting out and hiking with me in the dry and hilly terrain.

my camera and I in a cave ~spooky~

Getting out in nature and taking photos has always been something that has helped to ground me. Being able to get out and explore the amazing landscapes Oregon had to offer was like a breath of fresh air (even if that air was super dry). It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get out and take pictures because I have been so busy with work.

While in Oregon we were treated to dessert like terrains, but we were also able to make it into the mountains. We saw two different waterfalls and rivers. For me personally, there is nothing more calming and relaxing than the sound of moving water.

Below you can see some of the photos I took while on my trip:

My trip to Oregon ended up being more than just another work trip. My mom and I really made the most of the trip. We had awesome food, we really were able to see a lot in what little time we had, and we were able to bond and have genuine quality time.

I was also able to reconnect a bit with myself by doing things I enjoyed while I was out of my regular routine. I reconnected with reading and I also was able to get out in nature and take photos for the first time in months. The trip was also such a great reminder for me to continue to do things for myself when I got back home. I cannot let work consume my life. There is so much more to this life than just working. The world has so much to offer.

@ohbabyitskailey thinkin about oregon💭#hiking #waterfall #tumalofalls #nature #oregon #centraloregon #canweskiptothegoodpart #fypシ #fyp ♬ The Good Part – AJR

Why I Chose To Be Sober

I drank alcohol and smoked pot when I was younger. It didn’t last long. I had stopped drinking and smoking before I was even 21. I got it all out of my system before I was even legal to drink. I chose to be sober. Part of the reason I had started drinking was social pressures and wanting to fit in, but another part of it was a way to cope with my depression.

I think the first time I had a drink was when I was a junior in high school. I was at a party and someone offered me a Twisted Tea. Everyone around me was drinking so I decided to just go along with it. I didn’t particularly like the taste, but I drank it anyways.

As I went to more and more parties, I continued to drink in an attempt to fit in. I was drinking beer and I really hated the taste, but again, I continued to drink it. Later, it became things like wine and Mike’s Hard drinks. Those were things that didn’t taste nasty and I did continue to drink those.

I wouldn’t drink a lot and I would never get blackout drunk or anything (although I knew people who did). I would get just buzzed enough to enjoy myself at these parties with my friends. I really didn’t party that often and I really didn’t drink much.

At some point, I had started to drink alone when I was depressed. I want to say it was my senior year. I was having someone buy me alcohol and I was hiding it in my closet and drinking it at night when everyone was asleep. It wasn’t often, but it was still happening.

When I got into college, I definitely started drinking more. I was drinking harder alcohol, like Fireball and Jim Beam. At this point, I had also started smoking pot. There were times I was taking shots and taking hits from weed pens during work. These were not my best moments.

When I was a sophomore in college, my best friend tried to take her life. While I was at work, she started saying things that were really worrying me and I sent someone to her dorm to check on her. When they got there, they found her unconscious. Thankfully, she survived. But it really, really messed me up mentally knowing that the reason she had survived was because of me.

After that incident, I was really struggling mentally. It was a lot knowing that I had saved her life and I was thinking a lot about what could have happened had I not sent anyone to check on her. It was a lot for a 19 year old to deal with.

The weekend after, I was hanging out with friends and drinking. I had drank enough to have the alcohol effect me and my judgement. This particular night, someone had offered me a pill called Red Bull (I would later find out it was MDMA). I had always told myself I wouldn’t do drugs like that, that I would draw the line at marijuana. But this night, between the internal mental struggle and the fact that I was drunk, I ended up giving into the peer pressure. After several no’s to the offer of this pill, I finally gave into the peer pressure when I was told it would make me happy. He could not have been more wrong.

drunk Kailey before the MDMA

I had a horrible trip. Horrible doesn’t even really cover it. It was absolute hell. Nobody told me that being in a dark mental state would pretty much ensure I had a horrible trip.

I spent the night screaming for hours and throwing myself around in a bed. It was honestly traumatic. My hair was in a giant knot once the screaming and flailing finally subsided. My tongue was completely bitten up from grinding my teeth (something I learned was common with MDMA). I felt like like I was in another universe and like a zombie for at least a week afterwards. I never did anything like that again.

my tongue the next day

My brain was never the same after the MDMA. My depression worsened and I started to have issues anxiety.

There was a reason for this. MDMA releases serotonin in large amounts, which is why many people say it will make you super happy. However, by releasing large amounts of serotonin, MDMA causes the brain to become significantly depleted of this important neurotransmitter, contributing to the negative psychological aftereffects that people may experience for several days after taking MDMA. Anxiety and depression are both results of low serotonin.

After just one time of using it, I had to start seeing a special doctor to try and elevate my serotonin to help with my anxiety and depression. It was a holistic doctor and he gave me several supplements to help with my anxiety, including 5-HTP. Being only 19 at the time, I tried to take them regularly, but I quickly stopped taking them.

While I never touched MDMA again, I did continue to drink and smoke pot. The drinking during work and the smoking during work continued because there were a LOT of bad influences in the plaza I worked. Many of them were older and there was honestly a lot of low-key sexual harassment going on (but that’s a whole different story). I’d go into one store in the plaza and take the free nips they would offer me. After my shifts, I would go drive around and smoke with another person from the plaza. One time I even snuck into a rooftop bar because I was always hanging around with older people. I accepted any free substances that were offered to me because I liked the way substances made me feel. I liked becoming a bit numb.

that time under-age Kailey snuck into the rooftop bar

I did dabble with edibles, but because of the issues with anxiety I started to have, the body high edibles gave me felt exactly how my anxiety felt. I would get tingling and numbness and it was exactly how my anxiety presented itself physically. This would just cause me to actually become anxious and it resulted in me puking every time. It was awful.

Those handful of times with edibles was enough to put me off of pot of any form for good. The anxiety of getting sick was just too much. Around the same time, I also made the decision to stop drinking.

There are a lot of different reasons why I personally chose to be sober. One of the main reasons I chose to be sober is because alcoholism is something that definitely runs in my family. I’ve watched it effect family members extremely close to me. I knew if I went down the route of turning to alcohol every time something went wrong, it wouldn’t be pretty.

I definitely see in myself that I have an addictive personality. I am also the kind of person who takes things too far, especially when it comes to becoming self-destructive. Man was I good at making myself miserable and getting myself into just all around bad situations. I had decided that I wanted better for myself. I didn’t want to become like those family members who depended on alcohol. I didn’t want it to ruin my life.

I was extremely lucky that most of my friends and family were completely understanding. Nobody ever really pushed me to drink, they’d offer me a drink to be polite, but nobody was offended when I didn’t drink. Even on my 21st birthday, I didn’t drink. I had already stopped drinking years before. I did have a couple sips of wine at a restaurant a couple days later just to say I did it, but because I hadn’t drank in years, I was tipsy enough to trip over my own feet.

Since I’ve been legal, I have only used my ID twice to use alcohol. Once, I bought a bottle of wine thinking I would drink a glass with dinner every night like my grandfather, but I never actually touched it. I had no real interest in drinking and I actually have a lot of anxiety surrounding drinking at this point. I don’t like being in a state where I feel like I am not in control of my body. The second time I used my ID was actually last month to buy my cousins birthday/college graduation gifts. I bought them some hard cider from up an orchard up the road from me. Because I don’t drink, I didn’t even know what to look for.

You’re probably wondering why I bough others alcohol even though I don’t drink. Even though not drinking and not smoking is a decision I have made for myself, I do not shame or judge people who choose to drink and smoke. Most of the people I know who drink do not go overboard and they’re able to do it in moderation. They’re able to respect my decision not to drink or smoke, so I respect their decisions. Sobriety isn’t for everyone.

Choosing to be sober is something I did for myself. I didn’t do it because I had some agenda. I didn’t do it because I think everyone should be sober. I did it because I felt that it was the best thing for me. I did it because of my family history. I did it because I know I have an addictive personality. I did it because I know I can be so self-destructive.

I am just trying to live my happiest, healthiest life.

Benefits of Pets On My Recovery Journey

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

kailey and treasure

Sometimes I wonder where I would be without my pets. While I don’t have any actual therapy pets, my pets have been such a huge part of my mental wellness without even trying.

Did you know that there are health and mood-boosting benefits to having a pet? Some of these benefits of pets include:

  • Elevated levels of serotonin and dopamine – playing with a dog, cat, or other pet releases hormones which calm and relax you
  • Reduce depression – companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression
  • Reduce anxiety – the companionship of an animal can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world
  • Providing sensory stress relief – stroking a dog, cat, or other animal can lower blood pressure and help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed

As crazy as it sounds, my childhood cat Treasure is a huge reason why I am still here today. Growing up, I struggled a lot with suicidal thoughts and ideations. One of the main reasons I never went through with any plans to end my life was because I couldn’t fathom leaving Treasure behind alone. She is just an innocent cat and I could not do that to her. She wouldn’t understand. I literally loved that cat more than I loved myself (and I still do).

My cat Treasure and I were inseparable. We got her when I was 11 or 12 and she chose me as her person. Wherever I went, she followed. Honestly, she hated everyone but me. She slept with me every night and she was literally my best friend. She was always right by my side when I was home.

my ride or die Treasure Ann

I struggled a lot with depression when I was younger and petting my cat and snuggling my cat always made me feel so much better. Any time I was crying, she always seemed to know how to make me feel better. Even when my world seemed to be falling apart, having her near me made things seem just a little bit better. Having her by my side made me feel loved and like I mattered. I loved being her person. Just LOOKING at her could change my mood. Her cute little face brought me so much happiness. She was my child and I would do anything for her, including continuing on with life even when I really didn’t want to.

Treasure was such a blessing to me in so many ways. Whether she realizes it or not, she has gotten me through so many horrible and tough times in my life. She gave me a reason to live. She gave me purpose. She was my reason to wake up in the morning. Waking up and seeing her little face looking back at me melted my heart every day.

When I started dating my boyfriend, I was able to experience the love dogs have to offer. While I absolutely love my cat more than life itself, I came to LOVE my boyfriends dogs. Once I started dating my boyfriend, I was spending pretty much every day at his house and his animals (two dogs and two cats) became like my own. I loved them, and they loved me back.

benefits of pets dogs
Gabe (left) and Rayne (right)

Seeing the pure joy Gabe and Rayne had spending time with my boyfriend and I gave me so much joy. It made my heart so full. Whenever I was upset, petting them and just straight up snuggling them in bed and hugging them was such a huge comfort to me. Just like with my cat Treasure, I was absolutely in love with these animals. They gave me purpose. Being in their life made me so happy.

Smiley Gabe
A happy Baby Rayne getting some pets on her birthday this year

The companionship you have with pets is really like no other. You know that pets have no other ulterior motives in liking you. They love you for you. They genuinely want to spend time with you and they love every waking moment they get to spend with you.

I have been working from home for many years now. It gets extremely lonely working from home all day. I currently live with my boyfriend and our three cats and let me tell you, I do not know how I would make it through the day without them. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I go lay with them or I pet them and kiss them repeatedly. Just being near them helps to calm me down.

Having them here really does make me less alone. When I feel the depression creeping up or my anxiety creeping up, I always know they’re there and they’re happy to just sit with me while I pet them. Sometimes I will take a break during the day and just pet my cats and talk to them for like 40 minutes (not even an exaggeration). I would probably go insane being alone all day every day. They really help keep me grounded while I am home alone all day.

my three baby kitties
Moe
Ash
Voodoo

There are so many benefits of pets in terms of your mental health. For me personally, my cat Treasure literally saved my life when I was younger and really struggling. I felt like I had nowhere to turn and I felt completely alone, but she made me feel loved and less alone.

I love that I have been surrounded by so many animals that have showed me nothing but pure, genuine love. Their love has given me the strength to keep going even on my worst days. The dogs’ happiness just living in the moment with us has reminded me that there is so much for me to be happy about and that there is good. They’ve reminded me to try and find the good.

How To Help A Friend Who’s Struggling

We all have friends who are struggling around us and it is natural for us to want to help them. When it comes to helping someone who is having a tough time emotionally, you need to be mindful about how you handle the situation.

In the beginning of my recovery journey, if someone in my life was struggling, I was always making suggestions to help make them feel better. These people weren’t asking for my help so it really wasn’t welcome. What I didn’t realize then was that you cannot force people around you to work on their mental health.

It took me years to realize that you can’t force people to work on themselves. It used to drive me insane that I was putting all this effort into working through my issues while those around me weren’t. I couldn’t understand why others wouldn’t want to help themselves.

The way I worked through it was thinking about how in the beginning I didn’t want help. You know the saying “you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves”? It’s the truth.

For years, I was that person who did not want to help themselves. People had tried to help me, but I was set on being self-destructive. I really didn’t want to help myself. I was set on being miserable.

I don’t think I consciously was trying to be miserable, but the advice people kept trying to give me absolutely wasn’t welcome. I wasn’t ready to make a change and that’s okay. People will make the change when they’re ready.

We’ve all seen and know first hand how horrible it feels to be forced to do something you don’t want to do. Now, whenever I feel the urge to offer people advice about their mental health, I force myself to take a step back and ask “do they really want advice right now?”

The best thing you can do for someone who is going through a tough time with their mental health is to be there as a support system. You don’t have to spew advice at them or tell them what they can do or should do to solve all of their issues. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen and validate their feelings.

I know most of the time this is really all I am looking for when I reach out to a friend. I wish people would ask me “do you want advice or do you just need me to listen?” Most of the time when I get unwanted advice without my feelings getting validated, it feels like a lecture. It honestly makes me feel stupid when people try to give me logical advice while I am in an emotional state.

So next time someone comes to you to vent about things going on in their life, as much as you want to help them and give them logical advice, try just being there for them. I think a safe bet is to always ask the person if they want advice or just to vent to a listening ear. They will appreciate you asking, even if they don’t openly say that.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, check out some of our resources.

My Struggle With Anorexia and Disordered Eating

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

**TRIGGER WARNING – ANOREXIA

Would you guess that this girl was suffering with an eating disorder? You can’t always tell just by looking at somebody. Not all anorexic people look sickly thin with bones sticking out. They can look completely fine on the outside.

It’s no secret that we live in a society that praises the skinny. Diet culture is still everywhere we turn. Social media is filled with accounts that feature super skinny or super toned and muscular people. It’s no wonder so many teens and young adults are struggling with eating disorders.

It’s hard not to judge your body when everywhere you look, there’s a skinny, pretty person in your face. Not to say it’s the skinny people’s fault, but the media really pushes that skinny is beautiful. The media doesn’t tell you that all bodies are beautiful or that all bodies matter.

Just yesterday I found myself scrolling through Kylie Jenner’s Instagram wondering why I don’t look like her. And it’s not just her, my feed is filled with skinny celebrities. Sure, I know a lot of things are touched up and angles make a huge difference, but looking at these pictures really makes me hate my body.

I have struggled with anorexia and disordered eating since I was in middle school. I think the earliest trigger was probably my dad telling me that I was “fat” at 57 pounds. I was only in 5th grade. Looking back I think it affected me way more than I originally thought.

After that incident, I would “cut weight” before going to the doctors because I knew they were going to weigh me (I grew up in a house where wrestling and cutting weight were a big thing). I vividly remember having a plastic cup that I would just spit into hoping that expelling some salvia would make me lighter. I was just a kid, I really didn’t know any better.

When I got into high school, my disordered eating manifested in a very different way. I was straight up starving myself because I was depressed. I felt like I had no control over my life and it felt like controlling what I ate was the only real control I had over my life.

I wasn’t starving myself because I thought I was fat…I was starving myself because it was something I could control. This is going to sound really bad, but every time I would get past the painful hunger, it was like a victory to me. It was like good job, you got past it.

When I was a senior in high school, I was in a pretty toxic relationship. It was my first ever REAL boyfriend. This guy would make comments about my weight all the time. Mind you, I have NEVER been heavy in my entire life. But, this boy would talk about my body in such a negative way. I began to have very little self-confidence and very little self-esteem. I wasn’t eating because I was depressed, but I also wasn’t eating because I liked how skinny it made me.

My eating disorder was probably the worst between senior year of high school and the beginning of freshman year of college. I think it was a combination of things going on in my life, low self-esteem, and the stress that is the transition from high school to college. In high school my eating disorder was so bad, I wasn’t getting my period for months at a time. At the time, I had no idea that anorexia and being underweight could literally cause your menstrual cycle to disappear.

At my worst, I became obsessed with my weight and what I looked like. I was literally weighing myself every morning and I was watching the scale go down. Part of me was worried about my health, but there was another part of me that cheered every time I saw the scale go down. I remember looking up my BMI frequently to see if I was considered underweight.

at my lowest when my eating disorder was at its worst

For a while, things got better. I was eating regularly, but when my depression came back, I stopped eating again. It had to have been the end of my sophomore year of college. I hated my major and it made me hate school. I was working a lot. And my depression got to the point where I just didn’t want to be alive anymore and I didn’t care what happened to me. I made the decision to starve myself and smoke cigarettes because I just wanted to slowly wither away and die. I honestly wanted myself to suffer. I even told my own mother that I was starving myself so she could watch me wither away and die (sorry mom).

For years, the cycle of starving myself when I was depressed continued every single time I felt slightly unwell. It crept up when the pandemic first started and there were days I was lucky if I ate anything at all.

I would love to tell you that I am happy and healed, but I think when you’ve been suffering with disordered eating as long as I have, there are times when I am not eating as much as I should and I don’t even notice. Eating disorders can have lasting effects. For me, my body’s hunger cues are all out of whack. If I don’t eat when my body sends me a hunger signal, it will quickly pass and I will forget I was even hungry and I won’t eat. My body is just used to not receiving food, even years after the worst of my battle with eating disorders.

Recently, I was going back through my photos on my phone because I was trying to clear up space on my phone. I came across quite a few pictures I had taken of myself where I honestly thought that I had looked heavy or fat at the time. Looking at them now, I can’t believe that I ever thought that I was fat. I had never thought of myself as somebody with body dysmorphia, but now I’m starting to think it was there the whole time with my eating disorder.

In recent years, I thought I was totally fine, and while I wasn’t restricting food, there were points I would become obsessed with working out and I would over-do it. Not only was I overdoing it, but I was still under eating because that was just what my body was used to. Honestly, I thought I was just being fit and healthy, but the reality is, you shouldn’t be intensely working out every single day. Your body needs time to rest.

During the unhealthy gym obsession.

Video About Eating Disorder and Exercise Addiction

There was another point that I tried tracking my food in an app in an attempt to make sure I eat enough while I was into working out. This involved weighing my food. Due to my history of disordered eating, it did not work out well for me. I found myself not wanting to eat certain foods because I felt shame around tracking it. I also wouldn’t want to eat anything I couldn’t properly or accurately track in the app. Like one day, my boyfriend was being nice and he made me eggs. But, since I had no idea how much was in there, I freaked out and wouldn’t eat the eggs. It was then that I knew I would not be able to track my food.

Nowadays, I am trying to find balance after years of disordered eating. I still work out, but I don’t have a meltdown if I can’t workout. To this day, I still under eat, but I am working on eating consistent, balanced meals to help my blood sugar stay stable. Nutrition and making sure your body is properly fueled not only helps you feel better physically, but it also helps your mental health. Your body can’t function properly if you’re not properly fueling it. I still compare myself to other people I see on Instagram, but I am also actively trying to love the skin I’m in.

Recovery is possible. It isn’t easy, sometimes it’s ugly, but it is possible. There is help out there and there are so many resources you can turn to if you’re struggling with an eating disorder.

“Be patient. Growth doesn’t happen over night.”

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, but you’re not sure where to start to get help, check out our resources page.

How Photography Has Helped Me In My Recovery

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

Me with my “Mega Zoom”

Photography has been something that I have been interested in since I was a kid. I loved that photography was a way to capture moments. It is also a great way to express yourself. I have never been great at things like drawing or painting, so photography has been a great medium for me to express myself.

I think when you’re in recovery, it’s so important to have an outlet. Sitting alone with your thoughts is tough. I’ve found that having a hobby of some sort is a great way to get your mind off of whatever is bothering you. For me, photography is something that I look forward to and very much enjoy.

No matter what you’re interested in, doing a hobby you enjoy can provide a great chance to step back from the stressors of life to engage your mind and body in different ways. Hobbies can bring so much joy and fulfillment to your life.

Having a hobby you regularly do can make you less likely to suffer from stress, low moods, and depression. A study from BMC Public Health found that people who engaged in creative hobbies for more than 100 hours a year had notably better mental health than those who did not.

Thankfully, I have a lot of hobbies to help keep myself mentally well! Photography is just one of my MANY hobbies I like to do to take a step back from the stress of everyday life.

People are always trying to tell me “you should be trying to sell your photography!” but honestly, not every hobby you have has to be about making money. If there’s a hobby you enjoy, it can stay just that – a hobby.

Not everything has to be a business or a side hustle to make money. Honestly I think if it was a business, I would probably begin to hate it. The only photography I do for money is food photography and let me tell you…I hate doing it. The only food photography I do enjoy is desserts.

Zucchini Spice Cupcake – Example of my food photography that I do for my mom’s blog lowcarbyum.com

When I was really struggling at the beginning of the pandemic, my camera was my best friend. I was going out almost everyday and just photographing whatever I could. If I didn’t have time to drive anywhere, I would walk around the yard with my camera photographing birds or flowers. But I spent a lot of time traveling all around Connecticut to parks and trails I had never been to before just to photograph the landscapes.

In 2020, I got really into photographing waterfalls and I tried to hit as many in Connecticut as I could. I also got really into bird photography. In 2021, I had a seal phase.Photographing these things genuinely brought me joy. It was something to look forward to.

A photo from my 2021 seal photography phase – Seal I photographed while on Block Island

While the hobby itself brought me a lot of joy, my photography also lead me to be a part of communities that enjoyed wildlife and nature as much as I do. Sharing my photos with people who loved my wildlife pictures as much as I did was fulfilling in itself. Some people aren’t able to get out and see these things so it really was a great feeling getting to share my photos with people and see others photos they were taking as well.

Great-Horned Owl!

As I mentioned earlier, photography is also a great way to express myself. During college, I took a Digital Photography class and one of the assignments was to do self-portraits. I very much used this assignment as a form of self-expression. My self-portraits really reflected my depression I was experiencing at the time.

I could have done anything I wanted with the portraits, but without even meaning to or having a plan to, it was just a colorless set where I just didn’t look happy. Sure, I wasn’t crying, but depression can be much more subtle than just hysterically sobbing. The portraits really show how I felt and how I viewed myself. That’s how it is with art. Your feelings just come out in your work.

Photography is just one of my many hobbies that has helped me stay sane. If you don’t have a hobby, I would really recommend you try starting one. You do not have to be the best at it, it just has to be something that brings you joy. Having a hobby can really benefit your mental health in so many ways. Whether it’s something you’re doing just to escape the stress of everyday life, or a creative outlet to get some emotions out, I highly recommend giving either a try. Your mental health will thank you!

How To Make Your Own Positivity Jar!

I made my first positivity jar when I was in an IOP (intensive outpatient program) for my anxiety and depression.

I wrote all of my favorite quotes at the time on my pieces of paper and now whenever I’m feeling down, I will open my jar and read one of the quotes that meant something to me.

Make your own jar to give yourself some positivity when you need it!

How To Make

Making a positivity jar is pretty simple and totally worth it! You don’t need much in terms of materials either. You probably already have everything you need on-hand!

Step 1: Get a Jar

This can be any old jar. Mine is in a mason jar, but you can use any old jar or container you have lying around! You can decorate the jar with stickers, vinyl, or glass markers. We used glass markers for ours in IOP, but if I were to decorate the one I just made, I would use vinyl because I have a Cricut!

my jar from IOP

Step 2: Prep Some Paper

You can use regular printer paper, or you can get some fun colored paper! Cut the paper into small enough pieces to fit nicely in your jar, but big enough to write on.

Step 3: Write Quotes

Lastly, you will write your favorite quotes, sayings, and encouraging words on the pieces of paper! This part can be time consuming, but it’s also a lot of fun! I spent so much time sifting through inspirational quotes to put into my first jar.

If you’re looking for some quote ideas, here are some that I included in mine:

  • Fall in love with being alive
  • Instead of thinking about saving your whole life, think about adding additional good things. Just let your pile of good things grow.
  • Darling for you to be this sad, you must’ve once felt so happy, and you will find that feeling again, and it will be beautiful.
  • Be grateful for the opportunity to experience each day.
  • I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.
  • Water your roots, so your soul can blossom.
  • Be a better you for you.
  • The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.
  • Stay close to anything that makes you glad you’re alive.
  • A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

Video Walk-Through

@turningpointct.org

How to make your own positivity jar! ##mentalhealth ##mentalhealthmatters ##positivityjar ##mentalhealthcrafts ##fypシ

♬ Creative(1018683) – TimTaj

Journaling for Mental Health

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

journaling for mental health

Journaling can be an integral part of your recovery journey – I know at one point, it had been for me.

I used to always keep a notebook on me because writing out all the feels I had inside was much better than holding them in. If I was feeling stressed out because I had something on my mind in school or at work, I would write in my notebook.

I would write every thought that came to mind and I would just write until I couldn’t write anymore. It was very much word vomit and there would be times I would literally just be talking trash about myself to myself in my journal, but believe it or not, it helped. Getting all those feelings out is very therapeutic. There were times writing in my journal was the only way I would not completely lose my mind. It’s a great outlet if you truly feel like you have no one you can talk to about the dark things that are really going on in your brain.

Later in my recovery journey, I became afraid to write. It was really just a matter of I didn’t want to deal with my issues and I didn’t even want to know what the hell was happening in my brain, so I just chose to shove everything down and not write even though writing was something that REALLY helped me in the past.

When just sitting down and writing was too much for me, I bought myself a journal with daily prompts. It was a journal with prompts for self-discovery, but they have all kinds of these types of journals ranging from mental health prompts to self-care journals. Regardless, these journals are a great way to get you started on writing if you’d like to start journaling, but you’re not sure how or where to start. For me, it became a part of my daily routine and I would look forward to what the next prompt would be.

Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health

I’ve talked about what journaling for mental health has done for me in my recovery, but let me talk about how journaling can help you!

Helps You to Relax

As I had briefly talked about, writing out your stressors is a way to release them from your mind. While it might not completely remove it from your mind, getting it out is much healthier than letting those negative thoughts and emotions continue to circulate in your mind for hours and hours.

Boosts Your Mood

Journaling is a positive outlet to get out negative emotions. Putting all of your thoughts on paper or typing them out on a computer can relieve stress and help you feel much better. Getting in the habit of journaling is an excellent way to reduce depression.

Helps You Stay in Tune With Your Emotions

Journaling is a great way to stay in tune with your emotions. When I’ve felt anxious or stressed, but I wasn’t sure what triggered it, I’ve always found journaling to be extremely helpful. When you write those emotions out on paper along with what might have happened that day, it’s easier to take a step back and have that AH-HA moment of what the cause was, which can be reassuring. It also is a great way to help you reflect and see what kind of things cause you to feel certain emotions.

Can Help You Solve Problems More Effectively

As I mentioned above, getting everything out on paper allows you to be able to step back and reflect. Writing through your issues is a great way to try and solve issues. There have been times that I’ve sat down to write with no intention of trying to solve the issue at hand and I’ve found myself writing out possible solutions to whatever issues I’m dealing with. Most of our anxiety and stress comes from unresolved issues going on in our life. Venting in a journal can help lead you to the solution you need.

Helps You Achieve Your Goals

Journaling can help you achieve long-term and short-term goals. Writing down your goals is an effective way to keep your focus and help you be much more productive. Achieving your goals is a great way to boost your mood and help you feel much better about your life.

Journals for Mental Health

If you’re looking to get started on journaling for your mental health, below are some great journals to help get you started!

Journal Prompts for Mental Health

If you’re looking to get started in any old notebook, below are some journal prompts to get you started!

  1. Make a list of all your emotions right now – what comes to mind first?
  2. Think of the worst emotion or feeling you have right now and write about it.
  3. Think about the best emotion or feeling you have right now and write about it.
  4. List 10 things that made you smile today.
  5. List 3 things that made you feel anxious today.
  6. List 5 things you are currently stressed about.
  7. List 5 things causing you stress, but that YOU have the ability to change.
  8. What situations make you the most fearful?
  9. Is your anxiety worse in public or at home?
  10. How is the way you deal with stress different now than when you were younger?

For more prompt ideas, check out: 50 Therapeutic Journal Prompts for Mental Health and Healing

Takeaways

Journaling can be extremely beneficial for your mental health. Getting in the habit of journaling everyday can help keep your mind healthy. They don’t have to be long, drawn out prompts, even a couple minutes of journaling a day can be helpful!

If you need help now, but you’re not sure where to start, check out our resources page.

Dissociation: Common Trauma Response

Post written by Kailey

**trigger warning, sexual abuse/rape

Have you ever heard of dissociation? Dissociation is one of the most common responses to abuse and trauma. It involves feeling numb, detached, or unreal.

While it happens to everyone once in a while, it happens frequently and severely in trauma survivors. Dissociating looks different for everyone. My experience with dissociation could be completely different from one of my peers.

I wish dissociation wasn’t something I have experience with, but unfortunately, it is something I have dealt with. It tends to happen to me when I’m feeling extremely overwhelmed, but I’ve also had it happen during a traumatic experience.

For most, dissociating makes you feel numb. It’s like you’re not even there and sometimes your mind is literally just silent, which for someone with anxiety who is used to the whirr of intrusive thoughts constantly, it’s a bit unsettling. When I dissociate, there are no thoughts, it’s just a bunch of nothing. It’s like spacing out, but to the extreme and with no thoughts bouncing around.

It’s hard to understand what dissociating is if you’ve never experienced it. When I’ve tried to explain it to my boyfriend, his response is always “HOW CAN YOU HAVE NO THOUGHTS?!” which is a pretty fair point. But, it’s just a coping mechanism where my body just shuts down so I don’t have to experience the intense emotions. I definitely wouldn’t say it’s healthy, but it’s product of repeated trauma over years and years. When you can’t physically escape it, your body eventually learns to just shut down to make you not present.

To give you an idea of how powerful dissociating can be, I’ll share a traumatic experience that I dissociated through. I was hanging out with someone I considered strictly a friend, but he wanted us to be more. He was convinced that we were made for each other and I just did not feel the same.

One particular day, he kept asking and asking if we could have sex. No matter how many times I told him no, he kept making advances and I finally just stopped trying to say no even though I absolutely did not want it. Long story short, he helped himself and my body went into shut down – I dissociated through the whole thing.

While I was in fact there, it was like I was not. It was my mind and body’s way of trying to protect me. I spent the whole time staring at the ceiling with no thoughts. I could hear the episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia playing in the background, but it sounded so far away. Physically, I didn’t feel anything even though I was being raped.

Dissociating is your body’s way of trying to protect you, and that is what my body did that night. I didn’t have to feel it and I felt like I was watching it happen from another world. I didn’t feel like I was actually in my body during the abuse.

While physically, I didn’t feel anything, the trauma still happened and it had lasting effects. The dissociating was powerful enough for me not to feel it, but I still ended up traumatized despite my body’s efforts to protect me. Still to this day I have trouble being intimate and I will find myself dissociating during sex with my partner even though we have been together for years. My body is still trying to protect me after all these years even though I’m in a loving, safe relationship.

While dissociation can be involuntary, there have been times I have forced myself to dissociate because I couldn’t handle what was going on around me. This is not something I would recommend you do because it is so unhealthy and there are so many healthy ways to cope besides making yourself completely numb.

But, I would force myself into it because it was what I knew and it had helped me survive so many things in the past. A lot of people with anxiety can’t make their thoughts silent and make themselves numb, but it was something I had learned to do when things were just too intense.

While dissociating can be becoming numb, sometimes it’s intense flashbacks that feel very real. Coming out of those flashbacks can be intense and startling because you’re basically coming from a different world back to reality. You might feel startled or confused when you’re finally aware of your surroundings again.

There are been so many times when I’ve been alone where I have relieved trauma over and over again in my head. For me personally, it’s typically before bed, and it makes it very difficult for me to fall asleep. Reliving trauma over and over through flashbacks is not something I would wish on anybody. Even just flashbacks are enough to send my body into fight or flight.

Takeaway

Dissociation is a common response to trauma and a component of many mental health issues. Regardless of the cause, it is important to know that you are not alone. If you’re concerned that you are experiencing dissociative symptoms, talk to a healthcare professional or someone knowledgeable you trust.

If you need help now, but you’re not sure where to start, check out our resources page.

How Music Has Helped Me In My Recovery

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.

Elton John

Music has always been a huge part of my life. From listening to music, to playing instruments, music has always been there for me.

I am the kind of person who ALWAYS has headphones on me. When I was in school, there were times when having music playing throughout the day was the only way I made it through the day. It’s crazy how music can make you feel so many things.

Music can make you feel happy, but it can also make you feel sad. Music can bring people together. Lyrics can literally validate your feelings.

There are so many songs where I listen to the lyrics and I’m just like holy shit, that is me, that is my life. The music these artists create come from their own struggles and music is a way for them to express themselves.

You don’t have to create music to feel the effects. Scream singing these songs can be cathartic. Listening to them can also put you at ease, even if they’re not the most uplifting songs because they make you feel understood. And because not everything is about being emo, some of these songs can make you happy and make you want to dance!

Music can be extremely beneficial for your mental health. Music can:

  • Elevate your mood and motivation
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve focus
  • Help you relax
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Boost confidence

Additionally, music can be a good way to express negative emotions in a healthy way. Music is an incredible vehicle to help us process negative emotion. Listening to “angry” music can be therapeutic when we’re dealing with stress and anger.

There have been so many times where I’ve been angry or upset and I’ve went and listened to “angry” music and it’s actually made me feel better. And when I say angry music, I do in fact mean the kind where they’re screaming. While some people might not find the screaming music comforting at all, I find comfort in it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pissed off and I’ve just gotten in my car, put on something like Sticks & Bricks by A Day To Remember and just drove to blow off steam. Being alone in my car driving with my music has always been my happy place. What’s better than being in complete control and away from everyone? Maybe that’s just the introvert in me.

A couple of months ago, I was in a very, very deep depression. Like I was in a very dark place, barely functioning, not really taking care of myself at all. I was pretty much sitting on the couch staring at the wall all day too depressed to move or do anything.

You know how I was coping then? MUSIC! I had my Machine Gun Kelly playlist on repeat because I was just being super emo. If you’ve ever listened to MGK, you’ll know what I mean. Even though the music was super depressing, it was still helpful because I was really able to connect with it and feel a little less alone.

While listening to music has been super beneficial for me, playing instruments has also been such a huge coping skill for me. I have been playing piano and the guitar since probably middle school and more recently, I’ve learned to play the ukulele (really hoping to learn to play the banjo next).

Whenever I was dealing with really intense emotions, playing piano was always my go-to. I remember my dad once telling someone that he always knew when I had a tough day because I would immediately go to the piano and start playing, sometimes for hours.

There’s just something so calming about playing the piano to me. The fact that I am able to make beautiful sounding music with my hands is really just so amazing to me. Like it really never fails to amaze me. And it’s just so incredible because my fingers always just seem to know where to go, it’s like I’m one with the piano when I’m playing. There’s seriously no better feeling than my fingers gliding across the keys creating beautiful music.

@turningpointct.org

Music really helps me ease my anxiety. It’s a nice escape from reality for me. How does music help you? ##mentalhealth ##music ##anxiety ##peersupport

♬ original sound – turningpointct

While I do love the piano, playing guitar and singing is another way I like to decompress. Guitar doesn’t come as natural to me as the piano does, but it was something I’ve always been into because my grandfather used to play guitar in a band. He taught me to play when I was just a kid.

I think singing is really beneficial for me because it’s a way for me to physically release emotions. While playing the instruments also does that, it’s just an added thing because the words are coming from my own body. Even if my singing isn’t that great, the feeling of singing is intense and cathartic. Honestly, sometimes I’m like close to tears when I sing because I feel the emotions that strongly. PS, crying isn’t a bad thing, it’s a healthy way to release those negative emotions you try so desperately to keep in.

@turningpointct.org

music has the ability to change my entire mood. what does music do for you? ##copingskills ##music ##mentalhealth ##mentalhealthmatters ##fypシ

♬ original sound – turningpointct

Music is really quite an amazing thing and it has been there for me through the ups and downs that is life.

How has music helped you?

Vacation – Worth The Stress

Post Written by Kailey MarcAurele

At the top of Bodie Island Lighthouse

Sometimes, you just need a break. This past week, I went to the Outer Banks on a family vacation. This vacation was a great way for me to get away from work and all of my responsibilities at home.

The Stress of Being On Vacation

I’d love to say I loved every second of vacation, but that would be a lie. Traveling does come with a lot of stress. It’s hard to be out of routine and when you’re traveling with others, there are a lot of compromises. You might have one thing in mind for what you want to do, but the people you’re with might have other things in mind.

Even with me bringing my best friend that I’ve been friends with since childhood, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. On vacation, you can’t just hide away and isolate like you can at home so if there is some kind of disagreement, you have to deal with it right then.

The other thing about vacations is you have to spend money. While there are plenty of things to do, you have to feed yourself for a week and that means a lot of eating out. But, I was lucky to find so many gluten-free and dairy-free options. While I was definitely stressed out about how much money I was spending, I really did enjoy getting to experience a lot of awesome food that I could eat even with my restrictions! My friend did an AWESOME job of finding restaurants that had plenty of options for me.

Finding food I could eat was something I was really stressed out about prior to vacation. Going out for food is one of the best parts about going on vacation, but when you’re gluten-free and dairy-free, there’s always the stress of having to watch everyone enjoy regular food while you struggle to find something you can eat.

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Vacation Food!

While I was so excited to be on vacation, I missed home only a few days in. I have three cats at home and honestly I just missed my routine at home. Working from home, I spend a lot of time by myself while my boyfriend is at work all day. I missed the comfort of being alone at home where I could just do my own thing. But really, I also just missed my cats.

I actually ended up coming home early from vacation. I was just really homesick. I drove my car the whole 10+ hours down so thankfully I was able to be in control of when I left. For me, I hate feeling trapped or stuck anywhere so I like to always drive myself places, and I was willing to make the drive myself just so I could go places when I wanted and leave places when I wanted on vacation.

There’s no worse feeling than carpooling with someone and being uncomfortable and wanting to leave, but not being able to. I’ve been in that position too many times to allow it to happen anymore. While I was anxious to drive my car for almost half a day down and back with me as the only driver, it was worth it to me to be able to drive myself around and be able to go when I wanted.

While vacations are supposed to be awesome, it’s totally normal and okay to be stressed out! Don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you, there’s definitely a lot of things that can trigger stress on a vacation.

Vacations Aren’t All Stress!

The stress of traveling is almost always worth it! While I was stressed out quite a bit on vacation, I really did have a good time while I was in the Outer Banks. This trip was my third time going there, so I already had an idea of everything I wanted to do.

One of my favorite things about the Outer Banks are the lighthouses! I don’t know what it is about them, but I love seeing them, learning the history, and climbing them! I was bummed that Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was closed for climbing because it is the TALLEST brick lighthouse in the United States. But, I was still happy to be able to see it!

Bodie Island Lighthouse – I visited this lighthouse THREE different times this vacation!
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

I also spent a lot of time enjoying the scenery and wildlife! Anyone that knows me knows how much I love being by the water. So naturally, I loved being on islands for a week! I could see the ocean from the rooftop deck of the rental we were in and I could walk to the beach. I was able to enjoy a sunset and morning and evening walks on the beach.

outer banks sunrise

On top of enjoying everything the Outer Banks has to offer, I also had a good time with my best friend and my family. If you’ve ever been to the Outer Banks, you’ll know that there is a lot of driving to go and do stuff (the Outer Banks is HUGE and made up of multiple islands). I spent a lot of time blasting music while driving and scream singing music with my best friend. I spent time with my parents and my siblings and we shared a lot of laughs and made awesome memories.

Vacations can be tough, especially when you deal with anxiety and depression. Try and make the most out of vacation. While they’re a lot of work, you can still have a good time and make some great memories.

Tips for Keeping Your Mental Health Well On Vacation

If you’re feeling stressed about traveling, here are some tips that can help keep your mental health well while you’re away:

  • Find time to relax
  • Bring your medication
  • Bring a good book
  • Have headphones to listen to your favorite music
  • Stay hydrated
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Bring reminders of home with you for when you get homesick
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Stay present and appreciate the moment you’re in
  • Don’t be afraid to say no – don’t do things you feel uncomfortable doing

What is Sensory Overload?

Post Written by Kailey MarcAurele

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by everything around you that you almost feel paralyzed?

Sensory overload happens when you’re getting more input from your five senses than your brain can sort through and process. It could be a multitude of things – multiple conversations going on in one room, flashing overhead lights, or a loud party. All of these can produce the symptoms of sensory overload.

What Causes The Sensory Overload?

When there’s competing sensory information, your brain cannot interpret it all at the same time. For some people, this feels like getting stuck – your brain can’t prioritize what sensory information it needs to focus on.

Your brain then sends your body the message that you need to get away from some of the sensory input you’re experiencing. Your brain feels trapped by all the input it’s getting, and your body starts to panic in a chain reaction.

Who is at Risk?

In terms of mental health conditions, sensory overload tends to happen to people with:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    • Sensory information competes for your brain’s attention. This can contribute to symptoms of sensory overload.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder and PTSD
    • Anticipation, fatigue, and stress can all contribute to a sensory overload experience, making senses feel heightened during panic attacks and PTSD episodes.

Other conditions that sensory overload are associated with are:

  • Autism
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Tourette Syndrome

Symptoms of Sensory Overload

  • Difficulty focusing due to competing sensory input
  • Extreme irritability
  • Restlessness and discomfort
  • Urge to cover your ears or shield your eyes from sensory input
  • Feeling overly excited or “wound up”
  • Stress, fear, or anxiety about your surroundings
  • Higher levels than usual of sensitivity to textures, fabrics, clothing tags, or other things that may rub against skin

What Sensory Overload Feels Like For Me

If you’ve experienced sensory overload, you’re not alone. Sensory overload is something that I have experienced firsthand.

I come from a big family and honestly, although I love them, they are pretty loud and they tend to all talk over each other during our family events. There were so many times that I would get anxious and really irritable. Sometimes at these events, I would get so stressed out and uncomfortable, I would literally go hide in the basement just to get away from the noise.

For me, I always had a really hard time doing my work in the library and sometimes even in the classroom because even the sound of people writing would stress me out and make me unable to focus. In the library, there were conversations going on, the sound of typing, the sounds of backpack zippers, etc….all at once. And not only could I not focus when I was hearing all these VERY normal sounds you expect to hear in a library, but I would also get furious. The sound of people typing would make me so angry and I would have these off the wall thoughts about how I wish everyone would stop typing because I couldn’t focus.

When the sensory overload happens, I tend to just shut down. I can’t focus. I get irritable and everything starts to piss me off. It probably makes me sound like an asshole saying everyday sounds quite literally drive me insane, but all of them at once are just too much for me to handle.

Because of this, I’m the most comfortable at home where I can control the environment and what’s’ going on around me. I don’t like going to loud, crowded places. Loud sounds, convos, and environments are probably one of my biggest triggers. Those are the kind of places where I tend to shut down.

I used to think I had ADHD because the sensory overload would cause me to lose my focus. When I told my therapist this, she told me that anxiety can make it hard to focus too. That had never occurred to me, but considering the constant intrusive thoughts in my head throughout the day, it makes sense why focusing would be hard.

Take Aways

Experiencing sensory overload doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. It just means there’s too much going on around you and your brain is having trouble sorting through what it needs to be focused on. Your brain being overwhelmed is what causes the panic.

If you’re experiencing sensory overload, the following may help:

If you need help now, but you’re not sure where to start, check out our resources page.

What is High Functioning Anxiety?

High-functioning anxiety is a form of anxiety that is not a clinical disorder but can still be detrimental. Someone with high-functioning anxiety is able to function relatively normally and appears fine on the outside but still experiences regular symptoms of anxiety and is struggling internally.

Signs and symptoms of high-functioning anxiety are often associated with desired characteristics by onlookers, so someone with high-functioning anxiety may even be successful and seem like a high-achiever. In reality, their anxiety is one of the driving factors for their success.

Some signs and symptoms of high functioning anxiety are:

  • People pleasing
    • inability to say no
    • fear of disappointing others
  • Always busy (full-schedule)
  • Unable to switch off and relax
  • Need for reassurance
  • Over working and over-committing to responsibilities
    • workaholic tendencies
  • Overthinking, nervous chatter
  • Discomfort when routine is disrupted
  • Having unrealistic expectations
  • Difficulty staying present
  • Neglecting own needs
  • Constantly comparing self to others
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Overanalyzing, overdoing
  • Always early

My Experience With High Functioning Anxiety

I have struggled with anxiety for most of my life. The thing is though, I’ve been really good at hiding it.

I’ve always excelled in whatever I’ve done. I always got straight A’s and I always excelled in sports. I played All-Stars softball, and I was varsity for the sports I did year round from the time that I was a freshman in high school. I was captain of the field hockey team. On the outside, I looked like I really had it together. But the truth is, internally, I was suffering.

Nobody knew that I had really bad anxiety. I was able to hide it really well. I have always been really hard on myself because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m the biggest people pleaser and I’m terrified of letting those around me down. I never put my needs first and I always did what was expected of me. Even though I was excelling at sports, I began to hate them because they became my life. Between work and school, I had no time for myself and that became my normal.

When I graduated high school and went to college, I stopped playing sports. Since I was so used to the go go go, when I started working, I picked up all the hours I possibly could. I was that person who ALWAYS picked up people’s shifts, even when I didn’t want to. Between my college courses and my job, I still had no time for myself. But, this is what I was used to. I didn’t know anything else. And honestly, I think part of me was just trying to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t have to be alone with my thoughts.

I’m still a bit of a workaholic to this day working two jobs and doing a bunch of “side gigs” from home. But again, to everyone, I’m just a hard working, successful individual. They don’t see the anxious person on the inside with excessive worrying going on and horrible intrusive thoughts.

But the thing is, all of these qualities that come with being a high functioning anxious person are praised. People praise the “hustle” with no breaks and climbing the ladder to success. To most people, if your schedule isn’t jam packed with work and projects, you’re not doing as much as you should be. But the nonstop working is so detrimental to both our physical and mental health.

I’ve spent so many nights staying up and working until midnight because I felt like I had to. I’ve realized now that I don’t have to do that to be successful. I’ve learned that breaks are important and necessary.

Living with anxiety is hard. It’s harder when on the outside you look like you have it together, when really you’re struggling day to day. It’s tough because people will ask you how you could possibly be anxious or depressed when you have all these things going for you. I’m here to tell you that you can both be successful AND anxious. The two can coexist. Don’t let anyone invalidate your feelings. You know what goes on inside your mind, they don’t.

The Two Sides of High Functioning Anxiety

What They SeeThe Reality
High-AchievingFear of Failure
ProactivePerfectionist
SocialSelf-critical
Ability to Appear CalmRacing Thoughts
Meets DeadlinesOften Exhausted or Fatigued
OrganizedAfraid to Disappoint Others
HardworkingProcrastinates When Stressed

Although high functioning anxiety isn’t recognized by doctors, all anxiety is valid regardless of how functional someone might seem on the outside. 

If you’re feeling anxious, there is help out there. Check out our resources page to find ways to get help.

Gaslighting

Have you ever heard of the term gaslighting? To put it simply, gaslighting is a form of manipulation that occurs in abusive relationships. It can be between family members or in other types of relationships. It is an insidious, and sometimes covert, type of emotional abuse where the bully or abuser makes the target question their judgments and reality. Ultimately, the victim of gaslighting starts to wonder if they are going crazy.

Gaslighting can cause a lot of damage. I was a victim of gaslighting growing up and there were times I started to really question what I thought I knew about myself. It’s had such a lasting effect where I still have a very warped reality of myself.

I remember being in middle school and having one of my parents telling me they knew I was smoking pot. The reality was, I had never even seen pot and I also didn’t know where one would even get it. I did not have contact with it until I was already out of high school.

There were so many other times I was told “stories” about myself and things I had supposedly done that weren’t true and it really messed with my head. My abuser REALLY believed that these lies were the truth and they would repeat them over and over, telling me they KNEW I was doing these things. I began to question my own memories and questioning if I DID actually do the ridiculous things that I was being accused of.

That was just a little bit of my own experience, but gaslighting can take many forms. Some gaslighting examples are:

  • lying to you
  • discrediting you
  • deflecting blame
  • minimizing your thoughts and feelings
  • shifting blame
  • denying wrongdoing
  • using compassionate words as weapons
  • twisting and reframing conversations

All of these things can be damaging. Unlike physical abuse, the scars that emotional abuse leaves are invisible. This can fuel the feeling of being crazy. I can’t tell you how many times my feelings from the abuse were invalidated just because I was not being PHYSICALLY abused. I’m hear to tell you that those emotional scars are just as valid as the physical scars.

Being a victim to gaslighting can cause anxiety and depression. It also has been linked to panic attacks and nervous breakdowns. For this reason, it is important to recognize when you’re experiencing gaslighting. If you think you might have been a victim of gaslighting, there are some warning signs to look out for:

  • You doubt your feelings and reality.
  • You question your judgment and perceptions.
  • You feel vulnerable and insecure.
  • You feel alone and powerless.
  • You wonder if you’re stupid and crazy.
  • You are disappointed in yourself.
  • You feel confused.
  • You worry that you are too sensitive.
  • You have a sense of impending doom.
  • You spend a lot of time apologizing.
  • You feel inadequate.
  • You second-guess yourself.
  • You assume others are disappointed in you.
  • You wonder what’s wrong with you.
  • You struggle to make decisions because you distrust yourself.

Gaslighting is horrible, but there are some ways that can help you feel less crazy and anxious. Something that really helped me was keeping evidence when things happened so I would know that things DID happen the way I thought so when they tried to deny, I would know it was them and not me. It was a great way for me to assure myself that it was not all in my head

If the gaslighting is negatively effecting your mental wellbeing, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You can go to a school counselor or reach out to a hotline.

Sometimes gaslighting can lead to physical abuse. If you feel that you might be in danger, create a safety plan. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a safety plan may include:

  • safe places and escape points
  • the contact details of people someone can call upon for help
  • self-care activities that help someone to cope
  • a plan for safely leaving the abusive situation

There are so many ways to get help. If you need help now, but you’re not sure where to start, check out our resources page.

Q&A with Kailey About Growing Through The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has effected us all in many ways. There were a lot of downs, but there were some ups. We asked our social media assistant, Kailey, how she has grown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Describe the ways you have grown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Think about things you have been able to do that you wouldn’t have ordinarily, ways you have overcome personal struggles, etc.)

I think I’ve definitely had more time to do things for me during the pandemic. When the pandemic started, I was in my senior year of college and also working my job at an audiobook company. I had to start doing school virtually, which was definitely an adjustment, and my job also closed down so I was out of work and I had to figure out unemployment. I had all this time to myself that I had never had before because I had been so used to school and work taking up most of my time.

Honestly in the beginning I fell into a really deep depression and I wasn’t really getting out of bed or eating. I had been using the go go go lifestyle where I filled my time with work and school to kind of not be alone with myself. Distraction was my way of (not) dealing with my depression and anxiety so when I couldn’t go to work or school, I crumbled.

I spent a lot of time in bed in the beginning of the pandemic

Eventually, I told myself that had to stop letting myself stay in bed and that I had to start eating. I have no idea how long the unhealthy habits actually went on, but I know I was just in a really dark place. Finally, I forced myself to leave the house to go for a hike (because doing outdoor things was actually within reach during the pandemic). After that first hike, I got really into hiking and I was going out pretty much every single day with my camera. My photography has really gotten better because I’ve had time to actually do it. I got really into long exposure shots of waterfalls so at one point I was hitting all of the waterfalls in Connecticut.

My Connecticut pandemic adventures

Later, I got really into bird photography because bird watching was something I could do from the comfort of home. I ended up investing in a super telephoto lens to photograph birds. I am now known as a crazy bird lady and known for my bird photos. I’ve joined more bird Facebook groups than I can count and it’s my way of connecting with people who also enjoy birds as well as learning from the others that are in the groups.

The birds – the pandemic turned me into a crazy bird lady

Another new thing I started doing during the pandemic was actually starting to cook. Cooking was something that I just never had the time or energy to do before (I was lucky my boyfriend would have meals ready for me when I would get home from work and school). I love looking for recipes online to try and I also love the Tasty app.

As far as school went, I really was doing the bare minimum and I was spending a lot of my time outside and hiking. Sometimes I would have to set rules for myself like “you can’t go for a hike until you do your audio project for the week” and of course I was doing all of my assignments at the very last minute despite having all the time in the world because I wasn’t working. Finishing up that semester was definitely rough.

In terms of work, I was so stressed out about not having a job because obviously I had bills. In the beginning, unemployment and stimulus checks were very backed up so in my mind, that just was not something that I could rely on. I had been reselling clothes since 2015 very casually, but since I was really stressed about money, I decided to try and do it more seriously to support myself while I waited for unemployment to come through. I invested in a class that taught the ins and outs of selling on Poshmark and I was actually able to support myself that way and sell a lot of clothes I had listed for years just by learning how to make them more searchable with the course. It was the most I had ever made with selling clothes and that’s still something I am doing to this day.

Poshmark Adventures

My job I had been working at the audiobook company ended up never opening again. It was really hard for me to accept because they had offered me a full-time position that I was supposed to start once I graduated college. It was devastating and I was stressed out about having to find a post grad job in this super weird pandemic world where so many people had already lost jobs and in a world where so many businesses are closing. I was extremely discouraged. I applied for an insane amount of jobs and I just got nothing. After not hearing back on anything, I gave up. I ended up working staying working my mom, which I had been doing VERY part-time through college. I upped my hours working on her blog to make it viable for a main income. In February, I was hired to be Turning Point CT’s social media assistant. I hadn’t applied to a job in at least half a year, but the job really spoke to me and I went for it, which for me was a huge deal because I really just had so little confidence in myself in terms of finding a job that wasn’t with my mom. I couldn’t be happier that I went for it because I am so happy with what I’m doing.

I managed to GRADUATE COLLEGE during the pandemic!

What are you still learning?

I’m still learning how to adjust to being at home all the time and having a super flexible schedule. It’s so easy for me to tell myself, it’s nice out today you can put off your work today and catch up tomorrow, but obviously, sometimes work needs to be the priority. I’m still learning to find balance, which is something that I’ve always struggled with. At least pre-pandemic, I had structure because of work and school, those alone kept me on a schedule. The problem before though was the schedule I had was so jammed packed I left no time for myself. Sometimes I feel like I am trying to play catch up with myself because everything used to be about work or school for me so that’s why I want to do things for myself and get outside just because I actually have the freedom to do that and the time. I just really need to be better about balance. I need to find a better balance of work and play.

This post was an excerpt from our spring newsletter. For more content about growing through what we go through, check out the newsletter!

What is Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

Many people already know about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but not many people are familiar with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).

While PTSD results from a single traumatic event, CPTSD is a result of repeated trauma over months or years. These traumas are often “invisible” and harder to see than a single traumatic event like an accident. These hidden traumas can have lasting negative effects on the brain.

CPTSD is still a relatively new condition, so some doctors aren’t aware of it. In fact, I was diagnosed with PTSD, but I think it’s really CPTSD. I checked off all of the boxes when it came to the symptoms of PTSD. The only problem is I didn’t have any tragic events in my life. It was from repeated trauma. That repeated trauma was enough to cause me to have symptoms of PTSD.

Despite being a relatively new condition, CPTSD is starting to become more widely recognized by doctors.

Signs of CPTSD

The symptoms of CPTSD overlap with those of PTSD, but there are additional symptoms that come with CPTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD:

  • Reliving the traumatic experience
  • Avoiding certain situations
  • Changes in beliefs and feelings about yourself and others
  • Hyperarousal
  • Somatic symptoms

Symptoms of CPTSD:

People who have CPTSD usually have the PTSD symptoms listed above as well as these additional symptoms:

  • Lack of emotional regulation
  • Changes in consciousness
  • Negative self-perception
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Distorted perception of abuser
  • Loss of systems meanings

What Causes CPTSD?

As mentioned above, complex PTSD is typically a result of repeated trauma over several months or years.

Repeated and long-term trauma include:

  • Ongoing physical abuse, emotional abuse, or sexual abuse
  • Ongoing childhood neglect
  • Consistently being ignored
  • Not having your needs met
  • Constant arguing
  • Gaslighting

These repeated traumas can have lasting effects on the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. These areas of the brain play a large role in our memory function and how we respond to stressful situations.

How Is Complex PTSD Treated?

Below are treatment options for complex PTSD:

Psychotherapy

This involves talking with a therapist either alone or in a group. Typically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used. This type of therapy helps you identify negative thought patterns and gives you the tools to replace them with healthier, positive thoughts.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR systematically allows you to process traumatic material and resolve lingering emotional, mental, and somatic distress.

Medication

Medication can help manage complex post-traumatic stress disorder. However, medication works best when combined with another form of treatment. Typically, medications traditionally used to treat depression are prescribed. Some antidepressants used for CPTSD are:

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

Helpful Online Resources:

Living with Complex PTSD Facebook Group

General Information About CPTSD

In-depth Information About CPTSD and Its Effects

Information about EMDR for Complex PTSD

The Long Journey to My New Major

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

There are so many people who love the college life. Living on your own, the parties, the friends. It’s not all fun and games for everyone though. For some, it’s a living hell.

I went into college not really sure what I wanted to do with my life. It’s pretty crazy that you’re supposed to know what you want to do with your life when you’re 18, but some people really do have it figured out by then.

I thought wanted to go for a psychology degree so I could help people. My parents though were worried about that path because you can’t do much with just a psychology degree. In fact they were so against it, they told me that they wouldn’t help pay for that particular degree. They thought it was a stupid degree to pursue because I wouldn’t be able to make enough money.

My mom suggested I go to Eastern and major in Business Information Systems. She said it would be easy and I would make a lot of money. My parents just wanted me to get a degree that would set me up for success, which I understand. They raised me to be independent. They didn’t want me to have to rely on anyone because people can leave. I didn’t know what Business Information Systems was, but I went with it because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t have any money to pay for what I wanted to pursue. Sports and school were always my “job.”

My time in the Business Informations System major was horrible. In high school, I had never taken anything close to a business class. I was always a good student. I got straight A’s while being a student athlete. None of it could have prepared me for business classes. I struggled like I had never struggled before in school. Not only was I struggling, but I didn’t like what I was learning. In fact, I hated it. I hated one of my classes so much, I stopped showing up.

During my first two years at Eastern, I became miserable. I wasn’t happy with what I was pursing. I was beating myself up because I was doing poorly in school. Instead of getting help, I turned to other things. I became very self-destructive. I hated my life and I just stopped caring about myself and my health. I began drinking by myself. I began smoking cigarettes. I wanted people who hurt me to watch me suffer and die a slow painful death (stupid, I know). I was smoking pot to get my mind slow down, even if it was only temporary. I just didn’t want to feel anything.

Eventually, one of my friends convinced me to go to counseling services at school. The therapy helped, but every time I left therapy thinking I was okay, something would happen to set me off. I did make a lot of progress though. It was nice having someone to talk to. I’ve had good therapists at school, and also some bad ones. The worst was an intern therapist who couldn’t hide her judgement on her face.

Eventually I got sober. I made the decision to stop hurting my mind and body. I began to care about whether I lived or I died. I’ve been sober for over three years. Still, getting sober didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t happy with what I was doing in school. I was going through the motions. I was barely getting by in my major.

In the summer of 2017, something just broke inside of me. The thought of going back to school after summer break was awful. Over break, I had moved out of my parents house for 4 months. I was working three jobs. A lot had happened while I was out on my own, good and bad. Right before the fall semester was going to start, my parents recommended that I move back with them so I could work less and focus on my studies. I left my apartment and moved back home.

I did not take being back home well at all. I had gotten used to the freedom that came with living on your own. I felt like a different person. The day that classes were supposed to start for the fall semester, I was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t stop crying. The tears were endless. I left for school that day, but I didn’t go to class. Instead, I took myself to counseling services.

When I got to counseling services, I was seen by the emergency counselor that was on duty. We agreed that it would be best for me to take a leave of absence from school. Never in a million years did I think that was where I was going to end up. I had to veer off of my four year college path. I pushed myself so hard because I wanted to graduate on time. I pushed myself so hard that I couldn’t even function. I was just broken. The counselor gave me some information on an intensive outpatient program (IOP) that I could go to during my semester off. I got into the program immediately.

I spent about two months in a dual diagnosis IOP. The program I went to was at Sound Community in New London, CT. In the group, there were people with substance abuse issues as well as people like me with mood disorders. After two months, I went into individual therapy with one of the social workers who led the group. It was there that I learned coping skills to deal with my depression and anxiety. I also learned so much about myself. I was finally making progress with my mental health (which honestly, I had ignored and tried to shove down for years).

After only a semester off, I went back to school for the spring semester. I planned to stay in the business major because I had already taken so many classes towards the major. After my first business class of the semester, I knew I needed to find a different major.

I finally had the courage to change my major after 2 years of suffering. I ended up discovering the New Media Studies major. I was so excited to see that there was something that I was actually interested. The major had so many different routes I could go career-wise. I finally made the switch I needed in school.

I was finally in a major where I was happy. I was surrounded by people who were interested in the same things I am. I met so many people that I now consider friends in my new major. My favorite thing about being in the major was having thee opportunity to make so many different creative projects.

I struggled in my old major because I wasn’t able to do anything creative, it was all very technical. It was boring. I can honestly say that I enjoyed my classes and what I learned in the New Media Studies major. I wanted to learn everything in my classes because they are things that I actually care about. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t not anymore.

I’m happy to say that I graduated from college in August of 2020 with my degree in New Media Studies and a minor in Integrated Communications Media.

Do I wish I hadn’t wasted two years hating my life in my first two years of college? Absolutely. I feel bad that I wasted my parents money. I feel guilty because my parents are paying for more than the usual four years of college. But, I’m so much happier now. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if I had forced myself to stay in a major I hated just because I felt like I had to graduate in four years.

Everything happens for a reason. If I hadn’t been so stressed out about having to go back to school my junior year, I might have never gone into an IOP. I needed to have that experience, even if the beginning wasn’t a great one. I learned so many skills during my time in IOP that helped me a lot with coping with the stress that came with school and life. I definitely think my time there helped me to become a better student and a better version of myself.

Am I completely healed? Absolutely not. Anxiety and depression don’t just go away forever. It’s not a matter of if they will come back, it’s a matter of when. What’s important is how you choose to deal with it. I’m not going to say I’m great at dealing with it every time it comes. I do the best I can. Some days are great. Other days bad. Sometimes, I’m bad in the moment, but later I’m able to take a step back and reflect. You just need to be patient with yourself. Beating yourself up isn’t going to make things any better. Just try and work to be better everyday and do what’s best for you. Only you know what’s best for you. Don’t force yourself to do things just because other people think you should.

My First Panic Attack

Post Written By Kailey MarcAurele

In 2017, I had my first panic attack. I was at work at the time. When you’ve never had a panic attack before, it can be extremely scary. In fact, it can feel like you are dying. Your heart begins to race out of control. You can’t think straight. You’re hyperventilating. You feel like you can’t get enough air and that you’re going to drop dead.

The reality of it is your body is going into fight or flight mode. It gets everything moving quickly like that so you can fight or run from whatever danger is coming for you. The thing is, there usually isn’t a physical danger that triggers panic attacks. There was no danger I was faced with during my first panic attack.

At the time of my first panic attack, I did not even know what a panic attack was. I hadn’t known anyone who had had one and I myself had never had one. Because of this, I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. I figured I was having a heart attack or something. I was convinced that I needed to go to the hospital to get medical attention. I was really convinced I was going to die. Thankfully, I had a friend who knew what a panic attack was. She was able to explain what was happening to my body and why I was experiencing the symptoms I was.

I survived that panic attack and I have survived many more. I will say that they are not fun. I would not wish panic attacks upon my worst enemy. They’re scary, but it’s a lot better for me now because I understand what it is. It’s comforting knowing that it will pass.

Below is an audio story that I made about my first panic attack.

Audio Story About Kailey’s First Panic Attack

Resources About Panic Attacks

Struggling During The Pandemic

TRIGGER WARNING – TALK OF SUICIDE

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

Self-Portrait by Kailey MarcAurele

I would be lying if I said the last couple of months have been sunshine and rainbows. The reality is that it has actually been VERY hard for me mentally.

In fact, it had gotten SO BAD, that there were a few times where I was actually ready to just end it all. I didn’t want to be here anymore.

A lot of people would look at my life and think that I have it so great. Yes, I do have things better than most, but there’s a lot that goes on that no one sees. I am not that person that puts my specific drama on the internet because I really do not want the attention. I have close friends that I go to for that, I don’t need people I don’t know talking about things in my life they know nothing about.

I am going to be 24 years old and I still live with my parents. While I am SO LUCKY to have a roof over my head and I’m lucky to have parents who let me live in their house, it makes me feel like shit. That’s just what the reality is.

I am my biggest critic. For starters, I did not graduate college “on time.” It took me 5 years. In those 5 years, I took one semester off to go into and Intensive Outpatient Program because I was not functioning. I had a mental breakdown and I could not function enough to go back to school. Honestly, I did not even want to go to school at that point because I was in a major I hated because I felt like I needed to be in that major.

When I graduated in August 2020, we were well into the year of hell and finding a job was near impossible. The job I had lined up for post-grad literally closed due to the pandemic. It was honestly heart breaking.

I applied to so many jobs to try to get a post-grad job and time after time, I heard nothing back. I eventually gave up. I felt like I had just wasted 5 years of my life going to school because it didn’t even help me get a job. Not being able to get a job was another thing to hate about myself. It really just made me feel completely worthless. It’s tough not to internalize that.

A couple of months ago, the stress of not having a real career and still being at my parents really got to me. It was months of me shoving it down, and it eventually just became too much. I just felt so stuck, and honestly to this day, I still very much feel stuck. I find myself wondering why I am not good enough to be able to comfortably afford at the very least an apartment on my own.

As I said, this stress and the self-doubt and self-hatred just became too much. I was honestly ready to ACTUALLY end my life because I just felt that it would never get better. Again, I felt stuck and ending my life really seemed like the best answer.

It was during one of the snowstorms we got this year. I was desperate for a way out of this life and I was Googling various ways to end my life. I even Googled how I could die by hypothermia because it was freezing and snowing outside. I was ready to just lay in the snow and die. But, I was scared.

After lots of reading, I decided to look up a Suicide Hotline chat. I don’t remember which one it was, but after 15 minutes of waiting, I gave up. I didn’t want to have to wait because I was just not in a good mindset.

I was hiding in complete darkness in my attic because I didn’t want my family to see me sobbing and hysterical. I have a younger sister, and that was just not something I wanted her to see. I knew if I sat in darkness, they would just figure I wasn’t up there or try to look for me up there. I was right.

Thankfully after the Suicide Hotline chat was a bust, one of my best friends who really truly understands my anxiety and depression got back to me. She’s so good about listening to me and validating how I’m feeling and for that I am so thankful. It’s nice to not have someone telling you “things will be fine.” She acknowledges my feelings instead of dismissing them or minimizing them. She reminds me of what I do have and that people love me.

That night, I did not end my life. That’s not the first time I’ve felt like that, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time either. This pandemic has definitely made these episodes more frequent. I am feeling the economic effects and the effects it has had on my mental health.

Going on each and every day isn’t easy. There are a lot of days where I feel completely hopeless. Even on those days, I still push forward and make it to the next day. It isn’t easy, it’s a battle, but I am a warrior. I have survived too much to give up now.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill

How Mental Illness Is Portrayed In The Media

Post written by Kailey MarcAurele

It’s no secret that there is a stigma that surrounds mental health. There are many who feel that people with mental illness are dangerous, but that is just not the case. There’s a good chance you know someone who is struggling with some form of mental illness. People with mental illnesses are usually functioning members of society.

While we have come a long way when it comes to ending the stigma that surrounds mental health, there are still people who don’t fully understand mental health. There are people who believe that everyone who has a mental illness is “crazy” and that they’re all extreme in nature.

One of the main reasons why people have these skewed views of mental illness is because of the media. You see mental illnesses mentioned in the news and portrayed in shows and movies. When there is a shooting or another tragedy, there’s always a mention of “they had depression” or another mental illness. But, not every person who suffers from mental illness is going to act out and commit a crime. In movies, people with mental illness are often portrayed as violent, but again, not everyone who suffers from mental illnesses are violent in nature.

The good news is, mental health is starting to become more accurately portrayed in the media. The Mighty gives a good list of shows that accurately portray mental illness here.

Don’t let your stigma define your mental health journey. You are awesome!

What shows do you think portray mental health well and accurately? Let us know in the comments!