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Receiving & Accepting New Diagnoses 

Depression & Anxiety

I have made friends with my diagnoses, anxiety and depression, about 5 years ago. For me, depression was an easy one to accept. I had researched countless hours about what depression was, the varying symptoms and how to cope with it – all before telling anyone I was struggling. I went as far as taking online quizzes labeled “Do I Have Depression?”. Not to my surprise, each came back saying “highly likely” or “see a provider”.

Anxiety was another easy one to accept. For me, it actually felt like a relief. Looking back at my childhood, I thought I was just being difficult or worried too much. Oftentimes, I felt I was just too sensitive. But, in reality, many times I was feeling anxious and overstimulated. During high school, I would stay home by myself when my family was at work and extracurricular activities. Unlike other kids who could walk around the house freely and relax in the silence, I would be frozen. My anxiety told me at any second someone would break into the house. I would sit and go through different scenarios in my head and how I could get out of the house if something happened. I kept 2 phones with me at all times and stayed in the living room until someone came home. And I just thought I was being crazy and needed to calm down, but I couldn’t. So, when I was given the label of generalized anxiety disorder, I felt like what was happening in my head had been rationalized.

My Journey of Accepting my Diagnoses

Recently, I have developed more prominent signs of OCD. For me, it’s been in the form of contamination OCD or what I like to call “germ OCD”. When I come home from being out in public, I immediately have to wash my hands. Not once, but multiple times until they feel clean. I also need to change my clothes immediately in fear of sitting on something and getting it “dirty” from being outside of my house. I have also been obsessive about numbers, specifically the volume of music playing in my car or on the TV. They all have to be odd. If not, I will continuously think about it until it is fixed. After talking through these symptoms over many weeks with my therapist and healthcare provider, we decided what I am experiencing is most likely OCD. I felt so discouraged when this label was first brought up. I felt as though all the hard work I’ve been doing in therapy was wasted. Honestly, I felt like it was one more thing to add to the list of “what’s wrong with me”.

Over the past few weeks I have come to realize it’s not just “one more thing that’s wrong with me”. For me, talk about diagnoses and a new diagnosis is a way to explain why I am thinking the way I am. I also try to remind myself that just because I am experiencing these symptoms now, does not necessarily mean I will always experience them. But, if I do, it is okay and I will continue to learn ways to cope.

– Maria

Sharing My Poem “Enough”

In honor of Black Poetry Day, this post is me sharing my poem Enough that I wrote a year or two ago and read aloud on my music YouTube channel.

This poem was made after the loss of a friendship that I really treasured. Sometimes relationships, platonic or romantic, fizzle out and it can be heartbreaking, especially if it was a relationship you thought would last forever.

– Therell

Men’s Health Week

It is men’s health week.  If you identify as a man, it is time to take a good look at your health if you don’t do so already.  

Some important questions to ask yourself not just this week, but always, include: Am I eating well?  Am I sleeping well?  Am I moving regularly?  Am I getting enough vitamins and minerals?  

In my opinion, physical health and mental health go hand in hand.  If your physical health isn’t where you would like it to be, your mental health may be affected as a result.  I will use myself as an example.  A few years ago, I would say I was in my peak physical condition.  I was happy with how my body looked and felt and this helped my confidence.  These days, my physical health isn’t where I’d like it to be.  From the start of the pandemic, I have been struggling with depression and gained a lot of pandemic pounds.  Due to the decline of my mental health, my physical health suffered, and due to the decline of my physical health, my mental health has suffered.     

Recently, I have been making an effort to feel better.  I try to do activities that keep my mind occupied momentarily so that I’m not constantly thinking about how I haven’t reached my health goals, which makes me feel hopeless.  Some of these activities include: writing lyrics and recording songs, writing fictional stories, making & watching YouTube videos, and exercising.  I enjoy these activities and they have had a positive impact on me mentally and physically.  

What are things you do that have a positive impact on your health?

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.

Impractical Jokers: One of My Favorite Shows

I have been watching the hit TV show Impractical Jokers since I was in middle school.  The show was about four high school friends from Staten Island who compete in challenges with the sole purpose of embarrassing each other.  At the end of each episode, the member who fails the most challenges is punished with something even more embarrassing.  

One of my favorite challenges is called “The Name Game”.  In this challenge, one member at a time acts as a receptionist.  In front of them are a list of extremely bizarre made up names that the other guys have created for them to read.  As they read the names aloud to the unsuspecting strangers in the waiting room, they have to try not to laugh.  Whichever group member laughs the most loses the challenge.  Some of the names they have created are: Cranjis McBasketball, Dr. Shrimp Puerto Rico, Secret Agent Randy Beans, and Earl Turlet.

One of the most iconic punishments that they’ve ever done on the show is when one of the members gave the other three members tattoos.  One member was given a tattoo of a ferret skydiving (they often say that specific member looks like a ferret and he also had a punishment where he had to skydive).  Another member was given a tattoo that says “38, Lives Alone, Has 3 Cats”.  The third member was given a tattoo of Jaden Smith.  Their reactions to their tattoos were hilarious, especially the member who was given the Jaden Smith tattoo- he was very upset.

Watching this show has helped me get through many dark times in my life.  It might be silly because I’m watching four 40 year old men act like middle schoolers, but it’s just the type of comedy I needed in my life to help keep me afloat.  This show means a lot to me as it’s been with me for almost half of my life.

The reason I said that the show was about four friends is because the show is now about three friends.  One of the members, Joe Gatto, recently left the show for personal reasons.  In place of Joe, they are going to have a different celebrity special guest in each episode.  A few weeks ago, they came out with their first episode with special guest, comedian Eric Andre (only at the end of the episode though).

Even though Joe is no longer part of the show, I still enjoyed the episode.  His absence was definitely felt, though.  He was the most boisterous of the four so him not being there definitely leaves its mark.

More new episodes (without Joe) return in June.  I’m curious to see how they will keep continuing without Joe, but I’m hoping it goes well.  As mentioned before, this show helps me tremendously when I’m down; no other comedy comes close to it for me in that regard.  So without it, I don’t know what I would do.

Things That Uplift Me When I’m Feeling Down

Below are things that uplift me when I’m feeling down

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

When I Tell My Depression We Have To Get Up

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

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

When Someone Tells Me “Just Choose Happiness!!”

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.

Seasonal Depression

Guest post written by Michael Scanlon

Every year it happens. The temperature cools, and the daylight gives way faster and faster into the darkness of night. As someone who loves fall and everything that comes with it, the flip side of the coin is dealing with my seasonal depression.

Like clockwork, my body and mind respond each year to the rhythms and changes. I normally feel great most of the time, but the gray skies, bare trees, and long nights all seem to do a number on me. I never really noticed this pattern until a few years ago.

I do remember one incident years ago while still struggling taking classes and working. It was a November evening, and I was there at my college early. I remember sitting down in a corner lounge and feeling entirely hopeless. I just wanted to give up, and was caught between tears escaping into a flood, or sinking into a pit of numbness. I also remember the days spent in front of my work computer, struggling to remember or recall what to do. The amount of effort it took to complete tasks at least doubled for me.

This year, I vowed to prepare and take care of myself. I have been trying a few things that I wanted to talk about with you all. I do now take part of my lunch break to go on a walk outside. As someone who jokes they are an “indoor” person, I am here to say my daily walks are a core part of my wellness plan. Every weekday I take a walk and I know it helps keep me well. The mild exercise and sunshine are definitely missed if I skip a day, and I look forward to it.

I also wanted to mention a sun lamp, a super bright lamp that helps mimic the sunlight. I enjoy having my morning coffee nearby the lamp, and I find this super helpful as part of my routine. I also wanted to mention supplements. This is not medical advice, so please talk to your doctor first, but a multivitamin, especially vitamin D, and fish oil (they have vegan omega products for anyone who chooses to not use animal products, like my partner chooses) has done wonders for me.

I’ve also changed the way I see the seasons. I allow myself to calm down my schedule and activities. Instead of cramming my schedule full in fall and winter evenings, I give myself permission to do things that care for me. Anything from reading, tv, games, cooking, or just hanging out. I still do the best that I can for whatever is required, like work, but I no longer have that internal pressure on myself.

I’ve done really well with my seasonal depression this year, and although it hasn’t been perfect, I am excited for the holidays and know that I can handle and meet with any emotions or needs that come up for myself.

Wishing you all an awesome holiday season – Michael

When Seasonal Depression Hits

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.

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.

It’s Okay To Ask For Help!

My parents split up when I was about 12 years old. After my dad left, I really started to struggle with depression, and soon after came its atrocious best friend, anxiety. I was so overwhelmed that I constantly felt like I was drowning. It all really started to control my life. I spent hours in bed, not feeling like I was enough and like I was a burden. I hated having to go to school and pretend like everything was okay like my life wasn’t falling to pieces. It took me a long time to learn that it was okay to ask for help. Can you imagine being 12 years old and trying to hide the world of hurt you were feeling from everyone? It wasn’t easy. I fought like hell to get to where I am today, and I am so proud of myself for not giving up.

dominique with her siblings
This is a photo of my siblings and me when we were younger. They are practically my children!

While I am a fighter, I still struggle with my depression and anxiety on occasion. I try my best not to let it get the best of me because it’s nothing but a big ol’ heartbreak dealing with it and sometimes it’s hard. Depression’s almost like a person who’s constantly in your shadow, just following you around. It tugs on you, and it begs you to shut down for a little while so that it can take over and flood your mind with thoughts of loneliness, not feeling good enough, and sometimes, unfortunately, suicide.

Anxiety’s no better. It looms over you like a dark cloud and makes you feel trapped. Trust me, I’ve been there, I’ve been through the tears and sadness, the physical and emotional scarring, even the suffering and the pain. Sometimes I felt like my anxiety was suffocating me. Your depression and anxiety want to see you suffer and that’s not okay. They want you to give up. It’s just simply not worth it. It’s not worth giving everything up or not trying to be better. You shouldn’t have to miss out on all the wonderful things you know that you can and will accomplish. And it’s certainly not worth taking your life over. 

We must learn to reach out when we are struggling, even when we feel like nobody might listen. We don’t have to take on the world alone, it is okay to ask for help sometimes. It’s not easy dealing with both depression and anxiety. Especially by yourself. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know how hard asking for help can be when you’re used to depending on just yourself. It is okay to put your pride aside and say, “Hey, I really need some help”. Someone will be there to listen. Someone will take the time out of their day to check on you. Just know that there is somebody out there who feels a little better knowing that you’re in the world.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, there is help out there. Check out some of our resources here.

If you’d like to learn a little bit more about how to cope with anxiety and depression, you can check out this article.

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!

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.

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!

Episode 1 – I’m Not Your Therapist, BUT…

The first episode in the series, I’m Not Your Therapist, BUT…, where young adults in CT talk about the techniques and strategies they use to cope with their mental illnesses. In this episode, Turning Point CT employees Ella and Eliza talk about what they are doing to safe guard their mental health during the COVID-19 crisis and quarantine.

#TurningPointMoment Ella Gets Up Out of Bed

Join Ella, the Turning Point CT Project Coordinator, on her mission to make choices that benefit her mental health! Follow along and share your own story on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube by using the hashtag #TurningPointMoment

If you want to find out more about her mission, visit her blog HERE !

Click HERE to talk about it in the forum !

#TurningPointMoment Ella Cleans Her Room

Join Ella, the Turning Point CT Project Coordinator, on her mission to make choices that benefit her mental health! Follow along and share your own story on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube by using the hashtag #TurningPointMoment

If you want to find out more about her mission, visit her blog HERE !

Click HERE to talk about it in the forum !

Ella’s #TurningPointMoment at Sherwood Island State Park, CT

Join Ella, the Turning Point CT Project Coordinator, on her mission to make choices that benefit her mental health! Follow along and share your own story on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube by using the hashtag #TurningPointMoment

If you want to find out more about her mission, visit her blog HERE !

Click HERE to talk about it in the forum !

SMART Recovery Spanish

You Are Not Alone – Find Information and Support

Young People Recover: Vered

Young People Discover: Shaquiel

Young People Recover: Kevin

Suicidio Adolescente PSA (Producido por United Way)

If I Had Known…

What to Expect From Group Therapy

What to Expect at a Psych or Detox Unit

Recovery Poetry: EZ’s poem: Through the Poems Within Me

Recovery Poetry: Patrick’s Spoken Word, 2

Recovery Poetry: Patrick’s Spoken Word, 1

Recovery Poetry: EZ’s poem: What Is and Isn’t Normal

Getting Started, Part 2: Tips on First Therapy Session

In this animation, our website, TurningPointCT.org explains how to set up and attend your first therapy session. Furthermore, we talk about what you should bring to your therapy session. You can visit this website here for more information on your first therapy session and how to get the most out of it. Remember to be open and completely honest so your doctor can do the best with what they are given.

Getting Started, Part 1: Find a Therapist

How Do You Know You Need Help?

What is Wellness?

What Does it Take to Recover from Mental Health Issues?

 

Podcast: How Culture Shapes You

This weeks podcast is with Adrianna , Cindy, Emma, and Nahjeera . We had a special guest Woodeline, who is Adrianna’s aunt. Woodline is a 23 year old student at  CUNY Medgar Evers College. She came into talk about her experiences in life and gave her views on the topic of how does your culture shapes you as a person.

Everyone had different ethnicity and different views on current topic questions.

Emma is half Brazilian and Colombian. Adrianna, Woodeline , and Cindy are Haitian American . Nahjeera is African American.

Everyone gave their input about how if you act differently because you need to change your identity or show less of your culture to the world, everyone gave their honest opinion about how they show  themselves to the world.

We hope you enjoy this podcast click here to watch

What is your culture? How do you define your culture? How has it shaped you as a person?

To check out our Summer Interns other podcasts, click here

New Story: Nahjeera’s Journey with Self-Harm, Depression and Anxiety

Hey guys! We have a really great new story about depression, anxiety and self-harm.

Nahjeera is a senior in high school and this Summer she is interning with us at TurningPointCT.org

Her journey will mean something to anyone who has ever felt alone- she talks about her struggles with depression and anxiety, and how she used self-harm to cope with things.

Nahjeera also talks about her hope and recovery– how she no longer self-harms and instead helps other people at her school who might be struggling, too.

If you have ever felt alone, know that you are not. Check out our stories page to read about other young people just like you.

Click here to read Nahjeera’s story

And, click here to talk to Nahjeera and welcome her to TurningPointCT.org. Join TurningPoint to reach out to peers like Nahjeera.

Furthermore, if you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or self-harm, visit this website. Here you can find information and resources to make the most out of your treatment.

Vaping Podcast

In this podcast we spoke about vaping and smoking. All of us are in high school, some of us just finished our freshman year and Nahjeera is is graduating this year.

Emma, Adrianna and Nahjeera all vape, but Cindy doesn’t and really does not like smoking.

We all talked about why we vape, and when we started. Some of us were in middle school when we started, and others tried it and then stopped for a while.

We spent a lot of time talking about why people vape, including our friends. Vapes come in a ton of flavors, and a lot of us only do it for the taste, or because friends suggested it for stress. Eliza lead us in a conversation about why our friends like to vape, and if we want to stop.

our views on vaping and smoking, why we smoked and why don’t.

Some people smoke because of popularity or  as a coping mechanism. We also talked about how advertising makes people smoke more, and why some of us wouldn’t try certain flavors, like tobacco.

A lot of our friends in high school vape, and we talk about how addictive it is and if we think we are addicted.

We all talked about how we would quit if we ever decided to, and how we could help our friends quit if they asked us for help.

If you have ever vaped and want help, or just want to hear about it from the perspective of a high school, then check out our first summer podcast!

 

 

A few months ago, Eliza and Diamond (our SMART group facilitators!) were at one of our high schools, talking about vaping during lunch. To check out what that was like, click here.

Growing Up: The Coming of Age Podcast

growing of age podcast

In this podcast we talk about coming of age as teenagers and growing up. Also we explain our experiences and stories of coming of age.

Check out TurningPointCT’s newest podcast- our Summer Interns are here! And they are introducing themselves and taking about Coming of Age. What does that mean? What defined coming of age for you? How do you navigate growing up and becoming a teenager or a young adult? Click this link to watch their podcast, or if you would prefer to watch it as a video, check out this link!
Please welcome Adrianna, Cindy, and Nahjeera to the TurningPointCT team and check out their very first podcast and video!

 

If you want to say hi to us go to our forum here

New Story: Marco’s story

We have a new story on our stories page!

“I became aware of my possible depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder in high school…Once I allowed myself to be vulnerable with the universe, and more specifically my therapist, I noticed gradual changes in my psyche…”

Click this link to read more of Marco’s story

Calendar for Mental Health Awareness Days: 2019

TurningPointCT.org’s 2019 Awareness Calendar is here!

Every month there are awareness days that celebrate and recognize different things relating to mental health and advocacy. Have you ever wondered when all those awareness days are?

If so, check out ours below! Scroll down to find it!

Download the PDF or save the PNG to your desktop. Print it, share it, and enjoy it! #YouAreNotAlone

So, if you ever have felt like you are the only one experiencing your struggles, you are not alone. These awareness days exist to remind us of that fact. Together, we are strong. Love yourself, spread awareness, and fight stigma.

Make sure you are following us on Facebook and Twitter to see our posts on each awareness day. You can also find out if there are any events happening in honor of the days.

Questions? Ask the forum!

Did we leave out any awareness days that you want us to include? Or, do you have any suggestions? Then let us know in the forum!

You can scroll down for the PDF!

Here is the PDF link:
2019 awareness calendar PDF

And scroll down for the PNG! Hint: you can save these by dragging them to your desktop. If you are on your phone hold down your finger and save the picture!

Here is the entire calendar, month-by-month in PNG form:
January 2019:
January 2019
February 2019:
February 2019
March 2019:
March 2019
April 2019:
April 2019
May 2019:
May 2019
June 2019:
June 2019
July 2019:
July 2019
August 2019:
August 2019
September 2019:
September 2019
October 2019:
October 2019
November 2019:
November 2019
December 2019:
December 2019

If you want to check out last year’s awareness calendar, click here!

We need your help! Donate today to TurningPointCT.org

We are asking for your help! 

Donate to TurningPointCT.org today or on Giving Day (Thursday, February 28)!

 

TurningPointCT.org is Connecticut’s peer support community by and for teens and young adults. We’ve got your back!

 

Our website offers a safe space online to share your story, talk about your problems, get information, and connect with resources. Our staff runs SMART Recovery support groups for teens in Norwalk and Fairfield… with more to come! We connect with other young people at schools and colleges across the state through speaking events, workshops, and resource fairs.  Whatever you’re struggling with–mental illness, addiction, homelessness, bullying, family problems–we’ve been there too.

Help us raise $10,000 to support our small part-time staff of young adults in recovery to be able to keep reaching out to schools, making connections with young people, improving our online support, and running support groups! We want every young person to know that they are not alone.

Donate to TurningPointCT.org today or on February 28th–Fairfield County’s Giving Day.

 

Click this link to Donate today, and share this page with your friends and family so we can reach our goal.

 

Giving Day runs from 12:00am to 11:59pm on Thursday, February 28th. Help us to reach our goal of raising $10,000. 

Your donation may even help us get a bonus grant if you’re one of our first or one of our last donors on Giving Day! If we get at least 25 donations of $25 right after midnight when Giving Day starts, we can win an extra $1000. So think of us Wednesday night before you go to bed and just stay up a few minutes past midnight! If you miss that chance, then please donate Thursday night between 9pm and 11:59pm. If we get enough donations during that time period, we may even win a $2,500 bonus!

Whether you can give as much as possible, or you know people who care about mental health who can donate, we need your help. Click the link to give what you can, share this page, and ask your friends to give what they can.

Together we will raise $10,000 to support young people struggling with their mental wellness! 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Click the picture to donate!

 

(If you want to learn more about Fairfield County’s Giving Day overall, click here.)

 

Luca’s Recovery Month

Hey Guys! It’s Recovery month this month, check out what Luca’s got to say about it and check out his blog “Heavy Metal Recovery” on our forums

Eliza’s Recovery Video

September is Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Month.

Eliza is talking about why she fights for recovery, what her life was like, and how it has changed.

Share your recovery story with us, too and tell us why you fight.

Submit your video here

Watch the video on Vimeo, Youtube, and TurningPointCT.org

2018 Awareness Calendar

Hi everybody! To celebrate the new year, Turningpointct.org has made a calendar showcasing mental wellness awareness days to share with you!

Below is the entire calendar

Share with your friends, or enjoy it yourself! Some of the days may be familiar and some may be new!
We hope you all enjoy it!

Happy New Year!

Know The Warning Signs

Suicide Prevention

Know The Warning Signs for someone who may be at risk of suicide:

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

Crisis Resources

If you or someone you know is an emergency, call 911 immediately.

If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficulty or suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.

If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Is This Living In Vain?

Hopefully I can use my poetry to inspire someone.

“Is This Living In Vain?” background: I wrote this poem about a year ago. Not long ago but I remember the thoughts I had so clearly. I remember walking in the rain, with thoughts rushing through my mind. The minute I got home, I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and scribbled the words down. This is the result.

The theme focuses on depression and digs into the multiple symptoms (including racing thoughts) that I was experiencing through my journey.

 

-Kevin

Here, you can look at other forms of creativity and expression.

If you would like to see how the power of poetry can help mental health, go here.

Island Boy Poetry: Poetry Heals!

Island Boy Poetry: These are some of my poems. I am finally getting back into the habit of writing but most importantly, poetry is my everything, including my motivation. While you read these poems, just imagine yourself as the writer.

Hope I could help someone get through today

Another Rave 

Vision me weeping in this world

That covets its own wealth

Where the meek reaps and sweats

And the fortunate sips and keeps.

And god is taught.

And I am torn of my dignity.

 

Here kindness witnesses a dying child

…Of hunger

…Of rejection

…Of slaughtered conscience

but refuses to acquiesce

And turn a blind eye,

But likewise almost dead.

 

Voices parade streets

With a shared language

That should champion hope.

 

Hasn’t the world had seen enough of corruption?

Hate?

Violence?

Has the world not yet come to learn history?

For some it’s a passion

For others its simply what is convenient

But to think of it…

Utter love and peace is still a vision.

 

Depression 

I’ve been thinking

And I think back to that morning I woke in tears

With feelings of gloom and despair.

And I think back to my dream

And I think back to my feeling alone

And my fears

And why every minute of every day is too much

For my pounding heart

And this miserable headache.

And my body bleeds with memories

And flashbacks

And begs to know the future

And to forget this moment

That is but a bad dream.

But everything awakens me

From memories of failure

To feelings of helplessness.

And I feel a little weak

From all the madness in the world

Judgment and hate

And there “I overthink”…

And I become lost in misery and torment

And thoughts follow thoughts

But into another deep sleep

That halts the emotional trauma

And becomes the antidote for my depression.

 

—Kevin

An Evening with Kevin Breel @ Yale

Did you attend the recent Kevin Breel Talk at Yale? 

If you did…

Lets talk about it! Join the discussion here by sharing what you thought about the event. 

But if not…

Get a scoop of some of the great things that happened!!!

Mind Matters in Partnership with TurningPointCT.org featured comedian, writer and mental health activist Kevin Breel last Monday, September 19th for a 35-40 minute talk in Sudler Hall!

To learn more about Kevin Breel and the amazing work that the youngster has been doing for the mental health community, you can watch his  TED talk “Confessions of a Depressed Comic” here (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3yqXeLJ0Kg), which is one of the most popular TED Talks. 

“It was def a great night. Great sense of humor… Huge shoutout to Mind Matters too, they are doing such great work on campus.” -Rai

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone Can Prevent Suicide

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Do you know the statistics? Suicidal ideation is common. In CT, the suicide rate has been rising. Do you know how to talk to someone you’re worried about? Check out the video from the QPR Institute, below, to learn more.

As you’ll see, we ALL have a role to play: parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, elected officials. In Ireland, taxi drivers are among those who work to identify people at risk and prevent suicide: clickhere to read about the TaxiWatch program. 

So, what about you? If you’ve never taken a suicide prevention training, now is the time! A “SafeTALK” training is being co-sponsored by Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, Positive Directions, and Southwest  Regional Mental Health Board on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 from 5:30-8:45pm at the HSC Building, 1 Park Street (corner of East Wall), Norwalk, CT. There is a $10 materials fee. Please RSVP to transformativetrainings@gmail.com. Click here for the flyer.

A.O.’s Intrusive Monster

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

Artist: Ayo

An Evening with Kevin Breel (September 19th)!

Join us for an Evening with Kevin Breel on Monday, September 19th at 7:00pm.

Listen to Kevin speak out about Mental Health and his own struggles through it all.

Where:

Sudler Hall

100 Wall Street, New Haven, CT

(more…)

Monster by S.M.’s (Mental Wellness)

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

Artist: Steve

New Blogs: Reality Check With Brian and Others!

New Blogs: Reality Check With Brian and Others! – Since April, we have had two new bloggers. Kelly started contributing to our weekly blog since April and Brian has been contributing to the forum since the start of May.

Kelly has been sharing with us what life is like in college and how she deals with anxiety, depression and OCD and Brian, our newest blogger will be keeping us up-to-date with current events in his blog: Reality Check. When he’s not blogging about mental health, Brian spends his free time thinking too much, getting distracted and deliberating about how he “should” spend his free time.  When he’s actually doing something, he enjoys learning, volunteering, the arts, spending time in Nature and “being productive”.  A self-described social justice junkie, Brian first had his consciousness raised to the issue of mental illness in 2011 after seeing the musical Next to Normal.  Behavioral healthcare program coordinator by day, Brian enjoys evenings and weekends living with his partner, their two kitties and a few plants in lovely East Hampton, CT.  Last week Brian shared his first piece, which touches on the issue of addiction and its root causes: Finding a Fix.

Also, on a monthly basis, professional blogger, Amy will also be contributing to the forum; she has had a very fascinating past and she hopes to grab our attention as she reveals some of the very traumatic experiences that has had. In her own words, “I’ve had to befriend my past, embrace my experience, and express what had happened to me.”

Amy’s Blog is called The Detourist and you can read her story HERE.

The New Schedule for each blog is as follows:
Mondays: Daily Life of a College Student – Kelly
Tuesdays: Everything Music – Kevin
Thursdays: Journal Black Gay immigrant – kevin
Fridays: Reality Check – Brian
Monthly: The The Detourist- Amy

Look out for all the new posts in the weeks ahead and feel free to share your concerns and gratitude in the Discussion Forum.

Introducing Our Newest Blogger: Kelly!

Introducing Our Newest Blogger: Kelly! – Learn more about Kelly and join her in discussion as she talks about life in college and dealing with anxiety, depression and OCD in her blog, “Daily Life as a College Student.”

She recently shared her inspiring story, which you can find HERE or at https://turningpointct.org/story/kelly-r/. In her story, Kelly tells us about her past and some of her future plans as she sets out to complete college and help other young adults who are struggling with mental illness.

“From getting through a panic attack to resisting the urge to do more than she really should, Kelly has been forthright about her everyday college experience and all the challenges that comes with being a passionate and dedicated student.”

3 Types of Music that Improves Sleeping Quality

Regardless of how much we have to do in one day, it’s important that we get enough sleep.

Less than 7 hours of sleep can affect your concentration and can also lead to mood problems.

But can music actually help people with sleep disorders?

I’ve been doing some research on the types of music that helps to improve sleep quality.

Three particular genres of music always seem to stand out, this includes: Jazz, Classical Music and Folk Music.

But outside this listing, I’ve also come across some other interesting facts:

 Bedtime music does help people with sleep disorders but it may take up to three weeks before you see actual improvements
 Music can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer and feel more rested
 Music can lower your heart rate and slow down your breathing
 But if you are used to sleeping in a quiet room, any music might be disruptive for a while

Last year, around this time, Spotify released the World’s Sleep Playlist consisting of popular music… the playlist included artist like Ed Sheeren, Sam Smith and Passenger.
See here: http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6531669/ed-sheeran-spotify-sleep-playlists

But traditionally, Jazz Music has been one of the best sleep remedies.
Arguably, a Jazz song, one of my favorite Jazz songs is, ‘No Ordinary Love’ by Sade.

Classical music, however, has been pointed out by many research as just the finest sleep aid.
‘Good thing we can access classical masterpiece at just the click of a button.

Also, from my findings, Folk Music is also a great sleep aid. Songs like ‘You’ll Never Leave’ by Harlan and ‘Appalachian Hills’ by Dirt Wood Fire (paying attention to the instruments and melody), works if all you need is just a good night sleep.

How Academic Planners Saved My Life

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

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

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