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Stress Awareness Month

Hey guys! April is stress awareness month.
Stress is something we all cope with, some of us cope more effectively than others, and some us us have more manageable amounts of stress than others.
So, lets check in!
On a scale of 1-5 (1 being not stressed and 5 being losing it stressed) how stressed are you?? What’s going on?
And on a scale of 1-5 (1 being coping really badly, and 5 being coping super well) how well are you coping?? What are you doing?

I’ll go first.
On a scale of 1-5, I am teetering between a 4 and a 5. I have a lot of days that feel unmanageable.
My stress levels make sense to me in the context of my life right now. I just moved a few months ago (still not unpacked), I am full time at school (almost done for the summer!!), working 2 part time jobs, and of course, motherhood- which doesn’t stress me out itself, it’s feeling like I am missing out on my child’s life that is stressful. But, then I have amazing days, like yesterday, I took a mental health day and stayed home from school after staying up until 4 am doing homework. Why? Because I needed to. And I didn’t feel bad.
How well am I coping? I would say between a 2 & 3. More days I’m a 2. I’m not falling back into all my old coping skills, but I’m not on top of myself and using coping skills or self care the way I know I should. But, then I have better days and remember it’s not the worst thing I’ve lived through and it’s not forever!

So, after all that, how about you guys?? This is your chance to check in with yourself and let a little steam out if you’re feeling stressed!
Also, I found this really cool site. So, if you are feeling really stressed and are having a hard time, check this out.


Disconnecting for a Connection

What is disconnecting? Is it when you detach with love? Terminating a relationship? Isolating yourself? Unplugging an electrical device? Is it rejection? Not having a bond with something or someone?

Many times, people assume that someone who is disconnected find themselves in a difficult and challenging place to be. This can definitely be true, but what if disconnecting can be healthy and form a different connection?

When I have felt disconnected to the people, places, and things that help me stay sane, I start to get pretty down. I start feeling each of my insecurities creep into my mind and heart to convince me that I either don’t deserve the connection, or that it’s lost because of me.

Being disconnected can be very dangerous for my recovery and overall wellness – mentally and physically – however, it can also be extremely helpful, when used the right way; when I disconnect in order to connect.

One way I do this is by going to the beach and I shut out my thoughts and ground myself by using all of my senses to connect with the beach. I’ll disconnect my phone, my racing thoughts, my rapid heart rate, my loved ones, my responsibilities and allow myself to be vulnerable so I can connect to the calmness that the beach brings me. When I do this often, I’m able to balance the other connections in my life and have the strength to mend the disconnections in my life that I’m unhappy about.

Another way I’ve been disconnecting to connect is by getting to a quiet place, getting on my knees, and closing my eyes to start praying. I’m disconnecting any distraction so that I can build my spiritual connection. When I do this, I’m able to stabilize my emotions and welcome healing.

I’ve also been disconnecting electronics. I have been actually for once turning my phone on complete silence – no vibrate, nothing. When I do this, I’m able to enjoy the moment I’m in and be more in that moment. Sometimes, the moment is simply being alone. Sometimes I disconnect with others because I’m taking time for self-care. I’ve been realizing lately how important self-care really is.

This tool that I’ve learned and put into practice has had amazing benefits:
-the symptoms of my anxiety and ptsd have been more manageable
-I am able to take full advantage of EMDR Therapy
-My self-advocacy skills have increased tremendously
-I feel more empowered
-I feel confident in my ability to say no
-tasks are less pressuring and overwhelming

How will you disconnect to build a connection? What does that look like for you?

Long time, no see!

Hi everyone! It’s been a long, long time since I last wrote in this blog.

What’s kept me away?
• I started school and became a full-time student (I made honors last semester!)
• Willow and I left the shelter and moved into our own apartment.
• Willow turned TWO.
• I’ve been taking on more responsibilities at work and I’ve been working hard in school.

There are a lot of days that I’ve been happy and hopeful and staying afloat with a lot going on.

There have also been a lot of days that I’m busy all day. When I wake up early and stay up late and I’m exhausted and stressed. And that has been hard.

But I’m also staying afloat, in fact I’m doing well, too. Not all the time, of course, but still, I’m not giving up. If this were a few years ago, normally in a time like this, I wouldn’t be ok. I’d run at the slightest feeling of defeat, self-destruct then hide away.
At a time like this, I would be doing the worst I’d ever done, again.

But, I’m not. I’ve been doing better than I remember being for a long time. And I’m so grateful for that. I feel like I have found who I always was underneath the things that glued me to the floor.

Every so often though, I feel scared. Scared because I know I have so much at stake, and because I know I have come so far.
I wonder, sometimes, why am I ok? I wonder not if but when I will fail?
Then I remember the same things that scare me also help me be ok. They motivate me, support me and remind me to keep working. I think about the things that make me want to be ok.

I think about Willow, about being able to do more than just function, about being hopeful for our future, about school and my job, and I think about peer support. I think about the things I went through, the journey of shifting between the fine lines of patient and peer. About getting to speak with people who I understand, people who are struggling through high school with depression or anxiety or while fighting with their family every night. I think about how much peer support and the opportunity to use my story to better empathize with others, which have helped me be ok in times like this.

And I even though sometimes I feel scared, anxious, or doubtful – I feel good about continuing to move forward. I don’t feel tempted to stop, or give up, I feel excited to see what comes next; that fills me and keeps me going forward through fear and doubt.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!

Today marks the start of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week! From February 25th- March 5th we can try to commit to being happy with ourselves and our bodies the way they are, not the way we think they are supposed to be. Instead of trying to fit into a box, we can appreciate the utility of our bodies, the way they function to keep us living. The amazing strength we have. The unique beauty each of us posses. We are all amazing!

Today, I thank my body. But, I also thank myself. Because for a long time I hated nearly everything about my body. The things I focused on we small details of perceived perfection I wanted so desperately to achieve. Yet, no matter how much I forced my body to change, no matter how unkind I was to myself, using food and weight as my weapon, I did not grow to love my body any more. I grew to hate it more, to see my flaws as being bigger, more unmanageable, more important and glaringly obvious to everyone. How exhausting it was to fight a battle for years against myself and food, a battle I had no idea was impossible to win.
So, I thank my body and myself. Because today I am a person who has recovered from an eating disorder, and it is such an incredible thing to say!

Even if you have never suffered from an eating disorder or known someone who has, this week is important. We all face stigma, shame and “rules” about our bodies, beauty, and standards. Isn’t it an exhausting ride to be stuck on?
So, instead of trying to fit into some arbitrary ideal of beauty, which doesn’t truly exist, lets love ourselves. Lets love our bodies, even the parts we sometimes hide. Because our bodies love us, they are for us, they do everything in their power to take care of us. Lets thank our bodies with some well deserved love, and reap the benefits!

If you are concerned you or someone you care about might be struggling with eating or with their body image in some way, help them out by suggesting they take a screening and offer your support. Help is out there. Recovery exists. Here is the link to a free and confidential screening that you or someone you know can take online, click here.

For even more resources on Eating disorders, check out our map or go to “resources” and click “support by topic”

If you have ever struggled with an eating disorder, how are you doing these days? If you have found recovery, what helped you?
If you have never struggled with an eating disorder, in what ways do you struggle with your body? In what ways do you love your body?

Random Acts of Kindness Day

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day! That’s this Sunday!

In celebration of this day I wanted to share a video and ask a question.

The video is on Youtube, here Random Acts Of Kindness random acts of kindness

And this is my question: what was on time that kindness had a profound affect on you? It could have been something kind you did or something kind someone else did for you.

A couple weeks ago when I was surveying for the Youth Count I walked out of Dunkin Donuts to see an adult man sitting outside asking for change. Having been in his shoes not so long ago my heart ached for him, I wanted him to understand that he was understood and cared about. I wanted him to feel as though the weight of the world was not on his shoulders. That he was important, valuable. Anyways, I ended up going back and fourth in my head about what to do for a few minutes while I was inside. When I went to left I sat down next to him. I told him that I didn’t have any change and that I was sorry, but that I had been in his shoes before and I wanted him to know that I cared about him, even though I didn’t know him. We talked for a few minutes, and I felt so, so connected to him. I felt as though he did not frequently have experiences of being treated humanely by others. He looked deeply into my eyes and said thank you before I left, and it just struck me so much. It made me both happy and sad. But I know that we both had an affect on each other that day. That’s what kindness is to me! An exchange, a moment when caring for another person makes you feel just as loved. It’s a special thing.
So, how about you guys?

Random Acts Of Kindness Day

Remembering Parkland

1 year ago today, in Parkland Florida 17 high students and staff lost their lives in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
In the past year the young people who were affected by the shooting have become fierce advocates for gun control and have made their voices heard across the country.
For students across the country, this event was a terrifying reminder of the dangers U.S. students can face.
How did the Parkland shootings affect you?
To those who lost their lives last year, rest in peace. You are not forgotten.

What are you proud of from 2018?

Hey guys! It’s 2019!
Pretty cool, kinda.

Some people seem to really care about New Years, it signifies a time to reflect and commit to change. Other people think it’s BS. And some don’t really care too much!

However you feel about New Years, it’s always good to reflect on time that’s passed and recognize strides that you have made.
My favorite quote when I was in the midst of a lot of struggles was,

“I may not be where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be”

We don’t have to leap from ditches to mountain tops to recognize our power and strength. And sometimes it’s not even steps that deserve recognition, sometimes it’s staying right where you are, because it can be really hard to not fall backward, and good enough is good enough.

This New Years Eve, I laid in bed next to Willow while she slept and realized the changes that occurred over the past year. I thought about the pain, fear, and excitement I felt, and how hopeless I was at times. I realized how far I have come by looking back for a few moments. And it felt good, and it made me feel proud of myself. And I didn’t feel bad saying that.

So, what are you guys proud of from 2018?

I’m proud of myself for starting school, taking the leap to “real” employment and beginning the process of getting off of disability and SSI, moving, admitting to myself and a few friends that I was depressed, sticking with my path even when it was scary and painful and uncertain, trying every day to be a good mom, working hard, getting certified as a SMART recovery facilitator, Recovery Coach, and a Recovery Support Specialist, starting the path to getting my licence, and beginning to throw away things that I don’t need.

Let’s congratulate each other on our success in being here, even when it’s really hard work.

Best things to do on Winter Break?

Hey guys!
New Years is almost here! Isn’t that crazy?! It’s almost 2019!
That means winter break is coming!! Maybe it’s even started for you already!

So, what’s your favorite thing to do on winter break? What are you looking forward to?

I won’t be back in school until the end of January, so I’m looking forward to SLEEP!! I’m also looking forward to taking some time off with Willow, and doing a few nerdy holiday things before Christmas. Hopefully we get one nice snow day, too!

How about you guys?

WINTER BREAK

Weird food

What weird food do you guys like??
I went to this deli down the street from where I was living for the past 18 months today. Usually the same two people take my order and they are used to my weird sandwich taste! But today it was someone new and I felt the need to prepare her for what I was about to order by saying “this is going to be weird..” haha!!
This is it:
A wrap with lettuce, tomato, olives, avocado, cheese, egg, hash brown, chipotle mayo and hot sauce. And grilled.
She seemed a little horrified.
Then a few weeks ago I ordered a pizza with kalamata olives, caramelized onions, and I wanted artichokes but the waiter told me that was a bad idea haha!! So I just got olives and onions. My brother HATED it!! But I loved it.
I guess I have weird food taste!! Oh well.

What’s your guy’s favorite weird thing to eat???

Recovery Month Videos

We want to see your videos for Suicide Prevention and Recovery Month! Check out Eliza’s video of why she fights for recovery and post yours here! We will share them on our facebook and twitter (if you want!)