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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!

Have you ever been Scared… Of yourself?

I’m curious as to if anyone has felt this way. and what their thought processes have been around the subject.

Recovery: From All Wrapped Up Christmas Show by Step’n Out Dance Studio

Step’n Out Dance Studios, owned by Susan Tomaselli in Norwalk, CT hosted a Christmas Show called All Wrapped Up. The second act included a dance called “Recovery”, choreographed by Shelby Greger. Recovery dancers are from Step’n Out’s Girls Advanced Hip Hop 2 class, and include: Olivia D’Elia, Julia Lihv, Nahjeera Miller, Kate Riordan, and Marissa Roc. Watch this incredibly moving dance, which was opened by the announcer saying, “To all those who are suffering, you are not alone”. To those of us who fight every day to be O.K., this is for you! Enjoy, and happy holidays from TurningPointCT.org

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

Music & Emotions//Opening My Library

If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know i looove music. I love to listen to it, write it, record it, watch it, hear about it, and i absolutely love everything guitars. So with this post I want to open it up to all of you as a library, allow me to explain.

1.) Tell me how you’re feeling/times you’re feeling a certain way

2.) Tell me how you WANT to feel, OR if you’d like music to help feel said feelings all the way through

3.) Tell me what kind of music you currently enjoy/listen to OR a genre of music you’d like to explore farther

Now these three steps (in a responding post below) would be applicable if you’re looking for my recommendations on music and how it affects our emotions, HOWEVER I have a very broad taste and relatively extensive knowledge on a lot of music genres and sub-genres so if you’re looking to explore one farther or ask music related questions I have no opposition to that either!

Now, allow me to speak more on Music and their relationship with our emotions. Music is an international language. It is spoken through all races, sexes, communities, ages, etc. In many cultures it is described as the “language of emotions”, that’s also why when we watch films, for example, music typically accompanies specific moments or scenes to give the viewer a better sense of the emotional atmosphere and let us know how we should be viewing what’s going on. The experience of “Music” has the power to evoke emotions that is absolutely incomparable to any other sense. When our brain processes music, it can be related to a “collage” of sorts. There are different sounds in a specific structure, in which when combined in said sequence, create a piece of art that seems to make sense to us compared to it’s singular sounds alone. Music is primarily rooted in the primitive part of the brain’s structures that are tied to emotion, motivation, and reward. The response that our brain’s have our almost unconscious in a way, and musical artists themselves have the ability to manipulate our emotions and expectations whether they realize what they’re doing or not. According to psychcentral.com, “More than any other stimulus, music has the ability to conjure up images and feelings that need not necessarily be directly reflected in memory.”. If you sit back and just read that sentence over a time or two again, it really truly is amazing how Music can draw pictures in our heads and evoke such strong emotion, and yet, those things MAY not even be related to any past memories or experiences, providing you with a whole new experience through nothing more than sound. Our own preference even on the kind of music we’d like to listen to at some time has an effect on its perceived experience to the listener.

“It could be this heightened level of experience in certain people and musicians that allows them to imagine and create music that others simply cannot, painting their very own sonic image.”. – Malini Mohana on “Music & How It Impacts Your Brain, Emotions”

SO, with all of this being said, I open this up to you, as I encourage you to ask for any of those beautiful experiences through music that I may be able to share with you.

Trying to be perfect in an imperfect world

I am a perfectionist.

 

Many people may believe that perfectionism is a good quality to have. Yet those who live with unrealistic standards and crippling anxiety understand the plight of someone who sets standards they cannot possibly reach, and the sorrow of the continuous failure and disappointment they must deal with when they believe everything must always be perfect. This is what it feels like to be a perfectionist…

When I was a little girl, I had so many ideas about what my life was supposed to be like. I thought everything had to be perfect; especially me. I had a carefully arranged and thoroughly thought out plan of what perfect was. When things deviated from that, I fell apart.
As I got older, it became harder and harder to live up to the expectations I had created for myself. People rarely lived up to my ideals. Slowly, this began to break me.
It was strange, the way I fell apart; in many ways, my demise was self-created. Yet, even with a sense of recognition, I could not stop myself. It was a cycle that I had made with my own two hands, stepped in willingly, but could not find the strength to jump out of. My brain had begun to betray me at a young age and has not stopped since.

I remember being in Elementary school, and deciding quite concretely what it took to be ‘successful’, which was synonymous with being ‘good enough’.

I had to get good grades, which meant I had to get all A’s because being good enough wasn’t good enough and in order to succeed, I had to be the best. When I graduated High School with my perfect grades, I had to go to college. But not just college; I had to go to Harvard. I had to follow the expectations I had set, and thrive within the pressure cooker I had built around myself. If I faltered in even small ways, it was a massive, unforgivable failure on my part. And worse than failure was being a disappointment, which was, by all means, the absolute worst thing I could do.

Unfortunately, the world did not follow the standards I expected it to, and I felt powerless to change it. I could not stop my mom from dropping me off to school late every single day, yet I still cried like a baby and yelled that I would never go to college if I couldn’t get to second grade on time. People would put things back in the ‘wrong’ place, and I would crumble. I, like everyone in the world, would lose control constantly. Yet, unlike the rest of my peers, I seemed unable to swallow this and move forward without first falling to the floor in a puddle of tears, or hitting my head against a wall, or screaming and screaming until my little lungs cracked and burned.
As I got older, I began to reason that if things were imperfect, out of my control, or lower than my standards, that rather than accepting the loss of control and disappointment, I would willingly fail. Willingly handing over my power was easier than having it fall from my grip, despite my efforts.

Now, I am no longer a little girl.

I still struggle with the expectation of perfection I unconsciously set for myself. Yet, consciously I fight the notion and try to set new standards.
If I ever spoke to Willow the way I used to speak to myself, my heart would shatter into a million pieces. If she ever spoke to or thought of herself in the way I used to think of myself, I don’t believe I could carry the sadness that would veil my heart. So instead of teaching her to love herself, I will learn how to love myself. She will watch her mom be kind and forgiving to herself, see how she accepts the ebbs and flows of life, and witness her open her palms to the universe to receive what is handed to her. And with time, she too will do the same.

perfectionist

My mom and me in my Great Aunts’ house in Jacksonville, FL.

perfectionist

Me, in my favorite hat

perfectionist

My anxiety due to the high standards I constantly set for myself peaked in my freshman year of High School

perfectionist

My beautiful daughter, who is and will always be perfect simply for being herself

Guilt, Anxiety, and Fear: Motherhood

When I wake up it starts.

I probably didn’t sleep very well- or maybe I did and I wanted to sleep longer.
I probably got woken up a few times last night to nurse you back to sleep. There were probably a few times you were restless and tossed and turned while you tried to get comfortable.

Guilt;
I remember being woken up over and over again, exhaustion, panic because I know I’m tired and need so much more sleep than I will get. Frustrated because I so desperately want to sleep as peacefully as I imagine you do. Anger because I cannot and anticipation of how exhausted I will feel in the morning.

Fear of never being able to sleep again.

Dread;
I dread waking up in this place, putting you in daycare, being alive and monotonously going through the day.

Collapsing into a puddle, I break, I lose my patience. I’m not fully awake and not fully human. Maybe I harshly say,
“stop.”
Or angrily beg you to go back to sleep. Or worse, maybe I just lay there, don’t look at you or talk to you, just sit in a heaping puddle of uncomfortable emotions.

When I wake up, probably a little while before you did, a realization comes to me as I see how beautiful and peaceful you are. I realize the impatience that took over me hours earlier.

I’m a terrible mother- a terrible person, in fact.

I lost my patience. I scared you, upset you, and damaged you. An intense wave of sadness covers me and I feel desperate to go backward in time. A pit grows in my stomach as I know I cannot do that and must only go forwards. I want to hold you, I want to cry, I want to be perfect for you and I want to be happy with you always.

Regret, fear, dread, anger, exhaustion, guilt, sadness.
Over and over again, every day.

I wonder what I am doing wrong. There are many, many things I know; many mistakes. I wonder how much they are damaging you, and in what ways.
I want to fix them all- be perfect and wonderful and exactly what you need and want. But when I try to think of my wrong-doings I cannot pinpoint them all.
It’s looking for hay in a haystack- it’s all there and it’s all the same, and it’s all wrong. I can hardly do anything right for you. Maybe I do what I believe is good, but soon I will find it is, in fact, wrong. I have hurt or damaged you in some unknown, and therefore gigantic, way. Worst of all, I cannot take any of it back.

Paralyzed with fear but continuously pushed forward by the current of life.
I’m stuck in a riptide.

But my love for you grows each day. It’s a painful love that fills me simultaneously with joy, and a deep despair and fear.
I wonder about all the things I must prevent. All the possibilities. So much can go wrong. So many scary, seemingly unpreventable things swirling around us in this world. I want to protect you but fear I cannot.

I feel out of control.

But then a beautiful day happens.
You grab my checks with two soft, warm hands and look into my eyes.
Or you crawl to me, laugh, kiss me.
You let me hold you and hug you and you hold me back.
And for a moment, my fears melt away, so that I’m standing in a deep puddle, soaking wet but dripping dry. We stand alone in the dark for a moment, and my brain gives me time to love you in peace.

I realize that these moments can grow. That if I make myself a farmer and equip myself with fertilizer and pesticides and gain the knowledge to grow a garden that we can be happy. I can rake out sadness and anxiety to make room for big, bright, beautiful happiness.

I will call myself a farmer and you will be my seeds, my water, and my sun.

Sad girl; strong mom

When I was a kid, there was a lot of uncertainty in my life.
One day things would be amazing; hopeful, happy, and calm. Suddenly, without warning or clear cause, things would dramatically change. Whether it was my family’s financial situation, my moms mood or pain, or my own mental wellness- there was no stable branch for me or my brother to lean on; if there was, the continuance of that stability was always unknown.
I think we both learned at an early age, that it was our expectations which caused the greatest disappointment, and our disappointment that caused the greatest pain.
I remember when I was about 7, my mom got sick. I remember it like a dream; I know there is a vivid memory somewhere deep within my subconscious, but I cannot assess it, so when I try to retrieve it, it’s choppy and blurred. Regardless, I remember feeling as though nothing was wrong, and then suddenly everything was. I remember a lot of confusion. I was scared, and I missed my mom; I remember confusion and fear mostly. She was taken to a hospital. We had no family, and my mom had very few friends, most of whom she barley talked to. So for a week or so, I went to our closest family friends house. They lived in the city, we used to go to school together. It was fun to be there, it felt like a long sleepover. Then after a short time, they had to go on vacation. From there, we had various babysitters who stayed with us and watched my brother and I. Most of them we didn’t know as well as we should have, some of them we barely knew. That is one of my first “black-hole” memories. When I think of that time I feel a deep pit, that extends from my heart to my stomach and makes me close my eyes for a moment. Its hard to think about.
When she came home a long time later, I had turned 8, and she had turned very, very sad. She had more than one back surgery while she was gone, gotten a severe staph infection, and began to suffer from chronic, debilitating pain. She was so different.
I had barley seen her that entire time. I was so happy she was with us again, but she was so different.
We had babysitters stay with us because she was too sad and in too much pain to fulfill her duties as our mother. She had her own black hole.
She wore a brace, and took a lot of medication that made her sleepy. When it wore off, it made her very sick and uncomfortable. She yelled a lot, and was hardly happy, it felt. I took on a new role. I don’t remember if I decided to take on the role, or whether it was shoved into my arms and was simply too burdensome to place down. Regardless, my job suddenly became to make her better. I don’t think I knew exactly what that role entailed or how I would fulfill it. I began desperately trying to pull happiness from her, take away her pain, make our world happy and light.
I, of course, failed over and over again. I became a failure. Yet, I could not stop myself from delving into this role each day. Although each failure brought new and more intense sadness upon me, this was a disappointment I could not seem to walk away from.
Even as a teenager, angry and solemn and horrendously resentful against my mother and life, I continued to step into my heavy shoes each day and walk into fire. I laid down each night, still burning, and woke up to once again be the fixer.
Although I no longer live with my mom, and I’m no longer a confused child or angry teenager, I find myself fighting the pain it created each day.

I don’t know how to be a good mom. Most days I wake up and try to wing it, or go with what feels natural and right. I feel sure that I’m failing once more each day. And yet, like I did as a child, I continue to throw myself into a role I’m quite uncertain of how to fulfill.
I pray to the universe, or whatever I believe in, that I don’t fail Willow. My heart is so heavy at times and my head full of thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams.
I know for certain there are many ways to be a good mother; to raise Willow to be a strong person and healthy adult. I’m quite sure as well, there are even more ways to fail her.
I wish I could read a book, take a class, or swallow a pill that would turn me into the mother and person I wish I were.
I guess the only way to become that person is to continue to do what I’m doing; wake up each day and dive into the flames. Although I know there are things I ought to leave behind as I move forward, perhaps I will shed them naturally, and evolve organically into the person I’d like to be.
I hope that as each day ends I become a stronger, happier, and better mother and woman; and that one day Willow remembers her childhood will happiness and love.
Until then, I will continue to walk through flames for her.

Willow and I on Thanksgiving, Willow on Thanksgiving, and me when I was six

Fear or Love?

“In life, you are driven by either fear or love.” I heard someone say. It was such a powerful statement for me. I started reflecting on how easily I can get caught up in fear, rather than love.

I started the process of going back to college. As I began the application process, I became discouraged about the whole idea of school very quickly. This discouragement turned into doubt, then the doubt turned into despair. My addiction was feeding me lies, or even half-truths that turned into lies. I started believing the lies for a bit. My mother then noticed how I went from being really excited to go back to school, to suddenly completely losing my drive. She called me out on it. She asked me why I was doubting myself and becoming so discouraged. I recognized it and then decided to dig deep to find out what exactly was going on with me.

I was afraid.

I was afraid to go to back to school. I had fear of doing it sober, fear of the new school scene, fear of failure, etc. I was being DRIVEN AWAY from school by FEAR! Five minutes before starting the application process, I was DRIVEN TO school by LOVE! So, I had to focus on that part; love. I love recovery. I love helping people with their addiction. I love watching the transformations and testimonies addicts have.

Now, I’m starting to recognize that when I’m feeling a certain way about a person, place, or thing, I need to figure out which feeling it really is; fear or love. A lot of times other emotions stem from that, like anger. I’ve also noticed that with me, sometimes pain turns into fear, or even the other way around.

So, I ask you this… are you driven by love or fear?

Love has always gotten me in the better place I want to be. I also constantly remind myself that the Bible mentions to NOT BE AFRAID 365 times. So, for each day of the year, I can read a verse that reminds me to not be afraid and instead; love.

One verse that I recite often when I’m feeling anxious and afraid is found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

LOVE. A SOUND MIND. Exactly what I need to focus on!

Great Playlist to help face FEAR, PANIC and ANXIETY

1) Weightless by Marconi Union

2) Final Countdown – Europe:

3) We Are The Champions – Queen

4) Gonna Fly Now – Rocky Theme:

5) Unwritten – Natasha Bedenfield:

6) People Help the People- Birdy

7) Details in the Fabric by Jason Mraz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdIw6tEjyEg

9) Car Radio by Twenty One Pilots

10) We Fall Down – Donnie McClurkin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A5s2feN6Yk

Whats there to fear?

This is just something to think about today. Its Monday and with all the anxiety building for this election, I can see where my prolonged discussion on this topic of ‘fear’ is coming from.

But nonetheless…
Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something simply because of fear?
Last week I drew on this thought by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Very simple and direct. But sometimes the simplest things says a lot.

What he was really saying is that our fears will only make things worse. I briefly contemplated this subject and I conceived a basic philosophy about fear… about what it really is and how it manifest itself in our lives and I thought:

“There is no definite explanation to what we fear. Fear is simply what we do not know.”

To support this philosophy, I looked at some famous quotes that more evenly connects the dots:
“Fear is the the only enemy born of ignorance…” Edward Albert.

Averroes, a medieval philosopher said almost a thousand years ago, “Ignorance leads to fear…”
And one of my favorite by Arnold H. Glasgow, “Fear is the lengthened shadow of ignorance.”

Its not so much that ignorance causes fear, but what connects these assertions is that ignorance is what prolongs fear – our fears are sustained by what we don’t know.
Standing before a crowd of people, we fear that we are going to fail, but that we don’t truly know and that fear is what makes things worse.

A few years ago, I came across this powerful quote that has lived with me to this day and as I grow older, I begin to realize the truth of it, statement by statement and it goes as follows:

We may be afraid to fail but what if we could just challenge ourselves to realize our true potential?

Four Ways to Use Nature to Overcome Your Fear of Detours

The world of nature is filled with “detours.” The best part about being a “Detourist” is taking an unexpected detour in life, and catching the unexpected beauty along the way.

Four Ways to Intrude on Nature:

Eat Outside: You don’t need fancy picnic baskets or a farm to table meal – just move away from the kitchen table, pack up some dips, roasted vegetables and festive salads, and sit in the backyard or a neighborhood park.

Get Active Outside: You don’t need to go on a camping trick, or seek out the steepest mountain biking trails.  Take a nature walk.  If there’s some spring in your step, take a little jog – or, i you’re completely uninhibited like me, hear a song in your heart and dance on the beach! I promise that no one is staring at your as much as you think they are!

Create Outside:  All it takes it a notebook and crayons – even one little pencil! Check out these seen simple ways to get in touch with your creative side – all of this can be done outside!

Breathe Outside: That’s right. Nature can naturally improve your health.  Breathe in Mother Nature, and instantly feel more relaxed and refreshed.  You can even think affirmations to yourself as you breathe in and out.

How have you intruded on nature today?

Using nature is a powerful tool to overcome fear.  Being in nature can give us perspective and remind us not to always get worried about the little things!

Let that fear transform who YOU are.  Let that fear be your compass on your beautiful detour.Fear is a valuable tool in a Detourist’s resiliency toolbox.

Watch my TEDx Talk on how I transformed my fear into more fuel to travel all of my very scary “detours…”

Remember – it’s the twists, turns and difficulties in your path that can transform you and your journey.  Those fears, hardships and detours are what makes you human and…YOU.

That’s why we share our stories.  We share our “detours” instead of running from them.  We share to cheer each other on in our journeys. We share to encourage our fellow Detourists to reach that beautiful clearing – perhaps a different one than they planned for themselves, but perhaps an even more beautiful sight to see.

Get out in nature, and you’ll be surprised at what you can discover!  Tag your travels with #LoveMyDetour!

Visible but Invulnerable!

At the very least, a part of being ‘out’ is giving people very sensitive information about yourself that they can use in whatever way they want.

Being ‘out’ implies vulnerability but that’s not the end and be-all. What makes you vulnerable could be your strength, and I have grasped the idea that this is something that you have to nurture over time – as you learn and grow.

Since being out, as naive as this might sound, one of the hardest things that I have had to acknowledge is that not everyone will accept me for who I am. “Why not?” … The rainbow socks that I wear under my pants are been frowned upon by someone sitting next to me on a train. It instills a feeling that smothers my heart, tightens my lungs and diffuses emotions of anxiety and fear throughout my body.

It serves no justice that I have to feel guilty or wrong because of who I am. And I do feel at times that I may have betrayed myself by not embracing my truth or standing up to my demon.

There is that perfect place that I want to get to, where ‘normal’ is within the realm of being gay, being OK with it and not caring too much about what others think.

But until then, I am still sorting out this very sensitive aspect of my life everyday… ‘euphemism for a kind of misery that is still true about society and being LGBT’.

Catastrophizing

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

Catastrophizing