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Ways To Boost Your Self-Esteem

Did you know that February is International Boost Your Self-Esteem Month? This month is about taking the time to help us believe in and appreciate ourselves more, despite whatever we may be facing. So, I figured I’d take the time to write about some ways to help improve your self-esteem!

I’ve struggled with my self-esteem in the past. I had internalized what others said about me. Because of that, I had really bad views about myself as a person and I hated the way I looked. For years, I hated myself and it really effected my mental health. But, in the last couple of years, I’ve worked to love and value myself again. If you’re struggling with your own self-esteem, below are some ways to help boost your self-esteem.

Challenge Yourself

I know this sounds counter-productive, but hear me out. Having a low self-esteem can cause you to feel like you’re not capable of doing things that you may really want to do. For years, I never thought that I could be someone who hikes. That fear caused me to just not hike, which in turn fueled that voice in my head telling me I wasn’t capable.

However, there came a time that I had had enough of missing out on exploring nature. So, I pushed myself to start hiking. I started small and local and I proved to myself that I could do it. As I gained confidence, I began to do longer hikes and then I started to do more technical hikes. I’m now at a point where I’ll travel out of state to do hikes on my own. Seeing that you are capable of things that you never thought you were capable of really makes you feel good about yourself.

A hike in Oregon that had some pretty significant elevation gain that my past self would have doubted I was capable of. Old me would have missed out on these awesome views at Crater Lake National Park and just opted for non-hiking views.

Build Positive Relationships

Building positive relationships is so important. If you have toxic relationships, whether with family, friends, or a partner, it’s hard to feel good about yourself. I had a lot people in my past that made me feel like I was not good enough. I just felt like there was something wrong with me because they’d either explicitly say things to me or their actions would make me feel like I wasn’t worthy of being treated well.

In the past couple of years, I’ve cut off a lot of relationships with people who just made me feel awful. For years I just dealt with the awful relationships because of knowing them for years. Or, I dealt with it because of having to regularly see them due to close proximity. But, when I finally put my foot down and started to be mindful of who I let be in my life, things really changed for the better.

Now I have so many positive relationships with people. I no longer feel like I’m the person who gives and never gets anything in return. I have an actual support system. When you’re surrounded by good people, it’s a lot easier to feel good about yourself because you don’t have people constantly putting you down and making you feel worthless.

Recognize the Good In Yourself

For years, I only focused on all the things that are wrong with me. Honestly, half of the things that were “wrong” with me were not actually bad things. They were things that I had internalized that others had said to me in a negative way. I had people who were not kind to me when I was growing up that were always pointing out my “flaws” and almost never the good.

When I started building healthy relationships and going to therapy, I began to view myself in a better light. Finally, I realized that I do have good things within myself. I realized I am kind, caring, and creative. I started to appreciate all of the good things in myself instead of just focusing on everything wrong with me.

Give Yourself a Break

This is another one that might feel counter-productive. I used to feel like I constantly had to be doing things to prove to people that I was a capable human being. When I was in college, I was working three different jobs. I thought it was a flex and that it would somehow prove to people that I was smart and hard working. I burnt myself out.

Now, I know how to give myself a break. I don’t feel like I have to do a million things to prove to myself or anyone that I’m capable. I know who I am and I don’t feel the need to feed into the toxic hustle culture that is so praised. Giving yourself a break is so important because it’s so hard to feel your best when you’re running yourself into the ground. And if you’re like me, you’ll get mad at yourself for being tired while actively running yourself into the ground. Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace.

Improve Your Physical Health

You don’t have to do anything crazy like become a gym rat. It can be as simple as going for a walk in your neighborhood. It could be starting yoga classes. When you start to do these things, with time you’ll find yourself improving due to being consistent, and that will feel good. When I started to do more miles hiking, it made me feel really good about myself. I was amazed that my body could hike 7 miles in the woods. I was in awe that I was able to hike to the top of a mountain, even if it was challenging.

Mountain hike that was difficult, but making it to the top and proving to myself I could do it was amazing.

Learn To Say No

Boundaries are so important. I used to never say no because I was worried people would think I was mean or rude. But the problem with not saying no was it was basically me telling myself that my needs weren’t important. I was telling myself that other people’s needs were more important than my own. When you start to set boundaries and put yourself first, it will make such a difference. It will be really uncomfortable at first. But, eventually you’ll truly begin to believe that you’re worth it and it will feel so good to stand up for yourself.

Final Thoughts On Boosting Your Self-Esteem

I think it’s great that there’s a month dedicated to helping you boost your self-esteem. Having a good self-esteem is really important when it comes to your mental health. But, many people struggle with viewing themselves in a positive light. Hopefully this list is a good start to help you boost your self-esteem!

-Kailey

If you’re looking for more ways to boost your self-esteem, check out the post 10 Songs To Up Your Self-Esteem and Empower Self-Love here on TurningPointCT.org

RISE Leadership Training!

Join Rise Be is running The RISE Leadership Training, a FREE 4-part training series that will occur every Thursday in March from 10 AM-3:00 PM in Middletown, CT.

The learning experience is designed to promote recovery leadership among young adults currently receiving DMHAS Young Adult Services. Core topics include recovery, the transition to adulthood, social-emotional growth, and leadership. Students will also practice stress-management techniques to support trauma recovery. We will use a semi-structured curriculum with space for self-directed learning through creative expression and dialogue.

  • When:
    • Every Thursday in March (7th, 14th, 21st, 28th)
    • 10:00am-3:00pm
  • Where:
    • Rockfall Foundation
    • 27 Washington St #2
    • Middletown, CT 06457

Click HERE to register!

Anxiety Reels

Check out some anxiety Reels we recently shared.

The first Reel shares a few things that people can try to help combat their anxiety. The second Reel is a funny, relatable meme. Enjoy!


5 Ways to Help Combat Anxiety


Going To The Store When It’s Busy

February 2024 Themes!

Hi, everyone! Check out our content themes for February!

As a friendly reminder, please know that any content you would like to contribute does not have to be limited to the ideas listed on the flyer. You can also submit content around anything you feel comfortable sharing!

To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast, or provide a video, email us at turningpointct@positivedirections.org. Or, you can also submit your content directly to the Our StoriesBlogsCreative ExpressionsVideos, and Map pages!

Driving on the Highway for the First Time

Hello there! A couple of months ago, I shared some wins I had against my anxiety, which you can check out here, and wanted to share another win I recently had. After having my license for about 7 years but only driving on residential roads, I finally drove on the highway for the first time.


Quick Context

Learning to drive was quite scary, as I’m sure it was for most folks. However, since I only have one fully functioning eye, I found myself trying extra hard to drive as safely as possible, maybe even too safe lol.

During the dark times, aka peak COVID days, I chose not to drive anymore after hitting a curb, and planned on not driving for the rest of my life. The first part of this decision was also based on the car I was driving in that moment not being mine, but my mom’s, and I didn’t want to risk causing serious damage to her car.


Fast Forward

During summer or fall of 2023, I changed my mind by getting behind the wheel again for the first time in a few years.  Of course I had to get used to that stressful feeling once more, but I adjusted quicker than I thought I would.

I had been thinking about driving on the highway for a few weeks.  I knew it’d be more intense than residential roads, so I needed a lot of time to build up to it.  Finally, after finishing a grocery shopping trip, I felt it was time.  To be honest, though, I only went for it because I only needed to drive from one exit to another to get home, so I wouldn’t be on the highway long.

The experience was definitely pretty stressful. I had to quickly adjust to a faster than what I’m used to speed.  I stayed in the slow lane which did ease a tiny sliver of stress, and as you might imagine, I was very glad when I got off at my exit. Even though it will probably still be intimidating for a while, I know I should do this again soon to keep the momentum going.

Wish me luck. – T

What Happens To Marshmallow People in the Microwave?

What happens to marshmallow people in the microwave?! Check out this video by some young adults at one of our recent focus groups!

If you’d like to share your input on technology and mental health, please sign up for one of our upcoming focus groups at positivedirections.org/events!

Join Our Focus Groups!

Calling all young adults in Connecticut! We are hosting a series of focus groups for folks to share their experiences with technology & mental health, talk about community & peers, and to let us know what you’d like to see from the project in the future! All participants will receive a $25 gift card as a token of our gratitude!

Register here! – https://www.positivedirections.org/events

National Hobby Month

January is National Hobby Month! While we engage in our hobbies all year long, I think it’s fitting that the year begins with us taking note of what we enjoy doing. Plus, we can think about whether there are some activities we want to continue doing or stop, and any new activities we might want to pick up.


Some of my hobbies include making music, writing stories, and creating YouTube videos. Check out my music here, and my YouTube channel here!

Let me know in the comments what some of your hobbies are! – T

Meet Quinn: Queers & Peers Support Group

As some of you may know, our Peer Support Specialist, Quinn (they/them), runs a virtual peer support group for LGBTQ+ high schoolers in Connecticut called Queers & Peers every Friday at 6:30 PM. Get to know some cool facts about them in their video below. And spread the word for their support group!

January Themes 2024!

And just like that, 2023 comes to a close, and we roll out the welcome mat for 2024. Check out our flyer below for January 2024 content themes!

To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast, or provide a video, email us at turningpointct@positivedirections.org. Or, you can also submit your content directly to the Our StoriesBlogsCreative ExpressionsVideos, and Map pages!

As a friendly reminder, please know that any content you would like to contribute does not have to be limited to the ideas listed on the flyer. You can also submit content around anything you feel comfortable sharing!

We hope you all have an amazing new year! Let’s get this bread in 2024 😤. P.S. please enjoy the meme below 😂


My reaction to how fast 2023 flew by.

Reels: Hand Washing Awareness Week & Group Therapy (2)

Hand Washing Awareness Week

Last week was Hand Washing Awareness Week. As a hand washing advocate, especially in public settings, I felt inclined to make a video to help spread the word. Check it out below.


Group Therapy

Recently I’ve been sharing clips from a video on our YouTube channel about Group Therapy. Check out the full video below, or watch the clips on our Instagram!

Looking Back On 2023

The Rock in the Road

Anxiety has always been a huge rock in the road for me, especially during the past few covid years.  It’s made it extremely difficult to do a lot of things, even things such as interacting with folks in social settings, and making or answering phone calls. 

However, 2023 has been a very successful year for me; I feel like I’ve accomplished more this year than I have in the past 3 years combined.  I’ve become a lot more capable of pushing back against my anxiety in order to progress in life. I’ve learned a lot of coping skills from others, and have even created some of my own, that have been a big help.


Comeback Season

I’ve traveled by myself for the first time, moved into my own place, and started driving again.  These, along with many more, are things I know I would have been very unlikely to do even last year.  So being able to check off so many goals in the span of one year has made me feel very proud of myself.  I even signed up for an event in town, which would have been way more unlikely last year than the first three things I mentioned in this paragraph.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say signing up for social events wasn’t even a consideration, while the other things were.

Something that’s been a huge help to me is changing my environment more.  During my school years, besides going to classes during the week, I did next to nothing else.  There were rare occasions where I’d go to the gym, but it wasn’t enough to make a physical or mental difference.  Even up to this past summer, I wasn’t changing my environment enough, and this caused me to have a huge creative block.  And as someone who prides themselves on their creativity, this made me fear for my future.  Now that I’ve been going outside my home more, the creative block has decreased significantly.


Feeling Hopeful

At this point in time, I’m at a place where I feel content with life.  I’m hoping to keep up this momentum as we transition out of 2023 and head into 2024.  For now, though, I wish you all a happy December!


Did you know I make music? Check out my Spotify page with all music!

– T

December Themes ’23

Hello, everyone! Our content flyer for December is here, the last one of the year! To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast, or provide a video, email us at turningpointct@positivedirections.org.

Or, you can always submit your content directly to the Our Stories, Blogs, Creative Expressions, Videos, and Map pages!

Please know that any content you would like to contribute does not have to be limited to the ideas listed on the flyer. You can also submit content around anything you feel comfortable sharing!

Join Rise Be’s Young Adult Leadership Summit

Join Rise Be is running a FREE young adult leadership summit!

  • When: January 26, 2024
  • Time: 10 AM – 3 PM
  • Where: Chrysalis Center, 255 Homestead Ave, Hartford, CT

Download and share the flyer below!

Registration link: https://tinyurl.com/3pjeyyfr

Living With ADHD (Part 1)

Happy ADHD Awareness Month! Our peer support specialist, Quinn, is joined by Emily Stainton to talk about living with ADHD. Topics include late diagnosis, tools and systems, medication, and advocacy. This is part one of a two part episode, so stay tuned for part two, coming next week! 

Music by Oleksii Kaplunskyi from Pixabay

Want to be featured on an upcoming episode? DM us on Instagram or send an e-mail to turningpointct@positivedirections.org

Check out our other podcast episodes here!

Conquering Holiday Social Anxiety: Your Comprehensive Guide

Social anxiety can be a formidable adversary during the holiday season. With an influx of social gatherings, increased expectations, and the general chaos of this time of year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

This comprehensive guide is here to arm you with practical strategies and tips to navigate through the holiday season with confidence and joy.

Understanding Social Anxiety

Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is more than shyness or a fear of public speaking. It’s a persistent fear of being observed, judged, or scrutinized by others, causing significant distress and impairing one’s ability to function in social situations.

Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety symptoms can be psychological and physical, varying from person to person.

Common psychological symptoms include:

  • Fear of interacting with strangers
  • Worry about others noticing your anxiety
  • Fear of physical symptoms like blushing or a shaky voice
  • Avoidance of situations where you fear embarrassment
  • Anticipation of the worst outcome in social cases.


Physical symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate

A person with social anxiety may experience some or all of these symptoms, and their intensity can fluctuate based on the situation. Understanding your specific triggers and reactions can help you develop strategies to manage your anxiety.

The Impact of Holidays on Social Anxiety

The holiday season is often a time of increased social activity, which can exacerbate social anxiety symptoms. The pressure to attend large social gatherings, navigate unfamiliar social situations, and handle potential triggers can make the holidays less cheerful.

Moreover, with the COVID-19 pandemic in recent memory, many people are finding it challenging to reintegrate into social situations after extended periods of isolation. The sudden return to large gatherings and parties can trigger a spike in social anxiety symptoms.

10 Strategies to Manage Social Anxiety during the Holidays

While social anxiety can be daunting, especially during the holiday season, you can use proven strategies to manage your symptoms and enjoy the festivities. Here’s a roundup of 10 practical strategies to help you conquer holiday social anxiety.

1. Educate Yourself About Your Social Anxiety

Understanding your social anxiety is the first step towards managing it. Familiarize yourself with your specific triggers and reactions, recognize the physical and psychological symptoms, and understand how they impact your daily life.

2. Define Your Boundaries

Having clear boundaries is crucial when managing social anxiety. You don’t need to accept every invitation that comes your way. Determine which events are important to you and only commit to those.

3. Bring a Trusted Friend

Having a trusted friend or “wing(wo)man” at social events can help you feel more comfortable and less anxious. They can facilitate conversations and provide a sense of familiarity and security.

4. Request a Task

If bringing a friend is not an option, ask the host if there’s something you can do to help during the event. This can give you something to focus on, reduce feelings of being observed, and provide opportunities for easy conversation.

5. Prepare Conversation Starters

Having a few conversation starters up your sleeve can help alleviate the stress of making small talk. Think of neutral topics or current events that you can discuss.

6. Take Breaks

If you start to feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to take a break. Step outside for fresh air, take a quiet moment alone or engage in a brief mindfulness exercise to help you re-center.

7. Be Honest About Your Feelings

It’s okay to acknowledge your social anxiety. If you feel comfortable, let others know that you’re feeling anxious. More often than not, people are understanding and supportive.

The holiday season can be a challenging time for individuals with social anxiety. However, you can navigate the holiday season confidently and grace by understanding your triggers, setting boundaries, and employing effective coping strategies. Remember, asking for help and caring for your mental health is okay. After all, the holiday season is all about joy, peace, and well-being.

Written by Sarah Edwards, Project Associate of TPCT.  Want to get to know me? Say hi! https://liinks.co/setapartcompany

Disclaimer: Sarah Edwards is not a certified or licensed mental health professional—instead, someone sharing real-life experiences and findings for others to find commonality and seek actionable steps.

Footnotes

National Institute of Mental Health – Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness

New York Times – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Holiday Social Anxiety

Envision Wellness – 7 Ways to Manage Social Anxiety During the Holidays

Sharecare – How to Survive the Holidays When You Have Social Anxiety

My Decision To Start Drinking Again

In the past, I wrote a post where I detailed why I chose to be sober. Recently, I’ve started to drink again in extreme moderation, like I’m talking I started with sips while with my boyfriend and I’ve worked up to maybe having a drink. But most times, it’s not even a whole drink.

I think the main reason I’m able to enjoy alcohol while out with friend’s is because my mental health isn’t in a place where I feel the need to become numb to not deal with my feelings. I have coping skills to help with that now where I don’t feel the need to use substances as a crutch.

The song Dear Alcohol sums up pretty nicely how I used to use alcohol as a crutch. Below are some lyrics, and I also embedded the song if you want to take a listen to it:

I got wasted ’cause I didn’t wanna deal with myself tonight
My thoughts get drowned until I feel alright
And I keep drinkin’ ’til I’m someone I don’t recognize
I got wasted
I got wasted ’cause I didn’t wanna deal with myself tonight
My thoughts get drowned until I feel alright
I keep drinkin’ ’til I’m someone I don’t recognize
I got wasted

It’s nice to be able to sip and have a drink here and there for the taste while out to a dinner with friends or even during a relaxing night at home with my boyfriend. I don’t want to drink to feel the effects because frankly, I don’t like the effects that alcohol gives me because I get anxiety when I get past a light buzz. As soon as I feel like I might not be in control of myself, I get anxious so I rarely drink enough to feel anything past a slight buzz.

But I think the important thing to me is that I’m in a place where I truly don’t feel like I need to numb myself anytime I feel negative emotions. I’m not reaching for alcohol when I’m feeling upset. I’m drinking while enjoying spending time with close friends, and it’s really just to taste fun drinks.

This might feel like a step backward to some, but to me it speaks volumes that I have a better grip on my mental health. I’m proud of myself for getting to this point.

-Kailey

November Themes ’23

Hello everyone! Here are our themes for November! Feel free to share our November themes or even share your experiences/opinions! To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast or provide a video for November or in the future, email the team at TurningPointCT@positivedirections.org.

You can always submit other content directly to Our Stories, Creations, Videos and Map pages!

Finally Catching Some Wins (Reel)

I’ve been at war with anxiety for as long as I can remember. For the situations in which anxiety applies itself, it’s felt like my arch nemesis has defeated me in every battle we’ve had for the past few years.

Recently, however, I managed to push back and score two significant victories in this seemingly never ending war. I came out feeling very proud of myself, and I wanted to share them. Check out the Reel below to hear about those wins.

Remember that it matters not if your wins seem small to others. As long as you are proud of what you have accomplished, that’s all that matters. 🤠 – T

Personal Empowerment: Unleashing the Power of Agency

The journey towards self-improvement and personal growth is a winding road laden with opportunities for self-discovery and self-awareness.

 In each stride, you make choices and decisions that shape your path and influence your future. The concept of personal agency is a fundamental aspect that propels this emotional journey.

Personal agency is the control you exert over your life, your ability to influence your thoughts and behavior, and your confidence in handling diverse tasks and situations. 

This article is a comprehensive guide on understanding and fostering personal agency, thus helping you feel more in control of your life and work.

The Core Concept of Agency

Personal agency, also called self-agency, is the feeling of control you experience over your life and your capacity to influence your thoughts and behaviors.

 It’s the belief in your ability to impact your future. People with high agency have profound control over their lives and can make decisions to meet their needs and wants. 

They harbor an inner power that allows them to act upon their desires, make plans, and execute actions necessary to realize them.

Conversely, individuals with a low agency often feel that external factors such as luck or fate manipulate their life trajectories. 

They may feel powerless to alter the course of their lives, fostering a sense of helplessness and complacency. Understanding ourselves as agents of change can help us set goals, take steps to improve our personal and professional lives, and discard feelings of powerlessness.

The Building Blocks of High Agency

Albert Bandura, a prominent Stanford University professor of psychology and a pioneer in agency research, proposed that we start developing our sense of agency from birth.

Infants learn to interact with their surroundings and discover ways to alter their environments through their caregivers. Children learn to regulate their behaviors by observing their parents and caregivers. 

As adults, our sense of agency continues to evolve, influenced by several factors, including access to resources and the environment.

Intentionality

Intentionality is the proactive commitment to change your life or environment. It means you consciously decide to act and take control instead of letting external factors dictate your actions.

Forethought

Forethought allows you to envision the future, set goals, and motivate yourself. It guides your actions in anticipation of future events and outcomes.

Self-reactiveness

Self-reactiveness is your capability to act on your plans, monitor your progress, and make necessary course corrections if you stray. It means you need to be deliberate in performing towards reaching your goals and not simply waiting for results to appear.

Self-reflection

This attribute lets you contemplate and evaluate your motives, values, and life goals. Self-reflection allows you to address any conflicts in your motivations and choose to act in favor of one over the other.

Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to succeed. It’s as crucial as your actions in developing a sense of agency. How people perceive themselves and their environment influences their ideas about what is possible and determines their level of personal agency.

Transitioning from Low Agency to High Agency

Transitioning from low to high agency involves fostering a shift in mindset and embracing strategies that inspire personal empowerment.

Re-evaluate Your Beliefs

Begin by introspecting your beliefs about your sense of agency. Do you perceive yourself as someone with high agency or low agency? 

Do you feel a high sense of agency in some regions of your life, like your career, but a low sense of agency in others, like your personal relationships? 

Reflecting on where you want more control can help you set future goals.

Cultivate Intentionality

Start by setting small, achievable goals for yourself. It could be reading a specific number of pages of a book each week, organizing your workspace, or incorporating a new habit into your daily routine.

Understand Your Environment

High agency requires resources like time, money, knowledge, and skills. Evaluate the resources you have that can help you create and act on your goals. Identify the resources you need and the avenues to acquire them.

Seek Support

Consider seeking support from coaches, mentors, supportive family members, or friends. They can provide invaluable guidance and encouragement on your journey towards self-agency. 

If you believe traumatic experiences or mental health struggles are impacting your agency, seek support from a licensed mental health professional.

The Journey to Personal Empowerment

Remember, feeling in control of your life is not about controlling every aspect of it. Instead, it’s about exercising more control over your aspirations, understanding your sense of agency, and letting go of feelings of powerlessness.

Embracing personal agency is about believing in yourself and your capabilities. It’s about recognizing that you are the pilot of your life, steering it in the direction you desire. 

So, take the reins of your life, set your course, and embark on the journey to personal empowerment.

After all, as Albert Bandura rightly stated, “People are producers of their life circumstances, not just products of them.” It’s time to be the producer of your life and embrace the power of agency.

Written by Sarah Edwards, Project Associate of TPCT.  Want to get to know me? Say hi! https://liinks.co/setapartcompany

Disclaimer: Sarah Edwards is not a certified or licensed mental health professional—instead, someone sharing real-life experiences and findings for others to find commonality and seek actionable steps.

Covid Ruined My Vacation

During the end of September and the beginning of October, my family and I went on vacation to California and Texas. Unfortunately, I got covid about halfway through the vacation.

I made a video on my YouTube channel sharing the story of my vacation gone wrong, and how I managed to make it home. Grab a snack, and check it out below! 🤠

Before or after watching my video, check out My Poem that I recently posted here. 😃

I wish you all a safe and healthy remainder of 2023. – TM

This Show’s A Train

Context

During the beginning stages of Covid, everything was shut down, and we were all forced to stay inside. At this point, I had just befriended someone who I felt very connected with, and I’d like to think they felt the same. However, as the early lockdown days continued, I started becoming very depressed and frustrated with isolation, as I’m sure many of you also experienced. I really wanted to see her in person, but obviously couldn’t. We were both in difficult places in our lives. That, plus Covid, caused us to drift apart, and I experienced my first heartbreak.

The poem below, which I’ve titled This Show’s a Train, was written by me as a result of the above situation. I tried to write more, but decided that these six lines were enough as they perfectly explain my feelings.


This show’s a train, it’s moving fast

You and I weren’t meant to last

Just for once can life be a blast

Cause I’m tired of life repeating the past

Being with you, made me so gassed

Then our friendship broke like glass


Thank you for reading. – TM

Gratitude Amid Trials: A Beacon of Hope and Faith

Sometimes, life seems like an endless cycle of trials and tribulations. When we’re caught in the midst of adversity, the idea of cultivating gratitude might feel like a tall order. 

However, as challenging as it might be, expressing thankfulness in all circumstances is not just a noble gesture but also a transformative tool that can change our lives for the better.

Gratitude, in its simplest form, is acknowledging the good in our lives. But it’s more than just enumerating our blessings. It requires us to change our perspective, look beyond our current circumstances, and see the silver linings even in the darkest clouds. 

This shift in perspective enables us to experience peace and joy even amid trials.

Gratitude is not just an emotion; it’s an act of faith. It calls for us to trust in the unseen, to believe in the promise of better days, and to hold on to hope even when our situation seems hopeless. 

Gratitude is a testament to our belief that all things work together for our good, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

The Healing Power of Gratitude

Gratitude has a profound healing effect. It soothes our souls lifts our spirits, and broadens our perspective. It allows us to look beyond our pain and see the blessings within our trials. 

It helps us understand that our trials are not punishments but rather opportunities for growth and self-realization.

In uncertain times, gratitude becomes a beacon of hope. 

Focusing on what we are thankful for can provide solace and strength when our future seems unclear and our path fraught with obstacles. Even when we can’t change our circumstances, we can change our reaction to them. 

By choosing to be grateful, we see life not as a series of problems but as a journey of learning and growth.

Transformative Power of Gratitude

Gratitude holds a transformative power. It can turn trials into blessings, sorrow into joy, and despair into hope. It can change our hearts, our minds, and our lives. 

It’s not about ignoring our problems or pretending that everything is perfect. It’s about finding beauty and goodness amidst the chaos and difficulty.

Gratitude is a catalyst for change.

It sparks a shift in our mindset, helping us to see the world and ourselves in a new light. It encourages us to focus on possibilities instead of limitations, on strengths instead of weaknesses, and on solutions instead of problems.

Gratitude inspires us to become the best version of ourselves, to aim higher, and to strive harder.

In times of grief, gratitude can be a source of comfort and healing. It reminds us of the love, joy, and beauty we’ve experienced, even when we’re currently enveloped in sorrow.

It provides a sense of perspective, helping us to remember that even in our darkest moments, there is still light to be found.

The Role of Faith in Cultivating Gratitude

Faith plays a crucial role in cultivating gratitude. Faith reassures us that we are not alone in our struggles and that there is a higher power guiding and supporting us.

It encourages us to trust in the process, believe in life’s goodness, and hold on to hope even when it seems elusive. Gratitude and faith are intertwined, each one strengthening the other.

Life is full of trials and tribulations, but it is also filled with blessings and miracles. 

Gratitude helps us to see and appreciate these blessings, even amid trials. It encourages 

us to shift our perspective, to focus on the positive, and to trust in the promise of better days. Whether we’re facing a minor setback or a major calamity, gratitude can guide us through. It can heal our hearts, lift our spirits, and transform our lives. 

Let’s embrace a spirit of gratitude, not only in times of abundance and ease, but also — and perhaps most importantly — in times of trials and adversity. 

Because it is in these moments, when we are most challenged, that we have the greatest opportunity to grow, to learn, and to become the best version of ourselves.

Written by Sarah Edwards, Project Associate of TPCT.  Want to get to know me? Say hi! https://liinks.co/setapartcompany

Disclaimer: Sarah Edwards is not a certified or licensed mental health professional—instead, someone sharing real-life experiences and findings for others to find commonality and seek actionable steps.

A Long Overdue Update

Howdy, it’s been a while since I’ve written here on my blog. So, here I am with an overdue update after ten months. I’ve had a lot of life changes since my last post here on my blog. There’s been a lot of good that’s happened since, but unfortunately, there’s also been some trauma.

This year, I’ve left relationships that no longer served me well and that were just not great for me. I’ve been better about protecting my own peace and being more mindful about who I surround myself with. Some of the people I removed from my life were people who I had been friends with since childhood. But, I learned that’s not a great reason to stay friends with someone. There were a lot of things these people did to me that I let slide, things that hurt me. I had finally had enough. So, I removed them from my life and I can say I have not regretted my decisions since.

Additionally, I left a romantic relationship I was in for five years, leaving behind five animals that I adored. But, it was what was best for me and my mental health. I left with next to nothing money wise and living situations were shaky for a bit. But, I did make it out on another side and I’m now living somewhere safe.

While I did have a lot of big changes and some traumatic events happen that I won’t get into here because they’re things I haven’t really dealt with yet, I am in a safe place now. I am happy with an absolutely amazing partner who I’m extremely thankful for.

I wish I could say that having a safe place and a great support system is enough to make my mental health great, but when you’ve had as much trauma as I have throughout my life, it can creep back up when you least expect it. Right now, I’m currently going through it. It’s to the point that my anxiety is affecting my day to day life and it can be crippling.

I’m finally to the point where I’m ready to get back into therapy to work through things that I never really processed. I’m ready to deal with things that I’ve shoved down to not deal with. I reached out to some therapists who specialize in anxiety and PTSD. I specifically looked for ones who are in the town I live in because I want to make sure it’s not a stressful thing for me to get myself to and from therapy.

I’m nervous, but also excited to be taking the step to go back to therapy. I know there are things I have to work through with a professional because my anxiety is starting to really affect my quality of life at this point. The traumas that happened earlier this year I really need help working through.

So, that’s what’s new with me. I’m hoping to write again soon as I start the process of going back into therapy, write some more in depth posts about some of the traumas I’m comfortable sharing publicly, and things I’m doing in my day to day life to help in my healing.

-Kailey

Healing From Past Trauma: Leaving Toxicity Behind

Healing from past trauma isn’t easy. And it sure ain’t easy breaking your own trauma instilled cycles either. Leaving my past domestic violent/toxic relationship has shown me a lot. Not only that, my relationship with my current partner has helped me see the dynamics of all of my relationships. Specifically with my current/past friends and family members.

Feeling Scared Facing My Dream Relationship

I never thought that I was actually going to be in a relationship where things are mutual and reciprical. Let alone, experience such deep emotion towards someone during a first kiss. I haven’t, EVER, experienced such magnetic/powerful connection with someone like this before.

And to be completely honest, I didn’t know what to do with this new dynamic and healthy relationship at first. I wanted to run. All because I was afraid of my traumatized self. My partner’s vulnerability and loving heart allowed me to see that they were actually different from my past partners; who only verbally told me they were different rather than show me.

Experiencing such a wonderful and beautifully hearted person, I knew I would’ve DEEPLY regretted running away. So I stayed; I already loved the person that was right in front of me. And not out of obligation.

I took it slow. And now, I’m slowly getting out of survival mode.

Being Rooted in Reality

I’ve never been so grounded or so rooted in reality. I’m no longer making excuses for people in my life on how shitty they treat(ed) me. (In other words, I’m not being delusional.) And I’m no longer coping with people’s maltreatment through my imagination. Nor dismissing maltreatment by someone’s artificial kindness.

My current evolving relationship has helped me accept how shitty my family, working environment is, and what I don’t like about my current and past friendship/family dynamics.

Accepting reality doesn’t mean that I allow.

I now hold people accountable more than ever. And, now I see how unreciprical my relationships with other people are. (Which I often reflect.)

Healing from Dynamics With Others

For so long, people wanted/went to me when they needed me or wanted something from me. But never considered how they only actively played the ‘taker’ in my life. And I allowed it.

Recently, I realized whenever I went to people, they weren’t as genuine as I was with them. Often, such interaction resulted in them needing something from me.

Reflecting on this, I’ve realized how my family members weren’t genuinely invested in my life. They either wanted low vibrational validation or material/internal gain. It really bothered me at first. But I accepted the reality of it to minimize the allowance of such dynamic.

Hence why I kept my distance from family ever since I was introduced to them. And even cut off some members (well a lot).

Healing From the Lack of Balance: Experiences & Boundaries

Experiencing a healthy balanced dynamic with my partner has allowed me to stop the continuation of unbalanced dynamics around me. It has helped me dive deeper in my healing journey.

I had to allow myself face my traumatized self in order to get here.

Having different experiences helped me understand what was best for me by paying attention to how and why it made me feel a certain way. My experiences has helped validate how I felt about each person in my life.

Ending this off, hard decisions should be based on fact and self-respect, NOT upon cognitive dissonance, ignorance and dysregulation. It’s important to consider your own contribution to a situation and to be willing to improve yourself. Seeing yourself will help set healthy boundaries with family, friends, partners, etc. It’s important!

healing from

Gabe H.

October Themes ’23

Hello everyone! This is what October will be filled with! Feel free to share our October themes or even share your experiences/opinions! To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast or provide a video for October or in the future, email the team at TurningPointCT@positivedirections.org.

You can always submit other content directly to Our Stories, Creations, Videos and Map pages!

Autumn Equinox 2023: Finding Balance

This year’s Autumn Equinox is exactly on September 23rd at 2:50AM. Due to such specific time, people say that fall starts on the 22nd and the equinox is on the 23rd. So happy fall season!! And for my spiritual people, happy Autumn Equinox!

What is Autumn Equinox?

Autumn Equinox is a time of transition. It’s all about balance and taking the time to pause. It’s a time where we experience stillness before the shift. To me, Autumn Equinox is all about letting ourselves experience the present moment. It’s a time to look inward as well as outward.

Inviting Balance

Balance isn’t the easiest thing on this planet but it’s definitely not that hard if you’re willing to make sacrifices. For example, if you’re struggling with something, it’s a great time to let go of the things that are contributing to that struggle. I’ve let go of relationships (family, friends, environments, habits, etc.) that was feeding into my depression and anxiety.

Sometimes it takes time to understand what is actually contributing to a struggle. It took me a while to understand and actually listen to my needs due to people pleasing. This is your friendly reminder that you should stop people pleasing for your mental sanity.

To find balance, you must be willing to be patient with yourself and let go of the things that are not serving you anymore. Whether that be a job, family member, old friend, clothes that you don’t wear, etc.

Finding Balance in Self-Deceiption

For those who think they are people pleasing and actually aren’t, you should really internally reflect. You must fit into a specific criteria for this. There’s no shame in self-deceiption as long as you’re willing to improve yourself. So the criteria of self-deceiption includes:

  • being mean to people,
  • losing a lot of relationships or opportunities,
  • manipulating people,
  • not telling the full truth,
  • not being mindful, and
  • think your behaviors aren’t a problem

This is self-deceiption at its finest and requires heavy self relfection. People who are doing these things are typically very unhappy. There’s an aquired victim mindset. The way out of that rut is facing yourself and your trauma to do better. If you fit into this, sacrifice your need for instant gratification. And hold self-accountability. Also, an apology to the people who have experienced your maltreatment can really help.

Happy Autumn Equinox and reflecting!

– Dez 🙂

Back to School Anxiety


Good luck to all students this school year! You got this!

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

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Want to find more free mental health support services made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut? Check out our website!

Check out the Previous Episode where Dez talks about the BS of Labor Day!

Moving Out Update!

It’s been about 2 months since I moved out on my own.  Before moving day, I wrote about my thoughts and feelings on the matter, which you can read here.  Now that some time has passed, I figured I could provide an update!


Moving Day

Moving day was very hectic; it certainly deserves its spot as one of the top 5 most stressful life events.  Instead of hiring a professional moving company, we had a rented U-Haul truck and a couple friends helping.  And since we didn’t live on the first floor of our prior residence, the process took twice as long.  But, alas, we got through it.  Moving in didn’t take as long since I was only taking probably a quarter of the furniture we had.

The First Few Weeks

I spent my first week here unpacking boxes and organizing.  To my surprise, it took only six days to get everything unpacked and set up.  The next couple of weeks consisted of shopping for anything else I may have needed and what not.

I also had a housewarming party, which I enjoyed very much.  It was awesome to have family and friends over to celebrate a new accomplishment with me.  The vibe was positive, and it was just a good time spent with great people.

Another surprise I experienced was not missing my previous residence or town at all, and I still don’t.  I spent most of my life there, but I really just don’t miss it.  I concluded that I’ve been ready to end that chapter for a long time, and finally begin this new one.

Conclusion

Despite some feelings of loneliness that come with relocating to a new area where you don’t know anyone yet, I am enjoying it here.  I’m still exploring the area, and looking to get involved in activities that will help me meet new people.

One thing I have been struggling with is consistently sticking to a new routine.  Since I’m on my own now, it’s solely up to me to hold myself accountable for everything I want and need to get done.  It is a work in progress, but once I keep up the momentum, I know I will do well.


Thank you for reading. – TM

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Workshop: Navigating Mental Health Crises w/ Psychosis (9/20/23)

STEP is running a workshop for any CT family or community member who’s interested in learning how to navigate mental health crises with young people who experience psychosis.

WORKSHOP TITLE: Navigating Mental Health Crises in the Community Among Young People with Psychosis

WHEN: Wednesday, September 20th, 2023 @5:00PM

REGISTER: https://yale.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJItfumrqjkuEtyvA6mPmI0uk0t0hEpiD3HG

This workshop is part of the STEP Family and Community Workshop Series, a series of educational workshops. They are open to both STEP affiliated families/support people and to any community members interested in learning about early psychosis. This training is supported by the CONNECTing to Care Initiative

The Accountability Adults Need to Take: Reading Past a Façade

Many adults don’t know how to take accountability. Which is a bad influence to society. They honestly don’t understand how their action(s), treatment, etc. impact us young adults, let alone, other people. The same thing goes for parents; there’s no accountability taken in their child’s experience(s) and/or wound(s). And not enough people, psychology books or resources talk about this issue; The issue of external/internal accountability within recovery.

Reading the Doer (If the Shoe Fits, Wear It)

accountability

Self-accountability within many doers feels like a never thought. It’s mainly because the doer is in denial of how the other individual feels in relation to their personal involvement in their life. Which really boils down to how they are being viewed by the public’s eye.

Sometimes, the doer tries to over compensate via their work/act of (internally ‘needed’) kindness; in order to restore balance within themselves. It’s a way to feel better about how they treat others and/or a way to invalidate their subconscious perception of how they truly treat others.

** A doer (in this specific context) – the person (parent, friend, partner, etc.) who is mistreating you or other individuals.**

Taking Accountability can Heal!

Blindness of a perpetuator is harmful.

Society talks about suicide, self-harm, alcohol and drug addiction prevention but don’t see what leads up to those very instances or of having to recover. It’s very important to know the leading cause of each coping mechanism: trauma. Trauma includes how we are treated, what we have seen, experienced, etc.

From experience, it’s healing when someone takes accountability for their actions.

Not only that, but I always try to take accountability for my own actions that may have negatively impacted another person. Accountability involves self-reflection and working on the shadow self.

Here’s Some Irony: Reading into it Further

I can say that some of the people who talk about recovery are the very people who are stimulating such internal conflict to others. Or in other terms, are the doers and show that they are hypocrites to their own ‘practices’. And it’s hard for them to take accountability.

From experience, many doers take offense when they’re called out on their unjust doings, and perpetual lack of accountability. Some of these doers act innocent in the part they play in another individual’s experiences with them. Which really confuses everyone and the experiencer. So accountability matters.

But when accountability doesn’t happen, it’s real to say: “It’s the relationship to whiteness for me.”

It’s Giving… Very Colonizer

I know some of you are tired of my colonizer references. But there are things that need to be pointed out! Unaccountability heavily traces to colonizer culture which leads to avoidance as a coping mechanism.

Honestly, If the shoe fits, wear it. Take it personal and take accountability for your actions. Sit with your offense and internally reflect past your ego. Work on your shadow!

There’s nothing wrong with being flawed if you’re willing to improve yourself.

– Dez 🙂

The BS of Labor Day: A Decolonized View

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

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Check out the Previous Episode where Dez talks about his transgender journey!

Breath Body Mind Workshop

breath body mind workshop

Join this Breath Body Mind Workshop to learn gentle movement and breathing practices! They’re easy to learn and allow you to heal from within!

Sessions run on the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 6PM-7PM!

Facilitated by Level 4 BBM Teacher, Linda Lentini. At the Connecticut Clearinghouse on 334 Farmington Ave, Plainville, CT.

Click here to register for the following sessions: 9/20, 10/18, 11/15, and/or 12/20.

September Themes ’23

Hello everyone! This is what September will be filled with! Feel free to share our September themes or even share your experiences/opinions! To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast or provide a video today or in the future, email the team at TurningPointCT@positivedirections.org.

You can always submit other content directly to Our Stories, Creations, Videos and Map pages!

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TurningPointCT is Airing On 107.7 FM

107.7 FM

Enfield Youth Council hosts Dez on their bi-weekly radio show on 107.7 FM WACC Radio!

Tune in at 6PM on Monday (8/14), Wednesday (8/16), and/or Friday (8/18).

Can’t reach 107.7 FM WACC on your radio?

Tune in here to listen.

Want to do/join your own podcast on TurningPointCT? Email the TurningPointCT team at TurningPointCT@positivedirections.org MP3 recordings of your topic or for more information to join a podcast episode!

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My Transgender Journey: Normalizing Gender/Sexual Fluidity in Society Through History


Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and subscribe to us on social media!
– Facebook: TurningPointCT
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– Twitter: @TurningPoint_CT
– YouTube: TurningPointCT.org
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Want to find more free mental health support services made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut? Check out our website!

Check out the Previous Episode where Therell, Emorie, and Clarissa talk about moving out on your own for the first time!

Prioritizing Self-Care

It’s National Wellness Month! This recognized awareness month really focuses on prioritizing self-care through committing to healthier habits. Healthier habits make an impact no matter the ‘size’ of the habit. Like listening to your body when you need to use the bathroom. instead of holding it in. Eating when your body is hungry. Or leaving behind someone who doesn’t treat you with respect. These healthy habits can really improve your overall health.

Prioritizing Self-Care in Today’s Society

Colonization has really fucked up the dynamics of society and self-care. We are wired to think that self-caring is wrong. We feel guilty for prioritizing ourselves into thinking we are being selfish. When in reality, the only way we are able to function properly is through prioritizing self-care. Everything around us tells us that routine care is the way things function properly. And when things go to shit, throw it out.

Think of it like a phone. You charge it for it to work. Or when it drops and gets debris on it, wipe it off. Why? So the phone can operate better and/or longer. And when it no longer works, get a new phone by tossing the old one out.

Observing society, I see that we care more for our material things than ourselves. Although it’s hard to care for ourselves, it’s worth it.

How to Self-Care

Before, I have written a blog about Coping and Self-Caring. It goes into detail about self-care tips that are also thought provoking. To say the least, there’s no specific how-to-guide for self-caring. However, there are ideas on how you can be prioritizing self-care in your day to day life.

Prioritizing self-care is to respect yourself and boundaries. You really have to treat and talk to yourself like you would to your best friend. Think about how you would like to be treated by someone else and treat yourself like such. What is also helpful when it comes to prioritizing self-care is thinking about how I would treat someone/something else. My rule of thumb is “if I wouldn’t do that to a baby, animal, and/or another thing, I shouldn’t do it to myself”.

Prioritizing self-care also includes cutting out people of your life, leaving a toxic job, etc.

It’s 2023, it’s a standard to be prioritizing self-care! So don’t rush yourself, take your time! Allow yourself to self-care. And if you get guilted for it by someone else, question their position in your life.

– Dez 🙂

Moths: Cultural Symbolism

It’s the 12th annual National Moth Week! This week celebrates the beauty, habitats and the life cycles of moths! Typically, National Moth Week is all about science; understanding and contributing data. You can do that here.

Outside of the science of moths during National Moth Week, I want to highlight a moth’s symbolism. A moth’s omen stance vary by culture but are very similar by their symbol or what they represent!

Befriending Moths, Culture, & Their Symbolism

moth

I typically find myself befriending and being protective over moths. They land on me, even in daylight. Sometimes they allow me to hold them…which is rare. And, I just admire their presence around me.

Culturally, I find these occurrences to be good luck! And when someone kills a moth purposefully, it can bring great misfortune to that specific person. So I urge people to leave them be.

Moths symbolize change, transformation, endings, death, and mystery of the night. All of which I stand for and really value in my life.

Reconciling with Uneasy Moth Symbolisms

I know many people don’t feel easy around death symbolism. Depending on your relationship with moths, the translated message of their presence may vary. Which all really depends on your outlook on life. If you’re pessimistic, you’re more likely to be uneasy and translate a moth’s symbolism negatively. If you’re optimistic and stoic at heart, you’ll understand how a moth’s symbolism is all about opportunity, and beginning/ending cycles!

Either way, moths are here to remind people of opportunities regardless of the journey it takes to get there.

So, happy National Moth Week! Remember to enjoy the beauty of nature!

– Dez 🙂

August Themes ’23

Hello everyone! This is what August will be filled with! Feel free to share our August themes or even share your experiences/opinions! To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast or provide a video for August or in the future, email the team at TurningPointCT@positivedirections.org.

You can always submit other content directly to Our Stories, Creations, Videos and Map pages!

Moving Into A New Chapter

The time has come… Execute Order 66…

My bad, this isn’t about Star Wars 😅. Let’s try again.


After living with my mom for the entire 23 years I’ve been alive, and in the same area for almost 20 years, the time has come where I move out.

Moving is one of the most stressful times in one’s life, and I can see why.  While I myself haven’t fully processed relocating, I’ve seen how it has been affecting those close to me, including my cat.

I’ve had my cat, Gavin, for 15 years.  We adopted him when he was 1 year old, making him 16 years old now (80 years old in human years).  He’s still very active, though, and doesn’t look his age at all.  Gavin is an indoor cat; his knowledge of the outside world is nearly nonexistent.  When moving in the past, he was very stressed and unhappy being in his cage and traveling in the car.  He will be staying with my mom and her boyfriend, but regardless of who he would have been going with, I know he’ll be very stressed like usual.  Fortunately, he and my mom’s boyfriend love each other, so we’re hoping that will help soften the blow of me no longer living with him every day.

My cat, Gavin 😺

As mentioned earlier, I still haven’t fully processed moving, and the big day is less than a week away at the time of me writing this.  I think once I’m actually in my new place, and have spent the first night alone, it will hit me hard.  I will certainly miss my mom and cat.  I’m sure that not living with me everyday anymore will be the most difficult part of moving for my mom.  I think Gavin will miss me too; a few months ago, I spent about a week in New York, and my mom sent me pictures of Gavin sitting outside my bedroom door.  The good thing, though, is that I won’t be too far away, so visiting won’t be a problem.

Of the three places in my current town that I’ve lived in, I haven’t become attached to any of them.  I have, however, developed an attachment to the town itself.  As I’m sure a lot of people experience, I feel most comfortable in familiar environments.  I know my way around this town very well, so I’m thinking it will be a huge shock to my system living in another area that I’m not too familiar with yet.

Ready or not, though, the day is upon me.  Whenever I finally experience the full effect of stress caused by moving, I know that overall I am looking forward to beginning this new chapter in my life. The place I’m moving into seems very promising, so that definitely helps. 

Wish me luck! ~ TM

After Domestic Violence: Relationships & Breaking Cycles

A while back I posted a blog about “Recovering from Domestic Violence“. And throughout that writing process, I was sure that I wouldn’t be interested in anyone for a VERY long time. But I found myself oddly attracted to a few people and found my intuition leading me. So this is how I experienced the formulation of a new relationship after domestic violence.

Scroll all the way to the bottom for the key take-aways!

We’re Attracted to Familiarity/Potential

When I first experienced attraction to a person after domestic violence, I questioned myself what I liked about them. I couldn’t pin point what at first, but with time I understood that they were familiar to me. AND I can’t forget about potential. In the past, when I experienced familiarity, I went for it because I saw potential. The familiarity I knew was typically by how they were internally. Which was in need of healing, stagnant in mindset, lower vibrational, addictive, etc. but with a little deception of appearing higher or better.

I can confidently say that my last relationship taught me that familiarity isn’t always a good thing. And to never fall in love with someone’s potential.

What I’ve been seeing and have experienced is that, familiarity attraction has led to more low vibrational, stagnant, domestic violent, toxic and emotionally damaging relationships. And because of how we perceive different things, we stick with what we know.

Reminder: Just because someone is familiar and you like them, it doesn’t mean you have to stay with them if they are treating you like shit. We may not be aware but families teach us that we should be tolerant of toxicity. That’s even though we don’t like how it feels.

My Experience with a New Relationship After Domestic Violence

The second person I found myself attracted to, my attraction to them was extremely strong that it really surprised me. I wasn’t familiar with anything about them. This attraction actually scared me. My brain was trying so hard to find anything that was familiar about this person that was rooted in trauma. When my brain couldn’t find anything, something made me question my attraction to this person. I questioned myself if it was obligation to stay or genuine interest to grow. Sure as shit, it was genuine and not obligation like my other relationships where I felt bad for leaving.

The First Kiss: Listening to Intuition

As cheesy as this sounds, I’ve always said that I’d know when a person is for me by the first kiss. In my past relationship, I knew for sure and deep down that the person I was with, wasn’t for me by the very first kiss. I was actually confused when I felt nothing kissing this person.

But I ignored my intuition. Never ignore intuition.

With the person I felt this strong attraction to, the first kiss made me feel everything. Through my experience of trying to see if our connection was genuine, I kept going back to that moment.

Other Moments I Visited

During the talking stage, I needed to understand my emotions I experienced with this person. I literally sat down and thought about every possible thing. It was because I was afraid to lose myself again in a toxic, emotionally damaging and domestic violent relationship. I was still finding myself.

I stopped myself in the dumps of anxiety and fear to visit the moments this person and I shared. I wasn’t going miss out on a person who was loving, kind, vulnerable, genuine, straightforward, understanding, and just everything I dreamt of. We even share the same values, have similar views on the world, and want to grow!

My Nervous System After Domestic Violence

My therapist described my experience response under the polyvagal theory. Which basically explains that my nervous system was conditioned to think that I wasn’t going to ever get what I wanted/dreamt of… So, in the moment, my nervous system was like “Now what? We didn’t think we were actually going to get what we dreamt of or wanted.”

Key Take-Aways

If you’re going to take away something from this blog, remember:

  • Never ignore intuition.
    • Don’t get into relationships out of obligation and/or because you feel bad for someone.
  • Familiarity isn’t always good for you.
    • Just because you like/love them, it doesn’t mean you have to stay with them if they are treating you like shit.
  • Never fall in love with someone’s potential.
    • Potential is an idea that aren’t typically acted on.
  • It’s normal to freak out or not know what to do when you get in a healthier relationship.
    • Take the time to heal to be your best self!

Gabe H.

7 Ways to Overcome Caring About What Others Think

I want to break down why we care so much about perception. Because I believe caring about what others think about us is so damaging. Caring about outside perception keeps us away from knowing what we believe about ourselves and knowing ourselves.

I personally admit that I think a lot about how people perceive me. And it’s rooted in so much shame, pride and fear. 

Caring and having the desire to know the perception of others is really a deeper desire for control. And for me, it is a form of anxiety. If I could control how people see me, technically I could control outcomes in my life. And I think, selfishly, that’s a want we all have.

Under the Layers: Authenticity

My authenticity is hidden under layers of my own perceptions of worth…. And a masking layer is applied every time I think negatively about who I am.

This is so hard with mental health struggles because some conditions create repetitive negative or intrusive thought cycles. Such as my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I also tend to feel like I am not worth being around because I have these conditions. So therefore I am starving myself of value and now am hungry for approval from others to replace what should be my core values.

I imagine a lot of this is due to the fast pace of media. Like the pressure it creates, catchy headlines and misleading or emotionally charged information. In general, it is making it difficult for us to know our values. To study what we care about, our opinions, and then therefore, finding people to uplift those opinions and strengthen us.

Caring About What Others Think

So the question becomes, despite the above, how do I free myself from wanting that control, and ultimately nixing the need for external validation? What is the discovery process for identifying our values in a world that doesn’t give a lot of space for formulating self-opinion? For having a belief system, and even giving work life balance to achieve a form of self care and exploration? 

I’ve learned that starts with peeling back the layers of negative thought and letting more of my authenticity appear in the cracks. For me, this is what that process looks like:

ONE: Identifying what I value and what I believe to Overcome Caring

Taking time to educate yourself in your belief structure is crucial to adjusting the course of your life and giving you direction. We are so often sold on the idea that exploration of beliefs is a lifelong process. While this is true, in the evolution of what we believe, it is not an excuse to avoid making firm statements. Especially truths and ideas during our daily lives, starting in the present. I personally have become fearful of making firm statements. Mainly because there are not a lot of safe spaces to express new thoughts and strong ideas today. Especially if it counteracts the majority opinion.

An example of this for me was confirming and standing up for my religion. It gives me structure, faith, and direction. I now know what to give time to in my educational process, in the people and experiences I look for, and that gives me confidence. It takes away negative, doubtful thoughts and gives me a truthful narrative. 

If you walk through life without confirming any truths, and you are constantly evolving with sporadic media and emotional voices, or thinking you need to recreate who you are constantly, you are opening up all those cracks for doubt, confusion and exhaustion. Being malleable and deepening education is key, but not anchoring yourself anywhere can create circles, and constant needs of reassurance. You have the ability to make time for this mindset change in your life. And therefore,  you don’t need to go on autopilot (aka, be runned by your anxiety driven thoughts).

TWO: Taking care of my physical and mental self is the best type of caring

Investing in yourself daily, in whatever way you are able, no matter the amount, gives evidence that you believe in yourself, and that you matter. This might be in the form of reading, boundary setting, drinking the green juice, going for a walk, journaling, whatever works for you. By neglecting to do this over long periods of time, you are putting value on other things over yourself. If we value other things, we are telling ourselves what we care about, perhaps work, or the opinions of others. Investing in yourself with the highest currency, time, is one of the ultimate forms of self care and with the bonus of giving us back from control that we might be seeking in validation.

THREE: Being kind and focusing on loving others

When I become very self aware for many days and hours, it usually means I am under distress. Or I am becoming more self-centered. A lot of us shutter at the word self-centered, which is totally understandable (me too). However, self-centeredness is actually a great indicator that we just need to adjust where our focus lies.

This can also include taking inventory of overall spatial awareness. Also awareness of others, and doing a check on our ignorance or assumptions. Taking the light off of us and shining it on others is a great way to improve connection in relationships and our community. Acts of kindness; sending a text, making dinner for someone, etc, can really re-ground us in gratitude and emotional needs. It gives us a better understanding of the human experience. It also allows us to sometimes exercise a sense of vulnerability. Kindness and caring often requires empathy, or taking a risk, or sharing a part of our story.

FOUR: Making gratitude a requirement in my day, like eating a meal

Gratitude is a word often used in methods to improve happiness. Especially being in the present. Which helps with reducing anxiety and so on. And while this isn’t a new concept, the reminder of gratitude is important. One of the ways I’ve improved my gratitude dialogue is by viewing gratitude as a requirement. It’s like eating meals in a day. As a Christian, I get the visual prompt when eating to pray for my meal. And often try to slip in other words of thanks for parts of my day that once seemed insignificant.

Pairing a visual cue, like mealtime, with the act of giving thanks, can help rescale the balance between negative thoughts and dialogue in your day. 

FIVE: Taking inventory of the content I am consuming; social media, music, conversations, books, television, etc.

This is a habit change that so easily goes under my radar it’s scary. But when I switch up my media I notice an overnight and overwhelming change in my mindset. I also believe this is a habit we don’t need to constantly be strict with. But be strict with checking in with ritualistically. If you find yourself struggling to keep a more positive persona about yourself; your worth, value, age, appearance, success, and so on, it may be catalyzed by your consumption. 

This is something you can do today to make a potentially big impact for your tomorrow. 

SIX: Staying curious; exploring new things I might enjoy like new wine, or foods, a hobby, even a style of clothing or cosmetics, books and literature, etc.

Trying new things gives us permission to fail. Sometimes it’s a small consequence such as regretting a takeout selection, and sometimes, it’s taking a risk and quitting your job in pursuit of your dreams. Demonstrating to yourself and others that you decided to feed your curiosity, that you are worth investing in yourself, gives you a foundation of personality and authenticity. Therefore, minimizing the need to look to others for answers and approvals when you’re already seeking them yourself. By being curious you want to learn about the world and those interests point towards what you love, and when we focus on love we gain gratitude and joy and that also reduces anxious feelings.

SEVEN: Investing in things I believe in (such as goals, people, activities) even if others don’t understand the level of commitment or why I am putting the time/effort

I think strong authenticity, values and characteristics appear when our doubts are at their highest level. When we call upon ourselves to invest time and energy into a dream, a goal, despite the statistical odds, or others opinions…we are betting on ourselves. We then bet again, bet again, bet again, until we get the outcome we want. In this circular process we stop caring about other people’s bets or validation because we’re too busy rolling the dice, and finding out new things about ourselves while we build strength and stamina along the way.

In all these methods, the pattern is to get too invested to care, dig, explore, educate and lay firm foundations that are so strong that validation from others, or from this broken world are weak against what you’ve created.

Moving Out On Your Own For The First Time

How did you feel when you were moving out for the first time? Have any tips? Let us know!


Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and subscribe to us on social media!
– Facebook: TurningPointCT
– Instagram: @TurningPoint_CT
– Twitter: @TurningPoint_CT
– YouTube: TurningPointCT.org
– TikTok: @TurningPointCT.org

Want to find more free mental health support services made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut? Check out our website!

Miss the previous episode? Listen to it HERE!

Life After Graduation

Man, life after graduation can go one of two ways: very busy/chaotic or very relaxing! I can say that my life after graduation has been a little chaotic. But not in a bad way!

Good Chaos After Graduation

To be honest, I really planned to relax after graduation but the universe had a different plan for me! In all honesty, I really planned on only healing, going to work, and nothing else. But with healing, everything else starts to move too!

Reminder: Going with the flow is a must when things are coming your way!

graduation

You can’t sit there and say “tHiS iS hArD” and then stop in your tracks because that’s fear talking. It’s valid to say “this is hard” but never allow fear stop you from great things! I almost missed out on a great opportunity because of fear.

You gotta keep going because great opportunities will keep coming as long as you’re open to them as experiences!

Because of my openness, I’ve received so many good things and opportunities from the universe. All of which were very overwhelming at first but allowing myself to go with the flow worked in my favor :). I leveled up in many areas and met new/amazing people that will be there in my future!

Taking Steps into Adulthood after Graduating

I think many of us think about adulthood and kind of freak out because there’s no exact understanding on “how to adult”. Old people make it seem like everything is easy but in reality, adulting takes self-patience. It’s a process!

So it’s okay not knowing how to adult!!! I’m 23 and still learning and I know people in their 40s still learning how to adult! So please don’t worry about not knowing!

– Dez 🙂

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: The System

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This awareness month brings awareness to the challenges and unique struggles that affect the mental health of racial and ethnic minority communities. As someone of the racial and ethnic minority communities, I face a lot of unique struggles and challenges. These challenges and unique struggles are presented everywhere… In relationships, at work, with family, in society, etc.

  • minority mental health

Throughout my healing journey, I found that nearly all of my mental health disparities tie to my race and ethnicity. To be direct, white assimilated people’s cognitive dissonance and racial/ethnic ignorance has negatively impacted my mental health. And that statement is 100% true for all of minority communities.

The System vs. Minority Mental Health

One of the biggest struggle I’m currently facing, is the health system’s role in declining the mental health of minority racial and ethnic communities. At this point, it kind of feels like they enjoy marginalizing already marginalized people. So, from the bottom of my heart and the deepest depth of my soul, FUCK the system and the health system!

The system and health system always dismiss minority communities. But mostly, perpetuate and continue making the minority communities unattended to in order to keep us under the label of “minority”. These factors actually lower the help we receive for our mental health! And it really has a lot to do with how society is very oriented to the white cisgender male and/or white population.

** That’s a clue to understanding white assimilation. **

Listening to My Body & Ancestors

Although the system caused a lot of trauma and mental health decline, I learned more about my roots. I wasn’t able to learn from my family/environment as they were assimilated to white society. They were deep within their learned cognitive dissonance.

Due to this circumstance, I did a lot of intuitive learning from my ancestors, researched what I’ve learned, and started healing myself at home. My experiences with the system and “health” system has made me turn to ancestral holistic methods of healing. I learned to self-medicate through herbal remedies and heal via ancient/ancestral methods that were lost in cultural assimilation. I’m grateful for my experiences.

Racial/Ethnic Minority Mental Health Matters

Regardless of my gratefulness, no one should have to experience mental health disparities because of unique struggles or challenges of race and ethnicity. Everyone should work on their white assimilated ways, cognitive dissonance, and racial/ethnic ignorance.

Reminder: No one is safe from white assimilation nor racial/ethnic ignorance. And if you’re a person of racial/ethnic minority groups, know that you are NOT alone.

– Dez 🙂

Men’s Health Month: The Connection Between Physical & Mental Health

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and subscribe to us on social media!
– Facebook: TurningPointCT
– Instagram: @TurningPoint_CT
– Twitter: @TurningPoint_CT
– YouTube: TurningPointCT.org
– TikTok: @TurningPointCT.org

Want to find more free mental health support services made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut? Check out our website!

Miss the previous episode? Listen to it HERE!

Renewed Hobbies

Who said hobbies have to be practical or useful in our everyday lives? Many of us kind of think about adopting a new hobby or hobbies. And some of us kind of think about adopting renewed hobbies. There’s no shame in renewing a hobby we once enjoyed before.

No one really talks about the self talk we have because of other people’s poisonous cognitive patterns. We often get stopped in our tracks by the unreal expectations of “ReAl LiFe” application or usefulness. All of which were placed on us by other people! Stop listening to those thoughts!

My Renewed Hobbies: Guitar Hero, Math, & Physics

I can confidently say that my renewed hobbies come from past passions. And it’s definitely not useful to my career path or anything like that. It’s geeky and nerdy. The first renewed hobby was something I was very conscious about because people found it to be a waste of time.

Nothing that improves mental health is a waste of time to me. Avoiding passions and being bitter are wastes of time.

Renewed Hobby #1

My first renewed hobby is guitar hero! Not really, lol. But it is very similar…it’s Clone Hero. I was able to download the songs I liked from other games from this doc. I thought it was cool asf! What’s even better is that you can download any song you want to play. from Chorus. What’s even better is that it’s all free!

From least expensive to more expensive: You can use your laptop keyboard, a separate bluetooth keyboard, random remote that has a USB end, remote that can connect via bluetooth, or even a guitar hero guitar.

Renewed Hobby #2

This second renewed hobby is definitely a nerdy one; math and physics. In middle and high school, I really enjoyed math and physics. Going to college, I didn’t have much time to continue enjoying those hobbies. So, I went to Khan Academy, signed in and added what I wanted to re-learn and continue learning. Khan Academy is also free! No need to pay money to learn and do things you want to!

Breaking out of Hobby Expectations

I think this kind of brings many points together. Essentially that:

  • We don’t need money to do simple hobbies
  • What improves our mental health shouldn’t have to meet societal expectations
  • And, being a geek or nerd can be fun and is cool

In case you’ve missed it, nothing that improves mental health is a waste of time. Avoiding passions and being bitter are wastes of time. Also, in a materialistic world, find something non-materialistic. Non-materialistic things can greatly improve your mental health!

– Dez 🙂

10 Simple Acts of Kindness You Can Do Today

As a society, we tend to focus on our own needs and wants, often forgetting about the simple acts of kindness that can make a big difference in someone’s day. 

Kindness is the act of being friendly, generous, and considerate to others, and it is something that can have a profound impact on both the giver and the receiver. 

acts of kindness

In this article, I will discuss what kindness is, its importance, and 10 simple acts of kindness you can do today to make someone’s day.

What is Kindness?

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It is the act of going out of your way to help others without expecting anything in return. This can be something as simple as holding the door open for someone, giving a compliment, or offering a helping hand to someone in need. Kindness is a positive trait that can have a ripple effect, inspiring others to be kind as well.

Why is Kindness Important?

Kindness is important because it helps to create a positive and supportive environment. When we are kind to others, it not only benefits them, but it also benefits us. Acts of kindness can help to reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve overall well-being. Kindness can also help to bridge cultural and social divides, bringing people together and promoting understanding and empathy.

Kindness Quotes to Inspire You

Here are some inspiring quotes about kindness that will motivate you to be more compassionate and caring:

  • “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
  • “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams
  • “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
  • “The greatest gift you can give someone is your kindness and attention.” – Debasish Mridha
  • “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

The Benefits of Being Kind

Being kind has numerous benefits for both the giver and the receiver. When we practice kindness, it can help to:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Boost happiness and well-being
  • Improve social connections and relationships
  • Promote empathy and understanding
  • Increase self-esteem and confidence
  • Create a positive and supportive environment

10 Simple Acts of Kindness You Can Do Today

Here are 10 simple acts of kindness that you can do today to make someone’s day:

1. Smile and say hello

A simple smile and greeting can go a long way in brightening someone’s day. It only takes a few seconds, but it can help to create a positive and friendly environment.

2. Hold the door open

Holding the door open for someone is a small act of kindness that can show consideration and respect. It can also help to make someone’s day a little easier.

3. Give a compliment

Giving a genuine compliment can help to boost someone’s confidence and self-esteem. It can also help to create a positive and supportive environment.

4. Help someone in need

Offering a helping hand to someone in need can make a big difference in their day. Whether it’s helping someone carry their groceries, offering directions, or simply listening to someone who needs to talk, small acts of kindness can have a profound impact.

5. Pay it forward

Random acts of kindness can help to create a chain reaction of positivity. Whether it’s paying for someone’s coffee or leaving a kind note for a stranger, paying it forward can help to spread kindness and compassion.

6. Volunteer your time

Volunteering your time for a cause you believe in can help to make a positive impact in your community. It can also help to promote empathy and understanding.

7. Send a thank-you note

Sending a thank-you note to someone who has helped you or made a positive impact in your life can show your appreciation and gratitude. It can also help to strengthen relationships and create a positive and supportive environment.

8. Offer words of encouragement

Offering words of encouragement to someone who is going through a tough time can help to lift their spirits and provide support. It can also help to promote empathy and understanding.

9. Listen without judgment

Listening without judgment can help to create a safe and supportive environment. It can also help to promote understanding and empathy.

10. Practice self-kindness

Practicing self-kindness is important for our overall well-being. Whether it’s taking a break to relax, treating yourself to something you enjoy, or simply being kind to yourself in your thoughts, small acts of self-kindness can have a big impact.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas

Here are some additional random acts of kindness ideas that you can do to spread positivity and compassion:

  • Leave a kind note for a stranger
  • Buy a meal for someone in need
  • Donate to a charity you believe in
  • Offer to pet-sit for a friend
  • Send a care package to someone who could use a little extra love
  • Offer to help a neighbor with yard work or house cleaning
  • Give someone a hug or a high-five

Kindness in the Workplace

Practicing kindness in the workplace is important for creating a positive and supportive environment. Here are some ways you can practice kindness at work:

  • Offer to help a coworker with a project
  • Give a compliment or words of encouragement to a coworker
  • Bring in treats to share with your coworkers
  • Listen without judgment when a coworker needs to talk
  • Offer to cover for a coworker who needs to take time off

Teaching Kindness to Children

Teaching kindness to children is important for promoting empathy, respect, and understanding. Here are some ways you can teach kindness to children:

  • Model kindness and compassion in your own behavior
  • Encourage children to help others and practice acts of kindness
  • Teach children to respect others’ differences and promote understanding
  • Read books about kindness and compassion with children

Kindness in the Digital Age

In today’s digital age, it’s important to remember to practice kindness and compassion online as well. Here are some ways you can promote kindness in the digital world:

  • Use social media to spread positivity and compassion
  • Avoid cyberbullying and negative comments online
  • Practice empathy and understanding when communicating online
  • Use technology to connect with others and promote understanding

In conclusion, kindness is an important trait that can have a profound impact on both the giver and the receiver. 

By practicing simple acts of kindness, we can create a positive and supportive environment that promotes empathy, understanding, and compassion. So take a few minutes today to do something kind for someone else – it may be small, but it can make a big difference in someone’s day.

So, which act of kindness are you going to do today? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Written by Sarah Edwards. Want to get to know me? Say hi! https://liinks.co/setapartcompany

Reels: Advice & Music (2)

This week’s Reels are both from Therell’s interview with Paige Reynolds and Joshua Perez from Child First Greater Bridgeport! In the first Reel, they talk about music, with a mention of popular TV show Impractical Jokers. In the second Reel, Paige, Josh, and Therell give advice & share some wisdom.

John Mayer on Impractical Jokers

After Paige shares that John Mayer is one of her favorite music artists, Therell asks her if she has seen his episode on Impractical Jokers.


Mental Health Advice

During the end of their discussion, Paige, Josh, and Therell talk about how having a safe and healthy mind can help you have a safe and healthy body.


Thanks for tuning in! Check out last week’s Reels here, and Therell’s interview with Paige and Josh here!

July Themes ’23

Hello everyone! This is what July will be filled with! Feel free to share our July themes or even share your experiences/opinions! To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast or provide a video for July or in the future, email Dez at dchapman@positivedirections.org.

You can always submit other content directly to Our Stories, Creations, Videos and Map pages!

From Plate to Mind: How Sharing a Meal Can Boost Your Mental Health

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to dismiss the importance of a shared meal. Essentially, opting for quick and convenient options instead. But have you ever considered the profound impact that breaking bread with others can have on your mental well-being

meal

The simple act of eating together fosters a sense of belonging and connection. It provides a natural antidote to feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Dive into the fascinating science behind this phenomenon and discover how embracing the age-old tradition of sharing meals can nourish not only your body but also your mind. 

Embark on this culinary journey with me. Let’s unravel the secrets to a happier, healthier, and more connected life – one plate at a time.

Personally, after becoming a Christian I had an entirely new viewpoint on food. My taste buds and mind was shifted into a new fascination with food resembling more than just nutrients. 

Not just in the antidotes provided in Scripture but the act of fellowship itself, the bonding ties of doing an act that for myself and many others has become chore like, and downright redundant. Yes, food has always been an essential part of our daily lives. It sustains us.

But it also brings us together, and can even have a significant impact on our mental health. 

Don’t worry, we will also touch on hosting dinner parties. And potlucks to build social networks (seriously, my favorite thing has become hosting). By the end of this article, you should have a greater understanding of the importance of shared meals for better mental health.

The connection between meals and mental health

It is not surprising that the food we eat can have a significant impact on our mental health. After all, our brains require various nutrients to function correctly. And a well-balanced diet can help provide these essential building blocks.

Research has shown that a well-rounded diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help reduce the risk of developing mental health disorders. Such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, have been found to play a vital role in maintaining and improving:

  • brain function
  • mood, and
  • overall mental well-being

However, the connection between food and mental health goes beyond the nutrients we consume. The act of eating and sharing a meal can also have a profound impact on our mental well-being. Particularly in terms of fostering social connections and promoting a sense of belonging. 

In fact, studies have shown that individuals who regularly share meals with others tend to have lower levels of stress and depression. As well as higher levels of overall life satisfaction.

The importance of social connection in mental well-being

Social connection is a fundamental human need

We are social creatures, and our brains are wired to seek the companionship and support of others. Research has shown that strong social connections can boost our mental health. It can increase our resilience to stress, and even improve our physical health. 

Conversely, social isolation and loneliness can have detrimental effects on our mental well-being. It increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and even cognitive decline.

One way to promote social connection and foster mental well-being is through shared meals. 

Eating together is an age-old tradition that transcends cultures and geographical boundaries. It serves as a powerful means of strengthening relationships, fostering a sense of community, and building social networks. 

By sharing a meal, we not only nourish our bodies but also our minds. Especially, as we engage in conversation, share stories, and create lasting memories.

How sharing a meal fosters social connection

There is something inherently social about eating together. Whether it’s a casual lunch with coworkers or an elaborate family feast, sharing a meal creates a sense of togetherness and belonging. When we eat together, we are more likely to engage in meaningful conversations. We are more likely to share experiences, and form bonds that can last a lifetime.

Sharing a meal also encourages us to be more present and mindful in the moment, as we focus on the food, the company, and the atmosphere. This mindfulness can help reduce stress, increase feelings of happiness, and promote a sense of gratitude for the food on our plates and the people in our lives.

As someone with severe anxiety, staying present feels almost possible, but when I am sharing a meal or in an atmosphere with others revolving around a seated space, I actually feel present.

An underlying benefit is shared meals can help create a sense of routine and stability. When I have a terrible work day, or am battling a state of very high stress, I find an ease gently into the expected comfort of sharing a meal with my husband.

The comforts of freshly baked bread on a Wednesday night laced with the scent of cooking wine, and real wine of course, can remind us what matters. We are alive another day. We are given the ability and gift to eat. And we are with the ones we love. 

When we share a meal with others, we have the chance to discuss our feelings, share our experiences, and offer support and encouragement to those around us. This can help create a sense of camaraderie and understanding, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Moreover, the act of eating together can also promote feelings of trust and cooperation. When we break bread with others, we are more likely to feel a sense of shared responsibility and a desire to work together towards a common goal. 

This can help strengthen relationships, build social networks, and contribute to a sense of community and social cohesion.

Nutrient-rich foods that promote mental health

While the social aspect of shared meals is undoubtedly important for mental health, it is also crucial to consider the types of foods we consume during these gatherings. I have chronic health conditions and over the years I’ve come to learn and appreciate deeply the power of food.

Educating yourself on foods that can work from the inside out in a positive way can have a profound impact on changing your life in a significant way.

Eating a well-balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods can have a significant impact on our mental well-being, providing the essential building blocks for optimal brain function and mood regulation.

Some key nutrients to consider for mental health include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as in nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flaxseeds, these essential fats are vital for brain function and have been linked to improved mood and reduced risk of depression.
  • B vitamins: Found in whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, and lean proteins, B vitamins play a crucial role in energy production and neurotransmitter synthesis, helping to support mood regulation and cognitive function.
  • Antioxidants: Found in colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as in nuts and seeds, antioxidants help protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation, which can contribute to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
  • Fiber: Found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, fiber can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which can have a significant impact on mood and energy levels.

By incorporating these nutrient-rich foods into shared meals, we can not only promote social connection but also nourish our minds and support optimal mental health.

Cooking meals together as a bonding experience

The act of preparing a meal can be just as important for mental health and social connection as the act of eating together. Cooking together can be a fun and rewarding experience that allows individuals to bond, share knowledge, and create lasting memories.

For adults, cooking together can provide an opportunity to unwind, engage in meaningful conversation, and strengthen relationships with family members, friends, or romantic partners.

Moreover, cooking together can help individuals develop essential life skills, such as time management, problem-solving, and teamwork. By working together to create a delicious and nutritious meal, we not only nourish our bodies but also our minds and relationships.

A few tips for deeper meal times!

Regular family or even single mealtimes can have a profound impact. Studies have shown that families who eat together regularly tend to have stronger relationships, better communication, and higher levels of overall life satisfaction. This can include establishing a routine for yourself!

  • Establish a routine: Aim to have family meals at the same time each day, creating a sense of predictability and stability for all family members. For yourself, a routine of eating can help promote the other parts of your routine (hygiene, workouts, cleaning).
  • Make it enjoyable: Keep mealtime conversations light and engaging, focusing on positive topics and avoiding conflict or criticism. If you’re solo, this also includes the content you consume on social media, or watching negative shows/news.
  • Minimize distractions if you’re in a group: Turn off the television and put away electronic devices, creating a distraction-free environment that allows for meaningful conversation and connection.
  • Try new foods: Encourage children and adults alike to try new and varied foods, expanding their palate and promoting healthy eating habits. If you’re single, order from a new place or cook a new meal!
  • Make it a priority: Prioritize family mealtimes, even if they have to be quick and simple. Remember that the act of eating together is more important than what is actually on the menu. By yourself? Feed yourself. When I was on the grind in NYC I would commonly skip meals and this was only having a negative effect on my body – and I wasn’t giving myself rest. I was feeding a high workaholic nature.

Hosting dinner parties and potlucks to build social networks

Don’t freak out. As someone with social anxiety and more introvert tendencies, I get it, this is scary. But I found this was one of the best things I could do for myself! Learning how to host, and inviting people into a shared space – especially since I consider myself someone who is more isolated than others. 

Hosting dinner parties and potlucks can be a fun and rewarding way to bring people together, share good food, and create lasting connections.

To host a successful dinner party or potluck, consider the following tips:

  • Plan ahead: Decide on a theme or menu and make a shopping list in advance. Consider any dietary restrictions or preferences of your guests. Sometimes coming up with a theme really helps!
  • Keep it simple: Don’t try to prepare a complicated or elaborate meal. Stick with dishes that are easy to prepare and can be made in advance. Or dinners and recipes that you know very well, and are comfortable making.
  • Create a welcoming atmosphere: Set the table, create a cozy ambiance with candles or soft lighting, and consider playing some background music to set the mood.
  • Encourage conversation: Provide conversation starters or games to help break the ice and encourage guests to engage with one another.
  • Allow for flexibility: Don’t stress if things don’t go exactly as planned. Allow for flexibility and go with the flow, enjoying the company of your guests and the shared experience of a meal together.

Whether it’s cooking together as a family, hosting a dinner party, or simply sitting down to a meal with friends, sharing a meal is a powerful means of nourishing both our bodies and our minds. So the next time you sit down to eat, remember that you are not just nourishing your body, but also your relationships and your mental health. Bon appétit!

Written by Sarah Edwards. Want to get to know me? Say hi! https://liinks.co/setapartcompany

Reels: Nature Photography & Matching Outfits (2)

This week’s Reels are both from Therell! Enjoy!

Matching Outfits

During Therell’s interview with Child First Greater Bridgeport, he and Josh notice that they are wearing both similar clothes and practically the same colors! 😂

Nature Photography Day

Therell acknowledges Nature Photography Day.

Thank you for staying connected with us! Check out last week’s Reels here!

The Power of Words: Why Mental Health Terminology Matters

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and subscribe to us on social media!
– Facebook: TurningPointCT
– Instagram: @TurningPoint_CT
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– YouTube: TurningPointCT.org
– TikTok: @TurningPointCT.org

Want to find more free mental health support services made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut? Check out our website!

Miss the previous episode? Listen to it HERE!

Reels: Star Wars & The Finch App (3)

Hi everyone! Please enjoy our Reels from the past couple of weeks from Therell (2) and Quinn (1)!

Quinn – The Finch App

Quinn shares a Reel for a blog post they wrote about the Finch app, which helps encourage you to practice self care. Read their blog post HERE!

Therell – Mental Health Awareness Chat

Both of Therell’s Reels are from a mental health discussion he did with Paige Reynolds and Joshua Perez from Child First Greater Bridgeport. Therell split the discussion into 4 parts. Check out parts 1 and 2 on our YouTube channel; PART ONE | PART TWO.

The first Reel introduces Paige and Josh. In the second Reel, Therell asks Josh about the Star Wars video game(s) Jedi: Fallen Order & Jedi: Survivor.

Thank you for watching! Watch our previous Reels HERE!

Unleashing Your Potential: How Focusing on Solutions, Not Problems, Transforms Your Communication

Do you ever find yourself drowning in a sea of problems, unable to see the shore of possibilities? In a world where negativity often takes center stage, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the issues we face. But what if we could shift our perspective and focus on solutions, not problems? This seemingly simple change can have a profound impact on our communication, relationships, and overall well-being.

communication

So, let’s dive in and discover how focusing on solutions, not problems, can transform your communication and unleash your full potential.

The Power of Positivity in Communication

The way we communicate not only reflects our thoughts and feelings, but it also shapes them. 

When we express ourselves with a negative, problem-focused attitude, we inadvertently reinforce our belief that things are hopeless and insurmountable. 

This mindset can cloud our judgment, hinder creative problem-solving, and ultimately, drag down our mood and relationships.

On the other hand, adopting a positive, solution-oriented approach to communication can be truly transformative. 

By concentrating on what can be done rather than dwelling on what’s wrong, we open ourselves up to more possibilities and create an environment where collaboration, innovation, and growth can flourish. 

This positive energy can be contagious, inspiring those around us to adopt a similar mindset and work together toward common goals.

In essence, positivity in communication is about more than just conveying a cheerful demeanor; it’s about actively seeking out solutions and emphasizing the potential for improvement. This optimistic outlook not only helps us navigate challenges more effectively but also fosters stronger, more supportive relationships with others.

How Shifting Your Mindset Improves Relationships

Our mindset plays a crucial role in determining the quality of our relationships. 

When we focus on problems, we often get stuck in a cycle of blame, defensiveness, and resentment. This negative energy can create barriers between us and our loved ones or colleagues, preventing us from truly connecting and working together effectively.

However, when we choose to focus on solutions, we cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation, empathy, and understanding. This shift in perspective allows us to see past our differences and work together to overcome obstacles. By emphasizing the potential for positive change, we empower ourselves and others to rise above challenges and grow together.

In addition, a solution-focused mindset can help us foster more meaningful connections with others. 

When we approach conversations with a genuine interest in finding solutions, we demonstrate that we value the other person’s perspective and are committed to resolving issues collaboratively. 

This mutual respect and trust can form the foundation of strong, lasting relationships, both personally and professionally.

Strategies for Solution-Focused Communication

Developing a solution-focused approach to communication requires practice and intentionality. Here are some strategies to help you cultivate this mindset and transform your interactions:

  • Reframe the problem: Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, try to view the issue as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Ask yourself, “What can be learned from this situation?” or “How can we turn this challenge into a positive outcome?”
  • Ask solution-focused questions: When discussing problems, steer the conversation toward solutions by asking open-ended questions like, “What steps can we take to resolve this?” or “How can we work together to overcome this obstacle?”
  • Listen actively: Show that you value the other person’s perspective by giving them your undivided attention, reflecting their feelings, and summarizing their ideas. This demonstrates your commitment to finding a solution and fosters a collaborative atmosphere.
  • Stay positive: I get it. As someone with mental health and anxiety this is a tall order. Focus on the potential for positive change and express confidence in your ability (and others’) to find solutions. Encourage and celebrate progress, no matter how small. I find I can still do this if I am mindful despite my severe anxiety.
  • Practice empathy: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand their feelings and perspective. This can help you approach the problem with a more open mind and find solutions that meet everyone’s needs.

Overcoming Common Barriers to Solution-Focused Thinking

Despite our best intentions, we may sometimes struggle to maintain a solution-focused mindset. Here are some common barriers and how to overcome them:

  • Fear of failure: The fear of failing can make us hesitant to explore new solutions or take risks. Remind yourself that failure is a natural part of the learning process and that each setback brings you one step closer to success.
  • Negativity bias: Our brains are wired to pay more attention to negative information than positive information, which can make it challenging to focus on solutions. Counteract this tendency by consciously looking for the positive aspects of any situation and expressing gratitude for the progress you’ve made.
  • Perfectionism: Ugh, my enemy. Perfectionists often fixate on problems, striving to achieve an ideal that may be unrealistic or unattainable. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that progress is more important than perfection. ← I have this as a sticky note on my laptop.
  • Resistance to change: Change can be uncomfortable, and it’s natural to feel resistant at times. Embrace the uncertainty and view change as an opportunity for growth and learning.

Developing a Positive Communication Style

A positive communication style is key to fostering a solution-focused mindset. Here are some tips for cultivating a constructive, solution-oriented approach to communication:

  • Use “I” statements: Express your feelings and thoughts using “I” statements, rather than placing blame or making accusations. This encourages open, honest dialogue without putting the other person on the defensive.
  • Be assertive: This word gets a bad wrap. But assertive does not mean rude, aggressive or unkind. It clearly and respectfully expresses your needs, opinions, and boundaries. This demonstrates your commitment to finding a solution that works for everyone involved. It also shows you care!
  • Avoid negative language: Choose your words carefully and avoid using negative language that can bring down the mood or hinder progress. Focus on what can be done, rather than what can’t. I started keeping a tally on my notepad every time I said something negative outloud, and was shocked at my count!
  • Offer praise and encouragement: Recognize the efforts and achievements of others, and offer praise and encouragement when appropriate. This helps to create a positive atmosphere and motivate everyone to continue working toward solutions.
  • Be open to feedback: Ask for and be receptive to feedback from others, and use this information to improve your communication and problem-solving skills.

The Impact of Solution-Focused Communication on Professional Relationships

In professional settings, solution-focused communication can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and job satisfaction. By concentrating on what can be done and working together to find solutions, teams can overcome challenges and achieve their goals more efficiently.

In both contexts, a solution-oriented approach to communication contributes to stronger, more supportive relationships built on trust, respect, and shared goals.

Tips for Maintaining a Solution-Oriented Mindset

Maintaining a solution-focused mindset requires consistent effort and practice. Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

  • Set realistic goals: Establish achievable goals for yourself and your relationships, and celebrate your progress along the way. I have a lot of articles, worksheets and even a masterclass about this! This is a BIG ONE.
  • Surround yourself with positivity: Surround yourself with supportive, solution-focused individuals who can help you stay positive and focused on growth.
  • Practice gratitude: Regularly express gratitude for the progress you’ve made, the lessons you’ve learned, and the support you’ve received from others. I have a gratitude notepad and set of sticky notes to write down little things in the day!
  • Stay open to learning: Embrace new experiences, ideas, and perspectives, and view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Reflect on your progress: Regularly review your communication habits and strategies, and consider how you can continue to improve your solution-focused approach.

While it may take time and effort to develop a solution-focused mindset, the benefits are worth it. By reframing problems as opportunities, asking solution-focused questions, listening actively, staying positive, and practicing empathy, we can build a communication style that promotes growth, collaboration, and positivity.

So, why not take the first step today and start embracing a solution-focused mindset in your communication and relationships? 

You may be surprised at the positive impact it can have on your life and the lives of those around you.

Written by Sarah Edwards. Want to get to know me? Say hi! https://liinks.co/setapartcompany

Trans Issues: Birth Certificate Rant

The other day I was filing to get a new birth certificate with my chosen legal name and affirmed gender because I wanted to get a passport. I had an idea of what I needed until I looked on the state website. So I ran into something that I like to call a “trans issue”. If you are trans and are looking to update your birth certificate in CT, click here.

What are Trans Issues?

Trans issues are struggles only transgender people face. Meaning, an issue cisgender people don’t have to EVER go through.

Trans Issue in Context

In the case of trying to get a new birth certificate, cisgender people only need to fill out a 1 page form to send to the state, town, or fed with a copy of their legal ID. For transgender people, we have to:

  • Fill out the form cisgender people fill out
  • Attach a copy of our ID or driver’s license (like cisgender people)
  • Have a doctor or psychiatrist fill out a form that they have to get notarized (to prove gender identity)
  • Fill out the form to get notarized (to also prove gender identity)
  • Provide COURT documents
  • And if you’re adopted (which I am), you must also provide adoption proof

If you are trans and are looking to update your birth certificate in CT, click here.

Why Trans Issues?

I find it weird that we (the trans community) have to go through these hurdles. We shouldn’t have to provide that much proof of our identity to anyone. To mention, it took me about 3 years to finally update everything to reflect my gender identity and legal name.

trans issues

Although I updated things right away, the state didn’t update my name as it was updated federally, on my voter ID, state government issued ID, on the Selective Service System (war draft), and far more.

Being for real, what was the reason for going through all of this if I couldn’t get my birth certificate updated like any other person?

WE NEED POLICY CHANGE!

Regardless of someone’s gender identity circumstances, there should be some form of equity to lower the amount of struggle trans people face.

I think an updated government issued ID should be enough proof of our gender identity and name update. We should be able to provide the same number of documents cisgender people provide for everything. Especially because a lot of us went through well over enough hurdles.

– Dez

June Themes ’23

Hello everyone! This is what June will be filled with! Feel free to share our June themes or even share your experiences/opinions! To submit an article, be a guest on a podcast or provide a video for June or in the future, email Dez at dchapman@positivedirections.org.

You can always submit other content directly to Our Stories, Creations, Videos and Map pages!

Overcome Your Inner Critic: The Ultimate Guide to Silencing Voices of Doubt and Unlocking Your Full Potential

Every individual inevitably faces moments of self-doubt and criticism throughout their life. It is during these instances when our inner critic, a voice that questions our abilities and worth, emerges. This internal monologue can be detrimental to our self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being. However, with the appropriate tools and mindset, it is possible to silence these voices of doubt and unlock our full potential.

inner critic

The inner critic is a natural part of the human psyche, serving as a defense mechanism to protect us from perceived threats and failures. While it can occasionally be helpful in pushing us to strive for excellence, the inner critic can become overly harsh and unrelenting, hindering our personal growth and development. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to understanding the origins of self-doubt, recognizing common traits of the inner critic, and implementing strategies to overcome these limiting beliefs.

We will also discuss the impact of silencing voices on personal growth, building resilience against negative self-talk, and unlocking our full potential through self-compassion. Success stories of individuals who have conquered their inner critic will be shared, as well as a discussion on when to seek professional help. Ultimately, this guide serves as a reminder to embrace our journey to self-acceptance and success.

Understanding the origins of self-doubt

Self-doubt often stems from a combination of past experiences, societal expectations, and personal beliefs. To effectively silence the inner critic, it is important to understand the various factors that contribute to the development of self-doubt.

Childhood experiences play a significant role in shaping our inner critic. For example, overly critical or unsupportive parents, teachers, and peers can instill feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Additionally, experiences of bullying or rejection can have a lasting impact on our self-esteem and confidence.

Societal expectations can also contribute to the formation of the inner critic. We are often bombarded with images of perfection and success, leading to the belief that we must adhere to these unrealistic standards in order to be valued and accepted. This can result in a constant fear of failure and a persistent need for validation from others.

Lastly, personal beliefs and thought patterns are crucial in the development of self-doubt. Negative self-talk and all-or-nothing thinking can perpetuate feelings of inadequacy and hinder our progress towards personal growth. By identifying these beliefs and challenging their validity, we can begin to dismantle the inner critic and silence the voices of doubt.

Recognizing common traits of the inner critic

In order to effectively silence the inner critic, it is essential to recognize its common traits and manifestations. The inner critic can take various forms, including:

  • Perfectionism: The belief that anything less than perfect is unacceptable, leading to a constant fear of failure and procrastination.
  • Comparison: Continuously comparing ourselves to others, resulting in feelings of inadequacy and envy.
  • Self-sabotage: Engaging in behaviors that undermine our success, such as procrastination, neglecting self-care, or avoiding new opportunities.
  • Rumination: Obsessively dwelling on past mistakes or perceived flaws, preventing us from moving forward and focusing on the present moment.

By recognizing these traits, we can begin to identify the specific instances when our inner critic is at its loudest and develop targeted strategies to silence these voices of doubt.

Impact of silencing voices on personal growth

Silencing the inner critic can have profound effects on our personal growth and overall well-being. By freeing ourselves from the grip of self-doubt, we can cultivate greater self-confidence, resilience, and self-compassion. This, in turn, allows us to pursue our goals and dreams without fear of failure or rejection.

Additionally, silencing voices of doubt can improve our relationships with others. When we are no longer consumed by our own insecurities, we can be more present, authentic, and empathetic in our interactions with friends, family, and colleagues.

Moreover, by overcoming the inner critic, we can tap into our innate creativity and resourcefulness. Without the constant pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations, we can explore new ideas and possibilities, ultimately unlocking our full potential.

Strategies for overcoming the inner critic

a. Mindfulness and self-awareness

Cultivating mindfulness and self-awareness is a crucial first step in silencing the inner critic. By developing a greater understanding of our thoughts, emotions, and behavioral patterns, we can identify the specific triggers that exacerbate self-doubt and begin to implement targeted strategies to overcome these negative thought patterns.

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, journaling, and deep breathing exercises, can be helpful in fostering self-awareness and promoting a non-judgmental attitude towards our thoughts and emotions. By observing our inner critic without judgment, we can create distance between ourselves and our negative self-talk, reducing its power over our actions and decisions.

b. Cognitive restructuring

Cognitive restructuring involves identifying and challenging irrational thoughts and beliefs that contribute to self-doubt and the inner critic. This process can be facilitated through tools such as thought records, which involve documenting triggering situations, the associated thoughts and emotions, and potential alternatives to these negative thought patterns.

By systematically challenging and reframing our negative self-talk, we can begin to develop more balanced and rational perspectives, ultimately silencing the inner critic and fostering greater self-confidence and self-compassion.

c. Affirmations and positive self-talk

Incorporating affirmations and positive self-talk into our daily routines can be an effective strategy for combating the inner critic. By consistently reinforcing positive messages about our abilities, worth, and potential, we can gradually rewire our thought patterns and cultivate a more empowering and self-compassionate mindset.

Affirmations can be tailored to address specific areas of self-doubt or insecurity, such as career success, relationships, or personal growth. By consistently practicing positive self-talk and affirmations, we can counteract the damaging effects of the inner critic and unlock our full potential.

Building resilience against negative self-talk

Building resilience against negative self-talk is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and practice. The following strategies can be helpful in fostering greater resilience against the inner critic:

  • Strengthening self-compassion: Treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, particularly during moments of self-doubt or failure, can help to cultivate a more resilient mindset.
  • Developing a growth mindset: Embracing challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning can foster greater resilience.
  • Establishing a support network: Surrounding ourselves with supportive and understanding individuals can provide a valuable buffer against negative self-talk and reinforce our inherent worth and abilities.

By consistently practicing these strategies, we can build greater resilience against the inner critic and protect ourselves from the damaging effects of self-doubt.

Unlocking your full potential through self-compassion

Self-compassion is a powerful tool for silencing voices of doubt and unlocking our full potential. By treating ourselves with kindness, understanding, and empathy, we can create a safe space for personal growth and development.

Self-compassion involves acknowledging our mistakes and shortcomings without judgment, recognizing that we are only human and that imperfection is a natural part of life. By embracing our imperfections and treating ourselves with compassion, we can foster a more supportive and empowering internal dialogue, ultimately unlocking our full potential and achieving our goals.

Practicing self-compassion can involve a variety of strategies, such as:

  • Mindful self-compassion: This involves acknowledging and validating our emotions without judgment, and treating ourselves with kindness and understanding.
  • Self-care: Engaging in activities that promote our well-being, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature, can help to cultivate self-compassion and reduce the impact of the inner critic.
  • Self-acceptance: Accepting ourselves for who we are, flaws and all, can help to counteract the damaging effects of self-doubt and cultivate greater self-compassion.

By practicing self-compassion consistently, we can overcome the inner critic and unlock our full potential, both in our personal and professional lives.

Success stories: Individuals who conquered their inner critic

Many individuals have successfully silenced their inner critic and achieved their goals, despite facing significant challenges and setbacks. These success stories serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for those currently struggling with self-doubt.

One such individual is J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Rowling faced numerous rejections and setbacks before finally finding a publisher for her first book. During this time, she often struggled with self-doubt and the inner critic. However, through perseverance and self-compassion, she was able to overcome these challenges and achieve incredible success.

Another example is Oprah Winfrey, who overcame a difficult childhood and numerous obstacles to become one of the most influential figures in media and entertainment. Winfrey has spoken openly about her struggles with self-doubt and the inner critic, emphasizing the importance of self-compassion, resilience, and a growth mindset in achieving success.

These success stories demonstrate that silencing the inner critic is possible, and that with the right mindset and strategies, we can achieve our goals and unlock our full potential.

Written by Sarah Edwards. Want to get to know me? Say hi! https://liinks.co/setapartcompany

Mental Health, Goals, and an Adventurous Little Finch

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month, y’all! One of the ways I take care of my mental health is by using an app called Finch. I use this app to track progress on goals, see changes in my mood over time, reflect on my day, and to send uplifting messages to my friends who also use the app. The Finch app is the brainchild of two friends (Nino and Steph) who both struggle with anxiety and depression. They wanted to make self care accessible after noticing that many other folks shared similar struggles. 

My Journey with Finch

Every morning while I drink my coffee and start my daily routine, I power up my finch, Pluto, to go out on their adventure. When Pluto returns, they share what they discovered for the day. Sometimes it’s a new food or a song, other times they share a joke they heard. Each day is different, and each discovery helps to shape Pluto’s personality and likes and dislikes. So far, Pluto loves Yesterday by The Beatles, Finding Nemo, pineapple cake, Over the Garden Wall, and snorkeling in Maui. 

Tracking my progress on goals like staying in touch with friends, nourishing my body, taking time for personal joys, and building my confidence as I navigate a new chapter of my life is incredibly easy. More importantly, I have so much fun interacting with Pluto. Incentivizing progress towards my goals has not only motivated me, but has also encouraged me to get out of my own way. Using Finch has helped me give myself permission to pursue the life I envision for myself. Historically, that’s been difficult for me. But I’ve noticed quite a difference in the way that I show up for myself and for others since I started this journey.

What I love about Finch

There are so many things that I love about the app. As someone who struggles with ADHD, I love that it allows me to gamify my day by rewarding me with rainbow stones for completing goals and sending good vibes to friends. I can use these rainbow stones to “buy” cute outfits and home decor for my finch. During moments of high stress or anxiety, I use the in app breathing exercises to help regulate my nervous system. When I need to focus, I use the soundscapes as timers to remind me when I need to switch tasks. There are so many useful features, including quizzes, reflections, journal prompts, goal progress reports, mood tracking, and more. 

For folks who would like access to the paid version of the app but don’t have the means to purchase a subscription, the Finch team hosts a raffle every month for a free month subscription sponsored by one of Finch’s guardians. Every month, over 1000 Finch plus subscriptions are awarded to raffle winners! 

Free Research Study on Talk Therapy

If you are between the ages of 16 and 29, have symptoms or a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or depression, you may be eligible to participate in a free and confidential research study on talk therapy on improving mood symptoms and helping reduce the risk of suicide.

The Yale Mood Study will also look at how the brain works with advanced MRI brain scanning techniques.

Compensation up to $540.

To learn more or see if you are eligible to participate in this research study, please contact:

Visit Yale’s website to learn more about the Yale Mood Disorder Research Program!

The Power of Spending Time on What You Value & How

In a world where time is our most valuable commodity, it’s essential to spend it wisely. However, with hectic schedules and endless to-do lists, it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This creates a dynamic where we are spending time on things that are outside of our values.

Sometimes I don’t notice time. My hands chained to a computer screen like breathing. The sun goes up, and back down, and I do it again.

I learned the hard way that we often prioritize tasks that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, leaving us feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

Years ago, I was a workaholic. While I still have the tendencies to overwork, I changed my mindset on time, and a lot of changes organically followed with it. 

Over working isn’t just one culperite, but social media, consumption, or an excess of mindless tasks. As an escapism from my job

I asked myself this question: What if I shifted my focus to spending time on what I value most?

Understanding the value of time

Time is the one resource that we can never get back. Being younger, it can be easy to slip into this feeling of immortality. However, having faced loss and health crises since childhood, I’ve always had a heightened sense of its fleeting pace.

Unlike money, relationships or possessions, time is finite. Once it’s gone, we can’t get it back. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the value of time and how we choose to spend it. 

Every moment we spend on something that doesn’t matter to us is a moment we’ll never get back.

We need to start thinking about how we’re spending our time and whether it’s aligned with our values. When we prioritize what matters to us, we’re more likely to feel fulfilled, energized, and motivated.

Spending Time on Identifying what you truly value

The first step in spending time on what you value is to identify what that is. Many of us live our lives on autopilot, not taking the time to reflect on what’s truly important to us. 

To identify what you value, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What brings me joy and fulfillment?
  • What do I want to achieve in my life?
  • What makes me feel energized and motivated?
  • What do I want to be remembered for?

I know what you’re thinking. These seem like rudimentary questions. But it’s amazing how often we don’t actually take action on these thoughts, or check in with our answers, as we change often.

Take the time to reflect on these questions and write down your answers. You may be surprised at what you discover. Once you’ve identified what you truly value, you can start to prioritize your time accordingly.

But that’s easier said than done, right? I remember my life was a jumbled mess before I figured out my own values and workflow. It feels overwhelming, maybe even impossible.

But I’ve learned that instead of starting with all the things you should be doing, you need to take some time to figure out what you shouldn’t be doing.

Common time-wasters: Limiting Spending Time

Before we dive into how to prioritize your time, it’s essential to understand common time-wasters. These are activities that consume our time without providing any real value or benefit. Some common time-wasters include:

  • Social media scrolling that goes from intentional to auto-pilot/escapism 
  • Watching TV or movies in constant or high quantity
  • Procrastination out of fear
  • Multitasking instead of deep focus sessions
  • Overthinking to the point of inaction
  • Distractions that can be controlled by you, but go unchecked.

Did you know I cover all of these things in my classes? I’d encourage you to check-out my 4 Day Creative Reset, to totally break down all of these things.

The impact of time-wasters on your life

When we spend too much time on activities that don’t align with our values, it can have a significant impact on our lives. We may feel unfulfilled, drained, and unmotivated. 

Time-wasters can also lead to increased stress and anxiety as we struggle to keep up with our responsibilities.

It’s essential to recognize when we’re spending too much time on activities that don’t matter to us and make a conscious effort to shift our focus.

Tips for prioritizing your time

1. Create a schedule

One of the most effective ways to prioritize your time is to create a schedule. Schedule your time around the things that matter to you, including hobbies, relationships, and work-related goals. This will help you ensure that you’re spending your time on the things that truly matter.

Do you want your own personalized workflow? Take my most popular class with over 2,000 students!

2. Say no to things that don’t matter

Learn to say no to things that don’t align with your values. It’s okay to decline invitations or opportunities that don’t resonate with you. Saying no will free up your time and energy for the things that do matter.

3. Setting goals to align with your values

Once you’ve identified what you value and how you want to spend your time, it’s time to set goals. Goals are essential because they provide direction and motivation. When we set goals that align with our values, we’re more likely to achieve them.

When setting goals, make sure they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This will help ensure that you’re setting goals that are aligned with your values and that you can achieve them.

Strategies for staying on track with your priorities

Staying on track with your priorities can be challenging, especially when there are so many distractions in our daily lives. Here are some strategies to help you stay focused:

1. Use time-blocking

Time-blocking is the practice of scheduling your day in blocks of time. This helps you stay focused on specific tasks and ensures that you’re spending your time on the things that matter.

2. Set reminders

Use reminders to help you stay on track with your priorities. Set reminders on your phone or computer to remind you to take breaks, focus on specific tasks, or prioritize your time.

3. Create accountability

Find an accountability partner or join a community that shares your values. This will help keep you motivated and on track with your priorities.

The benefits of spending time on what you value

When we prioritize what matters to us, we’re more likely to feel fulfilled, motivated, and energized. 

We’re also more likely to achieve our goals and feel a sense of purpose in our lives.

The key is to stay true to your values and remember that you’re in control of how you spend your time. Learn to say no to things that don’t align with your values, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries.

Remember to set goals, stay focused, and don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t matter. With these strategies, you can start living a life that’s fulfilling and purposeful.

Written by Sarah Edwards. Want to get to know me? Say hi! @setapart_company

Sacrificing for a Happier Relationship: How to Make Sacrifices That Count

Sacrifices are essential in a relationship because they show that you care about your partner’s happiness and well-being. As someone on the newly married path, all I can say for sure: This (sacrificing) is everything.

Understanding the Importance of Sacrifices in a Relationship (seriously, you won’t regret taking time to understand this)

Sacrifices are essential in a relationship because they show your partner that you care about them and their well-being. Relationships are a two-way street, and both partners must be willing to make sacrifices for each other. Sacrifices can come in many forms, such as giving up your time, compromising on decisions, or making financial sacrifices.

Making sacrifices is not always easy, but it is necessary for a happy and healthy relationship. When you make a sacrifice for your partner, it shows them that you are willing to put their needs before your own. This act of selflessness can strengthen the bond between you and your partner, leading to a more fulfilling relationship.

Sacrificing Quotes to Inspire You – because frankly sometimes we need the short and sweet to hold into our brains.

  • “Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.” – Osho
  • “The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness.” – William Saroyan
  • “True love is selfless. It is prepared to sacrifice.” – Sadhu Vaswani

These quotes remind us that love is not about possession or selfishness. Instead, true love requires sacrifice and selflessness.

How to Identify Sacrifices That Count

Not all sacrifices are created equal. Some sacrifices may be insignificant, while others can have a significant impact on your relationship. To identify sacrifices that count, you must first understand your partner’s needs and desires.

One way to identify sacrifices that count is to ask your partner what they need from you. This can be a simple conversation that can help you understand their priorities and expectations. Think beyond singular objectives. What types of communication do you need? Ways of spending time together? Get detailed.

Another way to identify sacrifices that count is to think about what you would want your partner to do for you in a similar situation.

Effective Communication in Making Sacrifices

Effective communication is crucial when making sacrifices in a relationship. It is essential to communicate your needs and expectations to your partner and to listen to theirs as well. When making a sacrifice, it is important to do so willingly and without resentment or bitterness.

One way to communicate effectively when making sacrifices is to use “I” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You never make time for me,” say, “I feel neglected when we don’t spend time together.” This approach can help your partner understand your feelings without feeling attacked or criticized.

The Benefits of Making Sacrifices in a Relationship

Making sacrifices in a relationship can have many benefits. Firstly, it can strengthen the bond between you and your partner. It shows that you care about their happiness and well-being and are willing to do what it takes to make them happy.

Secondly, making sacrifices can lead to a more fulfilling relationship. When both partners are willing to make sacrifices for each other, it creates a sense of balance and equality in the relationship. This can lead to greater trust and intimacy between partners.

Sacrifices vs Compromises: What’s the Difference? I used to not know.

Sacrifices and compromises are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A compromise is a situation where both partners give up something to reach a mutual agreement. 

Sacrifices, on the other hand, are more significant than compromises and often require one partner to make a bigger sacrifice than the other.

For example, a compromise in a relationship might be deciding to watch a movie that neither partner loves but can tolerate. A sacrifice, on the other hand, might be giving up a job opportunity in another city to stay with your partner.

Common Sacrifices in a Healthy Relationship

In a healthy relationship, both partners make sacrifices for each other. Here are some common sacrifices that partners make in a healthy relationship:

  • Giving up personal time to spend time with your partner
  • Moving to a new city to be with your partner
  • Making financial sacrifices for the benefit of the relationship
  • Compromising on important decisions such as where to live or how to raise children
  • Giving up bad habits that may be affecting the relationship

Making Sacrifices Without Losing Yourself – My longest lesson

While making sacrifices is essential in a relationship, it is equally important to maintain your individuality. You should never make a sacrifice that goes against your core values or beliefs. It is essential to communicate your boundaries and expectations to your partner, so they understand what is and isn’t acceptable.

One way to make sacrifices without losing yourself is to set boundaries. For example, if your partner wants you to spend more time with them, but you need personal time to recharge, you can set aside specific times for yourself and communicate this to your partner.

When Sacrificing Becomes Unhealthy – yes it’s a thing

While making sacrifices is essential in a relationship, it is essential to recognize when sacrificing becomes unhealthy. Sacrificing should never lead to resentment, bitterness, or a loss of self. If you find yourself constantly making sacrifices without getting anything in return, it may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

It is important to communicate your feelings to your partner and seek professional help if necessary. Remember, sacrificing should be a two-way street, and both partners should be willing to make sacrifices for each other.

Here are a few final sacrificing quotes to remember:

  • “Love is not a feeling of happiness. Love is a willingness to sacrifice.” – Michael Novak
  • “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs
  • “Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Written by Sarah Edwards. Want to get to know me? Say hi! @setapart_company

Recovering from Domestic Violence: The Journey

Many of us really don’t think about whether or not we are in a domestic violent situation. Recently, I learned that I experienced domestic violence and I had to admit it to myself. Admitting it was the hardest part of my journey. I wanted to deny it. But I quickly understood that I was romanticizing my connections out of survival. I kept telling myself, “it could be way worse”, “they’re not like this deep down”, and “they didn’t mean it”. But indeed, they were aware of how they were hurting me. Understanding domestic violence has led me to question the reality I perceived.

What is Domestic Violence?

Typically when I hear domestic violence, I think of physical and sexual abuse. But domestic violence includes emotional, psychological, technological, and economical abuse. I learned about it here.

  • Physical abuse: hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, pushing, etc.
  • Sexual abuse: forcing/coercing sexual interactions of any sort
  • Emotional abuse: undermining someone’s self-worth
  • Psychological abuse: fear by intimidation, threats to harm (either self, partner, children, etc.), forcing isolation, gaslighting, etc.
  • Technological abuse: behavior that’s intended to harm, threaten, control, stalk, harass, exploit or monitor another person via technology
  • Economical/financial abuse: using money, financial situation, or tactics in a form of manipulation for money or to control

My Past Relationship/Situationship

To say the least, I didn’t understand masculine people were valid in their experiences of domestic violence. I experienced being hit in my prior relationships but never experienced something like I did in my most recent past situationship.

In my most recent situationship, I was experiencing the most damaging emotional and psychological abuse. I questioned my entire existence a lot and rather have left this plane of existence than to experience another moment of manipulation. That includes the manipulation that came with trying to leave. I was convinced that I was going crazy. This person made me feel psychotic!

To a degree, technological abuse was there. Economical/financial abuse was there too. I was also guilted and gaslit by the person because I wasn’t sexually attracted to them anymore. It made me feel less. They found it odd that I needed to feel connected to a person emotionally to have that sexual attraction. Their response to my lack of sexual desire was to accuse me of talking to other people, and far much more. They didn’t want to put in any work.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel safe enough to elaborate more. But one day, I’ll be able to talk more. I just wanted to make people aware that masculine people experience domestic violence too.

Losing Myself & Growing

Honestly speaking, this experience broke me. I lost myself trying to prove my love and positive intentions. It was all because I saw so much potential in this person. I saw how hurt this person was and made excuses for them in how they treated me. This person wasn’t willing to grow as I grew no matter what. Because of my growth, this person felt threatened by my presence and independence. As I kept going, they just grew pessimistic. And just more agitated with how I was soaring outside of their stagnant mindset.

The Complex Lesson

There are many lessons I’ve learned through this experience. I mainly learned about the complexity of love and domestic violence. But most importantly, I learned that it doesn’t matter what other people say to you. Their actions and ability to grow is what matters. Even if they say they love you. Those words mean nothing if they can’t see you and love you like they want to be loved by another person.

I learned that people will say anything to manipulate you into taking your energy. Whether that be with guilt or honey. This person’s tactics were guilt. They only wanted me around because I was benefiting them. They made me feel guilty because I started to love myself. In other words, they kept telling me that I didn’t love them, despite all that I’ve given emotionally, because I was trying to fill my cup after the damages. They started to gaslight me even more because I set boundaries. They tried to control everything; even how my apartment looked, how I communicated, etc. In all, I learned that people will feel threatened or offended by your boundaries if they’re out of alignment with you.

Closing Words on Domestic Violence: Validity

No matter your age, love is proven to be complicated and complex. Your age doesn’t define when you experience emotional or psychological pain. No matter the age, you can experience domestic violence on any scale. No matter your gender identity and sexuality, you can experience domestic violence. Domestic violence isn’t easy to go through either. Always think about your safety in relationships.

Gabe H.

Job Opportunity at YAH

YAH (Youth Action Hub) is paying young people to lead change in Connecticut! Check out the flyer to learn more about this job opportunity!

Click HERE to apply!

Forgiving Yourself: The Path of Letting Go

I used to think forgiveness was reserved for those “monumental” moments. The big mistakes or emotionally charged experiences. But forgiveness can be used for forgiving yourself.

I’ve come to realize that the deep forgiveness, the ruminating, nagging, little voices, was the real monster, and that I personally had many of them.

I was complaining about a recurring truth I had been grappling with and I realized my inability to move forward was I hadn’t forgiven my past mistakes yet.

The significance of not forgiving ourselves is oftentimes it morphs into a deep, strong fear that prevents us from making the steps forward.

The most dangerous, least-serving thing you can do, is live in the “victim mentality.” 

By blaming others, or the world, and avoiding seeing the pain inside yourself, you are just prolonging your healing, and the lessons you need to learn.

Seeing where we need to forgive ourselves is one of those methods of finding lessons that need to be realized. 

Forgiving yourself is one of the most challenging things to do, yet it is one of the most important steps towards healing and personal growth. Despite the contrary, learning lessons about who we are or what we need can be the most powerful thing we do to invest in ourselves.

We often hold onto past mistakes, regrets, and failures, allowing them to define who we are and how we live our lives. 

However, in order to move forward and find inner peace, we must learn the path of letting go. But how do we do that? I had no idea, and frankly, it felt impossible.

Whether it’s a minor mistake or a major life decision, forgiving yourself is crucial in order to embrace your true self and live a fulfilling life. 

Understanding Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the process of letting go of anger, resentment, and negative emotions towards someone who has hurt you.

It means accepting what has happened and moving forward without holding onto grudges or seeking revenge. However, forgiveness is not just about forgiving others, it’s also about forgiving ourselves. 

Self-forgiveness is the act of releasing ourselves from the guilt and shame of past mistakes and failures.

I realized I was holding onto shame of my past mistakes and it made me fearful of trying again or even bothering in the future.

Why Forgiving Yourself is Important

Forgiving yourself is crucial for your emotional well-being and personal growth. When we hold onto past mistakes, regrets, and failures, we carry a heavy burden that affects our mental and physical health. 

We become trapped in a cycle of negative self-talk, self-doubt, and self-criticism

This can lead to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Forgiving yourself is about breaking free from this cycle and embracing self-compassion and self-love. It allows you to let go of the past and move forward with a sense of peace and freedom.

The Negative Effects of Holding onto Regret

Holding onto regret can prevent us from living in the present and enjoying life to the fullest. 

It keeps us stuck in the past, reliving the pain and disappointment over and over again. 

This can lead to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair. Regret can also lead to self-blame, self-pity, and self-loathing. 

It’s important to acknowledge the past and learn from our mistakes, but it’s equally important to let go of the negative emotions that hold us back.

The Benefits of Letting Go

Letting go of past mistakes and failures can lead to a sense of freedom and inner peace. It allows us to move forward without the burden of guilt and shame. 

Self-forgiveness can also lead to improved relationships with others, as we become more compassionate and understanding towards them. 

It can also lead to greater self-awareness and personal growth, as we learn from our mistakes and become better versions of ourselves.

The Process of Forgiving Yourself

The process of forgiving yourself is not a quick fix, but rather a journey that requires time, patience, and self-reflection. In other words, this is the BIG KAHUNA as I like to call it.

It starts with acknowledging the mistake or failure and accepting responsibility for it. Yikes. Sounds like a lot?

But, It’s important to remember that we are all human and we all make mistakes. Avoiding your mistakes, denying them, prevents you from healing. You have to acknowledge to forgive. 

I found that what helps is openly explaining, in appropriate conversations, my mistakes and failures. It allows me to take a retro-reflective approach, and come at it from almost an analytical angle.

This makes me sit in the seat from students to teacher, now separating my mistake in the past from myself, and simply as a lesson.

Shifting Your Perspective

You can change your mistakes to lessons to move into a seat of compassion and power.   

Moving forward with self-acceptance means embracing our true selves, flaws and all. As a Christian, personally, this means I can give my sin and shame over to God. I find peace is knowing that we, and the world, is a broken place.

I don’t strive for perfection anymore. And I don’t need to be the perfect wife, daughter, friend or sister. Rather, I strive to try and make the best decisions I can in each moment, and be a hyper-aware individual.

I strive to know empathy, compassion, and the language of kindness over being perfect, and always presentable.

Self-acceptance is about treating ourselves with kindness, understanding, and compassion, and that requires you to make mistakes. It requires you to feel the weight of your fears and failures.

You can coexist with these negative emotions without letting them control you.

It’s important to set realistic goals and expectations for ourselves and to celebrate our successes, no matter how small.

Letting go of past mistakes and failures can lead to a sense of freedom and inner peace. It’s important to acknowledge the past and learn from our mistakes, but it’s equally important to let go of the negative emotions that hold us back. 

So, take the first step towards self-forgiveness today and start living a fulfilling life.

Written by Sarah Edwards, TPCT Project Coordinator – you can say hi at @setapart_company!

Reels: Appreciating Our Teachers (1)

This week’s Reel comes from Therell. He celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week, and shouts out some of his past teachers who have made a big, positive impact on his life!

Check out last week’s Reels about Mental Health Awareness Month & Star Wars here!

Star Wars & Mental Health Awareness! (2)

Check out our latest Reels from the past week! Both are from Therell.

Star Wars Day

In Therell’s first Reel, he celebrates Star Wars Day!

Mental Health Awareness

In Therell’s second Reel, he acknowledges Mental Health Awareness Month and gives some encouragement.

Check out last week’s Reels here!

Meet Our Newest Team Member!

Hi everyone! I’m Quinn and I recently joined the Turning Point CT team. I’m a queer, trans non-binary, astrology enthusiast with a degree in psychological science. My interest in mental health and wellness started when I was a teen. During that time, my younger sibling started experiencing symptoms of mental illness. This motivated me to enter the field of mental health as an agent of change and as an advocate for community care. 

My Background

I spent a few years working in direct care for individuals with schizophrenia, eating disorders, Alzheimer’s and dementia, depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, and more. I noticed that many of the folks I worked with were struggling to get their needs met, even in settings that aimed to provide comprehensive care. This motivated me to continue researching and learning about the various approaches to mental wellness. When the opportunity to join the Turning Point CT team arose, I knew that I wanted to jump on it. 

Over the course of the pandemic, the need for peer support and community care became increasingly obvious to me. In a time of such widespread isolation and fear, I found myself yearning for spaces to be in community. I subscribed to the Patreon of my favorite podcast and attended weekly Zoom calls with the hosts. In these weekly meetings, I ended up meeting some of my very best friends to this day. I also hosted virtual game nights and educational workshops as the Advocacy Director of a local organization called The Reflection Zone. In these spaces, I was fortunate enough to find the connection and collective care that I was seeking. I hope to facilitate similar spaces through my work with TurningPointCT. 

For Fun

In my free time, you’ll probably find me on local hiking trails keeping an eye out for new plants and fungi with my partner, Jackie. When I’m not on the trails, I’m usually in the kitchen cooking for friends and family and measuring spices with my heart. Who needs measuring spoons anyways? I’m also a lifelong musician. I love improvising on the piano and trying to keep up with my favorite songs on the guitar.

I’m already so proud to be a member of the Turning Point CT team, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my journey and to use my experiences to connect with young folks across CT.

Black & White

I wrote this poem, Black & White, to express how I feel being an ethnically diverse individual.

Black & White

Half black and half white, so it makes sense that I feel gray

Represented by the clothes that I wear every day

Talking about my side that isn’t safe in the streets

I feel like a doughnut, guess who’s looking for a treat

Even at home where I try to relax and eat

I’m asked if I’ll rob, instead of friendly greets

Same thing at school, all the clowns speak in tweets

Slur after slur, they treat me like a freak

Report to the teachers, gave them all of the receipts

Funny how suddenly their vision would deplete

And I’m the one that they tell to take a seat

And for the side that most don’t even see

Sometimes that “most” is in the family

I get the look that says “You’re not related to me”

And when I’m outside with mom, it’s the same thing I notice 

The scenario in their head, with me as the focus

“Why is he following that poor woman everywhere?”

“They’re obviously not related, look no further than their hair”

So as you can see, it’s a war on both sides

I won’t choose a team, so I’ll just have to hide

I rarely felt like I fit in anyway, so it doesn’t even matter

But until then, it’s time to be an actor

Final Thoughts

Since high school, I started feeling the effects of being ethnically diverse. I feel quite uncomfortable when I am the only black person in a group of white folks, due to past experiences where ignorant and racist comments have been made. Even in a group of all black folks, I still become a little uncomfortable because I feel like I lack a lot of cultural knowledge, therefore it’s been difficult to relate to others.

I very much prefer being in a diverse setting; where there are people that come from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds. It puts me much more at ease knowing I am not outnumbered, and there are multiple cultures present.

– Therell

If you would like to hear other poems I’ve written, visit my Music Channel.

And check out this poem submitted by Emorie, it’s a very stellar writing piece.

I’m Riding My Bike Across the Country

I want to ride my bike across the country. And I will be riding my bike across the country. I plan on doing it after I graduate. My goal is to do it within a year; or after I fully recover from bottom surgery! Bottom surgery is literally around the corner for me! Read all about the bottom surgery I’m getting here.

Staying Motivated

I’ve heard people ask me: “How will you do that?” They even say: “You need to prepare” or “People spend years training”. I sometimes get a laugh because people don’t think I’m being serious about it. It’s almost as if a kid said it. Although this may be enough to discourage some people, this is something my soul is really urging towards. I’m so passionate about doing it, that people’s reactions motivates me to problem solve and think abstractly.

Everything I need is right in front of me.

In my world, riding my bike everywhere is literally enough training. My asthma is well controlled. My allergies are well controlled now that I’m paying attention to my body. I can’t forget that I rode my bike over 16.5 miles from Bradley Airport to the South End of Hartford because my co-worker came in a few hours late: at 2/3 AM, and the last bus already left at midnight. In the moment, I was anxious that I wouldn’t be able to go to my morning appointment if my co-worker didn’t show up. But somehow, I knew everything was going to be okay.

That experience alone was extremely nice and calming. The scenery was just beautiful along the way. Something that people would’ve found extremely upsetting, I found to be a great experience to further push me in the direction I want to go in. Riding my bike from Bradley Airport was a confirmation that I am able to do something I want to do without ‘proper’ training.

Why I’m Riding My Bike Across the Country

At first, it was an impulsive thought that came from my unconscious desires. My old social studies teacher, Jonathan Williams, sparked my interest after he talked about how he ran across the country. This has been in my thoughts since my freshman year of high school. Now I’m a senior in college.

People asked me why I wanted to do this and the only think I could come up with was to prove myself to everyone. However, that reasoning never aligned nor felt accurate to say. It was just something I said in the moment of silence. Thinking about it now, I’m really doing this for myself. I need to exemplify to myself that it doesn’t matter what other people think. I honestly need to do this for my mental health and spiritual self. Whether it be valid or not.

The Proposed Outcome of Riding my Bike Across the Country

Throughout this process, I hope to have a better understanding of who I am. I also hope to develop a better connection to the land spirits and my ancestors. After-all, my ancestors were the ones who occupied this land first and the ones who were enslaved to build this country. So why not feel their energies and their emotions to understand my feelings in the process. My time in nature will only grant me the healing that I need; and maybe give them a little of the healing they need.

I just may even bring a notebook and pen to write in about my encounters/experiences.

– Dez 🙂

5 Tips to Eliminate Distractions and Increase Focus During The Creative Process

I used to think refining my process was a waste of time. But then I discovered that investing time into the way I work gives me back significant time in the long run. This investment helped eliminate distractions that normally took away from my creative process.

distractions

While figuring out our to-do list and daily schedules is extremely important, it can create a shadow over the achilles heel of the creative process. 

Achilles heel: Having an inability to focus, or keep distractions under control, that is specific to you, your environment and your mind.

In short, a weakness is when a creative individual or productive worker doesn’t take the time to study the things that interrupts their workday. They allow the cycle to keep repeating itself. They don’t study the changes that need to be made for a greater output.

Now, I am a big advocate for not feeding the hustle, workaholic culture that Western civilization has tossed into modern play. The intention of discovering this part of ourselves is not to become these idolatry-productive gods, rather, give us time back. 

I want you to spend time with your families. I hope you shut the computer every night and get excited about the evening hours, or the weekend plans.

Identifying distractions and focus inconsistencies can be one of the most game changing things you can discover about yourself.

By getting the things done, structured under healthy standards (reasonable goals and tasks) you will end your day increasing your self-satisfaction and mental wellness.

This does not include consideration for any mental or focus related conditions, but I imagine that in conjunction with a mental health professional, these supplements can help. 

As someone with severe Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the below has really helped me learn about how I operate.

I’m going to walk you through 5 Steps on what to do moving forward to help resolve distractions and increase your focus. These will be your exercises for today, Day 4.

Step 1 – Knowing The Mind and Body Connection

It’s no secret that your body’s health plays a role in your mind’s functionality. Perhaps you’re rolling your eyes at this, and it’s understandable, we hear this a lot. But have you actually done something actionable about this tip? When I got honest with myself, I sighed. I really needed a change.

The reality is: Many of us get comfortable with our own complacency that we are slow to change, or make no change. For example, you’ve accepted you are unable to get reasonable sleep, and you’ve built your life around that to accommodate that “truth.”

Now, sometimes we are in temporary situations where yes we can’t make a change. For example, new parenthood. However, I think many of us can identify physical/body health elements that we’ve slacked on. These impact; energy, focus, space and time for creative thought, research time, discipline, and good habits.

Accepting Bad/Poor Habits & Distractions

When we accept a bad habit, we are also accepting that we are able and allowed to make another bad habit. As a creative person, you’re often seeking new ideas and inspiration, “Why can’t I find it!” Is a phrase I used to ask myself mentally a lot. But I realized that a lot of my “ideas” and “inspiration” were buried under poor habits. 

Poor habits take up more time in the long run then healthy habits.

Let’s look at an example. If you skip eating meals, you’ll start getting agitated, or your blood sugar will crash. You get hungry. Maybe the hunger strikes when you’re mid-paragraph in a profound thought or drawing. But you stop, get up, and abandon the thought. 

Something else in the kitchen distracts you, and suddenly an hour goes away. You realize this, rush, grab something unhealthy, and head back to the writing element. You inhale your unhealthy snack.

And then get frustrated because not only did you forget your thought process/idea, but you feel guilty for eating your unhealthy snack, and you ruminate. Now you’re thinking about that, and you’ve completely derailed your energy. Then your body crashes again an hour later.

I want to say, by the way, unhealthy snacks are totally cool in moderation. But I find food-guilt and body goals are something many of us have to a capacity, so this is a common example. It overlaps a lot.

Sometimes my productivity is an excuse I use to not take care of myself.

I’ve learned that is not a good enough reason because taking care of ourselves is productive, healthy and more important than your to-do list.

Action: 

  • Before your next big creative undertaking. Do a check-in with yourself, and get honest. 
  • What physical elements for your body could you shift, add or remove in your day? Do one of those changes this week. 
  • Try changes one at a time, instead of piling on a bunch, unless they are closely related. This can be a big or small change. The trick here is picking one and just do it. You’ll prove to yourself that you’re worth the investment.

Step 2 – Taking Inventory of Distractions You Can Control

There’s going to be distractions you have zero ability to handle, prevent or monitor. We don’t need the most peaceful days, or perfect environments, to achieve something or be creative. Sometimes high stimulation helps people; such as in busy environments. 

But I am talking about distractions. You know, the text messages. The phone is being picked up every 45-seconds. Music that works against you, not with you. Or even picking your workspace everyday (we’ll cover that more later).

Remember that the more you give into a distraction, or the more you accept its existence, you are picking that experience over your creativity.

By checking Instagram every two-minutes, you are telling yourself that it’s more important than your writing assignment.

Sure, maybe it’s more engaging, or relaxing, but is that your equivalent to important?

You might think, “OF COURSE!” But ask yourself, if you don’t finish your writing assignment or goal, is that going to make you feel better or worse at the end of the day? 

Let’s assess some of the things & distractions you can control.

Action: 

  • Cut out an hour and do a reset of your distractions – first identify them. 
  • Add in focus settings on your phone notifications or apps. 
  • Really take inventory of music that works better for you at different times of day, or working types. Or invest in noise canceling headphones.
  • Put do not disturb around meetings if you need too to prevent excess conversations
  • Schedule or use a timer for working sessions and breaks
  • Add in a reward or a more relaxing type of working session (I’ll cover this more in the next tip).

Tip #3: Swallow Your Frogs First

Mark Twain famously said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Having a productive hierarchy has been my new crucial element in my workflow process.

Productive hierarchy is the process of assessing the weight, value and time of your tasks. This allows you to counterbalance them with specific parts of yourself.

For example, as someone with anxiety, and knowing I work better in the mornings, I will do my most laborious, stress-inducing tasks earlier in my day, then later. It gives me peace of mind during the rest of the day, and I work faster in the morning to get it done.

I know I also hit an energy slump around 2:00pm, so I’ll incorporate a relaxing break or a relaxing working session.

You can speed up your mind or slow it down with your body, like breathing; you don’t need to always “power through” everything.  

You may be wondering, what is a relaxing task/working session?

This is something I’ve created, which may or may not work well for you. So experiment.

Essentially, I identify tasks that are very sumientry, or don’t require a ton of thinking space. For example, cleaning dishes, deleting emails, or scheduling social media posts. 

Maybe I’ll put on an episode of my favorite show while I do this, or get a fresh cappuccino and sip while I work. Other times it’s a podcast episode, or taking fifteen minutes to read while a video exports. 

Your lighter tasks are great opportunities to slow down. But it’s important to keep going if you can with the small tasks. These guys can add up throughout our week, then overwhelm us.

Tip #4: Reinvent Your Workspace to Work For You, Not Against You

This is a game changer guys. For so long I was making a crucial mistake, and that was not investing time in refining my workspace. Before COVID-19, like many, I was handed a workspace, and I forced myself into it, and slowly adjusted it to serve me.

Most of us are working in a space that is losing our energy, focus and time.

But now, we’ve learned we can control our environments more, regardless if you’re back in the office or not. One of the biggest investments you can make in your goal/success journey is to invest money or time into your workspace.

This is like picking the soil before you plant. Having water available, it’s all crucial to growth and consistency. 

A workspace should have three main components:

  • It should be the path of least resistance. 
    • Meaning, you can get to it easily, and get to work easily. If you have a ton of hurdles, you’re going to lose energy and focus fast. You’ll also feel discouraged and skip out on consistency.
  • It should have tools within it that lessen the need for you to do extra tasks. 
    • For example, your chargers are all plugged in, and fastened to your table, so you don’t need to go searching for them everyday. Or, you get cold often, so you have a pair of slippers in the room.
    • To take this a step further, incorporate tip one here. Invest in a chair that doesn’t harm your back, or a water pitch to stay hydrated. You can even put packaged healthy snacks in reach to limit temptations for other foods.
  • It should have your ownership
    • Even if you have a small desk tucked in the corner, it should be yours. Meaning you have the control to clean up at the end of the day, so you can start fresh, and keep your items and system together. You waste processing energy with decision fatigue if you constantly need to move things around, and make space to work.

A few examples:

  • Create a workspace in your home. Therefore you have a place to work that doesn’t require commuting or traveling far.
  • Untangle chords, buy extra chargers, and plug everything in so it’s a sit-down, get up, procedure (not running around).
  • Organize drawers, baskets and storage
  • Have water nearby, and healthy snacks to prevent you from getting up all the time
  • Close the door, or block it off, so it’s your space only, not communal, if possible

Tip #5: Set Reasonable, Smart, Goals, To Increase Self-Satisfaction

If you don’t set reasonable expectations, or goals, you’ll never feel satisfied with your creative process.

Part of fleeting motivation, and energy to complete a task, does rest in understanding your goals well, and setting healthy goals. 

If you want to read more about this, check out one of our most popular articles! 

In the above article we cover a mindset shift, and I would encourage you to indulge so that serves as your action

Written by Sarah Edwards (@setapart_company), TPCT Project Coordinator.

Second Batch of April 2023 Reels (3)

Hi everyone! Please enjoy our latest Reels from the past week! This week we have 3 reels, two from Sarah, and one from Therell.

The Reels

In Sarah’s first reel, she shares some tips for people who experience anxiety while giving presentations.

In Therell’s reel, he acknowledges National Only Child Day.

In Sarah’s second reel, she reassures everyone that it is perfectly okay to keep learning the basics as an adult.

Thank you for keeping up with The TurningPointCT Team! If you missed the previous week’s reels, watch them here!

Bipolar Depression – Poem

My intention with this poem is to describe the perspective most people with mental health disorders go through with symptoms, not allowing the disorder to become a part of our identity and the vulnerability of connectivity with others due to stigmas placed on mental health and the help towards betterment.

Emorie – 25

First Reels of April 2023 (2)

Check out our first couple of reels this month, April 2023, both from Sarah!

In Sarah’s first reel, she shares some things she learned to do to boost her joy despite struggling with her mental health.

In Sarah’s second reel, she shares a few tips for when you might feel overwhelmed while working on digital devices during the day.

Check out our final reel from March here!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and subscribe to us on social media!
– Facebook: TurningPointCT
– Instagram: @TurningPoint_CT
– Twitter: @TurningPoint_CT
– YouTube: TurningPointCT.org
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Redefining the Success and Crafting Healthy, Impactful Lasting Goals

Thank you for listening! If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and subscribe to us on social media!
– Facebook: TurningPointCT
– Instagram: @TurningPoint_CT
– Twitter: @TurningPoint_CT
– YouTube: TurningPointCT.org
– TikTok: @TurningPointCT.org

Want to find more free mental health support services made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut? Check out our website!

Miss the previous episode? Listen to it here!

Navigating Anxiety & Overcoming Intrusive Thoughts | Planting Vlog

In honor of National Stress Awareness Month, join me while planting different flowers🌷 and herbs! We discuss intrusive thoughts, making space in the heart and mind, and navigating stress and feeling overwhelmed. 🌱

Don’t forget to check out our other ➡️ videos ⬅️ too!

– Sarah

“Intrusive Memories” A Slam Poem in Honor of National Poetry Month

intrusive

I remember the sweet scent of chocolate oatmeal cookies,

carried by the warm summer breeze through our loving home.

How I panicked if the gas from the oven will cause a corruption,

absolute destruction,

and if I don’t check that it’s off three times,

my family will die,

and I’ll be the reason they’re not alive.

I remember a rubber band on my wrist,

instead of friendship bracelets,

because the self-inflicted pain was less intense,

then the uncontrollable rumination in my head.

Which led me to dry heave for eighteen years and kneel on the cool tile

floor,

of an underfunded academic institution,

whose people sent me to the nurses office and said I was just a little

anxious.

The words mental health were never mentioned.

The bullies enjoyed a girl already on her knees,

little did they see,

they were hurting as much as me.

I remember while my parents went to the grocery store,

i’d call my Dad’s phone four times, thinking they’ve died,

In some tragic car collide. But it’s all in my mind.

I remember the stains of colored markers in art class,

Imagining a better life, free from the clutches of an unknown God,

controlling my every obsessive thought.

I’ve never known the freedom of child-like immortality,

Irrationality was my nationality, and my whole identity,

When could someone set me free?

It wouldn’t be until I accepted the trinity.

I remember I locked myself in a bathroom for three days,

thinking the police were after me,

because this unnamable scream, so to speak,

convinced me I committed a hit in run.

That I ran over a woman on 8th street,

but in reality…It was all in my head,

Intrusive thoughts whispering lies even in the crevasses,

of everything I am.

So, I drank the tap water.

I remember when we were gifted itchy knit sweaters with high

turtlenecks,

but now, grown, I throw my hands to my neck,

with the fear of strangulation,

from my intrusive thoughts of suicidal ideation.

Childhood,

it’s over but I swear it never even begun,

I function like a combat soldier In a war zone,

intrusive thoughts were like grenades

tossed in-between the bookshelves,

where I clawed the pages of worn school books,

looking for a name to this thing that doctors didn’t care to explain,

but they only had three books on the state of the mind,

one of them even said,

a woman is just hormonal as a teen and the rest isn’t worth defining.

I remember I went to the doctors again,

they said they could only give me eight minutes that day.

They had me circle a bunch of smiley faces,

but none of them looked like me,

Please God tell me which face resembles someone that:

Checks the gas three times,

kneels in bathrooms and cries,

thinks their parents will die,

and thinks they took a life?

When the worst thing that they’ve done is tell a little white lie,

To surprise their mom for their birthday?

How could I be lovable?

If I’m something so destructible.

America, I know we’re the land of the free,

but so many of us are chained in a mental health calamity,

mine was OCD,

and that’s actually treatable to a degree.

Yet it took twenty-one years to be diagnosed properly.

I needed someone who was really listening,

not just looking to bandaid another part of this society.

And that starts with me.

What do you want to remember?

Written by Sarah Edwards (@setapart_company), TPCT Project Coordinator

Autism Awareness: A Guide for People, by an Autistic Person

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day and it’s Autism Awareness Month! World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness month draws attention to the need for growing innovative programs that are designed to support those with autism. I feel like there’s a need for supporting people more than just supporting programs. Reason being, in order to make autistic people feel seen, heard and understood, we must start with people. And as a fellow autistic person, I want to share my experiences and give insight on how people can be more supportive.

The Need for Support

My biggest struggle as an autistic high functioning/masking adult is that people don’t see me as an autistic individual. And that’s a problem! It does get frustrating for me. Mainly because my actions are typically taken in another way and/or I get discredited for being autistic. Which invalidates how I feel at times, and even my needs. So being cognizant over labeling someone as high functioning is important!

I do want to clarify that being autistic doesn’t mean that we are incapable. There were times where I was treated and talked to like I was a child because I made people aware that I was autistic. I was extremely aware that people who do that typically don’t fully understand autism and aren’t comfortable. However, a good portion of this treatment came from licensed clinicians, people with a PsyD, and/or PhD in psychology who don’t fully understand how to navigate autism.

Part of My Experience as an Autistic Person

autistic

These are just a few things I’ve heard either my entire life or from people in general. We should spend time to #StopJudging, #StopTheStigma, and #BeMoreAware.

Hearing some of these things makes me feel misunderstood and frustrated. However, hearing things about not looking autistic makes me question someone’s entire thought process. Especially the comment about my ability to pass my college courses. Like, where are people getting their information from? And it’s all about stigmas!

To explain the “different variations” under the Mr. Know-It-All quote, people typically complain when I correct their harmful stigmas. I can say that I strongly dislike having to educate people on their ignorance and inaccurate perceptions. Mainly because I do it so often that people either ignore me or that I hear people complain about how I’m too uptight, I always correct them or I get called a Mr. Know-It-All. If you don’t want to be corrected, be more aware of your harmful language and/or the harmful stigmas that you are perpetuating. Fix how you are talking.

This is How you can Support Autistic People

This biggest “rule” of support here is to believe a person when they say they are autistic even if they are a high functioning/masking adult. Here are additional ways you can support autistic individuals:

  • #StopTheStigma; stop saying things that are exemplified in the image above. You might see something as a compliment but it only perpetuates the continuation of harmful stigmas.
  • Don’t treat or talk to an autistic individual like a child. Ask if we need help with something that shows that we are struggling. And if the help is declined, don’t take it personal!
  • Understand that we experience emotions and are capable of empathy!
  • Don’t take our actions in a personal way. Trust me, we are not being rude or are doing things that make you feel some type of way, annoyed, etc. on purpose.
  • Please be patient with autistic individuals! Your patience means a lot!
  • Be direct with autistic individuals. I definitely have a hard time taking a hint and taking things as jokes.
  • Get to know the person as a human! Don’t rely solely on online information! Don’t discredit that someone is autistic because they are high functioning/masking.
  • Ask how you may be able to help in certain situations when you are unsure! It’s nice when people try to understand how to navigate a situation.
  • Autistic people are not your walking encyclopedia! Don’t treat them as such! If they enjoy discussing a topic, by any means, ask the question.

Reminder: Every autistic person isn’t the same! And, every autistic person experiences themselves differently. So please get to know someone first!

– Dez 🙂

Final Reels of March 2023 (1)

Happy April, everyone! Please enjoy our final March Reel from Dez!

Miss the previous Reels? Find them here!

Thrilla T – Sabotage

Hi everyone! I’ve recently released 2 new songs: The Nerve and Wrong Game! The “album” that these 2 songs are in is called Sabotage.

For anyone who’s listened to some of my previous songs, you’ll know that I often talk about my feelings of loneliness and social loss. These two songs lean more on the social loss side.

I feel that I’ve made so many social mistakes throughout my life, so any time I think back to fizzled out friendships, I am filled with regret.

Please consider listening to these two songs, as I think they do an okay job of laying everything out. If you are also someone who feels they’ve made some mistakes in their social life, I hope my music can help you know that you are not alone.

If you would like to check out art from other people on our website, visit our Creative Expressions page here!

Self-Harm Alternatives

Many people talk about self-harm and ways to prevent yourself from self-harming. But, many people don’t talk about the self-harm alternatives.

Self-Harm Awareness Month

March is Self-Harm Awareness Month. Self-harm is an overall hard topic for me to touch upon because I used to self-harm by cutting and punching myself. And people around me currently self-harm by multiple methods. I’m not going to lie, it does trigger my nervous system when I’m around it. But this isn’t why I’m writing.

I asked myself and out loud “what is classified as self-harm other than the obvious?” Reading the list surprised me. I’m going to include the entire list:

  • Cutting/Biting/Poisoning/Hitting yourself
  • Over-Eating or Under-Eating (purposefully)
  • Exercising Excessively
  • Picking/Scratching/Burning your skin (purposefully)
  • Inserting Objects that are Harmful to your Body
  • Hitting Objects that may cause an Injury
  • Misusing/Abusing Alcohol, Prescriptions & Drugs
  • Pulling your hair
  • Having Unsafe Sex (w/ a stranger, someone who is unsafe, putting yourself in danger)
  • Getting into fights where you know you will get hurt.

I, of course, added a few context words to the list because it matters. The last time I self-harmed by cutting was around 2016. I honestly don’t remember the last time I self-harmed by hitting myself. However, based off this list, the last time I self-harmed was December 20th, 2022 (hitting objects that may cause an injury). It wasn’t purposefully done to hurt myself, however, due to a need to exert my anger.

Self-Harm Alternatives: Ideas

I don’t have all the answers to alternatively prevent all the methods of self-harm. However, I do have ideas that can help someone who self-harms by: cutting, poisoning/pill taking, and hitting objects that may cause an injury.

Cutting Alternatives

I was trying to find the self-harm recovery pen online, however, it sells out extremely fast! Essentially, the pen is filled with a strong mint essential oil to cause a mimic burning sensation. The point of the pen doesn’t harm the skin at all, but it does feel like scratches. It’s typically sold on Etsy. Although this pen isn’t currently selling, there is an alternative to those who cut to draw blood. It’s a Self-Harm Recovery Blood Roller. If you are looking for the mimic burning sensation, use a thin ice pack or just ice and place it on the skin.

One last alternative to cutting is tattooing yourself or getting a tattoo. Many people around me use my tattoo gun as an alternative to self-harming! This tattoo gun is similar to what I have but a cheaper alternative. This one is very similar to mine. It’s important to sterilize your skin before and after the tattoo. Take care of it. Let me know if you would like some tips in the comment section! I’ll definitely do a blog post for it!

Poisoning/Pill Taking Alternatives

I can say that this one is one of my favorite alternatives! Mainly because it’s cost effective, comes in any color, and is Vegan/Vegetarian friendly! This is the Vegan option, Vegetarian option, Gelatin option.

Hitting Objects Alternatives

This is something I recently invested in! Instead of punching things that may cause an injury, I got a double end speed bag. It helps me work out in a fun way, manage my anger/emotions and impulses. It was actually the cheapest and higher quality punching bag kit I saw. It’s great for small spaces.

Another good option for smaller spaces would be a freestanding reflex bag. If you are looking for something more heavy to put all your force into, I suggest buying a stand kickboxing/punching bag.

What self-harm alternatives will you use?

Drop some self-harm alternative ideas in the comments! Or share ways you prevent yourself from self-harming!

– Dez 🙂

Reels: Week of March 12 (3)

Watch our latest Reels from Dez and Therell!

Dez Reel: “What Does Happiness Mean to You?”

Therell Reel 1: “I Am”

Therell Reel 2: “Awkward Moments Day”

Miss last week’s Reels? Watch them here!

Fighting Burnout & Depression in College

Last week was spring break for me and it definitely didn’t feel like break. Mainly because I was experiencing a burnout on top of depression. My burnout definitely sparked before finals week. Soon after, my depression followed as there was no room for me to self-care.

Trigger Warning: Contents of heavy history and sensitive topics such as racism are mentioned.

My Burnout & Depression is From Teaching the “Teacher”

I’m tired of teaching people without being compensated for it. Especially at a college level. My burnout is from a sociology course that is being ran by a closed minded White Cisgender Heterosexual male. This professor has acted in micro-aggression to myself and fellow peers. It definitely has contributed to the declination of my mental health.

The first two discussion boards, the professor shared his opinion with me about my views. The first time, I let it slide until he compared the holocaust to racism. Indicating that racism doesn’t exist and we (marginalized groups) learned helplessness. To “prove” his stance, he said that he was an “expert” in African American, Native Indigenous, and immigrant history/studies. Right there, I understood what language I had to speak in order to effectively humiliate him for his bigotry in a professional manner. This made me understand that a degree, title, and position truly means nothing besides validity.

This professor makes me work 10x’s harder. The student-professor hierarchy allows him to take advantage to corner students. All I can say is that I fought back harder than he could ever imagine with facts and actual history to the point he was humiliated enough to personally email me. He couldn’t take accountability to give an actual apology in his email. However, used psychology to go around saying a formal apology.

Stepping in the Right Direction

The sociology professor has triggered my past educational trauma. And it took its toll on me along side outside factors. Recently, I was challenged to do something for myself by the TPCT team. I’m trying to take it one step at a time. Especially, allow myself the care I need. I’m definitely due for a self-care bath.

Self-caring has allowed me to creating a little planting project for myself after getting a home garden starter. Planting and growing herbs allows me to ground and slow down. It gives and provides me with a quiet head space. So far, I’m trying to grow lavender, eucalyptus and white sage in the home garden pods. The lavender seeds are sprouting. I may give growing updates here and there! I’m also growing lettuce; which is looking amazing!

Burnout & Depression

Now, I have something that will allow me to regulate more effectively as I continue taking this required sociology course. The hope is to minimize the amount of burnout I experience from this course. While also connecting me with my feelings.

Dez 🙂

Reels: Week of March 5th (2)

4 Steps to Freedom: Overcoming Feeling Trapped, Bad Habits & Intrusive Thoughts

Have you ever felt trapped before? Trapped in a health condition; a job, a toxic relationship, a way of thinking, creative burnout, a series of repeated mistakes, and so on? 

Did you know you have the power to change that?

I didn’t think it was possible for someone like me that was suffering for years in all buckets of life. I’ve had to sit and stare this idea of freedom in the face, as I’ve spent many seasons chained to a metaphorical ground in my mind, like a flightless bird with clipped wings. My repetitive thinking, worry and stress makes me feel that I am living half my life. The other half is missing, broken off, or gone. 

But I found a way to unchain myself, in all areas of my life that were in pain, and finally, move forward. It’s a single mindset shift, and while I am still in the self improving phase and perfecting this, it’s changed my life.

Now to be gentle and open, I understand some people are in threatening and uncharacteristic circumstances, and while these upcoming steps may not be a solution this mindset shift might offer some elements of peace in other areas.

To start, we need to really think about this idea of freedom, and the definition of it.

Step One: Understanding Your Freedom

Ask yourself: What does it mean to become free from something? In this broken, imperfect world, and in our imperfect bodies, is absolute freedom from something possible, or is it an ideal we strive for to keep us going?

Write down what you view freedom to look, sound, and feel like for you. While this might seem childlike or silly, it is often the childlike paths in our minds that have the least amount of built up hurdles from the “real world” and can provide clarity.

You need to go head to head with what you’re envisioning that version of your life to look like – taking it out of the romantic thought and putting it on paper for you to have a conversation with, and understand. 

Be honest with yourself. You only harm yourself when you are dishonest. Honestly is the act of being vulnerable, and being open. This is how we make room for change and insight.

I’ve often wondered what I would be like, what life would be like, if I found and recovered that other half. I envision a much better version of myself, comparing my present self to her and disliking myself all the greater, catalyzing my pain. Hence why we need to get it on paper, and break the comparison cycle. 

In reality, romanticizing who I should be and comparing myself just enabled me to believe I didn’t need to take action on change, because it seemed impossible or out of reach.

Now, by definition, freedom is the power to act and speak without restraint.

So, in the art of reverse engineering, we would need to, 1. Identify what we are trying to do, and 2. What is restraining us from meeting our goals?

Step Two: The Action Breakdown

Take that version of yourself and break it down. If you wrote it out, place it to the side and create two columns. The first column is a list of some of the traits you wrote down from this free life (some of the five senses, the location, the adjectives, etc).

The second column is the main or biggest action or change that needs to occur to make that first column a possibility. You should write an action next to each item on the list you made in the first column. Actions might be tangible things, events, habits, or mental shifts.

Now, if you’re like me, you probably notice that a lot of the actions have to do with yourself. Perhaps it’s setting boundaries, adding a new positive habit, or having a hard conversation. Sometimes it’s even deeper, like getting honest about a bad habit, a personality trait you’re not proud of, or will require sacrifices. 

Absolutely there are instances where things are entirely out of our control, and don’t worry, I am going to get to that. 

Bottom line? Oftentimes we are the one’s retraining ourselves, getting in the way, from our “free” or improved self.

Step Three: Identifying Intrusive Thoughts

Maybe, you’re like me, and you’ve spent weeks, months, years and decades plagued with intensive anxiety and negative thoughts. Perhaps you’ve broken a sweat trying to solve an unsolvable problem, and you can’t rest until you’ve reached an almost-good-enough conclusion. 

Or you’ve ruminated to the point of total exhaustion if, like me, you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). 

But worst of all is when the intrusive thoughts scare you to your core. When you begin to believe them. These irrational whispers in the back of your head that suddenly drive your beliefs about who you are, and your worth. 

To ease them, you do compulsions. A series of thoughts or actions that disprove the thoughts, like triple checking that the stove is turned off. 

An attempt to regain control, to know the certainty of your outcomes, despite the intrusive thought being entirely irrational most of the time.

Intrusive Thoughts Happen to Us All

Now regardless if you have OCD or not, intrusive thoughts happen to us all. Our compulsions might vary or take the form of something else, like repeating a bad habit. For example, ordering the takeout again, even if you’re on a healthy diet, because the diet feels unachievable, and you aren’t worth it or aren’t capable. 

By ordering the food you are gaining comfort and certainty in your outcome, your current reality. 

Intrusive thoughts are involuntary thoughts that occur in our minds, at random times. These thoughts are usually negative, and can be distressing or disturbing in nature. 

On another piece of paper, write down common or recurring intrusive or negative thoughts you have about yourself.

Why? By acknowledging these intrusive thoughts you now have the power to let them go, not just let them keep your life on repeat. Intrusive or negative thoughts can exhaust us or prevent us from taking action in our lives. What does letting go look like? We hit that in our last step.

[If you are in high distress often I would encourage you to seek an OCD Specialist or mental health professional to provide treatment options and help. I recommend starting with The International OCD Foundation to search for board-certified professionals. 

Understanding how intrusive thoughts operate can change your life, and can become a tool for the rest of your life. Ignoring how this cycle works might be what’s holding you back.

Step Four: Catch and Release for Freedom

Now that you’ve done the work it’s time to come up with a plan. But, we often kick ourselves because we try to solve all life buckets, negative habits, at once – and fail. Duh. We are only human. Not fictional characters, or God, or in a movie. We don’t get the change montage in three minutes or two chapters.

Pick one thing and implement it this week – what is the main action you wrote down? Take it further, plan it out, figure out all the steps. Then do it. 

By the way, you don’t need to wait for “the start of the week” to start a habit. That’s a form of resistance and excuse. I fell for it a lot. Cross check this plan with your intrusive thoughts, what thoughts might discourage you from making a change?

Letting Go

One of the biggest things we can do in our life, after we come up with a few acknowledgements and actions, is letting go of the rest. 

Tell your intrusive thoughts that you don’t actually know the outcome or the answer. It could be true, or not true. Regardless, you don’t care. You don’t need to prove or disprove. You don’t need to repeat a bad habit or compulsion for comfort. It’s not worth your time.

It’s also important to acknowledge the many life things that are out of your control, and letting it go. For me personally, I am a Christian, and the most freeing thing I can do is give it over to my Creator, my God. 

Everytime I start to get overwhelmed and continually worry, I ask myself, “Where could I be effectively putting my energy instead?”

It’s also important to let go of this “pure and ideal self” you have in mind. You want progress. Happiness, fulfillment and freedom come from progress. Investing in yourself. Reaching your goals, not this perfect moment or person. 

Want to read a bit more about happiness? Checkout my other article on Navigating Happiness with Mental Health.

Written by Sarah Edwards (@setapart_company), TPCT Project Coordinator

Disclaimer: Sarah Edwards is not a certified or licensed mental health professional. Rather someone sharing real life experience and findings for others to find commonality and seek actionable steps needed for them. 

The Things We Crave: Addiction Recovery, Connection & Peace

If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and subscribe to us on social media!
– Facebook: TurningPointCT
– Instagram: @TurningPoint_CT
– Twitter: @TurningPoint_CT
– YouTube: TurningPointCT.org
– TikTok: @TurningPointCT.org

Want to find more free mental health support services made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut? Check out our website!

Miss the last episode? Listen to it here!

The Help & Harm of New Diagnoses, and Navigating Changes

If you enjoyed our podcast, make sure you follow us @TurningPointCT to stay up to date with what teens and young adults in CT are talking about! You can find us wherever you stream podcasts (ex. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts)!

Don’t forget to like, follow, and subscribe to us on social media!
– Facebook: TurningPointCT
– Instagram: @TurningPoint_CT
– Twitter: @TurningPoint_CT
– YouTube: TurningPointCT.org
– TikTok: @TurningPointCT.org

Want to find more free mental health supports made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut? Check out our website https://www.turningpointct.org

Accepting my Adoption

Dear Anonymous,

Growing up, I had periods where I had a hard time accepting my adoption and thought about my birth mother. I thought about how excited I would be to “finally” have a mom. How happy I would feel to “finally” have someone who understood me. And someone who would hug me with more love — I expected myself to have all the reactions an adopted child is expected to feel when meeting their birth parent(s) for the first time.

Some Background Info: Adoption Experience

I had a rough upbringing in the foster system. And even a rough life as an adopted child. There were many things that my adoptive mother did that has caused me trauma. All of which made me feel resentment towards myself, preventing me from accepting my adoption because I wished to be somewhere else. I wanted to be with my dad; but he wasn’t alive. So I tried finding my birth mother.

I got in contact with my birth mother in 2017. I experienced all that I have expected of myself. My birth mother even went to one of my basketball games.

We Didn’t Talk For 3+ Years

Through time, I experienced anger and sadness through a sunken self-worth caused by people who told me that they were right. I sat and reasoned with myself for over 3 years by my own intuition to understand that the words of others meant nothing if I intuitively felt.

This year I put together a family collage of pictures for my ancestral alter. My adoptive mother and birth parents/family were included. The following week, I went on a man-hunt to see if my birth mother was still alive. I searched online, databases, voting information, social media, etc. I called more than 15 numbers that I found online. And went to a few addresses. I slightly gave up; then reflected.

A few days after reflection: My birth mother reached out to me. I expected myself to cry, to be excited, happy, fulfilled, etc. And not a thing came out, besides asking myself why I wasn’t reacting how I expected.

Why I’m Writing ‘Accepting my Adoption’

All this time I was looking to replace the mother I already had. I turned to realize that I accepted my adoptive mother to be my mom. In a way, I surrendered to the universe. I accepted that everyone was flawed in their responses and actions. And what mattered most, was how someone bettered themselves through their mistakes. All this time I resented my adoptive mother for all the things she has done to me without accepting how she bettered herself.

Now that we’re here, I accept my reaction and lack of excitement. I accept my adoptive mother as my mom. I no longer resent my mom nor myself for the decisions that has led me to being adopted. Lastly, I accept my intuition because it has led me here.

Through this all, I learned to understand that a relationship must be built.

Yours Truly,

Damian

Navigating Happiness with Mental Health

Happiness is almost always for me in the small, mundane moments of life. The moments you will miss if you don’t stop and be present for them. The smell of rain and a warm breeze through the window. The laughter of your best friend, or even not overcooking your favorite pasta. When I think about meaning, I like to parallel that with thinking about value. I think the small moments for me take a lot of steps to achieve. I’m naturally am not a present person. I’m an anxious overthinker. So if I’m able to achieve gratitude for a single life moment, that might be one of my biggest accomplishments of the day.

Which makes me want to ponder on how valuable happiness is. Especially why so many of us are yearning for the experience. How much do we think about happiness? As someone with or without mental health challenges, happiness can seem hard to come by at times. Happiness is so precious when it does come by. 

To be honest, I’ve spent a chunk of my mental conversations trying to uncomplicate the idea of happiness. I think a lot of us are chasing, gripping, holding onto happiness in some way, really everyday, and are trying to decide if happiness is a hypothetical, fantastical construct or if it’s something we actually have control over.I think I obsessed more over why I wasn’t always happy or desired to elongate my happiness that I totally hop-skipped over those small joyful things, and missed out.

I believe it is in our nature as humans,  and a deep desire to become perfect. If we’re not happy the moment we wake up or during a “beautiful day” or “event”, we think we’re broken, or something is wrong with us. Ask yourself:

  • How often do I think I miss out on good moments? (Because I’m too obsessed with wanting to make it last longer).
  • Why do I not experience a happier feeling in the first place?

That was and sometimes is still an issue I have at least.

I have friends as well that cling onto happy-memories, and try to replicate them. For example, something from childhood. Then we feel continuously let down that it’s not the same experience or feeling.

Many of us try to cram real happiness in a space in our mind that is compared to our fantastical happiness. We put it next to an unreasonable expectation. Or a comparable time when we were different, or in a different season. We set our happiness up for failure. 

I used to get so upset that many mornings I didn’t wake up energetic and happy, and that’s because I was influenced by constantly seeing “peaceful” or  “perfect morning routine” on social media to the extreme where I thought I was supposed to be like that all the time. So instead of waking up, acknowledging my weary, discontent, maybe stressed emotions, I got angrier and more upset because I wasn’t joyful. When really, all I had to do was acknowledge those emotions then choose to be happier to the best of my ability. 

The key here is the best of your ability in that moment, not your imaginations ability. Which is probably a lot higher of a bar and a standard.

By choosing my happiness, and not expecting to just feel a certain way, I became actionable to implement things that made me happy. Such as, taking a break in my work day, making my favorite food, calling a friend or saying no to something I didn’t want to do. Therefore, I created my own happiness. Not based on what’s in my head, but the reality of what I could conjure up that day.

Saying no to something or even saying no to an emotion doesn’t automatically cancel out the potential joy you can have in an experience or day! Sometimes, I have a lot of built up thoughts or anxiety, and I just say, no. I’m instead going to go do, insert activity, or be productive to assist my anxiety. I tell myself I will readdress those emotions after. We don’t need to solve all our feelings in one moment.  I’m not saying the emotions or thoughts don’t exist, I’m not denying the need to be cared for, I’m just prioritizing my tasks or potential joy over them, as best I can.

To be aware of where you are in a day and then creating change or choices based on that and not your desirable, escapist mind (where we can get so distracted imagining the better) made such a big difference. It’s made me more observant and grateful because now I’m in the present actively looking for good things. So I notice beautiful flowers when driving, when the sun pops out, when my friend says something encouraging.

Instead of chasing happiness I am constructing happiness. You don’t need to chase happiness, you have it instilled in you already! Give it the environment and the right soil and the water to grow it. Take a moment to see the season, the day, the sun and you base your choices and thinking off of that, and not your assumptions as to what the weather will be like, and how people are going to treat you.  

If you have a fun idea, or something that will bring joy to someone’s heart, I encourage you to go do it! Plan it, be actionable, and make friends with your happiness. You don’t need to wait for what society deems as an “important moment.” Every moment is important if you want it to be.

Ask yourself – How much happiness am I losing by fantasizing a false expectation that I’m in a certain season of my life when I’m not? What amazing joys am I not appreciating now because it’s not perfect joy?

Sometimes we need to go through the weeds to find our bits of happiness. To find joyful things. Even when stuff just…sucks. Going through the weeds is not reserved only for the “bad days” but every day in my book. It requires us to get painfully honest, and hold up a magnifying glass in order to be more aware of these gifts, of the blessings, and to re-define what makes me happy. To renew my heart in realizing that so many things and blessings have the potential to put a smile on my face, and my heart. Instead of always wanting more.

As a spiritual person, I also pray deeply for others’ happiness. But for the non-spiritual, this is similar to thinking about elevating others happiness. Doing an act of kindness or planning an activity (or small moment) in the day to bring them higher. This takes the attention away from ourselves, the pressure, while remaining actionable about thinking through joy and small moments.

Imagine what the world would evolve into if we all focused on not just our own happiness, but how we can create happiness for others?

But hey, let’s get real. There are days, moments in a day, when joy seems so far. When intrusive thoughts are so overpowering, we feel broken beyond repair. I also find myself falling into the constant thought process that my emotions impact others deeply, and that makes me anxious. That I have to be happy in order to be loved, to be desired or wanted around. I overthink, and over-read others reactions to my emotions or how I act in a day. This creates a pressure cooker mentality, I start clawing for happiness, and panicking when I’m not for the sake of my relationships. 

I’ve really tried to grasp onto this idea of a new day. With mental illness, a new day used to feel truly useless. I would say, “I have a chronic illness. Who cares about a new day?” I would fear sleeping, and waking up and the cycle would continue. This is in reference to the throws of my deeper Harm Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (hOCD). 

But when a new day comes, new opportunities and moments present themselves. New laughter, small jokes and fragile seeds. And with every passing day, wounds, big and small heal. So that terrible day you had? Where you fear you may have negatively impacted another person? Where you fear you’ve wounded yourself beyond healing? It’s already far away in their minds, and it should be in yours too. But I find negative thinking, and even the strongest moments of mental health are temporary. It’s slipping away, like sand on a beach. It’s probably smaller than your mind is ruminating it to be. Our minds love to make everything feels like everything is a big thing. Because we are the center of the universe, in our heads. But we have the power to change that narrative.

People don’t observe your happiness with a fine tooth comb, because they’re already trying to do it for themselves. 

You don’t need to be embarrassed. You don’t need to feel like you need to conceal your suffering. It took me a long time to learn this. I often need to remind myself that an “unhappy” version of myself (or day) is just a day of growth and learning. We’re all emotional in our own ways and trying to find that bit of happiness – and broken and imperfect. However, in those cracks are beautiful lessons, experiences and moments of joy. Go find yours.

Written by Sarah Edwards (@setapart_company), TPCT Project Coordinator

NAMI: Free Young Adult CT Events!

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Connecticut is holding FREE upcoming CT events and opportunities for those ages 18-29! Take a look at the following flyers for more information!

February 25th, 2025

ct events

Spots are Limited!

Register your spot here!

Location: 997 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT, 06107

ALL materials are covered by NAMI!

April 28-30th

It’s okay if you’re unable to go to the event/opportunity in February. Check this out!

ct events

Registration Required!

Contact Val: vlepoutre@namict.org

Who: NAMI invites young adults with leadership qualities and readiness to step into the peer world!

What: There will be workshops, bonfires, fun activities, etc. and brainstorming sessions to “reimagine” the future of NAMI CT and it’s Next Gen programs!

Location: 253 Bushy Hill Rd, Deep River, CT, 06417

All meals and lodging are covered!

Visit NAMI for more CT events, opportunities, and information!

Random Acts of Kindness Day: How You Can Spread Kindness

Did you know today is Random Acts of Kindness Day? Here are 10 ways you can make an impact today, and everyday.

  1. Pay for a strangers coffee
  2. Compliment someone’s outfit
  3. Thank your teacher for all they do
  4. Write positive words on sticky notes and leave them around town
  5. Smile at someone in passing
  6. Give up your seat for someone
  7. Hold the door open for someone
  8. Donate clothes you no longer want
  9. Leave a basket of tennis balls at the dog park
  10. Write letters to soldiers or elderly people
acts

It’s Okay To Be Single

Single Life

Valentine’s week can be a tough time for some. Couples and couples activities are slightly thrown in the faces of those who are single.  And it isn’t just during the week of Valentine’s Day, but the weeks leading up to it as well. There’s romance movies and TV shows running all the time. There’s an increase amount of flowers and chocolates available in stores.

I have been single for my entire life.  It used to be very depressing and I do sometimes still feel lonely.  Having a romantic partner would be such an honor. I’m patiently waiting for the day where I meet them.  

It’s Okay to be Single

Some of you may feel that way too.  Just know, though, that it is perfectly okay to not be in a romantic relationship.  

I have goals I am working towards achieving.  I feel that some goals need to either be fully achieved. Or even close enough to complete before I enter a romantic relationship. That way I can give the best version of myself to my future partner.

The Day Will Come

Our time will come, my fellow singles.  Don’t force anything to happen.  Please be as patient as you can.

The days that pass from now to the beginning of your romantic journey creates perfect opportunities for you to continue working on achieving your goals.

I wish you all enormous amounts of success and happiness!

– Therell 🤠

A Love Letter to Those Who Think They Can’t Be Loved with Mental Health

Dear Mental Health Sufferer,

You can love and be loved even with severe mental health.

Perhaps that seems like a simple statement to you, or maybe it’s an outrageous one. But to me, two years ago, that was the impossible. That was unattainable. So much so, I never let myself dream of it, in fact, I cut it from my narrative all-together. 

After a major mental health collapse and a long-overdue Harm OCD diagnosis, I decided my fate was to be void entirely of being loved. Growing up with mental health also created this intimacy separation; I believed I was a burden-like side effect of society. I associated myself as a twenty-percent-off coupon that you find in the bottom of grocery bags. Somewhat useful, but perhaps not entirely worth your time. To make me feel better, I always found a new mantra to strip away the suffering. And bend the sharp edges into a (sometimes passable) illusional and artful response. A reasoning as to why I avoided, at all costs, a sense of bonding or trust with another person.

I believe my true fear was not entirely in my ability to love and be social. Rather, that I felt like a ticking grenade. That with any panic attack, burnout or collapse, I would explode shrapnel into a helpless individual that deserves a bomb (as in fun and cool) significant other, and not a literal bomb. So with every guy that turned my direction, or smiled at me, I further zipped up my hazmat suit to my eyeballs for their protection, and continued on with my evening.

The pandemic came with many mental health horrors that I will not indulge during this letter. However, the beginning was a few months after I was recovering from OCD collapse and isolation. Healing became my focus. Amidst that focus was the encouraging words of my mother who believed what I needed in my healing was a companion. I mean, she always wanted grandchildren, and perhaps my minimal-dating record made me the odds out horse in the race. I was the best return rate to bet on, but the least likely to win. Even if I did find the courage, I had the dating skills of a sixth grader.

Thankfully, I struck a deal, and saw the perfect opportunity. Amidst the pandemic beginnings, I wouldn’t have to meet any of these guys in person. Just vet and talk to them. Therefore, letting my various subtypes of OCD and Generalized Anxiety drive my internal dialogue with the safety switch of an end call button. So I made a dating profile, then I prayed to God.

No, seriously, I prayed to God. In my healing journey, I also was finding spirituality in Christianity. I leaned more into the word companion then boyfriend. I figured I’d find some hip mentor, second aunt, or college graduate friend who can walk with me in my various needs of exploration and healing. In all, I was still convinced that my messaging inbox would remain empty.

I was trying to be illusional and artful to my mother but God saw right through that. The next day I met the guy I’d eventually fall in love with and would become my now boyfriend.

If you need to reread that, go ahead.

I won’t go into the details of the process and the strength it took. But, what I can tell you is that it’s possible. I gave myself the small step of permission to take a chance. Not just in loving, but that I was able to be loved in return. You don’t have to limit or hide yourself. If you believe that the only lovable parts are the “non-mental-health parts” of your personality and identity, you’re wrong. You, as an entire being, are lovable. There is someone out there who needs you to love them in the way that you do. Just because of mental health, doesn’t mean you can’t also care for someone else. Actually, I’ve found, due to my mental health, I’m more emotionally in-tune. And detailed in seeing voids and needs of my significant other then not. 

We became a team, and we complimented the broken parts of each other. Nobody is perfect, and everyone has fragments of themselves that need extra mending or attention. Perhaps you’re the person to bring that to the table. I found, my person had exactly what I needed and still need. Be grateful that our minds don’t always conjure up our realities of what we think we deserve. God gifted me with a beautiful person I could not have thought up myself (and I have a very creative mind).

He sits on the bathroom floor with me when I’m kneeling over the toilet, dry heaving in anxiety shakes and nausea. Draws me a hot bath when my body aches from the tremors and the night sweats. He gently takes my hand in public when I start wringing the skin off my fingers in stressful intrusive thought. He stays diligently during a panic attack so I no longer have to endure the internal enemy of my mind mixed with the external enemy of loneliness. When I’m facing some anxiety-induced depression he softly and slowly brings out the child in me that I now realize I neglected companionship with in childhood. He even reads about my conditions to make sure he’s not feeding into my reassurance compulsions of my OCD.

And it took me a while to find an overarching theme of these acts of kindness beyond kindness itself. Rather, I realized it’s a form of patience. Love embedded in the waiting. The sitting, the holding, the listening, was an exercise of patience. This particular individual was always calmly waiting for the mental health moment; day, week or season to pass, knowing, during and on the other side, I was still me. A worthy and loving human being. Someone who is more than a diagnosis or an acronym or a statistic. An entire person made up of laughter and unique personality and intellect that had a lot to give to the world.

I will not be untruthful, mental health touches every aspect of life, especially if you walk the more severe side of your diagnoses, like I do. Your mental health, and you can bet, my Harm OCD, attacks my love and relationship with this person on a daily basis. However, I know for sure I would take all my daily intrusive thoughts, times ten, to continue allowing and giving myself permission to love, and be loved. I know that with proper communication, and mindfulness, you can coexist with your mental health conditions and still maintain a very happy and open relationship. Yes, I’m including all the moments of late nights, panic attacks, doctors appointments, crying sessions and cartaking. 

My advice is to promote patience in yourself to prepare the grounds for loving and being loved. What stopped me before is I was impatient with myself, unforgiving and ridiculed beyond every stretch of the imagination that I was unworthy of joy and healing. Yet in all that imagining I didn’t once imagine the possibility of me being the person for someone. I want you to do that for yourself today.

I want the person reading this to know that while I would whisk away your mental health sufferings in a minute. You have this immense beauty and personability through your experiences in your suffering. Don’t take away that light from the world and not allow yourself to love (in any way or capacity) because you think you are incapable of doing so from your conditions. You can love and be loved even with severe mental health.

Sincerely, 

Someone who is loved.

love

Written by Sarah Edwards (@setapart_company), TPCT Project Coordinator

CT Hearing Voices Network Support Groups

support

The Connecticut Hearing Voices Network (CTHVN) is designed to enhance current opportunities for people who hear voices, see visions or have other unusual sensory perceptions to find and build supportive peer communities through support groups and community education. CTHVN offers free supports groups to those who need a space to discuss their experiences. Use this link or call (860) 952-4050 for more information.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness

Each February, young adults and people across the nation raise awareness about the issue of teen dating violence. National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month focuses on educating young people on how to stop dating abuse before it starts.

What is Teen Dating Violence?

Teen dating violence includes physical, psychological, or sexual abuse. This also includes harassment or stalking of anyone ages 12-18 in context of present or past romantic or consensual relationship.

  • Physical Abuse: biting, hitting, scratching, pushing, hair pulling, etc.
  • Emotional/Psychological Abuse: name calling, bullying, intentionally embarrassing, shaming, monitoring, etc.
  • Sexual Abuse: forcing a teen partner into a sexual act against will or without consent
  • Stalking: following or harassing a teen partner in a way that causes them fear of safety and/or well-being

Teen dating violence can be done in person, via social media, phone communication, electronically.

Why Teen Dating Violence Awareness is Important

We want to prevent teen dating violence. Dating violence is more common than you think:

  • 1 in 3 U.S. teens will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • 1 in 3 teens (1.5 Million) admits to being in an unhealthy relationship
  • Transgender teens report the highest rates of physical dating violence (88.9%), psychological dating abuse (58.8%), cyber dating abuse (56.3%), and sexual abuse (61.1%).
  • LGBTQ youth statistics: cyber dating abuse (37%), physical dating violence (43%), psychological dating abuse (59%), sexual abuse (23%)
  • Heterosexual youth statistics: cyber dating abuse (26%), physical dating violence (29%), psychological dating abuse (46%), sexual abuse (12%)

Transgender, LGBTQ, and heterosexual youth/teens of color (e.g. Native Indigenous, African, Asian, Latin, Hispanic) experience a higher percentage of dating violence than their white identifying peers.

Preventing Teen Dating Violence

We know how hard it is to get out of a violent relationship, especially talk about it. It’s highly encouraged to talk with your trusted friends or a trusted adult. Your experience is taken seriously and there is always someone who can try and help!

For adults reading this; it is extremely important that you open your lines of communication. Meet teens where they’re at. Share your own experiences of when you were a teen. Model compassion and kindness. Always encourage teens to think about how they want to be treated or their “non-negotiables”. Doing so will only create a safe environment and teen motivation to step in the right direction.

Click here for resources!

A Positivity Exercise!

Here is a positivity exercise for everyone to try! I hope it is something that can help boost your mood a little bit! 😇

My Body Image Journey

Growing up, I was always self conscious about my body image. Primarily because family members would comment on my body. I either looked like a “fat cow” or was labeled “anorexic” even though I was in the middle of the chart. Regardless of my weight, I was over sexualized and received uncomfortable comments about my body. It has caused quite the issue that has contributed to a body image turmoil.

Food to Hide vs. Losing to Be Seen

At some point, food became my only comfort. I tried eating to hide even though I knew it wouldn’t make me feel any better. I ate to no longer be called anorexic or be made fun of for being a healthy weight. So, I ended up gaining 77lbs in one and a half years; ending up at 220lbs by the beginning of my freshman year of college. And yet, my efforts weren’t enough for certain family members. My body image was then taunted with disgust.

That has led to a point in my life where I unhealthily lost weight. I lost about 60lbs in 6 months due to depression, an unhealthy eating habit, and taking weight loss supplements. I felt shame in my weight loss journey while also feeling better about my body image.

Personal Realization

It took me a while to lose weight in a healthy manner. I told myself that I had to do it for myself and in a healthy way. It has led me to research how to healthily lose weight. This resulted in me trying intermittent fasting; tailored to my active times while incorporating balanced meals. Outside of my body changes, I noticed that my brain functioned a lot better when I was fasting. I was able to do homework during the day instead of only at night. My overall mood, energy and sleep was better.

In those moments, I began to understand what I put into my body matters, not my weight. I’m only healthy by engaging in healthy things. My body is beautiful regardless how it looks because my soul is beautiful.

Navigating My Body Image Today

Although I had that breakthrough, I still struggle with my body image. In response, I try to engage in healthy activity at least 5 times a week. First, I started with a goal of stretching everyday. Then, I set a goal of doing at least 20 sit ups a day. Which is where I’m at in my journey. Setting a smaller goal actually motivates me to do more. This is what I have been doing (depending on my mood):

  • Jumping Jacks for 1 or 2 songs 
  • 15 to 20 Push-Ups
  • Air Punches for Half a Song
  • SpongeBob Dance
  • Arm Curls
  • Glute Raises

There are days where I do all of the workouts on the list! There are days where I would do just one workout. I can say that all of this has been making me want to start jogging. My next goal is to start jogging at least once a week! When I do, I may give you all an update!

– Dez 🙂

January: National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month. Mentoring others is a passion of mine that started by being mentored. Through TurningPointCT, I have been able to mentor youth and young adults all across CT. It has been an incredible experience and although I will be leaving this position at the end of the month, I am looking forward to the ways I will continue my mentorship skills in the next job.

For me, mentoring means to guide someone in the direction of their desires and dreams. It means to meet someone where they are at and help them see their strengths, reflect on areas they want to improve quality in, and encourage them through every part.

Oftentimes, I feel as if I am most successful as a mentor when I allow the mentee to lead. Although as a mentor I need to uphold role-modeling behavior, one effective way of creating a good relationship is to show my human side. Being transparent about my own life helps break the ice and creates a safe space for vulnerability and trust.

Mentors that I seek support from accept me in all ways. They are never judgmental and always embrace every part of me. Whether I’m seeking direction or a space to vent, having a mentor has not only helped my quality of life, but also has helped me become a better mentor to others.

-Ally K

Share Your Voice!

voice

We are looking for Young Adults to contribute to TurningPointCT! Unsure of what to write about? Check out the flyer for ideas for the month of February. Not much of a writer? Not a problem – we have a podcast too. Podcasts are released bi-monthly and hosted by our team members. We’d love to have you join. Share Your Voice!

Where Do I Start?

At TurningPointCT we want to create a safe space for our peers! Especially make your life a little easier!

  • Share your Mental Health Journey or read about your peer’s journeys here.
  • Interested in contributing to the podcast, but want more info on being a guest? Click here to learn more.

– The TurningPointCT Team

Grieving my Uterus: Transgender Journey

I haven’t talked much about my transgender journey here. Mostly because it’s personal and complex. As a disclosure, I’m not here to talk solely about my journey but also about grieving something sacred; my uterus.

The Uterus is Sacred: Grieving

Culturally, I have identified the sacredness of my uterus. It’s a portal that held so much of my power. With it, I felt whole and divine. I was balanced of both feminine and masculine energies. My psychic abilities were at its peak as I was tapping into that sacred energy.

Without my uterus, I felt lost and out of touch with the feminine energy. And it kind of made me angry. But mainly angry with society.

Grief that Turned to Anger

Throughout my grieving process, I wanted to answer: Why did I need to get rid of something sacred to qualify for bottom surgery when I have been aware of my gender identity since I was 4 years old?

My grief turn into anger upon answering that question. The anger sparked from the expectation that people must conform to the binary system in order to receive what may alleviate their gender dysphoria. The binary system started with colonization and the whitewashed governing body that strips people of their culture, self-expression, and self-autonomy. This forces non-binary individuals to conform to the binary system for medical procedures. Which only causes more distress.

Systemic Irrational Fears

People with money don’t have to go through any of the barriers that the gender expansive community has to. No one questions, interrogates, expect publicity, requires more than one medical document, and/or makes up a wait time for someone with money who wants a surgery done. There are no rules or barriers for them. So why do those of the gender expansive community need to go through all of these barriers? Why do we need to prove ourselves when society has prevented self-expression from happening?

What people fail to process is how self-expression within the childhood would actually help individuals find/be themselves. It’s actually why many cis-het people are so unhappy; they don’t know who they are so they try to conform to something which only makes them feel guilty. And due to how the United States was build, people fear the lack of control over another’s gender identity through forcing binary social conformity. In other words, closed/single minded individuals seek to control gender identity and gender expression within others because they’re uncomfortable with people being free of a construct they, themselves, are prisoner to.

What I’ve Learned & Done

In some way, I learned many things from my grief and anger:

  • I shouldn’t give my power away.
  • Not having a uterus doesn’t make me any less.
  • I am still me without my uterus.
  • It’s okay to grieve and be angry.
  • It’s okay to cry.

In all of this, I have tattooed a ram skull with Lilith’s sigil on its forehead on my lower stomach area. This is how the tattoo looks on paper.

grieving

These are their meanings:

  • A skull with horns symbolize the major change and death of a cycle of life.
  • The ram skull represents overcoming obstacles; my grief and anger. It also symbolizes the sacrifice I made in order to qualify for the surgery to feel aligned to myself.
  • I placed Lilith’s sigil on the forehead because she is a symbol of femininity, freedom, rebellion, strength, courage and beauty.

Remember that it’s okay to grieve something that society doesn’t think you should grieve.

– Dez 🙂

Being More Productive

Backstory

Throughout my early life, I was usually quite active during my waking hours of each day. Whether I was attending class or summer camp during the day. Being involved with after school activities in the afternoon, participating in martial arts in the evening. And going grocery shopping with my mom on the weekends; I seemed to always be up to something productive. When I entered high school, though, my daily productivity slowed down a bit.

I was still attending class during the day, but when the final bell rang, I went straight home. This would go on for the majority of my time in high school. I also didn’t have any friends to hang out with after school or on the weekends. About halfway through my senior year, I signed up at a gym. The gym was about a 5 minute walk from my school. I would go there after school a couple times a week. Another thing to mention, during the summer break during my high school years, I was no longer going to summer camp.

When I entered college, my productivity increased slightly. I would often stay on campus after my classes to do homework by myself or with classmates. Or I’d be able to hang out with someone for a bit.

The Dark Times

When the pandemic hit, it felt like everything was crumbling beneath my feet. I was extremely depressed as I’m sure most people were during the beginning of the “dark times”. I was stuck at home, rarely had the opportunity to socialize with peers, and hardly had energy to do anything at all. So my productivity decreased significantly.

Sprinkles of Hope?

In July/August of 2020, I was able to start my journey as a “rapper” which you can read about here. When things began opening back up again, I continued going to the gym and was doing online classes. All of this still didn’t feel like enough though, so my depression continued.

In September 2021, I started working here at TurningPointCT as the Social Media Assistant. While the job is remote and only 5 hours a week, I did have more opportunities to socialize with more people during events or get togethers with coworkers.

Graduating from college in May 2022 left me with one less productive activity. So I signed up for personal training at my gym in July 2022. You can read about my personal training journey so far here.  Doing this helped me go consistently at least once a week, at most 2-3 times a week.

For the past 6 months, I’ve been seeing my personal trainer at the gym once a week. I’ve been trying to go another day or two during the week to work out on my own. With that, I try working this job and occasionally going to the studio to record another song.  

Through this, my social anxiety is very high due to losing a lot of social skills during lockdown.  It’s become very difficult for me to interact with people in person. So I tend not to, which I sometimes find ironic. In person socialization with peers is one of the main things I yearn for in my life.

Rising Up

A few months ago, I began taking a new medication for my depression after previous ones failed to help much.  This current medication that I am taking is helping quite a bit; I’ve been feeling more motivated and less sluggish most days.

I feel I’ve been more productive during these past few weeks than I have been in a couple of years.  I’ve been more consistent with taking care of myself, going to the gym 1-3 times a week, doing more housework, and being more creative.  All this productivity has helped me feel a lot better than I was feeling before.

I know not every day will be perfect, but I’m hoping I can keep this up because I strongly disliked how it was before.

For those in similar situations, I wish you the best of luck in finding what will work for you to start battling depression and anxiety.

– Therell

National Human Trafficking Prevention Month: What You Need to Know

What is human trafficking?

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), human trafficking is:

The “…[use of] force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.”

Who is most targeted to human trafficking?

The short answer is that anyone can be human trafficked. But, there are certain populations/circumstances that may be more vulnerable to it. For example:

  • Native Indigenous/American People
  • People of Color
  • Those in the Foster Care/Juvenile Justice System
  • Those of the LGBTQ+ Community
  • People Facing Economic Struggles
  • Youth & Children
  • Those who Recently Experienced a Natural Disaster

How can I identify if someone is being trafficked?

An individual of human trafficking has more than 3 of the following identifiable characteristics. There are many individuals who present almost all these characteristics:

  • Change in Physical Appearance & Use of Language
  • Bruising, Broken Bones, New Tattoos that seem out of character (Read the Following for Tattoo Examples)
    • Branding Marks (seen under black light)
    • Hidden Barcodes
    • Small Numbers
    • Anything Royalty Related
      • Commonly accompanied with a “name”
  • Self-Harm, Use of Substances, Declining Mental Health
  • Missing a lot of school
  • Running away from home
  • Acting more promiscuous in person or online
  • Influx of new clothes, gadgets, accessories
  • Using common trafficking term “the game”, “daddy”, “manager”

There are some individuals who are not aware that they are a victim of trafficking. They are commonly brainwashed into thinking the “love” is real. Therefore, the use of their language may appear more subtle, however, loyal. The bullet points above still apply to these individuals.

I think someone I know is a victim of human trafficking or I am a target, what do I do?

There is a hand symbol that signified the need of EMERGENT help.

human

If you see someone doing this hand gesture, call 911. If you feel as though someone is in danger, call 911 (even if they don’t sign this).

Utilize the National Human Trafficking Hotline. If you are reporting human trafficking, you can leave an anonymous tip. If you are the person needing help, they will connect you to recourses and bring you to safety.

Be sure not to confront the trafficker or alert the victim. This may make it harder for the victim to receive help and can put you in ganger.

How can I avoid being a victim of trafficking?

  • Do not talk with strangers on the internet without VPN and/or give out personal information (this includes chat rooms, social media, and gaming platforms)
  • Verify all job opportunities that are presented to you – traffickers will offer victims a “job” that turns into trafficking
    • Job examples include and are not limited to babysitting, and photography opportunities for a large sum of money.
  • Know the signs of abusive relationships
  • Always trust your gut, if you feel uncomfortable or in danger tell someone (trusted adult, family member, 911)
  • Do NOT indicate that you live alone to anyone! Have a friend be around if you are going on a date and/or when a new person is around!
  • Do NOT put anything that identifies specific information about you and/or your children on your car! For Example:
    • School/Institution Stickers
    • Family Stickers that show how many people live in your household

Links to learn more about human trafficking…

National Human Trafficking Hotline

Department of Homeland Security – Blue Campaign

Hope for Justice

U.S. Department of Justice

National Spaghetti Day!

Today is National Spaghetti Day!  As someone with Italian blood in him, I’m delighted that one of our most sacred meals has its own special day!

The Beginning

Spaghetti has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, spaghetti would often be the go to meal for lunch or dinner.

I’m decent at making spaghetti and sauce myself, but it definitely tastes better when my mom or Nana make it.  They have perfected the craft, and it’s a much more pleasant consumption experience.

My favorite types of spaghetti and pastas are thin spaghetti and penne.  While I think all of it would taste the same without the flavorful seasoned sauce, for some reason, thin spaghetti and penne are really the only two I will eat.  They just hit differently.

A pic I took at a restaurant!

Carbs & Protein

While spaghetti is still one of my favorite meals, I have started to eat it less over the past few years.  As many spaghetti consumers may know, being full of carbs, it expands in the stomach.  When I gain weight, the majority of it goes right to my stomach and hips, and unfortunately, spaghetti is a big cause of that as it is a very heavy food.

Since I started personal training last summer, which you can read about here, I’ve been trying to consume less carbs and more protein.  I’ll never permanently cut out carbs, but I definitely can’t eat them as much as I want or used to if I am to lose the pandemic pounds in my stomach and hips that I had started gaining in Fall 2020.  I am trying to reduce the frequency at which I consume spaghetti to at least once every month, and at most, twice a month.

I have been vegan for almost 8 years, and about 2 or 3 years into my vegan journey, I started adding vegan meatballs into my sauce for protein so that my meal wouldn’t only consist of carbs. I’ve also recently discovered a high protein pasta which tastes really good.  Maybe a year or two after adding the meatballs, I began incorporating either one of two vegetables into my sauce.  Those vegetables would be my top two favorites: spinach and broccoli.  The addition of the meatballs and vegetables (and mandatory seasonings of course!) have made my meals even more scrumptious than they already were!

Cook Up Some Spaghetti!

So to all my spaghetti enthusiasts, make sure for lunch or dinner today, you whip up a nice, delicious pot of pasta of your choice, and enjoy your afternoon or evening meal!  And I also wish you all a happy, successful 2023.

-Therell

CEUs (Free); Holistic Approach to Recovery

WEBINAR TITLE: NEGOTIATING IDENTITIES | Recovering the Self; A holistic approach to supporting recovery, during the transition to adulthood. Click on the image below to the interactive version of the flyer! Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for recovery support specialists and social workers!

CEUs

For those working in the recovery psychology field!

EARN CEUs: 6 NASW-CT and 6 RSS

This is a free community webinar hosted by Advocacy Unlimited, Inc. Attend virtually, via Zoom. No recording will be available.

WHEN: Monday, February 13, 2023 9:30am-4pm

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Click here to register!

Click the image to view and/or download interactive flyer!


What Attendees Said About this Webinar for CEUs

  • CEUs Continuing Education Quote

Click here to register! Or download/view flyer!

My Personal Training Journey 2022

I started going to the gym in January of 2018.  Up until summer 2022, I went very infrequently.  There was a time where I didn’t go for almost 2 months.  When I did go, I didn’t exercise to my full potential.  Because of these things, I hardly saw any improvement in my body or my mind.

In summer 2022, I was at my heaviest weight due to not eating well, lack of frequent movement, and medication I was taking.  I didn’t like how I felt or looked, and wanted that to change.  So, I signed up for personal training once a week at my gym. I would go to exercise by myself during the other days of the week.

Remembering my first physical training session, I had to do 3 rounds of bar push ups, bar pull ups, squats, and a plank.  I don’t think I even made it halfway through the 2nd round before I became extremely nauseous and lightheaded.  The session ended there.

Over the course of the rest of 2022, my trainer, Sam, would have me do all sorts of exercises. Some of which included leg presses, lat pulldowns, a 10 minute warm up of either jogging on the treadmill or using the elliptical machine, and many more things.

personal training
My trainer, Sam, and I

Slowly, but surely, I was seeing improvement.  My weight was relatively still the same for a while due to one of the medications I was taking at the time. But, I recently switched to a different medication which causes little to no weight gain. So the personal training and slightly better eating habits have allowed me to start dropping some pounds again.

Regardless of the weight, I’ve noticed that I’ve become quite a bit stronger. My biceps and shoulders look a little bigger and more defined.  I also don’t struggle as much with some of the exercises like how I was in the beginning. Which lets me use heavier dumbbells and increase the weight on the machines I am using.  Another improvement I am surprised to have made is from the jogging warm up.  I’ve had more instances lately where it takes longer for me to become fatigued or out of breath while running, as well as not stopping to rest so often.

I am very thankful for my trainer, Sam, for being patient, encouraging, and helpful during this journey.  This is only the beginning, though.  I look forward to what the new year brings for my fitness and health journey.  I am going to continue with personal training, try to keep going at least 2 other days during the week to exercise by myself, and incorporate even better eating habits so that I can look and feel how I would like to look and feel.

– Therell

It’s You, Not the Place: Recovery

Recently, I heard a presentation on outcomes of Peer Support Services. The presenter had a slide comparing places of services to fitness centers. The relation is that ‘fitness centers don’t keep people fit’, just as treatment centers don’t keep people in recovery. They highlighted that the individual, in addition to ‘outside’ support, is what keeps people ‘fit’ or in the treatment aspect; ‘in recovery’.

I liked this perspective because it keeps people out of a box. It births opportunity for authentic individualized care. I commended another participant in the webinar that showed vulnerability by sharing their agreements on this. They’re a CEO of a large behavioral health organization. They said, “We claim to provide individualized care to the people we serve. But in reality, this isn’t always the case. We need to do better at this and remove barriers that cause cookie-cutter approaches.

I was impressed by their willingness to share that, especially being the role that they are in. So often, people in leadership roles have ego’s that prevent true collaboration, teamwork, and employee retention. I felt validated by the presentation and discussion that was happening amongst individuals of all walks of life. It was relieving to hear that people deserve to give themselves more credit while going through life and a healing journey. So many times we neglect our own resiliency, power, strength, and comprehension by crediting our success to an outside source. Whether it’s a treatment center, support group, higher power, loved one, etc. we tend to resist the idea of praising and acknowledging our own role. Do these things play a large role in maintaining our lifestyle and healing journey? Of course. We can recognize and appreciate others’ influences, while still showing ourselves love, empathy, and praise.

So next time you are around the person, place, or thing that helps fuel your wellness, take time to pause and acknowledge all of the hard work YOU’VE done. After all, every support system could be in place, but if YOU don’t put in the energy, you won’t have the results that you have now. Give yourself the same energy that you give others. Thank yourself for becoming the version little you have wanted.

– Ally

Take A Self-Assessment Of Your Choice

self-assessment

Click here to take a self-assessment of your choice (depression, postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis, bipolar, eating disorder, PTSD, ADHD, addiction & more).

Visit our Q&A page to learn more!

Alternatives to Suicide (Alt2Su) Support Group

Alternatives to Suicide is a free peer-led support group! This is where people can talk openly about suicide thoughts, attempts, or experiences like self harm. It’s a safe, non-clinical space where people ages 18+ come together to talk about their experiences and emotional distress. And without judgment or fear of unwanted interventions.

We do not assume suicidal thoughts are connected to mental illness, and you do not need to be experiencing a current crisis to attend. You are welcome to join us with no need for a referral or requirement to be connected with mental health services.

Feel free to just show up to a meeting, or call 203-227-7644 or email Ally at Alt2Su@positivedirections.org for more info.

If you would like additional Alternatives to Suicide groups in CT, visit toivocenter.org/alternatives-to-suicide or click here.

When Healthcare Providers Need Healthcare

Working in the medical field is such a strange job. When you really sit down and think about it, medical providers have to be a jack of all trades. At the same time, they must be an expert in the area they choose to work. Looking out into the workforce, there are very few careers like it. When you feel drawn to work in healthcare, it can become all consuming. It’s like a shiny new toy sitting under the Christmas tree. You okay with that toy everyday for about a month or two. Then after the month is up, you don’t pick up the toy again. This is the case for some people in healthcare. But, for some they’ve found the trick to longevity.

Lessons taken away from working in the medical field…

The trick to continuing to pick up that toy and to continue playing with it for years, is to constantly be curious. Look at the toy as a whole, not on a granular level. If you choose to look too closely too fast, you will miss the chip in the paint, the loose button or the broken sound effect. Healthcare is not much different. Working in the medical field teaches you how to experience patients as a whole. When you begin to look at them too granularly, you don’t see the full picture. You may miss the full prescription bottles sitting on the nightstand. Or the lack of food in their fridge. Providers see patients on what could be their worst day. It is easy to forget to a moment and think about the effect their situation may have on their mental health.

The most valuable lesson to be taken away from those experiences is to provide compassion and comfort. Look at the big picture; while also treating the symptoms at hand. For providers with passion, the toy never becomes less shiny. It becomes something you strive to improve upon. You go to the store and find the right paint color, the string needed to sew up the button, and we bring it to a hobby store to have the sound effect fixed.

healthcare

In order to go back to the store year after year, it is imperative to nurture your mental health. Medical providers, as strong as they are, are still human. In one shift they may see a child in the PICU take their last breath. They may see a 26 year old shot with gun shot wounds hanging on to the last moments of life. They may also see someone come into the world. And an elderly patient come back to life in front of their eyes. But, unfortunately the bad can out-way the good; for some more than others. Despite this, mental health resources are oftentimes not provided. And when they are, providers do not gravitate towards seeking help.

Why healthcare providers may not seek help…

As a medical provider, you are hardwired to help people even if that means leaving yourself behind. In a perfect world, incorporating mental health check-ins once a week or at the end of each shift would be the perfect answer. But the truth is, the only way to go about fixing the broken system is honesty. This means we need to be honest when asked “how are you?” by a colleague, employee, or supervisor. Day in and day out you ask your patients to be honest with you. Why? Because when they are, providers can help them in an effective and timely manner. It’s time the medical field starts to incorporate honesty around mental health in an effort to combat this epidemic.

It isn’t until providers begin to share our struggles and triumphs that a real change can be made. The toy may not look the same as it did under the Christmas tree, but it still functions. All thanks to the time you take to maintain it. 

– Maria

Social Anxiety and Shame During the Holiday

“Oh, you’re like a delicate little flower who always needs gentle care. It’s okay, honey. You’re just fragile,” a family member once cooed to me in a baby voice. She held my hands with a confident smile, as if what she said would not bring shame and would soothe my worries like a hot cup of cider.

I’m sure she had the intention of being encouraging. But, all it did was crush my “delicate” petals.

Fighting Battles: Mental Health & Shame

As someone with Harm Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Severe Anxiety Disorder, and a newly developed Social Anxiety Disorder, I feel like anything but delicate. You can read how I learned to live with my mental health diagnoses here. The unseen battles I fight on a day to day basis — and the energy and courage it takes to do what is seemingly normal to someone else — has given me a calloused heart. 

If you have a mental disorder, you probably feel the same way. However, the shame I started to feel at social gatherings grew so strong that I began to believe in what shame was whispering to me in between the holiday music crescendos. The hardest part of it all is that shame often puts you in a lose-lose situation. 

Hypothetical Examples & Options

Here’s a hypothetical example that I have experienced the likes of, time and time again:

You spend some time at a gathering and run into triggers and stressors. This causes you to react, and now you have all of this worry and fear that you are “a burden” or “bringing the mood down.” So what do you do?

Option 1: You Power Through it All

You slur in a few apologies or explanations, further exposing your struggles to the people around you. You remain in your distress, and feel like you need to keep saying sorry. As the shame gets stronger, you start to wonder if you even belong. People might start treating you differently in an attempt to accommodate, which leaves you feeling humiliated. Or worse, they say something that is actually a bit insulting. You compare yourself to the other people in the group who are “normal” and seemingly having a good time. You use the last of your energy to mask all these feelings, and aren’t mentally present to what’s going on in the room.

Option 2: You decide to remove yourself from the event or group.

This can look like leaving early or not going at all. At first, you have a sense of relief that you can “run away” from revealing more of your disorder, receiving more judgment, or avoiding even more triggers. Then, a tidal wave of sadness hits you. You didn’t actually want to be alone — you wanted to be with your friends and loved ones. And wanted to do that activity you were excited about. You start to have FOMO, or fear of missing out.

You panic and imagine the surrounding people having a great time. And you feel the envious emotions creeping in. Worst of all, you begin to believe that perhaps you not being there is best. You are a burden anyway, so without you, they can have more fun. The remainder of your day might be ruined. And you start to question who you are to others. 

The Aftermath of Both Options: Anxiety & Shame

No matter what you choose, you ultimately wonder if you’re missing out on life. Both options make you fill with envy and confusion. And this is even more jarring during the holiday season, when you’re expected to be full of cheer. The long term damage of this shame is that you start to constantly contemplate who you are to others. Shame convinces you, that because you experience these public moments, other people only see you as the “anxious” or “depressed” person. Then, you relay the events in your mind on repeat; even months later. All of which impacts your decision making about social ability during the holiday season.

Tips on Navigating Anxiety & Shame

For me, despite being an extroverted character, my anxiety disorders have made me feel exhausted after long periods of time with others. This eventually accumulates to me feeling physically unwell, and because of that, I have spent a lot of time meditating and practicing solutions that I’d like to share. 

1. Be aware of when you’re overbooking yourself.

Saying “no” or leaving an event early is okay. Acknowledge that social gatherings are a lot to deal with, especially after experiencing a pandemic. You are completely normal for feeling overwhelmed at times, and know that you’re not alone. Check your calendar and commitments to find if you are overworking yourself socially or spreading yourself too thin with other obligations. Some of your anxiety may be because you have overcommitted to too many things and need to spend more time with yourself.

2. Know when to say no to “anxiety builders.”

Even after you have decided to attend an event, you are still allowed to turn down something that may increase your discomfort and stress. If you feel pressured to play a group game you don’t like or eat food you don’t want to try, know that it’s okay to not participate. 

3. Find someone that makes you feel safe.

Don’t be afraid to bring a plus one to the event that can help you feel more comfortable. Work together to enjoy the gathering, and if able, let them in on the triggers you may have so that they can help you navigate them.

4. Plan when you will leave, especially if you’re going with other people.

If you’re going alone, create an end time for yourself. If you’re going with other people, have a discussion so that you can agree on what time to leave together. We all hit social limits, and your limits should be respected just as much as someone else’s. Be detailed with your plan, including methods for how to temporarily remove yourself if needed.

5. Investigate the itinerary beforehand.

Before committing to a gathering, don’t shy away from asking the host what’s happening. By knowing the schedule, you won’t be surprised or feel stressed by any sudden plans. This will also help you decide if you want to commit to the event, politely decline, or prepare accordingly.

6. Offer to host.

Offer to host an event this season if it brings you a sense of excitement. For some people, hosting is a nice way to control the narrative, but moreso, be in their own space. You can decide what food and activities to plan, and have the comforts of your home around you.

7. Make time for self care before or after the event.

Don’t be afraid to cut out time to unwind or prepare for an event. Plan something super relaxing ahead of a busy day ahead, or do an activity you love as a reward for when you’re done. I love writing even the smallest rewards in my planner (like a face mask), because we deserve to love ourselves.

8. Create a safe space for everyone to talk about their mental health.

If you feel comfortable, open the floor to discuss mental health topics. It doesn’t have to be super clinical. For example: “What is something you’d like to learn about yourself this season?” “Is there anything you’re worried about during the holidays that we can help with?” “Are you missing someone this year?” Finding common ground allows us to help one another, and brings in the reality that many of us are struggling with something.

9. Address judgmental comments.

If you feel hurt by something someone said — whether at the event or in the past — set aside five minutes with them when you feel safe and prepared. Explain that you are not placing blame or accusing them, but that you want to inform them about how their statement made you feel. By pointing out hurtful comments, you can remind others that their words can cause unintentional harm. Create a space for forgiveness, and provide some statement examples that may be more encouraging or helpful. 

10. Do an act of kindness.

When in a state of stress, I find a great antidote is to shift the attention from myself to someone else. You can offer to help clean the dishes or decorate before the gathering. Sometimes, I like to bring little handmade gifts or letters to make my friends feel recognized and appreciated, and to start comforting conversations and memories.

11. Reflect with a gratitude list afterwards.

Regardless of how the event went, I find there is always one little thing I can write down and be grateful for. 

12. If you decide not to attend an event, it’s okay to prioritize something else.

Just because you have time to go to an event, doesn’t mean you have the energy to socialize. Turning down invitations doesn’t make you less than or incapable, it just means you’re choosing to put your limited energy into something else. This could mean deciding to rest, because that’s just as important as being social. Remind yourself that the other people at the event will miss you, and a lot of the intrusive thoughts you have about how they perceive or feel about you are untrue. By establishing more boundaries and limits, you can find yourself enjoying the time that you do spend together.

Reminder to You!

Remember, you are not a burden, and you do not need to defend yourself to others. Spend time with your mindfulness exercises, a therapist, or a professional to sort through the shame and intrusive thoughts that can make social experiences difficult for you. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, educate yourself, and bring love to the front of these gatherings. And who knows, your experiences may allow you to help someone else this holiday season. 

– Sarah

National Pie Day

Today is National Pie Day, not to be confused with National Pi Day (3.14) on March 14, but the delicious dessert that I’m sure many of us enjoy.

I don’t remember when I first had pie, but I’ve been vegan for many years, so any pie I do eat has to be, well, vegan.  That just means that ingredients such as milk, butter, and eggs which are used to make non vegan pies are replaced with vegan substitutes.

I would say that pie is probably my favorite dessert.  So much so that for one year on my birthday, I chose to have pie instead of cake.

My favorite type of pie is apple pie.  Apple pie hits perfectly, satisfying my taste buds tremendously.  If I allowed myself to, I could probably eat a whole apple pie in one sitting.  That of course would not be a healthy thing to do, so when I do have pie, which is at most twice a year, I take one piece at a time so that it lasts longer.

My least favorite type of pie would have to be pumpkin pie.  That may be controversial, I’m not sure, but it just doesn’t hit the same as apple pie.  I had pumpkin pie a few weeks ago, and I struggled to finish it.  I ate every last bite though so that the money spent purchasing it was not wasted.

What is your favorite type of pie?  If you haven’t yet today, treat yourself to your favorite type for dessert!

– Therell

Survivor of Suicide: Ally’s Story

I’ve lived in Fairfield County, CT my entire life. I was so grateful to see an event about suicide awareness happening in Greenwich, CT. I was invited as a guest speaker and wanted to share my speech with you all as well!

Surviving Suicide, Self-Harm, & More

I am someone that has lived with thoughts of suicide and self-harm since I was in elementary school. I didn’t always know that I was experiencing this and didn’t have the right words to express and
understand. But what I did know was the feeling of pain, disconnection, and shame. These thoughts started to express themselves in ways like trying to make myself small and staying out of the way of things… By remaining silent so that I didn’t have to burden anyone… By showing desperation for connection, even if it meant being in a toxic relationship. I didn’t know that some behaviors were self-harm, until they became more ‘traditional’, like cutting and disordered eating. My first suicide attempt was in middle school. And still, to this day, I feel shame in sharing that with my family.

If I were to try to find a blame for suicide and self-harm, it would be trauma, shame, and disconnection. Suicide is too complex for it to be one thing. But these were the emotions I felt consistently throughout my journey. I would turn to anything to feel self-worth and connection. A toxic connection is still a connection, and I unfortunately gravitated towards that.

I ended up experiencing numerous violent relationships, became addicted to heroin, was homeless, and at 22 I was incarcerated for multiple felonies and spent a year in prison. For me, many of these consequences were results of desperation of trying to find purpose and meaning. I continuously wonder what kept me fighting throughout those years… and what I’ve found is that it’s never one thing. It’s many little things, the hope for future things, and the simple things.

Currently, I still live with thoughts of suicide and self-harm… I’ve just learned key differences than before: I know how to express what I’m experiencing…. I know the people and places that are safe to share them with… I have connection to my community, to nature, and with myself. Some days, my most effective coping skill is curling up with a blanket and watching my favorite shows… And other days I cope with therapy, nature, and attend support groups.

It has been ten years since my last suicide attempt and in just a few short weeks, I will be celebrating 7 years in recovery from addiction. I’ve found purpose in working in a career field that allows me to connect with people experiencing the same challenges. I run a support group for anyone in the community that experiences thoughts of suicide and self harm. I work hard to show that there are alternatives to inpatient care and hospitalization… That there are ways to talk about suicide and self-harm and ways to support someone experiencing it.

The most helpful for me is when someone empathizes with my pain, rather than compete against it, dismiss it’s seriousness, or try to problem solve. When someone sits with me and simply says, “wow that sounds terrifying, how can I support you”, [it] shows me that they are listening to learn, rather than rescue.

I’m grateful that the endless efforts of working on myself have brought joy, understanding, and resiliency. I’m grateful to have a great partner, a safe home, a dog and cat, healthy relationships with my family, a career I love, and just recently, I have enrolled back into college to continue my education. I received a full pardon this year and am no longer a felon. I have new milestones and goals to live for… some small, like living for good pizza and walks with my dog… some large, like planning a wedding and being an aunt and godmother.

Every day looks different, and some days are full of darkness. But with hope, connection, and vulnerability… together, we can create a world where people experience self-love, rather than self-harm.

– Ally

Voting on November 8th, General Election

How many of you received a text message from a state representative? Over the past few weeks, I have received over 5 text messages about who to vote for. I have also received over 5 pieces of mail for who to vote for with ‘red flag’ language. There probably were a few phone calls that I didn’t pick up. This makes voting a bit nerve racking due to the many choices!

To Say the Least

I’m someone who is extremely uninterested in politics. I surely don’t follow politics. But there’s an importance to keep/put people like us in office! That includes those who care more about those who are struggling with mental health, addiction, gender identity, sexuality, to stay alive, etc. rather than trying to control people’s rights as human beings.

Voting Should be Influenced by YOU

Many of us allow other people to influence our choices with their use of words without doing basic research. To the people who see past particular choices of language, AKA the ‘red flags’, thank you! We’ve all been in a position where we haven’t picked up on the ‘red flag’ language because of surrounding influences. For you, question political “arguments”, especially when they don’t make sense!

This is a friendly reminder that we must research who to vote for despite our family’s, friend’s, and even our own political affiliation! Ask yourself:

  • What do I struggle with that this person will address?
  • What are my values that this person has?
  • Will people and/or the people I love be in heightened danger due to their mental health, sex at birth, gender identity and/or sexuality if this person gets elected?
  • How does this person talk about/to others who are different from them?
  • What matters more? The people or the economy?

There are many people who regret voting for someone of their political affiliation as it has put their loved ones in danger!

Your Voice Matters!

– Dez 🙂

Learning How To Live Again

When most children age, parents begin to leave them home alone. This is when my earliest memories of OCD began. While my parents were comfortable going out to do quick errands, I was home alone with the golden retriever, given I was an only child. I was a pretty average kid. I would indulge in a ton of writing, reading or video games. While snacking on goldfish or playing tug-a-war with my furry friend, my mind would wander — but not in the normal way.

Despite my parents going out to grab an extra gallon of milk or attend a parent-teacher meeting, I was convinced they were in some horrific car accident. I’d run to the phone multiple times in an hour, panic-calling my father’s cell phone in a crying fit to make sure they were still alive. Sometimes, my mom would be outside planting in the yard when the sound of an ambulance would suddenly pass, causing me to drop my snack on the ground and run to the window. I was always certain the ambulance was for her and not someone miles away.

My Experience & Reaction

I’d pace around the house, sweating, anxious, then usually would run to the bathroom feeling sick about the hypothetical trauma I just endured. It felt as if I was in some terrible 4-D movie theater. If we left on a family outing, I’d feel the need to run upstairs manically making sure no candles were lit, all things were unplugged, and no windows were open. My brain would always tell me, “What if you start a fire and your dog dies?” Or “What if you leave your windows open, and then your home is robbed and someone gets hurt?” This happened every moment of every day, and it was unbearable.

I could never relax and be in the moment, no matter how wonderful it was. I rubbed the skin off my hands from anxiety. I picked and clawed at my arms until blood ran down them and would call them mosquito bites. I often had to lay down and hide from all the extra noise because my mind couldn’t take it. The only antidote was a good fictional book, or soundtrack music, so I’d read about three a week and get headaches from the non-stop escapisms and loud headphones.

Searching for an Answer

My parents quickly noticed I had some unneeded levels of stress, so they took me to the doctor. The first one said I was just going through puberty. The second gave me a medication for my stomach acid saying my upset stomach (that was actually caused by high stress) was the thing bothering me and making me scared. The third said I was lying for attention. The fourth said it was my hormones. The fifth said, finally, “Oh, your daughter has anxiety.” This wasn’t unexpected for me as I was a premature baby, and easily overstimulated and emotional. Of course I would have anxiety! So they wrote me a prescription and sent me away. Problem solved, right?

But neither myself nor my parents were convinced. I could never relax and be in the moment, no matter how wonderful it was. Obviously, it didn’t work. I didn’t just have anxiety, I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A subset disorder of anxiety that creates a weeded field of intrusive thoughts in one’s mind, but it would take over a decade to finally get someone to tell me that. So in the interim, I got worse.

I didn’t let that stop me from trying to see what the doctors couldn’t, so I would sneak into the “no” sections of the school library and open the few medical books we had. I read and I kept reading, clawing at the pages, desperate for an answer. Then, I would sneak into the computer labs to look up terminology I didn’t understand from said books. I was desperate to find a little line that could give me some hope I wasn’t slipping into manic insanity and that I was somewhere, even an outlier, on the normal spectrum.

Coexisting with OCD

Digging took a decade, but that digging eventually saved my life. I did, in fact, find the phrase that would help me get not just professional help but also the right kind. The phrase was “intrusive thoughts”. It’s been over two years now since receiving a Harm OCD diagnosis after a lifelong fight and recovering from a suicide attempt. I often have to re-teach myself the most basic elements of life, like how to eat and enjoy breakfast now that I’m not sick from anxiety in the morning anymore. I’m learning how to have enjoyable dinners despite all the triggers of “potential” allergic reactions and “dangerous” steak knives that have been born out of my Harm Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, another subtype.

I’m still trying to trust doctors after over twenty years of misdiagnoses and wrong medication. I’m working on letting people see my anxiety, crying and hand ringing, and accepting that I am not a burden. I’m letting the intrusive thoughts into my wonderful, intimate relationship with my significant other, and I bask in the fact that I am loved, and worthy of it. I used to spend so much energy trying to evict my chronic and lifelong issues such as OCD out of my space, but I found more joy once I became “friends” with them through coexisting.

How I Coexist with OCD

One of the definitions of “coexisting”, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “to live in peace with each other.” Coexisting comes with mutual understanding and acceptance — and that includes even the most violent, horrible thoughts. When you practice coexistence, you realize your value and potential don’t lie in how few or many thoughts you have (or how scary and irrational). You are a separate being, learning to share a space. And being at peace does not mean being in a season without questions. It is accepting that even in spite of not knowing all the answers, life goes on anyways.

The more you practice a state of coexistence, which in the first stages feels like pulling teeth, your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder becomes more of a nuance. Obviously, getting professional treatment is what ultimately taught me this – giving me valuable exercises that I still practice. While these were difficult, it pulled me into a world without as much anxiety, and I see everything differently now.

Grieving Myself

The second battle one has to face when getting a diagnosis of any sort is the grieving of themselves. Sometimes we grieve what we lost through the diagnosis. We take note of how drastically our minds or bodies change and the abilities or lifestyle we used to have. Sometimes we grieve the life we never had because of the condition(s) that we had to walk through. Currently, I am still learning how to grieve and find gratitude for my childhood. Sometimes I wonder what or who I could’ve been without this weight on my chest. However, I would walk through the shadows of all of those years again to discover what I know now, and make it my goal to pass that information to others.

This is why it is imperative to support funding and resources for mental health education; discussing and promoting the taboo terminology, uncomfortable questions, and realities to upcoming generations. The earlier we can pinpoint the type of struggle a child is facing, the earlier we can intervene and get them proper resources, professional help or support. If you’re currently on a path of trying to re-learn even life’s fundamentals after a diagnosis, I can promise you, it gets easier in time. I hope you someday feel empowered to share your newfound wisdom and understanding with others so we can begin to broaden mental health understanding together.

Written by Sarah Edwards (@setapart_company), TPCT Project Coordinator

Happy Halloween 2022

Please enjoy this video from the TurningPointCT team sharing what they like about Halloween! Happy Halloween everyone!

What do you like about Halloween?

Hello From Maria!

Hi there! My name is Maria Chappa. I am the new Peer Leader for TurningPointCT. I am so excited to begin working on this project and provide helpful recourses to you all!

A Little About Me

I am 24 years old and graduated college in 2020.

I have dealt with mental health struggles for most of my life and for many years felt very alone in it. I hope to use my experience of learning how to cope and function with anxiety and depression to help others. I am very passionate about making sure the people around me know it is important to lean of your support system and be honest about how you are feeling.

A big hobby of mine is painting. Typically I paint with acrylics on canvases, but also paint with
watercolor. I love making gifts for friends and family and am constantly working on projects for
myself. For me, painting is a way to quiet my mind and truly relax. When I’m not painting you
can find me reading. My favorite authors are Taylor Jenkins Reid and Collen Hoover! I also love
spending time outside whether it’s going for a walk on the local trail or simply sitting outside in
the sun.

Fun Fact

In 2019 I traveled to Costa Rica to become a certified Wilderness First Responder. While on my
trip I learned how to care for someone injured in austere environments away from medical
care. Not only did I learn many skills, I also learned how to surf, zip lined through the jungle and
went white water rafting! A few months after my trip I was chosen to go on a second trip, but
this time as a teaching assistant. Going back as a TA allowed me to work on my leadership skills
and sharpen the skills I had learned just months before.

– Maria

National Pumpkin Day

We are right around the corner from Halloween, and what better way to get into the spooky season spirit than to talk about Pumpkins! And even better… on National Pumpkin Day!

You can use pumpkins for quite a few things. You can use them to cook delicious foods, use them as decorations, or you can carve them into jack-o-lanterns.

I know many people enjoy pumpkin pie, but I personally don’t. I’m more of an apple pie fan. However, I do enjoy eating some pumpkin bread and pumpkin spice cookies!

Jack-o-lanterns are also very cool! When carved into one and with a light put inside it, they look super spooky!

Using pumpkins as decorations is also very neat. In my home, we have several pumpkins spread throughout the space. It gets us into the holiday spirit a bit and it adds more color variety since we don’t have many orange things in here.

What is your favorite thing to use pumpkins for?

– Therell

My Biggest Insecurity: My Lazy Eye

Background

I was born with hardly any vision in my left eye, leaving me practically half blind.  The medical term is “amblyopia” but basically, I have a lazy eye.  While some people’s lazy eye drifts inward, mine drifts outward.

When I was an infant, I had to wear a contact lense in my left eye and an eye patch over my right eye. This was supposed to force me to use my left eye so that the brain would make connections to it and I wouldn’t completely lose sight in that eye.  My mother told me it was a struggle to get the contact in and that I used to try to rip the patch off all the time.

When I was a toddler I had surgery on my left eye to try to correct the muscles.  I was too young to remember any of it, though.

Growing up and even now, I am supposed to (and do most of the time) wear either glasses or protective lenses all the time, mostly to protect my right eye.  If something were to happen to it I would pretty much be blind.

Affect on my Life

My left eye is one of my biggest insecurities.  I strongly dislike having photos taken of myself due to my eye.  To me, when I look at a photo of myself, it appears as if I am not looking at the camera, even though I am.  Instead, it looks like I am looking somewhere off into the distance.  I make YouTube videos, and even in those, it looks like I’m not looking at the camera even though I am.

Special pictures, such as school or graduation photos, of myself I feel are “ruined” due to my eye condition.

I’ve received countless comments from people online who point out my eye.  Their comments will say something like “What is he looking at?” or “Where is he looking?”.  While those comments aren’t that bad, I have in fact been made fun of because of it. 

I run into this problem with people in person as well.  I remember multiple occasions where I was looking at someone, talking to them and they looked at me for a second, then looked behind them as if I was looking at someone else instead of them.

I’ve been told by a few eye doctors that there is nothing that can be done to fix the vision in my left eye.  While I don’t necessarily care about the vision anymore because I’ve lived without it my whole life, I wish there was some sort of surgery that could be done (again) to at least straighten my eye so that people and myself can’t tell that I have a lazy eye.

What I feel like I look like to people

Conclusion

This is something that is always on my mind.  I figured I’d share it in case you see a video or picture of me and wonder what I’m looking at, or maybe this is something you struggle with, too.  I feel like we all have something we are born with or developed later in life that we struggle with.  The most important thing is if you notice something like that in someone, please do not call attention to it, because they more than likely already feel extremely self conscious about it.

– Therell

My New Song

As some of you may know, I make music. I recently released a new song titled Watch Your Back. You can check it out below.

This is my 7th song that I have done and I have many more to come in the future!

For this song, I had written part of the second verse first and it was originally going to be the first verse. However, as I continued writing, I felt the original first verse would work better as a the second verse. Then, I came up with the first verse, and lastly, the chorus.

The main message behind this song is to, well, watch your back for those who may be plotting against you. I have a YouTube channel for my music where I will also be making videos breaking the down the lyrics of each of my songs. You can visit that channel here and be on the lookout for those videos soon!

If you would like to check out other people’s art, visit our Creative Expressions page here!

– Therell

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

National Stop Bullying Day

Today is National Stop Bullying Day.

As someone who was bullied quite frequently throughout my school career, I am a big advocate to stop bullying. I know what it’s like to be bullied, and I dislike seeing others go through what I went through.

It doesn’t help that I often see stories or videos of the victim being pushed to their limit and fighting back, only for people to intervene and the victim to receive a larger punishment than the bully. That is something that upsets me greatly. All it does is tell victims of bullying that they will get in trouble if they defend themselves.

Below is a video of me sharing a story about one of the times I was bullied in middle school.

If you have been bullied or are currently getting bullied, I am so sorry. You did not and do not deserve that. If I was there with you, I would do my absolute best to help you and get you out of that situation.

I hope we can all ban together and end bullying. It isn’t funny, or cool, it’s just downright awful.

– Therell

Welcome Dez!

The TurningPointCT team would like to formally welcome our new Project Assistant, Dez! You can read more about him in his story here.

We know Dez will be a great addition to the team and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings to the project!

Working In Education: How I Feel About Back To School

Working in education has given me an entirely different perspective on the “Back to School” season. Many parents and students dread the back to school season but it’s not like that for me. Yes, I’ll admit that working in education is stressful but there is one thing I know for sure and that’s that I love my job.

I know a lot of people are already back in school but I have a week left of Summer and I’m feeling A LOT. By the end of last year, I was feeling immense burnout. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to survive another year. I was exhausted. But little did I know, I would end up doing summer school which meant I wasn’t going to get much of a break this year.

Summer school was full of chaos but it was the perfect reminder of why I love my job. It’s because I love my kids. Their excitement to see me and learn new things every day warms my heart. My kiddos are nothing short of spectacular. They truly are some of the smartest, silliest and kindest kids I’ve ever met and they’ve never let their disabilities stop them. Each of them inspire me to be a better person every single day.

So, when people ask me how I feel about back to school, I tell them it makes me sad but excited at the same time. Sad because the summer is ending but excited because I get to see all of my kids again. I’m so thankful that I get to be part of their learning journey. I can’t wait to get back to work and start the new school year.

Working in education has changed the back to school season for me forever. It is a season for new beginnings, continued journeys and so much more for our students. I know it can be daunting but don’t let that keep you from all the wonderful experiences that come with going back to school.

Read NPR’s article Keep An Eye On Your Student’s Mental Health This Back-to-School Season. Really great read

Do you work in education too? Check out my post Back To School Self-Care here on TurningPointCT.org!

To The Friends I’ve Grown Apart From…

friends

I wish someone had told me that getting older and growing up meant that I’d grow apart from the friends I thought I’d have forever. I came across a post recently on Facebook about this very subject. It was a letter written to friends someone had grown apart from but it rang true for me too. So, I wanted to write a letter of my own.

To The Friends I’ve Grown Apart From,

While we may not talk anymore, I’m so thankful for the chapter of my life that you were in. We don’t talk everyday anymore and while that can be really sad, I know that it’s okay. It seems our lives would only intertwine for a short time but I’m still so thankful for it. You taught me so much about life and myself, I don’t think I could ever repay you. You have no idea how much love I still have for you.

We’ve made so many wonderful memories and I will never forget them. I will cherish them for the rest of my life. I see you making new memories with new people and honestly, I couldn’t be happier for you. Some of you have new homes, babies, jobs or even marriages and that’s so amazing. I’m sad but all I want for you is to be who you are supposed to be, to live the life you want.

We don’t pour our hearts out to each other anymore but I am still cheering you on always. Whether we parted on good or bad terms, I am still supporting you from a distance. Thank you for being a part of my journey and loving me through all my difficult times. I am truly grateful.

Sincerely,

An Old Friend

Read Kaitlyn Dinner’s article How Losing Friendships Can Be a Sign of Growth right on Medium’s website!

Check out The TurningPointCT Podcast Friendships to hear about Kailey, Michael and Therell’s friendships over time here on our website!

My Favorite Shows To Binge-Watch

In honor of Binge Day, I’ve decided to share the shows that I like to binge on the regular. There’s only a handful of shows that I find comfort in that I like to binge. Today, I’ll be sharing my top five favorite shows that I like to binge watch. They’re all over the place but they’re the absolute best (in my opinion anyways)!

Bob’s Burgers

bob's burgers binge

My absolute favorite favorite show to binge watch is Bob’s Burgers. I’m a huge fan. The storylines are relatable for anyone watching, the humor is dry but still magnificent and the characters are just wonderful. For those of you who don’t watch the show, it’s about the Belcher family who own a burger restaurant and have to navigate the world and its obstacles. I feel like I can see a little bit of myself in all of the characters of the show. They each have their quirks and I love it so much. I’ve probably watched this show over a hundred times if I’m being honest. It’s so easy to lose track of time watching this.

Criminal Minds

Now, this one is definitely a weird one BUT I know, I’m not the only one who could binge watch this over and over again. There’s just something about the BAU and all of their cases that drag me in every single time. I can’t get enough. It’s so hard to pick a favorite character but I’d have to pick Dr. Spencer Reid for sure. Each of the characters in the show have their own quirks and they all mesh so well, their relationship as a family versus just a team reminds me that there really are good people out there catching the bad guys (even if the show’s not real – there MUST be good people out there like them)!

Parks & Recreation

parks and rec binge

Now, I know there’s been a heavy debate between whether Parks & Recreation is better than The Office and vice versa. Personally, I don’t think they’re that comparable. There’s two totally different dynamics happening and they’re both equally enjoyable. To each their own though, I will say lately I prefer Parks & Recreation. All of the characters in the show have something different to offer us as the audience. My personal favorite is Ron Swanson, he’s a no bs kind of guy and isn’t afraid to tell it how it is. I think I see a little bit of Ron in myself sometimes (which I don’t think is a bad thing).

Schitt’s Creek

If you haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek yet, definitely get on it because I’m telling you, you’re missing out. Following this high maintenance family through their journey navigating the real, working and difficult world is both relatable and hilarious to watch. David is one of my favorite characters in the series, his energy is everything that I currently embody and I love it. This crazy family is not at all what you’d expect but if you want to know more, you’re going to have to watch it for yourself. I also think there are some important lessons about life sprinkled throughout the show and those matter so much in a world like this.

Ghosts (US Version)

And finally, my current fave to watch over and over is CBS’ series Ghosts. It’s the US version of BBC’s television series Ghosts. It features a young couple who inherit a house full of ghosts but only the wife can see them. Each of the ghosts have features on them that pertain to their death. It just makes you wanna know more about what happened to them. I’ve fallen in love with all of the ghosts and I could watch them over and over again but still never get tired of it. The second season just came out too and I can’t wait to see what kind of shenanigans they get into this time around.

What’re your favorite shows to binge watch?

Check out NBC News’ article What Happens to Your Brain When You Binge-Watch a TV series right on their website!

Read Therell’s post Impractical Jokers: One of My Favorite Shows here on TurningPointCT.org to hear about his favorite show 🙂

Alternatives To Suicide Group

Positive Directions is offering a new, free Alternatives to Suicide support group that starts this Tuesday, 10/4/22 at 7pm.

Baking It Perfect: National Baker’s Day

baking

On September 23, we celebrate National Baker’s Day. Baking is one of my favorite hobbies so you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn about it. When I’m baking, I feel like nothing in the world can go wrong. I’m truly content when I’m making cupcakes, cakes, cookies and so much more. Now I have a day that’s just for me and my favorite hobby.

Lately, I haven’t had much time to bake and sometimes, that puts a damper on my day. I love to try new recipes and experiment. With baking, I feel like the possibilities for delicious treats are simply never-ending. Over the summer, I decided to try my hand at making my own buttercream frosting and it came out better than I expected.

I made chocolate cupcake batter from scratch and then I thought about what I could do with these chocolate cupcakes. I mean there are so many possibilities. I ended up settling for two different buttercreams. One was an Oreo buttercream and the other was peanut butter buttercream. They both tasted spectacular. I topped the Oreo ones with half an Oreo and the peanut butter ones with a chocolate dipped pretzel. My friends and family were so impressed, some even thought that I had bought them.

Baking is an art to me. It takes so much time, effort, creativity and love to create all of these delicious treats. So, please take the time to appreciate all the wonderful bakers that you have in your life!

Check out my post And The Baker’s Gonna Bake, Bake, Bake here on TurningPointCT.org!

Read Better Homes & Gardens’ post 6 Reasons Baking Is A Therapeutic Form of Self-Care on their website 🙂

National Singles Day 2022

I have been single my entire life.  While I used to think my life would be better if I were in a relationship, I now realize that being single isn’t such a bad thing.  

Throughout high school, middle school, and even the later years of elementary school, there was this sort of social pressure that you should start having a boyfriend or girlfriend.  These days, I think it was quite silly that we were all so worried about that when we were so young.  

I remember when I was a freshman in high school, I was made fun of by another student for not having any romantic experiences.  At first I was embarrassed because of peer pressure and social status, but now it doesn’t bother me as much.  Not everyone will experience the same things at the same time as everyone else. 

Since the pandemic, dating has become even harder for a lot of people as there have been less chances for in person social interaction, something that many humans crave.  Most people are making connections online which definitely isn’t the same as in person.  It’s difficult to determine if you have a bond with someone when you’re only communicating through text.

My main reason for wanting a relationship was due to being lonely.  While I still get lonely sometimes, I know one can still feel that way even if they are in a relationship.  I’ve seen first hand and have read countless stories of people who were not too happy in their relationship due to lack of affection and what not. 

In my opinion, it takes a lot of hard work to be in a successful relationship.  When you want to do something, you more often than not will have to keep your significant other in mind and how what you want to do might affect them.  You also have to (do your best to) satisfy the needs of your partner.

I’ve also come to realize that I am not yet ready to be in a relationship.  The time and energy that it takes is something I am not capable of giving at the moment.  I feel I still need to work on myself so that when I am ready, I can give my future partner the best version of myself.  Until then, I will appreciate being single.

Therell

National Coloring Day: It’s Actually Good For You!

coloring books
Two of my favorite coloring books!

September 14th is National Coloring Day! This day reminds us to set time aside for the things we enjoy while also giving us the opportunity to explore new, fun and creative art mediums! This activity alone has so many mental health benefits to offer so I’m taking today to share some with you and talk about my own experiences.

One of the biggest benefits of coloring is that it can actually reduce your anxiety. By reducing your anxiety, you’re doing more than allowing your mind to relax and function more efficiently. You’re also giving your body the chance to relax. Relieving stress and tension from your body allows it to rest and regain its energy.

Personally, coloring is one of my favorite activities. I often use it to self-soothe when I’m having a tough day. Two of my favorite coloring books are the ones pictured above, the World of Flowers and the Enchanted Forest. Both were created by Johanna Basford, she’s got plenty of others but these ones are my favorite. I love all of the intricate little details in them. They can keep me busy for hours.

I like to start by outlining the details of the page in marker with the colors I plan to use. This helps me steady my mind and focus on what I’m doing. It also really makes your page pop with detail. When I’m feeling anxious, coloring lets me escape from reality for a little while. National Coloring Day is your chance to escape. It’s a chance for you to pull out all of your favorite art mediums and just color to your heart’s desire. No matter your age, get out there and color!

coloring page
This is a page from my Enchanted Forest coloring book that I’ve been working on

Read the Cleveland Clinic’s article 3 Reasons Adult Coloring Can Actually Relax Your Brain

Positive Thinking Makes A Difference

positive thinking

The world celebrates Positive Thinking Day every year on the 13th of September. We celebrate this day to remind people that positive thinking has many rewards. I know many people think that thinking positively is some kind of sham but I want you to know that it does make a difference.

Having too much negativity in your life can really weigh you down and you don’t want that. Negativity also has a huge impact on your emotional and mental health which is why you want to avoid it. Trying to have more positive thoughts can lead to increased happiness as well as optimism which can help you to live longer! We all want to live a little longer, right?

People who have a positive outlook on life tend to cope better with stress and negative emotions. These are just some of the benefits of learning to be more positive in the life you’re living. Trying to see the brighter side of things isn’t as hard as it might seem. I mean it took me a while but eventually, I did learn.

I used to have such a negative outlook on life. It was bad situation after bad situation and I hated it. It never seemed to be what I wanted it to be. Now, I know that’s something that I can control. Being negative all the time was draining. I didn’t want to feel that way anymore so I tried to see the bright side everything. Let me tell you, it gave me a new perspective on life.

Read the Benefits of Positive Thinking for Body and Mind from Very Well Mind.

Check out Kailey’s post How To Make Your Own Positivity Jar to learn how to add more positivity to your life!

Advice For High School & College Students!

Therell shares some advice for new high school and college students. Good luck to everyone this school year!

Who Are Your Role Models?

Therell shares who one of his heroes/role models is in his life. Who are yours?

Turning Point CT Reads Mean Comments

In this video, our Social Media Assistant, Therell, reads some weird and mean comments we’ve received on our YouTube channel!

My Favorite Quote!

Happiness Happens, So Smile!

Every year on August 8th, we celebrate National Happiness Happens Day. This day is to encourage people to be happy, no matter what anyone has to say about it. Before I get into anything else, I want to take the time to share the history of this day.

In 1988, Pamela Gail Johnson founded an exclusive club. This club was called the Secret Society of Happy People. It was created to allow individuals to speak about all the things that made them happy because they were truly happy people but they didn’t want others to rain on their parade so it was kept a secret.

Over the years, many more people talked about happiness. They talked about how to get happy, be happier, find happiness and even spread happiness. The popularity of the group increased so much that they no longer felt the need to keep it a secret. In 2019, the group changed their name to the Society of Happy People. In 1999, they created Admit You’re Happy Day, which eventually changed to Happiness Happens Day. Every year, they pick a new theme. This year’s theme is Count Your Happy.

Counting your happy simply means trying to recall all of the happy moments in your day because sometimes we really don’t. Often, we forget to recognize the moments of happiness in our day. Happiness Happens day is the perfect reminder of to remember those moments. Don’t worry, I think that it’s something everyone forgets about.

So, this year for happiness happens day, take the time to appreciate all of the happy moments in your day. Even if it’s small. I would also like to add that you should take the time to appreciate all of the people in your life that make you happy. They’re important too.

Finally, I want to leave you with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The quote says, “For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness”. I think this one is an important quote to remember because it takes so much energy to be angry. Don’t waste a minute of your day on anger. Choose happiness, even when it seems happiness isn’t possible. I promise it is.

Smile a little more, happiness can go quite a long way.

“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Check out Kailey’s post Happiness Is… here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Maternal Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day/Week/Month focuses on the mental health of mothers who are going through childbirth.  At least 1 in 5 new mothers go through some sort of anxiety disorder regarding childbirth in many countries.  The illnesses often go untreated which can have long-term consequences to both the mother and the child. 

Anxiety disorders can be developed by women who are from many different backgrounds such as culture, age, ethnicity, etc.  Symptoms of such disorders can be seen any moment during a mother’s pregnancy as well as the first year after childbirth.  Effective treatment options are available to help mother’s recover.  

If you are a soon to be mother or you know someone who will be, contact the maternal mental health hotline at 1-833-HELP4MOMS or 1-833-943-5746.

Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Every July, National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is recognized to raise more awareness to the hardships that racial minority groups go through in the United States.  Getting help for their mental health has become even harder for minority groups because of the Coronavirus.

As someone who is considered a minority, I feel that our mental struggles need more attention.  While I am both white and black, most people perceive me as black.  I have been discriminated against due to the color of my skin, and it does have an effect on my mental health.  It makes me feel as though something is wrong with me, like I am a threat when I try so hard to come across as welcoming.  It is a constant additional stress that I have to live with.

I hope we can all come together and really focus on bettering the mental health of minority groups.  For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/minority-mental-health/index.html.

My College Experience

A couple months ago I graduated from community college.  I wanted to talk a little about my college experience, so as Mario would say, here we go!

I took many classes throughout my four years of college, and there are only two that stand out as my favorites.  Those classes would be Public Speaking and General Psychology 2.  The environment in those classes were very good, from my fellow classmates to the professors; it was a good experience all around.

About half of my time at college was in person while the other half was online due to COVID.  While I enjoyed being in person very much as I am someone who craves social interaction, the downside was that my grades weren’t the best.  I had to retake classes a couple times and there were classes that I barely passed.  However, the move to online classes helped out my grades tremendously.  I earned a lot more A’s and it brought my GPA up quite a bit.

During the in-person portion of my time at college, I made a lot of connections.  I got along with nearly everyone that I met and I made some good memories with them.  Unfortunately, when COVID hit, I fell out of contact with all of them.  

Other positives about my college experience would be that there were a lot of support services to help me pass my classes.  If I didn’t have those support services, I may not have passed those classes that I mentioned in which I barely passed.  It was also pretty affordable; I don’t have any student loans to pay back.

Now I want to talk about some of the benefits of a community college.  For one, you can have a pretty flexible schedule.  I always scheduled my classes when it was convenient for me, and it always worked out. 

You can also live at home if you’d like, which is what I did.  Or, you can live close to campus.  Since I lived at home, I took public transportation to get to school; the train and then a bus.  I didn’t mind this at all as I looked forward to going to (most of) my classes so the train and bus rides were a breeze.

Lastly, as mentioned before, it is quite affordable.  And, you can transfer your credits to a 4 year school.

Overall, I would give my college experience a 7/10, which is much higher than what I would give my elementary, middle, and high school experiences.  Even though I mostly enjoyed my time at college, I probably would not do it all again, as I feel I am done with school (for now at least), and am ready to enter the world of working.

Adventuring West: My Trip to Wyoming

For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know that I’m not super spontaneous. Especially when it comes to traveling. Personally, I like to plan things out. I want to make sure that I’m always prepared. So, this next part is definitely going to surprise you! About a week and a half ago, I decided to take a trip with a close friend to Cheyenne, Wyoming. My friend is moving there! Adventuring to the West was the BEST spontaneous decision I’ve ever made.

I’ve never really left New England except a few family trips to Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach a few years ago. So, you can imagine how nervous I was to be going to the West. Oh, and get this, we drove there. It took almost 30 hours but it was so worth it. We drove through 9 different states, 7 of which I’ve never been to so you can imagine my my excitement.

We drove through Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and finally, Wyoming to get to our destination. Of those states, I had never been to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and for obvious reasons, Wyoming. As an added bonus, I got to visit Colorado while I was there but I’ll tell you more later! Sadly, I don’t remember much, I was sleeping a majority of the ride. Oops!

It was a long 28, almost 29, hours but we made it safely. We spent a good chunk of that first day just sleeping our lives away but it’s only because we were so tired. It wasn’t very exciting. We didn’t go anywhere but we did start to unpack some of their things and start to settle in. We spent most of that weekend just hanging out. By Monday morning, we were definitely ready to start adventuring.

On Monday, we decided to do some small errands. Nothing crazy. We were still trying to get used to all of it. The next day, we ended up taking a trip to the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. It was absolutely breathtaking and by far, my favorite part of the trip. There are so many beautiful plants there and I absolutely fell in love. I don’t think I could name all of the plants in there if I even wanted to! I’m so glad that I was able to visit because you all know how much I love my plants. I felt like I was right at home with all of that greenery!

The view from the second floor of the inside of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens!

After the gardens, we walked around Lions Park, which is where the gardens are located. It’s a pretty big park and there’s not much there but it’s absolutely beautiful. I even got to catch some Pokémon (Yes, I still play Pokémon Go. Don’t judge me). We ended up going back to the house for a little while and then got Sonic. The next day, we took a trip to Colorado!

We decided to drive into Fort Collins, Colorado. It was pretty rainy but we figured, why not? We did not have a plan. We were just driving until we found something cool. On our way into Fort Collins, we came across a canyon. We knew that’s where we had to go. Driving into that canyon was so peaceful, I was so glad that we got to go.

A peaceful view I got to see in Bellvue, Colorado

I can go on and on about everything I got to do but I won’t. Because there was something I got to experience on this trip that was unlike anything I felt before. I felt peace. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had no worries. I know there’s always going to be something to worry about but in that moment, there wasn’t.

Adventuring West really put my life into perspective for me. I have always put everyone else first and have never really made what I wanted a priority. This time, I did something I wanted and it was one of the best choices that I could have made. It gave me the chance to really think about what I want out of life and I want so much more out of it. I want to do more of what makes me happy and so should you!

Check out Cheyenne’s website for more Things to Do if you plan on adventuring there!

Read Kailey’s post My Trip To Oregon here on TurningPointCT.org to hear about her adventure in the West!

Stay Active In The Summer!

Summer is one of the best seasons to stay active in! The weather’s great, there’s a little more free time for some of us and it’s just an overall great time to really get out there and adventure! There’s a huge variety of activities that you can do in the summertime! With that being said, I’d love to share some of my favorite summer activities. Some of my favorite activities during this season are hiking, swimming and just really getting out to explore.

Let’s start with hiking. In the last couple of years, I really got into hiking. It kept me active in so many ways and I loved every bit of it. Hiking in the summer can being a little bit crazy because it can get pretty hot and uncomfortable if you don’t dress properly. Through hiking, I’ve seen so many beautiful views and I can’t wait to see more. It’s also helped me to maintain my weight and keep a clear headspace.

Now, swimming is an obvious summer activity! I mean, come on, all the beaches are open and the weather’s amazing. You just can’t pass it up! I mean the water is refreshing on your skin and nothing beats beach hair. Swimming is also a really great way to keep your heartrate up while also improving the strength of your lungs. It’s also a really great way to relieve any stress that you may be having.

Getting out, staying active and exploring in the sun can do wonders for your mental health too! Did you know spending time in the sun helps your body produce more melatonin at night? Producing more melatonin allows you to sleep better and even feel better as a whole. Give it a try if you haven’t!

Check out Smithsonian Magazine’s article How Exercise Boosts the Brain and Improves Mental Health right on their website!

Read Kailey’s post Adventuring Alone here on TurningPointCT.org to see how her adventures are keeping her active!

Your Body Is A Summer Body

I have no doubt that you’ve heard the phrase “summer body”. To most, a “summer body” is a skinny and well-toned body but I’m here to remind you that’s not true. All bodies are summer bodies but we’ve allowed the world around us to dictate what we should look like so we don’t always feel that way.

We can’t keep letting our culture decide whether or not our bodies are ready for the summer. We have grown up in a world where we believe that we aren’t beautiful simply because we’re not thin and don’t wear bikinis to show it all off. I’m here to tell you that that has to stop. Your body IS a summer body!

No worries if you’re still learning to love your body, it took me some time too. When I was overweight, I used to hate the summertime. I couldn’t wear what I wanted because I was so worried about what everyone else had to say. I didn’t have a summer body, so why was I going to show it off in a bikini? That’s the thing. I wasn’t. I let society bully me into believing that my body wasn’t good enough for the summer.

Eventually, I didn’t care anymore. I realized that my body could be a summer body if I wanted it to! I was overweight still but I’d finally decided to buy my first two piece bathing suit. Let me tell you, that was an emotional roller coaster. I was so happy to be wearing something that I felt confident in. For a moment, I thought to myself, why did I ever let someone tell me what I can look like for the summer. I mean, seriously? Why should we let someone else determine what we should look like in the summer, let alone any other season? Truth is, we shouldn’t. It’s not for the world to decide.

So, next time you’re wondering whether your body’s ready for summer, just say yes. It’s not anyone else’s choice to decide what your body should look like or what you should wear. You wanna wear a two piece? Do it. I bet you’ll great. Crop top and shorts but your pudge is showing? Who cares! It’s not their body. Do more of what makes you happy!

Check out SELF’s post Can We All Just Stop With Summer ‘Body Goals’? 🙂

Check out our podcast Body Image Struggles to hear about body image struggles and tips for dealing with negative self-talk!

Summer Self-Care Matters Too!

blue illustrated hello summer facebook post

School’s out and summer is in full swing! Everyone’s so focused on having fun and going out that they forget to take care of themselves. I’m here to remind you that summer self-care is just as important as your regular routine!

I know that taking care of yourself probably isn’t your first thought during the summer but it really should be. I mean, don’t you want to feel good while you’re out doing doing fun things? The answer should be yes. Summer is the best time for self-care, the weather’s warm and there are so many things you can do to take care of yourself.

When I was younger, I didn’t care much about taking care of myself during the summertime, I just wanted to have fun. Now that I’m older, I know how important self-care is especially in the summer. I was going out with friends and going on vacation but it didn’t feel right because I wasn’t feeling good mentally or physically. I did those things anyways because I didn’t want it to keep me from the fun.

Having fun is great but so is feeling mentally and physically good, that’s why you can’t give up your self-care routine just because it’s summertime. Before you go out and do all those fun summer activities, make sure that you take the time to check-in with yourself.

Check out 15 Activities for Your Summer Self-Care Checklist from Mental Health First Aid for some self-care tips for the season!

Read Kailey’s post Getting Out In Nature Is My Self-Care right here on TurningPointCT.org as I’m sure she’ll be in nature all summer!

Alone

Social Media Assistant, Therell, shares his song, “Alone”, which is about how he feels alone in the world.

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?

Provincetown Made Me Feel Safe

Like I mentioned, I’m trying to practice more social self-care so I decided to be a little spontaneous for once. Last weekend, a couple of friends, my brother and I took a trip to Provincetown. For those of you who weren’t aware, Provincetown has been a long-standing safe haven for many artists as well as lesbians and gay men. I’ve wanted to visit forever and my friend, Sienna, finally convinced us to go!

Sienna had been there before but this was a first for the rest of us. From the minute we entered the town, we were already feeling so welcomed. I always worry for myself and friends being so openly LGBTQIA+ in a world that can be so unkind. But being here felt different. I didn’t have to worry about anyone making rude comments or making me feel bad. Everyone was so free to just be themselves and I loved every bit of it.

I could tell that even Dante was feeling this way. The people who were there were all so friendly. Everyone was friendly and incredibly kind. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I had to worry about being in danger. Though, I was still cautious but it was hard to feel unsafe in a place that was so bright, happy and welcoming to all.

Provincetown is amazing, I love it and we will be visiting again because there are so many more places to see. We only did a few things but those few things were amazing. We each got two pressed pennies to commemorate our trip and tried some of the best foods. It was all amazing. We even got to enjoy the beach in beautiful weather. I cannot wait to go back!

Want to plan your own trip to Provincetown? Visit their tourism website here! 🙂

Also read my post Coming Out As Pansexual right here on TurningPointCT.org!

How I’ve Been Practicing Social Self-Care

The best breakfast from Muddy Waters on Bank Street

Last week, I shared different types of self-care and how you can practice them. So, this week, I’ve decided to put some time aside to practice a little social self-care. Just to refresh your memory, social self-care is setting time aside to nurture the important relationships in your life. Socializing is great for your mental health and has a variety of benefits. Social self-care is something that I often struggle with because I tend to shut people out when I’m feeling low instead of reaching out. I know I shouldn’t do that but honestly, I can’t help it.

Like I said, I’ve never been great at practicing social self-care. I’m trying to be better about it though, this weekend I took my little brother and two of my closest friends to my favorite breakfast place. It’s called Muddy Waters and it’s on Bank Street in New London, CT. They serve some of the best pastries, coffee and breakfast foods that I’ve ever had. I was incredibly excited to bring them all here because none of them had ever been there before and you can’t visit Bank Street without stopping here!

My friend Charisma & I

Spending the day out with my friends and my brother reminded me that it’s so important to maintain these relationships. I’m often on my own doing little tasks here and there but never taking much of a break. Charisma, Sienna and Dante are proof that taking the time to nourish your relationships can really go a long way. Spending time with them gave me a much needed break from all of the things that have been stressing me out. For a few hours, I had nothing to worry about but whether I was having a good time.

I will be spending more time nourishing the important relationships in my life because without them, I’m not sure what I would do. I never realized how important socializing and getting out with your friends was. I’m so used to drowning in my own misery and being alone that I forgot how wonderful it was to let go and just be with the people I love.

My brother Dante & my friend Sienna

Take care of your relationships and spend more time with your friends! It’s good for them and it’s most certainly good for you!

How are YOU practicing social self-care?

Check out Campus Well’s article Why Social Support Is The Most Overlooked Self-Care Routine on their website!

Read my post Things That Are Actually Self-Care But Seem Rude right here on TurningPointCT.org!

Things That Are Actually Self-Care But Seem Rude

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Sometimes, there are things we do and choices we make that might seem rude to other people. That’s not the case, it’s a form of self-care! We tend to put others feelings before our own and we should really stop doing that because what we need and want matters too. In fact, those needs and wants should be our first priority. I wanted to share a few things with you and remind you that these things you’re doing aren’t rude or selfish. I’ve shared a few below:

Saying No

It’s okay to say no. In fact, saying no is great for your mental health. It teaches the people around you what your boundaries are and how to respect them. Say no to things that make you unhappy or uncomfortable because you have to remember that what you need is just as important as everything else. When you choose to say yes when you really want to say no, you’re teaching yourself to put others before you. Don’t do that. Take care of you first!

Changing Your Mind

It’s okay to change your mind! Never let anyone make you feel bad for changing your mind. You are allowed to. We are always changing our minds. Think about it this way, when you were little you dreamed of becoming something but maybe that’s changed for you now. When I was younger, I wanted to be an artist and then a teacher. Eventually, I settled on being a nurse but I didn’t end up wanting to do that. Now, I’m working towards being a school psychologist and I’ve never been happier. I changed my mind and that’s okay. As we grow as individuals, we begin to learn what we like and what we don’t so never feel bad about changing your mind!

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries is great for your mental health. It teaches the people around you respect as well as what your limits are. When you make your boundaries clear, people will begin understand what you are and aren’t okay with, and they’ll hopefully adjust their behavior to respect your boundaries. The people who don’t respect your boundaries are ones you should not want in your life. Healthy boundaries can also help you improve your self-esteem and make you more confident. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries, you deserve the same respect you give.

Putting Yourself First

This is a really big one. I struggle with this myself sometimes. Putting yourself first is NOT rude or selfish. It is the best thing that you can do for your mental health. We spend so much time trying to fulfil the needs of everyone around us and we forget about ourselves. I know that I’ve spent a majority of my time people pleasing and I forgot to take care of myself. What we need and want is just as important as what everyone else wants. Always put yourself first, no matter what anyone says.

Taking A Break

Please remind yourself that taking a break is okay. Sometimes, when we’ve got a thousand things to do we forget to take a break. We run ourselves into the ground until we’ve got nothing left to give. It shouldn’t be like that. We shouldn’t have to feel bad for needing to rest. Instead of running ourselves thin, we have to remind ourselves to take a break. We have to recharge and rest, it’s okay if everything doesn’t get done right away. Please know that it’s okay to need a break or rest.

Read The New York Times article Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish to learn why practicing self-care is important and not selfish right on their website!

Check out Kailey’s post Getting Out In Nature Is My Self-Care here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂

May The 4th Be With You

Star Wars has been a part of my life since I was a little kid.  I grew up with the prequel trilogy (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, & Revenge of the Sith), so I tend to like that set of movies the most, but I still love the originals (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, & Return of the Jedi) too.   

Watching Star Wars has had a positive impact on my mental health.  Whenever I watch it, it puts me in a good mood.  Even the sequel trilogy (The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, & The Rise of Skywalker), which I don’t really like that much because of the story, but I do like most of the characters.  

I honestly feel like parts of my life would be drastically different had I not been introduced to Star Wars.  For example, I wanted to be a Jedi when I was younger, I often quote Star Wars in my day to day life, and I have also lived by some ideas within the franchise.  One of these ideas was that negative emotions (the dark side) are bad.  However, I don’t live by this anymore because I have learned that continuously suppressing negative emotions can be unhealthy.  

Star Wars means so much to me.  I still have a lot of merchandise from the franchise; toys from my childhood, clothes, books, video games, etc. 

To end off, I will leave some of my favorite Star Wars quotes below:

“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

“Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try.” – Yoda

“I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.” – Chirrut Îmwe

Happy Star Wars day everyone!  May the Force be with 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.

Some Days Are Really, Really Hard

** trigger warning: mental health, self harm, addiction

@alli.kat Some days are really, really hard. #mentalhealthawareness #fyp #selfregulation #ptsd #sasurvivor #anxiety #healingtiktok #mentalhealthtiktok ♬ original sound – Ally Kernan

7 Year Anniversary of Being Vegan

Today marks 7 years that I’ve been vegan.  April 9, 2015 was the day I decided to give up meat and dairy forever.  The last non-vegan thing I consumed was a chicken patty from my high school and after that I was like “I don’t want to do this anymore”.

My mom was vegan and before that a vegetarian long before me so she was a huge inspiration in my decision.  I also saw videos (Earthlings, etc) of animals not being treated well as they were prepared to be brutally turned into food.  This obviously also played a role in my decision.  I just did not want to contribute to the horrors that those poor animals were going through.

In addition to feeling better about not contributing to the horrible treatment of animals, I also know that my choice has had a positive impact on the environment.  Being vegan means I have saved not only animals, but also water, CO2, and forests. (https://thevegancalculator.com/#calculator). 

Being vegan has also improved my health.  Before going vegan, I noticed that I would get sick quite frequently.  After going vegan, the frequency at which I would get sick decreased significantly.  

Vegans have a stereotype of being annoying, pushy, and talking too much about their beliefs, so I don’t really talk about being vegan with people unless they ask me or it comes up in conversation.

My favorite vegan restaurants are Three Girls Vegan Creamery in Guilford and GZen in Branford (which is unfortunately closing at the end of this month).  There are also a few other restaurants that I enjoy which have vegan options.  Outside of those restaurants, I eat vegan “meat” products, veggies, fruit, grains.  There are so many vegan versions of a lot of foods nowadays.  

I’m not sure how I will celebrate my 7 year anniversary of being vegan, but it will probably involve eating vegan food!

Autism Awareness: Inclusion Matters!

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For those of you who don’t know, April is World Autism Awareness Month. By celebrating, we have the opportunity to provide a better understanding and further the acceptance of individuals with Autism. We can do this in many ways.

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) references a variety conditions and characteristics that are accompanied with many challenges. Some of these challenges include trouble with speech, repeat behaviors and trouble with social skills. Autism is a spectrum. Individuals with Autism each have their own unique strengths and obstacles to face.

One of the biggest ways we can support individuals with Autism is through inclusion! Now I know some of you are probably wondering what that means! Well, inclusion is when you are being valued, respected and supported by those around you so that’s why its important. It’s all about focusing on the needs of every person. It also means making sure that you are helping each person reach their full potential. Individuals on the spectrum are just like everyone else and they have the same rights to inclusion that we do! Autism isn’t a disability, it’s just a different ability.

The students with Autism in my classroom are some of the sweetest, kindest and brightest kids I know. It breaks my heart when people aren’t willing to include them in certain activities because of their disabilities. They are capable of doing what everyone else can, they may just need a little more support but that’s okay. Inclusion matters because without it, many will be left out and feeling inadequate which could lead to negative feelings towards themselves. They don’t deserve that. Be more inclusive!

For more information on World Autism Awareness Month, check out Autism Speaks!

Also check out Kailey’s post “What is Sensory Overload?” here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Will Smith vs Chris Rock

As I’m sure most of us are aware, there was an incident at the 2022 Oscars between actor Will Smith and comedian Chris Rock. Chris Rock made a joke about Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face.

Most of the internet has been divided, some siding with Will Smith, some siding with Chris Rock. Then there are those who are either not picking a side or just enjoying the countless memes that have been created about the situation. I am one of the people who isn’t siding with anyone, but I do have some thoughts about what happened. This is definitely a complicated and complex issue.

I feel as though Will Smith had some pent up emotions. There was a shot of him laughing at the joke that Chris Rock made, then suddenly he was extremely upset and did what he did. He might have been under a lot of stress as he was a nominee that night, and there is already a lot of drama surrounding his relationship with Jada.  

Chris’s joke also calls into question what is okay for a comedian to joke about. Should some things just be off limits? Where is the line between humor and being respectful to each other? Either way, I do think Chris Rock handled being slapped in the face quite professionally, not physically retaliating, just verbally reacting. Apparently he is not even pressing charges. While Rock may not have meant any harm with what he said, I can relate to being the butt of a joke. You don’t always want to show that it bothers you, but at the same time, there’s only so much a human can take.  

Even though I am not picking a side, I will say that I don’t fully agree with reacting to something like that with violence, especially as a black male. I just feel like it proves what racist people think of us; that we are violent. I have already seen some racists come out with their opinions on social media. While it shouldn’t matter what racists think, unfortunately we live in a country where there is systemic racism. For that reason, our actions are under a microscope. When we do not support each other it is magnified. For example, even though Chris Rock hosted the Oscars and Will Smith won one that night, the media are focused on the slap.  

What are your thoughts about this? Are you taking a side?

Appreciate Where You Are In Your Journey…

You should appreciate where you are in life, even if it’s not where you want to be just yet. Where you are now matters just as much as where you want to be. I know it can be difficult to acknowledge the small things when you’re worrying about the bigger picture but sometimes, you just have to enjoy the ride.

Many people want to be something more and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s totally natural! Unfortunately, the biggest mistake people make is getting frustrated when they feel stuck like they’re not going to get anywhere in life. Don’t look at it like that, you have to try to learn from and appreciate it for what it is.

Life isn’t just some destination that we’re trying to get to, living our lives in an experience. We can’t spend every moment trying to get the bigger picture. Doing that causes us to lose sight of where we are now. Where we are now is important too, it’s a key part of getting to the bigger picture. If we’re not living our lives for experience and fulfillment then what are we even doing?

I look back on my life now and I’m thankful for those moments of frustration. Those moments taught me perseverance, strength and how to appreciate my journey a little more. They were the stepping stones I needed to grow. I didn’t appreciate those moments until long after because I didn’t know how important they would be to my journey through life. Now, I am glad to be where I am. I’m not exactly where I want to be right now but I am one step closer to it. For that I’m thankful.

Read I’m Thankful for my Journey with Mental Illness from Still I Run, Runners For Mental Health Awareness!

Check out Sasha’s post My Thoughts On Trauma right here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Things That Uplift Me When I’m Feeling Down

Your Expectations Of Me…

We are always trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations of who we are and who we should be, it shouldn’t be like that. What about the ones we have for ourselves? We always forget about what WE need and want when we shouldn’t. What we need has to come first, always.

This is something that has taken me a long time to learn. Now, I want to share with you a quote that I will always keep in the back of my mind. It is “Your expectations of me are not my responsibility to live up to”. And it is absolutely the truth. It’s NOT our responsibility to live up to everyone else’s expectations of who we are and what we should be doing with our lives.

Who we are and what we want to do with our lives is so much more important than what other people have to say about it. Stop trying to fill everyone else’s cup before you fill your own. We have our own hopes and dreams to follow. The expectations we have for ourselves should be our first priority always.

Please remember that it’s not your responsibility to carry all of those expectations on your shoulders. The expectations you have for yourself are what matter most. You have your own life to live and that’s okay, I promise.

Read Psychology Today’s article Letting Go of Expectations Is Good For Your Mental Health right on their website! 🙂

Also check out Kailey’s video Learning To Put Myself First here on TurningPointCT.org!

When Someone Tells You Your Mental Illness Is Your Fault

Have you ever had someone try to shame and blame you for your anxiety or depression?

I’ve heard all kinds of ridiculous things like “if you just change your mindset, you’ll be happy!” or “it’s like you want to be miserable” or “you literally work yourself up”

like yes, my brain, which is technically a part of me, gets me wound up for reasons that do not make sense to others. but, that does not mean I am actively choosing to worry to the point where I feel PHYSICALLY sick.

Trauma causes mental illnesses. Chemical imbalances cause mental illnesses. People do not simply CHOOSE to be mentally ill. This is not a choice. And it is really a life-long healing journey trying to recover from these invisible disorders.

Believe me, nobody would purposely choose to be mentally ill. Much like nobody would choose to be physically ill or injured. It shouldn’t be such a hard concept for others to wrap their heads around.

How Trauma Has Changed My Life

Nobody likes thinking about how trauma has affected them. But, there’s no hiding the fact that trauma has had an impact on my life. Whether I like it or not, there are a lot of things I do and don’t do because of past traumas.

Trauma isn’t always one event. Sometimes it’s repeated events. Anything can be trauma, it’s different for everyone. There are some things that I would consider traumatic that I have flashbacks about that people would probably argue aren’t trauma. The problem is, they are traumatic because those events have completely altered me.

Before I get into how trauma has affected me personally, I’d like to give you a list of some of the effects of trauma:

  • Flashbacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Dissociation
  • Unable to relax
  • Sleep problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Grief
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Alcohol and substance misuse

I’d love to tell you I’ve only dealt with a select few of the issues on that list, but I have struggled with all of them as a result of traumas in my life. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking there’s no way someone who’s only 25 has dealt with that much trauma in their life. But, due to a lot of mental health issues, I put myself in a lot of really bad situations, but there were definitely things that happened to me that were completely out of my control.

I think one of the worst things I’ve dealt with are flashbacks. There are days when it’s constant. I’ll have periods where they won’t be an issue, but then they’ll come back full force out of nowhere. This typically leads to anxiety or even panic attacks as I relive the traumas.

The flashbacks also lead to dissociation. Sometimes the dissociation is not being able to differentiate the flashbacks from reality. Other times, the dissociation is literally my brain completely shutting down in an attempt to protect myself from my own thoughts. In other words it’s a bunch of nothing-ness while I stare at a wall with no thoughts for hours. Dissociating is something I’ve even turned to during traumatic events to escape the reality of what was happening to me.

Oh and don’t forget how the flashbacks also negatively affect my sleep. The flashbacks love to come as I’m trying to fall asleep at night. Some nights they will be so bad, I will be terrified to close my eyes. So instead of taking the chance of closing my eyes and getting sucked into a flashback, I’ll keep my eyes open and stare at the ceiling until I’m too tired to fight it anymore.

My traumas have lead to a lot of suicidal feelings. Sometimes when I think about the things that happened to me, I can’t help but think why? There were many times when I thought about ending my life after traumatic events.

Another way I tried to deal with my trauma was by using substances. I used alcohol and marijuana to numb myself. I didn’t want to feel anything. Getting so stoned or drunk that I was barely there was an escape for me. It was my way to avoid the flashbacks and the anxiety.

That’s the other thing about trauma. A lot of traumas are tied to people, places, and things. I avoid a lot of people and places because of my trauma. I have lived in the same area since I was a kid and there have been a lot of times that I have honestly thought about moving away because I drive by triggering places just in my everyday life.

I avoid places where I might see someone from my past that I went no contact with. If I can’t avoid these places, I am anxious the whole time. There have even been times where even going to one of these places was mentioned and I’ve had a panic attack that lead to hyperventilating and tears. How do you tell someone that you can’t go a certain restaurant or another normal place without feeling like you’re going to die? How do you explain that to someone who has never been through it?

While I don’t want my trauma to control my life, I feel like it definitely does sometimes. Sometimes, it makes me feel completely helpless. It’s like a never-ending hell. I hate that there are places I can’t go to because they’re attached to certain things that have happened to me. I hate that I have to live in fear going to certain towns because I might see someone who did something to me.

But, this is the reality of being a trauma survivor. It doesn’t matter how many years have gone by, the effects are always there. Sometimes the symptoms are in my face, other times it’s subconscious because I’ve been living with these things for so long. This is my life with CPTSD from years of repeated trauma.

If you’ve dealt with something traumatic, I am so sorry. I really would not wish any of these aftereffects of trauma on anyone. I know how hard it has been for me. But, if you are struggling, there is help out there. Check out some of our resources to find help.

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Sasha’s post My Thoughts On Trauma right here on turningpointct.org.

Self-Harming Shouldn’t Be Treated Like A Joke

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T/W: self-harm and self-harming.

Talking about self-harming is something that I have always avoided because I know what people are going to say. They would say that I was doing it for attention but I wasn’t. In reality, I didn’t want anyone to know. Most of the self-harming I did was a result of my parents split when I was in middle school. Their split took a heavy emotional and physical toll on me and eventually, it just became too much.

I felt like I had no one. I couldn’t talk to my mom about how I felt and the counselor at school could only do so much. Emotionally, I felt so broken. I just wanted the pain I felt to go away and it wasn’t. No matter how hard I tried to make it stop, it just didn’t. I didn’t know what else to do, I needed an escape so I turned to self-harming. This wasn’t my best choice but it did make me forget about how much emotional pain I was dealing with. And that’s what I wanted.

Read Brianna’s post When Someone Made a ‘Funny’ Comment About My Self-Harm Scars on The Mighty

Check out Kailey’s post Quotes I Really Needed To Hear When I Was Struggling right here on TurningPointCT.org!

Check out our Resources – Support By Topic Page for resources like S.A.F.E ALTERNATIVES® and Adolescent Self Injury Foundation (ASIF).

Self-Care Plan: How To Create Your Own!

Welcome back to Self-care Sunday! This week I want to share with you the idea of a Self-care Plan. A self-care plan is a set a of tasks or activities that you should complete daily. Completing these activities will help you improve your physical and emotional well-being. Sticking to your self-care plan will lead to a fulfilling, happier, and healthier life for yourself. A plan like this can be extremely beneficial.

We don’t all need the same things to function and so that also means that we won’t have the same self-care plans. And that’s okay. We each have a special set of physical and emotional needs that are unique to us. The use of a self-care plan allows us to meet those needs with care. It allows you to better manage your stress and anxiety, improve your coping skills, and even put an end to harmful habits.

Creating your own plan can be very beneficial in improving your mental health. This plan is vital in managing your stress and anxiety. Taking the time to practice self-care allows your body to activate it’s parasympathetic nervous system. This nervous system is the one that allows your body and your mind to relax. Using a plan allows you time to rest which is important in maintaining stress and anxiety.

You can create your own plan in just a few steps!

  1. Start by taking a look at all of your current habits (the good AND bad ones). This will help you identify the habits that are most harmful to you so that you can get rid of them.
  2. After this you should take them time to identify your own needs. It’s helpful to compile a list of your emotional, mental, physical and professional needs as a good plan will take care of all these areas.
  3. Next you’ll want to think about what self-care practices will properly support those needs. Remember to make time for these practices so that you can keep up with your plan, this is important.
  4. Finally, get rid of your obstacles and I mean that. I’m talking about those harmful habits, get rid of them. You don’t need them anymore. You can take it one day at a time and try replacing one of your bad habits with a good self-care practice so that you can do better!

I have my own self-care plan in place, it’s not much but it’s what works for me! Saturday and Sunday are the days I practice a majority of my self-care because the during the week is usually hectic for me. These are the days when I have the most free time so I make sure to use these days to take care of me. Remember, self-care plans are different for everyone and that’s okay!

In order for these plans to be beneficial, you have to make sure that you keep up with it so you don’t lose any of your progress. Stick to your plan as best as you can and when things are becoming too overwhelming, remind yourself to rest. You should be caring for yourself like you do everything else because your mental health matters.

Check out Psychology Today’s post The Top 10 Tips For Beating Burnout!

Read Kailey’s video Easy Ways To Practice Self-Care right here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂

My Race Isn’t For You To Decide

All my life I’ve had people tell what I am and what I’m not based on how I look. My race isn’t for anyone else but me to decide. Growing up, a lot of people would assume I was Black, or Indian because that’s how I looked to them. Looking at me, you probably wouldn’t know that I was multiracial. Just because I don’t look it, doesn’t mean that you get to decide what I am.

I often tell people that I’m a “mutt” because I’m not just one nationality and neither are my parents. My mother is English, Irish, Filipino, Hawaiian, Portuguese and Chinese. And my father is African American, West Indian and Dutch (you couldn’t tell that by looking at him though LOL). Honestly, you wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t tell you. To most people, my dad’s just Black and my mom’s just Asian because that’s how they look. Which is what a lot of people do to me.

My dad & my mom

To most people, I am just Black because that’s how I present but I am more than that. I am multiracial and I love each and every part of who I am. Aside from being Black, a huge part of who I am is also being Asian. Like I said, my mother is mostly Asian. She raised my siblings and I on a lot of Asian culture. She definitely cooks some of the best homemade Asian food I’ve ever had. While you can definitely tell my mom is Asian, I don’t really look it (at leas according to most people). In fact, when I tell people that I am, they’re often kind of shocked or don’t even believe me.

Me & my cousin on my last day in Hawaii (we were moving to Connecticut)!

Once in middle school, I actually had someone tell me that being Hawaiian wasn’t even a real thing. I thought they were joking but they very much were not. When I was younger a lot of people would assume that I was Indian or Hispanic because that’s how I looked to them. I hated it. People would say things like, “You have beautiful Indian hair” or “Do you speak Spanish? You look Dominican.” I wasn’t those nationalities, I knew what I was but it still made me feel confused. Why would someone say something like that when it wasn’t true?

Eventually, I realized that it was because of how I looked. I didn’t look like all those nationalities that I listed before. Was I supposed to? Just to be clear, the answer is no. I’m mixed, I wouldn’t look like just any one nationality but I had dark skin and to a lot of people that would make me just Black. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. When I got older, a woman told me that I got hired because I looked like I could speak Spanish. I couldn’t believe it, they didn’t ask me that in the interview nor was it a requirement.

A recent photo of my brothers and I with our mother

It still happens occasionally but I am truly proud to be multiracial. Because of my parents, nobody can place me into one racial category. I am so much more than that. I’m a blend of beautiful cultures and nationalities, I’m proud of that. I know that I may not look like those nationalities to you but they will always be a part of who I am. Nobody gets to tell me that except me. My race isn’t for you to decide.

Read NPR’s post Being Black In America: ‘We Have A Place In This World Too’, really great read!

Check out our Project Assistant Kailey’s post Being Mixed But White-Presenting here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Crazy Plant Lady: A Day In The Leaf

Self-care Sunday is all about plants and what it’s like to be a crazy plant lady! I know that most people hear the phrase “self-care” and think that it means spa stuff but that’s not true! Self-care is all about taking care of yourself, no matter how you choose to do that. There are so many forms of self-care to utilize and it doesn’t stop at the pampering. I’ve previously shared that I like to bake as a form of self-care but one of my top favorite things is taking care of my plants.

For those of you who don’t know I love plants. Honestly, I’m kind of obsessed with them and I am definitely a crazy plant lady. It all began with one plant and because of that plant, my life changed. This plant was a little cactus that a friend had given to me as a gift. It was a cute little prickly thing and I fell in love with it immediately. Having something to take care of made me feel good. Unfortunately, my poor little cactus met its demise after my dog knocked it out of the window.

plants
Agent Hotchner & Dr. Reid

Plants are a really good form of self-care. Taking care of them creates a routine and gives you a little bit of purpose when you’re feeling down. A plant, much like a person, requires attention, love and care. Taking care of one can teach you a lot about those things. Especially when it comes to yourself. If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to yourself can do.

succulents
Top Row: Agents Alvez, Lewis, Garcia, Callahan & Gideon / Bottom Row: Agents Blake, Simmons & Morgan

Now that I’m older and have my own space, I’ve grown my plant collection bigger than I ever thought it could be. I love my little plants. They give me purpose and have taught me so much about taking care of myself. Nurturing them and being able to watch them all grow is a wonder because I helped them get there. It’s just such an amazing process and I got to be a part of it. Because of these plants, I’ve learned to take better care of myself. They are a reminder that a little love and care can really go a long way because that’s really all it takes.

Agents Prentiss, Rossi & Jareau

Be kind to yourself the way that you are kind to plants and others because you deserve that kind of care too. I want you to water yourself with kind words, love and care because like plants, you need that too. I promise that will help you grow into the wonderful, beautiful person you want to be. You have to remember that it all starts with you.

Want to have your own plants for self-care? Here are 5 Easy Houseplants That Double As Self-care Reminders! 🙂

Check out Psychology Today’s article 11 Ways Plants Enhance Your Mental and Emotional Health.

Read my post How Life Feels Is More Important Than How It Looks right here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Have a great week!

How Life Feels Is More Important Than How It Looks

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Social media and society have made us feel like we have to portray our lives a certain way. We want people to think that we live these exciting, beautiful lives when in reality, we’re kind of struggling to have them. How your life feels is much more important than how it looks. The people who see our lives have no idea how it feels and that matters.

Growing up I tried to portray myself and my life a certain way because I didn’t want people to know how miserable I was. It was exhausting and only made me feel more miserable than I already was. My life was falling apart before my eyes and all I cared about was what people would think if they saw it too. I felt like I was drowning in misery but nobody knew that because that’s not how I portrayed myself to the world. Though my life might have seemed like it was great, I was exhausted trying to keep the show going.

Eventually, I didn’t care what people thought about my life or how it might look to them. It wasn’t their life to live, it was mine. The life I present to the world is raw, authentic and truly me. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the adventures I go on, who I spend them with and everything in between. The life I am living, I am living for me and that makes me feel good. And when your life feels good, you give more room for positivity.

I promise you how your life feels is SO much more important than how it looks.

Check out Psychology Today’s article 10 Ways To Make Your Life Better, Starting Today!

Read Kailey’s post Avatar: The Last Airbender – Uncle Iroh’s Best Advice here on TurningPointCT.org!

When You Stop Chasing The Wrong Things…

Natural Style Girl running on the Road HBD Photo Template

Sometimes, we find ourselves chasing after the things that we think we want instead of what we need. When you spend too much time focusing on the wrong things, you tend to lose sight of the things that might be right for you. We have to stop chasing the wrong things if we’re going to grow.

There may be things in your life that you’re chasing that are no longer benefiting you. You have to stop chasing those things so that the things you need to grow have a chance to catch up to you. This also means that you have to be patient.

I know sometimes you don’t want to wait for the right things to find you, but trying to force something to be right isn’t any better. It is much better in the long run to be patient.

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.”

Lolly Daskal

You can read The Importance of Being Patient from Forbes, really great read!

You also check out my post Practicing Self-Love On A Bad Day to learn why it’s important to love yourself a little more on the hard days.

Black History Month: Growing Up Black In A White Town

Black History Month is important to me. Being black is part of who I am, it’s not something that’s going away. I’m proud to be black. Growing up, my family never really talked about things like that. I didn’t even learn anything about it until I was old enough to go to school.

For those of you who don’t know me, I grew up in Salem, CT. The easiest way to describe Salem to you is by calling it a farm town because that’s what it was, at least to me. One of the other things that is most noticeable to people about Salem is that the population is mostly white. Now, I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but can you imagine growing up in a place where there was nobody that looked like you?

This is my kindergarten class photo. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m the only child of color in the photo.

The only other people of color I knew in town were my own relatives and a boy named Michael. I was young when we first moved to Salem, so it never really seemed like a big deal to me. When I got to middle school, I began to ask questions. Why were there no other kids that looked like me? I didn’t really have the answer for that, I still don’t. I didn’t know what it really meant to be black or white but I knew I had to “act white” to fit in.

There were so many things I did in middle school that I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had just been myself and loved me for who I was. I straightened my hair everyday. Honestly, I even tried to dress like the girls I went to school with. I thought it might make them like me more but that was never the case. Still, I continued to straighten my hair and wear clothes I didn’t like just to fit in.

Being black in a mostly white town came with more than just physical identity issues. Middle school was around when my parents split up. This now unfortunately put me in the “all black dads leave” category, and I hated it. Some of the kids in my grade at the time actually gave me a really hard time about it. I was miserable. Being black came with so many stereotypes like that. Kids asked me all the time if I liked fried chicken or Kool-Aid because that’s what black people like, according to them. I did love those things but not because of my skin color, just because I liked them.

Growing up in a mostly white town really made me hate the black part of my identity. It made me feel outcasted and different. I wish my parents had taught me to love all of myself. If only they had taught me more about black history and what it meant to be black. That those stereotypes aren’t who I am. I am proud to be black and I am even more proud of the history that comes with it.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” and I have that same dream for all the colored children and young adults in this world.

Read The New York Times’ article Teachers Tackle Black History Month, Under New Restrictions, it’s a really interesting read!

Read The ‘Other’ Aspect of Black History Month here on TurningPointCT.org!

What I Want More Of This Year

Last year, I learned a lot about myself and I never want to lose what I’ve learned. I have always struggled with putting myself and my needs before anyone else. That really has to change. I was lacking a lot in my life last year and now, I want more of those things in my life. So, this year, I am going to be putting me and my needs first. I want more out of life. Here are just a few of the things I’d like more of this year:

Self-Love

My main priority for this year is to give myself more love. I am notorious for being unkind to myself but I’ve been trying to be better. Last year, I was beating myself up for so many things I couldn’t control. I was carrying around so much stress and worry that I began to take it out on myself. It made me feel inadequate, like I was never going to get it right for myself. Eventually, things got better. I was learning to love myself a little more.

Part of growing is learning. Learning to love yourself is a crucial part of that growth. You have to accept yourself for all that you are. That means learning to love the good parts and the ‘bad’ parts. I’m still learning to love those bad parts but I will get there. All I know is that I deserve to feel the love that I give, even if it means that love has to come from me.

Positivity

I’m very much a “the glass is half empty” kind of person. I always have been. Growing up through my parents divorce really did a number on me. My mom was so negative about everything that eventually, I began to feel that way too. Honestly, I didn’t see the point in trying to find the positives in everything because I knew somehow, it would still disappoint me. I watched negativity consume my mom. It made her really mean and unkind sometimes. I don’t want to end up like that.

So, this year I am practicing more positivity and gratitude. When things are becoming difficult, I will do my best to keep my head above water and try to see the good in the situation. Positivity and kindness go hand in hand. Being kinder to myself will allow for more positive thoughts.

Memories

With COVID-19 on the rise, I wasn’t able to make as many good memories as I would have liked. I spent most of the pandemic inside the house worried about what was going on out in the world. This year, I want to make more memories. Good memories. Ones that I’ll be talking about forever. I don’t want go through life only remembering the bad memories. I want the good memories to be so good that I forget the bad ones ever even existed. This world is changing so quickly and I don’t want to miss any of it.

Travel

I have always wanted to travel the world. When I was younger, I used to dream of going to places like Greece or Ireland. There are just some things you can’t experience in the U.S. and the beauty of those countries is one of them. I envy the people who can travel as they please. I want nothing more than to see the world and all of its beautiful treasures.

Growing up, we went on vacations but very rarely outside of New England. I’ve only been to two places outside of New England. Those places were Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach, two of the best trips I’d ever been on. Just having been to those two places, I know that there’s more to this wonderful world than all I have access to in New England. This year, I want to do more traveling. Even if it’s a state I’ve never been to, at least it’ll be somewhere new.

Self-care

Last but not least, I want more self-care this year. I preach all the time about how important self-care is but I am honestly not the best at practicing it, at least not recently. I have not been taking care of myself as well as I should have been. I’m still learning how to give myself the care that I need but it will take time.

I will be giving myself more self-care this year. That means making more time for me and my needs. There are so many things that I love but don’t make time for. That’s really got to change. I will make time to bake more, read more, pamper myself more and overall, do what makes me happy.

What do YOU want more of this year?

Check out Psychology Today’s article 8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Life to learn how to move a little closer to happiness!

Read Sasha’s post How Traveling Changed My Life Forever here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Isabela And Her Struggle With Being Perfect

Throughout Encanto, Isabela’s family chooses to call her the “perfect” one. Isabela has one of my favorite gifts in the Madrigal family. She can grow flowers, trees, plants and so much more. She’s constantly creating these beautiful, perfect flowers that she hasn’t realized that she can make so many other beautiful things.

The Madrigal family, especially the Abuela, hold Isabela to incredibly high standards and expectations because she’s so perfect. She feels like she has to be perfect all the time because that’s what her family expects of her. She chooses to put on a brave face but she’s tired of being someone she’s not.

Honestly, we’ve all been in her shoes at some point. We’ve all pushed who we really are to the back of our minds because of the expectations set by those around us. Honestly, we aren’t going to be perfect but that’s the reality of the world we live in. I mean, I can definitely admit I’ve been there.

Growing up, I used to think that because I was a girl that I had to do girly things. You know things like doing my hair, wearing makeup, stupid stereotypical girl stuff. I felt like that’s what was expected of me. Eventually, I was over it. I just wanted to be who I wanted to be. No matter how anyone else felt about it.

I didn’t want to wear makeup or do my hair all the time. Honestly, I just wanted to read, learn and express myself. Unfortunately, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that if I continued trying to live up to everyone’s expectations of me. You can’t please everyone. In fact, the only person who’s opinion matters is yours.

At one point in the movie, Mirabel goes to apologize to her sister for ruining her special night. This apology is what she and Bruno believe will save their family’s miracle. Instead, they get into an argument because Mirabel doesn’t really know how Isabela is really feeling. She admits that she was only doing the things that she did because it would benefit the family. While expressing her feelings to her sister, Isabela creates a cactus. This is something she’s never done before. She begins to wonder what more she can do with her gift.

Isabela and Mirabel go off on an exciting, eye-opening musical montage where she creates these beautiful, multicolored cactuses and so much more. She begins to realize that she doesn’t want to be pretty and perfect, she just wants to be true to who she really wants to be. She wants to have fun and be able to express herself the way that she wants. There’s so much more to her than just beautiful flowers.

Before the end of the song, Isabela realizes who she really needs to thank. As a proud, big sister Isabela tells Mirabel that she owes all of it to her. Mirabel taught Isabela that it was okay to be imperfect as long as that’s what felt true. A truly beautiful moment that does in fact fix the cracks in their home and makes the candle’s flame burn brighter. Both Isabela and her relationship with Mirabel truly teach us an important lesson.

Isabela teaches us that being perfect comes with its own consequences. Everything Isabela was doing was not for herself but because that’s what her family was expecting of her. Eventually, she got sick of trying to fit into a box she clearly didn’t fit in anymore. There is much more authenticity in being imperfect than being perfect. Be who you want to be, not what they expect you to be.

Her relationship with her sister on the other hand, now that’s definitely a bigger picture lesson. Isabela and Mirabel do not have the best relationship as sisters. Isabela is constantly telling her sister that she’s only getting in the way and not being helpful when she does things that nobody has asked her to. Despite their rocky relationship, Mirabel still cares about her sister and wants her to be able to express herself. Mirabel was the one who reminded Isabela that it was okay not to be perfect all the time.

Sometimes, we just need someone to remind us that it’s okay not to be perfect. Or that it’s okay to not meet everyone’s expectations of you. But sometimes, that someone has to be you. Never force yourself to fit in a box, you will never have the chance to grow. You deserve to be wholeheartedly yourself and nobody should every make you feel otherwise. There is so much more to who we are than what people expect of us. We are made to grow free and blossom, we should not be let anyone or anything keep us from doing that.

What else can YOU do?

Check out Looper’s article about Why Abuela is hardest on Isabela here!

You can also read Kailey’s post Things I Wish People Knew About Mental Health here on TurningPointCT.org!

Why Mirabel Madrigal Is My New Role Model

Yes, I’m starting this week off with another post about Encanto but that’s not a bad thing. The movie is full of wonderful life lessons and characters who remind us of ourselves. One character that stuck out the most to me was the movie’s lead, Mirabel. She’s a true role model for all of us.

At one point or another, we’ve felt the exact same way as she did throughout the movie. She grew up in a home where she felt like she didn’t fit in even though she tried her best to. Mirabel was made to feel unimportant and inadequate by her Abuela because she doesn’t have a gift like the rest of her family. But this is far from the truth, she’s the most important family member of all.

The Abuela was incredibly hard on Mirabel. She constantly made her feel like she wasn’t good enough for not having a gift. She did her best do her part as a member of the Madrigal family but everyone made her feel like she was just getting in the way. Her home then becomes in trouble and she tried to warn everyone but nobody believes her. She felt that saving the miracle would make her a hero.

Eventually she realizes that no matter what she does to save her family and their home, it wasn’t going to be enough. But she knows her worth. She loves her family and everything that it embodies with or without the magic. She was what her family needed all along. Someone to remind them that they were more than the things they could do. Mirabel shows us that she has what it takes to be a hero, magic or not.

Growing up I wish I had someone like Mirabel to show me that it was okay to be imperfect. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I felt like I tried to be someone I wasn’t. Everyone was so hard on her but that never changed the way she felt about herself and that’s something I truly strive for. To be wholeheartedly me, no matter what anyone has to say. She did what she did and fought for what she believed in because that’s what was right.

Despite our struggles, we can make it out on top. We may not have powers or special abilities but there is something unique about all of us. We have to remind ourselves that we’re enough, especially when we’re feeling low. Even when Mirabel was feeling low and inadequate, she made sure to always remind her family that they were enough. She taught Luisa that it’s okay not to be strong and Isabela that it’s okay to be imperfect. Though she has no real gift, she has the power of love and support and that is magic in itself.

Mirabel Madrigal is my new role model and I wouldn’t change a thing about that.

Here’s the song, All Of You, that Mirabel sings to and with her family at the end of the movie! In the song, Mirabel and her family sing about how they’re more than their magic. How what matters is their whole being, who they are as people. Check it out below! 🙂

Read USA Today’s article What Disney’s ‘Encanto’ teaches us about self-worth and overcoming intergenerational family trauma on their website!

Check out my post Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough here on TuringPointCT.org! 🙂

Ron Swanson Quotes To Live By

I have always loved Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. From his wisdom, to his relationships with his coworkers, there’s just something about him that inspires me.

1. “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

This is my all time favorite Ron Swanson quote. It’s one that I definitely hold close to my heart. Ron said this to Leslie while she was running for city council. For those who haven’t watched the show, Leslie Knope is the most passionate, hardworking woman in the city of Pawnee but she doesn’t put herself first.

Leslie continued to work at the parks department while she was running her campaign for city office. Ron suggests a sabbatical as he realizes it’s becoming too much for Leslie but she refuses. Eventually, they have a heart to heart and Ron tells her of a time when he took on too much. He then tells her “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” because he knows how passionate she is. He wants her to put all her energy and passion into her campaign so it can be successful instead of stretching herself thing between both.

We should be putting all of our passion and energy into one thing like Ron said. It’s better than doing two things with half as much energy and passion.

2. “If you don’t believe in love, what’s the point of living?”

Ron states this quote after discussing whether he’d get married again or not. What he’s trying to say is that love is what keeps us going. I know that some people don’t believe in love but for those who do, we know that it’s more than just a word. I am definitely one of those people.

For those who feel the way about love that I do will understand what I’m about to say. Love is what allows us to give meaning to our lives. A life without love is one that’s dull. The ability to love and be loved by someone else is magic alone. Love teaches us about ourselves and the people in our lives. I don’t think that we’d survive without it.

Love is not just about relationships. It is about the the care and affection we choose to give to others. I know that love can be difficult sometimes but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Love is not always going to be easy. It will hurt you but it will also help you grow. So please, don’t give up on love.

3. “One rage every three months is permitted. Try not to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.”

In this episode, Ron has created The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. This pyramid has what Ron considers to be every to key to success. While going over it with, he points at a square titled “Rage”. He then says “One rage every three months is permitted. Try not to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.” You can have one big moment of anger when you’re struggling but don’t take it out on the people trying to help you.

I get that sometimes you feel like you have to bottle everything up until it explodes. That doesn’t mean when it finally happens that you can take those feelings out on everyone. Especially if they’re only trying to make things a little better for you. Try not to bottle those emotions up, talk to someone when you need help. I promise whoever it is will do everything that they can to help you feel better.

4. “Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.”

During this episode, Leslie is doing everything that she can to save townspeople from themselves with her power in legislation. She worked hard to pass new acts and laws but was driven to the point of quitting. She exclaims this to Ron to which he replies, “You choose a thankless job, you can’t be upset when nobody thanks you. Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim. That way lies madness.”

After hearing this, Leslie realizes that she didn’t want to quit because she didn’t love her job or because she wasn’t passionate about it anymore. She realizes that she was seeking out external affirmation from everyone she was trying to help. While she’s trying to do this for the townspeople, it’s not just about them. She does her job because it’s who she is and she’s passionate about it. She’s not doing it for fame or recognition.

This is definitely one that I think we can all get behind. We don’t do our jobs or the things that we do for other people. We do them because that’s who we are and what we love. And we have to remember that the moment you start doing things for other people’s opinions and approval is the moment you begin to lose yourself. Don’t lose yourself trying to chasing fame and recognition. Stay true to yourself, always.

5. “Live your life how you want, but don’t confuse drama with happiness.”

During a conversation with Donna, Ron is explaining to her that drama isn’t happiness. Donna is used to living a life full of superficial and tumultuous relationships. She finds traditional, stable one on one relationships to be boring.

Ron being in a stable, happy marriage finally sees the world in a different light and just wants to pass that onto Donna. He knows Donna deserves someone who is going to be good to her, not those who bring her drama. Drama might be exciting but it’s not what makes you happy. Ron Swanson is a good friend to everyone.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have struggled with this before. I spent time in a long, unhealthy relationship with someone because I thought the drama and everything was normal. I wasn’t happy but like I said, I just thought it was normal. Over 2 years later, I’ve finally let all the drama go and I’m much happier. Get rid of that unnecessary drama, it is NOT happiness. I promise. You will find it in the right place.

What are some of your favorite Parks & Rec quotes?

Read Why Ron Swanson Is One of the Best TV Characters of the Century—As Explained by Nick Offerman on The Ringer!

Read Kailey’s post 12 More Times “Bojack Horseman” Got Real About Mental Health here on TurningPointCT.org!

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

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

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

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

We Need Snow Days, Not Remote Learning Days

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In the last two years, several things have changed about how we run our school systems. Due to COVID-19, many schools had to change their protocols, how their teachers teach and so much more. One of the big things that seems to be affecting a lot of people are snow days.

We spent over a year doing remote learning, which with no doubt, has burned our students out. We finally got back to going to school in person and feeling somewhat normal but it seems remote learning has taken over our snow days.

By the end of 2020, several school districts across the country decided that there would no longer be snow days. Instead, students would have a remote learning day, which meant having to attend school and each class virtually. This also meant sitting for almost 8 hours in front of a computer screen. I mean seriously, how can that be good?

Many students struggled to pay attention because they were distracted by things going on in their home. It was really hard to convey hands on material through a screen. By the time we got back to in-person sessions so many students were falling behind but with time, they improved. The in-person sessions really made a difference.

Personally, I did not enjoy watching my teacher struggle to make our lessons work or watching my students struggle to understand the material because I wasn’t physically there to help them. My students have earned their snow days and so have our staff members.

So what if we have to have a snow day? At least our students and staff are getting a well-deserved break!

Check out Sorry, Kids. Snow Days Are Probably Over. from The New York Times, really great read!

Read Sasha’s post How COVID-19 Has Affected My Life As A High School Student right here on TurningPointCT!

Being A December Baby

I was born in December, two days after Christmas to be exact. I’m someone that enjoys birthdays; I love wishing people a happy birthday. I consider birthdays to be a sort of “holiday”, which would make my birthday my favorite holiday.

While I’m sure a lot of people with holiday birthdays have their gifts combined, ever since I was a kid, my mom always made sure to separate my birthday from Christmas. I would receive gifts for Christmas and two days later, gifts for my birthday – in birthday wrapping paper. And when we could, I would have parties or get-togethers for my birthday. One of my favorite parties we had was when we went to an indoor trampoline park when I was in 6th grade.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I have found it to be challenging to get friends to celebrate my birthday with me. People are more focused on spending time with their families during the Christmas/New Years season, which is completely understandable.  

Along with there being holidays, the winter weather has also played a factor. I remember one year, I invited people to celebrate my birthday with me, but on that particular day, it happened to snow pretty hard, so the get-together had to be canceled. Rescheduling was not an option as they were then busy with the holidays.

However, even when I didn’t have a party or get-together with friends, I would have my family tradition of going to a restaurant of my choosing on my birthday. Last year I chose Chipotle, and we also watched the sunset at the beach, which was nice. This year I am choosing my favorite restaurant, Three Girls Vegan Creamery in Guilford, CT.

For those of you with birthdays close to or on a holiday, how do you celebrate?

– T

When Someone Tells Me “Just Choose Happiness!!”

Practicing Gratitude Everyday

Pink & Green Watercolor Thank You Wish Card

Practicing gratitude and being thankful shouldn’t be limited to just one day a year. We should practice gratitude like everyday is Thanksgiving. Even if we’re just thankful to have gotten out of bed in the morning.

I think we should start by talking about what gratitude means. Gratitude is a thankful recognition of something that someone receives. It teaches us to recognize all of the goodness in our lives. Eventually, people start to realize goodness comes from outside of themselves, at least for the most part.

Being grateful teaches us how to connect with things that are bigger than us. Gratitude allows us to feel more positive emotions and enjoy our good experiences. It even allows us to create stronger relationships with those around us. Practicing gratitude is so important for our mental health. It teaches us to be more appreciative of the things in our lives.

Practicing gratitude is something that I had to learn over time. I was never appreciative of the things in my life. I was only focusing on the negative that I forgot to appreciate the good stuff. Now, I am grateful for everything each day brings me. I know it can be hard to be grateful when you’re having a hard time. It’s even more important to practice gratitude when things are hard because it’ll teach you to appreciate everything else a little more.

You can practice gratitude everyday in so many different ways! One of the best ways that you can do that is by starting a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal allows you to reflect on and record the things you are grateful for on a regular basis. You typically try to write about three things you are grateful for everyday. Gratitude journaling is one of the best ways to practice gratefulness and improve your happiness.

I hope after reading this that you’ll be a little more grateful for the things in your lives (even the small ones). Our world needs less negativity and more positivity. Please practice gratitude, if not for yourself, but for those in your life.

How will you be practicing gratitude?

Learn how to start your own Gratitude Journal here!

You can also check out our podcast about Gratitude right here on TurningPointCT!

Emotional Pain: An Experience

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Emotional pain is pain or hurt that comes from outside non-physical things. Sometimes this emotional hurt is a reaction to the actions or words of other people. Other times, it could be due to regret, grief, or loss. No matter the cause, this pain can become incredibly intense and can affect various parts of your life.

This type of pain has a variety of symptoms. It can come from feelings of loneliness, rage or even shame. It also leads to negative emotions or feelings towards some things or people. This pain also often leads to incredibly severe distress, which can feel even worse than physical pain itself. Emotional pain in itself can lead to unhealthy coping methods which can only worsen how you’re feeling. These methods often involve substance abuse, which can have fatal consequences. On the bright side, there are healthy coping methods for dealing with emotional pain. These methods can include therapy, exercise and even practicing mindfulness.

I’ve dealt with emotional pain practically all my life. A lot of my pain stems from my parents’ divorce, their reactions to it and how I grew up. My parents’ divorce destroyed me emotionally. I was hurt and feeling lost but there was nobody to teach me how to deal with my pain so I just kept it in. Eventually, things began to spiral. The hurt feelings and uncontrollable emotions were beginning to cause me physical distress. I couldn’t sleep, I barely ate, and I was even self-harming. The things I was feeling just hurt me so much emotionally and physically. It was something I never wanted to experience again, but it was something that I would, unfortunately, have to go through again, more than once.

While I do still occasionally deal with it, things have gotten much better. I rely on various coping methods to deal with it. One of the best methods that I’ve chosen was going to therapy. Therapy has been the absolute best thing for me and I wouldn’t change that. My therapist has done so much for me in terms of my pain. It is absolutely exhausting to deal with and work on. It just takes so much energy out of you but it will be so worth it. Eventually, this pain will try to consume you, you can’t let it get to that point. I know addressing pain, especially the emotional kind, can be difficult for some but there are people out there who want to help you. People who want you to get better. Please let them help you, you don’t have to do it by yourself.

What is the kindest thing to do for yourself when you experience this type of pain?

If you get the chance, please check out LiveScience’s article Why does ’emotional pain’ hurt?

Also, check out my post Why Having A Good Therapist Is Important here on TurningPointCT!

Inclusive Mental & Behavioral Health Resources

Check out this flyer from The Hub: Behavioral Health Action Organization for Southwestern CT that gives inclusive mental and behavioral health resources.

Never Stop Being A Good Person…

People won’t always be kind to you. That’s the unfortunate reality of the world we live in currently. There are always going to be people that are going to hurt you, whether it’s on purpose or not. But that’s okay. Just because you meet a few bad people who are unkind to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no longer any reason to be a good person. Never stop being a good person, it matters.

This is a lesson that I’ve had to teach myself and now I’m hoping that I can teach it to you. I let the bad people in my life dictate how I felt towards others. The number of bad people around me certainly outweighed the good ones and that made me feel like trying to be good wasn’t really worth it. I’ll admit, I was unkind to people who really didn’t deserve it and I wish I could take it back. It was only because I really didn’t feel like being kind would make a difference but I was certainly wrong about that.

Being a good person and being kind is so important if we want our world to flourish. Bad people choose to be bad but you don’t have to. You have to choose being good and spreading kindness. You can’t let those people dictate how you treat others. The way you treat people affects how they view you. So choose goodness and being kind. We need more good people and kindness in the world, and now more than ever.

“Never stop being a good person because of bad people.”

Unknown

If you’d like to learn more, you can read BetterHelp’s article How To Be A Good Person And Why It Matters here!

You can also read Why Teaching Kindness Matters right here on TurningPointCT!

Reminding Yourself That You Are Enough

Often we are in situations that might make us feel inadequate. When we are feeling this way it’s absolutely important that we take the time to remind ourselves that we’re enough. It may be difficult but please try to remember that you are enough.

I have been put in these situations more often than I’d like to admit and sometimes, I would forget to remind myself that I was enough. Instead, I let that feeling of inadequacy eat me alive and that’s not good. How we feel about ourselves is so much more important than how others feel about us. If we feel inadequate ourselves, other people might make that feeling worse. We have to remind ourselves of that because we can’t rely on other people to do it for us.

I’ve had people make me feel inadequate for as long as I can remember. Whether it was friends, family or even people I didn’t know. There was always someone out there that made me feel like wasn’t good enough. Growing up I really struggled with feelings of inadequacy. I especially struggled with this after my parents divorced. I had people, my own relatives to be clear, constantly telling me that I wasn’t enough for my dad to stay or that he didn’t love me. Having to hear that constantly broke me into pieces. It made reminding myself that I was enough that much more difficult.

On days when I knew I’d need reassurance that I was good enough, I was just met with more feelings of inadequacy. I would confide in friends about how I was feeling but they’d just tell me that I was being ridiculous. Eventually, I turned to writing. I wrote poetry about these feelings and how I felt like I was always second best or not enough. I wrote a lot of these poems in my creative writing class. Writing absolutely made me feel better but one day, I had decided to share a poem I wrote about how I felt like I wasn’t enough and a girl in my class completely tore me apart.

She told me that how I was feeling was wrong because she claimed she knew my dad didn’t feel that way. How could she have known that? I mean maybe she was right but that doesn’t mean she can tell me how I get to feel. She made me feel so invalidated and only furthered my feelings of inadequacy because now I was feeling like writing wasn’t enough to make me feel better anymore. I knew I needed to do something, I just didn’t know what at the time.

Eventually, I learned that I was the one who needed to reassure myself that I was enough. I was so reliant on whether other people thought I was good enough that I forgot how I felt mattered too. I didn’t take the time to remind myself that I was enough but that’s exactly what I needed.

Sometimes reminding yourself that you are enough can be difficult. This could be because you don’t think what you’re saying is actually true. It will take time for you to really believe that you’re enough and that’s okay. This is a learning process. It’s not going to happen overnight. You have to work through that feeling of inadequacy, even when you think it’ll never go away. Sometimes, even I still struggle with this. When I am having a hard time and I am feeling like I’m not good enough, I stop and remind myself of everything I’m worth because I know that if I don’t that nobody else will.

Please never let anyone make you feel less than what you’re worth because you are enough and you deserve to know that.

How do you remind yourself that you’re enough?

This week I’ve included Psych2Go’s cute video 7 Things To Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough 🙂

You also read my post Practicing Self-Love On A Bad Day to learn why self-love is most important on those days when we’re feeling inadequate.

If you get tired…

If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit. This is an important lesson I’ve learned and one I want to pass on to those reading this. I want to start by saying that if you’re reading this, you are not alone in this. We all struggle with this, including me. That’s why I want to take the time to explain to you what this phrase really means.

When our lives are full of hardships and they become too much, we often feel our only option is quitting. That if we quit dealing with all those difficult moments and thoughts, life will be peachy. Yes, sometimes that might be great but quitting shouldn’t be our only option when we’re struggling.

When we decide to quit, we are potentially giving up on the very things that could help us reach our goals, hopes and dreams. I mean really, are these struggles worth quitting on our dreams, or will they get us just a little bit closer? We won’t know if we just quit.

Quitting is easy but you know what isn’t? Trying to keep going. When we become overwhelmed with our hardships, we have to learn to take a break. Not give up. We will overcome our own struggles with time but we have to be patient and willing to rest when it feels like it’s too much.

This lesson is something that I’ve personally taken a long time to learn. Quitting was always easier to me but I didn’t know that meant giving up everything that I worked so hard for. That I wouldn’t reach the goals that I made for myself. I knew that something had to change. Now when I’m feeling tired and ready to quit, I remind myself that I need to rest. Because taking the time to rest is better than giving up.

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”

Banksy

This week I’d like you to check out this article on why rest is important!

If you are struggling and feel like you’re ready to quit, please reach out to someone or visit our resources page to see what the best option is for you! We care and we want you to be at your very best! 🙂

Why Saying No Is Okay

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Saying no can be incredibly difficult sometimes. This is because we think that saying no might come off as rude or selfish depending on the situation. And we don’t want that. Instead, we tend to put aside our feelings, and sometimes our morals, just to people-please. But I want you to know that saying no is okay.

I’ll be the first to say that I’ve always been a people-pleaser. Honestly, I don’t people-please as much now, but I used to do it all the time before. I never felt like I could say no to people and that got me into a lot of horrible situations. Situations that I really should have stood my ground in. Learning to say no is something that took me a really long time to understand. I’d just say yes to everything until I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I knew that I had to do something about it.

I was going to have to learn to say no. And eventually I would learn that on my own. I would like to pass that lesson onto you. One of our greatest superpowers is saying no, but this is something that we don’t always remember. Sometimes we don’t say no to things that we aren’t interested in because we don’t want to seem rude or even selfish. Saying no actually means you’re aware of your own worth and respect yourself enough to stick up for what you believe in.

Please remember that saying no is okay. Deciding what we’re okay and not okay with is entirely our choice, not anyone else’s. Saying no allows us to set our own boundaries with others. Without this power, people may take advantage of us or treat us like door mats. We absolutely cannot let them. It is absolutely better to say no to things you’re uncomfortable with than to suffer through it for the sake of someone else.

Your thoughts and emotions are more important than trying to please everyone, don’t forget that. Saying no is your right.

I’ve included a link to PsychCentral’s article Saying No (Kindly) And Then Letting Go here! It was a really great read.

Avoiding Something Is Easy

Avoiding something is easy. I mean seriously, it’s less difficult than facing our problems head-on. We always talk about all the things we avoid like crowded areas or traffic but we don’t talk about emotional avoidance as much as we should. I know some of you are reading this and thinking, what the heck is that? Emotional avoidance is when an individual avoids the thoughts and emotions associated with a traumatic or stressful event. Emotional avoidance is most often associated with PTSD. While you might not suffer from PTSD, you might still be practicing emotional avoidance.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with emotional avoidance practically my whole life. I guess it’s just easier to avoid those traumatic feelings and events than to address them. Unfortunately, I do still struggle with this but I’m trying to do better. Addressing our trauma is the only way that we’ll get over it. I’ve never been good at this and tend to just avoid everything.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve avoided a lot of things in my life. Things that were both big and small because avoiding something is easy. One of the biggest and most significant things I’ve ever avoided in my life was talking to my dad about how I felt when he left. Honestly, I’ve always wanted to talk about it with him, I just never did. Now that I’m older, I’ve forgiven him. I don’t care as much but part of me still wants that conversation.

My parents didn’t have a perfect marriage, anyone on the outside could see that. My mom and dad argued a lot. I just thought that was normal. I could tell that they were unhappy. They never really seemed all that happy to me when we were growing up anyways. I began to realize that people grow apart and that’s okay. But what I didn’t understand is how you could grow apart from your children. I mean seriously, is that a thing that happens? I didn’t get it.

My dad and I on my 2nd birthday, May 1999.

My mom always put my aunt, her children, and their problems above us. I always felt like I was on the backburner. Even after my dad left and it was just us, I still felt like I was there. She was so worried about her feelings that she never took the time to ask us about ours. In fact, she spent the majority of my childhood telling me that it was my fault that my dad left. That she never wanted children but he did and then he didn’t want us anymore.

I was heartbroken. Have you ever had someone tell you, a child, that your being is the reason that someone left you? I can tell you right now that it is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt. I knew that this couldn’t be true but part of me still wondered if maybe she was right. Honestly, I should have just talked to my dad about it but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, I let that awful feeling eat me alive for years on end. I felt like it was never going to go away. That feeling drowned me out sometimes. It’s the only thing that bounced around in my head. Did my dad really leave because of us – because of me? It couldn’t be but I was beginning to believe it.

My brother Donovan and I with our dad.

Eventually, my dad remarried and that was great. I was happy for him but what I couldn’t wrap my head around was this. My dad called me the night before his wedding to let me know that he was getting married, I wasn’t upset that it was last-minute knowledge but that he didn’t include my siblings and me. Seriously, we didn’t even know this woman and in less than 24 hours, she’d be my step-mom. I just didn’t know what to say or how to feel. Honestly, I was still trying to figure out why he just left us.

I’ll admit that I was jealous. My dad had a new family, a new home and so many new adventures on the horizon but what we had was nothing. That horrible feeling only seemed to be getting louder every day. When it finally became too much for me, I decided to write about those feelings. I mostly wrote poetry, but it helped. Eventually, I forgave my dad. Not so much for him but for me, because I needed that closure.

To this day, I’ve still avoided talking to my dad about everything. I know that I should but it took me a really long time to forgive him and I worry that talking about it might bring a lot of those bad feelings back. My dad’s always been my best friend and when he left, it felt like he took my heart with him. I know that I’ll have this conversation with him when I’m ready but until then, I will take the time to think about what I might say to him when I do.

This is one of my favorite moments. My dad got to give me my diploma at my high school graduation in 2015.

Are you feeling inspired to write? If so, I’ve included a link to the list of journal prompts for you here, happy writing! 🙂

Is there something that you’ve been avoiding and need someone to talk to about it? Visit our resources page for more information on who to talk to!

Who Makes You Happy?

We always talk about the things or even places that make us happy but we never talk about the people that make us happy. What’s up with that? Those wonderful people in your lives deserve to know that they’re having a positive impact on you. They’re important too!

The things we say about and do for ourselves are an important part of managing our mental health. But you know what’s just as important? The people we surround ourselves with. The people that make us happy and feel good about ourselves are a critical part of how we manage our mental health. I say critical because these are the people that remind us that we are loved, worthy, and full of untapped potential. They keep us afloat when we feel like we’re drowning. Often, they’re our light at the end of the tunnel.

While we’re on the topic of who makes us happy, I want to take this time to talk about all of the people that make me happy. I have a lot of wonderful people in my life but there are a few who definitely deserve some recognition. These people are my siblings, my co-workers, my honey, and of course, one of my closest (and oldest) friends.

My brothers Donovan and Dante have always made me happy. Although it might not always seem that way, I promise it’s the truth. My brothers are the ones I hold close to my heart. Honestly, I’d say they actually are a piece of my heart, or at least it feels that way. Loving them and knowing that they love me back makes me happy. They are the ones that I know will be there for me when nobody else is. Donovan and Dante are the best brothers that anyone could ask for. They’re honest, kind and so full of love to give.

I am SO proud of the young men that they’re becoming, even if they don’t see it themselves yet. Their accomplishments (even the little ones) make me happy too. I will continue to cheer them on from the sidelines, I’m their biggest fan and I always will be. I know that they’re certainly mine. They’re the first people I want to tell good news to because I know they’ll be the most excited about it. I hope that I’m part of their happiness too!

My younger brothers, Dante & Donovan 🥰

My coworkers at the school are absolutely a cause for my happiness. These are the people I spend most of my week with. This is the first job I’ve been at where my coworkers have actually turned into what feels like family. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some pretty great coworkers but nothing like this. I spend my whole workday with these people, so we obviously need to make sure that we work well together. And guess what? We absolutely do. I know that I can rely on these people to pick me up when I’m feeling down. I just want them to know I appreciate every single one of them, even on the hard days. My teacher is wonderful. She’s loud, crazy, fun and so full of energy, she really keeps us going sometimes.

While I love my teacher, it’s my coworkers who have stolen my heart. Cassie, who I’ve found a fantastic best friend in, was a blessing. All year long we were full of laughs, hugs, tears and so much more. I miss you more than you know but I am so proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone! But now, Jen keeps me going on long days with laughs and conversations about the most random things. Even Mr. G, who indulges me with Swedish meatball pizza and what I consider some of the best dad jokes! Of everyone, I am especially thankful for Ciara and Dwayne who continue to encourage me to be the very best version of myself. I appreciate everything that you’ve both done and continue to do for me.