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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

Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2023

October 9th is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It’s a day that recognizes the Indigenous communities who have lived here for thousands of years. And yes, this day was old CoLuMbUs day. I honestly forgot that Columbus had a day because he’s not a hero. Columbus was actually very insane, extreme, and really lost at sea.

One thing I advise is to do some digging. There are videos towards the end!

Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day through Education

One thing about me is that you can always catch me dissing colonizers, white supremacists, and the government for what they did and are still doing. I honestly spend too much time trying to educate people who are actively doing colonizer things.

The biggest colonizer characteristic is marginalizing people by their differences for personal/economical gain. And trust me, there are far more than what I established!

The best way to make people or society aware of their colonized (harmful) ways is through education. But a lot of people have a hard time adjusting to the truth.

The Importance of Accurate Indigenous History

Personally, I think the most important part of education is accurately presenting history. The truth would honestly do more justice than anything! Until then, we must be aware of how and why history is being presented to us the way it is. It’s important to be aware of how we are actively doing the actions/things of a colonizer. It’s also important to be aware of the norms and cultural practices that were heavily influenced or resulted by colonization.

Side note: The colonizers really turned Turtle Island (currently the United States) into the Fire Nation from Avatar: The Last Airbender… The U.S. is ran by the fire lord.

Humorous Videos

Today, I wanted to share some videos that I found really humorous from TikTok. They are not only educational in some way but also showcase Indigenous humanity morals.

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You can find these videos on TikTok. The first video here and the second video here!

Closing Out

Before ending, I was trying to find another video that was very educational about the common misconceptions. Especially how certain Indigenous tribes were named and why certain actions were done when the colonizers arrived. The creator on TikTok worded everything perfectly and gave the context/meanings of the word(s) that turned into certain tribe names we know today. If I ever find the video, I will make sure to share it!

– Dez 🙂

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!

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You can also email the TurningPointCT team at TurningPointCT@positivedirections.org MP3 recordings of your topic or for more information to join a podcast episode!

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 🙂

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!

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!

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.

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

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

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!

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!

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!

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.

Reels: Celebrations & Social Anxiety (2)

Check out our latest Reels from the past week!

Sarah’s Reel

Sarah gives us some tips on how to make friends when you have social anxiety.

Therell’s Reel

Therell reminds us to celebrate our accomplishments, no matter how big or small they are.

Watch the previous week’s Reels here!

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

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!

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

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

Celebrating Yule with a Twist!

Celebrating Yule was my companion’s idea; which is who I celebrated with! Yule is a celebration of the winter solstice (the longest night of the years) and the return of the sun. Before celebrating Yule, I honestly sat and thought about cultural relevancy. I asked myself: How does the celebration of the winter solstice and return of the sun tie into my African and Native Indigenous background? There was a natural understanding that my Celtic, Nordic and Viking ancestors celebrated the winter solstice and the return of the sun. I didn’t want to make my other ancestors feel left out of this celebration! I came to understand that the traditions of Christmas came from other cultures.

What I Did to Prepare/Celebrate Components of Yule

Leading up to the winter solstice, I sought to find congruences in cultural celebration to make my ancestors feel welcome, not excluded. I then decorated the place with lights, garlands, ornaments, and plants. I also welcomed a new plant child; Gaia.

Yule Post Plant

There were other things that were included and will be included in the continuation of the celebration:

  • Pine cones, pine, and sticks to make protection talismans. Respectfully hand picked and provided by nature.
  • Yellow, White, Black, & Burgundy Candles
    • Yellow – Represents the Sun (Lit the day of Winter Solstice) for joy and/or clearing mental blockages.
    • White – Lit on the 24th at sun down to bring harmony, truth and new beginnings. It tells fortune and future.
    • Black – Lit on the 31st of December to banish any negative energy remaining.
    • Burgundy – Intuitively lit to bring strength, determination, courage and willpower.

What Else Did I Do?

The night of the Winter Solstice, my companion and I went to a cleansing meditation in Unionville, CT. Meditating and having my energy field cleansed felt amazing. This experience made me understand why meditation is really important. Further into the celebration, my companion and I planned what flavor the Yule log was going to be (gingerbread). That is something that we are going to do soon! I can’t forget about the fairy house! I would show my fairy house but I like to respect their wishes/privacy. Just think mushroom and cabin in the woods!

– Dez 🙂

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

Dog Mama x2

Last week, we got a second dog, little Miss Maizey!

When I saw a post from our breeder that she was looking for a home, I immediately asked my boyfriend if we could get her. It was the second time our breeder tried to get a home for her (I remembered seeing the post for her a couple months back).

Thankfully, it didn’t take much convincing and my boyfriend said we could take a look at her. I think it helped that she was older than our dog, Rip. We got Rip as a puppy and he’s fully trained. My boyfriend messaged the breeder that night. She was eager to have us meet with Maizey to see if we would be a good fit.

Long story short, we ended up getting her! She is a little snuggle bug. Her and Rip are absolute besties. They have so much fun running around and playing together. She’s a little peanut compared to Rip who’s a whopping 80lbs.

dog

Maizey is on the Left; Rip is on the Right!

We are so happy to have her as the newest member of our family!

We probably won’t be getting another animal anytime soon because we’re up to 5 animals now LOL, three cats and two dogs. We’re so blessed to have 5 awesome animals to love.

-Kailey

Bisexual Visibility Is Important Too!

bisexual visibility

September 23 is Bisexual Visibility Day. This day is to recognize and even celebrate the identities of your bisexual friends and family members. Bisexual individuals actually make up more than half of the LGBTQIA+ community unlike what most people think. We must take today to remember the importance of bisexual visibility.

Bisexual Visibility Day is our chance to validate the identities of bisexual individuals because that’s what they need most. They need validation and support. If a bisexual woman marries a man, society considers her a liar because she chose to marry a man over a woman. It’s the same for bisexual men who marry women. But that’s just not how it works guys. You can be attracted to both genders even if you marry someone the opposite of your gender. It doesn’t mean you’re attracted to the other gender any less.

Bisexuality isn’t being a little “gay” or being a little “straight. It’s an identity of its own. That’s why it matters. They deserve the same uplifting encouragement that we offer to their community counterparts. I want you all to take today to appreciate, support and encourage your bisexual friends and family members. Make sure they know that they have your love and support.

How will you show your bisexual friends and family that they matter?

Check out LGBT Great’s post Bisexuality Visibility Day: Proudly Standing Together to learn more about Bi Visibility Day.

Read my post Supporting Your LGBTQIA+ Friends During Pride Month right here on TurningPointCT.org!

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 🙂

Encouragement Matters: You Can Do It!

encouragement you can do it

Today we are celebrating Mayor Belinda LaForce of Arkansas’ National Day of Encouragement. We celebrate this day to remind the people around us that encouragement does matter. It may seem like a very small gesture to encourage someone but small gestures can go a long way. Today is devoted to lifting the spirits of the those around us while making a positive impact at the same time.

Encouraging people is what’s going to keep the world going. With just a few words, we can inspire our friends, family and even coworkers to reach for the stars and chase their dreams. Sometimes, when we want to give up, all we need is to hear the right words. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I was feeling this way growing up. All I wanted was for someone to encourage me not to give up on my dreams.

Because I was lacking encouragement while I was growing up, I made sure to always encourage my friends and family so they didn’t give up on their dreams either. I know my life would be so different if I had a few words of encouragement but I’m also proud of all of the obstacles I’ve faced because they’ve given me the ability to grow.

So, today I want you to remember why encouragement matters. First and foremost, it’s free! It costs absolutely nothing to offer your friends, family and even strangers a few reassuring words. The right words have the ability to remind us to never give up, to keep going. There are so many different ways to encourage the people around us and with that comes so many benefits. Encouragement is self-motivating while teaching us to become better role models.

Take today to encourage the people around you to keep going.

How will you be encouraging the people around you today?

Read We Live Life Young’s article Why We Need To Encourage Others 🙂

Check out TurningPointCT’s post Advice Vs. Encouragement here on the website for a cute comic about encouragement!

Back To School Self-Care

back to school

Summer is almost over and the “Back to School” season is right around the corner. Students are probably getting overwhelmed and planning their back to school self-care routines but what about the teachers? I know you are expecting some self-care tips for all the students out there but this time’s different. As someone who works in education, I know how important self-care can be during the school year. So, today I wanted to share some tips to keep all the young teachers and support staff going through the year.

One of the biggest things I struggle with during the year is asking for help when I’m getting overwhelmed. Working in education, especially Special Education, is no easy task and it’s certainly not always easy to ask for help. Being a teacher, or support staff is a really stressful job. You might feel like you can’t ask for help but I promise that it’s okay. Asking for help has been one of the most difficult and helpful things I’ve ever learned.

Another tip I’d like to share with you is learning to practice mindfulness. This can be as simple as practicing meditation or conscious breathing exercises. Mindfulness might also come in the form of positive affirmations or acknowledging how you’re feeling. For me personally, acknowledging how I’m feeling throughout the day, week and even the year as a whole is a HUGE part of my self-care routine. I never really did that before and it made me feel like I was drowning. Now, I feel so much better about acknowledging my feelings. It allows me to reflect and take action, and it can do the same for you!

The final thing I’d like to share with you is an important one. Learn to set and maintain your boundaries during the school year. I know sometimes that school days can be stressful but don’t take your work or your stress home with you. It won’t do you any good there. I have done this all too often and it is so not worth the consequences that come with it. Your home life after school is for you to relax and take a breath, not for you to stress about work. Leave that stress in the classroom!

Back to school self-care is going to look different for every teacher and staff member out there. But no matter how you do it, remember to keep up with it because it work wonders for your mental health. It’ll keep you from getting burnt out too fast.

What self-care practices are you utilizing for the Back to School season?

Read the National Education Association’s article the Importance of Self-Care As a Teacher to learn why it truly matters.

Check out our Back To School Podcast here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Let Go Of The Life You’ve Planned…

This week, I wanted to share one of my favorite Joseph Campbell quotes about life. It says, “We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Funny enough, it’s from a one of my favorite Criminal Minds episodes (Season 9, Episode 24 if you’re curious). Little did I know, this quote would teach me something important about life.

This quote isn’t about giving up on what you want. It’s about preparing yourself let go of what you have to make space for the things that are to come. This is something I knew I needed to hear. I spent so much time trying to live the life I planned for myself that I forgot to actually live. I didn’t want to do that anymore and this quote was a good reminder. In my heart, I knew that there was a life waiting for me and I didn’t have to worry.

Sometimes, the life you planned for yourself isn’t the one you need. There’s a life waiting for you out there. One that is full of all the things you’ll need to grow and live a life full of happiness. Don’t be afraid to let go of the things that you have. You have to leave room to grow. Don’t forget that.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell

Read Psych Alive’s post Live Your Own Life: How To Create The Life of Your Dreams to figure out where to start!

Check out Kailey’s post Taking My Power Back here on TurningPointCT.org to hear about what she’s doing to make her life a good one!

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!

Self-Care Practices You Should Be Practicing

Many people view self-care practices as a luxury versus a priority. Taking care of ourselves should be just as important as anything else. It’s not only about pampering and relaxing. Self-care practices are for promoting better health and general wellbeing. There are self-care practices for every aspect of your life! There are practices to address your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health.

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care is all about your body. It’s about making sure that the physical needs you have are being met. Physical needs can include sleep and diet habits. You should be asking yourself if you’re getting enough sleep or if you’re eating enough. Up until 2020, I really struggled with this. I wasn’t sleeping very much or eating well at all and my depression began to spiral. I was feeling stuck and I knew something had to change. Honestly, I just wanted to feel better. Now I eat better and I make sure to take care of myself though some days are still hard.

Mental Self-Care

Next, we’ll talk about your mental health. Mental health self-care practices involve keeping your brain active and staying healthy mentally. Practices for mental self-care can include doing puzzles, reading a book or even learning about something you’re interested in but it doesn’t stop there. You can practice mental self-care by also practicing self-love, self-gratitude and acceptance of yourself. When you are kinder to yourself, you can cultivate an inner dialogue that is healthier for you in the long run. Practicing self-love and acceptance is one of the best things I’ve ever taught myself to do. I don’t have as many negative thoughts about myself and I’m so much happier with who I am because of it.

Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care allows you become better aware of the emotions that you are feeling. It teaches you how to deal with emotions like anger or sadness with healthy coping skills versus trying to bottle it all up. You should be able to freely express and acknowledge the emotions that you feel. When you’re feeling emotions that make you feel uncomfortable, you should try talking to someone you trust. You can even try setting time aside for you to process your emotions and how they make you feel.

Social Self-Care

Believe it or not, socializing is actually great for your mental health. It’s also a critical part of self-care. While it is a critical piece, sometimes life gets crazy and you find yourself neglecting the important relationships in your life. Having close and intimate connections is vital to your overall wellbeing so you should be sure to care for them. The only way to ensure that you are taking care of these relationships is by putting time and effort into them. Unfortunately, remembering to take care of my close relationships is not exactly my strong suit. Before, I used to go weeks without speaking to many of my friends because I was in such a bad place but now I know when I’m feeling that way, that my friends and family are the people I should be reaching out to.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care involves nurturing your spirit. I know a lot of people see the world spiritual and automatically assume it’s about religion but what I’m talking about is not. Nurturing your spirit allows you the ability to develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection with the universe and those who inhabit it. Practices for spiritual self-care can include activities such as meditation. I don’t personally practice spiritual self-care but it can certainly be good for you.

Self-care is so important. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity and we should all be practicing it. Please remember to take care of yourself because someone isn’t always going to be there to do it for you.

Check out Psychology Today‘s post Self-Care: 12 Ways To Take Better Care Of Yourself to learn how to improve your overall wellbeing!

Also 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 🙂

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! 🙂

Resolves We Should All Have This Year

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This year we are making more time to care for ourselves and letting go of what we don’t need. We have to set boundaries and make expectations for ourselves and others. I know you’re probably looking at this and wondering what resolves even are. Well, resolves are a solution a problem you are having. I often struggle with putting myself first and taking care of my own needs so these are some of the resolves I’ve made that I’d like to share with you.

This year I want you to…

Give yourself the same love that you have always given to others.

I wanted to start off with one that’s really big for me because it’s something that took me a long time to learn. I love loving people but sometimes that can mean neglecting to love yourself. You deserve that love, care and kindness before anyone else gets to experience it. Put yourself first and watch how much you grow. Self-love is the most important kind of love. RuPaul once said, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love someone else?” and she’s right.

Make decisions for yourself and don’t feel bad about it.

This is one I have always struggled with but now I know I have to do what’s best for me. Before, I often wondered how the decisions I make would affect others even if it’s something that could be good for me. I missed out on a lot of opportunities for growth and I’ll never do that again. Sometimes, we have to put everyone else’s feelings aside and worry about how we feel first. At the end of the day, the decisions we make are meant to benefit us, not anyone else.

Make a big deal out of your accomplishments and the things you’re proud of.

Don’t downplay your accomplishments. You deserve to be proud of everything you’re doing. Make a big deal out of the things that are important to you! I am so proud of everything I’m doing and where I am in life so I’m going to make sure I show it off and make a big deal because I deserve it. Even the little things are should be a big deal. Honestly, even if it isn’t a big deal to anyone else, why does that matter? It’s a big deal to you and I think that’s what is most important.

Prioritize your mental health over your desire to please others.

People pleasing can be a really hard habit to break because trust me, I know. I’ve spent most of my life up until now bending over backwards to please the people around me. It is incredibly exhausting and can really drain you mentally. Put your needs first and stop worrying about what other people have to say about it because they aren’t the ones dealing with the consequences of that worry, you are. Try putting yourself first for once and see what that does for you (you won’t regret it)!

Allow yourself to outgrow things and people that are no longer good for you.

I know it’s hard to let people or things go but unfortunately, we’ve outgrown them and we have to let go. My mom used to tell me that if you’re not losing friends then you’re not growing. I know it sounds harsh but she was right because I couldn’t let go of the people who were holding me back and they were keeping me from growing. So, eventually, I learned that it is okay to lose friends because we do outgrow people and that’s not a bad thing. Life is like a book, it has chapters and not every character makes it through all of them.

Initiate conversations about how we feel and expect the same honesty in return.

Finally, this is definitely a big one. Start conversations about how you’re feeling and expect people to reciprocate that with the same honesty. No more bottling up your feelings and keeping them to yourself. If someone has hurt your feelings or upset you in anyway, tell them that and if they can’t reciprocate that or explain why they did then move on. You deserve the same honesty that you give to everyone else and no less.

I hope my resolves have been helpful. What are some you hope to have this year?

Check out Ally’s post Recovery Travels: Austin, Texas to read about what traveling in recovery is like for her!

Benefits of Peer Support

Find more information about Ally’s FREE peer support for teens and young adults here.

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 🙂

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!

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! 🙂

FREE Apps To Help Young People With Mental Wellness

Looking for some apps to help you with your mental wellness? Check out these free apps you can download right to your phone or tablet!

Calm Harm

Calm Harm is a free app that is meant to help resist or manage the urge to self-harm. The app provides tasks and activities to help you surf the urge.

Move Mood

Move Mood is a free app that is meant to help young people manage symptoms associated with low mood or depression. You can set tasks and goals for yourself within the app and the app will try and help you achieve these goals with reminders.

Clear Fear

Clear Fear is a free app that provides you with a range of ways to manage symptoms of anxiety. Clear Fear uses a cognitive behavioral framework to help you change anxious thoughts and emotions, alter anxious behaviors, and calm fear responses. The app also has different resources and information about anxiety as well.

Combined Minds

Combined Minds is meant to help families and friends support young people with their mental health. Combined Minds uses a “strength-based” approach which has been shown to be effective in recover. This approach focuses on the positive attributes of the person and builds on resourcefulness and resilience.

While these free apps are great tools, they are not meant to replace treatment. Instead, they are meant to aid in recovery from mental health disorders.

Let us know if you use any of these apps or apps like them in the comments below!

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

Encanto’s Luisa Pays Homage To Older Sisters

Encanto turned out to be one of the most loved and enjoyed Disney movies of 2021. It is full of many emotional and heart-wrenching family moments that really allow you to connect with the movie. I loved everything about this movie! I have so many favorite things about Encanto. But one of my favorite things was it’s depiction of older sisters and the weight that they carry for their families.

In the song, Surface Pressure, Luisa sings about the weight she’s been carrying for her family. Throughout the song she talks about the pressure she feels both as an older sister and the strongest. It’s very heartbreaking but by the end of the song her younger sister, Mirabel, realizes she’s been carrying too much. This is something that I feel not many younger siblings recognize.

Luisa pays homage to all the older sisters out there that are carrying too much on their shoulders. All the older sisters who feel like they have to carry their family’s burdens. We often find ourselves feeling like we have to carry those burdens alone. Truth is, we don’t. It’s not our job to be strong all the time, sometimes we need a little help. Mirabel is sure to remind her sister of this.

Luisa’s character and her song really resonated with me on a deeper, personal level. I’m the oldest out of my siblings and I feel like I do carry a lot. We carry the weight of our families on our shoulders. As the oldest sibling, I often find myself carrying more weight than I can handle to ensure the well-being of my brothers. You bend and buckle carrying all that pressure but you never break. Because you know that if you do, it’ll affect your siblings.

As older siblings, we don’t want our younger siblings to see us as weak. We want them to know that we’re there for them whenever they need us. We’ll carry their weight for them but it makes you wonder who carries it for us when it gets too heavy?

At the end of the movie, Mirabel reminds Luisa and the rest of their family that they have to realize they’re more than their gifts. She is also sure to remind Luisa that it’s okay to need a little help with the heavy stuff. Asking for help is not something that Luisa is used to doing, which I’ll admit is something I also struggle with. Isabela tells Luisa that she’s so strong but Luisa responds that yeah it might be true but she cries sometimes. Both Mirabel and Isabela then remind her that they cry too and that’s okay!

Their entire dynamic is just one that I don’t feel many movies showcase and I just love everything about it. Luisa reminds me of myself in so many different ways. I find myself bearing so many of our family’s burdens alone because I feel like it’s my responsibility. No matter how heavy the weight of it all got, I kept going because I knew that my family needed me to, much like she did.

My brothers are wonderful at reminding me that I don’t have to do it on my own. They remind me that they’ll always be there when I need them. They make the pressure worth dealing with. For that, I’m thankful.

Here’s Luisa’s song Surface Pressure from the movie Encanto! Enjoy! 🙂

Read more about Lin Manuel Miranda’s song Surface Pressure & how it was inspired by his older sister here!

And you can read my post How My Brothers Saved Me right here on TurningPointCT!

In 2022, You’re Better Off…

There is no doubt that 2021 was a difficult year for a lot of us. For me personally, I learned a lot about myself and I’m finally understanding why I’m better off without somethings. There are so many things that I know now that I am better off without, things that need to be let go.

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You’re better off…

Choosing yourself than trying to convince someone to choose you.

You should not have to convince someone to choose you. Trying to convince someone to choose you shouldn’t be a thing. You are not an option, you are a priority. Your first priority is to always choose you. Commit to loving and trusting yourself above all and never be sorry for it. Even when it seems like choosing yourself might hurt someone else, put yourself first. Sometimes the choices you make that you thought would avoid hurting someone might hurt you more in the long run. You can only determine what’s best for you, not anyone else.

Being unapologetically “too much” than apologizing for being yourself.

Stop apologizing for being who you are. You deserve to be unapologetically yourself without someone telling you that you’re “too much”. You’re not too much, you are you and that’s the best thing you can be. You should never have to apologize for being yourself. And if that’s too much for someone, tell them to find less because you certainly deserve more.

Losing someone than losing yourself.

I don’t mean this is in the sense that someone has passed away but maybe there are friends, relatives or even romantic partners that you don’t want to lose. Sometimes losing those people is better than having to lose yourself. You should not have to lose who you are just to hold onto someone that’s not appreciating you for you. Holding onto who you are and being proud of that is much more important than someone who can’t see how spectacular you are.

Starting over than continuing something that no longer serves you.

It is okay to let go of things that are no longer making a difference for you. Starting over can be scary but I promise you are better off doing that than trying to continue with something that’s not working. Starting over can open so many new doors and opportunities for you. May even give you a chance to try something new and different. Don’t miss out on new things because you’re trying to make something work that clearly isn’t.

Being disappointed by the things you tried and failed than regretting the chances you never took.

It’s okay to feel disappointed when something you wanted to work out didn’t work out. All that matters is that you tried. It is so much better to have tried and failed than to not have tried at all. Those failures are meant to teach you, not discourage you. Having to live a life full of regret is much worse than having a few failures on your lineup. Keep trying!

What do you think you’re better off without in 2022?

Check out The Wall Street Journal’s article Modest New Year’s Resolutions for 2022!

Listen to TurningPointCT’s 2021 Winter Holidays & New Years Podcast right here on the website!

Self-Care During & After The Holidays

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Self-care alone is such a critical part of dealing with mental health. I will continue to stress this to you because without self-care, trying to cope with your mental health would be so hard. Self-care isn’t just face masks or bubble baths, it’s whatever you need it to be.

Self-care is especially important during and even after the holidays. In fact, the holiday season can be physically and emotionally exhausting for some people. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m definitely one of them. I absolutely love the holidays, but I always find myself feeling blue when they’re over.

The holidays can lead to stress and isolation for some people because it’s overwhelming. Having to see all your family at once can be a lot. Figuring out what kind of gifts you’ll be getting your loved ones can create a lot of stress and anxiety. The holiday season in itself can stress you out. While giving gifts and spending time with loved ones is great, it can take a lot out of you. Take a break from the shopping and stress, go ice skating or take a walk through your favorite lighted park. During the holidays please remember that what you want and need matters too!

While the holidays themselves can be stressful and draining, after the holidays can be pretty sucky too. All the cheer you had may have left with holiday season. This can leave you feeling blue and all but cheery. For most, it’s back to reality after the holiday season. People will be returning to work or school after getting used to having time to yourself. Don’t let it get you down. You should try to return to your normal self-care routine and maybe even a little extra to give yourself the boost that you need!

Please remember to take care of yourself this holiday season!

Check out the Health Coach Institute’s article 20 Tips For Holiday Self-Care!

You can read my post about having a split holiday right here on TurningPointCT! 🙂

A Little Consideration, A Little Thought…

One of my favorite things in the whole world is Winnie the Pooh. Everything about Winnie the Pooh and his friends has always resonated with me. They’re all so thoughtful and have taught us so many life lessons without us even knowing. Out of all them though, there’s one character who was always so real and raw about how they were feeling. And that’s Eeyore. He taught us so much about a little consideration, a little thought and so much more.

I loved watching Winnie The Pooh when I was younger. Piglet was always my favorite but Eeyore taught me so much more. Things about both myself and life, things that would stick with me forever. One of my favorite Eeyore quotes is “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” because it is absolutely true. An act of kindness, no matter how small, can truly change the world.

I remember there was an episode of Winnie The Pooh where Eeyore was incredibly sad and nobody knew why. Eventually, they discovered it was because they’d all forgotten his birthday. Devastated by this discovery, Pooh and Piglet decide to run home and get gifts. Piglet brings a red balloon but pops it on the way. While Pooh brings a pot of honey that he eats on the way to Eeyore’s. Along the way, Owl gives Pooh the idea to turn the pot into a storage for things. Eeyore does not mind either of these mishaps because he realized he’s got a place to keep the popped balloon! Christopher Robin then throws a party for Eeyore and Eeyore is happy.

This episode alone really shows us that a little thought and consideration really does make all the difference. Eeyore knew how much thought and love Pooh and Piglet put into their gifts and he loved them. Despite having forgotten their friend’s birthday, they knew a small kindness was better than none to make up for it.

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh

Read Thai Nguyen’s post Eeyore: A Pessimist’s Guide to a Beautiful Life on HuffPost. It was a great read!

Please also check out my post Why Teaching Kindness Matters to learn why spreading more kindness is important! 🙂

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.

Practicing Self-Love On A Bad Day

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Tough situations and long, exhausting days can leave you feeling like you are undeserving of self-love, which is why it’s so important to practice self-love intentionally. Especially on your bad days.

Here are some signs that you might need to be practicing a little more self-love:

  • Yo’u’ve had a tough day and you’re feeling unworthy, unlovable, and less than good enough
  • Work has been overwhelming and you feel unappreciated and overworked
  • Social media has left you feeling jealous and sad
  • You’ve been arguing with a loved one and you feel unheard and lonely

If any of that sounds eerily familiar to you, then it sounds like you might need to be practicing a little more self-love.

I suppose we should start off by talking about what self-love is. I feel as though a lot of people don’t really know what that is and that’s okay. We’re going to talk about it together!

Self-love is allowing yourself kindness, understanding, and compassion. It’s all about valuing your own wants and needs as a priority. Self-love is knowing your worth. When you genuinely love yourself, you accept your strengths and weaknesses without giving yourself a hard time about it. You love yourself for all that you are and encourage growth instead.

I’ll admit, practicing self-love isn’t easy but it’s necessary. I had no idea how important it was until I hit what felt like rock bottom. We often feel like we are undeserving of self-love but that’s when we need it the most. That’s why it’s so important to practice self-love, especially on your bad days.

When you have a bad day, it can be really difficult to show yourself the self-love you need. You may find yourself bottling up your emotions or even beating yourself up over mistakes you might have made. Feeling this way can lead to negative emotions and negative language towards yourself, which isn’t great. Our bad days are when we need self-love the most.

Practicing self-love allows you to be more compassionate towards yourself when you’re struggling. It also gives you the opportunity to learn and grow as a person, rather than giving yourself a hard time. Self-love can help you move on in a more sincere and positive way.

Read Psychology Today’s The Power of Self-Love and Self-Compassion here.

Bonus self-care treat! Learn how to make a Positivity Jar with our Project Coordinator, Kailey! 🙂

TurningPointCT.org Walkthrough

Here is a quick walkthrough of some of what our website, www.TurningPointCT.org has to offer! Check it out for more specialized mental health resources and information made by and for teens and young adults in Connecticut.

Why Having A Good Therapist Is Important

TW: self-harm, suicide. I’ve seen a counselor or therapist for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I saw a plethora of school counselors until I was finally able to get my own outside therapist. I love my current therapist but without these counselors, I honestly don’t think I would have survived. These counselors went the extra mile for me and made sure that I was always taken care of in terms of my mental health.

At only 12 years old, I was really starting to struggle after my parents separated. I wasn’t eating very much, I couldn’t sleep and I was self-harming almost every day. I felt like I wanted to die. My whole world was falling apart and it felt like there was nothing I could do to fix it. I felt like I didn’t have anyone to open up to about what I was struggling with until I finally decided to open up to my cousin about what was going on. She didn’t say much about it or even make me feel better but she told my mom and that’s when everything changed for me.

I came home from school one afternoon and when I walked in my mom looked so broken. Like someone had just ripped her heart out. My heart started to race and I became incredibly anxious and panicked about what was about to happen. I couldn’t even get any words to come out of my mouth. After a long silence, she finally said “Why couldn’t you tell me?”. This hurt a lot because I had already told her so many times before that I was having a hard time and she just didn’t believe me. It took someone else telling her about what was going on to finally get her to realize that I needed help. Help that she couldn’t give me. This is when she decided to contact the school about me seeing someone.

When I was in sixth grade, I started seeing Mr. Guarino, the counselor at school. I was still in middle school at the time but I can honestly tell you that this man changed my life. I saw Mr. Guarino once a week for pretty much the rest of my middle school career. He was awesome. For the first time in my life, I felt heard and acknowledged. Like someone actually wanted to know how I was feeling and make sure that I was going to be okay. I saw him every week until eighth grade when I was finally feeling okay again. He helped me with so much. We talked about how I felt about my dad leaving and how I felt abandoned by everyone else, including my mom. He talked to me about whatever I wanted and that alone meant so much to me.

While things might have been okay by the end of eighth grade, I was beginning to feel myself going into that dark hole again. Things were really hard. With graduation and a transition to high school, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I felt like I was drowning again. But the thing that hurt me most was my dad. I invited him to my eighth-grade graduation and he didn’t even show up. I looked for his face in the crowd, only to find that he was nowhere to be found in the crowd. Instead, he taped a graduation card to the front door of our apartment. I was devastated.

At this point, I knew counseling was my only option but I couldn’t see anyone until I went back to school in the Fall because my mom wouldn’t get me a therapist, nor was there anyone to take me to and from it. It was a long summer and we had also just moved back to my hometown but I was able to see the counselor at the high school. This is where Mr. Auriantal came in. My freshman year of high school was difficult. Not only was I at a new school, struggling internally with my own trauma but my dad worked at my school.

There were so many bottled-up feelings about my parents’ divorce. I was really struggling but Mr. Auriantal certainly saved me from myself. I saw him twice a week during my freshman year. My freshman year was one of my hardest school years. I was having an anxiety attack almost every day. My palms would start to sweat, my throat would get tight and I felt like I was being suffocated. The anxiety attacks began to fade after I started seeing Mr. Auriantal. I looked forward to these days the most because this was my chance to unload everything that was bothering me. We talked a lot about my dad and how that entire situation affected me. It felt good to tell someone how I was feeling. This man has always been my savior and even to this day, he continues to check on me.

Now that I’ve introduced you to the counselors that helped, I’d love to tell you about my therapist, Jessie. This woman has done more for me than she’ll ever know. I’ve been seeing Jessie since 2017, that’s 4 years total so far. Can you believe that? She was the first therapist that I ever reached out to on my own. I’m so thankful that I chose her and never once second-guessed it. I knew she was the right choice for me from the first email she ever sent me.

Jessie has gone to great lengths to help me address my trauma, emotions and so much more. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. She makes sure that I hold myself accountable for the things that I can control and not to beat myself up for what I can’t. Jessie has allowed me to view my mental health in a completely different light. My mental health should be a priority, not something I’m constantly sticking on the back burner. She has allowed me to discuss things that I never knew I’d be able to fully heal from. While I may be in a good place now, Jessie and I still have plenty of work to do.

A good therapist is an important part of the healing process. Without them, I feel like there’s nobody holding you accountable for anything. They’re also a really great support system when you are lacking that with friends and family. They will always be there for you when you need them, and they’ll always be honest with you. Honestly, I have no idea what I would have done without the counselors or my therapist. They’ve all been such a great support system for me. This is exactly why I’ll always say that when you are struggling with your mental health, having a good therapist is important.

Want to know if you have a good therapist? Read this article about the signs of a good therapist!

You can also check out TurningPointCT’s resources here! 🙂

It’s Okay To Ask For Help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#TurningPointMoment Ella Gets Up Out of Bed

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

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

Click HERE to talk about it in the forum !

#TurningPointMoment Ella Cleans Her Room

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

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

Click HERE to talk about it in the forum !

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

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

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

Click HERE to talk about it in the forum !

SMART Recovery Spanish

You Are Not Alone – Find Information and Support

Young People Recover: Vered

Young People Discover: Shaquiel

Young People Recover: Kevin

Young People Recover: Michaela

Suicidio Adolescente PSA (Producido por United Way)

Teen Suicide PSA United Way

If I Had Known…

What to Expect From Group Therapy

What to Expect at a Psych or Detox Unit

Podcast: Gratitude

Hey guys! We’re back with another podcast… this time we talk about gratitude. We will be talking about what we are grateful for, and what we are thankful for overcoming. Also, we discuss what we are appreciative to have on our horizons and how gratitude affects our mental health. Here you can read studies on how giving thanks can actually help your mental health. It can create an optimistic outlook and positive change.

Also, during our holiday party we ran off to the side to record a quick podcast together and reflect on the things we are grateful for.
Joining us today are Cindy, our other Cindy, Dri, Nahjeera, Jonathan, and me- Eliza!
Check it out and let us know what you’re grateful for!

Click here to check out an older discussion on gratitude I started two years ago!

Want to practice appreciation yourself? Gratitude has real benefits towards your mental health- but sometimes its hard to practice when the world seems dark or overwhelming. Looking for something in life to feel grateful for having (or for not having) can help change your world, and self view for the better. Check out this article on gratitude journals and tips for starting one here.

Podcast: How Culture Shapes You

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

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

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

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

We hope you enjoy this podcast click here to watch

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

To check out our Summer Interns other podcasts, click here

Summer Check In Video

Hey guys! We are here with the TurningPointCT interns: Adrianna and Nahjeera along with Eliza and Adrianna’s aunt Woodeline!

We left the office for a little while to go across the street to The Norwalk Green and enjoy the sunlight and Summer air.

At the start of every SMART Recovery meeting we all check in with highs and lows- now we are at the Norwalk Green to hang out and check in about our Summer!

How is your Summer going? What is your low and your high of the season and break? Check in with us on this post!

 

To see more of our interns check out our YouTube page here

and listen to their other videos and podcasts in our media room here

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read Nahjeera’s story

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

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

Vaping Podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Vaping Podcast

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

This podcast also appears in our media room, here.

2019 Annual Run in the Pub Fundraiser to benefit TurningPointCT.org!

Hi guys! I have something exciting to share with you guys!
On July 20th (a week from Saturday!!) from 11-4 there will be a fundraiser at O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Norwalk, CT. That fundraiser will benefit us!

Jimmy Booth (a very active and caring Norwalk local) has held this fundraiser for 8 years. This year he will support TurningPointCT.org!! Amazing, right?!
We are so excited.

Jimmy will be at the pub with some supporters running a marathon on a treadmill. This is all to raise awareness for young people’s mental health! There’s also going to be a raffle and 15% of the proceeds from all food and drinks bought that day will go towards our fundraising!!
That means if you are near Norwalk and want to support us, there are many ways to do it (even it just means buying some food).
I hope some of you can come and help us spread the word!!

Check out the event on eventbrite or facebook!

Growing Up: The Coming of Age Podcast

growing of age podcast

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

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

 

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

Calendar for Mental Health Awareness Days: 2019

TurningPointCT.org’s 2019 Awareness Calendar is here!

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

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

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

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

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

Questions? Ask the forum!

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

You can scroll down for the PDF!

Here is the PDF link:
2019 awareness calendar PDF

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

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

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

We need your help! Donate today to TurningPointCT.org

We are asking for your help! 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Click the picture to donate!

 

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

 

“Who Am I?”

There are a lot of people who will ask, in most any plethora of scenarios:

“Tell me a list of traits you’re proud of.”

“What are some positives?”

“Give me a reason why you’re a good person.”

We always sit there listening to nothing but that off-beat clock on the wall, avoiding awkward looks that seem to give the gist of, ‘well I tried I’ll see you next week I guess’, as we attempt rather poorly to come up with just one pitiful answer.

One.

You know how disgusting it is? To not look yourself in the mirror? To see not glass, but broken shards? The past? The scars and fears? The demons lurking over your shoulders in every corner of those four walls?

All it ever took, was that one answer to get going. To get anyone going.

So who am I? Not by definition of one fucked up stigmata so screwed into my core, blaring like a goddamn police siren every time someone asks, “What’s wrong?”

My answer? What else but, “Fine.”

It’s not fine. But I can tell you what is.

Who am I but talented. You know that one professor you have that kicks your ass with work? Makes you think outside of the realm of reason? I had one. She made me think, made me understand things… And even then I was presented with a new word to my arsenal: ‘Polymath’. In layman’s terms it means having the ability to be good a great many tasks but still being shit to yourself. I was always my worst critic, and still continue to be to this day.

Who am I but selfless. I have always emphasized that the ability to make someone smile would be greater than anything. So I cultivated that. I grew with that in my heart, and with that came another greater term: empathy. The ability to know and understand, to learn and guide… Where someone falls, you should know I will have my hand right there for you to help you back to your feet. Compassion, in its more pure form and reality, comes from the most deplorable of lifelines.

Who am I but resilient. Know where you come from, but why let it drown out who you are now? It’s useless to continue to lick those wounds, pick at scabs that continue to bleed and blind you day in and out. It took me years to realize it, yes, but once you let go and live. You’re actually alive. Abuse, night terrors, addictions, starvation tactics, self-harm and mutilation… The list worsens from there, but it takes a real strong mind, body, and soul, one that is steadfast and vigil, to overcome, oversee, and make peace with it all.

Who am I?

I am someone who deserves not the toil and tremor of depression, the affliction and pitfalls of trauma, the snares and fears of anxiety. I can learn and expand beyond even those.

I am someone who does not need this wall that blockades me from the world; sheltering me from everyone and everything, surrounding me in my fear and degradation. By one foul brick and mortar at a time, I am greater than this and the masks I’ve put up to keep everyone at bay.

I am someone who knows she is limitless with potential, yet nowhere near some gross definition of perfection.

I am worthy. I am good. I am —

Fine!

 

-Submitted by: Faljak

Talk with the creator of this expression and join the conversation here

FREE CORN MAZE!

Help navigate through a 4.5 acre corn field that offers 1.5 miles of twists, turns and checkpoints! This is a great opportunity for team building and will end with some homemade ice cream & Italian ices which are made FRESH DAILY on the premises!

This event will be taken place on Sunday, Oct. 28th at Plasko’s Farm 670 Daniels Farm Rd in Trumbull.

We will be starting at 12:30 and will have plenty of time to go through the maze, eat some ice cream, and say hello to the critters on the farm!

Need help with transportation? We got you!

All we need from you is an RSVP and please invite/bring a friend!

You can RSVP to Ally @ Akernan@healthymindsct.org

Join in on the convo

corn

CT SMART Recovery Groups

SMART Recovery support groups for teens and for young adults and SMART Recovery Family & Friends groups are popping up all throughout Connecticut! Find out which ones are near you and check them out with a friend!

Our TurningPointCT staff are running a SMART Recovery teen group in Fairfield and about to start one in Norwalk. To find a SMART group near you, click here, or to find other cool spots to check out in your area, visit our map here. Join in on the conversation here.

So what exactly is SMART Recovery?

SMART Recovery is a peer support group run by trained facilitators. It is for people seeking support with any struggle they may have: substance abuse, anxiety, depression, bullying, fighting, etc. But it’s more than your average support group–it also helps you develop coping skills by analyzing your behaviors, triggers, reactions, etc.  When our TurningPointCT staff got trained to facilitate SMART groups, they tried the skills out on themselves–and the skills worked! Check out our “What We Like About SMART Recovery” discussion about it on our Videos page.

For more information on SMART Recovery in CT, click here or to find an online meeting visit www.smartrecovery.org

So what exactly is SMART Recovery Family & Friends?

SMART Recovery Family & Friends groups help those who are affected by substance abuse (drug abuse, alcohol abuse) or other addictions of a loved one. If your boyfriend, sister, parent, friend or child is dealing with any type of addiction, this group will not only give you social support from people who have been exactly where you are, but it will also help you develop skills, based on the CRAFT model, to help you handle their behaviors better and also to help you get them into treatment.

For more information on SMART Recovery Family & Friends visit: https://www.smartrecovery.org/family/

 

Luca’s Recovery Month

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

Eliza’s Recovery Video

September is Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Month.

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

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

Submit your video here

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

NAMI YA Facilitator Training

Hey everyone! Just a reminder that NAMI Connecticut is offering a FREE training for young adults who would like to facilitate a peer-run support group.

Their first state-wide training with the new YA Connection Model will be on Tuesday, March 27 from 9AM-4PM at 1 Park Street, Norwalk

Join the conversation and get more info!

 

 

2018 Awareness Calendar

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

Below is the entire calendar

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

Happy New Year!

September – Suicide Prevention Month

“13 Reasons Why” Is it really a big deal?

Join in on the coversation as young adults from Connecticut talk about the implications of the new series. First published as a book, maybe from your high school years, 13 Reasons Why is now a Netflix series with a seemingly, even darker twist. Parents, teachers, counselors and mental health advocates are concerned that this new series may have gone a little too far. Has it really though? Do you think that the film is encouraging suicide? What message could this film be sending to young adults and teenagers?

JOB CORPS EXPO

The Job Corps is offering a free career day expo and training in Stamford, Connecticut on August 17, 2017.

 

This is an opportunity to learn more about the Job Corps Expo and its affiliates. You also learn how to speak with counselors for career advice.

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

Child Mental Health: Warning Signs to help spot mental illness in Children:

  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for two or more weeks
  • Seriously trying to harm or kill yourself, or making plans to do so
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing
  • Involved in multiple fights, using a weapon, or wanting badly to hurt others
  • Severe, out- of-control behavior that can hurt yourself or others
  • Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to make yourself lose weight
  • Intensive worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that puts you in physical danger or causes school failure
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Drastic changes in your behavior or personality

Fairfield County Walks for Mental Health

Join the region’s coalition of mental health advocates for the first annual Fairfield County Walks for Mental Health event on Saturday, May 6th from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the Norwalk Green (parking available on Park Street).

Warm up with some laughter exercise on the Green just before Senator Bob Duff opens Mental Health Awareness Month with an official proclamation from Governor Malloy. We will be joined by state and local officials including Senator Toni Boucher and Representatives Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, Chris Perone, Jonathan Steinberg, Fred Wilms, and Terrie Wood.

Walk with us down East Avenue (1 mile round trip), check out the Labyrinth, Healing Garden and Hope-Pray-Dream Board at St. Paul’s Church, or just come to show your support for the cause of mental health especially now when state funding is so much at risk. Free admission and complimentary purple bandannas for all.

RSVP to info@swrmhb.org or (203) 840-1187 to let us know how many people will be walking with you.

The Walk kicks off a calendar of almost 50 events across the region in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month including movies, talks, trainings, and more. Find the full calendar of regional events at http://www.HealthyMindsCT.org.

So Long…

Its almost the end of National Poetry Month. I just want to share a final poem before the month ends. Of course, many more to come.

The theme of this poem is perseverance. It looks at the idea that each day might come to an end but our individual fight continues.

 

-Kevin

Minority Mental Health Month

The Votes

“This poem was written many years before our current political situation. But it resonates very well with our times. Still the intention was to generate humor but I guess its about politics too.” – Kevin

There goes an old woman in a long nylon frock

Following the trail down the highway hill
Praising the name of David Phil
He is a good man they say, he is the man to run the main
And so the party people followed making their victory begging raid.
Well, they judged the candidates wife
“I believe she is pretty,” one man says
“She will make a fine first lady and I like her fashionable ways.”
“I heard she is from India
A humble lady,” someone says.
The wife prays for the party’s win
And the farmer prays for good
The lawyer prays for lower excises
And the janitor prays for higher wages
While the party president finds a perfect place, in that perfect day, to hibernate.
 The people of the nation; their thinking’s are ill
They vote a man in power with low credit and a high bill
The government full of doctors, but not accordingly they behave
And while the people wrestle to strive
The sovereign minds comes to a ‘still’

 

 

National Minority Mental Health Month

Join us in celebration of National Minority Mental Health Month throughout the Month of July to bring awareness to mental illness and to improve access to mental health treatment among minority groups.

Minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care.

Immigrant groups, LGBT youth, and American Americans are often a part of the most marginalized groups. Some of our forum contributers such as Salmon, Kevin, Sufie and Frankie each shared their stories, which looks into some of the issues that minorities face.

Kevin’s blog also looks at mental illness and other issues from the perspective of a gay, Afro-Caribbean immigrant.

Read Our Stories and learn about the myth and facts about mental illness by clicking this link: https://turningpointct.org/thefactsdisorder/myths-and-facts/

The National Alliance on Mental Illness hopes to bring more people from multicultural or marginalized groups into the conversation on mental illness, create more safe spaces and ensure that everyone gets the right treatment that they need.

Minority Mental Health Month

Minority Mental Health Month

If you would like to find out more about helpful resources, please click on this link or you may click here to find locations in your area that offers services for mental health.

CALL OR TEXT A TRAINED CRISIS COUNSELOR TO TALK:

  • If you or someone you know is struggling or needs support now, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.

National Bipolar Awareness Day: March 31st

COMODO SCREEN

Help us raise awareness about Bipolar Disorder on March 31st. This day is celebrated nationally to increase awareness and to promote early detection and accurate diagnosis, reduce stigma, and minimize the devastating impact on the 2.3 million Americans presently affected by the disorder.

S.F. and Dolce both live with bipolar disorder. You may read their stories at the links provided below:

S.F: “The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my illness is to have patience… I rushed through my recovery, partly out of ignorance and partly out of fear that this illness was going to impact my life in ways I didn’t want it to…”. Further reading here: https://turningpointct.org/story/s-fmanicdepression/

Dolce: “I didn’t understand why I would have hyper days and then some days I would be down, I always thought that I was a troubled kid…”. Further reading here: https://turningpointct.org/story/dolcebipolardisorder/

These amazing stories exposes us to the diverse struggles that other young adults with Bipolar Disorder have to deal with. Please keep reading more stories here.

There are more resources available at turningpointct.org to guide you through your recovery. Follow the Q&A guide if you are thinking about getting help. Learn about how you can get started and do a self screening test to see if you may possibly have a bipolar diagnosis.

Learn more about Bipolar disorder by clicking on this link then clicking on the ‘mood disorders’ tab on ‘The Facts’ page.

CALL OR TEXT A TRAINED CRISIS COUNSELOR TO TALK:

  • Trevor Project (crisis intervention & suicide prevention for the  LGBTQ community): 1-866-488-7386

Red Panda

Tai, a young man from Alabama, came to visit his fiance for winter break and agreed to check out the Young Adult Connection Group in Middletown. Tai decided to join us on the night of “personality tests” and when he found out his spirit animal, he saw it was a bear.
Tai returned the following week with this masterpiece – his interpretation of his spirit animal. He instantly wanted to represent his spirit animal as a panda, but was convinced to draw specifically a red panda.
We hope Tai will join us next year at the connection group too – he’s full of life and is a great addition to our Young Adult Connection Community.

Artist: Tai

Mental Wellness Month (Tips From Maneesh Gupta)

Kevin Breel @ Yale University (Mental Wellness)

TurningPointCT.org featured comedian, writer and mental health activist Kevin Breel on Monday, September 19th for a 35-40 minute talk in Sudler Hall at Yale University!

Check out some of our videos and pictures from this and other events HERE.

During the question and answer segment of the event, Kevin responded to questions and shared some great advise on dealing with with mental illness, in society and among family members and peers.

Kevin Breel q&a 3:

“Do you think we are making strides in society to help people with mental illness?’

“Yeah I do, but I also think there’s a lot of work to do… there’s so much potential and there is a lot of good stuff… and if we weren’t making strides we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” 

 

Young Adult Conference – Constance Lane Arnold

unnamed-1Brian talks about his experience at the recent Speaker Series, by CTSTRONG, which featured motivational speaker and talk show host, Constance Lane Arnold. The event was held on Friday, September 9th, in Cromwell, Connecticut. This was a special young adult conference aimed at helping to transform young adult leaders through self-care, relationship maintenance, setting professional boundaries, and more!

“As I take my seat at one of the banquet tables in the Crown Room of the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, I’m not sure what to expect from the day’s events.  I’ve heard the speaker – Constance Lane Arnold – more than once before, on her Think, Believe and Manifest! radio program, always enjoying her show and finding myself a little more inspired after listening than before.

Understanding the Power of Caring for Self.  Focusing and Getting Clear About What You Desire.  Identifying Action Steps and Setting Intentions.  These are just a few of the topics that comprised the day’s agenda.    

She stressed the importance of boundaries, and about who we choose to spend our time with and how we engage with them. unnamed-3

unnamed-2Those in attendance at the event expressed their struggle coping with trials and tribulations in their personal lives.  Constance discussed how the key is to not rely on external sources for your happiness, energy, fulfillment, etc.  She described certain unhealthy coping strategies as self-medication. “Medication is anything external that is used to help ease problems”. Constance also discussed how the key is to not rely on external sources for your hapiness, energy, fulfillment, etc.  

In addition to discussing the importance of mindfulness and changing your your paradigm, Constance also spoked about other practical ways to practice self care to improve life satisfaction.  “Be open to connections” she said, meaning develop healthy and enriching relationships with others, because that’s how we grow and develop.” —  Brian 

 

Young Adult Connection Group, Guildford, CT

NAMI Young Adult Connection Community is proud to start up another location in Guilford, Connecticut!

We will be meeting from 6:30-8pm at the 510 Village Walk Plaza on the first and third Tuesday of every month (bi-weekly).

This NAMI group is facilitated by young people for young people ages 18-29 and it’s FREE!

Some activities we do at these groups include, but are not limited to, music, art, games, talking, meditation…and so much more!

Snacks will be provided.
If you have any questions, please contact Val @ (860) 266-0366.

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It’s Okay to Talk By Collin

It’s Okay to Talk  – Collin’s a big advocate for mental illness. One of his goals while designing his T-Shirt was to design a baseball tee for young adult men. He specifically chose this population because it’s very difficult for men to express emotion due to the stigma of needing to be strong and emotionless. He was inspired by OK2TALK.org which is all about advocacy and talking about mental health. On the front of the shirt, it says #It’sOkaytoTalk and on the back it says “No Man Left Behind”
Artist: Collin

An Evening with Kevin Breel @ Yale

Did you attend the recent Kevin Breel Talk at Yale? 

If you did…

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

But if not…

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone Can Prevent Suicide

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

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

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

J.G.’s Procrastination Monster

Jessica shares her monster’s story with the group: the fence represents being prevented in getting anywhere and getting things done with a scary monster hiding in the darkness. She includes fire in her representation of her monster too. Perhaps this monster’s name is “Procrastination?”
Artist: Jessica

S.G.’s Monster (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Sara is inspired by Toby Allen’s illustration of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) monster. Relative to the anxiety monster, the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Monster can be found stalking battlefields or lurking near traumatic events and natural disasters, feeding off the collective trauma and fear. On her monster’s back are various targets to remind her of experiences. 

Artist: Sara

(more…)

Monster by S.M.’s (Mental Wellness)

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

Artist: Steve

"The Church was a big Closet"

Very often when I speak about religion it typically surrounds the will of different faith to condemn gay people but occasionally I have had positive conversations about the church, particularly about the haven that the church seems to provide, in an unlikely case, where one is gay.

Recently, I scrolled over an article by Out Magazine; an interview with Marlon James,
a Jamaican novelist who won the top literary prize in 2015 (The Man Booker Prize).

Marlon, currently living in the US – a college teacher in Minnesota – his thoughts from the interview were very intriguing…
he hinted at the cultural tenets that are still being embraced throughout Jamaican society.

For the most part, Marlon’s responses were not surprising, they were enlightening.
His experiences perfectly depict the typical gay Jamaican boy: an embodiment of sacrifice and fear.

Never mind the beard or the locks on his head [a symbol of the Rastafarian religion], Marlon was a devoted Christian living in Jamaica.
Ironically, the church was just about the safest place for a gay man in Jamaica; and that’s a gay man in the closet.
Besides the old black pastor with the Bible in his hand, which he beats down on the podium, the church was a vessel for secrets.

It wasn’t unlikely that if you were gay, you would most likely target the most cherished positions in the church.
I lead Sunday school… I had a strong devotion to my faith but it was also a clever distraction.

Jamaicans saw the church for what it was (or should be); an institution of guiding values and morals.
The barber who couldn’t make it to church on Sunday because he had to cut hair; the man on the street selling ‘weed’; the musicians who compose the most damning and violent lyrics all believe, that they owe the church something (whether its monetary donation or genuine respect).

This small gesture underscores the idea that the church was sacred and is almost always the standard bearer of ‘all good’.
So it’s no surprise that Marlon, who grew up under the principles and credence of the church in Jamaica and as a gay man, would echo the words, “The church was a big Closet.”

Quite frankly, its fair to say that a gay man living in Jamaica, is probably, one, closeted and two, a devoted Christian.

3 Types of Music that Improves Sleeping Quality

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

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

But can music actually help people with sleep disorders?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrity Wellness 2

Celebrity Wellness 2!

Whitney Houston: I chose Whitney because her talent, star presence and big person (and her famous Diane Sawyer interview) were a great inspiration. Whitney had her own struggles, and later in her career was publicly known for this.

Donald Trump: I can’t even explain this hot mess..

-Michael

Calling ALL Bloggers!

Are you a fitness enthusiast? Are you a teen parent with a lot to say? TurningPointCT.org is calling all bloggers with a passion for mental health! Turn your passion into a weekly sensation on our discussion forum. Be the inspiration, the voice of reason, or the next topic of conversation.

TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help. We are here to help guide the search for mental wellness and we’d love to hear your perspective!

Check out our current blogs here:  Everything Music and Journal of a Gay Black Immigrant

To enter the contest:

All contestants must

  • be a young adult (16-28) in Connecticut
  • must be a mental health advocate- blog must relate to some aspect of mental wellness.
  • must be able to contribute one post per week with a minimum of 350 words to the discussion forum.
  • promote the TurningPointCT.org blog
  • follow TurningPointCT.org on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and/or Twitter.
Could you be our next blogger ? Show us your point of view! Please send us your topic (and why it matters) and a sample post of 350 words to  TurningPointCT@swrmhb.org by  April 1, 2016. All submissions will be considered and the winner(s) will be notified within the week of the deadline date.

Myths that Religion Taught Us

Too often LGBT youth are reminded that the church or whatever it may be is not the place for us to be who we are.
For some of us, our stories with religion end with rejection, abuse, trauma, just to name a few.
And I can understand the frustration and anger because quite frankly, a lot of us feel betrayed by society and our religious intuitions.

Just Monday another case was brought before the Supreme Court in New Jersey by conservative Christians to challenge the ban on conversion therapy in the state. Luckily the Supreme Court rejected this case which of course is a big win for the LGBTQ youth who may not have a voice when faced with gay conversion therapy.

Growing up, going to church seems ever so normal until we begin to realize that popular theological interpretations of religious doctrines do not view us as moral people.

At some point, I stopped believing… wasn’t sure if I was an atheist or not… but I was very angry, not only at Christianity but at all religions that perpetuate societal violence against LGBT people.

Somehow, I had absorbed a lot of damaging lies. For a few years I had no intention to renew my faith because the message I received and the people who embraced it didn’t make much sense.

I was forced to accept that being gay was a choice and conversion therapy was effective. In my perspective, back then, there was just no logics, no rationale for the lies that I was told.

Among the lies:

You can’t be christian and gay

The idea that the Bible, as it is, condemns homosexuality is an old age rhetoric that was never true.
“You are a reprobate and you are going to hell!”
Leviticus 20:13 and 18;22 are all too familiar like the beating stick that was meant to make us straight. Religious fanatics who are only as religious to the extent that they hate gay people, based on their standards, stoning a man to death can divinely resolve one’s sexuality. Needless to say, it was taught that gay people are not welcome in the faith.
What the pastors failed to tell us was that the Bible does not address the subject of homosexual acts between committed gay couples, because the ‘concept’ of a person being homosexual did not even exist at the time the Bible was written.

God hates the sin but loves the sinner

First and foremost, according to many theologians, this saying is not found in the Bible in so many words.
Many religious conservatives believe in a magical spell that could remove the sexual orientation from the person.

The implication here is that the ‘gayness’ and the beholder are two different things.
Not True!

“All Religions condemn homosexuality”

Notwithstanding that Christianity does not explicitly reflect the bigotry of many of its followers, and bearing in mind that both reform and conservative Jews are usually accepting, there are still many other religious groups that are affirming or accepting of gay people… such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, among some of the most popular.

Altogether, we all have different faith and we are entitled to our beliefs but it’s ungodly to use God in the name of bigotry. It’s senseless to believe that the intention of a loving God, for this world was to punish humans for things beyond their control.
Not true!

Conversion Therapy Does Not Work!

In December 2014, I remember coming across a story on Facebook about a 17 year old transgender girl from Ohio, Leelah Alcorn, who committed suicide.

Before she died she posted a suicide note on her Instagram blog, revealing her struggles and requesting for change within society.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YbNFXsW-uo

She was one in the line of many more who suffered similar fates before her. She was raised in a conservative Christian environment and came out to her parents at 14 years old but they refused to accept her female gender identity. When she made a request to them to have her undergo female conversion therapy, they send her into a Christian-based conversion therapy instead.

Leelah lived with the fears that things will never get better… that she will never be fully accepted, especially by her parents – who should have been there to love and care for her.

But in spite of Leelah’s plea for a changed world including a ban on conversion therapy, nothing much has really changed since her death.

There are still people who we come across now and then, who think that one can ‘become straight’ or who deny the fact that there are actually people who identify with another gender.

In Christian therapy Leelah met some of these people who constantly reminded her that she was not the girl she thought she was and sadly, her parents approved this message.

I may never understand much of the struggle Leelah endure while going through conversion therapy but I do know the emotional and psychological trauma you experience when someone tells you that you have to be something that you are not and what you are is disgusting.

Back in 2014 there was an Ex-gay ministry traveling the world, especially to third world countries, in places such as Africa and the Caribbean, convincing the local populace and governments to reject the LGBT movement, calling it the ‘Gay Agenda’.

When I was in Jamaica, one of the board members, Dennis Jernigan, came on national television to share his story of ‘becoming straight’ and falling in love with a woman with whom he produced nine children.

At that time it didn’t occur to me that he was spreading the wrong message. I had the mentality that sexuality was alterable and his story was living proof. In fact, I was still actively involved in my local church and I worked tirelessly to find the secret formula to ‘becoming straight’.
I went to his site and messaged him my story, expressing my desire to become straight… how silly? I left my contact information hoping he would respond. I checked back for days into weeks but I never heard back from him. It was extremely frustrating but today I thank God he didn’t.

A few months later Exodus International released a new policy statement on the criminalization of homosexuality and Dennis Jernigan offered an apology for the work he carried out in Jamaica, which in his statement violated the principles of Exodus. The organization was ultimately dissolved in 2013.

It’s really heartbreaking to witness different organizations and the people who support them, focused on destroying thousands of lives in the name of ignorance.
Leelah would probably still be here today had it not been for the hateful dogma that some religious groups teaches.

Much more work needs to be done but fingers crossed, we will get there. “It Gets Better”.

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