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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!

Recovering from Domestic Violence: The Journey

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

What is Domestic Violence?

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

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

My Past Relationship/Situationship

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

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

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

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

Losing Myself & Growing

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

The Complex Lesson

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

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

Closing Words on Domestic Violence: Validity

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

Gabe H.

Job Opportunity at YAH

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

Click HERE to apply!

Forgiving Yourself: The Path of Letting Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Forgiveness

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

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

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

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

Why Forgiving Yourself is Important

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

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

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

The Negative Effects of Holding onto Regret

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Letting Go

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

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

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

The Process of Forgiving Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

Shifting Your Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Things We Crave: Addiction Recovery, Connection & Peace

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

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

Miss the last episode? Listen to it here!

Now Hiring: Peer Support Specialist

PEER SUPPORT SPECIALIST (35 hrs/week)

The TurningPointCT Peer Support Specialist uses their lived experience with mental health and/or substance use in conjunction with their training in peer support to serve as an advocate, advisor, trainer and supporter for other young people in CT. The role includes: help the state expand and improve the availability of trained peer support for young people in behavioral health programs; provide direct peer support to young people on a limited basis; and contribute regularly to the TurningPointCT online platforms as a way of reaching young adults in the state.

Peer Support Specialist Responsibilities:

  1. Provide training, coaching, and peer advocacy to DMHAS Young Adult Services (YAS) program staff
  2. Provide peer support and advocacy to YAS program clients
  3. Outreach to clients of the Department of Children and Families and Court Support Services Department
  4. Provide an annual peer support training (e.g., Recovery Coach Academy, Recovery University) for YAS clients and other young adults ready and interested in becoming peer support specialists
  5. Provide limited peer support to CT youth and young adults through weekly drop-in hours on TurningPointCT.org social platforms or in person and occasional peer support group sessions as needed
  6. Serve on identified state and young adult advisory boards (e.g., DMHAS Recovery Affairs, YLP and CT STAY STRONG). Provide input, share resources, coordinate and cross-pollinate across initiatives, and identify content areas for the TurningPointCT platform and social media
  7. Provide input into state, DMHAS and Positive Directions efforts to develop policies and systems to strengthen peer support, including involvement with legislative workgroups related to peer support
  8. Participate in weekly team meetings to share statewide young adult initiatives with the project staff
  9. Create weekly blog posts for TurningPointCT.org and develop other content (podcasts, videos) on a regular basis

Requirements:

  1. Identify as a peer to youth/young adults with lived experience with mental illness and/or substance misuse
  2. Trained as Recovery Support Specialist or Recovery Coach
  3. Strong personal interest in advocacy
  4. Excellent oral and written communication skills
  5. Excellent interpersonal skills

Apply: Submit cover letter and resume to Margaret Watt at mwatt@positivedirections.org. No calls, please.

DOWNLOAD A PDF COPY OF THE PEER SUPPORT SPECIALIST JOB DESCRIPTION HERE!

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

Grieving my Uterus: Transgender Journey

I haven’t talked much about my transgender journey here. Mostly because it’s personal and complex. As a disclosure, I’m not here to talk solely about my journey but also about grieving something sacred; my uterus.

The Uterus is Sacred: Grieving

Culturally, I have identified the sacredness of my uterus. It’s a portal that held so much of my power. With it, I felt whole and divine. I was balanced of both feminine and masculine energies. My psychic abilities were at its peak as I was tapping into that sacred energy.

Without my uterus, I felt lost and out of touch with the feminine energy. And it kind of made me angry. But mainly angry with society.

Grief that Turned to Anger

Throughout my grieving process, I wanted to answer: Why did I need to get rid of something sacred to qualify for bottom surgery when I have been aware of my gender identity since I was 4 years old?

My grief turn into anger upon answering that question. The anger sparked from the expectation that people must conform to the binary system in order to receive what may alleviate their gender dysphoria. The binary system started with colonization and the whitewashed governing body that strips people of their culture, self-expression, and self-autonomy. This forces non-binary individuals to conform to the binary system for medical procedures. Which only causes more distress.

Systemic Irrational Fears

People with money don’t have to go through any of the barriers that the gender expansive community has to. No one questions, interrogates, expect publicity, requires more than one medical document, and/or makes up a wait time for someone with money who wants a surgery done. There are no rules or barriers for them. So why do those of the gender expansive community need to go through all of these barriers? Why do we need to prove ourselves when society has prevented self-expression from happening?

What people fail to process is how self-expression within the childhood would actually help individuals find/be themselves. It’s actually why many cis-het people are so unhappy; they don’t know who they are so they try to conform to something which only makes them feel guilty. And due to how the United States was build, people fear the lack of control over another’s gender identity through forcing binary social conformity. In other words, closed/single minded individuals seek to control gender identity and gender expression within others because they’re uncomfortable with people being free of a construct they, themselves, are prisoner to.

What I’ve Learned & Done

In some way, I learned many things from my grief and anger:

  • I shouldn’t give my power away.
  • Not having a uterus doesn’t make me any less.
  • I am still me without my uterus.
  • It’s okay to grieve and be angry.
  • It’s okay to cry.

In all of this, I have tattooed a ram skull with Lilith’s sigil on its forehead on my lower stomach area. This is how the tattoo looks on paper.

grieving

These are their meanings:

  • A skull with horns symbolize the major change and death of a cycle of life.
  • The ram skull represents overcoming obstacles; my grief and anger. It also symbolizes the sacrifice I made in order to qualify for the surgery to feel aligned to myself.
  • I placed Lilith’s sigil on the forehead because she is a symbol of femininity, freedom, rebellion, strength, courage and beauty.

Remember that it’s okay to grieve something that society doesn’t think you should grieve.

– Dez 🙂

CEUs (Free); Holistic Approach to Recovery

WEBINAR TITLE: NEGOTIATING IDENTITIES | Recovering the Self; A holistic approach to supporting recovery, during the transition to adulthood. Click on the image below to the interactive version of the flyer! Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for recovery support specialists and social workers!

CEUs

For those working in the recovery psychology field!

EARN CEUs: 6 NASW-CT and 6 RSS

This is a free community webinar hosted by Advocacy Unlimited, Inc. Attend virtually, via Zoom. No recording will be available.

WHEN: Monday, February 13, 2023 9:30am-4pm

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Click here to register!

Click the image to view and/or download interactive flyer!


What Attendees Said About this Webinar for CEUs

  • CEUs Continuing Education Quote

Click here to register! Or download/view flyer!

It’s You, Not the Place: Recovery

Recently, I heard a presentation on outcomes of Peer Support Services. The presenter had a slide comparing places of services to fitness centers. The relation is that ‘fitness centers don’t keep people fit’, just as treatment centers don’t keep people in recovery. They highlighted that the individual, in addition to ‘outside’ support, is what keeps people ‘fit’ or in the treatment aspect; ‘in recovery’.

I liked this perspective because it keeps people out of a box. It births opportunity for authentic individualized care. I commended another participant in the webinar that showed vulnerability by sharing their agreements on this. They’re a CEO of a large behavioral health organization. They said, “We claim to provide individualized care to the people we serve. But in reality, this isn’t always the case. We need to do better at this and remove barriers that cause cookie-cutter approaches.

I was impressed by their willingness to share that, especially being the role that they are in. So often, people in leadership roles have ego’s that prevent true collaboration, teamwork, and employee retention. I felt validated by the presentation and discussion that was happening amongst individuals of all walks of life. It was relieving to hear that people deserve to give themselves more credit while going through life and a healing journey. So many times we neglect our own resiliency, power, strength, and comprehension by crediting our success to an outside source. Whether it’s a treatment center, support group, higher power, loved one, etc. we tend to resist the idea of praising and acknowledging our own role. Do these things play a large role in maintaining our lifestyle and healing journey? Of course. We can recognize and appreciate others’ influences, while still showing ourselves love, empathy, and praise.

So next time you are around the person, place, or thing that helps fuel your wellness, take time to pause and acknowledge all of the hard work YOU’VE done. After all, every support system could be in place, but if YOU don’t put in the energy, you won’t have the results that you have now. Give yourself the same energy that you give others. Thank yourself for becoming the version little you have wanted.

– Ally

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.

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!

Prevention: What I Wish I Had as a Recovering Addict.

I grew up in the era of prevention that was the D.A.R.E. program, ‘tough love’, and “Just Say No”. These methods, for me, didn’t prevent me from experimenting with substances, and instead added shame, fear, and invalidation. It made me more sneaky and secretive.

If I could look back at my struggles with mental health and addiction, and try to think of a way the struggles could have been prevented, I think about the messaging that was given to me growing up. Whether it was judgmental media or presentations at school, the delivery and content were horrific.

I believe what would’ve been helpful prevention methods within messaging would have been to have frequent guest speakers that were people with lived experience, close to my age group. Hearing someone close in age share their experiences would’ve helped me relate and less stigmatized. I also believe that having more messaging around mental health and coping skills would’ve prevented a lot of issues that I faced. Had I been taught in depth about mental health, stigmas, grounding techniques, and mindfulness practices, I could’ve been able to handle the things I was going through.

All of the prevention tactics taught in school perpetuated stigma and kept families suffering in silence. I remember messaging coming across as if addiction was a choice and made me question foundational beliefs I had of my loved ones. These prevention methods were also a cookie-cutter approach, assuming that one-treatment-fits-all. As many of us know, what works for one doesn’t always work for the other, and that’s ok.

So to the prevention professionals and parents, allow prevention to include meeting someone exactly where they are at. Focus on what can be worked on and put a pause on the rest. Try to avoid a fear and/or shame based method and instead approach situations with empathy, grace, and love.

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 🙂

National Humor Month: How Humor Helps Your Mental Health

You know what they say…laughter is the best medicine. It’s not just a silly saying. Laughter really is some of the best medicine. It can really help your mental health in various ways.

Some of the ways laughter can help your mental health are:

  • it diminishes pain
  • it protects you from the damaging effects of stress
  • it brings your mind and body back into balance
  • it lightens your burdens
  • it inspires hope
  • it connects you to others
  • it keeps you grounded, focused, and alert
  • it helps you release anger and forgive sooner
  • it strengthens resilience
  • it improves mood
  • it adds joy to life

If you’re wondering how laughter can do all of these things, it’s because your brain releases endorphins when you laugh — hormones that cause a feeling of pleasure and a relaxed mind. Laughing also activates your body’s stress response mechanism. This process changes your heart rate leaving you in high spirits. Additionally, laughter stimulates rapid blood circulation. When this happens, you may experience a calming sensation that takes away tension and stress.

Humor is definitely something that has helped me when my mental health has been bad. Growing up, my brother and I used to laugh SO MUCH. When the two of us are together, we just act so immature, even now in our mid-twenties. We have inside jokes from childhood that still make us laugh until we cry. We find the dumbest things funny when we are together. But, there’s nothing better than laughing so hard that I’m literally crying. It’s one of the best feelings.

I get this way with my friends too. It’s easier to laugh and have fun with people who you’re comfortable around and who have the same sense of humor as you. My best friend Robyn is one of my favorite people to go to when I just need a laugh. We will just laugh and laugh at the dumbest things, but it’s so good to just laugh and act like idiots together (which this has definitely happened in some of the podcasts we have done together here on TurningPointCT). Humor really does help you connect to others.

Another way humor has kind of helped me deal with my mental health is through memes. I am actually in a group called Aborted Dreams: Share Your Memes where I can always count on finding some mental health memes with dark humor. A lot of people who don’t struggle with their mental health don’t get these memes when I show them to them, so I will only share these memes with certain people. But, the dark humor is not only hilarious to me, but it helps me realize that there are tons of other people out there who just get what I’m going through – they’re another way to feel connected with others. Humor (and memes) are one of my favorite ways to deal with my mental health.

Below are just some examples of some of the dark humor memes I laugh at (being mentally ill for as many years as I have has given me a very, very dark sense of humor):

this would be an example of one I’d only send to certain people – ps, I am fine, but I have definitely struggled with suicidal ideations in the past

If it’s not memes, I’m scrolling through funny reels on social media. I also have comfort TV shows, most of which are comedies. The Office, Parks and Recreation, and BoJack Horseman are some of my favorites to watch when I’m in a depressive episode.

Anyhoo, I will leave you with this. Laughter really is the best medicine. Find people you can just laugh with for hours and hours. Find people to send memes back and forth with. Find shows that make you laugh until you cry. Follow funny accounts on social media. Your mental health will thank you.

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!

Unhealthy Coping Mechanism: Smoking

So for those of you that don’t know, I am a former smoker of both cigarettes and marijuana. While smoking definitely started out as a social thing, it definitely became something that became a coping mechanism for me.

I really was never a heavy marijuana smoker and I really only did it when I was with friends who were doing it. The amount of times I smoke marijuana was so few that I never learned how to use a bowl, bong, or how to roll anything. I had never even bought marijuana myself. Cigarettes on the other hand, that was a daily thing for me.

I had my first cigarette when I was a freshman in college. My best friend smoked them and even though I had always told myself I would never, one drunken night, she offered one to me and I smoked it. I remember the insane head rush, but I also remember it not tasting that great.

The reason I kept smoking was because it was kind of a social thing. I liked stepping outside with my friend to have a cigarette and just talk. Later, it became a me thing instead of just a social thing. A lot of my freshman and sophomore year of college memories include cigarettes. Driving to and from school blasting my music with the windows down while I smoked my cigarettes. Taking smoking breaks during my shifts at Subway because I just didn’t feel like being inside. Taking smoke breaks with friends because it was something to do.

I don’t know if I was addicted to the nicotine, or if I just really liked the act of doing it. I really only smoked for about a year or two, but as I said, they were a big part of those couple of years. But, I really liked the actual act of putting it in my mouth and taking a drag. It was like a really shitty for you form of calming breathing. The breathing in, then taking a deep inhale to fill your lungs, and then the long, deep exhale.

There was just something calming about the act of smoking a cigarette. In fact, after I had stopped smoking, I would pretend to smoke just to calm myself down. I thought I was crazy to pretend to smoke to calm myself. But, when I brought it up to my therapist, she wasn’t surprised because it really was like a deep breathing exercise. It’s something I still do to this day.

Another reason why I smoked was because I really was not in a great place mentally. I was actively trying to harm my body in every way I could think of. Much like my battle with anorexia, in my mind, smoking was another way to get a slow, painful death. I wanted nothing more than to make myself suffer because I felt like I deserved it. I just didn’t want to live, but I also didn’t want to actually commit suicide. So, I opted for the casual way to harm my body by doing things I knew were bad.

I don’t remember why I stopped smoking. I think it was because I got really sick and I knew that smoking wouldn’t help me get over it. Quitting smoking while I was sick actually made it worse because I had what they call “smoker’s flu” which is essentially just more mucus and congestion as your lungs try to push all the shit out of your lungs that you’ve been inhaling for years. It was not a fun time.

During this sick period, I got steroids from a walk-in clinic to help me fight off the sickness, and I had my first panic attack while I was at work. I later went to my actual primary care doctor and she was like oh jeez when she found out they gave me steroids because she knew that I had anxiety. The way she put it, the steroids had a stimulant effect on me and that was what caused the panic attack. Because of that, she wouldn’t even chance giving me an inhaler even though I was so congested I could barely breathe.

I haven’t smoked since I quit. But, I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about it often. There are still times I’m driving around in my car and I think to myself “man, I wish I had a cigarette right now.” On days I’m really stressed out, I think about how easy it would be for me to just go buy a pack of cigarettes. And for those of you thinking “why don’t you just vape?” it’s because it’s not the same. Been there, done that. I vaped before I even smoked cigarettes.

Despite having these thoughts of wanting to smoke, I also have my anxious brain that stops me from doing them. I’m not at a point in my life where I’m actively trying to destroy my body on purpose anymore. Every time I think about smoking, my anxious brain tells me “hell no, lung cancer.” As much as I hate my anxiety, it does have me too afraid to pick up smoking ever again. I guess it’s useful for that.

Even though I only smoked for about 2 years, I still have to put on my medical records that I am a former smoker. And even though I haven’t smoked since 2016, 5 years later, I still think about it a lot. While I probably won’t ever touch cigarettes again, I can’t help but wonder if those thoughts will ever go away. Or, if they’ll be with me for the rest of my life because of a couple self-destructive years in college.

Healing Is Rough Sometimes

@alli.kat Healing is rough sometimes 🥲 #fyp #healingtok #trauma ♬ Sparks – Coldplay

Crazy Plant Lady: A Day In The Leaf

Self-care Sunday is all about plants and what it’s like to be a crazy plant lady! I know that most people hear the phrase “self-care” and think that it means spa stuff but that’s not true! Self-care is all about taking care of yourself, no matter how you choose to do that. There are so many forms of self-care to utilize and it doesn’t stop at the pampering. I’ve previously shared that I like to bake as a form of self-care but one of my top favorite things is taking care of my plants.

For those of you who don’t know I love plants. Honestly, I’m kind of obsessed with them and I am definitely a crazy plant lady. It all began with one plant and because of that plant, my life changed. This plant was a little cactus that a friend had given to me as a gift. It was a cute little prickly thing and I fell in love with it immediately. Having something to take care of made me feel good. Unfortunately, my poor little cactus met its demise after my dog knocked it out of the window.

plants
Agent Hotchner & Dr. Reid

Plants are a really good form of self-care. Taking care of them creates a routine and gives you a little bit of purpose when you’re feeling down. A plant, much like a person, requires attention, love and care. Taking care of one can teach you a lot about those things. Especially when it comes to yourself. If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to yourself can do.

succulents
Top Row: Agents Alvez, Lewis, Garcia, Callahan & Gideon / Bottom Row: Agents Blake, Simmons & Morgan

Now that I’m older and have my own space, I’ve grown my plant collection bigger than I ever thought it could be. I love my little plants. They give me purpose and have taught me so much about taking care of myself. Nurturing them and being able to watch them all grow is a wonder because I helped them get there. It’s just such an amazing process and I got to be a part of it. Because of these plants, I’ve learned to take better care of myself. They are a reminder that a little love and care can really go a long way because that’s really all it takes.

Agents Prentiss, Rossi & Jareau

Be kind to yourself the way that you are kind to plants and others because you deserve that kind of care too. I want you to water yourself with kind words, love and care because like plants, you need that too. I promise that will help you grow into the wonderful, beautiful person you want to be. You have to remember that it all starts with you.

Want to have your own plants for self-care? Here are 5 Easy Houseplants That Double As Self-care Reminders! 🙂

Check out Psychology Today’s article 11 Ways Plants Enhance Your Mental and Emotional Health.

Read my post How Life Feels Is More Important Than How It Looks right here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Have a great week!

Emotional Pain: An Experience

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Emotional pain is pain or hurt that comes from outside non-physical things. Sometimes this emotional hurt is a reaction to the actions or words of other people. Other times, it could be due to regret, grief, or loss. No matter the cause, this pain can become incredibly intense and can affect various parts of your life.

This type of pain has a variety of symptoms. It can come from feelings of loneliness, rage or even shame. It also leads to negative emotions or feelings towards some things or people. This pain also often leads to incredibly severe distress, which can feel even worse than physical pain itself. Emotional pain in itself can lead to unhealthy coping methods which can only worsen how you’re feeling. These methods often involve substance abuse, which can have fatal consequences. On the bright side, there are healthy coping methods for dealing with emotional pain. These methods can include therapy, exercise and even practicing mindfulness.

I’ve dealt with emotional pain practically all my life. A lot of my pain stems from my parents’ divorce, their reactions to it and how I grew up. My parents’ divorce destroyed me emotionally. I was hurt and feeling lost but there was nobody to teach me how to deal with my pain so I just kept it in. Eventually, things began to spiral. The hurt feelings and uncontrollable emotions were beginning to cause me physical distress. I couldn’t sleep, I barely ate, and I was even self-harming. The things I was feeling just hurt me so much emotionally and physically. It was something I never wanted to experience again, but it was something that I would, unfortunately, have to go through again, more than once.

While I do still occasionally deal with it, things have gotten much better. I rely on various coping methods to deal with it. One of the best methods that I’ve chosen was going to therapy. Therapy has been the absolute best thing for me and I wouldn’t change that. My therapist has done so much for me in terms of my pain. It is absolutely exhausting to deal with and work on. It just takes so much energy out of you but it will be so worth it. Eventually, this pain will try to consume you, you can’t let it get to that point. I know addressing pain, especially the emotional kind, can be difficult for some but there are people out there who want to help you. People who want you to get better. Please let them help you, you don’t have to do it by yourself.

What is the kindest thing to do for yourself when you experience this type of pain?

If you get the chance, please check out LiveScience’s article Why does ’emotional pain’ hurt?

Also, check out my post Why Having A Good Therapist Is Important here on TurningPointCT!

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.

Why Saying No Is Okay

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Saying no can be incredibly difficult sometimes. This is because we think that saying no might come off as rude or selfish depending on the situation. And we don’t want that. Instead, we tend to put aside our feelings, and sometimes our morals, just to people-please. But I want you to know that saying no is okay.

I’ll be the first to say that I’ve always been a people-pleaser. Honestly, I don’t people-please as much now, but I used to do it all the time before. I never felt like I could say no to people and that got me into a lot of horrible situations. Situations that I really should have stood my ground in. Learning to say no is something that took me a really long time to understand. I’d just say yes to everything until I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I knew that I had to do something about it.

I was going to have to learn to say no. And eventually I would learn that on my own. I would like to pass that lesson onto you. One of our greatest superpowers is saying no, but this is something that we don’t always remember. Sometimes we don’t say no to things that we aren’t interested in because we don’t want to seem rude or even selfish. Saying no actually means you’re aware of your own worth and respect yourself enough to stick up for what you believe in.

Please remember that saying no is okay. Deciding what we’re okay and not okay with is entirely our choice, not anyone else’s. Saying no allows us to set our own boundaries with others. Without this power, people may take advantage of us or treat us like door mats. We absolutely cannot let them. It is absolutely better to say no to things you’re uncomfortable with than to suffer through it for the sake of someone else.

Your thoughts and emotions are more important than trying to please everyone, don’t forget that. Saying no is your right.

I’ve included a link to PsychCentral’s article Saying No (Kindly) And Then Letting Go here! It was a really great read.

Make A Pizza With Me!

This morning I had very little motivation. This resulted in me only having a muffin for breakfast. This afternoon, I went to brunch with a friend and then when I got home, I worked and worked and worked. I got very caught up in it and I lost track of time. I knew I needed to eat, but my kitten was in my lap and I just didn’t have the will to make myself food. Finally, at 7pm, I found the will to finally make myself something to eat. Below is the pizza I made for dinner 🙂

@turningpointct.org I’ve barely eaten today, but I finally had the will to make this pizza for myself at 7pm…sometimes it’s the little victories!! #food #mentalhealth #smallvictories ♬ Smile All Day – Bounty feat. Spencer Ludwig
snuggly kitten while I worked
my tasty pizza!

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! 🙂

How My Brothers Saved Me

My brothers saved me from myself and the reality of our world.

CW, TW: talk of suicide and self-harm.

For as long as I can remember, my brothers have always been my strength. They are both my rock and even sometimes, my best friend. I remember the day that each of them came home from the hospital. I was so excited to be a big sister! They were so little and I was still so young. I just knew that I had to protect them, no matter the cost.

Growing up, life at home wasn’t always easy but I knew I had to be strong for them. After my parents divorced, I knew it would be hard especially for them because they didn’t understand what was happening. But I understood. I never wanted them to feel the way that I was feeling. As their oldest sibling, I knew I had to make sure they felt safe and secure with me. I wanted them to know that they had someone to rely on because, at the time, I didn’t.

This is a photo that my best friend happened to catch of my two brothers and I (this was pre-transition for Dante).

If you’ve seen my story, you’ll know that my parents divorced when I was about 12 years old. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Donovan was only about 3 and Dante was still just a baby. In one day, I watched my whole world fall apart. I felt broken but I knew I couldn’t let them see that. I knew I wouldn’t be able to explain that feeling to them. Even when I felt like I was drowning, I always made sure that they were okay first.

After my dad left, my mom wasn’t home much. She worked and went out with friends, it was her way of coping. I mean, who was I to try to stop her when I knew she was hurting too? While I wanted to let her deal with her pain, I was still mad at her. I was 12 years old and I had to take care of my siblings. I loved them but I was already dealing with my own demons and now I had two little humans to take care of now. Most people my age wanted to be a kid but at this age, I’ve forgiven her because I knew that was the only way I was going to heal on my own.

After my parents split up, I struggled for a really long time. I can’t even begin to imagine how Dante and Donovan were feeling about the whole thing. Unfortunately, I fell into a really deep depression. School became too overwhelming for me, I found myself really struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t handle having to go there and pretend like everything was okay when I felt so broken. I already had to hide how I was feeling at home because I couldn’t let my brothers see me be weak. Someone had to be strong for them.

Despite everything going on, my brothers gave me peace. They made me feel safe and they didn’t even know it. Knowing that they had me to count on gave me peace of mind. That was more than enough for me. I spent so much of my time taking care of them that I never stopped to take care of myself. But they did. They took care of me in ways I don’t think they’ll ever fully understand, even now.

I lived through days where I genuinely wanted to die. There were so many times that I considered ending my life because the life I was living just wasn’t worth the pain I felt. And when I wasn’t having suicidal thoughts, I was cutting myself. I used to cut my arms, my legs, my hips. Anywhere that would hurt enough to make everything else go away. I was in this horrible cycle of suicidal thoughts and self-harm. I felt like I wasn’t enough. Not for myself or my parents. But for Donovan and Dante? I was enough. More than enough for them. I was their big sister, their biggest fan, their best friend and so much more.

They will never truly know how much they’ve done for me. They don’t know that I was lying awake at night wondering whether I should be alive, that they were the reason I wanted to keep going. That their sweet, innocent little faces always made me wonder, “why would anyone want to leave you?” How everything they’ve ever said to me has stuck with me my whole life. They just don’t know how much of an impact they’ve had on me as an adult. I could never leave them, not ever.

Donovan and Dante are the best brothers that anyone could ask for. I truly mean that. I am so thankful to have the relationship that I do with them because I know a lot of people don’t have that. I’m lucky to be their big sister and I will never take them for granted. They might be a pain in my behind sometimes but I know they have good intentions. My brothers are the ones who protect me and my heart from harm. My brothers saved me and they continue to save me every day.

Thank you Donovan and Dante for reminding me what I’m worth and making me feel whole. Without you, I would not be who I am today. I love you both more than words.


Here’s a really cool article that talks about siblings under stress. It’s a really good read!

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

Q&A with Kailey About Growing Through The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has effected us all in many ways. There were a lot of downs, but there were some ups. We asked our social media assistant, Kailey, how she has grown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Describe the ways you have grown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Think about things you have been able to do that you wouldn’t have ordinarily, ways you have overcome personal struggles, etc.)

I think I’ve definitely had more time to do things for me during the pandemic. When the pandemic started, I was in my senior year of college and also working my job at an audiobook company. I had to start doing school virtually, which was definitely an adjustment, and my job also closed down so I was out of work and I had to figure out unemployment. I had all this time to myself that I had never had before because I had been so used to school and work taking up most of my time.

Honestly in the beginning I fell into a really deep depression and I wasn’t really getting out of bed or eating. I had been using the go go go lifestyle where I filled my time with work and school to kind of not be alone with myself. Distraction was my way of (not) dealing with my depression and anxiety so when I couldn’t go to work or school, I crumbled.

I spent a lot of time in bed in the beginning of the pandemic

Eventually, I told myself that had to stop letting myself stay in bed and that I had to start eating. I have no idea how long the unhealthy habits actually went on, but I know I was just in a really dark place. Finally, I forced myself to leave the house to go for a hike (because doing outdoor things was actually within reach during the pandemic). After that first hike, I got really into hiking and I was going out pretty much every single day with my camera. My photography has really gotten better because I’ve had time to actually do it. I got really into long exposure shots of waterfalls so at one point I was hitting all of the waterfalls in Connecticut.

My Connecticut pandemic adventures

Later, I got really into bird photography because bird watching was something I could do from the comfort of home. I ended up investing in a super telephoto lens to photograph birds. I am now known as a crazy bird lady and known for my bird photos. I’ve joined more bird Facebook groups than I can count and it’s my way of connecting with people who also enjoy birds as well as learning from the others that are in the groups.

The birds – the pandemic turned me into a crazy bird lady

Another new thing I started doing during the pandemic was actually starting to cook. Cooking was something that I just never had the time or energy to do before (I was lucky my boyfriend would have meals ready for me when I would get home from work and school). I love looking for recipes online to try and I also love the Tasty app.

As far as school went, I really was doing the bare minimum and I was spending a lot of my time outside and hiking. Sometimes I would have to set rules for myself like “you can’t go for a hike until you do your audio project for the week” and of course I was doing all of my assignments at the very last minute despite having all the time in the world because I wasn’t working. Finishing up that semester was definitely rough.

In terms of work, I was so stressed out about not having a job because obviously I had bills. In the beginning, unemployment and stimulus checks were very backed up so in my mind, that just was not something that I could rely on. I had been reselling clothes since 2015 very casually, but since I was really stressed about money, I decided to try and do it more seriously to support myself while I waited for unemployment to come through. I invested in a class that taught the ins and outs of selling on Poshmark and I was actually able to support myself that way and sell a lot of clothes I had listed for years just by learning how to make them more searchable with the course. It was the most I had ever made with selling clothes and that’s still something I am doing to this day.

Poshmark Adventures

My job I had been working at the audiobook company ended up never opening again. It was really hard for me to accept because they had offered me a full-time position that I was supposed to start once I graduated college. It was devastating and I was stressed out about having to find a post grad job in this super weird pandemic world where so many people had already lost jobs and in a world where so many businesses are closing. I was extremely discouraged. I applied for an insane amount of jobs and I just got nothing. After not hearing back on anything, I gave up. I ended up working staying working my mom, which I had been doing VERY part-time through college. I upped my hours working on her blog to make it viable for a main income. In February, I was hired to be Turning Point CT’s social media assistant. I hadn’t applied to a job in at least half a year, but the job really spoke to me and I went for it, which for me was a huge deal because I really just had so little confidence in myself in terms of finding a job that wasn’t with my mom. I couldn’t be happier that I went for it because I am so happy with what I’m doing.

I managed to GRADUATE COLLEGE during the pandemic!

What are you still learning?

I’m still learning how to adjust to being at home all the time and having a super flexible schedule. It’s so easy for me to tell myself, it’s nice out today you can put off your work today and catch up tomorrow, but obviously, sometimes work needs to be the priority. I’m still learning to find balance, which is something that I’ve always struggled with. At least pre-pandemic, I had structure because of work and school, those alone kept me on a schedule. The problem before though was the schedule I had was so jammed packed I left no time for myself. Sometimes I feel like I am trying to play catch up with myself because everything used to be about work or school for me so that’s why I want to do things for myself and get outside just because I actually have the freedom to do that and the time. I just really need to be better about balance. I need to find a better balance of work and play.

This post was an excerpt from our spring newsletter. For more content about growing through what we go through, check out the newsletter!

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

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

#TurningPointMoment Ella Gets Up Out of Bed

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

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

Click HERE to talk about it in the forum !

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 !

You Are Not Alone – Find Information and Support

Young People Recover: Vered

Young People Discover: Shaquiel

Young People Recover: Michaela

Teen Suicide PSA United Way

If I Had Known…

What to Expect at a Psych or Detox Unit

What to Expect at Your First Therapy Session

Recovery Poetry: EZ’s Poem: Pain

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

Recovery Poetry: Patrick’s Spoken Word, 2

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

Recovery Poetry: Vered’s poem: His Hand on My Back

Getting Started, Part 2: Tips on First Therapy Session

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

What is Wellness?

What Does it Take to Recover from Mental Health Issues?

 

Podcast: How Culture Shapes You

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

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

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

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

We hope you enjoy this podcast click here to watch

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

To check out our Summer Interns other podcasts, click here

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

New Story: Marco’s story

We have a new story on our stories page!

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

Click this link to read more of Marco’s story

Opioid Treatment for CT young people!

The ASSERT Treatment Model (ATM) provides intensive family based treatment for young adults up to 21 years old with opioid problems. ATM is a new treatment that combines three services:

1. Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)

2. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

3. Recovery Management Checkups and Supports (RMCS)

ATM can be delivered in the privacy of your home or community clinic.

Typical ATM treatment includes 4-6 months or therapy (MDFT), followed by up to 12 months of recovery support (RMCS)

MAT is not required to participate in ATM, however, it may be initiated at at any time during treatment

The decision to prescribe MAT is made by the youth, family and physician

72% of Connecticut is covered by ATM— Here is a list of provider agencies that offer ATM:

CT SMART Recovery Groups

SMART Recovery(R) support groups are popping up all over Connecticut! SMART Recovery has been around for more than 25 years, but it’s pretty new to CT. Thanks to state funding, there are now free SMART Recovery support groups for teens, young adults, and Family & Friends throughout CT.

Furthermore, we are big fans of this support group model. Our young adult staff here at TurningPointCT get trained to be facilitators. As part of the training, we had to try the skills out on ourselves–and the skills worked!

So what is SMART Recovery?

“SMART” stands for Self Management And Recovery Training. SMART Recovery is a peer support group run by trained facilitators. It helps you cope with any struggle: substance abuse, anxiety, depression, bullying, fighting, etc. But it’s more than your average support group! It also helps you develop coping skills like analyzing your behaviors, triggers, and reactions.  If you’ve attended 12-step meetings, this is different. There’s no language about a higher power, and there is cross-talk allowed. You get to take control of your issues and figure out ways to make positive changes.

What about SMART Recovery Family & Friends?

SMART Recovery Family & Friends groups provide mutual support for people who are affected by a loved one who is dealing with some kind of addictive or negative behavior. It could be anything: substance abuse, gambling, hoarding, self-harm, an eating disorder, mental illness. If your friend, roommate, or family member is struggling and you don’t know what to do, this group can help you. You’ll get support from people who are dealing with similar struggles. You’ll also learn skills to handle their behaviors better and help get them into treatment. (SMART Family & Friends is based on the CRAFT model.)

How can I find a SMART Recovery Group near me?

  • In-person SMART Recovery groups right here in Connecticut: SEE MAP HERE.  (Please note that most groups in CT are for teens (up to age 18), young adults (18-25), or Family & Friends.)
  • Online meetings: www.smartrecovery.org

New April Feature: Panic Room Norwalk

Hi everyone! We have a new April Feature up!

On Saturday April 6th Eliza, Ally, and 10 teens from Norwalk and Fairfield completed an escape room at The Panic Room in Norwalk! It was really fun, and we finished with a few minutes to spare!! Stay tuned to see what next months free wellness activity for SMART Teen Norwalk will be!!

Until then, check out our feature here! 

Norwalk SMART Teen Group!

We have launched a SMART Recovery Teen Group in Norwalk, CT!

Run by Blogger Eliza, find ways to live a balanced lifestyle with teens your age, all over pizza!

Every Thursday from 5:30-7 at Norwalk Public Library 1 Belden Ave, Norwalk.

Join the convo & read more about it here

Not in the Norwalk, CT area? Find a group near you

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.)

 

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

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

“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

Cursed.

“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You do not know how to SEE,
You only see through a veil your mind creates, those eyes no one else knows about
You only see the good in those around you
Even if they tread you underfoot
You only gaze at others through the eyes of an old soul,
Expecting them to look back at you the same way

“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You do not know how to love
You choose only to love your hate, your rage, your terror
And worst of all, have found comfort in it all
You have found love not in yourself,
But in your abusers
Yet your heart is greedy and so full of the ability to GIVE

“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You know so much and explain so little,
Tell me do you know how your intuition works?
Can you explain your own emotions if asked?
Can you give yourself the time of day without thinking of someone else first?
You have grown complaisant to your pain,
You have come to anticipate it and thank those who give it

“But you are B L E S S E D,”
They told me.

As you fill your wounds with lacquered gold,
A scarred statue who feels so profoundly it connects to the souls around them
You cover yourself in the finest of cloth to hide from the snares in your mind
You have turned your demons, your monsters, into your familiars – who now service your needs
Your veins beat to a drum singing of L O V E,
And W O R T H

“My dear, you are blessed.”

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

Opioid Treatment for CT young people!

The ASSERT Treatment Model (ATM) provides intensive family based treatment for young adults up to 21 years old with opioid problems. ATM is a new treatment that combines three services:

1. Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)

2. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

3. Recovery Management Checkups and Supports (RMCS)

ATM can be delivered in the privacy of your home or community clinic.

Typical ATM treatment includes 4-6 months or therapy (MDFT), followed by up to 12 months of recovery support (RMCS)

MAT is not required to participate in ATM, however, it may be initiated at at any time during treatment

The decision to prescribe MAT is made by the youth, family and physician

72% of Connecticut is covered by ATM— Here is a list of provider agencies that offer ATM:

These providers and locations can also be found on our resource map: Click here 

Overdose Awareness Day Events in CT

August 31st is National Overdose Awareness Day. For a list of events in CT and to add more click here.

TurningPointCT blogger Ally will be speaking and hosting a resource table at a International Overdose Awareness Day Vigil hosted by Fairfield CARES Fri. Aug. 31 7-8PM at Sherman Town Green, Fairfield.

To read her blog about her recovery from heroin addiction click here

Spread the word if you know someone who may need help with addiction and recovery. They can find resources here.

What We Like About SMART Recovery ®

Listen to our young adults Eliza, Ally, and Olivia talk about why they choose SMART Recovery ® and why you should too!

To watch the video and other shared videos click here

If you’d like to know more info on our group & join in on the discussion click here

If you’d like to get more info on SMART Recovery click here

SMART Recovery Teen Group In Fairfield, CT

Join us for a free SMART Recovery Teen Support Group on Friday’s in Fairfield, CT!

Learn ways to gain control of your life and sort through it all in the company of your peers, run by trained TurningPointCT young adults.

This is for anyone struggling with anything: stress, school, peers, family, self harm, mental health and substance use disorders, bullying, fighting, etc.

Snacks are provided and monthly social activities with peers (that you get to help plan!)

We can help with transportation.

Starting Friday, February 16th from 3:30-5:00pm
First Congregational Church
Wakeman Hall
148 Beach Road, Fairfield CT

Need more info?
Contact Ally:
203-840-1187 (Office)
akernan@healthymindsct.org

P.S. if you are a high school student that enjoys mentoring or a social work/psychology student and see this as something you would like to get involved in, please contact us!

Join the conversation here: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/smart-recovery-teen-group/

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!

Celebrating Recovery Month With Ally

Watch Blogger Ally talk about her story of addiction and mental health recovery and how she is celebrating Recovery Month! Join the conversation about Recovery Month on our forum and read her blog!

Watch the video & other shared videos: https://turningpointct.org/category/media/videos/

Share your video!

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.

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

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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

New Feature Up: CHRIS HERREN!

TurningPointCT.org had the pleasure to attend, “REBOUND, The Chris Herren Story” in Wolcott. We heard his story of becoming a basketball legend, then becoming a legend of telling his story of addiction recovery!

Check out the full feature on our page and be on the look out for more updates on events: https://turningpointct.org/resources/featured-events/

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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RIPPLE Open Mic Night – Sept 8th, 6:30 pm

MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTION OPEN MIC NIGHT

Come share your POETRY, SPOKEN WORD, SHORT PROSE & ART!

Open to those who may have experienced or have used services for mental/behavioral health, addiction, substance use/ substance abuse
Up to 3 minutes per performer
Providers, loved ones & others encouraged to come listen

WHERE:
At the Westport Barnes & Noble.

1076 Post Rd E, Westport, CT 06880

WHEN:
Thursday September 8th, starting at 6:30 pm

Join the discussion and share your thoughts about the event HERE!

And learn more about RIPPLE:

We Must Be DEAFENING (https://www.facebook.com/WeMustBeDeafening/)
Recovery Innovations for Pursuing Peer Leadership and Empowerment (https://www.facebook.com/RIPPLERecoveryInnovations/)

@WeMstBDeafening (https://twitter.com/WeMstBDeafening)
@RIPPLE_Recovery (https://twitter.com/RIPPLE_Recovery)

 

Screening of Generation Found – TODAY!!!

GENERATION FOUND

“From the creators of the groundbreaking film, THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE, comes GENERATION FOUND, a powerful story about one community coming together to ignite a youth addiction recovery revolution in their hometown. Devastated by an epidemic of addiction, Houston faced the reality of burying and locking up its young people at an alarming rate. And so in one of the largest cities in America, visionary counselors, law school dropouts, aspiring rock musicians, retired football players, oil industry executives, and church leaders came together to build the world’s largest peer-driven youth and family recovery community.

Independently filmed over the course of two years, GENERATION FOUND takes an unprecedented and intimate look at how a system of treatment centers, sober high schools, alternative peer groups, and collegiate recovery programs can exist in concert to intervene early and provide a real and tested long-term alternative to the “War on Drugs.” It is not only a deeply personal story, but one with real-world utility for communities struggling with addiction worldwide.”

Join Us for this Phenomenal Documentary!

Tues., September 6th 7:30pm
at the

Marquis 16 Theater,
100 Quarry Rd, Trumbull

Tickets are $11 and must be purchased before August 22nd

Click on the link to reserve your seats and review the trailer
For more information contact Carol Cruz
203-507-4223 ~ c23cruz@gmail.com
#generationfound #recoveryrevolution
Please See Flyer HERE

New Blog Alert: The Monkey On My Back

12717666_10153396404366344_4130085502775197556_nAllison Kernan (Ally), takes on addiction in an amazing new blog, “The Monkey on My Back”:https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/the-monkey/.

Ally will be posting weekly through a very metaphorical voice that depicts addiction as a monkey that has occupied her personal space and refuses to leave.

‘The characteristics of Monkey is all over the map. He’s happiness, sadness, love, hate, honesty, control, manipulative, sneaky, attractive, ugly, confusion, strength, and mostly he’s one of the best liars I’ve ever encountered. The worst part about him is that no one, including myself, can predict his next move. Sometimes I’m a little ahead of him, but for the most part, he’s impossible to ignore…” Read More HERE: https://turningpointct.org/lets-talk/topic/the-monkey/

Wherever you are at in recovery, join her in discussion, as she unfolds the mysterious but inspiring path to recovery.

 

 

Recovery Community Open Mic

Recovery Community Open Mic – Hey everyone! Check out this KOOL Open Mic event on June 24th in Bridgeport, CT.

Its a free event hosted by CCAR, BRCC and YAF at the Bridgeport Recovery Community Center. Please see flyer HERE.
This is an an opportunity for all young adults in recovery to express themselves and their perspectives through music, poetry, spoken, you name it!

The event is open to ALL… bring family and friends and get ready for a sober afternoon.

 

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TurningPointCT.org PSA

What is TurningPointCT.org? Watch this PSA to find out:

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention – May is Mental Health Month! Please join us in spreading the message that suicide is preventable and it starts with being smart about our mental health.

Let people know why suicide prevention is important to you!

Watch the video below and follow this link to learn more about how you can help to prevent suicide.

Find more resources HERE: https://turningpointct.org/resources/.

Live Through This

As a survivor of suicide, sometimes it’s hard for me to not think about it again…and again. In the past, I’ve thought about what I did wrong that failed my attempts and what I could have done to succeed (what my other alternatives were).
Today, I am focusing more on what I am doing to better myself so when I do have suicidal thoughts, I don’t act on them. It’s a very difficult thing to do, but it is possible!
I have also tried thinking more about what my purpose is here on Earth. Now that I’ve been through this, it’s my turn to give back to prevent this from happening to someone else.

I came across this amazing blogger (Dese’Rae L.Stage) who shared her story about going through a very difficult time while staying in an abusive relationship. When Dese’Rae’s depression consumed her, she hit rock bottom and attempted suicide. After her failed attempt this is what she did: “I’ve collected the stories and portraits of attempt survivors across the country, people just like you and me, and I’m finding that the louder I yell, and the more people I convince to yell with me, the more we inch toward breaking down those walls of stigma and shame, and the easier it becomes to just live through this.”

Out of all of the survivors, the person who I felt connected to and who expressed very similar thoughts of survival was Tile Celeste.
She talks about her rethinking process after her attempt. She needed to figure out what part of her was worth holding onto. She says: “I started figuring out who I wanted to save: the Tile that I didn’t want to be gone.”

Which person do you feel most connected to? Who stood out?

Check out the project here: Live Through This
or here ->>>>> http://www.refinery29.com/2015/09/82628/live-through-this-suicide-attempt-survivors#slide

Connect with peers @ CT’s new Young Adult Warmline!

Warmline – Developed by JoinRiseBe & Advocacy Unlimited to connect young people to community resources, motivate our peers to move forward, and inspire hope by demonstrating the positive outcomes of recovery. Call 1855-6-HopeNow to speak with a young person who can guide you towards wellness. Available Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 12-6pm.

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BStigma-Free Ludlowe

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