The Challenge of Celebrating Yourself

This past week was my birthday. I’ll be honest – historically speaking, I’m not big on birthdays. Actually, let me be more specific: I’m not that big on my birthday. I’ll help anyone else celebrate the day they were born. Name the time and place and I am in there, ready to do it up big. But when it comes to my own birthday, there have always been a few challenges that have gotten in the way of enjoying my birthday the way I’d like to. There are plenty of reasons for why I feel this way, but since this is a mental health blog, I’ll focus on what one of the most challenging reasons that birthdays are difficult for me, which is one of the simplest aspects of a birthday: celebrating yourself.

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Walking Out of the Darkness in 2021

This year, for the fifth year in a row, I raised money and participated in the Washington, D.C. Out of the Darkness Community Walk, an annual event held by the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). I was very fortunate to learn about this organization and the work they do and every single year, I’m reminded about how much I’ve learned and grown from being part of this event.

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Why Your Mental Health Journey Is Unique

A lot of people face mental health challenges on a daily basis. That might sound like it’s a lot to deal with, but there’s something that’s easy to forget when we talk about mental health and the challenges that people can face – each person, and each challenge, is unique. There is a sense of community and togetherness that is important when it comes to the mental health discourse (think about ‘you are not alone’ and phrases in that vein), but it can be difficult to remember that even though we’re in this together, each person is on their own mental health journey. This means that our challenges will be faced in many different ways, which can get left out of how we talk about mental health.

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When Relaxing Is the Point

As any reader of this blog knows, I tend to overthink things. Maybe it’s my anxiety, maybe it’s just part of my personality, who knows – either way, decisions aren’t made lightly when it comes to how I live my life. That’s one of the reasons I struggled over the weekend, but also one of the ways that I was taught a valuable lesson in how to spend and enjoy my time. I operate with the mindset that every single moment of my day has to have a vague, undefined sense of meaning and importance, and I’m starting to learn that this doesn’t have to be true. Sometimes, the only reason we do things is to feel good and enjoy ourselves – and that can be a very good thing.

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What Is Clinical Depression, And What Does It Look Like?

Note: This is a guest post I wrote that previously appeared on Prairie Health’s blog.

As someone who has lived with clinical depression for almost a decade, I’ve learned a lot about what depression is, what it means to me, and how it looks in my day-to-day life. One of the most important things that’s helped me manage my clinical depression is to do research on what it is, why it’s different from other forms of depression, and what that means for me.

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Learning to Find Comfort in Messing Up

I get annoyed at myself a lot. Like, a lot. Multiple times a day. Part of that is my natural inclination after years of experiencing depression and anxiety, but part of it feels like human nature. No one is is happy about every single choice they make. We’re humans and we make mistakes. The problem is, I can hear that a million times, but an aspect of that never sinks in. Failing is extremely uncomfortable to me, and even though I’m discovering why, that doesn’t make it any easier to manage.

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It Sounded Better in My Head

One of the more prominent aspects of my anxiety is my difficulty with conversation. Most of that stems from social anxiety, which (according to the National Institute of Mental Health) is “an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others.” Having conversations with others, especially people I don’t know all that well, can make me very nervous. I’m often worried I’ll say the ‘wrong thing’ and ruin a conversation, which is why I often avoid them. The biggest reason I end up in these situations is that I have an unrealistic view that every interaction I have with someone should be ‘perfect’ – which is what I want to talk about today.

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Bringing My Whole Self to Therapy

A few months ago, a big part of my mental health routine was thrown off pretty heavily when I had to abruptly stop seeing my therapist. Since this happened more for administrative reasons than incompatibility, I felt a little disappointed that we couldn’t continue with the progress I felt I was making in the almost year I’d been seeing this therapist. But in the past few months, I’ve been able to connect with a new therapist and start working toward goals of mental wellness and healthiness. It’s been interesting adapting to this new situation, and it’s reminded me of a few things about adapting to changes when you see a new therapist.

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Closing Thoughts During Suicide Prevention Month 2021

I’ve written before that one of the topics I’ve learned most about in the four years I’ve done this blog is suicide prevention. As we reach the end of Suicide Prevention Month, I try to take time to reflect on what I’ve learned this month and how that helps my work in suicide prevention going forward. After my research this month, I’ve been able to connect more dots in regards to suicide prevention. Whether it’s calling attention to mental health or naming the connection between marginalized communities and a higher risk of suicide, I’ve learned that suicide prevention looks like a lot more nuanced than we think.

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Fighting My Instincts Toward Negative Thoughts

I think a lot about instincts. Whether it’s the instinct to think something or feel something, I’m pretty fascinated by the concept of instantly having a thought or feeling throughout my body because of something I’ve experienced. Unfortunately, people who experience mental illness can often have natural instincts that create negative thoughts or feeling, which can be very frustrating. It’s difficult to live in a world where every instinctual thought about yourself is negative, but that’s the reality for many people who experience depression.

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