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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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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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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Focusing on What’s Effective for Mental Wellness

When I write about mental health, I often use the word effective to talk about a certain technique or method that I’m researching or using. I’ve started to use this word more and more in the past few years, and it’s become one of the biggest ways I’ve measured mental wellness and how I manage mental health challenges. By putting a focus on how effective things are, I’ve been able to prioritize my mental health in a way I hadn’t been able to do before. Here’s why that’s important.

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Why I Always Make Room for Mental Health Improvement

Over the years, I’ve learned a number of methods and techniques to manage my depression and anxiety. Some of those have worked very well (meditation and talk therapy), while others haven’t been as effective (I’m hoping to come back to journaling one day, but it’s not soon). Either way, I’ve learned a lot about what’s helpful for me on my mental health journey, and used those lessons to continue building my mental health toolkit and growing more certain in how I manage mental health. But as I’ve learned recently, there’s always space to find more ways and improve that relationship with mental health, which is what I want to talk about today.

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Making the Mental Shift Into Fall

Every year around Labor Day, I start to make the mental shift into the fall season. I know I’m not alone in this (and I’m not here to talk about how amazing fall is, I promise), but I think there are important adjustments we make heading into this part of the year that aren’t always talked about. Seasons don’t only mean a change in weather; they also mean a change in lifestyle and a shift in our schedules. Fall is much more than back to school and changing leaves – it’s another opportunity to work on our mental health in a changing space.

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Is Everything I Say Important?

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about cognitive distortions and the way they affect mental health. Simply put, cognitive distortions are ways that our brain can trick us into acting or feeling a certain way toward a situation (in fact, I have a whole post on cognitive distortions if you want to learn more!). While I’ve gotten better at recognizing and managing these distortions, one of the ways I learned to cope with cognitive distortions was to be very careful about what I said. But is everything I say really that important?

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Improving My Relationship with Failure and Mental Health

I thought a bit about how I’d title this post because I knew that regardless of what I wrote, I’d feel some type of way about this particular topic. Like many other people, I don’t have a great relationship with the world ‘failure.’ At worst, the word terrifies me. At best, I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m not perfect. I think we could all stand to improve our relationship with how we deal with failure, and I feel like incorporating that improvement within a mental health framework is a good place to start. I’m not always going to succeed at being mentally healthy. I have to be okay at accepting that, and here’s why.

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How Mental Health Challenges Can Lead to Success

You know, it hasn’t even been two months since I wrote about how amazing Naomi Osaka is for looking out for her mental health, and here we are again. Our hero this time? Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast of all-time. Putting aside the fact that Biles doesn’t owe us anything (and in fact, has already given us more than we deserve), her decision to withdraw also shows us how important our mental health is – and how severe the consequences can be when we ignore it.

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