What Do You Say to Taking Chances?

Here it is, yet another blog post inspired by a song from Celine Dion. The song in question is “Taking Chances,” which is a single from the 2007 album of the same name. Apart from being another powerful ballad that we came to know and love from Celine (I’m definitely on a Celine Dion kick, it is what it is), the song has lyrics that ask questions and inspire introspection:

But, what do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there’s solid ground below
Or a hand to hold, or hell to pay
What do you say
What do you say

“Taking Chances” by Celine Dion

There are a lot of ways to interpret the message of that song but today, I’d like to share how that song connects to our mental health and how sometimes, taking chances can be very challenging.

Earlier this week I wrote about challenges of complacency when it comes to our mental health. I’m not one for being complacent, but I also don’t think that we should view complacency in a simplistic way. People work very hard to build, or maintain, a healthy attitude toward mental health and wellness. There is a difference between becoming complacent, and sticking with certain things because they’ve been helpful for your mental health.

I know decisions can be more complicated than that, but I think it’s an important point to raise. Complacency can occur when we’re comfortable with where we are, despite opportunities to improve that standing. Not wanting to give up mental stability doesn’t qualify as being complacent — at least in the way we understand it. There’s a nuance to complacency that should be acknowledged, but it doesn’t excuse everything.

All of this leads me to the song I mentioned at the beginning of this post. There are several ways to interpret the message of this song; it could be about taking chances in love, with our relationships, with making changes to our lives, etc. But it’s hard for me to think about taking chances in the context of my mental health. So many of us have spent years trying to get better, to find a place of safety and stability. Even if there’s a possibility of making our situations better, there’s a fear that we won’t take a step forward. And what’s even more nerve-wracking is in that attempt, we could actually take a few steps back.

But I think that there’s an aspect of taking chances that we don’t always talk about. When I take a chance to improve my mental health, I don’t want to be afraid. If that chance doesn’t work out, I want to be able to return to where I was. Anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses have the ability to create false narratives within ourselves and if we fall into the habit of listening to them, they can make us feel like every chance not taken is a big failure.

I want to take more chances, but a big part of that is preparing for the possibility that the chance might not work for me. And that’s okay. We won’t succeed all the time but, bit by bit, we will grow in ways that are meaningful and make our lives richer. So what do you say?

Taking chances isn’t always as easy as it sounds. What are some reasons that stop you from taking a chance on something? Why do you think others might do the same? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

A Reflection on Depression

Sometimes, depression takes. It takes things away from you, and you feel empty. You didn’t even know you wanted some of these things. But depression puts those things out of reach, making you feel less than once again. Depression doesn’t care what your plan is, or what your goals are. Your timeline is irrelevant in this scenario. All that’s in front of you is a long, painful, endless moment, as far as you can see.

We don’t always see what depression takes. Our vision can become blurry, or our brain foggy. Memories might go missing for a short time; moments you might have enjoyed vanish out of thin air. What was simple then is difficult now. What makes sense in one moment is impossible to comprehend in another. Our minds wander about all the time, but we’re under the false impression that this can only be in a positive way. When it happens in a negative way, our mind has betrayed us. What was once a safe haven is now a space we’re afraid to explore.

We don’t choose depression. It chooses us, it selects us, it casts its invisible hand out and taps us on the shoulder when it wants to come out and play. Sometimes the explanation is as plain as day. Other times that hand seems to reach out of the abyss, stunning us with its timing and cutting precision.

We get tired of depression. We hope the pain will end, we wonder when will the long night be over. We wonder how long it will go on, and feel helpless in its stead. We think that maybe this time is different, that it feels more manageable in this moment…until it doesn’t. We get frustrated that depression seems to have outsmarted us once again. We outlasted it once, we’ve beaten it before, why is it coming back yet again? We’re one foot out of the boxing ring, but depression wants to fight another round.

We’re not always up to the task of fighting our depression. It can sap us of energy, make us feel tired and exhausted. It can feel like an endless moment, like we’re in a room feeling for the light switch on the wall. It’s right there and we know it exists but we can’t find it, moving our hand along the wall endlessly. It feels like it will never end.

But we do learn from depression. We learn about the way it takes shape within us and around us. We learn how it impacts us, what our reaction is to it and the best ways for us to manage it. We learn that it ebbs and flows; that it has happened before and it will happen again. There’s good reason to be fearful of this fact, but there’s comfort there as well. We’ve been through the dark before, and we’ve come out into the light. We’ve grown stronger, we’re better prepared. There’s hope in what we’ve learned.

There’s a lot we don’t know about depression. Oftentimes, we’re left with more questions than answers. But there is power in pushing on. There’s power in moving through, in understanding ourselves in a better way. There’s also power in resting when we know depression has gotten the better of us. And that is my lasting thought in these moments, in these times when depression gets the better of me. I feel helpless, but I am not helpless. I feel powerless, but I am powerful. I’ve been through this before, but I’m a different person than I was before. Depression might take, but I won’t give. And in between these challenges, I will continue finding joy, hope and inspiration where I can find it. I will be better prepared when depression comes around again.

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." - Desmond Tutu

Five Benefits of Journaling

Earlier this week, I shared a post about the importance of feeling your feelings. Though there are a lot of ways you can do this, one of my favorite ways is through journaling. Journaling slows me down, and gives me time to collect my thoughts and figure out what I’m really feeling. It has a way of cutting through the noise and find what really needs to be shared. Even though I don’t journal as often as I’d like, I’d still recommend it for anyone who hasn’t tried it before. Here are five benefits of journaling!

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Looking Inward Instead of Outward

For the past month, I’ve been getting more into meditation as a daily practice. I’m trying to use meditation as something I look forward to during my day-to-day, instead of adding another item to my to-do list that I need to check off. This lets me put less pressure on myself (which is nice), but it also lets me go into those meditations with a bit of a freer mind. And it’s that freer mind I’m grateful for, because that plays a big role in looking inward during meditation – something I’ve really struggled with before.

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A Letter to Myself to End 2020

When I reach the end of the year, I try to avoid reflecting anymore than it’s right to do. I don’t love the ‘New Year, New Me‘ energy, so I typically avoid resolutions. My first post of this year was about taking steps forward, even if I didn’t know what was on the staircase. And despite everything, despite the exhausting, depressing, unforgiving year that 2020 turned out to be, I continued to step forward. Rather than reflect on the year itself, I decided to write a note to myself – of reflection and strength.

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I’ll See You in August

Hi everyone!

I originally wasn’t going to write this, but then I also realized that it would be uncool for me to just go on radio silence for a month so I thought I would explain. I’ve got a few very big decisions to make in the coming weeks about some stuff in my personal life, and while I’m figuring this out I’m going to need a lot of time to myself to think and contemplate my next move in life. There will be lots of change in my life in the coming weeks as I’ve alluded to in the past but now, it’s not the change I’d originally planned – it’s something new.

All of this thinking, reflecting and contemplation has made it damn near impossible to focus on anything else at the moment, and so I’ll be taking a break from the blog for the rest of the month. To be clear, my mental health is in a good place and I am perfectly safe – that’s not what this is about at all. I hope I can better explain my absence when I return as well as get back to churning out that sweet, premium mental health content we all love so much. But I need some time to process what’s been going on, and the best way for me to do that is to step away and make sure I’m being as considerate as possible to the situation. Thank you for understanding and don’t worry, you’ll be hearing from me soon!

Taking a Minute

Things move very fast for me these days. Maybe it’s that I’m keeping myself busy with writing, or doing my best to maintain a mentally healthy lifestyle, but sometimes days fly by without me noticing. Not that I mind; I have some long-term goals in mind that I am very much looking forward to, and they can’t happen without the passage of time (hopefully I’ll get into those goals one day on this blog – I’m very excited about them!). However, time moving too quickly is a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, if I’m having a bad day mentally I’m just hoping that the day will move by without further incident, that I can make it to bedtime with my mental health still intact. There are days where I long for my bed so that I simply lie down and try to conquer the thoughts in my mind.

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