Doing What You Need to Get What You Need

Sometimes the word productive gets on my nerves. It’s unfortunate, because in a lot of settings the word is helpful. I like thinking about the work I do in terms of productivity – whether it’s my job or passion projects on the side, it’s important that I’m productive because I love the things I do and I want my work to reflect that. But the second people started slipping the word productive into how we live our personal lives, I knew it would be something that bothered me. I can see how daily goals set around productivity and efficiency can help someone accomplish many things, but in my experience, that sort of mindset never helped me get what I needed to be mentally healthy.

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Why I Don’t Always See My Mental Health Progress

When I was in the midst of managing a string of anxiety attacks a few weeks ago, I couldn’t think about much else that was going on that day. Fortunately I didn’t have work or any set plans since it was the weekend, but my anxious symptoms made me feel as though the entire day was a wash. But having some time to look back that day, I now realize that I handled the situation much better than I would have in the past. I still didn’t enjoy those symptoms and feelings of anxiety and depression in the moment, but I could see the progress I’ve made with a little hindsight. Unfortunately, it takes time to notice that progress, which can be hard to see when you’re in a difficult mental health situation.

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What is Empathic Communication?

Understanding perspectives is an important part of this blog. Whether I’m discussing my own point-of-view or sharing details of other peoples’ experiences, perspective is a facet of mental health that should be included more in the conversation. Sharing our experiences is extremely important to help shrink the stigma, and something that’s just as important as sharing our experiences is allowing others to do the same. I want to build on this week’s post about seeing the world through a mental health lens by talking about empathic communication – a tool that puts the emphasis on listening – and how we can use it to help shrink the stigma.

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Mental Health Self-Assessment Part 1: Vocabulary

Words have always been an important way to tackle the topic of mental health, but sometimes it’s difficult to turn the lens directly on us. The words we use to describe our own mental health, our own personality even, are extremely important. They impact how we view ourselves and the world around us, and which impact the choices we make and things that we do. But in order to improve our mental health vocabulary, we must be aware of how what we’re currently doing, which is where the Mental Health Self-Assessment comes in. Welcome to Part One of this post – Vocabulary.

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Something to Remember When We Feel Overwhelmed (Part 2)

Earlier this week, I wrote part one of this post where I talked about a possible approach to take when you feel overwhelmed. Obviously, there are many things we can do when feeling overwhelmed (I even wrote about some of those things last year), but this two-part post is more about the thought process we have while feeling this way, and some thoughts we can stick to so that we don’t feel too overwhelmed.

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One Way to Improve Self-Talk

When I’m facing bouts of depression and anxiety, sometimes it’s hard to see things outside myself. And if I’m spiraling, it becomes almost impossible. If all you’re trying to do is hold on and survive the next minute, hour or day, it’s easy to forget that you aren’t the only one going through this. But as statistics show, you are not even close to being the only one. But I’m different, I would tell myself. No one is suffering in the same way I am. And I know why I thought that so much when I first faced depression. Even now, years later, there are still moments where that’s in the back of my head when I’m in a tough spot. I never viewed myself as a person just like everyone else, so the way I spoke to myself was extremely terrible (it’s still not great now, but it used to be much worse).

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I’m Not Sure If I Practice Self-Care

I know that headline might make you pause, but I’m trying to be as honest as I can. I believe in self-care and I would really like to implement it more into my life. But after doing some scouring of the Internet to get to the root of what this buzzword means, I was left feeling a little empty.

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A Reminder for When I’m Stressed

Yesterday I missed an appointment with my psychiatrist. I got stuck in a meeting at work and by the time I reached the doctor’s office, I was too late. It’s easy (and obvious) to see why something like that would cause me stress. Heck, it would cause anyone stress. But while I was waiting to reschedule my appointment (to today, thankfully not too long!), I got rid of the stress. Or rather, the stress got rid of me.

It’s safe to say that life is pretty stressful. Every day brings its own challenges and decisions to make, and every single one of them can affect how the rest of your day goes. It’s enough to make anyone a little overwhelmed on a day-to-day basis. But what if those decisions weren’t such a big deal? What if everything wasn’t some huge decision. What if a choice was just a choice?

I’m sure a lot of you already know where I’m going with this – long story short, s*&% happens – but you might not know why, and why it’s so much easier said than done. I have a difficult time accepting when things don’t go according to plan. It’s not because I’m a perfectionist, though; rather, it has to do with how I view myself.

As I’ve said before, I don’t like myself very much. And so when I mess up, I assume people don’t like me because of it. Why? Because I don’t like me because of it, so I assume people must not like me either.

But that’s ridiculous, right? In my experience, few people get that upset when mistakes are made every once in a while. It gets more frustrating when it happens on a more common basis but for the most part, people forgive an innocent mistake. But I don’t see it as a mistake – I see it as a character flaw in myself.

Now we could talk all day long about why I view myself that way, but I think the more productive path would be to discuss the things I remembered that reminded me that it’s going to be okay:

  1. It’s going to be okay
  2. It’s not the end of the world
  3. Your life will go on
  4. These things happen
  5. It will work itself out

Now I hope in a future blog post I will be able to elaborate on these but for now, I’ll just say this: it’s one thing to say these things to yourself to make yourself feel better; it’s another thing to believe, really believe them.

I’m not saying I fully believe in any of those things in the long term. But I believed them today, and at that moment, and that was enough. That method of thinking got me through that moment and on to the next and got me to continue on with my day and my life. When you’re feeling stressed out I would take that phrase – s*&% happens – and add two more words to it. Stuff happens to everyone. We all go through it, and that’s one of the common experiences we have as humans. So maybe you made a mistake today. Maybe something went wrong. Do you need any more proof of your humanity than that?


Strategies for Accepting a Compliment

On Tuesday I talked about how difficult it is for me to accept a compliment. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that the main reason I can’t really accept a compliment is that I don’t think all that highly of myself. However, despite this, I have gotten increasingly better at accepting compliments from people. How do I do it? Well, I’ve come up with a few strategies that help me not get sidetracked when someone has something nice to say. Here are some of my favorites:

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