Nothing Can Change If We Don't Talk About It

Nothing Can Change If We Don't Talk About It

I believe the more we talk, and don’t stop talking, we all can change the stigma surrounding mental health.
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I’ve received so many messages from people after posting my last article (if you haven’t read it you can check it out here), thanking me for being able to say what they haven’t been able to; for making them realize they aren’t alone and for putting words to the feelings so many of us struggle with. But after reading all of the messages it made me realize something important, something many of us forget: nothing can change if we don't talk about it.

Struggling with mental health is hard in and of itself, but it’s even harder when you struggle alone. You feel trapped, like no one could ever possibly understand what you’re going through. And for those that don’t suffer from mental illnesses, maybe they won’t ever completely understand the way we feel and that we don’t have a say in how we feel. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and explain it to the best of our abilities, no matter how hard it is.

Mental health is one of those things that is not discussed enough. Many feel ashamed to admit they struggle with their own mind and can’t seem to take control; they don’t want others to look down on them or see them as impaired. I didn’t talk about my mental health issues for years, for the exact same reasons. I didn’t want others to pity me, I didn’t want them to think I was fragile and broken. I didn’t want anyone to think of me differently.

But I’ve come to realize those that are really there for you won’t think of you differently. They won’t care that you struggle, but will instead try to offer their support to the best of their abilities. Those that make you feel bad for expressing your thoughts and feelings or just tell you it’s “all in your head” and to “get over it” are the people you shouldn’t have in your life. One of the best things you can do when you’re struggling with your mental health is to surround yourself with people who will listen and be there for you, not try and make you feel inferior for you feelings.

But in order to surround ourselves with those people we need to talk. We need to be open about how we feel, we need to not feel ashamed of the way our mind works. In order to get the help, support, and love we need, we need to talk and not stop talking. We need to be honest with ourselves and others, we need to do our best to help others who don’t understand try to understand how we feel. In order for things to change, we need to talk.

I’m sick of the negative stigma that surrounds mental health. I’m sick of myself and millions others feeling ashamed to admit that we do need help and that sometimes we aren’t okay. I’m sick of people who don’t understand making people who struggle with mental illness feel inferior for the way their brain works. It isn’t something we can control, trust me we all wish we could make it go away. Mental illnesses are not a choice.

I truly believe that the more we talk about it, not matter how uncomfortable it might be, the more we can get others to understand. I believe that the more we talk about it, the more support and help we can receive. I believe the more we talk, and don’t stop talking, we all can change the stigma surrounding mental health. I’m optimistic for the future, and I look forward to the day where mental health can be talked about openly and be understood instead of judged.

For those struggling, please, talk. For those who aren't struggling, please, listen. We can all change the stigma and bring about change, together.

Cover Image Credit: EndLoneliness

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22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.

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"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hor air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

Cover Image Credit:

Author's illustration

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Self-Care When You're Broke AF Is Hard But Not Impossible

Because we all need to take better care of ourselves, even us financially struggling folx.

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Let's face it: things cost money. Not all of us can go out to the movies every time we're sad, or get a pedicure when we're stressed out. I'm one of those people who struggles financially, and I'm also *often* sad and/or stressed out.

I'll be completely honest: I spend a lot of time on social media trying to de-stress – but it doesn't help whatsoever. However, it's (essentially) free for me. I know people who spend half their lives on the couch watching TV because it costs too much to go out, and it seems like there's nothing to do around the house.

But despite what capitalist society preaches, there are so many ways that you can take care of yourself and have fun, without spending lots of money.

Take care of your mental health

When I say "mental health", I am referring to the cognitive processes rather than the symptoms of mental illness. (We'll get to that later!) Mental self-care is the most important because it allows for successful completion of emotional, physical, and social self care.

Mindfulness is the key component of mental self-care. According to mindful.org, mindfulness means you are "fully present, aware of what you are and what you're doing, and not overly reactive and overwhelmed by what's going on around us."

That sounds boring! Yeah, it is. However, it's important to realize that mindfulness is a key aspect in self-care. Many self-care activities rely on mindful awareness. If you can't stay engaged in the moment, how are you supposed to enjoy the moment?

Mindfulness activities to try

Prayer

If you are religious, practicing your religion establishes routine and also fulfills your spiritual self. Taking a moment to reflect on the day or week and asking for guidance brings you into the present and is also a great way to practice self compassion.

You don't have to be religious to practice this, nor do you have to follow a religion with a god or with "praying" routines.

Meditation

My personal favorite is the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method, but there are SO many that I cannot begin to describe them all.

The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, method activates self-awareness with senses: 5 things with your eyes, 4 things with your ears, 3 things with your body, 2 things with your nose, 1 thing with your tongue.

Another common one is the body scan, where you dedicate time to "scanning" your body and becoming aware of it, from your feet to your head. You can find more exercises here and here.

WOOHOO! We're done with the boring part.

Things to do when you need to feel control

1. Organize a photo board of good memories. Or of your favorite celebrity or TV show. This can be a

digital photo board too! (Aka Pinterest.)

2. Make a list of your friend's birthdays. And then make them some quirky/funny birthday cards in advance.

3. Make a playlist for a friend. Put it on a CD or cassette if you feel like it.

4. Clean your room, but reorganize it completely different.

5. Dye your hair. (Listen…I'm not talking about a salon dye. Grab a friend and hit Walmart -- you can get semi-permanent hair dye for about $5.)

6. Go to a dollar store, or FiveBelow (god bless), or a thrift store. Buy a cheap glass dish and write whatever is stressing you out. Smash that darn thing on the ground outside. (Please be safe and smart about this.)

Things to do when you need to feel less alone

1. Text or post on social media this question: "What is the best memory we have together?" Print those comments out and tape them in a journal or on your wall.

2. Make a web of people you love. Whether that's a complex spiderweb made out of yarn or just a piece of paper and pencil, trust me, it'll give you some perspective.

3. Invite a friend over to make some baked goods. (You can get some cheap cookie mix for $2-$4.) Play some board games, or answer some deep question prompts back and forth.

4. Build a huge fort with a pal and watch a feel-good movie. (Feel-good on your terms, BTW. Some people's feel-good is a horror movie). Make some popcorn. Have a sleepover in that fort.

5. Read a book with a main character similar to you.

6. Listen to music that describes how you're feeling. Or, how you'd like to be feeling.

Things to do when you're bored or need a break

1. Play a video game! (PSST…Fortnite is free. Or check out the free or indie games on Steam).

2. Host a spa day with your friends. (P.S. I don't care what gender you are, there is nothing quite like a face mask and coconut oil in your hair.)

3. Host a "fancy" party in which you dress up and eat cheap snacks of your choice. Make fake nominations for something. (This is especially fun around Oscars, Emmys, and Tony's time!)

4. Host your own paint'n'pour. You don't need elaborate supplies, I promise. And it doesn't need to be artsy – it can be funny! Hell, if you want to print out something like this and just use crayons/colored pencils lying around, that'd be a pretty fun time.

5. Get some friends together for a mystery dinner potluck. You can find some free ones online or write your own. You can even make this a lunch or brunch time thing if you'd like.

Things to do to take care of yourself

1. Exercise. I know, the last thing you want to hear when you feel bad is the word "exercise." But it scientifically *does* help (read: help, not cure.) You can find yoga Youtube videos online or general equipment-free exercises
2. Shower! Bathe! Take a long bath with Epsom salts. Make your own bath bombs. Shave, if you want to.
3. Make a smoothie. Eat some fruits. And hydrate.
4. Change your clothes. Do your laundry. I promise, you'll feel so much better.

5. Take a nap!

No matter what you choose to do, take care of yourself.

When we let our bodies run on empty, we are less likely to perform at our best. When you give yourself time to relax and heal, you are letting your body and mind recharge to full capacity. At the end of the day, remember, you're human, not a superhero.

Cover Image Credit:

Pixabay

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