Mental Health And Its Everyday Heroes

Mental Health And Its Everyday Heroes

All mental health warriors are heroes, and their battle should be recognized, not hidden away.
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month… and I’m here to talk about heroes… and not the kind that wears capes.

Mental Health Awareness Month is not just about talking about the diseases that plague the minds of many (including yours truly.) Mental Health Awareness Month is not only about attempting to break the age-old stigma around mental health disorders and their effects on the survivors and their families. Mental Health Awareness Month is about saving lives. It’s about encouraging survivors and treating them like the real heroes that they are.

As someone with mental illness, I can personally relate to many of you who may be reading this article and being like “well I don’t feel like much of a hero.”

I don’t feel like a hero most days either… I’m like you, going through life sometimes still trying to find motivation to get out of bed. However, I want to tell you right now that if you live with ANY mental illness- depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, or any other mental illness then you ARE a hero, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

You are a fighter, plain and simple. It’s unfair to act as though you are anything but that.

People who don’t have mental illness don’t understand how it feels to live inside our minds. They’ll never understand what it’s like to lay in bed until 2 pm (or later… yes, we’re all guilty) waiting for a real reason to get up in the morning. Without a reason, we struggle to even breathe, much less get up to wash our hair and brush our teeth, get dressed, eat, and more. So every day that you get up and do those things… one or all… YOU are a fighter, and YOU are a hero.

But you are not a loser or weak if you decide that “today is not your day.”

In the famous words of Abby Lee Miller from her short series, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, if “today is not your day” then you are still a fighter; you are still strong, and you are still worthy of trying again tomorrow.

Mental illness isn’t one size fits all.

It’s also not the same every single day- if it was, then we’d have it all figured out by now. If you can’t make yourself get out of bed or eat that last bite of your sandwich, then that doesn’t make you a failure. That makes you human, and that’s okay because that’s what you are. I don’t expect you to be perfect, and neither should ANYONE else. So you do you today and everyday… no matter what “you” can do today, tomorrow, or any other day.

Mental illness is real, and I refuse to settle for it remains a stigma.

People who don’t battle mental illness will never understand what it’s like to live under the stigma that if you have a mental health condition that you are crazy. They will never know how crushing that can be to someone who already struggles with low self-esteem thanks to those killer voices in your head there to remind you that “you’re not worthy.” (Those are lies… you shouldn’t believe them EVER.)

So today, I stand up and say that I’m not okay being looked at as someone who’s crazy. I refuse to allow my mental illness to be something that holds me back, and I refuse to allow my illness to be swept under the rug because it’s something people are afraid to talk about.

Mental Health Awareness Month is what you make it, and I challenge you to make it about you because you deserve it.

When you have mental illness, it’s easy to let the world go by and hide behind the scenes. However; YOU are a person, and even if you don’t like being in the spotlight I challenge you to give yourself a break.

Splurge on yourself, take yourself out for ice cream, or go see that new movie that you’ve been dying to see. You deserve to be happy.

You deserve to live your life to the fullest, and during Mental Health Awareness Month, I dare you to be your best self; live your best life, and prove to others that you are not down because you have a mental illness, but instead, you are stronger, a fighter, and a WINNER.

Love yourself this month and every month; I challenge you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Sorry I'm A Size 00

But I'm not really sorry.
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My whole life I’ve been thin—which is kind of an understatement. Every time I go to the doctor I get the same “you’re underweight” lecture that I’ve heard every year since I was able to form memories. I’ve never really felt insecure about my weight, I love being able to eat everything and not gain a single pound. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve probably only gained 8 pounds and I’m now a sophomore in college. Of course, in school, there were rumors that I was anorexic or bulimic, but everyone who knew me knew that was far from the truth. I’m now 19, 5’2, and I still have yet to break 100 pounds on the scale. It seems that there is a lot of skinny shaming going around and to me, one of the main contributors to that is the Dove Real Beauty campaign.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this because skinny girls get all the praise and other body types are neglected. That’s really not true, though. While loving other body types, you are tearing down skinny girls. Why is it okay to do that to skinny girls but not to other body types? Why is it okay to say “only dogs like bones” or say “every body type is beautiful” until you see a model's abs, or ribs, or thigh gap and then tear them down because they’re “unnaturally” skinny?



The point I’m trying to make is that, as a naturally skinny girl, I have never shamed anyone for their body type, yet I go every day and get at least two comments about my weight. I’m always the skinny girl, the toothpick, but I’m not Jessica. Yeah, I’m a size 00. Get over it. If you have an issue with my body and feel like my body is disgusting to you, don’t look at it. I know that I’m healthy and I don’t need your input when my body just naturally burns calories fast. I don’t have an eating disorder and never have. I am real beauty though, and I know that because I’m comfortable in my own skin. So maybe the real issue is that we as a society have been shoving certain body types down our daughters’ throats so they begin to romanticize models that have certain standards that they have to meet, who work hard for the bodies that they have, and are making a hell of a lot more money than most of the people discussing why they look emaciated while what they’re actually looking at is the photoshopped product.

I’m not going to apologize for being skinny when that is just how my body is, I can’t help it. So please, stop tearing my body down while trying to bring your body up. You can praise your body without shaming skinny girls. Shaming me for being thin does not make you better than the man that shamed your body, just as me shaming you for being curvy does not make me better than the man that shamed my body. As women, we need to love each other because we are the only ones who truly understand each other.


Cover Image Credit: Victoria's Secret Untouched

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'Taste The Rainbow' But Not Because Skittles Said To

The health benefits of eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables

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Does everyone know that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but do you know why they are considered to be nutritious?

Some may believe the answer is because they have low caloric value, which isn't wrong but they provide so much more. They possess phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods that provide the fruit and vegetables their color, taste, and odor. More than that, each phytochemical comes with its health benefits.

There are seven mechanisms of action or ways that phytochemicals are beneficial to our health.

They can either act as antioxidants which help to prevent damage to healthy cells, anti-inflammatory, chemo-preventative, support our immune system, trigger apoptosis or programmed cell death, protect our DNA, regulate hormones and finally, some may have the ability for specific actions, such as inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.

Below is a list of phytochemicals:

1. Carotene 

Alpha and beta carotene give fruits and vegetables an orange or yellow color. Some examples of foods that are high in beta carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers of those colors.

Carotene, when ingested, is converted into Vitamin A that your body can easily absorb and utilize. Carotene has been scientifically proven to help eye and heart health as well as support our immune system by acting as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and possessing chemo-preventive factors.

2. Lycopene 

Think tomatoes. The phytochemical lycopene is responsible for the red color in whole plant foods. The health effects are acting as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, chemo-preventative but also good for DNA and urinary tract health. What's cool about lycopene is that no matter how you prepare your food, you don't lose any of the nutrients.

3. Chlorophyll 

Eat your greens. Chlorophyll-rich foods appear green. Some excellent sources include dark leafy greens and broccoli. Chlorophyll, like the other phytochemicals are known to be antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventative. Choosing foods that have a rich and vibrant color indicate that is a good source of that phytochemical.

So, next time you're in the produce aisle, be sure to choose your colors wisely.

4. Anthocyanin

Anthocyanins are those foods that are red, blue and purple. Any type of berry is an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants combat damage to cells by helping balance those that are unstable. Cells become unsteady when they have an uneven pairing of protons and electrons so antioxidants essentially give an electron to the cells that need it.

5. Reservatrol

The color purple. Just as every phytochemical mentioned, resveratrol contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventative agents. That's the beauty of phytochemicals. Reservartrol also takes it a step further to help brain and bone health. Studies have proven that eating foods rich in resevatrol also help to protect against age-related diseases.

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of phytochemicals, please check out this wonderful book!

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