2020: the year people will (hopefully) understand mental health

I’ve been dealing with anxiety and other illnesses my whole life, and it sucks. It sucks because you feel like a burden in addition to feeling judged 24/7. Don’t forget about overthinking, it’s terrible. I’ll admit I’m not as uptight as I used to be about mental health 6 or some years ago, and I wasn’t always a bubbly, confident force to be reckoned with. Mental health is something I learn to navigate, figure out, and educate myself about each and every day. But after 5 years of college, I’ve grown to be fed up about people not understanding mental illness and how much of an impact it can have on someone’s daily life.

After asking the following questions on Instagram, using anxiety as an example. Anxiety, in my opinion, is by far the hardest for other people to understand unless they have it. I posed the question on Instagram: “If you have anxiety, what do you do about it?” Responses varied:

  1. “Journal, listen to music, get outside & talk about it!” — B.C.
  2. “Deep breaths, then unplug from technology for at least an hour, and then exercise!” — Anonymous.

I then asked, “What would you say to people who clearly don’t ‘get it’?” And one person said:

“They don’t have to ‘get it’ but just be respectful of those with anxiety.”

That alone is a perfect response. Is anyone really going to understand anxiety? Or mental illness at large? The answer is “hopefully.” It’s amazing and astonishing how many people can be so ignorant of mental illness. For some people, it’s a hard pill to swallow, and even when they slug it down, it still wouldn’t process. For example, when I have bad days, they’re awful. It’s not like I choose to dive off the deep end. I’ve had people tell me I’m “wasting time” when I’m dealing with something internal when I could be doing something else. That’s unfortunately not how it works. For some, if not a lot of people, mental health can be crippling. It matters just as much as physical health.

What I didn’t realize was that today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. The title of this day alone made me think of the aspect of talking to others. No one should be forced to talk about their mental health. In fact, that violates medical laws. There are some people who don’t even believe in therapy, and that’s okay, too. Everyone has different ways of dealing with mental health. There is no “one way.” Think of the roots of a tree. They sprout in all different directions. Then there are the branches, which do the same. There’s a root cause for why someone may be upset, anxious, depressed — anything! Then you have your whole body which can react in several different ways. Some people can’t get out of bed. Some people choose to isolate themselves. Some people choose to go for a run. Some people immediately get on the phone to book an appointment with a therapist. In the end, it’s up to you what you decide to do.

January was a rough month for everybody, so let us hope that for the rest of 2020, people will learn to understand mental health.

 

“Wait, Let Me Overthink This.” Raise Your Hand If You’ve Ever Been Victimized By Overthinking.

“Thoughts are the seeds of action.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thoughts do not dictate reality, however. In fact, in my opinion, and in my journey through spirituality, our masculine energy (or “the thinker”) makes us crazy! It’s simple: we think too much. We need to learn how to feel and tap more into our feminine energy.

We are now settled (most of us, I hope) into a new decade and year. We are out of the stressful holiday season, and into the new year. As some of you may know, I’ve been practicing ways to further my spirituality. But I have to admit, it scares me at times. I’m not trying to be a psychic, but I’m just saying, as someone with chronic anxiety, it really can be nervewracking. The fact of the matter is that it shouldn’t be so nervewracking that you start to overthink. I was even thinking about the concept of overthinking while I was making ramen and eggs (which tastes DELICIOUS!) I came to realize, you’re basically setting yourself up for self-sabotage.

Why are you questioning what’s already right in front of you?

Now, I am addressing why I can’t ever seem to “make up my mind” about my career, until just recently. And by “recently” I mean last week. Here’s the thing, though: I’ve always known I wanted to work with domestic violence victims, which is what I’m doing. There. I know what I want, I just needed to stop overthinking. In fact, just writing this post brought me back down to reality. Everything is fine. Repeat after me, everything is fine. Inhale, exhale. AND JUST BE GRATEFUL. Write it down, do something because you are doing great. You don’t even need a psychic to tell you that.

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Moreover, I am fulfilled completely as-is. Don’t question whether or not the universe has your back or not. You also need to have your own back. That isn’t to say other people won’t, but trust me, you’re good!

xoxo

April 💕

The Year Of The Rat, The Year Of 4, The Year Of ACTION | New Age Morning Rituals and Reads

Happy New Year, everybody! Here we are in the… new roaring twenties? This year came in like a lion for sure, especially with Gronk being a co-host with Steve Harvey on FOX’s NYE special — boy, is that guy a party animal!

I’ve preached on Instagram to not be “all-talk” about yours/mine/our goals for 2020. I can’t stand when people are “all-talk” and no do or action. My Enneagram type is 4, which is coincidentally my number for this year as well as 2020 in numerology. According to a little something I also shared on Instagram, Enneagram 4’s are the artist who will not only bring the action to the new year but to actually act. Here’s the key to resolutions: your “new year” will be the same as the last if you don’t change your habits. As I’ve also preached in Conquering Anxiety And Achieving Well-Being, Overall, you can bitch and moan or you can freakin DO SOMETHING!!! Change and manifestation don’t work unless you do. The (in)famous New Years Resolutions similarly don’t work unless you do.

With that being said, I took some inspiration from The Gem Goddess on YouTube and created my own little morning routine. Even though I have been doing this said routine for two mornings thus far, I remind you that it does not take much time to develop a habitual routine. Moreover, I light a vanilla-scented candle (you can use any scented candle — that just happens to be my favorite scent). I also light vanilla incense and use it until it comes to a stub. I then take my red, polka-dotted journal and jot down my intentions for the day and to what and whom I am grateful. The trick is to say your intentions in the present tense; that way, you can write your intentions as if you already have them, which is KEY in manifestation.  I then meditate on my intentions with the sounds of Inspirabel, high-vibrational music that will also increase your vibrations. Classical music has a way of “doing that.” I recommend listening to it with headphones, or you could also listen to a guided meditation. If you don’t have heat in your room, wrap yourself in a soft, weighted blanket. Comfort is also key. Like I said, I did this for two days and it WORKS!

It also helps if you have some tea to calm your anxious nerves (especially if you haven’t taken your meds yet), or some coffee to wake you up. I know, those two do sound contradictory. I personally have one cup of coffee, then make myself a cup of green tea. In 2019, and in the years before that, I went a little crazy on my coffee intake, but not this year! It’s just not good for you! Speaking of which, I’m not going to drink alcohol unless it’s on a holiday, special occasion, or when I go out to a restaurant to eat. This will do wonders for your body, as well as your mental health.

Another thing: READ MORE! Take a couple of hours to stay off of your phone to read. This January, I am reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Manson, and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. This won’t be easy considering I’m taking a course in British Literature this semester, but I always find a way. 😉

 

 

 

 

Coming to Peace With Your Past|A Decade in Review

In Beyonce’s 2013 Pepsi commercial, she says at the end, “embrace your past.” This phrase didn’t ring 100% true to me until this year — the end of the decade. I’m not going to do a year in review simply because it’s the end of the 2010s and into the 2020s. Everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve become, everything I could be, happened all in this decade.

2010: My dad was fighting cancer, and I’ve learned how to live with his illness, resultantly. This meant learning how to sacrifice. This was also the year I was introduced to social media.

2011: This is the year I broke. Not only was I dealing with a four-month diagnosis of mono, but also with depression and being bullied severely.

2012: I was accepted to my top-choice private school at the beginning of January and at the end of the year, I had my first boyfriend and heartbreak within exactly two weeks!

2013: A whirlwind of things happened this year. I got my license, and I became cold-blooded — something I am not proud of. But I did discover Vine and Instagram!

2014: Began looking at colleges, did [insert an Ivy League school’s pre-college summer program] and hated it. I then started working at the hospital where my dad was treated. I also had appendicitis… who knew I would ever need surgery?

2015: Left high school behind (meaning I graduated… 8th in my class🤓). I also started college.

2016: I moved to Rhode Island two days before my twentieth birthday, and I started writing and editing for The Odyssey. In October, I went through a bad breakup. I also started writing for Her Culture. Did I mention I also started this blog!?

2017: Okay, just read ‘Cause I Still Got A Lotta Fight Left In Me | My Hospital Stay | My Mental Illness(es) where I made two bold decisions: 1) to get a diagnosis and 2) to transfer and start over at RWU.

2018: I interned at Rhode Island Monthly, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had. For more, read Here’s To The Best Summer Of My Life: A Reflection.

2019: Easy. I wrote a thesis on Docupoetics, got into Title IX advocacy, and met my love (hi, Steve! And THANK YOU, Bumble!).

I’m just going to talk about the year 2019 a little bit more in-depth. 2019 was more about learning my worth as a human being, so much more than I thought I ever would learn. Learning about who you are is one thing, but your worth is another. You can say who you are in a thirty-second elevator pitch, but you shouldn’t even have to explain your worth. I learned not to take any sh*t from sheep from different farms. I found that I am not only creative, but I am seriously courageous and surely resilient. That’s not something you can put in an Instagram bio. Speaking of bios, I went from writing “I run what you run in 10 years in 2 days” meaning I went from an immature, sub-tweeting high school track star to saying “#supportsurvivors” [of sexual assault]. With that being said, I found a career.

Coming to peace with your past is like Beyonce looking at all her past music video outfits in the dancing mirrors. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a music video, but I sure know what it’s like to see yourself in the mirror and look at how much you’ve changed in ten years’ time. Coming to peace with your past is all about moving on, learning from your mistakes and ultimately accepting them. That’s not to say there won’t be regrets. But whoever said, “will it matter in 5-10 years?” was so right.

So I say this: here’s to a new decade of life and blessings. Here’s to a decade of keeping your worth at the forefront of your wind. Here’s to a decade of more blog posts, and who knows? Maybe I’ll have a novel published at this time and I’ll be a leader of social justice. No more settling for less than you deserve, being treated as less than you are and keeping journal pages clean and full of words left unsaid.

Happy New Year! 🥂

 

 

 

 

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: April’s Guide to Surviving Finals Week

Taking a break from writing a paper, and currently wrapped up in the stress of finals week. Finals week can be tough, especially when there’s a lot to do. I only have two written finals, but this paper for African Literature has my eyes red and puffy and my stomach in knots. I feel like that acne commercial with Emma Roberts: “I stress out then I break out… then I stress out even more!” Unintentionally said finals week can make your skin break out like no other. 🎶So, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why: FINALS WEEK IS GOING TO BE OKAY!🎶

  1.  Let it all out when you need to do so. By that, I mean cry. Crying is healthy. It doesn’t help when it’s all bottled up.
  2. Don’t leave things to the last minute.
  3. Drink WATER 💦 no one can live on just coffee.
  4. With that being said, eat your nutrients. I’m not talking about fatty foods but get some stirfry, eggs, or sushi. Don’t skip a meal — it’s not good for you!
  5. Book a meeting with your therapist or counselor, if you have one.
  6. If you have a job on campus, I’m sure your supervisor won’t mind if you take an hour off to do final projects.
  7. Take your medications and/or vitamins.
  8. Go to your school’s tutoring center if you have last-minute finals questions.
  9. Take Reading Days to your full advantage and STUDY.
  10. Take care of your skin. I use KORRES Wild Rose Vitamin C Brightening Sleeping Facial.
  11. Clear a little space in your dorm/room/apartment (no matter where you live while going to school). Studies have shown that having a cluttered room increases anxiety.
  12. Reward yourself with a glass of white/red wine after finals, a day with your sweetheart, or a much-needed nap. You deserve it all!

If you’re stressing about grades, just know that they really are just grades, but you WILL pass finals, I garauntee you.

Here’s some inspirational quotes that’ll hopefully lift your spirits:

Good luck!

xoxo

April 💕

 

Selflessness

I’ve always wanted to take a psychology class, and I find myself wondering almost three times a week why I never took a class in high school. By now, everyone knows I want to be a lawyer with a concentration in family law. Well, I guess the family law part is new. But narrowing it down helps — a lot.

The last blog post I wrote, Certainly Not the Same I guess was more of a reflection, more so than Agape | I Have Changed. I do realize that “Agape” was the second blog post I ever made, and I was reminded of it specifically because I was looking through my “memories” on Facebook of the life-changing experience. As I binge-watch “Atypical” this morning before work, (a show I HIGHLY recommend you watch — it’ll open your eyes and help you relate to a few or more characters), I scroll through my Facebook feed and my Instagram to find this:

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People can fight me on this, but my initial reaction to seeing this was, “What about EMTs? Especially the one I read about in my Literary Philosophy two years ago who treated a white supremacist who spits blood on the EMT because he was African-American?” And it’s not just EMTs, people generally — and I don’t want to say “complain” that they never get anything in return — but it’s quite common.

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” — Maya Angelou

Again, not to be morbid, but Maya Angelou actually passed away on my 18th birthday. I’ve had people compare me to Maya Angelou because I indubitably write poetry — no surprise there! This show, “Atypical” reminds me of when I was 18. Sam Gardner cares about everybody, and even gives Paige Hardaway’s Valedictorian speech for her, even after all they have been through as an off-and-on-again twosome. In one episode in Season 2, he finds that he wants to go to art school. More specifically, he wants to draw marine life. If you know the show, he adores penguins.

Moreover, when you’re feeling underappreciated, don’t, even though the feeling may seem like a natural occurrence. Some people are just so wrapped up in their own selfishness that they forget to show the tiniest bit of empathy for someone else. Nowadays, I try more than my hardest to understand people and what may be going on in their heads. I am not a mind-reader, no one is unless you’re a possible psychic. Nonetheless, I’ve learned plenty over the years to not expect anything in return. Caring is such a strong thing to do, even when people think they can’t care about anything at all because of how they feel. I can tell you right now, that you are succeeding. And I just preached all that without a psych degree. unnamed (22)

Spooky Season = Anxiety Season?

Hello, (A)pril-listers! April here with my first post of the month of October (mainly procrastinating two essays! Yikes! I’m here, to tell the truth about October. October has always been my “worst month,” but it hasn’t been completely terrible beginning in 2017.

October is not only pumpkin spice season, but it is also known as “spooky season.” That term has been thrown around a lot since October’s beginning. But could this ostensible spooky season also be known as anxiety season?

There is no doubt that I suffer from anxiety; I’ve been very open about it. The one thing I get anxious about the most is uncertainty, and this is especially true this week as I spend my free time in between classes prepping for the LSAT. I have narrowed down to [lucky] three law schools. But that is beside the point. October seems to serve as a crucible for students, like myself. Did I mention it’s also Mental Health Day? Perfect timing, April! 👏

My mentor/professor was right: sometimes I do bite off more than I can chew, as they say. In fact, I sat in my therapist’s office, eyes barely open to let tears come streaming out of them. I was exhausted from being super busy. Needless to say, I had to cut one major activity out of my life, which was a shame because I wanted to try it and hopefully make a difference. But as it turns out, I already was making a difference in making my campus safer, one step at a time, according to another mentor of mine. I could go on about how “hustle culture” is extremely toxic and only leads to the inevitable “burning out,” which I have done on more occasions than I can count on ten fingers.

How one perceives of October is a choice, and it’s all about how you make of it. It’s not a fact that October may be a s**tty month because it’s merely a statement of opinion. When you say something often enough it becomes true. This is a manifestation procedure, as said in spiritual terms. It is your choice to make the spooky season less “spooky” and less “anxiety-provoking.” As I sat down with one of my mentors, she mentioned that you have to have self-care methods, this may include a mental health day as well as a cup of green tea with milk and sugar. It just goes to show that talking to people helps, too! I certainly don’t need a degree in psychology to know that there are methods for dealing with each emotion.

Moreover, enjoy “spooky season” while it lasts, and don’t let it become an anxiety season. If it does, use your resources and always ask for help when needed. 

Conquering Anxiety And Achieving Well-Being, Overall

In “Sex and the City: the movie” Charlotte mentions to Carrie she hasn’t been running because her anxieties about life are stopping her. I remember when I wrote Fitness, Fashion, and Time Management, I was in a terrific state both physically and mentally, ultimately providing myself with a healthy lifestyle by working out (almost) every day and getting a salad and drinking plenty of water. Come to the end of that semester, I found myself falling off the rail and into some (very) unhealthy habits. This was due to the stress of finding a job and taking a whopping SIX CLASSES two semesters in a row. This only led me down the rabbit hole of doubt. It wasn’t until the end of the Spring 2019 semester, that I learned the importance of balance (which may seem like a course on repeat.)

Balance is essential. Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand and balance each other out. Your education, relationships (with yourself and other people), work, and overall well-being need equal attention, which can prove itself to be difficult. No one is 100% “on top of their sh*t” 24/7. Nobody’s perfect. Life happens. But it’s important, like I said in Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again — the title speaks for itself! And can I just say that drinking a lot of coffee and/or alcohol does NOT help? It doesn’t. In fact, it’s actually self-medicating.

The best kind of medication without making yourself sick is 1) tea and 2) therapy. Tonight I saw a tweet by a fellow writer who was struggling with health anxiety and (for ladies, only) period stuff with accompanying physical ailments. That accurately described what I was feeling this afternoon (and prompted me to write this post.)

On the topic of therapy, I see my therapist every two weeks, just to check-in. I’ve been going to therapy since I was a freshman in high school. I’ll be honest, there were extended periods of time when I ignored therapy and didn’t make appointments. Let’s be real, a diabetic doesn’t not take their insulin because they “don’t have time.” With mental health, it’s the same concept. I remember when I used to always keep saying “I don’t have time,” and “I don’t have time to ‘make time!'” For this, this, and that, I kept using that same excuse. In fact, when people told me I needed to make time, I got pretty annoyed it hit a nerve. Now, I’m understanding the importance of it.

This brings me to my next point: you can as they say in the movie, “Tammy,” “bitch and moan” about something, or, you can do something about it. As I used to preach all the time in my Insta-stories, if you want something to happen, YOU 👏 HAVE 👏 TO 👏 MAKE 👏 IT 👏 HAPPEN.

NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing is impossible, remember that. And as to paraphrase what it says in the Bible: “The LORD helps those who help themselves.” Life is truly a blessing. So live it to the fullest and in the healthiest possible way.

This is an example of what I like to call a ROUTINE:

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No, you do not have to get up at 5:30 AM unless you’re really feeling ambitious. But a routine helps to ease the anxiousness.

In fact, by the time this goes up, I will be in bed getting my beauty sleep and getting up at a good hour for a jog.

Thank you for listening to my “Ted Talk.”  😊

xoxoxo,

April 😘💕