Millennial Mental Health

I don’t always like talk about it but my mental health is something that I am cognizant of on a daily basis. I want to make sure that I’m taking the necessary steps to look after myself and my well being.

I think that all too often millennials are criticized in the media, and in life, for being so open about mental health struggles. In reality, I don’t think we’re the first generation to have struggles with mental health, I just think that we’re the first generation to be open and honest about it.

I’m 99% positive that my father struggles with severe anxiety and 100% positive that he never has, nor will he ever, admit to that. It’s just not something that his generation does. Nevertheless, I digress.

Some days, I get lucky and there’s not a lot going on. Those are the days when I find the most calm. Those are the days when I am most alright with the world around me. I don’t have to put on a happy face, I don’t have to pretend with anyone, I can just be me. I appreciate those days.

And please don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m miserable. I’m not. I could be happier though. Because of this, it just gets exhausting trying to be happy-go-lucky for people. I know they don’t want to see me actual mood, so I spend a lot of my time wearing a mask.

Recently I saw a video of a reporter asking Meghan Markle ‘are you okay? Meghan, stunned at the reporter said ‘Not many people actually ask me that’. While I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a member of the British Royal Family, seeing her answer actually broke my heart a little bit because I know there are so many people in the world who are trying to hide their struggle and put on that mask to not be a burden to those around them.

It is so important that we find places and spaces where we can be honest, both with ourselves and with other humans. That we can find a common ground and admit that not everything is okay all of the time and that is okay.

Millennials are keenly aware of our identity, where we fit into society and the struggles that come with that. I don’t think that makes us whiners like society paints us out to be. Personally, I think that makes us stronger. If you’re willing to acknowledge your demons, you’re more likely to face them head on.

How am I? I’m doing okay today. It’s one of those good days where there aren’t many people around and there isn’t a ton going on. I don’t have to put on the mask, I can just be. I’ve been laying pretty low this week to try and rest/get healthy again, so I think another low-key day will be good for me. My thoughts are a little sporadic, but I am hanging in there.

It’s important to remember to be good to yourself. Remember to treat yourself. Remember to look after yourself. Self-care is about doing things to look after yourself long-term. It isn’t about instant or short-term gratification.

Whatever generation you’re a part of, be good to yourself today, and every day. You’re worth it and your well being depends on it.

There are days…

There are days when I struggle to look at myself in the mirror.

There are days when I don’t believe that I’m worthy of anything I have in this life.

There are days when I just don’t feel capable of basic human function. Everything seems too difficult and too complicated for me to even comprehend.

There are days when I wonder what I did wrong to wind up this… scared, selfish and stupid.

There are days when I question everything.

Oh, there are days.

There are days when everything bothers me. People chewing. Rain falling. Wind gusting. It’s all annoying and there’s nothing I can do but just see it through.

There are days when it’s hard to zip my lips and to stay out of it.

There are days when I want to give up, run away, leave it all behind.

There are days when I am so out of touch with myself that I look back and I think ‘who the fuck was that person?’

Oh there are days.

The most important thing to remember through all of this? That without the bad days we cannot appreciate the good. That the good people in our lives, they’ll be there whether we’re in a good mood or a bad. Whether we’re easy to get along with or we couldn’t be trying harder to push them away.

We need to remember that these bad days remind us that we’re human. That struggle is real and that we shouldn’t diminish the value of it when it comes. Because struggle teaches us. It makes us stronger. It shows us what we’re truly capable.

There are days when it feels a though the world is crashing down around me. But those days, as with all things in life, they too shall pass…

Heightened Anxiety

Things just feel off today. Way off. I can’t put my finger on what it is. It’s just… wrong. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to do anything. I’m having a hard time talking to people. I’m just struggling. I don’t know what’s causing it today above any other day.

I’ve been hiding in my bedroom for the past four hours and I really don’t know that I can or want to leave it today. I just don’t know how to get past this right now.

May your comeback be stronger than your setback.

Simple. Concise. Powerful.

I’m not sure who the first person was to say this quote, but it was exactly what I needed to hear today. I’ve had a rough day. Well, if I really want to sell myself a pity party, I’ve had a rough year. Nevertheless, I digress.

As I sat across the table from a complete stranger today and listened to his sage wisdom of life, love and the pursuit of happiness, these words struck me.

‘May your comeback stronger than your setback,’ he said. ‘No one can escape setbacks in life. Even the most privileged, wealthiest, well off of individuals still have setbacks. One of the best things you can do for yourself is use that setback as a setup for one hell of a comeback.’

My god, one hell of a comeback it’s going to be. I need to keep fighting. And… I really need to stop feeling sorry for myself. Truth be told, it’s a pretty big flaw of mine that, almost at the snap of my fingers, I can go from a happy-go-lucky state of being to pretty down-and-out. And it’s once I hit that down-and-out state of being that I really stop fighting for my comeback.

I need a comeback. I deserve a comeback. I’m smart enough, talented enough and I can do this. I can and will do this.

At the end of the day,

all you can really do is put your best foot forward and your true self out there. If people don’t like that, that’s their loss. You are who you are for a reason and you should be damn proud of that. Don’t ever feel ashamed for who you are.

Enough with this ‘I don’t measure up’ talk. Enough with ‘I’m just not good enough’. It’s time that you looked yourself in the mirror and reminded yourself just how amazing you are. Because you are. Ignore the noise and focus on you.

If someone doesn’t want you, that’s a reflection of them, not of you. Your tribe is out there, and let me promise you this… they will appreciate you for exactly who you are and what you bring. Whether it be a job, a relationship, a friendship or a family, you deserve the very best and I don’t want you to ever settle for less.

The world you want is out there and it can be won. Anyone who tries to keep you from that doesn’t belong in your life and doesn’t deserve your time.

#WorldMentalHealthDay

You are good enough. You are strong enough.

You are worthy, beautiful and capable. You can and will defeat your demons and you will move those mountains that have been holding you back. So care.

Care about life. Care about everything and everyone and stop telling yourself to not. Most importantly, care about yourself.

Give a damn. Make sure that you know that you matter. Look after yourself. Believe in yourself. Say good things about yourself. Why? Because maybe if you hear it enough, you’ll stop doubting it. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop second-guessing yourself? Yeah, it would. So start reminding yourself of how fucking amazing you are. No more self-deprecation and no more negativity, just positivity and light.

Only you have the capability to see yourself through this darkness. While others can contribute to your happiness in small ways, no one can rescue from this sadness, anxiousness and despair but you. And trust me when I say this, you’re more than capable of rescuing yourself. So do it.

Take those small steps, E-V-E-R-Y DAY. Celebrate those small victories when they come. Your confidence depends on it. Take advantage of help when given to you because… god damn, pushing people away hasn’t ever gotten you anywhere. And exercise. Exercise every day. Because if you want to take care of your mind, you need to take care of your whole body. Rescue yourself.

You have the power within you to make serious changes in your life. Stop fighting the things you cannot control and conquer the things you can. I know you’ve got the power, you know you’ve got the power, so don’t let those voices in your head win.

Take care of yourself, please. You’re too valuable not to.

Simple ways that you can be a better person today.

I’m a firm believer that if you take small steps every single day, you can be a better person with each day that passes. It doesn’t take much… it really doesn’t. There are no grand gestures needed, no shows to put on for attention. It’s just a matter of making select choices to make your life better and make the lives of others better.

Here’s a few small things you can do to be a better person:

  1. Tell someone you love them. Whether it a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son… whoever it might be, just tell them you love them. We all need to hear it once in a while.
  2. Hold the door open for someone. It’s a small gesture, but it means a whole lot.
  3. Use your manners. They cost nothing, but mean a whole lot. Please, thank you and have a nice day can make a difference between someone having a shit day and someone having hope in the human race.
  4. Offer a compliment to a stranger. Everyone’s just trying to get by and kindness from a stranger can go a long way in this crazy world.
  5. Be honest. Stop lying to people. Show them that you respect them enough to tell them the truth.
  6. Listen. Listen. Listen. Sometimes, being an ear for someone to talk to is the best thing you can do for a person. You don’t even have to talk at all, sometimes all someone needs is just to be heard.
  7. Help. Whether it’s giving up your seat to an elderly person, helping someone carry their groceries, or corralling a runaway toddler, a little bit of help that takes virtually no time out of your day can make a world of difference.
  8. Be yourself. The world doesn’t benefit from your playing small to fit in. Be who you are, who you want to be, who you dream of being. Project your best self and you can be your best self.
  9. Be respectful. You can disagree with someone without being an asshole. You can appreciate the time someone takes, even if it isn’t of benefit to you.
  10. Educate yourself. Learn. Learn what you can. Learn all that you can. Knowledge is power and spewing opinions and misinformation because you aren’t up to date on the current situations of the world, it doesn’t benefit everyone. If your thoughts, opinions and words are factually based, that’s one thing . But if you’re just spouting regurgitated talking points, stop… educate yourself, then try again.
  11. Make someone smile. I’m a firm believer that a smile is the best, and cheapest, gift that you can give someone. And, since you never really know what someone is going through, giving them a smile at the least is a great addition to their day and can often mean so much more than you could ever imagine.
  12. Let go of anger. It’s not doing you any good. It’s not doing the person you’re angry at any good. Just drop it. You’ll feel better when you do.
  13. Try to assume the best in others.

The lows and the highs of just being being human.

Photo: Rachel Hobbs/asprinkleofasian.com

About a month ago I went to an allergist. This appointment was in hopes to find out, for certain, what I’m allergic to. It’s a long story but I have pretty severe allergies and have been having a hard time pinpointing what they are. As a result, I’ve been through a lot of elimination diets to try and narrow it down.

The doctor was unable to pinpoint any specific food allergies that I have, based on the foods he tested me for at the appointment. (There’s a standard 64 foods their office tests for, and aside from two products I never eat, I’m apparently clear allergy free, at least on what I was tested for)

The doctor did agree that I have allergies, though. And because of that, he gave me a prescription for allergy medication that he said was better than over-the-counter and could quite possibly provide benefit for me in coping with the allergies I have.

I couldn’t afford the prescription.

It might have been my lowest point of my whole year. I’m not working so I don’t have insurance to cover prescriptions. And drugs are fucking expensive. This was also right about the time when my credit card information was compromised, so I couldn’t even just put it on my credit card.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to break down in tears in the pharmacy when they told me the price of the drugs I was prescribed. It was awful. I was sad, I felt helpless and I was baffled that an allergy medication could cost so damn much. I felt like a loser. I felt like I wasn’t capable of the basic functions of looking after myself. And that made me feel the lowest of lows that I think I’ve been through all year.

I didn’t end up getting the prescription. And, when I think back on that day, all I do is tear up/cry. I don’t ever want to feel like that again. The way I felt, so powerless, so pathetic. I was trying not to look upset with the person I was with but I think he saw right through it. I think he knew how upset I was.

I just couldn’t afford it.

It was just allergy medication, and I live in Canada. That shouldn’t be happening to me. But somehow this is the situation I am in. And I have been seeing a lot of news reports lately about people in the USA struggling to choose between taking their insulin or halving it to make it last longer because it costs so damn much.

While I’m aware that my allergies are just simple issues in comparison to theirs, I can’t help but feel a small fraction the pain they must feel. The dire need to want to take care of one’s self and the having to ask yourself if you can afford to do so.

That was a very low day for me. It was only allergy medication, and it’s something that I can do without. I’m not suffering without the drug. It was a very low day for my self-esteem, though.

Fast forward to last week. I went pick up my parents who had flown back from Denmark. Prior to picking up my parents I stopped at a mall to meet with a friend of mine for a cup of coffee.

This mall that we were meeting at, there were two options for parking. You could park on the roof, or, you could park underground. I have a rule against parking in underground lots when I am alone. It’s just a safety precaution that I choose to take. So I parked on the roof.

When I left my friend, I was walking towards my vehicle. A man held the mall door open for me to the outside, and then proceeded to follow me as I was walking to my vehicle.

The man persisted that he needed a ride and that he was going wherever I was going. He proclaimed that his friend left him there and that he needed a ride and that I was gong to give it to him. He was about a foot taller than I was, so I was nervous about this strange man following me, telling me that I was going to give him a ride.

When I made it to my vehicle, I opened the driver-door and told him that he needed to leave me alone. He put his hands on the driver door, in an attempt to intimidate me, and told me ‘Just reason with me, I just need a fucking ride’.

I looked him square in the face, in a calm tone and said ‘You have about 2.5 seconds before I slam your fingers in the door and kick you square in the balls so I can watch you keeled over in pain as I drive off’.

‘You think you can hurt me?’ He laughed.

‘Are you looking to test me?’ I replied, staring him dead in the face.

‘Fine, I don’t need a ride you stupid bitch’, he said as he walked away from my vehicle.

In that moment I felt so damn proud of myself. I was just so… empowered. I’m the type of person who’s always felt as though I’d cower in a situation of high stress. I’m the type of person who’s doubted my ability to stand up for myself a lot of my life. And honestly, I probably shouldn’t have continued walking toward my vehicle when I realized he was following me, but this wave of a ‘Don’t fuck with me’attitude came over me, and I just kept going.

I stood up to him. I stood up for myself. I made him back down and I let him know that his intimidation tactics didn’t work on me. I was so fucking proud of myself.

I don’t think I could have been more proud in that moment.

There was such a dichotomy in how I felt about myself in just a matter of a few weeks. Two completely different scenarios reminded me of just how much the world can throw at me. And I think that’s an important point to note – that as human beings, sometimes life gets the better of us, it feels as though our powers have been stripped and there’s nothing we can do about it. But, life also gives us the opportunities to take that back. To stare the creepy giant down and threaten physical harm if he doesn’t get out of your fucking way.

There are days when it’s really not easy being human. There are days when it’s really not easy getting by. And then there are days when you stand up and remind yourself and the world just what you’re capable of.

I’m a fucking lion and ruler of the jungle, this life and whatever the world decides to throw at me.

Essentials of Self-Esteem

Photo from inc.com

One of the subjects that frequently gets brought up in therapy is self-esteem. What is it? Where does it come from? Why do some people have oodles of it while others can’t seem to find it at all?

The truth is, we’re all a product of our own circumstance. We come into this world the centre of the universe. We’re not born with self-esteem, our lives and the people who are in it help us to form that self-esteem, or keep us from forming our self-esteem over the span of our lives.

It’s important to note that self-esteem doesn’t look the same for everyone. There’s a preconceived notion that if you have something sought-after, or are someone of importance, you ultimately have high self-esteem because, how else would you have gotten to that place? This is simply not the case. You can be the Star Quarterback of the Chicago Bears and still feel insecure each time you step off that field and take off that gear. You can be the most successful Doctor in your industry, saving lives each and every day whilst feeling as though you cannot save your own from your insecurities. There is a lot of grey area when it comes to self-esteem. The world is not so black and white.

The following was not written by me. It was provided to me as homework to complete by my Therapist, who has given me permission to share.


The ESSENTIALS OF SELF-ESTEEM

Significance: We need to feel we matter and that we are important. We need to feel that we are making a significant contribution to whatever sphere we find ourselves in, be it family, our job, our friends or our recreational pursuits.

Competence: Competence means believing we can make things happen and can master our environment. Remember – if you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t.

Connectedness balanced by separation: We need to maintain balance in our lives whereby we keep our individuality and at the same time we have feelings of belonging. We can’t feel good about ourselves if we are cut off and alienated from everything. On the other hand, we can’t feel good if we’re absorbed into another’s identity.

Realism: We must be realistic – no one is perfect. We all have flaws. Self-esteem is focusing on the positives while recognizing that we do still have problems. Remember to set realistic goals and believe in your ability to handle whatever difficulties you may cross.

Ethics and values: We need to develop a clear sense of what is right and what is wrong. As we are all individuals, this will vary. The important thing is that we are comfortable with the understanding that everyone is entitled to their own core set of ethics and values.

Lifetime Process: Virtually all of us, to some degree, have problems with our self-esteem. As adults it is possible to overcome these problems but we need to have a belief that we can do so.

In summation: if we lack significance, we can seek affection. If we lack competence, we can increase our skills and take pride in our efforts. If we lack a sense of connectedness we can reach out to others. If we lack a sense of individuality, we can discover more about ourselves. If we lack values we can see what is important to ourselves.

It’s important to note that if we lack self-esteem, that can always be fixed. As humans we’re constantly changing and evolving, and if we make a conscious effort to improve our self-esteem, things can and will get better. Things won’t just magically happen, though. The work needs to be put forth for anything to change.


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Life with social anxiety.

Drawing by user: 12littlegiant21 on DeviantArt.

I once read somewhere that social anxiety is self consciousness on steroids. That’s actually a pretty perfect description of it.

I’m not very good with people. If you don’t start the conversation, it’s very likely that we won’t have one. Every day activities like ordering a coffee or purchasing groceries can be extremely difficult for me. I live with a fear that I’m being judged. That if I slip up, that if I am not perfect, people are going to remember that, that it’s what I’ll be known for… forever.

People who know me describe me as quiet. And most days, I’d describe myself that way too. I’m quiet to those who don’t know me. I’m quiet because I worry – about what they think of me, about being enough for them, about not being an embarrassment.

People who don’t know me often describe me as having permanent resting bitch face. They say that I come across as cold and… uninterested. I listen, I hear, I understand, I just… don’t know what to say back when they talk to me. I stare blankly into the abyss hoping for something to come to mind, but it never does.

Small talk is awful. I mean downright awful. Having a simple conversation with someone – a coworker, a bank teller, the bus driver, anyone really… it takes a great deal of effort for me. Effort that quite often comes across with people believing me to be a closed off shell of a human being.

Some days are better than others. But some days, it’s all I can do to not live in terror of my non-existent flaws. Because they’re there. You may not be able to see them but I can definitely feel them.

I overthink absolutely everything. Even the smallest of interactions can send me into a fiery spiral of anxious energy that I don’t know how to control. It’s something that can keep me hiding in my house for days at a time. And I wouldn’t tell you if that was the case. I’d simply either not answer your calls or, make up excuses to try and convince you (and myself) otherwise.

I can say that their words don’t matter to me, that they have no value and there is no stock in what they say, but they still hurt. As much as I don’t want them to, some words cut like a knife.

There are handful of people in this world I feel truly understand me. Those who love me, those who appreciate me, those who tell me things like ‘I’m robbing the world of the chance to know me’, because they know I don’t like meeting new people. They know I have a hard time with human interaction. They know I’m afraid of what people will think and they love me anyway. That, well that’s the kind of love they don’t write books about. That’s the kind of acceptance I think we all seek to find.

I believe that people sense I’m a good listener. I think they can tell that I’m hearing them when they speak… not just ignoring them and moving on but actually processing their words. I think it’s irony in a sense… being terrified of human interaction whilst people find you to be the best listener they know. And yes, I know I just misused the word irony.

The most frustrating part of social anxiety is that I know I’m being irrational. I know the decisions that I make and the actions that I choose are not those of a rational human being. I can’t help it though. I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’ve had anxiety for longer than I knew what anxiety was.

Social anxiety is hard to explain. If you’ve never experienced it, you might not understand why I don’t want to go out in public without my headphones. You might not understand why I try to get into and out of public places as quickly as I can, why I try to avoid conversations with absolutely everyone at all costs. I’m an introvert, but it’s so much more than that.

I’m trying to remind myself that there will come a day when people see me for me. When I allow them into my world without fearing what they think. I’m trying to believe that there will come a day when I set the standard, when I am the rule and not the exception, when I can play ‘Words With Friends’ without worrying if they’re really my friend. I’m trying to convince myself that I can overcome this feeling, that the anxiety won’t always win.

Until then, please go easy on me. Because like I mentioned earlier, if you don’t start the conversation, it’s very likely that we won’t have one…