Mental Health Month Post #2

Finding My Purpose

By Rebecca Ann Lombardo

I’ve always been extremely hard on myself. I think those of us who struggle with depression frequently are. I know that I have a tendency to compare myself to others who don’t have to deal with mental illness. Are they more successful than I am? Do they have a better house? A great job? I’m realistic enough to know that everyone has burdens to carry. Yet it’s hard for me to be optimistic about my life when I can barely get out of bed while my friends are leading fabulous lives.

I’ve worked very hard over the last few years to come to the realization that I am not a failure. The thought creeps into my brain often, but I’m constantly battling it. Suffering through more than 20 years of bipolar disorder and a suicide attempt doesn’t improve my feelings about myself. It’s extremely difficult to turn those thoughts around and tell yourself other people wouldn’t have survived what you’ve been through.

I’ve often struggled with finding my true purpose. It wasn’t until I truly hit rock bottom that I started to become more self-aware. In June of 2013, I succumbed to the symptoms of my illness. I firmly believed that I was not capable of doing anything worthwhile in this lifetime. I decided that my family and friends would be better off without me around and I attempted suicide. I will never forget the look on my husband’s face while they worked on me in the ER. Even thinking about it now gets me extremely emotional. I’m incredibly lucky that I wasn’t successful that day. It has allowed me to put my life into the proper perspective. With a great deal of time to reflect, I came to the realization that I had a voice. With that voice, I was going to try to change the way people perceive mental illness. I would begin a journey of trying to end the stigma.

It started with my blog. Once I made it public, it became an important platform. I had no idea that I could reach so many with my words. I was thrilled to learn that there were people out there who felt I was helping them! I started to consider the possibility of my blog becoming a book. I taught myself some of the ins and outs of social media. The mental health community on Twitter has also been extremely supportive. Every day, more people would come forward to tell me that my words resonated with them. I was starting to see the future. I was put here on this Earth to be an advocate for the mentally ill.

I won’t lie, there have been days when I lost my path. If someone reacted negatively to me or my story, it hit me hard. I received a nasty, threatening email claiming that I was a liar and that I would never help anyone. I was called a selfish narcissist. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my words would be turned against me like that. I’m certainly not sharing my story to look good! I feel like it’s quite the contrary. However, being on the receiving end of something like that hit me hard; The effects lasted days. I truly think having bipolar disorder is a big part of that. We all feel things much deeper. It’s especially hard when the story you’re telling is about your life, and someone says terrible things about it. It feels like a personal attack. Nothing worth doing is easy, so I stayed the course.

It is comforting for me to know that most of my critics have more than likely never had to fight a battle inside their own head every single day. I’m exhausted from that fight, but I’m still moving forward. Finding my purpose in life took a lot longer than I would have expected, but I try not to live in the past.

Am I still hard on myself? Do I still compare myself to others? At times. I think I probably always will. Low self-esteem in certainly a symptom of bipolar disorder. It’s something that I deal with every time I look in the mirror…every time I write. Is it good enough? Am I good enough? One of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn is about being enough. I am enough has become my mantra.

I’m thankful to have finally found my voice, and I’m using it to effect change. We have a lot of work to do, but I firmly believe we can accomplish our goals of putting an end to the stigma surrounding mental illness. I will keep talking. I will keep telling my story. If I help even a handful of people, it will have been worth it.

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Mental Health Month Post #1

By Zakeriah Thomas

Ever since I was a young child I knew I was different. As if I just saw the world either move too fast or too slow. I had a lot of problems growing up. From my random outbursts, to my extremely low points. And as a young child I had no idea how to handle it, how to process it, let alone talk about it. I remember trying to tell my family that I was different and that things were hard, but they couldn’t understand. When I got older I realized that something needed to change, and I needed to know why I was having the thoughts that I was having, and why I was acting and feeling how I was feeling. I started to go to therapy and I was told that I have Depression, Severe Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder. At first I had no idea how to take that information in. Honestly I was scared, and I didn’t want anyone to know. I was ashamed of who I was. I was ashamed that I couldn’t lead a “normal” life. It took so long for me to find the right meds, and still to this day they aren’t that effective. Over the years I’ve learned to grow, and love myself. I had to basically rebuild myself. I lost friends and gained friends because of it. The stigma around mental health is such a heavy load for any person to carry. I’m aware of my flaws, and I embrace them with open arms. That’s all I can do. I’ve had so many challenges over the past 19 years, but to be able to come from where I’ve come from…I wouldn’t have it any other way. #StompOutStigma

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May is Mental Health Month!

MentalHealthMonthThis month is Mental Health Month!

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting stories written by some of our community members about their experiences with mental health and mental health stigma.

What are your plans for mental health month? Feel free to share in the comments!

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Why do you share your story?

-Sharing your story isn_t easy. But it is powerful. It has the power to change perceptions, encourage understanding and provide hope to others. - See more at-There are so many mental health advocates out there who share their stories about their mental health experiences in an effort to help end the stigma that is still so often attached to mental health issues. I would like to thank these people for opening up and sharing their personal experiences, which can sometimes be a scary and intimidating thing to do. Thank you to everybody who is working to promote awareness and understanding– you are doing very important work!

Why do you share your story?

I recently asked our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram followers why they share their story. If you would like to share your reason for sharing your story, feel free to do so in the comments!


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Mind & Body: Type 1 Diabetes and Mental Health

Mind2When you think about the term “health,” what first comes to mind? Physical health? Mental health? Many people place more of an emphasis on physical health, but mental health is just as important. In fact, mind and body are more connected than you might think! Many physical illnesses can increase your risk for certain mental health issues. This post will focus on Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and the effect that it can have on mental health.

What is type 1 diabetes?

According to Beyond Type 1, it is “a chronic, autoimmune condition that occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. This attack leaves the pancreas with little or no ability to produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Without insulin, sugar stays in the blood and can cause serious damage to organ systems, causing people to experience Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).”

People living with T1D must monitor their blood sugar levels and calculate their insulin doses according to their food intake, stress levels, illness, and other factors. Beyond Type 1 notes that “these calculations are rarely perfect resulting in a tremendous emotional and mental burden for both patient and caregivers.”

The cause of T1D is unknown, but studies have shown that it results from a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger. It can not be prevented or cured.

How does this relate to mental health?


Stress is something that everybody experiences at some point during their life, but it can be very harmful to someone with T1D. Beyond Type 1 explains what happens when you get stressed:

Essentially, when the body senses a threat — perceived or actual — it has a physical reaction by releasing the stress hormones of epinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline) and cortisol (also known as the fat-layering hormone). These hormones trigger the liver to produce extra energy called glucose that your cells can then use to fight the threat (super-hero-style) or flee the scene (a.k.a. Road-Runner-exit).

This can be dangerous for someone with T1D because without insulin, the extra glucose energy piles up in their blood and can not reach the cells that it’s supposed to reach; this is called hyperglycemia. People who have T1D need to make sure to be aware of their stress levels in order to avoid any further complications.

Another mental health issue that people with T1D need to be aware of is depression. According to Beyond Type 1, if you have diabetes your risk of developing depression could be up to four times more likely. Mental health and physical health are intertwined, and someone who has T1D and becomes depressed may not manage their diabetes as well as they should, which can lead to complications.

Women with T1D have about two and a half times the chance of developing an eating disorder than someone without T1D. According to We Are Diabetes, the term “diabulimia” has been used (as well as ED-DMT1) for when insulin is withheld in order to manipulate or lose weight.

For more information about type 1 diabetes and its impact on mental health, visit Beyond Type 1’s website.





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Depression: Warning Signs & Symptoms

I decided to write a post about depression because it is one of the most common mental disorders in the US. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 3 to 5 percent of adults are dealing with major depression at any point in time. Here’s what else the ADAA says about depression:

Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general. When these feelings last for a short period of time, it may be a case of “the blues.”

But when such feelings last for more than two weeks and when the feelings interfere with daily activities such as taking care of family, spending time with friends, or going to work or school, it’s likely a major depressive episode. Major depression is a treatable illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and functions.

Active Minds has a list of depression warning signs to look out for in yourself and in others:

  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Resistance to hanging out with friends; isolating
  • Pronounced sadness or expressions of a bleak outlook
  • Significant, usually quick weight loss or gain
  • Noticeable change in sleeping patters; sleeping all day or not at all
  • Excessive apologizing, even when they are not at fault
  • Distracted; inability to read or finish assignments

Beyondblue has put the symptoms into four categories– behavior, feelings, thoughts, and physical:


  • not going out anymore
  • not getting things done at work/school
  • withdrawing from close family and friends
  • relying on alcohol and sedatives
  • not doing usual enjoyable activities
  • unable to concentrate


  • overwhelmed
  • guilty
  • irritable
  • frustrated
  • lacking in confidence
  • unhappy
  • indecisive
  • disappointed
  • miserable
  • sad


  • “I’m a failure.”
  • “It’s my fault.”
  • “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
  • “I’m worthless.”
  • “Life’s not worth living.”
  • “People would be better off without me.”


  • tired all the time
  • sick and run down
  • headaches and muscle pains
  • churning gut
  • sleep problems
  • loss or change of appetite
  • significant weight loss or gain

I would like to note that while many pictures depict depression to look like this…

depression1…you can’t always tell that someone is depressed just by looking at them. This could also be the face of someone with depression:depression2

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a depression screening questionnaire on their website as well as a “Find a Therapist” link. If you think that you  may be depressed you can fill out the questionnaire, print it out, and then bring it to your therapist.

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Excerpt from “Unpacked Sparkle” by Patrick A. Roland

bookExcerpt from Unpacked Sparkle by Patrick A. Roland

Chapter 26 – Royals

So began six days of being locked up in a mostly padded room in a long hallway of corridors that led nowhere, except to the center of the beauty I had finally begun to see in myself. In this place, I began to see myself as I really was; amazingly awesome. The majority of the people I shared this time with were homeless, and some were even far more gone than I. Also, I finally got the diagnosis I needed to set myself free from the bondage of addiction.

After being awake for four days, I finally passed out once I got there. When I awoke and got my bearings, I realized the enormity of my situation. I was locked up against my will. I fell to the ground in wails and sobs. This can’t be happening to me, I thought, crying harder and banging my fists against the counter of the nurses’ station. It also should be noted that I again didn’t have shoes on and I was wearing one of those awful hospital gowns backward for a full two days. None of the orderlies would heed my request for actual clothes. They had even taken my hilarious Mariah t-shirt and sparkly shoes away! Maybe it was a test to see if my anxiety would spiral so they could keep me there longer.

That first day and a half I was still somewhat tired; exhausted actually. I was wary and flushed in the still dazed and confused fog from all the drugs and alcohol I had consumed for four solid days before being forced to stay in this awful holding cell. I wished I had just jumped out that window. My new reality was jarring. There were people talking to themselves, loudly! I surely wasn’t this bad, this bat-shit crazy, was I?

Yes, I was.

On the second full day, things began to change. I was taken to a different unit where the crazy was more high functioning and bright. I was finally among my people! It was there that I was ushered into a tiny room where for the first time a doctor, a swarthy, jubilant Middle Eastern man much like Nali, looked me in the eye, and not away from me. All the previous doctors in places like this had looked away, because I was crazy and not worth humanly acknowledging. But this man said exactly what I needed to hear to finally save me from myself. This kind-looking and calm man made me feel safe and cared for in the brutally honest moment of the diagnosis he was about to give me. I was crazy, with papers to prove it!

“Has anyone ever told you, you’re bi-polar?” he asked.

Suddenly everything made sense. Every single thing! The dramatic highs and the crushing lows; the sum total of all my experiences thus far. Now that I knew what I was dealing with, really and amazingly dealing with, I knew I could and would never use drugs or drink alcohol again. This revelation finally and totally opened me up to a life worth living and to all its beautiful potential and possibility. After all, the crazy thoughts in my head are already manic and overwhelming enough. Adding chemicals to them only makes them worse, more heightened, and completely unmanageable.

Alcohol had played a major role in this final experience. I was able to admit that I was an alcoholic, something I had not been able to do before, even when I voluntarily went to rehab two times prior. Both times I knew drugs were my ultimate demise, but I had never fully admitted that alcohol was a problem too. The first half of my thirties were marked by nightly binge-drinking that almost always resulted in blackouts before I found drugs and really messed up everything I had going for me.

I had enjoyed many lengthy days in a row of what I labeled real sobriety. Yet that one, or maybe the second glass of wine at happy hour was always the back door in which I backslid into drug use. First with pot, because I was drinking and I was fine! But then with meth. I knew now I had to stop this vicious cycle with which I was ruining my life, because I actually wanted to live!

So I stood in my truth, rolled around in it, let the bitch marinate, and decided to accept it. I was a gay bi-polar, alcoholic drug-addicted widow, and I was never prouder or more sure of myself. I actually found myself in this sanitarium humming along to the lyrics of the very song in which I first experienced love when I was eleven, “The Greatest Love of All.” For the first time ever, I was taking on the very self-loving and self-motivating words to own and live by. I found myself in love.

With my new diagnosis opening me up to a new kind of self-revelation and ultimate truth, I found myself thriving in this hospital. I was social, I was smart, I was open, I was artsy, I was athletic, and I was capable. I was all these things and more, and I had forgotten all of these very true facts about myself in that long spiral of grief that had caused my very undoing. In that negative space, I had neglected all of the things he had loved about me, all the things he made me realize I loved about myself, and all the things I had loved while he was alive. Only now I knew I had to make it through the wilderness alone. For I was really, wholly, and newly like a virgin and I was ready to take on life with a new sense of passion and purpose like I never had before.

Of my newfound strength, I have told people that even though I didn’t jump out of that Vegas casino window, I did finally learn to fly. I found life in the act of trying to end it. All the bad things that had plagued and ultimately ruined me had also left me that very night in that life-changing hotel room. My mom had finally stepped up and loved me enough to call me on my bullshit and ultimately make me call myself on my own bullshit and finally man-up and really and completely live.

By live, I mean do everything that a person like me needs to do to survive. Get a sponsor. Go to meetings. Do charity and service work. Write it out. Help others. Actually take care of my parents, which I can do now because I can take care of myself! Thrive at work. Make friends. Get over resentments. Solve problems. Take classes. Grow and mature. I finally grew up, no longer that scared, broken little boy that all those things happened to. Now I was the one who made things happen, and I do.

I want to say for the record, that none of this would be possible without the love, encouragement, and support of the people I shared those six days with. Beautifully broken people just like myself who are heroes to me. “Royals” if you will. No matter where this new lease on life, this new journey takes me, I’ll never forget any of those beautiful people whose faces were like mirrors. I was finally and ultimately able to see my beautiful reflection in them. You have my word that I’m going to keep fighting, for me, for us, and for all the beautifully broken people who haven’t found their way yet.

Not only am I in your corner and on your side, I’m on your team.


Published by:
Az Publishing Services, LLC

Mesa, AZ 85203

First edition copyright: c2016, Patrick A. Roland

All rights reserved. No part of this book my be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,

or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission of the author.

Printed and distributed in coordinated with:
Az Publishing Services, LLC

Mesa, Arizona 85203

ISBN: 978-1-944826-32-1

Printed in the United States of America

Cover Design by Mark Greenawalt

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Mental Health Support Groups & How to Start Your Own

Recreation and mental health. We all know that becoming active in the community is important in improving our mental health. But what happens when you feel too depressed to get out to see existing friends and networks? What happens even if you have no strong friendships and networks to begin with? Have you ever considered starting your own network?

After battling my own mental health, which included a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder and a suicide attempt, it took me five years to reach a point where I felt I recovered from my worst battles. However, despite the many friends and networks I made in this period through following my passions of photography, Motorsport, tennis, cycling, and volunteering, I still had an idea to create a network for mental health people to join together and battle their illness together. The idea I had was this group was to be proactive. Rather just sitting and talking about the issues we faced I wanted to be doing something recreational just as a matter of distraction and as an enabler to encourage us to grow and develop further as people.

In June 2016 I did just that and founded the Perth Active Depression Support Group. It’s a clunky name I admit, but I wanted to promote being active and being about mental health, hence why I went for the long name. The group started on meetup and before my first event, which was 10 days after I established myself on Meetup, I had 100 members sign up. I’ve grown the group to just under 600 member members in 8 months and now host a variety of meetups across the Perth community. I now have a team of volunteer interns that help me to grow and run more events, and I’m in the process of incorporating the group as a not for profit organisation.

The purpose of this guest blog post is to outline how I grew this group so quickly and to inspire you to do the same if you have a similar passion like me to improve your, and other peoples, mental health. It’s hard to keep this concise as there is a lot to pass on, but if you feel like you want to reach out to me for tips I encourage you to email me on or get in touch on social media.

1Utilise the resources you have available to get started

There are many resources you can start to establish your group that are available now for use. It costs nothing to establish a Facebook page or an account on Instagram, Twitter, and other various social media. Learning to market your group is going to be a critical issue in developing the following for a group.

One clever tip I learned was to repackage Instagram posts into my own unique style. There are hundreds of motivational and mental health accounts on Instagram and they provide plenty of material you can use for your own account. Rather than re-posting their posts (which is stealing in my opinion), what I do is copy the quotes they post, which are often generic and not attributable to a person, and mix them into my own photos. I have learned to use apps like Adobe Spark (free) and other word art photo apps to make unique looking graphics with textures and imagery that are eye catching. It’s the equivalent of music artists sampling old artist’s songs and turning them into a new style.

One paid network that you should tap into however is Meetup. Meetup is the basis of my group and one of the best ways to find new members and manage RSVPs as they have optimised their search engine results to be found at top of google rankings when you search for support groups online. It’s more effective than Facebook events and doesn’t cost too much (I pay $15 AUD per month) to run.

 2Tap into existing community resources

Once you have your meetup group running and have done some marketing on social media, the next step is to spread the word in the community. While social media is great, there is simply no substitute for in-person networking. Local government councils and entrepreneurial co-working spaces are a great source of meeting people to take your idea to the next level.

One of the greatest resources I tapped into for my group was a local Neighbourhood Soup event, which is a community dinner where people pay $10 for soup & bread and get to hear three great community projects pitch their ideas on how to improve the community. I won the soup event, which gave me $890 to purchase a bunch of board games to run a monthly board games night for the group. Yes, the money was incredible, but what was even better were the people I connected to that evening. I met people from the local council as well as local businesses and other significant people in the community that helped me to grow my project. No amount of money could substitute that good will.

After pitching at the soup event I connected with other like-minded organisations that could assist my cause. Some of the examples included Act Belong Commit, an advertising campaign promoting mental health in Western Australia, the Consumers of Mental Health WA, a mental health advocacy body, and Connect Groups WA, a support group with the purpose of helping develop other support groups. I hope you as a reader have access to resources like this in your local community. If you do, take action to connect with them in person.

3Link in with other mental health services

 One thing I have come to learn about the mental health sector is that amongst organisations that are all competing for funding, there is a great sense of cooperation amongst groups. Since starting my group I have met with many players in the industry that are interested in the ideas I have and telling their client bases about what we are doing. Linking in with established mental health providers, particularly ones that are tied to servicing clients on an individual basis, will help to grow your cause and provide a basis of clients you need to sustain activities.


Be patient4

Take your time to develop your group. When I started I didn’t have an idea of where I would run it in terms of geographical area. When I won the Soup event, I decided to base the activities in the local area that the Soup serviced. This was in part due to the connections I made on that night, and this area is very central in Perth, catering to people living both in the north and the south. As I now have a base that I can rely upon, I can look to spreading the activities to other areas in the Perth community, but this too will take time. You can’t service everyone at the start, but if you grow with careful planning and good people around you, there is an ability to spread your cause.


5Keep persisting

There will be a few bumps that you will feel when starting your group. If your group is predominantly online based to start like mine was, you will notice this straight away. One problem I had was people would RSVP and not show up. This was down to many reasons, from people forgetting about their RSVP to people being too affected by their mental health to come. Don’t take this personally. Instead, keep informing, persuading and reminding people of what you are trying to achieve. You will have some fantastic experiences on some days, quiet moments on others. Just don’t give up at the start.


Be creative6

The final tip: do things you are interested in. If you like swimming in a pool, host a meetup at a public pool.  If you like walks, take people for a walk. If you like board games, host a board games night. Your passion will show in the meetups you do. I recommend doing a mix of recurring and non-recurring meetups for your members to provide a mix of consistency and reliability respectively.



Well, I hope I inspire you to create a group like mine in your local neighbourhood. It’s a very entrepreneurial thing to do and such a rewarding experience. Below are links to my groups social media. If you ever feel like getting in touch, please email me at or on the social media links below.


About the author

Rahul Seth is a qualified member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, but has recently switched career paths from working as an accountant into working in the mental health industry. A long-standing volunteer with TEDxPerth, Rahul enjoys Formula 1, tennis, cycling and photography. Rahul is the founder of the Perth Active Depression Support Group, a group he founded that now has a member base of 600 people in 8 months, that promotes and runs various recreational activities to improve the mental health of its members.

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Pets as Mental Health Support

I recently posted an article on End The Stigma’s Facebook page titled “It’s Time to Take Pets Seriously as Mental Health Support,” and I asked some of our community members to post a picture of their pet and to write a little bit about how their pet helps them with their mental health. Here’s what some of them had to say:


Hollan: My dog Tucker literally gives me a reason to wake up every morning. Nothing would be worth it without him. He hurts when I hurt and he feels what I feel. He’s stopped me in the middle of injuring myself by laying on top of my arms. He is my full support system.

Debbie: This is Shasta the wonderdog. She is a rescue…but she saves me daily. She goes everywhere with me and follows both voice and hand commands with adoring pleasure. She sleeps with me and lets me know of anyones presence near me or my home. When I work outdoors as a gardener. She picks the highest spot and watches over me…..with her back to me and constantly scouting the area with her careful gaze. I have PTSD and social anxiety and she makes it bearable to go to my support groups….and that also benefits everyone else who meets her. She really is the best.

8Kaitlin: These are my babies. They keep me strong. I got the torbie Ariel (the one in front) specifically as therapy cat. She is amazingly affectionate

3Ann: Without my two beautiful boys, I wouldn’t know how to live. They are the world to me ❤

4Letha: My char char Binks pup. She will come up when she senses I’m hurting and nuzzle me,make me pet her she snuggles me in bed every night and is just a great emotional support all around

5Hannah: My dog, Shiloh does wonders for me. There’s nothing better than a happy dog greeting you at the door after a long night of class. I’m a student clinical mental health counselor and see a lot of value in the emotional support dogs can have for anyone. Whether it be snuggling next to you when you’re down or making you go outside because they want to play fetch. Dogs are invaluable in many ways ❤

6Sam: My dog Bella is my support system, I have depression, anxiety, ASD, DID, OCD, suicidal tendencies and self harming behavior and if I’m having a rough day she never fails to make me smile.

7Audrey: This is Tig. He meets me when I get home and keeps me company as I live alone. He curls up next to me as I do work or crafts reminding me I am not alone. I also have a chronic illness and knows when I don’t feel well. He curls up around my arm and relaxes me till we both sleep.

img_20161211_211851732Lauren: Dexter is the best little buddy that I could ever ask for! He makes me laugh a lot, he keeps me company all the time, and he makes me so happy. Loving him and taking care of him is very beneficial for my mental health, and I don’t know what I’d do without him!

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Introspection & Self-Care

5c75235edf52f04764297bfe76154474This past fall I began my first semester of graduate school as a Clinical Mental Health Counseling student. It was a stressful and exhausting semester since I was working part-time and choreographing a high school musical on top of being in school full-time, but I made it through and I now have a better idea of what kind of school/work/theatre/relaxation balance I need in order to be less stressed out.

Part of the work that I did during my first semester involved a lot of self-reflection and getting a deeper understanding of who I am as a person, because this will be important for me to know as a future mental health counselor. Here is what I have learned about myself in the past year or so in regards to taking care of myself mentally:

I am not good at getting things done. I’m most productive in the morning. In order to get errands, homework, etc. done (without waiting until the last minute), I need to start getting it done as soon as I get up in the morning. Otherwise it’s too much of a struggle to find my motivation.

Being around people for a significant period of time drains my energy, and I need more relaxation and recuperation time than most people I know.

Too much rest and relaxation at home will make me feel cooped up. This is especially annoying when I feel cooped up but am also lacking the motivation to do anything else. Having some kind of structure in my day can be very good for me and make me feel more mentally balanced.

It can be difficult for me to calm myself down when I’m having an anxiety attack. I’ve learned the importance of having somebody in my life who is willing to help me calm down during these times. My boyfriend is amazing when I’m experiencing anxiety at any level, and even though he may not understand it, he handles it in the best way possible. I’ve never had anybody in my life who helps my anxiety like this before, and I feel very lucky.

At this point in my life, I have been recovered from depression (and significant anxiety) for the same amount of time that I had struggled with it. However, I still have moments from time to time in which I experience overwhelming anxiety, and a few days a year I find that I’m having what I call a “sad day,” which is where I feel down and like I’m going to cry for no reason. On these days I need to be especially gentle with myself. It can be very frustrating to feel that way out of the blue, but I now know how to take care of myself. On these days I don’t push  myself. I let myself rest and try to maintain positive self-talk, no matter how frustrated I may be with myself.

I think it’s important to try to understand yourself and how your mind and body react to certain stressors in life in order to be able to effectively self-care, especially if you are living with a mental illness. While having a deeper understanding of myself will help me professionally one day, it also helps me on a day to day basis. Take a moment to get to know yourself.

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