Call for Submissions: June Blog Series

I’m currently accepting submissions for my June 2018 blog series:  “And Yet, We Belong”.

If you’d like to be a part of it, send 500-700 words to me at hello@thesapronextdoor.com about:

  • A time you felt you didn’t belong
  • How you navigated it
  • Lessons learned

The deadline is Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Not all submissions will be published, but you should totally send in something if you feel called to.

This can be about work, school, relationships, family, race, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, nationality, etc.

I’m looking for honest and descriptive stories from the heart to impact others.

Can’t wait to see what you send in!

Questions? Email me at hello@thesapronextdoor.com

 

#18: I’m still putting the pieces of myself back together.

Words by Anonymous

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Depression. A lot of it is rooted in a very contentious custody battle that my parents fought for six years. I was put in the middle. Although my father was wonderful in a lot of ways, he often bad-mouthed my mother in front of me, and devoted a substantial portion of his time to telling me what a bad parent and person she was. He died when I was 16 and I went to live with my mother.

By this point, I viewed my mother as an untrustworthy, negative influence — at best — and I hated myself. I was – and still am – a lot like her. After all, she’s one half of who I am.

As a result, I held hostility towards my mom for a long time, which affected our relationship. Nearly 15 years later, I’m still putting the pieces of myself back together.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

I want people to know I’m in a lot of pain. I keep imagining someone saying to me, “well, you can just get over this” or thinking this is like, a personality construct to feed something depraved within myself or get attention. But only a person who hasn’t been clinically depressed would say that. I’ve often found the people who are so righteous and quick to judge are those who have no experience with this illness whatsoever.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

I’m trying to figure out how to not let this incapacitate me. It’s easier said than done.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?:

If they have activities they like to do, support that (i.e. guitar, painting, gardening, etc.). Activities and hobbies can help keep a person in the moment, solely on the task at hand, and provide a respite from the pervasiveness of depression and anxiety.

I strongly believe that most people living with a mental illness want more than anything to feel normal. Judgments will serve as a reminder that they don’t feel normal. This doesn’t end well.

The person providing support needs to be an active participant in their own treatment. Mental illness has already compromised their agency. So, their job is to help the person nurture it, and there is no setting more powerful in which to do it than when discussing treatment.

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DOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29,000+ Twitter followers, Lets Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+ and disability issues. They’re running an awesome campaign which supports efforts suicide prevention and ending mental stigma. Get your own sweatshirt by visiting the campaign page today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

 

#17: I’m still carrying a ton of shame about it.

 

Words by Anonymous

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Anxiety with symptoms of dissociative disorder. I’ve been unable to get out of bed for the last couple of weeks.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

I’ve only been going to therapy for about 8 months now and honestly, I haven’t told anyone about it. My parents don’t know and I’ve mentioned therapy to a few friends but no details have been shared.

I’m still carrying a ton of shame about it and I worry that if I tell people, they’ll think I’m weak. I’m working on it, but my response to any kind of feelings right now is either to spiral out or completely shut down.

I don’t feel in control of myself.

I’d like people to know that I’m still me but sometimes I just need a little kindness that I haven’t learned to give myself yet.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

I want to unlearn this philosophy of “suck it up and get to work” that I’ve been fed since I was a child. It makes it really tough to be nice on myself on bad days.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

Just be open to listening to them. Even if it’s uncomfortable, just listen, don’t offer solutions, don’t tell them about some cousin of your’s who fought depression by going to the gym or having a baby or something. Just listen.

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DOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29,000+ Twitter followers, Lets Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+ and disability issues. They’re running an awesome campaign which supports efforts suicide prevention and ending mental stigma. Get your own sweatshirt by visiting the campaign page today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

#16: I’m learning to accept myself for who I am.

Words by Anonymous

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Chronic Depression, General Anxiety Disorder and PTSD.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

It takes strength to live my life with ongoing mental challenges including: listening to my doctor and therapist, doing proper self care, and working hard so that my illness remains in my corner and does not bleed into anyone else. My goal is to be the best I can be each day.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

A mental illness left without treatment will control one’s life. I am learning to stop this control. I am different from other people and that is okay. I’m learning to accept myself for who I am with my illness.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

Seek outside support. One cannot do it on their own. I spent a year in bed with my deepest depression. My family cared for me, but I had to be honest and start caring for myself. I was scared to get help. My doctor literally saved my life and brought me out of the woods. If your loved one will not get help, then the caregiver must get help for themselves. The support person cannot allow the illness of a loved one to rule their life. Resentment or being held a victim is not loving

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DOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29,000+ Twitter followers, Lets Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+ and disability issues. They’re running an awesome campaign which supports efforts suicide prevention and ending mental stigma. Get your own sweatshirt by visiting the campaign page today! 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

 

#15: It’s only a fraction of who I am.

Words by Gailen | Age 55

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Anxiety, Depression and mild OCD, with the occasional panic attack just for giggles

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

It’s only a fraction of who I am. It also is a wonderful piece of me. I am kinder, more thoughtful, more empathetic.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

Believing the crap my inner critic tells me.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

Be patient, never tell to just relax, hold space for them and ask them what they need at that moment! Be non judgmental.

Follow Gailen on Instagram. 

 

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download
DOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29,000+ Twitter followers, Lets Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+ and disability issues. They’re running an awesome campaign which supports efforts suicide prevention and ending mental stigma. Get your own sweatshirt by visiting the campaign page today! 

 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

#14: It’s completely invisible to others unless I tell them.

Words by Emily

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

I have PTSD from childhood which mostly manifests right now as hyper-vigilance, but which has also caused (and sometimes still causes) depression and anxiety at different times in my life.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

First of all, PTSD doesn’t always come from one traumatic event – it can also come from a sustained unsafe situation that can be harder to put your finger on.
But more importantly, my hyper-vigilance makes me really productive, acutely tuned to social situations, and constantly adjusting. In other words, it’s completely invisible to others unless I tell them.

People often think I really “have it together”.

It can be extremely isolating and painful to have a mental illness that’s invisible to others.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with? 

I want to unlearn that I am in constant danger. So, so badly.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

This is so hard. On one hand I want to say: please, please be patient. Please.
On the other hand I want to say: it is ok to kindly, gently (and in appropriate moments) remind me that my illness is affecting you. My illness’s affect on my loved ones is one of the biggest motivators to take care of myself and manage it.

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download
DOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29,000+ Twitter followers, Lets Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+ and disability issues. They’re running an awesome campaign which supports efforts suicide prevention and ending mental stigma. Get your own sweatshirt by visiting the campaign page today! 

 

 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

#13: Sit with me and wait until it passes.

Words by Gina | Age 22 

 

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Currently, I’m living with anxiety.

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

If there was one thing that I want people to know about anxiety it would be that it’s different from stress. Stress is the negative energy before a test or if you just realized you have three assignments due tomorrow. Stress comes and goes and is mainly situational. Our society uses the term “anxiety” a lot of times when they really mean “stress.” There’s a big difference.

Anxiety (for me) is this constant state of energy. Think of a soda can being shaken constantly. That’s how my body feels all of the time. Like, I have all of this energy that just is bottled up inside. It’s similar to holding in emotions but more related to energy. Not energy to go on a run per say but like constant worrying, constant thoughts…similar to the consistent shaking of a soda can.

Sometimes I have to sit and just like refocus my energy because there is so much of it going in so many different places. Not like ADD or ADHD though because for me it’s more about weeding through so many emotions and feelings rather than other tasks.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

As I was writing this blog post, it reminded me to take my medication for my mental illness! Medication is an important part of mental illness for many people. For me, it helps me feel balanced with the rest of the world. I can tell within 10 minutes of starting my day if I forgot to take my medication because I immediately feel off.

To be honest, though, I’m unlearning the stigma that is behind taking “store-bought” hormones as some call them. There are times where I wonder if something is wrong with me because I have to take store-bought medication for something that’s “all in my head” so to speak.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

To someone who loves a person with a mental illness, the piece of advice I would give is to be patient. There have been so many times when I can’t be patient with myself because my anxiety is getting the best of me. When I’m in those moments, I need someone who will more than likely just sit with me and wait until it passes, because it will. Also, some fresh baked cookies or ice cream don’t hurt either. 🙂

Gina Mariano’s Twitter

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Looking to write your own truth? Have some kind words for the writer of these words? Feel free to share in the comment section below. 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

If the idea of pressing send is scaring the crap out of you.

Step 1: Start with where you want to be at the end of this decision.

Will this make you healthier? Smarter?

Will you end up in the relationship you’ve been wanting for so long?

Will it bring you closer to God?

Will this help you set a boundary you’ve been needing ever since your best friend told you, “You really seem down every time you get off the phone with them.”

Will this make your heart sing? Will it help you to confront those bones in your closet?

Imagine what the end could look like. Sink into it. Write about it. Put yourself there.

Do you like what you see? Is it worth moving towards? Is it worth suffering for – long nights, sacrifice, awkwardness, loss?

If it’s worth it, move to the next step.

Step 2: Consider the terrible things. All of them.

What if this decision leads to a complete flop? What if you receive negative feedback – like, the darkest parts of Yelp bad?

What if they say no? What if there’s no response?

What if you gain the weight back two weeks later?

What if you lose all your funding? Friends? Comfort?

Again, imagine what this could look like. Failure is a real possibility. So is heartache. So is pain. So is looking like a complete fool.

What do you see? Are you able to bounce back from it?

Do you need help healing from how it all turned out? Maybe it’s not that bad? Maybe it is.

If it’s too dangerous or risky or damaging, re-consider. Phone a friend. Scale back.

If it’s something you can handle, move to the next step.

My own thoughts can often be catastrophic and pessimistic. Sometimes, they come so fast, I don’t even notice they’re just thoughts. They appear to be truths. I find myself stuck and believing that nothing will work out and that everything will be overwhelming and ugly and terrible. In my best moments, I’m able to pull back and look at the facts.

Oh, and that’s the next step.

Step 3: Check the facts.

How much more do you actually need in order to make this thing happen?

How much do they really matter (the ones you might lose)?

What are the benefits of this?

Are you the first person ever to attempt to do this?

You’re probably not. And you’re definitely not the first person to be afraid of doing a thing. Doesn’t make it any less scary, does it?

Maybe it does.

I hope you can find some reassurance in knowing that it’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay for your hands to shake, your voice to crack, your eyes to water.

Final Step: Press send.

Do the thing. Take the first step. Make the move. Risk appearing to be bold, out of your league, bigger than you really are, braver than all who came before you.

Dare to do something for yourself. Dare to do something for someone else.

Dare to start before you’re ready.

Some folks never really are. Even the person you’ve been comparing yourself to this entire time.

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#12: I can get through the day.

Words by Marlissa | Age 19

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Social anxiety and depression. 

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

Most days you feel as if nothing good has ever happened to you in your life. Sometimes you can’t even look in the mirror without being disgusted and ashamed of yourself. It’s hard to function properly and be the person you want to be.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

I can’t use them as an excuse to give up easily. I have to recognize that I can get through the day. Even if it feels like today was ruined, tomorrow’s a new one.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

Try to always be there for them, whether it’s listening to them talk, giving them space, sitting in silence, writing encouraging notes, or texting them frequently. Try to be as understanding as you can. Research the mental illness they have and let them know you’re trying to understand them more.

Tell them they’re not alone and that you love them.

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Looking to write your own truth? Have some kind words for the writer of these words? Feel free to share in the comment section below. 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage. 

#11: I am capable.

Words by Anonymous | Age 20

What mental illness(es) are you currently living with?

Depression, anxiety and PTSD. 

What’s one thing you want others to know about your mental illness?

I’m not lazy. My failure to achieve everything I should be able to is not out of laziness. I am not forgetful because I haven’t completed the simple tasks I know I must. Rather, the anxiety that accompanies these tasks manifests in debilitating ways. I am not lazy because of the sheer amount of time spent in my bed, but I am incapable of facing the day. At one point in my life I woke up eager to challenge myself, and was full of curiosity surrounding the excitements that the day may entail. Now, I awake after limited sleep with an ache and with feelings of angst for having to face reality.  My approach to the day is a matter of simply getting by. There is no desire to push the boundaries. Behind my ‘lazy’ front is a thought process far more complex than you can imagine.

What’s one thing you’re seeking to unlearn about the mental illness(es) you live with?

That I am incapable. When I believe this it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I shy away from every opportunity. This scenario of me filling in these boxes is a major step for me. My conception that I am incapable renders me avoiding all things that are not absolutely necessary. I assume I cannot do things due to my mental illness. I wish to unlearn this, as I have often accidentally and sometimes purposefully demonstrated that I am capable.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who loves a person living with a mental illness, and wants to support them?

Be gentle and patient. Some days are worse than others. Do not shame them in any way for seeking professional help or even considering medication. You may not be able to comprehend this experience and thus, the way you react to your own ‘down’ moods is not necessarily appropriate in this case. If they want to cry, let them and hold them and give them a safe space to release this emotion. Don’t try and force them to avoid their emotions and rally them up to “pull [themselves] together.” This is not always easy. I can promise you that we are trying, and the fact that you are trying is the most reassuring thing.

 

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Looking to write your own truth? Have some kind words for the writer of these words? Feel free to share in the comment section below. 


ABOUT THE SERIES

There’s someone that needs to hear that mental illness doesn’t define us. There’s a lot of noise out there about who we are and what we’re capable of. But, we get to speak for ourselves. That’s why this series exists. It’s a small but meaningful addition to Mental Health Awareness MonthStorytelling can break chains and make us feel less alone. Our truths can help others see the other side of a thing, of a person. Our stories can help someone feel a little more empowered, and a little more hopeful. Each series storyteller was brave enough to share a piece of their truth.

To view more stories from the series, visit the series homepage.