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.

Photo by lisboa ind. on Unsplash

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.

###

downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign 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. 

#11: I am capable.

Photo by Egbe Egbe on Unsplash

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.

###

downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign 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. 

#10: I never let them define me.

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

Words by Kim | Age 24 

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

Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Binge Eating Disorder.

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

 Though at one time these all made me feel like they were controlling me, I am able to control them now. I am impacted by the effects of these disorders every single day, but I (try to) never let them consume or define me.

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

 I wish I could unlearn the stigma around them all individually. Just because I have mental illnesses doesn’t mean that I am lesser of a person and unable to do “normal” things like everyone else.

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 and be willing to listen. If we had all the answers, we wouldn’t be where we are. It’ll take us time to make sense of mental illnesses and how they affect us, so be patient with us while we learn how to cope with it. When we need a listening ear, do just that. We don’t need advice or a fix (sometimes), that’s what our therapist is for; we need a friend who wants to be supportive.

Visit Kim Cataldo’s Instagram

###

downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign 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. 

#9: It’s one of the hardest things to live with.

Photo by Éva Balogh on Unsplash

Words by Anonymous

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

Anxiety & depression. 

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

It’s one of the hardest things to live with, but with the right support and love around you, you can get through it. You are not alone.

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

The stigma surrounding them. I feel there is a certain stigma around people with mental health where we can be portrayed as ‘abnormal’. I feel that if more people understood that mental health is not abnormal, and that there are many people who will experience  anxiety, depression, OCD, etc., at least once in their lives, then people may feel more comfortable talking about it.

I personally have been very lucky with a supportive social network of friends and family around me. Some of those people have actually experienced what I am going through first hand and can empathize with my feelings. I do not expect nor hope for everyone to be able to empathize with what I am going through.

I just wish for them to be supportive to help me through this difficult time.

I hope that in the future everyone who experiences mental health will receive some type of support – whether that be from friends, family, or organizations who work hard to let people know that they are not alone and mental health is not abnormal. It is okay to talk about it and it is okay to not feel okay.

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?

Make them feel like they can talk about how they are feeling. Take time you listen, help them to enjoy the little things in life and keep loving them.

###

downloadDOPE SWEATSHIRT, HUH? With 29K+ Twitter followers, Let’s Stop Here is a social justice movement aimed at helping with issues surrounding bullying, mental health, racism, sexism, LGBTQ+, and disability issues.

Get your sweatshirt + support their latest campaign 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. 

To The Person Who Wants to Give Up Because Their Work Is Undervalued

So, no one is showing up. The retweets aren’t coming. Your inbox is empty. The callback never came. No one seems to notice what you’re sharing with the world. You feel like you’re wasting your time.

Only a few people have seen your work and said: “Well done.”  Others were confused or uninterested.

You seek more validation, but you’re seemingly insatiable. You await the moment when all that you do is considered credible.

What do your friends say? What do your co-workers say? What do your toughest critics say?

Somehow, what you believe about yourself doesn’t matter as much. It doesn’t hold much weight.

This process leaves you feeling isolated. Some of this is a result of you pushing away those who actually matter. Some of this is the sadness that comes with you concluding that you don’t measure up.

Let’s be clear about this. You’ve been working your absolute hardest for a long time. You’ve cried from the exhaustion.

There are stacks of dusty rough drafts no one is allowed to see. Some ideas are tucked away because they’re too outrageous, outlandish, impractical.

“This won’t work. And it if does, no one will like it.” Bitterness and hopelessness taken up residence. They appear to be permanent tenants.

You’re giving up.

You think back to that time someone told you that your work sucked. Maybe they laughed at you. Maybe they minimized everything you brought forth. Maybe they promised they’d show up, but they didn’t. It was just an audience of one: Disappointment.

Disappointment has been hovering over every single one of your creations. It muddies things. It renders you incapable of seeing all those other good and needed parts of you.

Because you are needed. Your work is needed. What you have to give is what you have to give. No one can take that away from you.

Alas, the most formidable threat to your work, the most challenging adversary to all that you will ever do or create, is you. Every time you pull back and keep your gifts, skills, talents, products, projects, music, cuisine, teaching, love, dancing, writing, anything from the the world, someone loses.

This is not to say that everything you do is ground-breaking or awe-inspiring. It is to say that the thing which you’ve put a lot into matters.

You have no idea of who is better off because you’re here. And, you don’t get to say all of what your positive impact has been on others.

You’d surely miss something.

You don’t truly get to say what your work can and can’t do, because you will never be able to read the heart and mind of everyone whose path you’ve crossed.

While you’re permitted to give up, quit, run away, hide, or shrink someone misses out on their blessing.

Every time you hide your light, someone loses. 

All of your fears, feelings, and reluctance is valid because hurt is real and harm is sometimes everlasting. Guilt nor shame have any place here.

This is simply a reminder: what you have to give matters so much.

I say all this with grace and love and openness, knowing that everyone doesn’t have the access and privilege and space to do all they wish to do. This is about all that you can give right where you are right now. Whether it be glamorous, or unassuming. Require funding or none at all.

I say this from the deepest parts of me because I too have wanted to give up so many times (and have) because I didn’t get the feedback I wanted. I didn’t get the response I thought I needed. I created and created and no one came. There have been times when I’ve set things up and no one showed up.

I can easily call back those feelings. At times, I still feel afraid of launching something new, sharing something I care about, or showing others my work. I’ve faced rejection countless times.

What’s often hurt most is feeling misunderstood and convincing myself that what I do isn’t actually useful to anyone. But, today, I’m sure that my values have been misplaced when it comes to this. My assumptions have been inaccurate.

I’m not here to share my light in order to receive validation. I’m not here to be the biggest change this world has ever seen. I wasn’t purposed to create just so others can show up and say: “Wow, that was just what I needed.”

To be honest, I don’t fully know why I’m here. But, what I do know is that there’s power in continuing to create, show up, and put out the best work that I can. Consistency got me to today. Consistency had me up at night writing this message to you. Consistency is what has made me a better husband, friend, writer, performer, supervisor, colleague, practitioner, speaker, Christian, human.

Not perfection. I’m wholly imperfect. Not fame. It’s fleeting.

Consistency: showing up again and again because all of this means something to someone, and it’s all so much bigger than me, and so much bigger than you. 

It’s worth it because at least one person will come across what I’ve made, what I’ve let flow through me, and will benefit from it. All that you’ve been given, all that you’ve worked for, and all that you have, isn’t just for you.

If you’ve been hiding the parts of you that could potentially be a gift to someone else, I encourage to set aside a few minutes and consider the following prompts:

 

  • What if my work – though rough, unfinished, incomplete – could help someone else?
  • What if all the bad that was said about what I create was only part of the story? What if there’s some good they missed?
  • What if I’m keeping a blessing/gift/invitation from someone else who needs it by holding back what I have to give?
  • Am I waiting too long for this thing to be perfect? 
  • What permission do I need to just push this out and see where it lands, fail, and try again? 

If you want to process this with someone, you know I’m here. You can reach out to me anytime.

I also encourage you to reach out to someone who does the work you do or makes the thing you make or is on the path you’re on. See what they have to say. Challenge yourself to open your heart a little and share something real. Then, actually listen.

This is what was on my heart today. I’m glad I didn’t hide it.

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Subscribe to my newsletter: Join the 2,000+ readers who get real talk, inspiration, and love in their inboxes each week. Visit the sign up page to subscribe

This podcast episode goes right for the heart!

certificate of.jpg

Episode 12: You are not your mental illness. 

Guest: Ariel Davis 

 

Listen on iTunes                    Listen on Podbean

 

Today’s guest is the illustrious Ariel Davis.

Ariel’s bio: “I am a woman, mother, wife, educator, survivor and jane of all trades.” 

Here are some notabe topics and quotes from today’s episode: 

  • So much negativity in the world would end if everyone believed in their own self.
  • Why people need to define self-care for themselves
  • Why the entire to-do list doesn’t need to be done today.
  • Mental health in the Black community
  • The layers of intersectionality and grief
  • Ariel’s experience with anxiety and the “scenarios” that’d play in her head
  • Perfection and OCD
  • “When any two people try to merge their lives, there’s going to be challenges.”
  • “I have the mental illness, the mental illness doesn’t have me.”
  • Ariel’s Instagram
  • Cards for the Culture