#CoVOID

It is certainly a weird time to be alive right now. As the world and myself slowly move out of our COVID-19 quarantines, I’m still lost on how I should handle “normal life”- is it safe to go out to my favorite places? Can I make plans to visit my sick mom a few states away? Am I able to hug my friends again? With all the information out there, am I being informed or misinformed? I feel stuck. I’ve felt stuck most of my life but this time, I’m a hard time shaking this off. 

When I first started quarantining back in March, my introverted heart was ecstatic. I get to spend all this alone time doing hobbies and not seeing anyone in the flesh. I quarantined with my boyfriend, which proved to be disastrous (we broke up but got back together a month later. We don’t quarantine together anymore). Even though I love hanging out with him, I realized how much I miss my friends and what a vital part of my good mental health they attributed to. I’m lonely for them. 

I’ve been fortunate to work during this time. While I have issues with my job (ie. my hours have been slashed to very part-time), I’m grateful for my position. I can still pay my rent and buy groceries. I’m still job hunting for something better, something in marketing or editorial with full-time hours and health insurance. I send out applications every day and average an interview a week. I should feel lucky with getting interviews but I know that so many people are not working right now and are applying for the same positions I am. My Imposter Syndrome kicks in, mixing with my depression- I honestly feel like I’m not going to find that job until sometime next year. I’m worry about my finances. 

I stopped reading the news. I usually know what’s going on in the world and now, I don’t (I didn’t know about the explosion in Beirut until two days after the accident). I’m off all social media platforms except Twitter (hey, I need one vice). I don’t make much of an effort with my appearance anymore. I stopped wearing makeup since my mask covers must of it. A good day for me is one where I can make it through work and then still have the energy to put in applications and maybe clean my bathroom or have sex in the evening. 

Needless to say, I’m in this black void. My depression before all this was high. The coronavirus has definitely elevated those feelings of sadness and despair. It’s a fight every day to stay positive and remind myself of the good in my life and in the world right now. Most days, I just want to sleep and not take care of myself and my responsibilities. But somehow (God only know), I manage to wake up, stumble out of bed, brush my teeth, call my mom, get to work, do chores and cuddle with my cat and my boyfriend. I remind myself that I’m not alone- the rest of the world is hurting; some more deeply than me. I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s new podcast right now- she is going through it, too. I tell myself that this mess of a year will be over with- a vaccine will come and politics will be soon shifting in a more progressive direction. I will get that job and be able to introduce Amit to my family in person. While it’s difficult to see, the future will be better.

How are you doing, dear reader?

#ChasingAFeeling

Forever chasing the sun ☀️

Well, I got them. I got them rave blues.

It would be an understatement to say that I fell into a depression after leaving the cruise ship last week. I didn’t want to go home, back to my problems and cloudy Texas skies.  I had this overwhelming feeling of dread and my heart hurt as if I was going through a terrible breakup. The Tuesday morning I got back home, I laid in bed for a while, anxious and trying to figure out what I could do to keep those feelings of complete bliss going. How could I elongate this happiness?

I’ve been thinking a lot of about happiness this week, especially about what makes me happy. I have to admit that I’m not a happy person. I wouldn’t say that I’m a “Negative Nancy,” per se. But I’ve been around the block or two. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced a lot. I know how the world works and the world isn’t kind. I’ve spent most of my life just trying to survive and now, I’m stuck in survivalist mode. I’m a realist. However, I’ve always been envious of those who know that the life can be hard and still wake up every morning with a smile on their face. How do they do that? How could I do that?

I started on the physical components of what would make me happiest. This past week, I begin to incorporate things that I did on the cruise to my daily routine: eating good food consistently, drinking lots of water, dancing and listening to certain music to pump myself up, getting in 10,000 steps every day, being social and remembering to be gracious with saying “thank you.” So far, so good- I even ran twice this week. My body feels great. It’s feels strong and flexible. Mentally, it’s been a tougher path. When I think back on moments of the cruise, my thoughts start turning sour and I want to cry. Instead, I’ve been throwing myself into projects that will only better me: updating my website, applying for jobs, researching flights and online Spanish classes, writing and reaching out to some friends. While I haven’t managed to emulate that exact Groove Cruise feeling, I’ve gotten pretty close. I’ve been noticing each thought, each pattern in my head. I focus on the positive ones and how they make me feel. Like when I received a funny WhatsApp message, I think about the friend who sent that message and our memories together. I then send them light and love across the universe and tell myself that they send it back to me- we all want each other to be happy and thrive. My heart then feels full and my body relaxes.

I know that I will not be able to replicate that exact feeling every minute of every day. Life will always get in the way. Happiness is a fleeting emotion just like sadness is. It comes and goes in waves. It’s a balancing act. But I am determine to stay this happy. Quite frankly, though, I don’t know what I’m doing. When you’re depressed for so long, you forget about the things that made you once happy. I’m still discovering the things that currently bring me joy but I feel like I’m on my way to becoming that radiant ball of glowing sunshine. It just take a little extra effort and hey, I’m trying.

How have you been feeling, dear reader? Are you happy?

#UmWhat

I can be forgetful. It’s one of the traits that I hate most about myself but I’m working to fix it (thank God for the Evernote app and my phone’s calendar). I’m one of those people who can remember faces but their names always slip my mind. Or I don’t remember them at all. Like a friend of my sister’s who approached me at my dad’s party this past weekend. She knew me, throwing her arms around me with a big smile. Um… I’m really sorry but who are you? I actually don’t remember much from high school. Although I loved school, my home life was traumatic and I blocked out almost all four years from my memory. Now, I understand why I couldn’t remember Rebecca.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about trauma and the various forms it takes. My blocking of teenage memories was my defense mechanism then but now, I can’t remember a lot of things that I need to healthily process. I recently discovered that memory loss is a symptom of severe depression. When I think about depression, I think about the overwhelming sadness myself and others feel. I had no idea that depression can manifest in other ways like memory loss. Depression can hurt both emotionally and physically. Do you know the lesser known symptoms?

  • Forgetfulness. And/or a “depression fog.”
  • Irritability. Depression can make you incredibly angry and less patient with others.
  • Your speech could change. Although the change is subtle, your level of fluency can negativity fluctuate.
  • Low sex drive. Many doctors consider changes in sex drive  a key indicator for diagnosing episodes of major depression.
  • Making decisions or losing focus. Do you struggle to make a decision about your morning coffee or find yourself paralyzed when making important decisions at work? Depression diminishes the ability to concentrate, including making decisions.
  • Depersonalization. It is possible to feel like you’re losing touch with reality. Dizziness and fainting can be symptoms of this, as well.
  • You have a sensitive stomach. When you’re depressed, your mind has been altered to be hypersensitive to the way the body feels.
  • If you’re taking medication (like I am), you can experience a whole slew of side effects like hot sweats and flashes, shaking and nervous tics (I experience all of the above).

It’s terrifying when you can’t remember stuff that people said to you or things that happened- it only adds to doubt and insecurity. If you are feeling any of these symptoms of depression, help is out there and ready for you.

What are you doing to take care of yourself and your mental health this week, dear reader?

#Prologue

I haven’t been writing.

I want to blame a busy schedule. Or lack of a busy schedule. No matter what, there is always my to-do list and I chose to let it rule me or release me. I can blame it on laziness; how autumn finally crept in, body slamming the Texas heat to the side and letting the frozen air wake up me every morning through the unsealed cracks of my bedroom window. I’ll blame the cold if I can also blame my bed and its warmth and the inviting Christmas lights that I wrapped around the bed frame. My bedroom finally feels cozy after I lived in this space for over a year. Blame it on my intense depression and anxiety. They are the real culprits. Today, I see them as the bad guys, villains in microscopic bodies that wear cartoonish black masks of if they were thieves stealing away my happiness and dreams.

I’m going to blame them.

The last couple weeks have been hard, dear reader. I’ll spare you most of the details because frankly, I don’t want to remember them. There are a lot of things that I don’t want to remember from this year {and yes, I cannot believe that this year is almost over with). There are a few things that I have to remember, though. I need to remember my triggers- isolation. Shame. Not drinking enough water. Being overwhelmed. When someone doesn’t truly listen. Loneliness. Rejection. Those villains have been my “dearest friends,” whispering things to me. Horrible things. Things that will forever tease and taunt me, even on days like today when I feel good.

Tuesday night, I went on a date. He wasn’t the best kisser but I could deal with that. He asked me about my cancer with concern and I was honest with him. It was caused by HPV. I don’t know when I caught it. I want to, again, blame someone else for it. How about my ex who swore he never cheated but I knew that he did. I knew that I should have made him wear condoms for the duration of our relationship even if we both hated them. Another stupid mistake I made in the name of love. Could this week’s date face the same fate? No. I should have been relieved when he said that he was “freaked out” by my diagnosis. I should have just put on my clothes and blocked him on my phone as I walked home. I should have told myself that there is someone out there who doesn’t  care that you caught a disease and will still think you’re an incredible woman.

Of course, I should have. But I didn’t.

I went home and cried and cried and cried. I holed myself up in my bathroom, texting my best friend about my evening. I needed support and sympathy; When I didn’t get it quick enough, thoughts of a forever sleep entered my head. I took a handful of pills, mostly melatonin as it was the only non-vitamins I have in my medicine cabinet and swallowed each pill down, one by one. I then forced myself to sleep only to wake up an hour later with the worst dry mouth of my life and the inability to use my legs. I felt like human Jell-O as I propped myself against the walls, steadying myself as I made my way to the bathroom to pee. I fell into a deep sleep after that and didn’t wake up until the next day.

I woke up to an Instagram message, one from my friend, Annie, about a radio reporting job she thought I would be good at. It’s funny, in the weirdest of ways, how something like that can pull you out of the depth of your negative neurosis. I thanked her for sending it to me, took a shower and grabbed a ride to enjoy breakfast. I talked with my waiter, which made me feel more alive as we talked about his friend that was recently in a car accident. I ate my eggs sunny side up and cinnamon pancakes trying not to the think about the accident that I had the night before.

I hate that phrase, rock bottom. I’ve never hit it- I was born on its stone surface and have been trying to crawl myself out of its hole since infancy. Yet my fingers remain bloody with every attempt I try to climb out, hoping that one day, I will walk away from this pit of nightmares. I have the things that I want to achieve, the list beyond my current to-do list. I know that I dream big but it’s those dreams that are keeping me here. I woke up from a mild attempt for a reason- for those big, ridiculous dreams. For breakfast food. For love. For more Instagram messages. For the Christmas lights wrapped around my bed frame. For hope. I wake up for everything. Yes, everything hurts but everything will be okay.

I wake up to write.

#MoveYoAss

Please don’t come in my bedroom. Up until a couple of days ago, I was sleeping on a pile of clean clothes (my cat, Canela, liked to snuggle against one of my fuzzier sweaters). There is a half-built dresser on my floor that I gave up on (I’m constantly stepping on its loose nails). There are art prints that I recently bought that still need to be framed and hung on the walls. And let’s not talk about the state of my bathroom. All of this is on my to-do list, the thing that used to bring great joy as I crossed off each item. Now, I look at my list and shove it back in my purse. But then, I beat myself up for being so lazy.

When I moved to Austin, I had this vision of what my new life would be like. I was going to be more lively, healthier and more fit, with an incredibly active social and love life, ending the day feeling happy and satisfied with work and the risks that I’m taking. My current reality is far from it. My apartment doesn’t look the way I dream it would. Nor my social life. I go to work, sit in front of my laptop for almost nine hours. Go home, make myself a cocktail, put on a show, get comfy in bed and pass out until 1am. Then, watch another show, pass out again for another hour or two and wake up the next day to get ready for work… Ugh. Bad habits all around. There are no risks. There’s no spark. Zero passion and zero zest.

I could be putting in so much more effort to build my life but laziness get in the way. I’m well aware of it- in college, one of my journalism professors told me that I could be one of the greatest students in the department but I was lazy. I’ll never forget what Paul said (and how much I cried after). He was right and his words still ring true to this day. If I wasn’t so quote-unquote lazy, how different- perhaps better- would my life be? Another thing that I’m well aware of is how depression robs you of motivation. I don’t want to give my mental state that power, though. There has to be something that I do to break through.

I’ve been reading other women’s suggestions and I’m putting them into effect- don’t take off my bra and pants as soon as you get home. Don’t sit or lay in your bed until you’re ready to go to sleep (I have terrible sleep hygiene but that’s another post for another day). Wait until you accomplish a few things on the to-do list before making that nightly cocktail. Simplifly after-work activities (the gym, hanging out with friends, etc). My friends have suggested breaking things down into more manageable pieces. Instead of tackling the task of clean my bathroom, I need to break it down into more manageable pieces (which I did last night- instead of cleaning the whole, I just scrubbed my bathtub- and I was pretty happy about that). But of course, my brain wants to complicate things. I should be doing more. How do I train myself to do more? How do I create better habits?

How do you motivate yourself, dear reader?

#HighSchoolYearbook

My senior year photo, 2004

Friday night, I broke out my senior yearbook. I flipped through the pages, showing off pictures of me in my marching band uniform and on the editorial board of my school paper. My journalism teacher wrote all her graduating seniors goodbye letters. I keep mine tucked away between the pages of my yearbook and revisit it from time to time. Ms. Powell wrote about how much she’d miss my ramblings about Orlando Bloom (the “Lord of the Ring” films came out when I was in high school and I was OBSESSED with Legolas) and she couldn’t wait to read my work in Vogue. I remember wanting to write for Vogue and Vanity Fair so badly in high school- and if not for a Conde Nast publication, I’d write for National Geographic or another international magazine. I used to fantasize about my older self roaming the African jungle with only a backpack and a reporter’s notebook in my hands, documenting animal life or maybe a humanitarian crisis. Or I’d be wandering the Middle East with a video team, trying to get quotes for a nightly news segment back in the United States. I had big dreams for myself. I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to make a difference in my work. I wanted to have this massive, adventurous life.

Yesterday morning as I laid in bed, I thought about the person I wanted to be when I was 18 years old. If high school me would see 32 me now, would she be happy with the way my life panned out? I’m not a reporter. I work in marketing. I’ve also been a waitress, a nanny, a shop girl, a receptionist, an assistant. I have traveled, not to the exotic destinations that I dreamed of in high school but I’ve been some pretty cool places. I lived in New York City which was a goal for a good chunk of my younger life (and I’m pretty damn proud of myself for making that come true). I’ve had lots of love and passionate relationships (I think 18-year-old me would be shocked about that. If I knew then what I know now, oh baby Andrea. I wouldn’t have stressed so much about getting a boyfriend and thinking that I was too fat and too ugly for anyone to date me. Then again, I’m still on that great quest, looking for my forever partner. Had I’ve known that this particular quest would eat up so much of my life and consume so much of my thoughts and my feelings, I would tell high school me to settle into the heartbreak and learn to live with the disappointment now- just enjoy your friends and stop starving yourself. Your body looks fine and you will have great abs one day). I’ve seen cool things, done cool things, meet cool people. I’ve done the opposite, too- I’ve done a lot of stupid and mean things to others and with toxic people. My depression and anxiety ruled over my 20s (one of the biggest regrets of my life)- for a brief while, I thought I would be a member of the 27 Club. My awkward phase from high school only grew. I still stare at the ground when walking and fumble over words when speaking. I’m not as confident as I hoped that I would be (it’s hilariously but sadly honest- in high school, I was so incredibly hopeful and positive about my future and the things I’d accomplish but I’m not anymore now at 32). Would 18-year-old me be proud, be happy with the woman that I am right now? I don’t know if she would.

Now, I’m sitting in Halycon, drinking an iced coffee and listening to Oasis. My current life is pretty average, perhaps a little lackluster. It’s a gray Sunday weather-wise in Austin, Texas. I work six days out of the week (including later this afternoon). I share my furniture-less apartment with a roommate I never see. I have a great group of friends and am dating a good guy (they all are the highlights of this current life). I will have surgery in three weeks to remove another regret. Could my life be better (better to the standards I held to myself  both today and 15 years ago)? Yeah, it can. I can put in more effort but I am trying. This makes me wonder if the younger version of me would feel this blah about my life or if it’s the me of now that is more or less disappointed. Thinking about more now as I write this blog post, I think 18-year-old Andrea would be happy about a lot, perhaps be sad about some of it. But she would also see that I would become the version of myself I needed when I was younger. I’m kind. I’m cool (in a goofy way). I’m loved. If somehow I could clone myself and then travel in time to meet my younger self, I think we would be friends. She would still have hope for me becoming that globetrotting reporter (because she would not think 32 is old, especially not too old to start over… Oh, hopeful baby Andrea). She would be excited to know that I’ve lived many lives and knew that my next one, my next adventure, will be bigger and better. And it’s around the corner.

Who did you want to be when you were younger, dear reader? Are you that person today?

#SummertimeBlues

But I love this movie

Summer has never been my season. While some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter months, it’s summer that always bogs me down. I hate the heat. I hate wearing shorts. I hate sweating walking from one room to another, let alone when I’m outdoors. Can it be autumn already so I can start wearing beanies and I can ride my bike without pools of perspiration forming under each of my boobs?

This summer has been an interesting transitional one. After applying for jobs outside the state of Nevada for the last five months, I was finally offered one. It’s a great opportunity but I’m still on the fence and haven’t accepted it yet. I’m also continuing to get interview requests for positions in cities that I want to experience living in. So, what do I choose? My summer has been a lonely one. But despite that certain loneliness, when I think about leaving Reno- the people, especially my friends- my heart feels crushed. I have such good people in my life that I’m possibly leaving (including- and of course- this wonderful guy that I just met who really likes me despite all my neurosis. I somewhat jokingly call him my “Hipster Fantasy.”). On top of that, I’m dealing with a client who keeps changes his mind on a design I finished months ago- and also hasn’t paid me (I have bills, yo!). I’m in a creative rut outside of work- I haven’t been writing nor filming much (it’s easy to put the blame on Reddit and Netflix but I have no motivation). Plus, my therapist announced that she’s retiring (after that particular session, I sat in Linda’s office bathroom and sobbed for a good minute. I know, I know- I have abandonment issues even though I know that I’ll be referred to someone great)…

Okay, Andrea… BREATHE.

Usually the breathing helps but I can’t seem to catch my breath.  I wish that I was one of those people who loved summer– summertime is supposed to be FUN! Everyone is outside, doing FUN stuff, having FUN adventures. AND I have opportunities pouring out of my ears- I should be excited for them all (job prospects, traveling, relationships, etc). But I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. I don’t know what path to take and I’m terrified that I’m going to make the wrong decision.

But autumn is coming. This is what I’ve been telling myself. Things will change like the season- and for the better. It will get colder. I will feel more secure and confident. And in the end, everything will work out (and if it doesn’t, you will have another interesting tidbit to add to this chapter).

How’s your summer going, dear reader?

#LetsTalk

Let’s talk and help one another

Let’s talk about last week, about those two suicides: Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. But lets also talk about the rising rates of suicides across the United States. According to the CDC, the number of people dying by suicide  has risen by 30% in the past two decades. While more men died by suicide than women in 2016, the rate of suicide for women has doubled since 2000 to six per 100,000 deaths. Why is this happening? There has to be something more than blaming our screen time. How are we preventing these deaths?

Which leads me to…

Let’s talk about funding- or the lack of funding. Many still see suicide as a choice rather than a public health problem- this is the wrong way of thinking. The United States currently has no federally funded suicide prevention program for adults. Even our insurance coverage lack proper mental health care. When I shopped on the healthcare exchange last year, I didn’t look at primary care (as I’m pretty healthy and don’t need to see the doctor that often)- I looked for mental health care. The sad truth was that most plans didn’t cover formal therapy. Coverage for medications, sure, but seeing someone weekly (or biweekly like I do)? Either none and bare minimal coverage. States are ever so slowly building resources but mental health services NEEDS to be a required part of primary care doctor visits. No referrals. No waiting. You address the issue in the moment the person is presenting. And no massive out-of-pocket fees (because frankly, that just makes you even more depressed).

How do we fix the lack of funding? VOTE for people who make significant changes to our healthcare system IN A GOOD WAY (i.e. not this current presidential administration). And DONATE to those local, statewide and national organizations that focus on mental health needs and help.

Let’s talk to our loved ones- really talk to them. After major deaths like these, the internet floods itself with hotline numbers and website suggestions where you can talk to someone. Yes, that is great. But what happens with the buzz of the press dies down? There’s a difference between being there and actually BEING THERE- physically present for a friend going through a rough time. Perhaps I’m a cynic but I feel like for someone who is actively considering taking their life, numbers and websites don’t help. The only hope is actual personal connections. What will we be doing to check up on our loved ones? How are you showing people that you care, that you’re there for them? Reaching out for help is hard, especially when you’re in deep with a disease like depression. You don’t want to bother people. You don’t want to be a burden to them. The stigma surrounding suicide leaves people feeling too ashamed to speak up and ask for the help they need. So, are you reaching back? Are you noticing any warning signs?

Let’s start talking about mental health, in general. I have always tried to be transparent about my mental health care. I see a therapist (hi, Linda!). I believe that everyone should see one. We all have things going on and can benefit from seeing a professional to learn tips and tools on how to make every life easier and lighter. Professionals encourage us to talk more openly about suicide, reframing it as a treatable public health issue rather than a taboo secret or personal failure. Another thing is Facebook, Instagram. Twitter, etc. On social media, we knew that we’re only seeing our friends’ highlight reel. Let’s see more of the struggle. Let’s hear more of the pain. Bad times connect us as much as the good ones and I want to know yours. What is going on in your life?

Let’s talk about suicide, dear reader.

#DepressionLessons

Dear depression,

Hi. I’m noticing you today. I hate you. I’ve never hated anything more in my life (well, except for math). I often wonder what my life would be without you (I imagine “better”). But even though you’re always leaving a bad taste in my mouth, you taught me a lot… So, I guess, in a weird and small way, thank you for your lessons…

1) Depression is never going to go away- and that’s okay. I have a chemical imbalance in my head. It sucks especially when the rest of my body is pretty healthy. I don’t get colds or sick very often. On long runs and bike rides, I don’t cramp. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. But this mess in my head… I’ve had it for all my 32 years on the planet and there is no end in sight. BUT it’s gets better. My depression will never go away but I get better every day tending to it. I take medication. I see my therapist. I make sure to get plenty of exercise. I don’t hermit and isolate myself. My depression will never go away but things don’t last forever– both good and bad times.  This too shall pass. Things ebb and flow. Keep on pushing through both the pain and the good stuff.

2) Things take work. Relationship. Dreams. Your mental health. If you want old habits to die, you have to put in the time. You have to take your medicine. You have to talk to your therapist (side note: finding a good therapist takes work. I’ve seen four different ones in the last six years. I finally have one that is actually helpful- shout out to Linda!). There are days where I don’t want to get out of bed. I’ll have zero motivation. But those are the days that I know I NEED TO GET OUT OF BED. Those are the days that I NEED TO PUSH MYSELF. For the longest time, I thought that happiness will come if you’re kind and generous. Though part of that is true the rest is bullshit. Happiness takes works.

3) No one is coming to save you. Not your family nor your parents. Not your doctors or your therapists. They may help but ultimately, your mental health is up to you. It’s up to you to treat, to manage. Your loved ones may push you in the right direction and give you stellar support but at the end of the day, you are on your own.

4) No one is coming to save you but having a pet will help. This one has perked me up and helped ease panic attacks on various occasions. There have been dark times when I wanted to end everything but then, I asked myself, “Who would take care of Hova?” She drives me crazy at times, meowing at 3am for her breakfast but she has also showed me unconditional love. I’m so grateful to have this puff ball in my life.

5) My greatest challenge is being mindful and living in the present- but I’m getting better at it. I feel best when I live in the moment. I know that about myself. Let me give you an example- two weekends ago, I biked though out Austin, Texas, enjoying the sunshine and stopping to take photos or to grab a quick drink (which is another lesson I learned, something that I should have paid attention to in high school health class- booze will make you feel worse. So, I now drink pretty infrequently. I’m all about those soda waters with a twist of lime). My mind was clear and I was happy. So, I try to focus on things like music and sunshine and

6) But remember to check in with yourself- OFTEN! I stare off into space often. But please know that when I do, I’m often checking in with myself. How am I feeling? What am I thinking? Do I feel safe and supported? So, I’ll stand in the middle of the market, asking myself how I’m feeling and if I’m hungry. After a tough work meeting, I’ll see if I need to cry or can I move on to the next project. I live in my head but in a good way- and all those things that I feel and question? They are completely valid. I don’t have to justify my feelings or defend them. I can feel whatever I need to feel.

7) Your adulthood is all about unlearning shit from your childhood. In order to be mentally stable, you’re going to have to reteach yourself A LOT. I learned bad habits from my parents. Yes, I love them dearly but they made me question a lot of things- like having a traditional marriage and beauty standards (i.e. skinny doesn’t equal pretty). With that said, my self-perceptions are often times wrong. I’m not ugly. I’m not stupid. People do care. Life is worth it.

8) You don’t have to be perfect. Fuck being perfect. And fuck thinking that you need a purpose. You are your purpose. You are enough.

What have you learned about mental health, dear reader? And you go, Mimi

#WorldHealthDay

Today is World Health Day (WHD). Each year, healthcare professionals and communities around the world partner with the World Health Organization (WHO) to bring awareness to a global health crisis. What’s WHD’s focus this year? Depression.

Depression- let’s talk.

More than 300 million people around the world are affected with depression every year. Common mental disorders (like depression and anxiety) are increasing worldwide. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people globally suffering from depression and/or anxiety increased by nearly 50%. Close to 20% of the world’s population is affected by one or both of these conditions. Lack of treatment for mental disorders has a high economic cost- new evidence from a study led by WHO shows that depression and anxiety disorders alone cost more than a trillion dollars’ worth of economic loss every year.

In many countries, there is no, or very little, support available for people with mental health disorders. Even in high-income countries, nearly 50% of people with depression don’t get treatment. Depression can lead to self-inflicted injury and to suicide- it’s now the world’s second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds. In 2015, over 78% of global suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Untreated depression prevents people from life- most common mental health disorders can be prevented and treated, at relatively low cost. Although there are known, effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected in the world (in many countries, fewer than 10%) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental disorders. Another barrier to effective care is inaccurate assessment. In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants.

Depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is and how it can be prevented and treated will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition and lead to more people seeking help. Those who are close to me know that I’m passionate about decreasing mental health’s stigma and am open with talking about my own depression. Sure, it’s a tough and often awkward thing to talk about in causal conversation but it needs to be addressed.

Why not make today the day that you, dear reader, learn more about this disease? Be the person who isn’t afraid to talk honestly about their feelings and experiences with depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. Share your story. Listen to a friend. The only way that the stigma is going to get away. This is the only way that people who desperately need help are going to get it. Your small step forward is the first of many in this fight. Let’s push forward and make some change.