Mental Health Awareness Month

May is full of so many things, so many changes, and it marks the beginning of summer. There is one important thing I would like to particularly acknowledge about the month of May (and no, it is not the fact that my mother’s birthday is in the month of May, though that is important to remember), and that is that it is mental health awareness month! THIS IS A SUPER IMPORTANT AND PRECIOUS MONTH TO ME, AS WE DISCUSS AND BECOME AWARE OF ONE OF MY BIGGEST PASSIONS. Mental health is an incredibly important aspect of many individual’s lives, even those who do not know it, so now I am here to celebrate and acknowledge it all.

My homage to mental health awareness month will begin by encouraging everyone and anyone to seek therapy and help, even if it does not seem necessary. In addition to seeking therapeutic help, to please take care of the state of your mental well-being. I also encourage as many individuals that I can to go get yourself diagnosed and seek help – it may be more useful than you think. You also may need it more than you think, as our daily stressors take huge tolls on us and can sometimes become overwhelming.

I am finally relieved to see society beginning to acknowledge the importance of mental health, and by dedicating a full month towards mental health, it allows us to speak up about and acknowledge the mental health crisis that is flooding our society to this day. I truly hope that one day mental health issues will be in the forefront of controversial discussions and will not be seen as a stigma, rather a unique way that a human operates during daily life.

Our mental health affects us more than we know – it affects the way we live, the way we build relationships, the way we learn, the way we think, etc. Many aspects of our lives are directly affected by our state of mental health. Lack of treatment of our mental health can lead to severe lifelong issues, and may cause further problems and hardships for oneself down the line. If mental health affects our daily lives, why wouldn’t it be considered a more monumental issue?

Personally, getting diagnosed, receiving treatment and medication, and attending therapy have all helped me effectively work on issues I personally struggled with, and am still struggling with today. However, finally getting a proper diagnoses from a professional doctor was the best day of my life. Just when I thought things could not possibly ever fall back in place, receiving a proper diagnosis actually made life seemingly a bit easier and a little less stressful. Do not be afraid by the diagnosis or diagnoses you receive, as they are just labels, or names, for certain behaviors or issues that you may be experiencing internally and externally. Just like we name our cars, pets, and stuffed animals, diagnoses are just labels to help categorize the type of problems you are experiencing. While there are stigmas attached to each and every diagnosis, how you choose to take these labels is up to you. I would choose to take them not personally, and somehow learn to celebrate them. I swear the days go by much faster when I am not dwelling on the fact that I am stigmatized to be an “insane psychofreak.” These labels are simply, once again, are just labels to help identify what you are living with. They are nothing more, and they are nothing less.

Therapy also has become a place for me to safely express my emotions and feelings, something that I barely do, and it was a place where I could be honest with someone. I am able to work through my hardships with someone, and knowing that you have that kind of support truly helps bring a sense of stability in your life. I am very lucky, however, to be able to access treatment and medications, but it is not to say that it has not been a struggle finding the correct team of doctors to assist me through life.

Do not get it twisted, therapy is not a place to get fixed, IT IS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN GET BETTER AND IMPROVE. I had this attitude towards therapy, viewing it as a place I had to attend in order to be fixed. This confused me, because despite my flaws, I did not think I needed to get fixed. But, NOPE! That is not the point of therapy, I swear. If you are seeing a therapist or psychiatrist who ever tells you that you need to be fixed or that the medications will fix you, switch as soon as possible. The stigma behind therapy and seeking help is that you are attending it in order to fix all your problems, but that is also impossible. Therapy can do a lot for you, and with your general well-being and happiness, but it cannot fix you.

One of the greatest things I have experienced through treatment is that I have been able to source and recall times in my life when I did not feel very stable. I soon would begin engaging in detrimental behaviors habitually as a result of my instability, not knowing how to handle life stressors healthily, the biochemical makeup of my own brain, and a lack of behavioral structure, among many things. These behaviors often would discourage me from living out my daily tasks and obligations the way I wanted to, and almost stopped me from truly living my life to the fullest. For many years, or really as far back as I can remember, I could never break the cycle of these behavioral issues, as they soon became a habitual practice of mine. Not to mention, they caused me to live an unclean, self-destructive, unhealthy life, which resulted in FAR MORE problems and issues of my own that I never thought I would or could ever come across. I remember always knowing that how self-destructive I was, especially when things were going well for me. I remember always thinking about I needed to celebrate and f**k s**t up, after doing well and behaving myself for a few months. My parents even began noticing that as soon as I took three steps forward, I would immediately take five steps back. Leaving my relationship with my parents, close friends, etc. at a real standstill. As a result, it made my life extremely difficult to manage, and it was completely unclear how much longer I could engage in the self-destructive behavioral cycle. Now, I know there is behavioral therapy and counseling for engaging in these impulsive behaviors. Though I meant well, my behaviors most certainly would not show it. I struggle especially with a constant need for immediate satisfaction of my ego, so let’s just say I love to have fun doing whatever it is that I am doing. At a young age, I began satisfying my ego with alternative substances that quickly made having fun easy. At some points, I just craved something to do or “the next thing” (party, hang out, concert, movie, etc.). A lot of my bad habits came out of boredom and an inability to realize how much my boredom was truly taking a toll on me. For me, these alternative substances helped numbed the stresses of the ambiguity of life, as well as my constant need to be “perfect.” All these small “issues” turned out to be bigger problems, as I went undiagnosed, untreated, and the issues were ignored. I knew, at this point, what I was dealing with was more than one mental health disorder.

Engaging in detrimental, impulsive behaviors is a symptom of many psychological disorders and will lead to a worldwind of problems, drama, and stress. In a recent study, social psychologists conducted experiments directly correlating crime to low serotonin levels. The results of the experiment insinuated that individuals who commit the worst of crimes, such as murderers, serial killers, etc.  have concerningly low serotonin levels. These low serotonin levels directly disrupts cognitive decision making skills, your mood, your social behaviors, sleep habits, among many other health and behavioral issues. This lead social psychologists to assume that the state of a criminal’s mental health is somehow correlated to levels and severity of crime. Or simply stated, mental health can be directly correlated to destructive behavioral patterns and criminal behavior, whether you are a murderer, drug kingpin, drug addict, or simply just someone who steals. Criminals often have underlying issues, resulting in resentment, animosity, and overwhelming pain that leads them to often act like this. However, this is never taken into consideration. If society were to take another study on unlawful behavior, I believe they would find that mental stability and health plays a monumental role on the destructive actions, unlawful or lawful, that criminals engage in. Other factors, such as environment, your personal experiences, and the decisions you make in life also affect the levels of serotonin in your brain.

Now, I am not saying that the crime rates worldwide would just completely dissipate if everyone received treatment, rather just insinuating that impulsive, sometimes amoral, criminal behavior could be as a result of an underlying, more serious issue. In a perfect world, criminals would have access to medication, therapy, behavioral intensive therapy courses, and help. Instead, the world once again stigmatizes criminals, considering them incapable, leading them to engage in the same self-destructive, sometimes unlawful behaviors that they were locked in for. Therapy and behavioral intensive therapy courses truly helped me break the cycle, and I hope that some day, even criminals, will have the opportunity to receive help, re-learn new healthy behaviors, and ultimately feel better about themselves.

While psychology is a relatively new practice, and there is still so much to be researched, many doors for further research and different specific practices have slowly become more accessible. Therapies, such as art therapy, experimental therapy, and psychotherapy have become valid options for treatment. Similarly, our society has begun further researching the use of MDMA, LSD, and marijuana in psychological practices on patients suffering from mental health problems.The problem with society is not the lack of information on psychological matters, as we as a society have great access to incredible amounts of psychological information, but it is the societal views, expectations, and stigmas surrounding mental health disorders. Instead of viewing mental health issues as a normal health issue, we have begun stigmatizing all psychiatric disorders as a crippling disease. It is almost as if they have stigmatized it to be as crippling as cancer. Personally, it almost seems as if society is afraid of mental health patients, as a result of our extensive of knowledge. In the United States, however, we have so much access to psychological knowledge, and have encountered it so many times that it almost seems silly that we have not become a more accepting society towards mental health patients.

This way of stigmatized thinking towards psychological disorders is something that our modern day society needs to steer away from, as we should slowly, or QUICKLY, begin accepting the heavy impact and the heavy presence of mental health issues within our own society. In addition to stigmatizing mental health, society also has stigmatized the individuals struggling with these diagnoses, often implying that they are incapable of success. This is far from true, as many of our brightest individuals struggle with some of the most impacting mental illnesses. It is quite confusing to me that an individual, who has been professionally diagnosed and is seeking treatment, should be considered disabled, and furthermore impaired. A health issue should never be allowed to be used against you, especially in a society where we are supposed to love, care, and celebrate our differences. Those battling mental health problems are simply not disabled, and enforcing that debilitating, degrading mentality around is simply not okay. This only leads to putting fear in individuals heart’s, making even the most brave and courageous fearful to find out their fate, with the potential to seek long-term help.

My experience receiving help was humbling, frustrating, embarrassing, fearful irritating, and full of emotions for me, as I received my diagnoses for the first time. I LITERALLY FELT EMBARRASSED AND SCARED TO GET MY OWN PSYCHOLOGICAL DIAGNOSES. I felt this way simply because of the need to feel “wanted,” “accepted,” and “normal.” Whatever these words mean. MY ONE QUESTION TO SOCIETY IS WHY SHOULD ANYONE EVER FEEL EMBARRASSED, ASHAMED OR FEARFUL TO BE RECEIVING HELP? DON’T WE PROMOTE THE IDEA OF SEEKING HELP WHEN NEEDED? Truly, no one should ever feel like this, unfortunately society does the opposite.

All members of our society, even those battling mental illness, should be accepted by individuals, however, that is not the case. I have noticed, with my own experiences, that people often get scared or steer away from you even upon talking about mental health problems just in general. I found out the hard way that therefore people felt even more uncomfortable around me once I was diagnosed and was open with them about it. It is truly surprising how many people are shocked that I am diagnosed with seven psychiatric evaluations, but more shocking is the fact that most people cannot even tell that I struggle with these things. Yes, I had to find out the hard way that I not only had six types of ADD, but I also had ADHD, four types of PTSD, severe OCD, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, severe social anxiety, and naturally, I have serious phobias. Not going to say I was not pleased with the fact that I had every anxiety disorder, plus ADD and ADHD, however, these are the cards life has given me. And, I would not have it any other way.

Sometimes I laugh, because each of my psychiatric diagnoses contradict each other, making it hard for me to cry for very long, be bored, or be unhappy. And, sometimes I cry because I have been fired from four jobs the last year, and because I cannot seem to sit down and submit an essay or complete a quiz, just because I procrastinate and have a fear that what I turn in will not be perfect. I swear I could sit and write multiple variations of an essay, and never end up turning it in out of straight fear that it will not be perfect, and as a result, I will not be perfect. It absolutely drives me insane. Some days, I truly enjoy cleaning, organizing, and reorganizing my entire room for no reason. And, other days, I get frustrated that I cannot leave my house, due to my overwhelming anxiety. For what it is worth though, my OCD is so bad that I do the same thing, basically at the same time, every day. So, it is incredibly hard for me not to be doing the same thing every day – I HATE CHANGE AND BREAKING MY ROUTINE. This makes it even harder sometimes to hang out with friends, especially if I have been hanging out with myself for a few days now. MY WHOLE SCHEDULE IMMEDIATELY BECOMES WAY MORE STRESSFUL. A great thing about my OCD though is that since I’ve picked up blogging as a habit, it’s become a habitual way for me to start every one of my mornings. And, just to restore some fate into humanity, even during my worst panic attacks, some of which can last up to 20+ hours, as a result of my anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ect. being triggered, I seem to somehow manage to work through my shifts, go to class, take tests, engage socially, and be a human. Even when I am profusely shaking, or crying, or sweating, or hypervigilant, or antsy, or my heart is profusely beating out of my chest, I can seem to manage a smile and to handle life as gracefully as possible. So, for what it is worth, it is possible to succeed. The world will always be your oyster if you let it be, even if you have been inflicted by mental illnesses.

Finding out how uncomfortable I made people feel sometimes and how uncomfortable psychological illness made people was a little bit unsettling for me, as I began wondering how on Earth anyone else was going to be able to be able to get through this uncomfortable, semi-humiliating process. I tried for months to not make people feel uncomfortable around me, but then after a while I broke down, and just decided to let me be me and talk about my mental health issues if I so pleased.

All these thoughts and emotions are okay and relatively normal, unfortunately. Do not fret though, it took me 21 years to finally get the courage to help myself out a little more in life. So, if you are feeling hesitant and/or dismissive towards the idea, trust me – I have been there. Most of my life, especially with societal stigmas, and the cultural background I grew up in, I dismissed ever receiving therapy and proper treatment, considering myself a “normal” human being. No one wants to be labeled “disabled,” “incapable,” or “impaired” for that matter and you never want to feel less than anyone else. These are all normal feelings that you may feel if you ever decide to reach out for help, but do not let these negative thoughts cloud your spirit. Understand that psychological health issues are much, much bigger than the stigmas associated with them. ALSO, NOT GOING TO LIE, IT FEELS GREAT TO BE ABLE TO LIVE, BE HUMAN, KICK LIFE’S ASS, AND PROVE EVERY PERSON AND EVERY STIGMA THAT THEY ARE WRONG FOR NOT BELIEVING IN YOU, DESPITE BEING CATEGORIZED AS DISABLED.

As a global community we should view our mental health patients as warriors, not victims. Each and every day, us warriors live, we are breaking down the walls and barriers that encompass modern day mental health issues. Not one of us is any braver or more courageous than one another, just simply living through and pushing through the pain, and uncertainty is a monumental act. Never forget that.

I beg you this summer, or whenever you come across this, to either research and study about psychological disorders, or maybe even  seek therapy, especially if you have been struggling. Most individuals do not know that many psychological disorders become apparent, during an individuals young adult life. Whether it be seeking therapy, medication, or both, I believe that mental health should be held to a higher value in our society, as it is often ignored, stigmatized, and set aside as a minuscule matter. Let me ask you: if your friend was truly bothering you every day, would you ignore the matter completely and turn a blind eye towards them? Maybe even consider them disabled? I did not think so, and I sure do not hope you think that way. Such close-minded thinking does not allow our society to grow, to adapt, and to most importantly, become a better, loving, coexisting society.

In another perfect world, our society, and even the worldwide population, would make all health issues, including mental health issues, the utmost priority, as it continues to resurface all over our world. Additionally, every single human being would be able to seek and have access to resources for help, including receiving medication, long-term treatment, and a professional diagnosis. And, of course, money would not be an issue, as mental health should be completely covered by health insurance companies. I would even go as far as to say that everyone would be medicated each on a unique medication regiment specifically molded to the needs of every individual and their unique biochemical makeup of their brain.

The unique biochemical makeup of your brain is something you should be proud of, and something you should be happy about. Never forget to remind yourself that getting a professional diagnosis is not something you should be ashamed of, feel held back by, or something that should be ignored or silenced. When a health issue is ignored and silenced, that is when the health issues exasperate – that is something that I had to learn the hard way.

Do not be silenced by the stigmas of our society, and feel free to always openly speak out about your own personal experience with mental health 🙂 Silence and ignorance is best combatted with knowledge and your words.

Before the month of May ends, I deeply encourage you to take a look at the world of psychology, including the role its’ presence plays in our society, and the way that it directly affects people. Research and study about issues you may be struggling with and stay aware about current HEALTH ISSUES. MENTAL HEALTH IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS PHYSICAL HEALTH, AS WELL.

If you are truly feeling courageous, or feel like you need a helping hand, I also encourage you to join me in my fight to bring awareness to mental health issues, as we learn to celebrate and embrace our inner demons!

xo,

Aichan Tewahade

P.S. Please never hesitate to comment or share your own personal experiences and battles with mental health ❤ I would love to hear your own unique stories and your own personal experiences, as they all need to be heard! All of you fighters out there inspire me!

 

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A.M. Rituals

There’s something about starting every morning with something meaningful and unique to oneself. Whatever it is, morning rituals are important to everyone. Even if you do not even think about it, we all have a set of steps that we follow each morning to guide us in the right direction and get us in the mood to attack each and every day.

Mine is dictated by music, a cup of coffee (sometimes a huge one!) and donuts, showering, and blogging. I usually try to color, hike and write a daily list of blessings when I have the time, as well. I keep my mornings fairly simple for the most part, but also fairly active. The other day I went to the sauna, and some days I go through filtering through my emails. Some days, my daily morning rituals are cycled in for new hobbies that I would like to discover, so truly morning rituals can be dependent on the day and what you personally feel like. But, for the most part, the coffee and donuts are incorporated.

I try to make my mornings a time to get pumped up and hyped for my day that’s about to steamroll by.

Some people may stretch, others may go to the gym, some of us make a cup of tea and wind down – it’s all unique and personal to each and every one of us.

Sometimes, we need to switch up our morning rituals, as our needs become different, due to uncontrollable outside forces, such as a different work schedule, changing time zones, late nights out, new class schedules, etc.

It is important to set time aside for yourself in the morning, since I believe that it is the time that we all have the most energy flowing within us and when we can think the clearest, since our minds have yet to be clouded by our day’s messes and stressors. Mornings are also big dictators for our mood the rest of the day sometimes. Therefore, how we spend our mornings is important to each and every one of us.

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Making your mornings a priority just for yourself is something I would recommend. I love being a morning person – I feel like I get the most out of my days waking up early in the morning. Plus, it leaves me with more time to adventure, be curious, and live. I always notice how much I appreciate my mornings when I have to work early, or only during my mornings. I honestly believe that spending time making morning rituals are important for your own personal sanity!! There’s nothing I hate more than sitting with myself bored and not sure what to do with my mornings.

Cycling in other activities into your mornings can be fulfilling. Whether you like your mornings jam-packed with activities or full of lounging, depends on your mood, your personality, and your general energy levels. Keeping my mornings simple is a personal preference.

Either way, mornings are a great time to spend with yourself, accomplishing small tasks, lounging, and being with yourself. If you are beginning to get to know yourself, starting with spending your mornings independently is a great step!

Cherish your mornings and make them fun! We only have so many! What are your morning rituals?

xo,

Aichan Tewahade

Thinspo Is Not My Inspo

Terms, such as thinspiration and thinspo are thrown around in our culture, promoting a self-image of lean figures. Most of these images are distorted or posed, however, and you can look like a Kardashian with the right angle and the right pose.

This promotion of “thinking thin,” and only thin is corrupting our minds, as we become less accepting of ourselves, as society deems lean cuisine figures as the norm today. This is absolutely no way to beat obesity and leads to problems further down your life.

Thinking thin can be done positively and productively, if you lead a life of healthy living. This means drinking water, eating your greens, and binging on your favorite foods every so often. This great diet is often accompanied by an exercise regiment that should make you feel better than those unattainable bodies that we see all over the internet, magazines, and social media platforms.

More often than not, individuals are fascinated by the unattainable bodies, completely getting distracted by the idea that in order to be accepted we must have these rock-solid abs, tight ass, and skinny legs and arms. This concept is completely beyond me, and most certainly, not true. You do not require these traits to be beautiful.

At the end of the day, being “thin” should not be your goal, rather being fit and feeling good about yourself should be the end goal. When you are trying to be thin, and not healthy, major complications come through and you will face some adversities with trying to find acceptance in the wrong places.

Thinspo is not my inspo, because I am inspired by those who work hard for their bodies, meaning they drink lots of fluids, try to exercise daily, invest in eating properly and healthily, cutting out toxic waste out of their bodies, etc. These are the people you should be applauding, because taking care of myself and being fit is what I strive to be. I do not strive to be the thinnest form of myself and believe that this concept needs to be reconfigured, as it serves as a toxic way to view ourselves and our beautiful, unique bodies.

The lack of acknowledgement of the number of individuals who have sought out alternative routes for weight loss, that are completely unhealthy and do horrible things to your body, such as crash dieting, etc., are unaccounted for. It should not be about the number, more than it should be about being happy with yourself.

Becoming the greatest, strongest, healthiest form of yourself should be a priority to you. No matter how you look, because I guarantee that once you begin taking care of yourself you’ll slowly find out that the body that you once thought was average is great. The positive outcomes of self-care are endless.

While we cannot stop the internet and social media for exploiting us to such things, we can do our best not to compare our bodies with other people. Being content with the unique body shape that you have is key, because you are beautiful at any size. That is something we forget in this society, and so many beautiful people go unaccounted for. You by no means need to be skinny or thin to be beautiful. Always remember that.

Do yourself a favor and stop comparing yourselves to these “thinspo” inspired photographs, and learn to realize that a camera and editing applications can do a lot to a person’s body, often making it look much better on camera than in actual person.

xo,

Aichan Tewahade