5 Steps to Better Mental Health
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

5 Steps to Better Mental Health

As someone who has struggled almost her entire life with depression, panic disorder, anxiety, insomnia, ADD and more - I want to be able to help others to not feel the way I've felt in the past. I'm not a doctor, but I have been actively working on managing my mental health and have had some great success lately. I want to share some of the ways that I've managed to improve my mental health, and the science I found that backs up the reasons why it's working. Please keep in mind as you read this that I'm not a medical or mental health professional, so this advice should not take the place of you speaking to your own doctor or doing your own research. 

Having said that, I gotta say, life has been pretty good lately. Well, ok, so maybe it's less that life itself has been good and more that I've felt more prepared to deal with the daily shit life throws at me. I wake up feeling good, I go throughout my day smiling more, I feel increasingly optimistic and I daresay even happier, but I know my mental health could shift at any time if I don't keep working on it, so that's what I intend to do.

The success I've been achieving lately has been largely due to some changes I've made in my life, both major and minor. I did a ton of research (and continue to do research) on the topic of mental health and I'd like to share some of that information with you now. While I do still struggle with my depression and anxiety, it feels like less of an uphill battle lately and I'm incredibly grateful for that.

I also did a podcast on this subject, and you can check it out rather than reading it by visiting the Podcast page on this website or by clicking this link to go to the Apple Podcasts page for it

So let's get right into my 5 Steps Towards Better Mental Health.

STEP 1. GET ORGANIZED

  • Use a planner or a to-do list
  • Have a clean or tidy home
  • Eliminate toxicity and find joy

Using a planner or to-do list can help you not feel so overwhelmed all the time, which is something that I regularly struggle with. When I get overwhelmed, I tend to find myself wanting to just sit and try to come up with a game plan, but often times I just sit there and stress about all the things I have to do - not knowing which to do first or how to prioritize, and then I end up doing nothing. I'll fall asleep, or watch a show to chill for a minute and tell myself that after I take my nap or watch my show I'll be able to focus and get shit done. This never works out, and before I know it I've either slept for a few hours and feel like dookie, or I've "accidentally" binge watched an entire season of some terrible show *cough* Riverdale *cough*.

I've learned that by going back to my old list-making habits from my corporate life (did you know I used to be a corporate drone too?) and by using a daily planner, I'm able to visualize my goals and determine priorities easier. It's also supposedly easier to commit things to memory when you take the time to write and review them. Get yourself a quality planner that you can carry around (or use your phone) and start creating to-do lists either at night before bed or in the morning when you wake up. It's really been helpful for me. It also gives me a chance to feel more accomplished at the end of the day. I get to look back on my list and see all the things I've crossed off, and I feel proud and ready to do the same tomorrow.

Having a clean or tidy home is also a large aspect of your mental health, and I think it's one we overlook frequently. I read some interesting studies relating to this topic and found that people with clean houses tend to be healthier than people with messy houses. In addition to reminding me that I need to finish cleaning my house, it inspired me to keep researching cleanliness and its impact on mental health. There was a scientific journal published in 2010 that showed people who described their living spaces as "cluttered" or "full of unfinished projects" were more likely to be depressed or fatigued. People who described their homes as "restful" or "restorative" were less likely to feel fatigued or depressed, and showed much lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

There was also a princeton university study in 2011 that found clutter can make it harder to focus on a specific task. This one I can totally attest to. The visual cortex can apparently be overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects, which makes it harder to allocate attention fully and complete tasks efficiently. I know when i'm sitting at my desk getting ready to work on anything, even just before I hit go on my Twitch live streams, I get almost instantly frustrated or distracted when my desk is cluttered - even just a little.

I read this interesting book by Marie Kondo years ago, and I've been meaning to read it again soon so I'll have to add that to my morning book list. The book was called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I loved her explanation and her methodical manner for clearing your home of clutter, but the thing I valued the most was the way she explains how to decide what to keep and what to toss.

This brings us to the final point of the first step towards better mental health - eliminate toxicity and find joy. In her book, Marie Kondo explained that when you are deciding what you'd like to hold onto, you should be looking at each item individually. You should hold that item up and ask yourself "does this bring me joy?". Joy can show itself in a variety of ways, but if you trust your gut, you can figure out pretty quickly whether there's any form of joy associated with that item. Does it have sentimental value? Do you like wearing it because it makes you feel good? If you can't easily answer this question "does this item bring me joy" - that's probably a sign that it needs to go into the discard pile.

I took this idea of eliminating toxicity and finding joy and applied it to more than just my things. I started to realize slowly that there were countless relationships in my life that didn't bring me any joy, but rather tended to make me feel bad or anxious when I was around those people, or after leaving them. Many of us have people like that in our lives, toxic folks who we may not even realize are negatively impacting our mental health until we experience life without them.

It's very easy to accumulate these types of relationships, as many of us live in the same area we grew up in. It's likely that you have friends or people that you wouldn't have been associating with if you hadn't attended school together, worked together, or known each other through mutual friends. There is no harm in evaluating and potentially discarding those relationships if they don't bring you joy. If you're having trouble identifying those that you should avoid, think about people who you dread spending time with. Think about people who you find yourself venting about a lot, or people who tend to bring out anger in you more than others. Whether they're former co-workers, friends or even family - there is nothing wrong with choosing not to associate with them anymore. It doesn't mean you should lash out at them or be unkind, but you can choose to kindly move on and stay focused on the relationships that do bring you joy.

I have cut down some of these superfluous relationships over the past few years, and HOLY SHIT what a difference. It's so nice to not be surrounded by people I feel like complaining about all the time. It's so nice to be in a job that may stress me out but doesn't diminish my joy. I feel better because I've surrounded myself with more positive relationships.

So those are the primary parts of step 1, get organized. Use a planner, keep your surroundings tidy, eliminate toxicity and find joy.

STEP 2. GET SOCIAL AND TRY HOBBIES

  • Experiment Creatively
  • Join a Community
  • Do something with Friends and family

When it comes to experimenting creatively, there are SO many options. There was an interesting study from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence which found that when people engaged in everyday forms of creativity - like making something, taking photographs, creative writing, etc., they tended to be more open minded, curious, persistent, positive, energetic and intrinsically motivated by their activities. These same people also reported a greater overall sense of well-being and personal growth, compared to their classmates who did less and as a result - felt less.

It's almost crazy to me the potential impact of creativity, especially when I learned that it can be used in a theraputic manner by those who are already suffering from mental health issues. There is research that shows that expressive writing actually increases immune system functioning!

Another way to experiment creatively is one of my personal favorites - COLORING! I fucking LOVE COLORING. I have been enjoying some of my "adult" coloring books for years now, but didn't know until recently that there are studies that show it's actually good for your mind. By the way, when I say "adult" coloring books, I don't mean it in the way "adult book stores" mean the word "adult", I just mean I'm not usually coloring Disney books. I actually prefer mandalas, and the research that I found from 2005 says that anxiety levels dropped when the subjects were coloring mandalas, which are just round frames with geometric patterns inside. Apparently colored pencils are better than crayons because the precision allows for better focus. I need to buy a set of those, I suppose, since I've just been using skinny markers lately.

I had this one coloring book I picked up in Sedona, Arizona that was based on A Course in Miracles, and was actually intended to help you sort of meditate while coloring. Unfortunately, my puppy, Enzo, ate it, but before he did I really enjoyed it. It was nice to have a simple concept to reflect on while coloring an image created to represent that concept. I know there are more books like this out there, so I'd suggest looking into it.

Aside from experimenting creatively, you can also join a community to attempt to get social and try more hobbies. If you're reading this article early on, it's likely that you already know the benefits of being in a community - because you're probably already a part of the Twitch or gaming community that I'm a part of as well. There are TONS of potential communities out there though, and I highly suggest doing some research to see what hobbies you have that might have associated communities. I know when I got into martial arts in 2010, I was feeling particularly lonely at the time and being welcomed into the MMA community was such a boost for me. I made so many friends at my gym and felt great about challenging myself to learn more about these things we all loved so much. Personally, I totally recommend martial arts as a hobby and for anyone looking to join a community. The MMA itself is great for your body and mind, and something about martial arts gyms that I like is everyone seems to check their egos at the door. They're accepting and welcoming even if you've never tried to grapple or thrown a punch in your life. Everyone knows what it was like to start, so don't feel embarrassed or ashamed or think that you have to get into shape BEFORE going to a martial arts gym. Go there TO get in shape, and while you're at it, make some humble friends like the incredibly dope Angie "Overkill" Hill (who also wrote a blog for this site here). Win-win.

Research also shows that interacting with others boosts feelings of well being and decreases feelings of depression. The continuous effort that goes into building social connections is a great mood booster.

If you're sitting there thinking about what types of communities you can join, that's great. Movies, music, gaming, MMA, almost every hobby has a community, but don't forget about the communities you're already a part of - i.e. your family and friends.

Doing something with your family and friends is WONDERFUL for your mental health. MentalHealthAmerica.net says that people are 12 times more likely to feel happy on days that involve 6-7 hours with friends or family. This may seem like a lot of time, but it's really just a day at a barbeque, dinner and a movie, or maybe it's a planned activity out in the world. Either way, you can make it happen. Don't allow yourself to become isolated if you can avoid it, and by doing things with people you enjoy being around, it should be easier to push yourself out of the door more often. It's important to keep forming those social bonds, because people with more social support tend to live longer than those who are isolated - according to PsychologyToday.

So that's my step 2 - get social and try hobbies. Experiment creatively, join a community or do something fun with your friends or family.

Step 3. SELF CARE

Self care, to me, is comprised primarily of these things, in no particular order.

  • Water
  • Nutrition
  • Meditation
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Air / Sunlight / Nature

Let's start with water. Did you know that a level of hydration just ONE percent below optimal can affect mood, concentration and cause headaches? Our hearts and brains consist of more water than the rest of our bodies, so we really need it to function at our highest levels. A general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces, plus more if it's hot out or if you're doing a lot of physical activity. One of the best decisions I made for myself was to get a reusable water bottle. I love my Contigo so much it hurts. I never leave the house without it. Since I carry a purse, I'm able to latch my bottle on to the strap and keep it with me always. I might pee a lot, but let me tell you I feel better. I also keep my Contigo right next to my bed, because I've heard that drinking water right when you get up is a great way to become alert faster. I definitely notice it. If I wake up and slam water right away, I feel like my brain starts kicking in more than it does if I just go straight to coffee. Not that I don't also drink coffee, because let's be real, coffee is fucking delicious and makes me happy inside. Damn, now I might have to go make another french press of my King's Coast before I move on to my next task today. Hmmmm... ANYWAYS.
According to the British Journal of Nutrition AND the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, dehydration can impair your short term memory functions as well as the recall of long term memory. I don't need any more reasons to forget things so I'm going to keep hydrating to hang on to all my memories. Feeling tired is one of the first signs of dehydration, so if you're feeling sluggish, go drink water. Matter of fact, just go now. I'll wait. Did you go? Did you get water? Cool, then we'll move on.

Moving on from water, let's get into nutrition. Proper nutrition is becoming a controversial topic these days, so I won't be getting too much into it because I don't know shit about shit. All I can say is I know I feel better when I eat cleaner. There was an article I read on MentalHealth.org that said a balanced mood of feelings and well being can be protected by ensuring that our diets provide adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and WATER.
Approximately two-thirds of people who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fresh fruit juice daily, compared with less than half of those who DO report daily mental health problems. The pattern was similar for folks who eat a lot of fresh veggies and salads.

It's advised that you try to avoid eating high sugar foods as they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream which can cause an initial surge of energy, but it leads to an eventual crash which can leave you feeling tired and low. If you've ever attempted to spend a day gaming by fueling yourself with Mountain Dew and Doritos, you probably know what I'm talking about here.

When I was learning more about the impact of low-quality foods and sugars on your brain, I learned a bit about something called Oxidative Stress. So oxidative stress is something that happens when the amount of free radicals exceed the amount of antioxidants. Oxidation then begins to damage our cells, proteins and our DNA. It can be triggered by actual stress, toxins, infections and DIET. Diets shown to be high in refined sugars promote inflammation AND oxidative stress.

The best way to prevent oxidative stress is to protect your cells by providing what your body actually needs, and avoiding things it doesn't. There are studies that have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function, as well as a notable exacerbation of symptoms relating to mood disorders such as depression.

If you can, try going "clean" for a week or two to see how you feel. Have some probiotics on hand too, they're wonderful for your intestinal microbiome. Do some meal prepping if it helps, or, you can try learning more about Intermittent Fasting. This is something that I've been doing for a few months now, and I'm really enjoying it and can clearly notice the impact it's having on my body and mind. The second podcast in the Mind of Snaps series will be dedicated to Intermittent Fasting. It's really worth looking into because studies are showing major potential for fat burning, inflammation reduction, improved brain function, better moods and slower aging. It's really interesting stuff. Look into it now or wait on the next podcast, up to you.

Another aspect of self care that I've personally found to be incredibly helpful is, meditation. Wow. I wish I had looked into this years ago because I honestly believe it could have saved me from a lot of pain in my life. You really only need around 20 minutes a day, and some studies even show that as little as 5 minutes daily can be beneficial. I was blown away when I researched meditation to find out that it boosts your immune system and energy levels, improves your focus, reduces your blood pressure, lessens inflammatory diseases and asthma, lessens PMS and menopausal syndrome and can even help prevent arthritis.

Crazy, right? That's a lot of potential benefit all from something that seems as simple (and almost silly) as meditation. I know when I first heard of it, the image it conjured up was one of someone sitting cross-legged on a mat and saying "omm" over and over. It just didn't seem like it was doing anything. I was so wrong. I can safely say now when I'm feeling stressed or anxious, one of the FIRST things I do is meditate. It really does help me clear my head and lower my stress levels. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that the relaxation and calming effects experienced from meditation can benefit the mind by helping to regulate mood and anxiety disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, along with ScienceDirect, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and more all found that meditation reduces grey-matter density in areas of the brain associated with anxiety and stress. They also found that it INCREASED grey matter concentration in areas associated with learning, memory, regulating emotions and sense of self. The Art of Living foundation found that brain signaling in the left side of the prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for positive emotions) increased, and that activity in the right side, which is responsible for negative emotions - DECREASED.
One of the best aspects of meditation, to me, is that it helps you to allocate your limited brain resources to the right things at the right time. Imagine what you could do if you could only focus on just ONE task instead of 50? LOOK INTO MEDITATION.

Meditation is also great for before bedtime, which brings us to our next part of self care: SLEEP.
As a recovering insomniac, I know first hand how brutal a lack of sleep can be. It's hard to focus, I get angry easier, I'm emotional over things that wouldn't normally bother me, I just feel lost and overwhelmed overall when I haven't gotten adequate sleep in a while.
Doing research on sleep brought me to something that I found incredibly interesting. An article on the Harvard Health Publishing website showed some interesting links between sleep and mental health. Previously, it was thought that sleep issues were only symptoms of mental illnesses, or psychicatric disorders - but now they've found that they could also be CAUSING or contributing to them! People already dealing with psychiatric disorders are more likely to experience sleep problems, and people with sleep problems are more likely to develop psychiatric disorders. Sleep is important.

REM sleep, especially, is incredibly vital as studies show it enhances learning and memory and contributes to overall health in a variety of ways while insomnia can impair thinking and emotional regulation.

If you're trying to achieve that great sleep and hit REM, here are some basic ways to aid in your efforts:

  • Keep your house cool - overheating at night is just going to wake you up and leave you feeling frustrated and tired. Get a good blanket, get under it, and turn the heat way down. I, personally, sleep with the house at 66/67 degrees and it seems to be erfect for me. If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning when your house is cold, get a thermostat that allows you to program it to go down at night and up in the mornings. Super helpful.
  • Get a sleep mask. I got one from Amazon that was $10.99 and has these little blocker thingies on the nose of it. It basically prevents all light from coming in, even if I have my eyes open. You need one of these, or some similar blackout mask. Basically, you want to be able to open your eyes and see only darkness. It really helps me because I think part of my issues at night, aside from my mind wandering, is that my eyes keep popping open and finding new things that get my brain wandering more. Having no choice but to keep them closed helps me to stay focused on my meditation so I can sleep easier.
  • You've probably heard this before, but I'll say it again. Another great way to help yourself sleep easier at night is to keep your bedroom free of distractions and only use it for what it's intended for. So if you're not sleepin' or makin' the sex, don't be in your room.
  • If you're a smoker, first of all, quit, but if you're not ready to yet, at least try to limit your nicotine at night. Same goes for alcohol. Nicotine is a stimulant which speeds heart rate and thinking, so for anxious people it's a bad idea. And alcohol initially depresses your nervous system, which is great for falling asleep at first, but eventually the effects wear off and you wake up - usually suuuuper dehydrated too. Avoid both if possible.
  • Affirmations before bed can also be great. I've started this basic routine before bed: meditate to clear my head, put my mask on, then repeat some positive affirmations to myself and my boyfriend. We say things like "Tomorrow will be a good day. We are going to wake up feeling refreshed and energized. We won't hit the snooze button." Sometimes we're very specific and essentially plan out our days in a positive manner, and other days we're vague and just reference the entire day as a whole. Either way, I've noticed a very positive change from this. I wake up feeling more refreshed for sure, and the things I thought of or said right before bed are often the first things I think of when I wake up. Try it out yourself, see how it works for you.

If you're still struggling to fall asleep at night, there's another aspect of self care that may help you: Exercise.

According to the Department of Mental Health and Learning Disability in London, exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative moods by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercising more can improve your sleep, your sex drive, stress levels, mood, weight, cholesterol and more. The American Psychiatry association now mandates exercise as a part of the prescribed treatment for people suffering from mental illness. They require 30 minutes a day, so that's what I've been shooting for at a minimum. The 30 minutes doesn't have to be all at once, though it is nice to just get it done and over with. You can break it up by doing three, ten minute walks daily, or doing a bit in the morning and a bit at night. Whatever it is you do, make sure you are doing at least a half hour of it, daily.

Some minor changes to your daily life can improve this as well. Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator more often, hell, take the stairs once, then go down and do it again if you ahve time. I used to do this all the time when I worked my corporate job. Dance a little while doing chores, take your dogs for a short walk around the block, do some yoga, whatever. There are plenty of options. If you are struggling to think of types of exercise you enjoy, you can also check community centers for free, fun activities.

Speaking of going outside... that brings me to our final point associated with Self-Care: Air, Sunlight & Nature.

MentalHealthAmerica.net says that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well being. Sunlight synthesizes vitamin D, which experts believe is a mood booster. Combine the two and you've got the recipe for a nice little boost of positive energy. There was an interesting study I read that discussed how being outside is great, but the location itself is key. It seems to be incredibly beneficial for us to not only get outside, but to get outside and into some form of nature. So this study from the University of Michigan took some students and gave them all a memory test. Then they divided those groups and sent them outside for a walk. One group walked through a wooded park, and the other group walked through the city. When the students came back, they were tested again on their memory. The folks who had walked among the trees did almost 20% better than the first time. The ones who had wandered through the city didn't consistently improve.

Another similar study listed in the Journal of Affective Disorders was focused specifically on depressed individuals and noted that walks in nature boosted working memory more than walks in city / urban environments. Studies have also found that natural beauty can elicit feelings of AWE, which is a great way to experience a mental boost similar to one you'd feel while listening to uplifting music or viewing new or interesting art. I think we'll do another podcast on awe specifically, because researching it a bit lead to some interesting findings, including the positive impact of awe on folks suffering from PTSD.

So to reiterate, there are many different forms of self care but the ones I found to be especially crucial were water, nutrition, meditation, sleep, exercise and getting yourself out into nature for some fresh air and sunlight.

STEP 4. STAY BUSY

  • Routine

Having a routine can help you to better manage your time and plan ahead. It can also help you to build confidence by allowing you to see progress better. Our bodies tend to function better when eating, sleeping and exercise patterns are set to a regular schedule. Our brains have a ton to process daily, so habits can help you regulate daily processes and not feel overwhelmed. Unstructured time can lead to boredom, which may make it easier to fall back on old, unhealthy habits.

Scheduling meals, exercise, meditation, etc., can be beneficial for sure. I've noticed an incredibly positive change in my life since implementing a new routine suggested by a book I read called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.

For someone who would never have referred to myself as a morning person, I'm now up every day between 4:30 and 5:00 AM and I LOVE IT. In my time in the mornings before work, I meditate, do my affirmations, do some visualization exercises, actually exercise, then I read a little of something that's good for either my personal or professional development and then I wrap things up by writing in my journal.

If you're struggling to journal, try just writing down 3 things you're grateful for, 3 things that were funny during your day and 3 things that you achieved. It's a good way to get started. Plus, WebMD says that regular expressions of gratitude can help lower stress levels and even improve your immune system. A friend of mine, Lansing, has started a bit of a movement by telling everyone constantly to "ATLT" - Appreciate The Little Things. So when we do our live streams on Twitch, and on his Twitch channel as well (twitch.tv/lansingtbh) we regularly ask our communities to tell us what their "ATLT moments" were for the day. What small thing do you have that you can be grateful for today? I've noticed that many times when people are newer to the community, they say things like "nothing" "I don't have an ATLT moment" but after a bit of work on their gratitude, and opening their eyes to all the things they have to be thankful for, they wind up coming back saying "I have SO MANY ATLT's today!". Basically, the more we focus on the good, the more good shows itself.

I mentioned affirmations when discussing both my morning and pre-sleep routines, there's a reason for that. I do affirmations all day, but I specifically schedule them for those key moments. According to GoodTherapy.org, research indicates that nearly 80% of our self-talk is negative. Without realizing it, we are talking to ourselves all the time. Why not work on making those conversations more positive? Affirmations play a significant role in many thereputic models, including cognitive behavioral therapy which is a common treatment for depression and tends to be featured in recovery or rehabilitation programs as well. The common thing that this research shows, along with research from ScienceDaily.com is that self-acceptance is key to a happier life. A great way to achieve self-acceptance is to use affirmations to express just how great and capable you truly are. I personally believe very much in the power of the human mind and body, and I use affirmations as a way to remind myself of that. I truly believe we are capable of incredible and extraordinary things, but we talk ourselves out of them so much. Let's try talking ourselves INTO being great, I think I like that idea better.

Affirmations and visualization can go hand in hand, and visualization is another important part of my daily routine. A study published in the journal "Frontiers in Human Neuroscience" showed that self-guided, positive visualization techniques can combat negative thoughts very effectively. After two seminars of visualization training and then 12 weeks to practice using visualization in their daily lives, EEG data showed significant changes to the parts of the brain linked to life satisfaction and visualizing positive emotions. Participants brains also showed increased connectivity in the temporal lobe of both brain hemispheres, which suggests an increase in a neurotransmitter linked to reductions in anxiety and depression.

The crazy thing is, visualization is great for mental AND physical health. Yeah, you heard that right, visualization can help your physical health. There was this super interesting study done by an exercise psychologist from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. He basically compared people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads. Basically, the dudes going to the gym visualized their workouts and then went and did them, while the other group simply visualized their workout and did nothing. The coolest shit happened, the people who went to the gym after their visualization noted around a 30% muscle increase, and the people who JUST VISUALIZED IT still saw nearly a 14% muscle increase! This is not to say that you don't need exercise, all you have to do is imagine yourself exercising, this is just a testament to how powerful your mind and body can be when they're both working together. The mind body connection is REAL people, it's real.

So, staying busy and keeping a routine is the 4th step towards better mental health, and if you're going to create your new routine now, try to include: meals, exercise, meditation, affirmations and visualization and socialization in that routine if you can.

My fifth and final step towards better mental health is:

STEP 5. TALK TO SOMEONE

Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. Do not feel bad because you're hurting and don't think you can handle it alone. There is no weakness in asking for help. There is nothing wrong with trying to talk to someone when you're going through bad times or when you're struggling with your mental health. Talk to a professional if you can, there are even online therapy options nowadays so professional help is more readily available than ever, but if you can't do that, talk to a trusted friend or adviser, or talk to people in your community. The important thing to always remember is that self harm is NOT the answer. Suicide is NOT the answer.

It's so easy to get stuck in that mindset, and to think you're completely on your own, but you're not. Please, please remember that. You are not alone. Your life has meaning and is full of all sorts of beautiful possibilities. Nearly 16 years ago when I attempted suicide, I thought that there was no chance of life getting better in the future. Now, here I am, in a healthy relationship and doing a job I love. Is my life perfect? No. Am I excited for the future anyways? YES. I have finally started to truly believe in all the things that I'm capable of and as a result - I'm achieving more and feeling better overall.

I would never have guessed that I'd find the community I did because I liked playing video games. If you start looking for beauty in this world, you'll find it. Especially if you seek that beauty while pursuing your passions.

But seriously, please, talk to me, talk to a friend, talk to a pastor, talk to a therapist, do whatever it takes because you are worth it. Your life is worth this effort and you have no idea what kind of incredible things you may have ahead of you.

In addition to those resources, we also do regular Mental Health Awareness streams on Twitch, as I mentioned earlier. The last one was on March 31st, 2018 and you can re-watch the broadcast here. There will be more of these in the future as I do them monthly. Come in and hear more of my story and what I've learned from all my struggles, but also, come in and share. It's sort of evolved into a support group over time. I'm not the only one offering advice, nor am I the only one discussing the hardships I've faced. You'll hear from all kinds of people struggling with all kinds of issues, and you'll hear from more people who are making positive progress in their lives. The discussions can be hard but incredibly uplifting and all are welcome. If you've never said a word in chat before, don't feel bad for only talking during the Mental Health streams. I truly want to help in any way I can, and I know my community feels the same.

If you're really hurting, don't forget there's also a free help line at 1 800-273-TALK.

Just remember, you are not alone, your life has meaning, you are loved.

You can do this.

 

Last modified onThursday, 12 April 2018 16:14
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