Guest Post: Dealing with Depression — and seeking help via a therapist

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I am so grateful for Tiffany and this post. I saw a therapist while I was in college and today I still use the same coping techniques she taught me. This is an incredible piece for anyone looking to heal. – Amanda

This semester in my studio class I got a project where I decided to focus on mental health. I myself suffer from a mental illness but I was actually surprised so many others all over the world suffer from the same thing. I had been scrolling twitter one evening and noticed a thread on what it feels like when you have anxiety and noticed I was subconsciously coping the way others do.

In about March of this year, I suffered from one of my worst mental breaks that caused me to finally seek professional help for my problems. I’ve tried visiting my regular doctor in the past to receive medication for my anxiety and depression but was denied. This time I decided to go to a therapist. What I want you to understand is that I’ve made an appointment with a therapist 2 times before going to a doctor. However, both times the therapist canceled due to emergencies.

How this made me feel

I’m not sure how others would feel about this but for me it made me feel unimportant. This was a driving factor in why I didn’t really and may still be resistant to my therapist. However, the day I had my break and anxiety attack on campus I rushed to the counseling center because I knew I needed help or I was going to end up being suicidal again.

When did my mental health begin to deteriorate?

My depression began in 2013 and I have been very good at keeping it to myself and trying my hardest not to let it affect my normal everyday life. Fake it till you make it they would say. However, in 2016 I slowly went into a decline and I wasn’t able to hide it anymore. My family especially was starting to notice and had been urging me to seek professional help but I didn’t see the need to.

In my mind, I had been dealing with it for so long on my own and I was aware of what was wrong there’s nothing new that my therapist can do for me. Every day I would mentally get myself up and try my hardest to push through the day and for a while, this worked. Unfortunately 2017 and I’ve lost all interest in life. I knew exactly what was happening, I knew I was falling. I lost interest in sex. Felt like a constant failure even when I had successes. Nothing interested me anymore and I was beyond miserable at home. My suicidal thoughts were at an all-time high. Almost every day I was having an internal battle with myself trying to be my angel and demon. It was time for me to get the help I needed a new perspective.

What did I think about therapy?

Going into therapy I was very skeptical as I know many others have felt. Like I said before what could they tell me that I didn’t know? What are they going to be able to do for me? Am I going to get medication?

Let me tell you this. Don’t wait! I knew I was suffering for years I knew I wasn’t really coping and maybe if I had gone sooner I wouldn’t have sunken the way I had. Therapy has made me realize that:

  1. There is always something that can be done.
  2. I was linking every problem to one route issue.
  3. Sometimes distancing yourself is not a bad thing it helps you heal.

My biggest issue centered on my family. My parents divorced in 2012 and ever since it’s been bad for me. All these things were slowly taking a toll on my health mentally and physically and I needed to distance myself from all that stress. I distance myself from my family not being home or limiting interaction. I know there are going to be people who are like don’t distance from family. However, you need to understand that sometimes the stress your family brings is the reason you can’t heal. You have to be able to let go of certain things in order to move forward.

Techniques to help you cope

A few things I started doing to help me cope with my depression are:

  1. Daily Deep breathing. My therapist made me start doing this where for 10 minutes a day I just sit still in silence and clear my mind by deep breathing. So far this hasn’t been working well for me but you, of course, are welcome to try.
  2. Daily exercise. 30 minutes of every day I do either a light or intense exercise routine. I use the Nike Training app to help set a plan and I make it my duty to get outside and do my routine. This method has helped to make me feel a lot better in the days I do get around to do it. It also has made me feel a lot more productive.
  3. To help with my productivity I have gotten back into my planning and make daily checklists of things to do. Checking off a task each time has given me a sense of accomplishment and has helped my productivity and lessen my anxiety of not getting things done.
  4. Tapping technique. This is also one I got from my therapist. It is a Chinese technique where you tap points on your body while chanting a mantra that helps you calm down and breathe. This has helped in times of high anxiety. You can research this method online.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking help for your anxiety or depression. Save yourself and try to be there for yourself. No one is going to care for you the way you should be always remember that. Your never alone there’s a huge community of people on social media who will encourage you. They will also give you tips on dealing so try reaching out.

Until next time! See you later lovelies! Muah! xoxo

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Tiffany Crosdale, more known as Tiffany August, is a student and blogger living in Kingston, Jamaica. Recently she has been focusing on becoming a girl boss and furthering her media career. She also freelance writes on Freelancer.com. You can contact her at TiffanyAugust@hotmail.com.

Instagram: @tiffanyaugust_
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What I Read in April

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It’s another two book month because I’ve been traveling like crazy for the good ol’ day job. And you would think I’d get a lot of reading on done on the plane but lately I’ve just been trying to squeeze in a little bit more sleep or just rest because it has been non-stop. I also picked a real difficult book this month that was not for speeding through. Read on to find out what it was!

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I was really excited to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest non-fiction book. Categorized as “self-help” this book is all about letting go of fear and worry to unlock your creative potential. While there were definite moments of “Oh!” and “Love it!” I mostly plodded along feeling like I had read a lot of it before. While I appreciated that she is a little less woo-woo thank other self-help books, I didn’t walk away feeling unchanged or different about my creative outlook. I did appreciate her recognition that we need to take breaks creatively once and awhile that it’s all part of the game. Especially because this month has not been creatively fueled. I’d pick it up if you’ve never done a self-help book before.
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Now this was the tricky book I picked up. I could only read it in sections of 20-30 pages at a time before I feel like my brain had been roasted like a cauliflower. I didn’t notice that the quote on the front was from STEPHEN HAWKING until much later but I probably should have known better. This book is about how randomness rules our lives (so cool) but handle it through mathematical theory and probability theory. Whew. I found most of it interesting, even when I was struggling and in the end it was a super rewarding read and I am glad I stuck with it. It supports a lot of self-book theories actually, just in an extremely different way. If you’re looking for a challenge (like a class in college you’d want to drop after the first week)… this is for you.

Hopefully in May we will see the return of a book a week. But until then, I hope you try these very distinct books out and tell me what you think!

 

Small But Mighty: Away Carry-On Luggage Review

You guys have been LOVING my reviews lately, so I am stoked to share with you my latest on Away Travel luggage. I had been obsessing over this luggage like every other travel nerd on Instagram for quite some time but it wasn’t until Old Faithful (my fuchsia piece of Target luggage I bought in college) broke on my trip to Miami in February. It was a sad day. I had used that piece for about a decade, so I figured it was time to treat myself a little.

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Away comes in several sizes but I went with the smallest roller bag known as The Carry-On. I went with the deep forest green because I thought Navy and Black were too generic and I wanted something that wouldn’t turn brown after a couple of uses. It’s a beautiful color.

The best part of this review is that I have been on a whirlwind tour of the country for work and so in the past month I’ve carried it with me on planes, trains, and too many Lyft rides to count. Here’s the breakdown.

SIZE: I went with the smallest one because I wanted to guarantee it could fit on any flight, anywhere. Thank god I did. The overhead storage on a recent flight to Hawaii was so teeny, tiny and my bag fit no problem. It looks super small but this can fit A LOT. I had to do San Francisco and Hawaii back-to-back so I needed to be able to pack for 60 degree and 80 degree weather. Mission accomplished.

PACKING: In this little bag I packed: 3 pairs of slacks, 3 tops, 2 dresses, 5 workout outfits, 2 pairs of flying leggings, 2 casual outfits, countless socks and undies and bras, Converse sneakers, ballet flats, my laptop charger, my poetry book manuscript (really), all of my skincare items, and my makeup bag. Even though it is small, it is thoughtfully organized so everything has a place to go. Brilliant.

WEIGHT: I honestly was worried it was cheap because it weighed so little. It is super light, even lighter without the charger in it. I was able to lift it overhead with ease, even when it was stuffed to the brim.

EXTERIOR: Ok so this is disappointing. I got green so it wouldn’t stain but I didn’t expect white paint! From bell closets at hotels (and my own closet) my poor baby got a lot of white paint marks. Luckily they’ll come off, but I only do this after a trip, so during I have to suffer the scrapes!

DURABILITY: I didn’t abuse it too much but it seems to be putting up with all the trips and airplanes good enough.

WHEELS: The wheels move like BUTTAH. Seriously. This rolls with such ease I wanted to die. That said, they are tiny little baby wheels. So at the Amtrak station and on Boston’s uneven streets they got caught a lot. They’re great in the flat surfaces in the airport. Even carpet.

CHARGING FEATURE: Omg this thing can hold a charge. Between myself and everyone I traveled with we charged our phones A LOT on it and I didn’t need to recharge it all. It’s still on the same charge from March! And I went to Boston, Miami, San Fran, and Hawaii. It’s that great. I had no issues flying with it. Delta made me pop it out and put it in my purse. Easy.

AESTHETIC: It’s totally good looking. A guy in the airport even stopped to ask me what I thought and asked to feel it up. I gave him my mini-review while we waited in line together. I got other compliments on it as well.

So was it worth the $225? I say, YES. With the exception of it’s tendency to pick up paint everywhere I go (seriously), it’s an excellent piece of luggage. I cannot believe the amount of stuff it fits and I love how easily it fits into any overhead bin. Consider me obsessed.

 

 

How to Be Resilient

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Photo by Hyungyong Kim on Unsplash

2018 at my day job has been wild. We’ve lost a lot of great people to new jobs and it was painful for me to let go of friends and mentors all at the same time. I won’t say that I handled it particularly well because I had to call my mom to keep myself from crying one day. That’s pretty rare for me. I mean, I waited 24 hours to tell her I spent the night in the ER with a broken nose.

What she told me that day stuck with me and since then, each challenge that arises in my life, whether in direct relation to these big changes or not, I think about it to calm down.

She said to me, “All of this proves just how resilient you are.”

Wow, that’s a word. A word I was and am proud to have bestowed on me. Resilient! I sometimes walk around wondering if I am crazy for putting up with certain things or for not jumping from place to place, job to job, like many of my millennial counterparts. I often think of myself as a lame duck, just paddling along with one sad foot. But resilient? I feel flattered, Mom.

She’s right by the way.

I am not sure when change became so trendy– Quit your job! Travel the world with your savings! Keep moving until you’re happy. All of those concepts never resonated with me. Sure, on a surface level I was like “Hell yes let’s do it!” But deep down, I am the type of person that much prefers to work through the complications I have in front of me, to find happiness and joy in the everyday. I mean, duh, this blog is dedicated to that. But I needed her to remind me that this tendency also makes me resilient.

(PS – I mean if you’re unhappy please find your own happiness, I am not telling you to be miserable! That’s different and you know it. Don’t pin that on me. ;))

Resiliency can be a learned trait. I truly believe this and I will preach it to anyone who will listen. Learning how to be resilient comes from learning how to be uncomfortable. Finding comfort in your life is like finding comfort on a crowded subway– you may not have seat, but you can probably work your way into a safe corner. Since everyone responds well to lists, here’s a “How to Be Resilient” list to get you started on your own journey or to continue growing (everyone, no matter how resilient, always has room for improvement!)

HOW TO BE RESILIENT

  1. Learn to Be Uncomfortable – Life is never going to be 100% sunshine. Find joy in rain. If you’re avoiding a work project because it seems complicated, try to find a way to un-complicate it. Create space where you are.
  2. Find Your Edge, And then Push Past It – Like with exercise or eating kale or starting a particularly hard book… If you stick with it, just past your edge (your breaking point, the day you usually give up) you’ll find that it is possible for you to get past whatever is holding you back. And you don’t need to go far past it, just enough so that tomorrow, you’re a little bit stronger.
  3. Support Others – Believe it or not but helping others to get over their own fears and problems will make you stronger. Others give us purpose, which in turn gives us strength to carry on.
  4. Take Breaks – No human being is going to be capable of taking sh*t nonstop. Learning how to be resilient also means learning how to take a big old break from the work of getting stronger. If you’re tired, take a seat, just don’t turnaround, you are so close!

How often do you think about being resilient? Does thinking of this word make you more capable? Is this the first time you’ve applied the word to yourself? Do you feel resilient now? Let me know…

Love, light and red wine,
Amanda

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Guest Post: Coming Out as Queer after Being Gay for 15 years

 

In Cheap Courage’s continued effort to shine a light on being honest about what scares us, I am still accepting monthly guest posts that explore the meaning of bravery, fear, courage, and honesty. Please reach out if you’re interested in sharing!

This week’s essay, “Coming Out as Queer after Being Gay for 15 Years” comes from one of my closest friends and a recent self discovery he has made. I thank him for his bravery and for your openness and dedication to my little project here.


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Photo by Serrah Galos on Unsplash

I was fifteen and living in Iowa when I first came out as gay. I was young, terrified, and hurting so much emotionally that my only way to control heartache was by cutting myself with a fishing knife.

But I came out. I got help. I got better eventually. And I’ve known love since then.

I think a lot about this time of my life. The scars on my arm won’t let me forget it. And, after 15 years of survival and knowing myself as a gay man, I am now confronted with a new, terrifying realization:

I am not a gay man. I am a queer man.

And that’s hard for me to reconcile. It’s hard for my family and friends to understand. And it’s a hard conversation to have with gay men who view queer men as a threat or unknown they can’t process.

Over the last 18 months I’ve found myself in these moments that feel emotionally similar to those I was having before I came out as a gay man. I noticed increased levels of anxiety as I struggled to resolve a grating tension between my mental and emotional self. Like before, the feeling of heartache and the inevitable loss of control were ever-present and frightening.

It is really hard to look in the mirror and have the thought, “who you project to the world isn’t who you are.”

It’s nearly impossible to look in the mirror at the age of thirty and have the thought; “you can’t possibly do this for the rest of your life.”

Recently, my twin sister came to visit, and I came out to her as queer. I did it very nonchalantly – as I have with most of my friends – because I’m secretly hoping if I’m casual about it they won’t ask me what I mean.

Because if I’m honest. I’m still figuring this out. I’m not sure what it means. But I do know that for the first time in a long time I haven’t felt trapped in a consciousness that wasn’t my own. And that feeling is a sacred space that many LGBTQ folks struggle to find.

During this conversation with my sister she did the most loving thing a person could do at that moment: she was honest, “I don’t know much about this. What does being queer mean?”

I didn’t give her a finite definition. I’m not sure that there is one definition of what it means to be queer – it differs for every person. For queer folks their own identity is a sacred place of understanding.

But I do know what I’ve been reconciling as I’ve navigated this realization:
• It started with my increasing rejection of the binary. I’ve never believed in the binary when regarding sexuality and have always believed that sexuality is an every-moving point on an endless spectrum.

• I’ve also been contemplating how the binary (sexual, gender) has been, is, and will always be used as a means of oppression for one end of the binary.

• And what it mans to be an “other” outside of an accepted binary caste system.

Mostly, though, I’ve felt trapped inside a definition of myself wasn’t me, but rather what I felt was wanted from me.

Looking back, I’ve realized that I was accepted for being gay by many because they could understand what being gay meant in opposition of themselves, or straight. They were comfortable only because they could compare it to themselves, with my sexuality being the abnormal identity.

In the few times I expressed any behavior that crossed any sort of known boundary, it was rejected because they couldn’t place it within their binary understanding. And as such, I too, internalized the idea that a binary look at sexuality and gender was the only correct way to understand these complex identities.

Struggling to be gay for fifteen years has confined the possibility of me being my actual self – whatever or whoever that turns out to be. And if I feel this at thirty in New York, I can only imagine what a scared teenager of 15 in Iowa is feeling. So I’ll leave with this: I’m queer, and if you are too, you have don’t be alone in this.

 

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Justin Dewey is a former playwright and current arts marketing professional living in Queens. He currently serves as a Marketing Manager at The Public Theater.