“Everyone’s Been There”: A Dangerous Myth

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

Let me preface this post by acknowledging a universal truth of life – everyone has gone through tough shit or will at some point in the future. Everyone has a story.

But when it comes to mental illness, not everyone’s “been there”. People – usually sweet, kind, well-meaning people who are just trying their best – love to say this as a response to someone’s experience with mental illness (often one that is directly correlated with an emotion that everyone really does experience at some point in time, such as depression or anxiety). I believe that when people say this, it is with the best intentions. They want to make the person they’re talking to feel less alone, and they want to believe that they understand.

They don’t realize that statements like this severely invalidate the experiences of a person with a mental illness. It’s not born out of malice; it’s born out of ignorance and the limitations that come with being human.

Whenever I use the word ‘ignorant’ people tend to get all up in arms, but the thing is, when I say that I am not calling out anyone in particular. We are all ignorant because we can only fully understand things which we have experienced. We can try to better ourselves by learning more about the world and other people’s experiences, but we can only do so much, and many people do not go out of their way to do this.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t understand what it’s like to be a “normal” person, because I have never been “normal”. I do not know the difference. I do my best every day to imagine and to be empathetic towards others, but I do not understand. I don’t know. Continue reading

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Whiplash (Or, Making Responsible Decisions™)

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

A month and a half after ending this relationship, in no way did I feel like I was ready to start dating again. All I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and recuperate. But all of my friends were either happily coupled up or active on the dating scene, and I was starting to feel left out.

So I re-downloaded some dating apps I’d used in the past – they’d never worked for me, but I figured that there was no harm in talking to a few people online for a little while to boost my confidence.

And then I had my first match.  “_ says, ‘I walked into a cactus once.’ Message him and ask him about it!”

Obviously I did, because that is literally the best icebreaker ever. Continue reading

Out Of The Tunnel

BY BRANDON MINIA

It took a whole lot of willpower to finally muscle my way out of one of the worst episodes I’ve had in almost two years.

I had almost forgotten. You stay well enough for so long that the anxiety doesn’t even feel so bad, even though you know that with anxiety, depression is surely lurking around the corner. And once it comes around and hits you, you turn into a mere shell of yourself.

Since February, my anxiety was hitting almost unprecedented levels considering how well hqdefault.jpgI had been for so long. And with how tense I had been, I knew that the possibility of me slipping down into that rabbit hole was a distinct possibility. It did.

I can’t name exactly what triggered it, mostly because I don’t know what it was. I don’t know if it was a combination of factors, or if it just happened. Or both. With me, as it is with so many others, my depression is hard to pinpoint no matter how mindful I am of my emotional levels.

The depression was beginning to creep in near the end of February. I started becoming more fatigued and my motivation to do work began to dissipate. In the back of my head, I knew of course that the danger of me falling back into that dreaded state was slowly becoming more and more of a possibility as every day passed. Still, I blamed my decreasing energy levels on my anxiety.

Continue reading

The Memory Phenomenon: Missing Things You Don’t Really Miss 

I’ve been writing a lot lately about minimalistic living and the importance of being mindful – topics that are proving to be similarly thematic. Their overarching theme: the importance of living simply and in the moment. Easier said than done, of course.
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The concept of minimalistic living extends further than cleaning your closet; in theory it’s tangible change that affects you mentally. Because a clutter free home equals a clutter free mind – or something of that nature. I’m not big on clutter. I like my possessions, but I keep the hoarding to a minimum, primarily due to my small apartment and my neurosis pertaining to mess. That said, I feel like I am constantly cluttered anyways mentally. 
I once attributed the fact that I hadn’t changed the background on my phone (a photo of me and my then ex boyfriend), to the fact that I’m an emotional hoarder. Maybe I don’t keep old clothes or hang on to every hairbrush that comes into my life, but when it comes to the sentimental, I’m grossly attached. In fact, just yesterday I found a photo of my ex boyfriend from high school stuffed behind a business card from a job I quit last August, snuggly layered behind behind two fortunes cookie fortunes that yet another ex gave to me years ago. It was at this point I realized, my emotional hoarding might be a little more of a problem than I’d given it credit for.

Continue reading

Taking a Tolerant Approach to Education

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

We talk and we talk and we talk about what needs to change in this world and the various things that we need to call people out on. But rarely do we talk about how exactly to do that.

I’d like to say that it doesn’t matter how you say something, it’s what you say, and in some cases that is true, but in this case, the “what” and the “how” are equally important. The “how” might even be more important.

Here is why – imagine that you’ve written something (it can be anything, even a text message), and someone reading it says to you, “Um, excuse me, but just so you know, semicolons are actually only supposed to be used when bla bla bla bla. I mean I don’t expect most people to know that, I’m just a huge stickler for grammar and I went to school for Creative Writing.”

Did reading that kind of piss you off? Because it pissed me off just to write it. Doesn’t whoever that person is sound like a stuck up douchebag? They sound like they’re lecturing, and not because they actually care about teaching you something, but because they want to show off the ways in which they are better than you. Continue reading