Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: mental health

Make it stop

This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you’re dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, please know you’re not alone. And it might not seem like it now but it will get better. Maybe with medication, maybe with therapy, maybe with time, maybe with all three. But it will get better. And please, if you need help, reach out to someone. A professional, preferably. Especially if you’re thinking about suicide. You can find help at 1-800-273-8255 or via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or text HOME to 741741

Whether we realize it or not, all of our lives have been touched, at some point, by suicide. It might be personal, it might be professional, it might just be from hearing about Chester Bennington or Robin Williams in the news. But we all know someone who’s taken their life. And, more than anything, it’s hard to understand how or why someone would do that.

There is no simple answer. Depression is a complicated, shape shifting monster that fucks with your brain in any way it can and has no regard for race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, or anything else (we can talk about statistics if you’d like but really, depression does not discriminate). It strips you of everything you love and feel one minute, makes you feel everything on steroids the next, and in between it gives you moments of respite. Like a dog, it’s always there, following you around, waiting to see what you do next. But unlike a dog, it never brings you joy or comfort. It mostly just pees in your bed and shits on your shoes.

Depression loves to kick you when you’re down, too. Just when you think you can’t feel worse, it ramps up. It tells you you’re worthless and no one cares about you and all the things we think people feel about us (and sometimes we feel about ourselves) in a loud voice that screams above all the others. Not only that, it says it constantly and on a loop. You cannot escape it and it eventually becomes fact. It’s irrational and irritating and shrill and bossy and sometimes so loud the only way to make it stop is to just stop being. When you get that low, the only way to stop the hurt is to not be here anymore.

Suicide isn’t a rational decision because depression isn’t rational. I wouldn’t even classify suicide as a decision or choice. It’s an action that’s forced upon you by a lying murderer because you can’t spend one more day feeling like you don’t matter and that no one cares. And when someone take their own life it’s not because they want to cause more hurt. Revenge or spite suicide isn’t a thing. Someone dies by suicide because dying is less painful than living.

If you’ve never experienced true clinical depression–and if you haven’t, I would never, ever wish it on you–it’s hard to wrap your brain around how someone can feel like that. After all, aren’t we just supposed to choose happy? Just wake up and put a smile on your face and take on the day? Fuck that. If you have a sick brain, you can’t choose it. Because trust when I say anyone with depression would choose happy over this shit any day.

It’s a horrible thing to think that someone feels so worthless that they truly believe the world is better without them in it. Which is why it’s up to us to make a concerted effort to understand depression. If you have a friend suffering (and, to be fair, you might not always know if someone is hurting. We are experts at hiding it so please don’t blame yourself if you aren’t or weren’t aware), call or text them. Let them know that they’re safe around you to be whatever they need to be that day. Let them know that you’re there for them when they’re ready. Be patient. Tell them they’re loved. Tell them something you like about them or recount a funny story. Reach out and keep reaching out even if they don’t respond. But more than anything, don’t give up on them. They need you.

For those of us fighting depression, we have a responsibility to educate. To help end the stigma and make it okay for people to talk about their mental illness. To stop hiding in shame. To tell our stories and provide comfort and hope to those who are suffering. To give them a comfortable place to talk without judgement.

And to anyone who is suffering, let me say this again:

If you are feeling like you literally cannot live anymore, please, PLEASE tell someone. Doesn’t have to be family or a close friend. Tell a random person on the internet. Text a random number. Email me or reach out to me on social media. But just tell someone. Because, despite what lies the depression is telling you right now, your life is important. You are a good person. You have gifts to share. You will find the place where you belong, with people who love you for who you are. You are more than your debt, your bankruptcy, your job loss, or whatever horrible situation you are in. I’d even be willing to bet that there are people right now who love you just as you are and don’t give a shit about the rest. You will survive whatever it is you’re going through.

Because.

Depression lies.

You are worth life.

Just keep talking, just keep talking

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Although mental health awareness shouldn’t be limited to one month per year, please take some time this month to learn, understand, or talk with someone who suffers from a mental illness. Understanding, education, and empathy are the only ways to break the stigma. 

My depression manifests itself in a number of ways but, in a bizarre twist of events, the hallmark is my silence. I stop texting, emailing, commenting, blogging or writing, and mostly just talking in general. I’m not an overly chatty person (most of the time) but when the depression is bad, I go my version of radio silent (is that expression still a thing? It should still be a thing).

I do it because the depression quiets my voice.

It tells me I have nothing of value to say.

It tells me I have nothing add to a conversation.

It tells me I’m boring.

It tells me what I have to say doesn’t matter.

It tells me I’m stupid and uninformed. 

It tells me I’m an impostor. 

It tells me to shut up.

It tells me no one cares. 

In case I haven’t said it before, depression is a lying asshole. 

On my good days, I know this is all bullshit (for the most part. I’m admittedly pretty boring sometimes) but in the thick of it, it’s as true as the fact that I’m short. And on those days, all I want is for someone to let me know that:

I’m not boring. 

I’m not stupid.

I’m not an impostor. 

People do care. 

And that’s what I’m saying to you, even if you don’t have depression. Because maybe you’ll have a bad day and you’ll need it. 

You matter.

Keep using your voice. Even if it feels uncomfortable and like you’re talking into the void, I assure you, someone is listening. 

You never know who you’re impacting with even the most mundane comment.

Just keep talking. 

resized signature 2

Things that make me feel put together

I’ve mentioned this before but I have been struggling hardcore lately. I know it’s the depression talking and I’m fighting it off the best I can but some days it gets the best of me and I can’t muster the energy to do anything beyond the necessities of life. And sometimes it’s hard to even do that. But I keep trying and plugging away the best I can. 

It’s on those days that I think about the things I can do to make me feel like I have my life together. I don’t believe in fake it till you make it but I guess this all falls under that. I suppose this list can work even when I’m feeling like my best self because who doesn’t want to feel like they have it all together? 

  • Dinner in the crock pot
  • Wearing a matching bra and underwear
  • Bills paid, grocery shopping done, full tank of gas, and no looming laundry mountain
  • All the DVRd shows watched
  • All the podcasts current
  • All the open tabs read and closed
  • Seeing the living room and kitchen completely clean with no stray items anywhere and everything in its place
  • Fresh manicure and pedicure, either DIY or paying someone else to do it. Polish colors don’t need to match
  • Going a day without running an errand because everyone has everything they need
  • The cat spending the whole day in the house without begging to go outside (this is more of a personal victory than feeling put together but it still counts)
  • Crossing off all the items on ye old to-do list
  • Getting everything I need at one store (unless that store is Walmart, which is the bane of my existence. I hate that fucking place. I sometimes purposefully drive to four different stores simply to avoid our local Walmart)
  • Wearing lip gloss even when I know no one else will see me

For the record, these don’t all have to be accomplished on the same day. If even one of them is done, I feel like I’m put together. 

What makes you feel like you have it all together?

resized signature 2

3 Tricks for Achieving Your Goals

Jana’s note: I’m working on improving my goal achieving prowess. I’m pretty good at setting them. Achieving them? Well, that’s not always as easy because sometimes I get bored and stop or get frustrated and stop or life gets in the way and I stop. The tips in this post are quite helpful for someone like me and I plan to use them as I continue working through some of my goals in progress. Also, if you’re a resolution setter, with the new year approaching, these are some solid tips to help you not quit those, either.

3-tricks-for-achieving-your-goals

Many of us fail at achieving our goals. We go through life with a myriad of goals, only to achieve some and not others. When this was happening to me, I became frustrated. I knew there had to be a way to better achieve all my goals. I read books and listened to others to see if I could figure out the secret ingredient to hitting my goals.

In time, I realized that there was no secret ingredient that would magically help me achieve all my goals. But that doesn’t mean I gave up.

Through much trial and error, I found 3 things that have helped me with achieving my goals. In this post, I share them with you in hopes that you too can start attaining more of your goals too.

#1. Break Them Into Smaller Steps

No matter what your goal is, I want you to write it down. Leave some space underneath it so you can add some information. Do this for all your goals. Your next step is to now figure out how to break that goal into smaller goals. The key here is to make a bunch of smaller goals so that as you hit them, you will be motivated to keep going and eventually reach your big goal.

For example, a couple years ago I wanted to pay off my student loans. At the time, the balance was $20,000. For me, seeing this huge number overwhelmed me. I thought that there was no way I could pay off that debt. As I made my monthly payment and saw the balance drop by $100, the goal seemed even more insurmountable.

But then I did what I am telling you here. I broke this goal into small goals. My first small goal was to get the debt down to $15,000. The next goal was $10,000 and then $5,000. Suddenly, I had more motivation to pay off my debt.

Instead of focusing on $20,000 I focused on $5,000. Just pay off $5,000 I kept telling myself. I created a separate spreadsheet and tracked my payments. Seeing me progress towards my goal excited me and motivated me to keep going.

After I hit $5,000 I began all over again, trying to hit $5,000 a second time.

This trick helped me to pay off that debt in just under two years. Each time I hit my smaller goals, I celebrated by going to dinner to my favorite restaurant. So take some time and figure out how you can break your large goal into a smaller set of goals and then celebrate when you hit them.

#2. Keep Your Goals In Front Of You

Another trick I found to help me stay motivated was to keep my goals in front of me. Too many times I would write my goals down in a notebook, close it and not look at it again for months. When I would open the notebook a few months later, I would see my goals and be like “oh, yeah, I did have that goal”. I was a victim to the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind”.

To overcome this, I started to keep my goals out where I can see them. On my desk and computer monitor is a number. To most people who see it, they just see a number. But to me, that number equals freedom. It is my number for financial freedom, the net worth that allows me to retire and live life differently.

Of course, there are some goals you don’t want on your desk for everyone to see. Luckily, there are various things you can use here to get this trick to work.

  • Put sticky notes on your mirror in the bathroom.
  • Put a reminder in your phone and set it to send the reminder to you at various increments.
  • Make the goal your lock screen on your phone.
  • Use a free tool like FutureMe. It allows you to write yourself a note and pick a date in the future to send it to you.
  • Tell friends and family so they can bring up your goal in conversation.

#3. Use The Power Of Visualization

One underrated trick is to use the power of visualization to your advantage. Many professional athletes use it all the time. Basketball players envision shots going through the basket. Soccer players envision their kick getting past the goal keeper.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to use this trick. I use visualization all the time. Every day I take a little time to be by myself. I close my eyes and visualize my goals in detail. For a while, I was visualizing our dream house.

I got so good at this visualization I could see little details, like blades of grass. Doing this exercise helped me to stay motivated to keep saving for our down payment and to keep looking when it seemed like all the good houses were everywhere but where we wanted to live.

You too can use visualization. Look at your goals and start picturing life with the goal being met. I used visualization for my student loan debt too.

I pictured my life without the student loan debt. I felt the weight off of my shoulders. I pictured how I could use that money for investing or saving for a dream vacation. Doing this motivated me to keep pushing through the tough times and pay off the debt once and for all.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I can’t guarantee that using these 3 tricks will help you reach your goals. But you won’t reach your goals unless you keep trying to find something that motivates you to keep pushing forward. I’ve been using these for a couple of years now and have told friends about them too.

Many of my friends tell me today how they visualize all the time now. They also tell me how breaking their goals into smaller pieces really helps them push through the long road that they had to travel down to reach their goals.

I encourage you to give these a try and start experiencing what I have already experienced – reaching your goals more often than not.

About Jon: Jon writes at Breath of Optimism, a website where he helps people think positively and be the best person they can be. You can also find his motivational quotes on Pinterest.

The importance of being honest

If you’ve spent any time around these parts, you know that one trait I cannot stand is lying. I have a zero tolerance policy for it. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you’ve done something, admit it. I might be angry at the action or lack of but I’ll be even angrier if you lie to me about it. I find lying to be one of the most contemptible, reprehensible behaviors and, if you lie to me, we’re essentially done. I already have major trust issues; I don’t need them confirmed with lies (in fact, being lied to is precisely WHY I have trust issues but that’s another topic).

But I get that sometimes a lie might be necessary or not entirely mean spirited. For instance, your weight on your driver’s license (why is this even still a thing?). Telling a 6 year old that Santa is real. Or pretending you’re going to a nice dinner when it’s really a surprise party. Shit like that. I can let those types of lies pass. 

However, there’s a whole list of lies I cannot. Here’s a sample:

  • Seeing someone with food in their teeth and say no if they ask. Especially if that person is me. If I ask and I do, let me know. I don’t want to walk around like that. See also: tags sticking out of clothes, toilet paper on shoe
  • Breaking or losing something I’ve lent you and then pretending like nothing happened. Just tell me. I won’t be mad. I promise. 
  • If you’re angry with me. I cannot stand passive aggressive behavior and if I’ve done something to upset or anger you, please tell me so we can work it out. We’re adults. 
  • Telling me I look good in an outfit if I, in fact, do not. Trust when I say you can’t be harsher on me then I am on myself. 
  • Continuing to work or maintain a relationship with me when you no longer want to but instead of saying something, you just disappear or forget to get back to me or something else shady. Just own up to your feelings. I can take it. Ghosting is the ultimate insult. 
  • Making promises you don’t keep. 
  • Pretending to be something or someone you’re not. 

Even more than the things you should always be honest with me about is one key thing you need to be honest with yourself about. And that thing is being honest about what you want from, well, life in general. What are your goals? What do you see your life looking like 5, 10, 20 years from now? What’s important to you? You have to admit those things, sans fear of judgement, because it’s your life. You need to do you. And you can’t fret about upsetting or displeasing someone else, even if that person is a parent or spouse. You need to prioritize your happiness and enjoyment. 

If you’re worried it’s too late, it’s not. You can always, ALWAYS start over. 

I know because I’m right there with you.

I recently found a picture of 24 year old me. She was so full of everything–confidence and hope and promise and believed in herself and her goals. Then I look at a picture of 39 year old me and holy shit, have I let younger me down. I have not fulfilled any of the promises I made her. 

I am a liar.

I hate that about me.

I will tell you, it makes me insanely uncomfortable to admit certain things to myself (never mind out loud). It’s that whole “deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties” part of myself that I’m scared of. I’m scared to stop lying and start owning what I know is my truth. But I know that the only way anything will change is if I do that. 

Being honest is fucking scary, y’all. 

But if we’re not honest, then we’re liars. 

And liars are assholes. 

Let’s not be assholes. 

 

resized signature 2