Friday 6PM ft. Cait

Get To Know Me Questions

 How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Author. Blogger. Bookworm trying read absolutely everything!

 There is a fire and you can either save your book or the last slice of cake in the world. Which are you saving?

Probably…my book!? Which might be a bad decision because I can’t eat it later…

  What some books have you read/ movies you’ve seen that have changed your life?

Despite feeling like a cliche, I truly have to say The Hunger Games! It really changed how I wrote, encouraged me to really hone my own voice, and it also opened the doors to Young Adult fiction for me. And then I had such a book hangover after it that I went looking for those lists of “what to read when you’ve finished The Hunger Games!” and that’s where I was introduced to Maggie Stiefvater, who is absolutely my favourite author. So I owe a lot to The Hunger Games!

  What are some of your biggest pet peeves?

I am super peeved when people hate on others for loving harmless things! Just let people be happy!

  How many siblings do you have?

I have five — four sisters and one brother.

  What made you want to start blogging?

I actually have to blame my oldest sister…she suggested starting a blog. And though my first reaction was “what’s a blog lol”, I did start and obviously it kickstarted a huge part of my life for me!

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General Mental Health Questions

 How do you tell if a book has good rep if you don’t struggle with mental illness?

The best thing to do is ask the opinion of someone who also has that same illness — or read their reviews! I look for other markers too. For instance, if these problematic tropes pop up, I get concerned that it might be bad rep:
(1) is the character with the mental illness built purely on stereotypes?
(2) is the illness represented only by the villain?
(3) is the character only loved after they’re cured? or are they “cured” unrealistically?

When it comes to noting if it has GOOD rep, I often find the story really loves and cherishes its mentally ill characters! If I can, I also look to see if the book is #ownvoices (ie: the author has the same illness and is writing from experience).

  Advice for bringing up the topic of mental health with a friend who is struggling?

Sometimes it’s easier to reach out through a text instead of in-person. Instead of cornering someone into telling you “what’s wrong”, make yourself available (if you can) to be a listening ear, a support. Often those of us with a mental illness feel like massive burdens, so belay that fear for us.

  My family and ‘friends’ don’t care about my mental health, what advice do you have for that?

If you’re able, find an online community to support you! I’ve met amazing people online who struggle with similar things that I do, whether it’s depression or social anxiety. Books are also a safe haven to find comforting messages. But absolutely know, no matter what, you’re not alone. You’re not a burden. And you thoroughly deserve the best life you can have.

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Autism

  What is autism?

It’s a disability with such a huge spectrum that it’s rather hard to define! But it’s usually classed as having social and communication difficulties as well as very definite sensory sensitivities. It’s something you’re born with and, no, you can’t “catch” autism or develop it.

  How old were you when you were diagnosed and what impact did your diagnosis have on your life?

I was diagnosed at 21! I’ve been autistic my whole life, but a lot of the autistic diagnosis markers are based on boys, and girls present differently. My life was really starting to unravel after highschool, a common thing for autistics who don’t transition well (like: from highschool to adulthood), and my family and I pursued answers…which turned into an autism diagnosis. Suddenly so many things made sense. It was a relief for me, a lightbulb moment. I had the information to find tools to make life easier for myself.

What is the biggest positive of being autistic?

Things I love: being intensely creative and seeing the world from a different angle. Taking such deep pleasure from small things. Being passionate and good with details and being easily accepting of other’s differences. When you’re different, it makes little sense to judge others!

 What is the biggest challenge you face being autistic?

For me, it’s overwhelm. Too many people, a change in routine, a deadline, things being too loud…my ability to tolerate them is very low and throw more than two at me at once and it’s a recipe for disaster.

  Have you had any negative reactions when people have found out you are autistic. What advice do you have for that?

The worst was being caught in an online conversation about eugenics where someone said to me that autistics shouldn’t exist. Being told you’re “defective” and the world would be better off without you is an actual gut-punch. Sometimes I think it’s best just to walk away from things like that and take care of yourself first. But if you feel able to, and have the tools, speak up. I wrote an article back, taking apart their flimsy thinking. But the whole thing did leave me shaken.

  How do I support my friends/family members with autism?

Ask them what they need! For example: the expert on my autism isn’t a book, an article, or a psychologist. The expert is me. But I’m not the expert on the next person’s autism. So let the autistic have the voice, in any way they’re able to communicate. Also read lots of memoirs by other autistics. Never act like your autistic friend/family member is broken.

  What are some things people don’t usually know about autism?

I honestly think most people know next to nothing about it! Which is why we need more accurate representations in books and media (preferably lead by autistic creators!). I find people get surprised at how many ways autistics stim (these are like self-soothing repetitive tics that we could do for hours). Usually you think autistics just flap or rock, but we have so many ways to safely stim and we love it! Touching textures, smelling things, listening to specific music, fiddling with things, dancing, finger movements, jumping.  

  How can society make things easier/ more accessible to autistic people?

Because autism is such a huge spectrum, it really depends on the individual. One thing I have deeply appreciated while beginning my career of being an author, is how my agent and editors have made communication accessible to me. I’m not great at speaking out loud, so we skip phone calls and work solely by email. Things like this make the world of difference. Don’t shut doors because you think an autistic “can’t do something”. Find another way to open the door.

 Finish the sentence, “To everyone with autism, I want you to know…”

…you’re absolutely not broken and you are epic the way you are.

  Finish the sentence “To everyone without autism, I want you to know…” 

…autism isn’t an epidemic and it’s not a bad thing and the world is made fuller with us in it!

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Writing

  Do you have a writing routine? 

I tend to write in marathon-sessions instead of everyday. So I don’t really have a day-to-day routine! Just basically: I take a few months to write an outline, then I whip up a first draft in a few days, take a break, then spend months revising.

  Advice for moments when I don’t have motivation to write?

Make sure your creative well is full! It’s hard to write if you’re only giving out creatively and not taking in.

  Favourite places to find writing inspiration?

I do so love listening to music and going on long walks.

 When did you first decide you wanted to write and why?

I blame all the books I read! My childhood was made up of piles of books and my parents encouraged creativity, so it was natural that I turned to making my own stories.

  Does it ever truly hit you, the fact that you’re a published author with fans worldwide who are inspired by you and your journey?

It’s still totally surreal! Every time someone says “Oh I loved your book!” my reaction is still, “REALLY!??!” Haha. I’m so pleased to be able to share my words and actually be able to hold my books and see them in bookstores! Never going to get over the magic of that.

  How important is it to you to talk about the experiences you’ve faced in your writing?

In my latest book, The Boy Who Steals Houses, I did write about anxiety and autism — in ways that showed the characters weren’t broken and deserved loved. That was super important to me to be able to say.

  Best tip for aspiring writers?

Keep going! It seems like a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but the truth is: the more you write, the better you’ll be. So despite rejections and failed projects…always keep writing something else. You’ll get there!

  How has writing helped you manage your mental health?

Sometimes it’s been therapeutic, like when writing about anxiety. And I do love disappearing into my worlds of magic and mayhem as a break from reality.

  Do you have a preferred point of view when writing and reading?

I do like 3rd person the best, I confess!

  Do you think it’s harder to write from the point of view of the opposite gender? What changes? What stays the same?

For me, it’s not really harder? I just write people and my aim is always to get into that particular character’s shoes and figure out how they’d seen and react to the world. I feel that’s less about gender than about personality.

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The Boy Who Steals Houses

  What inspired you to write TBWSH? 

My story inspirations always come from a huge collection of things! For this one, I wanted to write a genderbent Goldilocks retelling. I also love going for long walks and since I pass by a lot of seemingly empty houses, my author imagination started to work and ask, What if a teen broke in, not to steal, but just to live while the owners were away? It fit solidly with the Goldilocks tale so I meshed them together and The Boy Who Steals Houses slowly came into existence.

  Are any of the characters in TBWSH inspired by people you know?

The De Lainey family dynamics are inspired by living with a big family myself…but I don’t pull particular characters to be inspired by real people! I would feel so awkward doing that haha.

  If you had to pick your favourite quote in TBWSH which one would it be?

“We are the kings of nowhere. We only need us.”

  What were the hardest and easiest parts of writing a #ownvoices novel?

Hardest: The pressure! Not wanting to make mistakes or badly write something that means so much to you.
Easiest: Knowing what you’re talking about! And falling into sync so easily with your characters because you know what they feel.

  Did you have any fears when writing TBWSH?

I always am scared my books are secretly horrible and will explode into a poof of dark smoke as soon as they hit the bookshelf. Just, ya know, the normal fears.

  What are some genres other than contemporary that you’d like to write in the future?

I’d love to write magical realism someday!

  What are some of the biggest influences on how and what you write about?

I’m definitely influenced by what I read, the authors I admire, and what’s happening in society.

  If you could have a sleepover with Sam, Beck, Avery, August or Moxie, who would you pick and why?

I think August would be the absolute best person to be friends with. She’s so kind and welcoming, will fill any awkward places with a smiles, and has zero judgements about anyone. She was one of my most loving characters to write and I adore her!

                                  

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | Barnes & Noble | Waterstones | Hachette UK | Hachette AUS |

(buy A Thousand Perfect Notes)

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | Waterstones | Booktopia | Hachette UK | Hachette AUS |

(buy The Boy Who Steals Houses)

Cait’s Blog

Cait’s Instagram

Cait’s Twitter

I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I’m a better person because of those people.

From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM

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xxxChips

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Friday 6PM ft. Jade

Get To Know Me Questions

How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Hmmm… I’d say that I’m funny, sarcastic, and I’m not afraid to speak my opinions. I’d say  I’m adventurous, and a risk taker.

What things would you say have shaped you as a person?

The three things that have shaped me the most as a person would probably have to be my disability, and being an immigrant, and a person of color. These experiences have made me in my opinion more resilient and determined to break down the stereotypes that I face. Which is why I started blogging.

What are your pronouns?

My pronouns are she/her.

What’s your big goal for this year?

Hmm… My biggest goal for this year is to be happier  and to have better mental health. If you read my blog then you’ll know that I have horrible mental health but my goal is to do something to help cope with all these feelings. Whether that’s going to see someone professional, or talking to someone, or just disconnecting from toxic people. I just want to get better and be in the best head space I can.

What’s your favourite genre of music?

 I’m one of those people with a really eclectic taste, I listen to everything from rap, to pop, to metal, to Indian music, to Turkish music, to Afro trap, to EDM. But right now I’m obsessed with French rap!!! My favorite song at the moment would have to be Hiro by Soprano!!!   He’s a French rapper and he is just brilliant!!! So I suggest you check him out.

What is your greatest achievement?

This is a hard one cause I feel like I’m a boring person.  However, I’d have to say that my greatest achievement would have to be winning second place in the swimming championship.

Are you right or left-handed?

I’m one of those unique individuals who happens to be ambidextrous. Cool, right?

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by several people actually. I’m inspired by singers such as Kendrick Lamar and Stormzy. I’m inspired by the thousands of refugees risking their lives  looking for a better future. I’m inspired by the people on the streets lost to the eye of society. I could go on for days, honestly. 

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General Mental Health Questions

What’s your routine like on a bad mental health day?

On a bad mental health day I try to lock myself in my room and just exist in my own head. Or if that doesn’t work then I’ll blog about what’s bothering me in order to see if someone’s out there to help.  I’ve also found that on bad days writing specifically helps as well.

How do you deal with the thought that your mental health is holding you back?

I just know that I might be struggling now but it’s okay to take my time. It’s okay to struggle, and fail, and try again, instead of pushing myself until I explode. This took me a long time to master. And there are days where I still think I could be doing more but I’m doing my best and that’s all that matters.

How do you deal with loneliness?

Honestly some days I love being alone because it’s who I am, and I’m not bothered by wallowing in my cocoon. But on other days it sucks to be lonely and I feel like I’m drowning in nothingness. So on those days I try to find something that grounds me. For example, a friend, or a good book.

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Disability

What is your disability and how does it affect you?

My disability is retinopathy of prematurity which basically means I’m legally blind. That means that I can’t read print and I need my work formatted in an accessible way, such as braille, or electronically.

How long have you had your disability for?

I’ve had my disability since I was born so all my life.

What are some common misconceptions about your disability?

I think the most common misconceptions about my disability would be that I’m mentally  incapable, or that disabled people in general can’t have sex.

What do you hope to achieve through talking about disability on your blog?

I hope by speaking on disability people understand that I’m like them. I hope by reading my content you realize that disabled people are flawed, and wonderful humans who need just as much love as the rest of you. I hope you understand that if you pull back the layers of my skin, you’ll find blood too.

Which questions are off-limits when it comes to asking about your disability

The questions that are off-limits for me are about my sex life or if I’m a virgin. Just no… Please don’t ask. My thing is if you wouldn’t ask a sighted person then why would you ask me?

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Sexuality

Were you ever in denial about your sexuality?

Yes when I first realized I was a lesbian at the age of 12 I tried to deny it to my dying breath…but I realized that pretending was causing me to have a slow death.

What’s been the hardest thing about not being able to tell your parents/ friends about your sexuality?

  Well this one won’t have anything to do with friends since my friends all know that I’m gay. But I’d have to say the hardest thing about not telling my parents is feeling like I’m a burden at home and I can’t be my true self. Also I can’t tell my parents about my crushes.  Or bring my non-existent girlfriend home to them. And my parents probably won’t throw me a typical brown wedding so…

How do you deal with the stigma surrounding being gay?

I combat the stigma by blogging and sharing my  experiences so that other teens or whom ever feel less alone and don’t go through the shit I did.  I just want to show another disabled Muslim kid that’s okay to be gay, you know?

What is one thing you wish you could tell your parents about your sexuality?

I’d tell them that there’s nothing wrong with me, and that I don’t need a cure.

What are some of the reasons you haven’t come out yet?

The main reason is I’m not away from home. I’d like to come out when I’ve moved out so that if there’s a negative reaction I can make a quick escape.   Also I have a feeling if I do come out then I could be disowned and I’d like to be financially stable for something like that.

What’s the hardest thing about not being out yet?

Feeling like I’m not enough at home. Or feeling like I’m unwanted, and not being able to just kiss whom ever I’d please in public without my parents finding out.

Who are some icons that inspire you and remind you to stay true to your identity?

I assume these have to be LGBTQ so I’m going to say Kehlani.

Why do you think it’s so hard for POC’s parents to accept their sexuality?

I think it’s difficult for POC  parents to accept their kids because there are cultural differences and perhaps not enough resources for the parents to have access to.

How do you handle rude/insensitive comments about the LGBTQ+ community?

At the beginning I’d take those comments personally but now I just shrug it off and realize that I’m better off without those rude or insensitive people in my  life. It’s their problem for not being able to accept me, not mine.

Advice for handling homophobic relatives during the holidays?

 I’ve thankfully have never had to deal with this one because my relatives live super far but I’d have to say just grit your teeth and realize that those people in your family don’t deserve your time.

What is one thing you wish you could tell all LQBTQ+ POC?

I’d tell them to be themselves and to just hang in there cause it gets better I promise.

Jade’s Blog

I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I’m a better person because of those people.

From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM

Lets chat (4)

xxxChips

my thoughts on the terrorist attack in New Zealand

When I started this blog I made a promise to myself to talk about whatever I wanted to as openly and raw and real as possible. And somewhere in this promise, right at the end actually, I made a promise to myself to talk about everything except race and religion.

For a few reasons

a) I’m not as educated on these topics as I would like to be

b) There’s a bunch of backlash that comes with talking about those two things

c) As much as I believe those are both things that should be talked about, it also tends to divide people and I didn’t want this space to be like that. I wanted to have a space that didn’t have anything to do with either of those topics, a space where none of those things had to matter.

I say this a lot but I truly have grown a lot since I started blogging and there have been things going on for some time now that I’ve continued to ignore on here, for the same three reasons I gave above.

And I can’t do that anymore.

 

“You cannot be an ally if you shy away from confrontation

-Vianna Goodwin

If you watch the news or you’ve been on Twitter today, there’s a chance you’ve heard about the terrorist attacks in New Zealand. Earlier today, Brenton Tarrant walked into two  mosques in Christchurch New Zealand and proceeded to open fire at the people praying inside the mosques.

So far, there have been 49 killed and 20 seriously injured. The shooter, a 28 year old white man with an 87 page manifesto with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas.


To everyone who blamed his actions on mental illness I say this:

There is no excuse for a racist, radicalized adult who thinks it’s okay to hurt innocent people. And I would just like to clarify that not every terrorist has a mental illness and not every mental illness makes you violent.

He is not mentally ill, he is a terrorist. It is not just an act of violence, it is terrorism. And there is no excuse, there is no fucking excuse for the crimes he has committed.

Terrorism has no religion. No colour. No country.

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I’m just going to leave this here for you to think about

This is about so much more than just a hashtag. This is about the 49 people who lost their lives today and the 20 others in critical condition.  This about the hate directed towards the Muslim community. To those who live in fear, who are not safe in their homes, in their mosques, in their cars and in their schools. Who go about their daily lives petrified, wondering if each day will be their last.

50 million hashtags or tweets or Instagram captions, may spread awareness, but they will only change so much in the long run.

Read the entire thread. And do something about it.

Your hashtag will not save a life, but taking further action just might.

I don’t want this to just be a headline. Big news today, and then nothing tomorrow until the next terrorist attack.

Here are some ways to support New Zealand’s Muslim community

 

a million little pieces

15/01/2019

01:46

I don’t know if I’ll get better. Or if I’ll live long enough to finish my before I die list. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a friend like Leonard or meet someone who makes me feel the way reading Tigerlily does. I don’t know a lot of things.

But I do know I want to hold on. And I hope that I am strong enough to. I don’t know how long it’ll take for the scars to fade, or if I even want them to. But I do know that I live in a world where people like Leonard exist and that gives me hope.

I know nobody is planning on swooping in and saving me, for two reasons. One, I’m not a damsel in distress and two, the only person who will ever save you is yourself. I feel like that’s the only way I won’t relapse,getting better for the right reasons.

I don’t really know how to feel about a million little pieces but I know that it did something for me, and I don’t think I can quite put into words something I don’t understand yet.

But it was special, in its on way. Not like The Catcher In The Rye or Tigerlily or The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, books which mean everything and more to me.

It has it’s own special place in my heart.

I want to get better. I want to get better. Fuck. I want to get better.

I don’t know if I’m strong enough.

And it’s too late for a quote stolen off of Pinterest to save me now, or maybe even for love letters to myself. I think I need to accept and move on and be analytical and firm if that makes sense?

 My mental health is still being figured out and I’ll probably be recovering for the rest of my life but I do know what I need to do to get to the point I want to be at. And if I get there and I’m not happy then maybe I’ll give up. But for now I’m holding on. Partly for myself, partly because a part of me feels like I owe it to Leonard, a man I never even knew.

But I find it cool how you don’t even have to know someone and they can change your life. Impact you in ways you didn’t think were possible. I will grit my teeth and I will slug it.

I will take the bullshit if that means someday I’ve got my own apartment doing whatever the fuck makes me happy and that list gets completed.

I will pick up the million little pieces of myself and put them back together. Differently this time. I’ll do it my way. A million little pieces, and I can be whatever I want to be.

There is no blame.

Just a choice. Yes or no. A decision, I’ll have to make over and over again. To get better.

And I hope I choose yes.

I hope I choose to hold on.

For myself. And for a man I never knew.


I finished reading A Million Little Pieces by James Frey a while ago and I got the urge to write this the second I finished it.

I’m fine… I think

 

Friday 6PM ft. Mary

Get To Know Me Questions

How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Describing myself is something that is always so hard for me. It makes me uncomfortable when people ask me about myself. It’s something I’d really like to get better at. That being said, I’ve been trying to work on introducing myself as a writer when someone asks me about myself. This is not what I’m doing for a living right now (I’m working in an office, not writing) but it’s the thing that I am in my heart.  If I had to come up with some words as well maybe I’d use passionate, dedicated, loyal. Sometimes soft and emotional. A little bit tough. A lot of awkward.

Which 5 songs are on the soundtrack to your life?

I’m sure I’d answer this question differently every single time based on my mood but here’s what I’m feeling right now:

 “Release” Pearl Jam

“Silver Lining” First Aid Kit

“Comedown” Bush

“Eyes to the Sky” Joseph

“Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” Pearl Jam

My very favorite band is First Aid Kit but I’d say my favorite genre is 90’s alternative rock (2nd favorite genre is probably folk rock or something of the sort).

What are some of your goals for 2019?

Ah, I love making goals! Right now my two biggest goals are finishing my novel and buying a house. This year I’d also like to get a draft done of my next project, get some short stories published, and stay consistent on my blog. But my most important goal this year is to just write something every single day, no matter what that is.

Do you ever see yourself blogging full time?

I certainly would love to be spending a lot more time on my blog and connecting with humans on the internet, but I don’t think that blogging will ever be my sole focus. Fiction is my number one love, and I’m hoping that someday that’s what I’ll get to do for a living. But I really want to keep up with my blog on the side of that because I find it very therapeutic and I love connecting with other like-minded people this way.

Who inspires you?

So many people inspire me, from my family to prolific writers to bands to random people walking on the street. To narrow it down to blogging, though, the blog I love most, hands down, is Fire and Joy run by Nirrimi Firebrace. It is the most beautiful blog I have ever read and I have gotten lost in its pages for hours more than once. It doesn’t hurt that Nirrimi is an incredibly talented photographer and the imagery on her blog is just as beautiful as her words. And also — she’s just a wonderful human being all around!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Ah, I am definitely a night owl! If I ever get time off from working a “normal person” 9-5 schedule I gravitate towards staying up until 2AM naturally. I definitely feel a little sleepy for the first few hours I’m awake.

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General Mental Health Questions

Do you have any advice on managing your mental health while waiting to get help (eg. being put on a waiting list)

It really sucks that this is a problem that people have to deal with. I’m certainly not a mental health professional, but I can say what has helped me manage anxiety personally. Meditation always helps when I do it consistently, and there’s a lot of free resources online and via apps for guided meditation. Also, exercise is super important; sometimes I find that the only way I can calm myself down is to go for a walk. Honestly, it’s super simple but deep, belly breaths always help me too.

What have you learnt about yourself through your mental health journey

The most important thing that I’ve learned is that other people’s brains don’t work the way that mine does (honestly, this can probably apply to any person on the planet, because we’re all so different). I used to think that I was just weak for not being able to handle life the way that other people can. When I realized that not everyone deals with what I do I was able to find a lot more kindness for myself. I’ve learned that I can be incredibly sensitive, and that’s okay. Sometimes I think that that sensitivity is a superpower; that I’m able to feel things more deeply than other people. Anxiety isn’t always bad. And the times when I can really accept that it is something that is part of me I am able to manage it best.

Do you use any apps for your mental health?

Yes! The meditation app that I use is called “Insight Timer.” It has tons of guided meditation options but you can also just use it as a timer that will go off every few minutes so you get a sense that your meditation is progressing.

I also use “Digital Wellbeing” which is part of the settings on my phone but I know that there’s other apps out there like it. Basically I limit myself to 30-45 minutes of Instagram a day because I find that if I don’t I’ll spend all day on it, get absolutely nothing done, and feel terrible about myself. And I do not have the Facebook app on my phone at all for the same reason.

Lately I’ve also been using this app called “Woebot” which is kind of cheesy but also fun. This little “robot” texts you every day and chats with you about various strategies for managing mental health. It’s certainly not a replacement for a real therapist but it has been a positive supplemental tool.

I’ve also just started using the notes app on my phone to make lists (this was  suggestion from Nirrimi, at Fire and Joy). I find that I can be pretty forgetful, especially when I’m feeling particularly anxious. I’m hoping that this helps me remember things a little better.

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Therapy

What made you seek therapy ?

I’ve been putting off going to therapy for years. I have known that I have an anxiety disorder since about sophomore year of college (I’m now 27, so about eight years ago) and I’ve never worked up the nerve to go before. I always knew I wanted to go but I would always think “oh I don’t have time for that right now.” And then, this past fall, I had a series of really terrible things happen in my life over the course of a few weeks. I was desperate to gain control and to make the situation better, and the only thing I had control over was myself. So I decided to finally take that step to gather the tools that will help me become a better version of myself.

And honestly, I wish I had gone years ago.

What misconceptions did you have about therapy?

I was so worried about what my family and friends would think about me going. I didn’t want my parents to think that they failed me. And I’ve also always had this strange complex where I worry that maybe I don’t actually have anxiety and I’m overreacting (that is a bit of a paradox, I know) so I don’t actually need to get treatment for it.

None of that really mattered once I got there, though. No one has questioned why I’m going and certainly, no one has accused me of not having anxiety after all like I was worried.

How can I build the courage to start therapy?

Just remember that bettering yourself is something that you have control over. I was so worried about family and friends judging me for going — but there’s nothing shameful about wanting to feel better. And the more often I go, the more comfortable I feel admitting that’s where I go.

Honestly? My best advice for doing anything that you’re afraid of is to just take a deep breath and do it. I know that’s hard. Just because something is simple doesn’t mean that it is easy. But the longer you put something off, the scarier it becomes. I know because I’ve put a lot of things off. And I’m still fighting that particular beast.

After your experience with therapy so far, would you recommend therapy to someone?

Absolutely. I’ve been able to sit down and talk about some really difficult situations in my life that are causing me a lot of anxiety with someone who is completely unbiased and simply has my best interest at heart. She’s been able to help me with solutions that I would not have come up with on my own, and she can point out different perspectives. I almost never want to go to therapy before I get there but I always feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders when I leave.

Do you have any recommended resources for someone who can’t afford therapy?

I may not be the best person to provide advice on this, but I’ll try. I know that some therapists offer sliding scales based on income. I also imagine that in certain areas nonprofits may provide some sort of resource for therapists. And I’m also wondering if there are support groups out there for people with anxiety/depression, like there is for addicts and alcoholics (AA/NA). If not, they should exist!

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Pursuing Dreams

What’s your dream?

My biggest dream has always been to have my novel published. But there are smaller dreams in there, too, like published stories and a successful blog and a family and a home.

What’s stopping you?

Ah! This is where I want to say “well no one has published me yet” but the reality is that I’m stopping myself. I don’t spend enough time writing, and I definitely don’t spend enough time submitting. I need to overcome the paralyzing fear of not being good enough and just sit down and do the work. Sitting down is always the hardest part.

Do you think people’s opinions of your dream has affected your confidence in chasing your passion?

It absolutely has. The thing that almost always keeps me from writing (or from sharing my writing if I’ve already written it) is the fear that it isn’t good enough. It is so hard for me to let go of perfection and to be okay with the fact that not everyone is going to resonate with my art and that’s okay. I am always picturing that imaginary audience who is sitting there, waiting to judge my work.

I’m trying really hard to push through this and just focus on enjoying the process. I hope I get there someday soon.

Are you working on any cool projects at the moment?

Right now my big project is my novel. I finished the second draft back in October and I’m just now picking it back up. It’s a story about a father and daughter cleaning out the family house after everyone in their family has passed away or moved elsewhere. It’s about grief and family stories and dealing with the past.

I also have an idea for a collection of linked short stories but I’m having a really hard time getting started on that one.

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Anxiety

How long have you struggled with anxiety for?

Looking back, even though I didn’t realize it until fairly recently, I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life. I was a very shy child and found simple things like interacting with distant relatives or playing games with other children nearly impossible. It’s been better at certain points of my life and worse in others. I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t feel nervous about something.

How did you identify your triggers and what do you do when something or someone triggers your anxiety?

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what my triggers are. I can’t always tell why I’m feeling anxious when it happens. I have been able to identify a few things with my therapist, which has been a great help. As an example, I’ve always been really anxious about doctors/hospitals, and I’m working with her to try and figure out exactly what that fear is about, since I’ve never been sure. Otherwise, journaling can really help me identify what it is that’s bothering me. But sometimes it takes a few days before I really know.

When something triggers me, I try to take a lot of deep, belly breaths and try to distract myself from whatever negative thoughts are spiraling in my brain. I also tend to call my boyfriend a lot, but I kind of think that’s a bit of a crutch and I’d really like to stop burdening him with my anxiety so often.

What things has your anxiety prevented/ stopped you from doing?

So many things! The main thing right now is that I want to share more of my writing/art in general but I haven’t been able to. It feels so vulnerable to share blog posts/Instagram posts and often I’ll put off doing it because it scares me. In the past it’s kept me from sharing my fiction, making friends with people that I really connect with, moving out of my parent’s house (still live here), and many other things. It almost kept me from studying abroad in 2011 which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I can’t imagine what I’d be like now if I had never gone.

Do you have any tips for calming yourself down when you feel anxious?

Lately I’ve been trying to distract my brain when I get stuck in an anxious spiral with the “categories” game. For example, I try to think of as many different kinds of trees I can. Aspen, Pine, Maple, Willow, etc. until I’ve gotten my brain out of the negative loop and I feel a little bit calmer. Sometimes those adult coloring books are also a good way for me to distract my brain for a little while. Other times, I just have to sit with it and accept it and just let it pass.

Do you think it’s healthier to focus on the healing than the anxiety?

Something that I’m trying to learn to do right now is to try not to fight the anxiety. The moment I fight against the fact that I’m feeling anxious, it turns into a full-blown anxiety attack. If, instead of fighting it, I accept that it’s there and try to work through it, it tends to resolve quicker. I guess in that way I am focusing on the healing — focusing on breathing deeply and distracting my mind while I just accept that I am anxious and that’s the way it is.

 

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xxxChips

Friday 6PM ft. Gayle

Get To Know Me Questions

How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Okay, this is can be difficult because obviously you want to make a good first impression but be completely honest at the same time, right? So, say if you walked up to me in a coffee shop and were like “hey I saw you over here typing really fiercely and kind of angrily on your computer, are you okay?” I would be extremely embarrassed because I probably forgot I was out in public and ramble something like this: “No, I was just really focused – I do that sometimes – sorry. I’m a blogger, I just get sucked into my writing sometimes, sorry for bothering you, I didn’t mean to. I’m okay, I’m just a bit awkward sometimes and I express myself a lot better through writing and art because I totally suck at expressing myself. I just hermit sometimes you know? I read a lot and – oh! I do photography – Sorry. Sorry for saying sorry so much but I really am sorry. Have a good day!” And continue to tell you my life story to try to mellow out the situation but really just make it worse!

What things would you say have shaped you as a person?

Ohh, I love this! What a great question! I would say

1) my family obviously, they’ve raised me and taught me to love others and that it’s okay to just be me, that I can be whatever I wanna be and to let my spirit run free.

2) This might be silly, but I feel like books have had such a big impact in who I am. I’ve experienced all of the characters struggles and agony right there with them, and even though they’re just stories, they’re real life lessons.
3) My mistakes. Everybody messes up sometimes and that’s okay, it’s part of being human. But what matters is if you learn from those mistakes and push yourself to be better!
What’s your big goal for this year?

Ahh okay, biggest goal for 2019?? You might wanna write this down (obviously so you can rub my failures in my face) *breathes deeply* to grow my blog big enough that I can turn it into my side-hustle and become an entrepreneur someday!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ten years is a long time…I see myself being 27 years old, settled down with a family, running my profitable blog from home while I homeschool my adorable little babies, and you know of course travel the whole entire world and meet every single one of you guys. Duh.
If you could have dinner with 3 people dead/alive who would you pick?
1) Chips, the obvious choice, who doesn’t want to have dinner with an angel?? …honestly just wanna skip 2 and 3 and cheat and have one big blogger convention and major sleepover – is that okay?? Please say yes, that would be a-maze-ing. Who’s in?
Who inspires you?
The entire blogosphere! Literally everyone is the best here, legit. How does this community not explode with so much love? My Mom! And I am not ashamed to say it! She encourages my plans for life because she wants me to bloom into my own person – who I’m meant to be.

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General Mental Health Questions

How do you suggest going about finding yourself?
This is a difficult answer to question because I’m still on the journey of “finding myself”. That being said, I have noticed a change in myself and can see myself growing. My tips – because this is what has helped me – is that before you can even begin growing into who you want to be, you have to accept who you are now. You have to accept that your flaws make you unique and that you are only human. You have to use your imperfections as strengths to push you where you want to be. And you have to accept that you will always have flaws, no matter how far you come, they are a part of the journey and a part of you.
Have you ever struggled to separate your problems with mental health from your personal identity and what advice do you have for people struggling with that?

This is a big question, and I’m not quite sure what you’re asking, but I think I get it, so bare with me! I used to keep my anxiety and depression in the same folder as the rest of me, I had accepted it as a part of who I was, even though I knew i wasn’t always like that I had convinced myself it was never going away so I might as well give up on trying to ignore it, right? Wrong. We don’t realize it, but we start to believe every thing that we speak. And think about how often we go around saying “I have anxiety” over and over and over. But I found a method that works, sis, and it’s all in your mind-set. Are you listening? I refuse to accept anxiety as a part of who I am. Instead of saying “I have anxiety” start saying “I’m moving through anxiety.”

How to get help when you’re scared to?
Having mental illnesses is scary. They make you scared of everything and besides that – you never know if someone is going to take you seriously or not – so it’s easier to just stay quiet. I get it, I’ve been there. But we all need to find the courage to speak out about it, because there are people out there who truly care, and you deserve relief and love. So, I would try to carefully bring it up with a close and trusted friend, a parent, or actually – start a blog and discuss it with other bloggers because mental illnesses are a very common thing. No, that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with, but at least you’ll know you’re not alone. Keep your chin up, lovely, you can do this.
What is the one thing you did or changed in your life that helped you improve your mental health most?

Mind-set. You’re thoughts are your most valuable asset, they’re what controls you. But technically, you control them so think happy thoughts! It’s a hard habit to get into to, but don’t stop, keep working, find a group that inspires you to take care of yourself and become the best version of you. Do whatever it takes to make it possible to love yourself. Please.

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Self-love

What do you love the most about yourself and have you always loved that part?
The fact I’m finally blooming into someone who is good and happy and productive and living! No I haven’t always loved this part of me because it has been buried deep, deep down inside of me covered by years of dust from my lazy inner demons. But I am finding an innocent love for myself again, and I couldn’t be more happy.
What 3 things have you learnt about yourself through your self-love journey?
1) It is completely possible to be happy again – don’t forget it, love, I promise you it’s possible.
2) I need to be thankful for my mental illness (maybe a love/hate relationship though), because it has made me strong and showed me just how capable I am of achieving my dreams no matter how strong something fights against me.

3) I’m a freakin’ queen for defeating my demons.

At what point did you decide self-love was really something you wanted to pursue and focus on?
Not to long ago – my boyfriend of two and a half years broke up with me and I realized just how much I allowed my happiness to depend solely on him. After he was gone, I noticed just how lacking I was in finding happiness in simply being alive. The fact I wake up every morning, the fact I breath, the fact my body is capable of these feelings at all. I realized just how much I was missing, because I let my happiness depend on something that isn’t promised.

What’s your best tip for learning to love yourself?

Sis, you just have to give up and accept yourself for who you are now, in the mess and chaos, before you can move on.
What’s your version of self-care?
Self-care to me is everything. It’s taking care of yourself not only physically pampering yourself (though that’s important too), but also taking care of yourself emotionally and spiritually – because that’s where things get balled up.

I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I’m a better person because of those people.

From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM

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Friday 6PM ft. Bayance

Get to Know Me Questions

How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Ooh well usually I’d just start with my name, age and where I’m from. But if I were to describe myself, I’d say I’m a people’s person who isn’t afraid to communicate her opinions and feelings and that I’m very passionate about justice, communities and turkish dramas (just kidding on the last one but hey, they’re really good)

What things would you say have shaped you as a person?

I’d say Islam is number one. Without it, I would’ve been completely different and probably lost. Also my experiences with people, reading and moving schools and homes a lot (getting to meet different people and being faced with different environments).

If your life was a movie what would it be called?

Hmm… “On Her Way To Save The World…once she stops procrastinating” Okay I really don’t know but my life so far might be “Mentally 40” or “Not Your Average Teenager”? So original, I know.

Which 3 songs are on the soundtrack to your life?

Oh man. I actually made a post called My Life In Songs describing my music phases so hehe, self plug there. But as in life, maybe Brave by Sara Bareilles, Never Be Enough and Titanium? I honestly don’t know.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Finished University and possibly engaged? I also hope to go into law or a political field so maybe a job there.

Do you ever see yourself blogging full time?

Honestly if I got the chance to, I would. I don’t think so now because my blog is very life based and I can’t imagine it with millions of views haha. But who knows?

Who inspires you?

My parents are super hard working and I get it from them. Noor Tagouri inspires me as well but I’m trying not to follow people’s footsteps and be my own boss. And spiritually, I should look up to prophet Muhammad because he was the best of mankind and treated everyone with respect.

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General Mental Health Questions

What are your top five self care tips?

1.Smile (even when you’re not happy)

2.Reflect on your accomplishments no matter how small

3.Pray

4.Treat yourself (don’t go overboard but maybe a new outfit, a new meal..etc)

5.Take care of your hygiene and health (I need to follow this myself)

6.Bonus: TELL YOURSELF YOU BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE YOU ARE

How do you practice being kind?

SMILING! And complimenting people (it doesn’t have to be about looks). Just have a positive attitude and keep bad thoughts to yourself. It’s hard but with practise, being a positive person isn’t too hard.

What distractions do you find helpful?

I hate that I do distract myself but I really shouldn’t. Face a difficult situation head on and get it out of the way. But I distract myself by eating, watching Youtube and sleeping haha.

Does hearing other people’s stories help you manage your own mental health?

YES, it makes me so much more thankful and like I feel like I’m not alone. Sometimes people have advice for me and I have advice for them and it’s great connecting with people.

What do you think of the mental health area on social media that promotes/ romanticizes illness ?

ROMANTICIZES!! I know a lot of people disagree but ever since people started mentioning mental health a lot, rates have increased by SO much. I think people are having a hard time distinguishing between their emotions and name any hard or sad situations depression. And it sucks because now you can’t really tell the difference between someone who wants to be tumblr or someone who actually needs help. I think making mental health a little more private would be better. You don’t see people with cancer writing “very bad migraine today or back pain” on their stories. They seek medication instead which is what people should be doing here or at least talking to people privately.

Has being on social media affected your mental health and how?Do you think social media has a more positive or negative impact for someone struggling with their mental health?

NEGATIVE 100%%%. It has doubled my anxiety and literally anything I post I always second guess. Seeking validation has tried to suck me in multiple times and this drug called social media drains a lot of time spent on nothing and it just ends up making you feel worse because you’re constantly waiting for someone to message you and comparing your successes to other people. It’s terrible. In fact, yesterday, I unfollowed everyone on Instagram. Nothing to scroll hours on my feed and no stories that are so fake keeping me distracted. I’m done with it.

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Self Love

What is your biggest insecurity and why do you think you’re insecure about it?

Hmm my voice? It’s really annoying in sound recordings hahah. I’m not that insecure about my body anymore but maybe my face? Like I don’t know eyebags and I just don’t have the best structure at all angles. I honestly do not care anymore because I don’t understand why I’d thrive to look perfect. My body is healthy and functioning and my appearance doesn’t matter in the long run.

What was the first step you took to overcoming that insecurity?

I guess I just stopped looking in the mirror as often and weighing myself. I just didn’t care about the little details and focused on what I could control like my personality.

Do you have any advice on learning how to accept your flaws?

You are more beautiful than how you see yourself – I promise. We get too used to seeing ourselves but to someone else, we are beautiful in our own ways. Our flaws make us human and I think it’s important to remember that you do not need anyone’s validation to qualify for beauty.

Have you learnt to accept your body?

Yep! There are obviously times where I’m like wow this picture sucks with me in it but I honestly don’t care much anymore. It’s just a temporary structure that holds your soul and will decompose one day as well. It’ll be replaced with something better and it just reminds you that this life isn’t perfect. I feel like we ignore that our bodies isn’t what’s on the outside but the inside too. And I mean literally. Look at how your body works together – all the cells, nerves and neuron messages making up and protecting your body from diseases. God made us this way for a reason and we shouldn’t compare our bodies to others.

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Anxiety

What is your first memory of experiencing anxiety?

Grade 3 when I was overthinking. I was just thinking how we’re stuck in this sphere that’s rotating around the sun and how huge the universe is and how we’re going to die and the afterlife would be forever and aah forever and aah can I just undo my existence and aah it’s coming and aah time is passing by and gefyufbjhsj. I’ve accepted it and am now trying to work my way to prepare for what’s next but there are definitely still times where I’m still in shock with this all and how no one seems so sucked in to this world that they forget to really look around them and ask questions, me included.

What’s the worst thing about your struggles with anxiety

That the only way I can release it properly is to cry and pray. Which is good but isn’t too handy in public. So it just gets bottled up and I feel a pit in my stomach followed by a headache.

What’s your best tip for learning how to cope with anxiety?

Write it all down. Get it down on paper. Pray because God knows what’s in our hearts and what we’re struggling with and there are times when I’d be so overwhelmed and anxious and then after praying, I’d feel so relaxed like there’s no worries in the world. If you choose not to believe in God now, that’s your choice and you could always ask me questions but your soul needs care too and denying everything would just make it darker. Another way I cope is to cry. Your mental health is like a bladder sometimes and if you feel too much emotions, let it out. Just like how you’d pee or throw up, stress needs to be released too and I promise you’ll feel better after a good cry.

How has your anxiety affected your education?

Only last year. I was trying to work and the group behind me was talking really loudly and then I started to think about how I used to be part of a big group like that and then everything became so blurry and I started getting dizzy and my heart was beating fast and just all thoughts hit me at once and I had to leave the classroom. It sounds really pathetic but it happened a few times where I felt really down but it got way better. Sometimes we think bad days and feelings last forever but they don’t. I promise you, they don’t.

 

Thank you so much for having me, Chips! I loved answering these questions.

Bay’s blog

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I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I’m a better person because of those people.

From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM

Lets chat (4)

xxxChips