Will The Pain Ever End?

*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about suicidal ideation and mood disorders, and may be triggering for some readers.
If you are struggling, please reach out to someone. 800-273-8255

Hi there! I hope you’re safe & well. Have you been taking care of yourself? I hope you have. You’re worth it ❤

This month is Suicide Prevention Month, so I thought I’d write a short post in honor of it.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, the 2nd leading cause for people between 10-34 years old.

This doesn’t, can’t possibly, account for the number of people struggling with suicidal ideation. Because for every reported case, I can only imagine how many go unspoken.

How many people sit with their darkness instead of reaching out, because they’re afraid to burden others with their pain.

Afraid of the repercussions.

Afraid of the stigma.

Photo by Cameron Readius on Pexels.com

I think a lot of us can attest to how hard isolation has been on us as well.

It’s the responsible thing to do in light of the pandemic, but it can be so difficult for individuals who were already struggling with mental health.

A lot of people I’ve spoken with have said their mood has been lower than usual, and I can totally understand that!

Frankly, my mood has been pretty low as well.

That’s not so much because of isolation, as I’ve been struggling with my mood for many years now, but it certainly didn’t help to feel so alone, so separate from family and friends.

I’m not going to dive deep into my story and give you any ugly details. Partly because it’s private, but also because I want to show you the light, not how deep the darkness can go.

All I’ll say is that, over the course of my life, I have practiced self harm as a (very unhealthy) means of coping with emotions and situations that felt out of my control. I have had suicidal thoughts, as well as failed attempts.

I have made more calls and chats to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline than I can count.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: You’re not alone.

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These feelings you have, the darkness that seems to envelope you, the burden you carry…. I feel that too.

It’s not the same.

Your struggle is your own.

Your story is unique.

Your burdens may be heavier, or they may be lighter, or maybe our burden is the exact same, but that really doesn’t matter.

Because the reality is, however heavy it feels, however easier someone else’s burden may seem to you, it’s heavy for the bearer.

Too heavy.

And sometimes those thoughts start to creep in.

Maybe it would be easier if…
It would hurt so much less if…
I just want ______ to stop…
No one would really care if…

But people would care.

Lots of people.

The dark cloud looming over you makes you feel alone. Worthless. A burden. Like no one would mind if you just weren’t here anymore.

But that is NOT TRUE!

You have value.
You are worthwhile.
You are good.
You are worth the effort it takes to love you.

And more than that, you’re not done yet! You have stories to tell.

And you can’t tell them if you’re not here.

Photo by Gary Barnes on Pexels.com

Once upon a time, more than once truthfully, I dove headfirst into the Deep Dark.

I felt so alone.

I wanted it to be over.

I didn’t want to do it anymore.

It. This. Life. Pain. Fear. Sadness. The abyss that lies within my head.

So I asked myself what would happen. What would happen if I wasn’t here anymore?

The truth didn’t come to me immediately. It took time and self-care. Love from the people close to me and love from myself.

And therapy. Like… a lot of therapy.

The truth I have come to is this:

If I wasn’t on this Earth anymore…
My family would be devastated.
I would never travel the world like I want to.
I would never read another book.
I would never again dance in the rain.
I would never again sip coffee by the fire.
I would never again kiss my husband.
I would never again jump on the trampoline with my nephews.
I would never have children.
I would never publish any books.
I would never write another word.
I would never get to help anyone out of their darkness.

You have reasons too. Sometimes they just become clouded by the dark thoughts taking over your mind.

I dare you to make a list of reasons why you’re worthwhile. A list of reasons you want to live.

Yes, there is a lot of bad in this world. But there’s a whole lot of good too! Don’t miss out on all the wonderful things in store for you.

Don’t let the darkness win.

You are stronger than the weight you carry.

And you never know how many lives you could have touched, never know how many people could be pulled out of their darkness by hearing how you survived yours.

I know sometimes you feel so alone. Like no one in the world cares about you.

But that’s the Darkness talking. And it’s a lie.

There are people in this world who love you. Who would be devastated to know you are struggling all by yourself.

It took a lot for me to reach out. To ask for help.

But I’m so glad I did.

I got into therapy. I learned how to take care of myself, body and mind.

It took work, and I still have hard days, but what’s important is that I always come out on the other side of it. I have things to live for. Things I want to see and do and experience.

I learned how worthwhile I am.

I learned how to love myself.

And so can you.

There are people in this world who need to hear your story. Need to know that you made it, and so can they.

You have stories to tell.

And people want to hear them.

I want to hear them.

Sending love,

MK

This boi is so dang tired of the sad! He just wants everyone to be happy and eat treats and throw tennis balls for him.

5 Ways To Improve Your Mood

*Trigger Warning*
This post deals with mood disorders and may be triggering to some readers.

I may earn commission on any links in this post.
See Disclaimers for more details.

Hi there! Sorry I was MIA again last week. My mood has been super low and I’ve been having a lot of trouble snapping out of it. I hope you’re doing well and your mood is staying level. ❤

Since my mood has been so low, I wanted to chat about some of the things I do to level out, or to not dip too low.

Sometimes, not diving headfirst into the Deep Dark is all you can manage.

And that’s ok!

Whatever feelings you’re experiencing are real. You shouldn’t try to ignore them or shove them down.

I’m guilty of that.

I often push myself to just get better… but that’s not really how my brain works.

Sometimes I get stuck in this perpetual darkness and the only thing I can do is love myself through it.

Remind myself that it’s ok to be sad sometimes, as long as I don’t let it consume me.

There’s a difference between feeling your emotions and going into a negative spiral.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

So, if you’re like me this week, and you feel like you can’t do anything except watch that Darkness close in, I’ve compiled a list of things you can do to make yourself feel a little better.

1: Read a book

I do this one a lot!

I find that getting swept up in a story is the best way for me to get my brain out of a rut.

Sometimes I get so focused on the sadness and the negativity that it can become really toxic.

Reading about another life, another time, another world can really help me get out of my head for a while.

So pick up a good book, even if it’s one you’ve read before, and get lost in another world for a while!

2: Take a shower

I’m not sure if anyone else feels the same, but for me, there’s something really calming about a shower.

I like baths too, but they’re too quiet for me. Too much space for my thoughts to take over.

Something about the steam curling in the air, streams of water pounding on my back, the smell of my favorite shampoo. It makes me feel safe.

The chaos of water pelting down is all I need to think about.

Sometimes I sit in the bottom of my shower and just let the water wash over me.

The sound of the water drowns out the sounds of the outside world and I’m alone, in the best possible way.

I’m safe.

I can cry, I can talk to myself, I can just sit in silence.

Whatever I need to do.

3: Get outside

This one’s tough for me.

Whenever I’m feeling really down, the last thing I want to do is go out.

But every time I force myself to get outside, whether it’s just to sit in my backyard, go for a walk, or go somewhere like a bookstore, it always makes me feel better.

Something about the fresh air.

Or maybe just physically removing myself from a situation where I was unhappy.

Whatever magical power outside has, it always works on me.

That is, if I can force myself to get up.

Sometimes it takes a lot of will power on my part.

A lot of “Just get up. You’ll thank me later.”

But it’s always worth it.

4: Watch a movie

I usually watch a Disney movie when I’m really upset.

Something about the simple plots. The humor. The characters.

You can laugh or cry and not really think about it.

Not worry about anything.

Nothing makes me feel quite as comforted as putting on some fuzzy pajamas, wrapping up in a blanket like a burrito, and watching something silly.

5: Talk to someone

This one’s hard for me.

Mostly because I have a hard time trusting people with my innermost thoughts.

But if you find someone you can trust, this can really be the best thing you can do.

If you’re nervous about how they’ll react, you can simply say, “I need someone to talk to, would you mind just listening and being here?”

Simple as that.

Talking it out can work some serious magic.

In the process of thinking through your emotions, putting them into words, you can come to conclusions you might not have reached before.

You might realize how to fix what’s wrong, or maybe why you’re so upset, or maybe you’ll just feel comforted and supported.

Reaching out is always a good idea.

I hope this list helps you!

Sending love,

MK

Whenever I’m sad, this boi brings me a ball because fetch always makes him feel better, so it’ll probably do the same for me.

Having Needs Does Not Make You A Burden

*Trigger Warning*
This post deals with feelings of depression & feeling like a burden and may be triggering for some readers.

I may earn commission on any links in this post.
See Disclaimers for more details.

Hi there, I hope this post finds you safe & well! No post last week as I was very sick. Hopefully you’ve been taking care of yourself while I was MIA ❤

I ran across something recently that I wanted to share.

It’s something that I personally struggle with, especially as a neurodiverse individual. Something I think a lot of us can relate to, neurodiverse or not.

I was reading about assertiveness, trying to overcome my passivity.

I struggle with standing up for myself. Asking for what I need.

Being a “burden”.

So I’ve been doing some reading.

It said:

You have a right to be an inconvenience to others.

I was surprised, because over the course of my life, that has not been the message I have received.

Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels.com

My past, and if I’m being completely honest, a whole lot of my present, has always said to me, “You need to be better.”

Do more.
Speak less.
Be more positive.
Be more helpful.
Do things.
Be everything to everyone all the time.

It’s exhausting.

It doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist.

It doesn’t help that certain chemicals in my brain are out of balance. That there’s a little voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough.

You see these messages everywhere saying that’s not possible.

You simply can’t be everything to everyone all the time.

You’re not responsible for the happiness of others.

But those messages are overwhelmed by the messages you receive from the people in your life.

The social media posts.

The professional criticism.

The pressure to be and do and think and exist for the happiness of others.

Photo by Asya Cusima on Pexels.com

So when I read this – You have a right to be an inconvenience to others – it felt foreign.

Wrong, at first.

I don’t want to be an inconvenience. A burden.

I pretend I don’t care, but I do.

I want to be the bubbly, happy, helpful person.

I want to be the reason you smile.

And sometimes that overwhelms me.

Sometimes I forget that I’m my priority.

My mental health is important.

Sometimes I focus so much on being what other people need, that I forget to be what I need.

So I wrote it down.

On a little notecard above my desk.

You have a right to be an inconvenience to others.

What does that even mean?

Well, it means that it’s ok to have needs.

It’s ok to let other people help me.

It’s ok to ask for things.

It’s ok not to be perfect.

It’s ok not to be ok.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The thing is, asking for help can be the hardest thing to do.

Harder than the loneliness.

Harder than the pain.

Harder than the ache in your chest.

Harder than the darkness that settles over you like a wet blanket.

Harder than the weight dragging you down, the one that makes getting out of bed an accomplishment.

But it’s necessary.

You’re strong and brave and amazing, but you can’t do it all by yourself.

And you shouldn’t have to.

There are people in this world who want to help you.

Maybe it’s your parents.

Maybe it’s your friend.

Maybe it’s your partner.

Maybe it’s a therapist.

But there is someone out there who cares enough to put in the effort it takes to love you.

There is someone who thinks you’re worth the sacrifice.

Don’t be afraid to remind yourself of that.

Write in on a notecard and pin it to your wall.

Write it in lipstick on your mirror.

Draw it in your journal.

Tattoo it on your skin.

Do whatever you need to do to remind yourself that you are worth effort.

Your own, and that of others.

You are worthwhile.
You are lovable.
You are special.
You are good.

Be gentle with yourself.

Be careful what thoughts you allow to enter your mind.

Because you’re always listening.

Sending love,

MK

This is my boi Linux. He has yogurt on his chin and nothin’ but love in his heart.

Why “No” Is My New Favorite Word

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Hi there, how’s life been treating you lately? Are you taking care of yourself? You’re worth the effort. ❤

I’ve been working on boundaries over the last several months.

I’ve never been very good at saying no. I feel obligated to be nice. Polite. Helpful. “Lady-like”.

I think that’s something ingrained in us as children. Especially for women.

We are taught to be quiet.

To just deal with it.

Keep pushing through.

A lot of women get into trouble when there’s a situation where they should get out, but society tells them they have to be polite.

You have the right to feel safe.

And you don’t have to “be polite” to someone who is scaring you.

I digress…

Everyone, every gender, is taught to value politeness over boundaries.

But there are ways to protect your boundaries without damaging your relationships.

And, honestly, boundaries won’t damage your relationships with people who truly value you.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

For a long time, I was told to be quiet.

I received both subliminal, and explicit, messages that my feelings don’t matter.

As a child, I wasn’t really allowed to have boundaries.

Do what I say, because I say it. I don’t care how it makes you feel. If you’re uncomfortable, suck it up.

Even children (especially children) are entitled to boundaries.

Growing up like this, you learn to keep a lot inside. To shove your feelings down and ignore them. Something I’ve had to work against in adulthood.

I became Passive.

I didn’t stand up for myself.

I’m learning how to reverse this in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook.

It can be scary, changing yourself so drastically.

People who know me are used to me just going with whatever people say.

Don’t ask questions.
Don’t stick up for yourself.
Even if you don’t like it.
Even if it’s painful.

I’m working on finding a happy medium.

Standing up for myself, while staying true to my moral standards of kindness and respect.

Boundaries can be stated in a kind and healthy way.

This is something I was unsuccessful with at first.

I swung in the opposite direction and sometimes came off as rude or aggressive.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

Also, people were so used to me “just being nice” that my new outlook rubbed some people the wrong way.

Especially people who were used to using my doormat-ish tendencies to their advantage.

That sounds gross, and manipulative, but it’s true. Honestly, everyone uses “too-nice people” to their advantage every now and then. We’re human. We err.

It’s been quite the learning curve, to watch who accepts and who rejects my boundaries.

It says a lot about what I mean to the people close to me.

For example, I recently told someone close to me that driving causes me a lot of anxiety. I asked them to give a little more space from the car in front of us, just while I’m in the car.

They listened, and they changed their behavior to make sure I felt safe.

Positive experience.

Here’s another example:

A while ago, I asked someone close to me to be respectful towards myself and my husband.

They refused, then took steps to cut me out of their life.

It was shocking.

I had not expected them to run from my life after such a simple request.

It’s been a couple years and we’re still not speaking. And honestly? I’m ok with that.

I know how important I am to that person now, and I’m not interested in cultivating a relationship with someone who isn’t interested in respecting me.

Yeah, it sucked. But I’m better off knowing the truth than continuing on thinking they care about me when they really don’t.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

Nowadays, I’m doing more to set boundaries.

I’m saying no. It’s become my favorite word.

I’ve learned that downtime is a good enough reason not to make it to every event.

I don’t have to hurt myself to make others happy.

My mental health is a priority.

But how do you go about setting boundaries, when standing up for yourself seems so scary?

The first thing you should ask yourself is what is important to you?

For me, I value kindness and respect pretty highly.

People are important to me.

My mental health.

Then you ask yourself what you need.

I need to feel valued by my loved ones – wanted and important.

I need hugs and affection from the people closest to me.

I need kind words and compassion from those whom I consider friends. (I don’t like to be touched, which is why my needs differ from friends and family, to close friends and close family. This is a boundary I’m still working on establishing with people.)

Then you ask yourself what is not ok with you.

I’m not ok with unkindness or disrespect, in any form.

I’m not ok with physical touch, except from those closest to me.

I’m not ok with people using my neurodivergence against me.

This is obviously a short list, and one that can be expanded on over time.

The most important thing to remember is that you are allowed to have boundaries.

You deserve to feel safe.

Your boundaries are more important than politeness.

If someone doesn’t respect the boundaries you set, that says more about them than it does about you.

And finally, even when you’re scared, you should push yourself to set the boundaries. Stand firm. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

Because setting boundaries can be the best thing that happens to your relationships. While, not setting them, only leads to discomfort and bitterness.

I hope this article helps someone out there who, like me, is afraid to stand up for themselves.

You have needs. You are worth the effort it takes to meet them.

Sending love,

MK

This boi respects the heck out of your boundaries. Though, if your boundaries include not getting licked in the face, you’re outta luck.

Do You Give Yourself Permission To Feel Your Emotions?

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*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about overwhelming emotions and may be triggering for some readers.

Hi there, I hope you are safe and well. Have you been taking care of yourself? It’s important to prioritize your mind & body. Self care isn’t selfish ❤

I’ve been doing a lot of work on feeling my emotions instead of just brushing them aside.

Not going to lie, I’m pretty bad at it.

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to “be strong”.

Tough it out.

Don’t let them get to you.

Don’t let them see you cry.

It’s taken a lot for me to realize that reaching out is a form of strength, not weakness.

Making connections, talking to people about my neurodivergence, opening up about my experiences… These are all scary things.

But they’re so good.

Photo by Ashford Marx on Pexels.com

In the past, opening up hasn’t worked out so well for me.

I was shut down, disregarded. My feelings didn’t matter. Children should be seen and not heard. Friends didn’t really want to hear the ugly stuff I was sifting through.

The message I took away from these interactions was other people don’t care, so my feelings must not matter.

That’s the thing about having overwhelming emotions. Other people… just don’t get it.

They don’t get excited and feel like their body is exploding.

They don’t get scared and feel like they’re going to die.

They don’t get sad and feel like the entire world is crashing down around them.

They feel their feelings on a neurotypical level, instead of this gut-wrenching, heart pounding, world-ending level.

Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) isn’t all bad. There are some cool perks that come along with it.

But the bad parts can be pretty challenging.

For a long time, I just tried to deal with everything on my own, because no one really cared enough to try to understand.

Usually, that looked like shoving my feelings into a box in the back of my mind and trying to move forward.

Photo by Ryanniel Masucol on Pexels.com

This isn’t a very effective way to deal with your feelings.

Those feelings will start spilling out of your box because there isn’t enough room for all of them. They will creep out and latch onto your mind at super inconvenient times.

Like when you’re talking to your boss.

Why? Because you never dealt with them. So instead they lingered.

If you leave a half-eaten sandwich in your bedroom, it will start to smell. And that smell will linger, cropping up at odd/inappropriate times, until you clean it up.

But how to you deal with your emotions?

This can be such a challenge for people like me who grew up being told to just suck it up. Smile through the pain. Big girls work around the pain.

But that’s not how healthy adults cope with emotions.

Shoving them into a box and hoping they’ll fade away is not effective, as you may have discovered.

The first step to coping with your emotions is giving yourself permission to feel them.

Maybe something bad happened at work. A disagreement with a coworker. A demotion. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe there was a rude client. Maybe working for a living just sucks…

So feel sad.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Have a good cry.

Give yourself a hug.

Ask a friend or family member if they have some time to chat.

Talk soothingly to yourself like you’re a child.

“You’re sad. That’s ok. Everyone gets sad sometimes. We can be sad for a little while until you’re ready to feel better.”

Seriously.

Especially if you didn’t get this as a child.

It’s time to raise the child living inside your head, so you can cope with adult life.

For an HSP, the scary part about feeling your emotions is that they can overwhelm you.

This can present a problem, and if you are getting overwhelmed and you feel like the healthy thing is to distract yourself for now and come back later, read this post.

But usually, even though your feelings seem scary, they will not overwhelm you.

And if they do, use the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills workbook to develop some coping skills to deal with those moments.

So how to you let yourself feel your emotions?

Take a deep breath, and ask yourself “What am I feeling right now?”

Get to the root of your emotion.

I’m going to use a specific example for the sake of your ease of reading. But you can apply this to whatever you’re going through.

A coworker said something negative about your recent performance.
You feel angry.
When you look inward (later, when you have the time and privacy to dig into your emotions) you realize your anger was actually stemming from hurt and disappointment with yourself.
You accept that, yes, you are hurt. Yes, you are disappointed in your recent performance, as well.
Maybe you feel embarrassed they called you out.
You give yourself space to feel those feelings.
Then you develop a game plan for how you will deal with work tomorrow.

That anger you felt may have been overwhelming.

You may have been seething all day.

But by looking inward, you found that your anger was actually some other, more vulnerable, emotions putting on a brave face.

You used Radical Acceptance to accept what you cannot change.

And you developed a game plan to change what you can.

That’s some pro-level adulting, right there.

The thing about emotions is that, inevitably, they do pass.

Emotions are like a wave.

Photo by Emiliano Arano on Pexels.com

If you give yourself permission to feel them, they will become bigger and bigger, they will crest, then they will fall-become small and more manageable once again.

If you struggle with the emotion, and feel as if it is beginning to overwhelm you, it’s ok to take a step back and come to it when you’re ready.

As a neurodivergent individual, it’s important to find the balance between allowing yourself to feel your emotions, and going down a negative spiral.

So how can you tell the difference?

Usually, allowing yourself to feel the emotion looks like comforting yourself. Building yourself up. Accepting what is.

Spiraling looks self-depreciating. Focusing on all the negative things and jumping from one ugly thought to the next.

Feeling and coping with your emotions in a healthy way will not involve shaming yourself for the way you feel.

If you do it in a healthy way, it should feel very healing.

You should feel refreshed afterwards.

Lighter.

That doesn’t mean the crappy situation is magically solved, it just means you gave yourself permission to feel the emotions it brought up.

To heal from trauma, in whatever form it was presented.

And to move forward in a healthy way, without lugging your emotional baggage with you.

I hope this post helps someone out there deal with their overwhelming emotions, and maybe even get in touch with themselves a little more.

Sending love,

MK

This boi would love to give you a smooch if you’re feeling sad, and snuggle you until you’re ready to feel better.

What If I Want To Be Sad?

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See Disclaimers for more details.

*Trigger Warning*
This post deals with depression and negative self-talk, and may be triggering for some readers.

Hi there, I hope you’re doing well! Are you taking care of yourself? Maybe it’s time to do a check-in. How’s your body feeling? How’s your mind feeling? Don’t be afraid to give yourself some grace. ❤

My mental health took a dip recently.

It happens.

More often than I’d like.

Sometimes I feel kinda up and down. I’m doing fine, then something switches and the tide pulls me under.

I thought I’d share some feelings I was marinating on while trying to get out of my funk.

I was talking with my therapist recently (if you don’t have one and you are struggling with your mood, please find one, they can be really helpful). She was checking my negativity.

She’s very sneaky about it. She watches me spiral, lets me get it all out, then says “Was there anything good about it?” or something of that nature.

It kinda makes me stop and think.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Yes there were negatives.

We’re not going to ignore any feelings here.

But if we’re going to spend so much time thinking about the bad, let’s not forget the good.

So my recent mood swing… I’m going to be honest, sometimes I’m not sure why my mood dips.

But it did, and I found myself coming up with all the reasons my life sucks.

Hardship in my relationships with friends and family.
Work has been rough.
Writing is not going super great right now.
My mental health seems to keep getting kicked down, despite my best efforts to even out.

Then I really start spiraling.

I feel discouraged.
I feel alone.
I’m not good at anything.
I just suck.

It can be so easy to get trapped in the negativity spiral. It’s like the thoughts have a mind of their own.

One minute I’m recounting things that happened, that are in fact negative… Then next thing I know, I hate myself and my life is awful.

It can get out of control really quickly.

So how do you fix it?

Photo by Caique Silva on Pexels.com

I think the hardest part is recognizing what you’re doing.

You have to take a good, long look at yourself and say, “Is all of this really that bad, or am I in a negative spiral?”

I’m not saying things in your life aren’t bad.

We all have stuff we have to deal with.

Stuff we wish we could just drop and leave behind us.

But that’s not how life works.

So what I’m asking you to do is use Radical Acceptance like I talked about in this post, then ask yourself: “Is everything truly awful, or am I letting the negativity take over?”

Say you have an arguement with your partner.

Arguments/disagreements/fights (whatever you call them) suck, but they happen in every healthy relationship.

You’re human. It’s not possible for two imperfect people to perfectly agree on everything all the time.

So you have this argument, and instead of leaving it where it is, you begin to spiral.

We had an argument.
My relationship is awful.
I’m not a good partner.
They don’t like me.
I’m a burden.
I don’t like me.

But instead of letting the spiral continue, you take a pause.

You use Radical Acceptance.

You say, “We had an argument. That sucks. I feel sad.”

Then you stop the spiral before it takes root.

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

The ugly thing about thoughts is that if you say them enough in your head, you start to believe them.

So if you spiral and reach the self-doubt stage, those words you say to yourself are words that take root in your heart.

I’m a burden.
No one likes me.
I don’t like me.

At first they’re just words, but if you keep saying them enough, they will become your reality. You will honestly believe that you are a burden, no one likes you. And you will actually begin to not like yourself.

Don’t go there.

Because you are not a burden. You are worth the effort.

People do like you. You have friends. Family. That partner you just had an argument with. They stick around because they like you, not because you have somehow tricked them into it.

Not liking yourself can be a real feeling that is so hard to pull yourself out of. You run down that hill without a care in the world, but the trek back is quite the climb.

So don’t go there. And if you are there, go look in the mirror and say nice things to yourself. It sounds stupid, but like I said, the more you say something, the more you believe it.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Before you go any further down the negative spiral, take a breath. Say to yourself, “You are spiraling. You need to stop before this goes any further.”

Am I asking you not to feel your feelings? No. Not at all.

Your feelings are real and valid. But these thoughts are cropping up because of your feelings, and they are not always true.

Negativity leads to more negativity, so you have to stop before you go too far.

If you continue down the negative spiral in the name of “Feeling your feelings” you’re fooling yourself. This is not helpful. You are punishing yourself by piling on more and more ugly thoughts.

So take a breath. Pause. Say “no” to the ugly thoughts. Do not allow any more to pass through your mind.

So now you’ve stopped the spiral. Yay You!

But there’s still a little ways to go.

Don’t worry, you’ve already finished the hard part.

But it can be easy to slip back into the negativity, so you have to run in the opposite direction.

Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

It’s called Opposite Action. You can learn about it in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook. You should check it out if you’re needing help overcoming overwhelming emotions, or just looking for self-betterment.

You feel pulled toward these negative thoughts, so instead you should seek out positive thoughts.

Let’s start with some opposites to the ugly thoughts that cropped up before.

We did have an argument, but that’s normal in a healthy relationship, and we’re stronger than this fight.
My relationship has more good days than bad.
I am a good partner.
My partner cares about me.
I’m worth time and effort.
I love myself.

Then take it a little further.

What are some redeemable qualities about the relationship?
What is something good that happened recently?
What is something you love about yourself?
What is something you love about your life?
Name 2 things that bring you joy.
Name 3 things you have done that make you proud.

These are just examples, and I encourage you to find whatever works for you.

Just like negative attracts more negative, positive will attract more positive.

Feel your feelings, but don’t let yourself spiral.

You can still acknowledge that something sucked and you’re sad without going down that ugly road.

You’re worth the effort, so don’t let yourself go there.

I know the sadness can be intoxicating sometimes.

Like you’re so angry with yourself that you deserve to feel this pain. So you list all the reasons why.

But you don’t deserve it. There is a child inside you who lacked something growing up, but didn’t have the capacity to fill that void.

You’re grown up now, but you still have to raise that child inside you.

If a 6 year old was sitting next to you, saying all these ugly things, you would stop them. You would tell them how wonderful they are and that things will be brighter soon.

Maybe you should use some of that kindness for yourself too.

Sending love,

MK

When Linux is feeling down, he avoids the negativity spiral by thinking about fetch.
And treats. Lots of treats.

Do You Ever Feel Alone?

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*Trigger Warning*
This post deals with feelings of loneliness and depression and may be triggering for some readers.

Hi there, how are you doing today? My mood has been low lately, what about you? I hope not, but if you’re struggling, make sure to take care of yourself. You’re worth the effort ❤

Loneliness is one of the major triggers I struggle with.

It’s a symptom of my brain chemistry.

When my mood takes a dip, I think no one wants to be around me.

Why would they, when I’m like this?
No one really likes me anyway.
If people wanted to be around me, they would reach out.

These ugly thoughts tumble around my head and get stuck on repeat.

You’ve never felt the depths of loneliness until you’ve been surrounded by people, all talking around you and laughing, but not one person makes an effort to connect with you.

Photo by Aline Viana Prado on Pexels.com

Maybe it’s me.
Maybe there’s something fundamentally wrong with me.
Maybe if I just lighten up… be more positive…
Maybe if I was neurotypical…

Ugly thoughts, I know. But that’s what runs through my head.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Call me jaded.

Call me negative.

But the world is full of selfish people.

When was the last time someone asked you how you were doing, and after you gave the socially acceptable “Fine, how are you?” They took you by the hand and said, “No really, how are you doing?”

When was the last time you felt deeply cared for?

Important.

Valued.

Special.

I don’t mean to be so negative. I’d love to be adorable and positive, but that’s not really how the world works. Not my world, anyway.

Here I am.

I’m neurodivergent. 

My world gets dark, and sometimes I’m not sure why.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

The reality is that not a lot of people in this world are going to take the time to get to know the real you. To go the extra mile to make sure you feel cared for.

They exist, but it’s rare to find them.

If you do find them, hang on to them. That’s a special person, indeed.

But I can tell you one thing.

I care.

I care how you feel, even if no one else does.

If you were sitting next to me, I wouldn’t let you get away with “Fine, how are you?”

I know what the darkness feels like. We’ve been familiar for a long time now. 

So when I can’t seem to escape the darkness, I will do anything in my power to bring light to your world.

I think sometimes the people in this world who feel the most pain are the ones who try the hardest to take it away from others.

And sometimes, when I’m in pain, giving love makes me feel a bit lighter, even if my problems don’t really go away.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

People around me see me as bright and bubbly. Laughing and smiling. 

But that’s not always how I feel.

I just don’t want the darkness to spread.

I’m responsible for the way I act, no matter how I’m feeling.

Just because I’m having a bad mental health day, doesn’t mean I have to bring you down with me.

Why? Because I don’t want to be the person who hurts others. And because you’re important to me.

I see value in every person I meet.

Maybe because it’s so rare that people see the value in me.

You are deeply cared for.
You are important.
You are valued.
You are special.

And if the darkness is hanging over you today, I hope you find it a bit easier to bear in the knowledge that you are not alone it this. 

I’m here too.

And as souls brought up in darkness, I think it’s our moral obligation to seek the light.

To bring healing and love and laughter to the people who mean something to us… in the hopes that whatever darkness lingering over their head might be vanquished.

And maybe, while you’re being a warrior for love and light, you might find some healing for yourself in the light you bring to others.

Maybe making someone feel valued and loved is exactly what you needed.

Maybe someone will see how special you are while you’re telling them how special they are to you.

At the end of the day, no matter how you’re feeling, you are responsible for your own actions.

You get to decide how you want to treat people, what words come out of your mouth.

So who do you want to be?

I hope the rest of your day is filled with light and laughter.

Sending love, 

MK

This boi will bark and bite if the darkness gets too close!
…JK he’s a chicken, but he will definitely lick your face if you get sad.

Kindness Is Not Free

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*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about mental health and may be triggering for some readers.

Please seek help if you need it.

Hi there, how are you doing? Have you checked in with yourself lately, taken stock of what you’re feeling physically and emotionally? You can bury a whole lot in the back of your mind. I hope you take some time today to do something that brings you joy ❤

Have you ever heard that saying “Kindness Is Free“?

It’s a nice idea. Kindness costs you nothing, so give it out every chance you get.

Lovely, right?

And I suppose in the capitalist culture we live in, that’s pretty accurate.

It costs no money.

You don’t trade anything of substance for it.

You don’t run it on credit or send someone an IOU.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

But for anyone who has had a bad day, had someone treat them like crap, had a stressful day at work, then chosen to take the high road and speak kindness anyway:

You know it costs something.

It may not cost money… it may be “free” in our society’s terms, but it can be really expensive in immaterial terms.

Let’s be honest, if kindness was free, it wouldn’t be so rare.

I’m not talking about the random, easy kindnesses.

I’m talking about choosing to say something that will protect someone’s heart, when all you want to do is get back at them for their rude comment.

I’m talking about going out of your way to make a new person feel welcome, even though it’s scary and you might be labeled an outsider along with them.

I’m talking about choosing to say kind words to your family, your friend, your partner, when they are making you so angry all you want to do is yell at them.

These acts of kindness are hard.

They take work.

Effort.

You have to swallow your pride and force down the words that are ready to leap off your tongue.

You have to choose something that, frankly, you don’t want to choose.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

I think this is what defines us.

What we choose to do when we’re under pressure.

It’s not being kind when it’s easy, when it’s free, that shows your character. But being kind when it’s hard.

When it costs you something.

Think about a time when you didn’t feel like being kind. Maybe it was an augment with a loved one. Maybe it was a rude coworker. Maybe you were having a bad mental health day and you weren’t sure you had it in you.

Now think about what you said. Were you kind? Or did you act on your impulse?

Did you shout at your loved one and storm away, or did you take their hand and tell them how much they mean to you and that you want to fix this?

Did you write a passive aggressive letter to your coworker outlining their bad behavior, or did you rise above and set a mutually respectful boundary?

Did you inflict the pain you were feeling on others, or did you seek to protect the hearts of others from your pain, and reach out to someone for help?

No judgement here.

Honestly, today my coworker was being rude to me and I snapped at them.

I did not choose kindness. I could have, but I didn’t.

There are a million excuses. It’s really hot out. I’m tired. This person has been rude to me a lot lately. I wasn’t really that rude…

But I’m not defined by situations or the behavior of others.

I’m defined by my choices.

In that moment, I wasn’t kind.

But I will choose kindness next time.

We’re human, we make mistakes. What’s important is that we keep trying.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Choosing kindness is so important, especially in light of the turmoil in our world right now.

People are hurting, but you can’t always tell just by looking at them.

If I am rude to someone, I have no way of knowing that person has been struggling with mental health and I just triggered them.

If I insult someone, I have no way of knowing they have struggled with self image for years and I just set them back.

If I ignore or dismiss someone, I have no way of knowing they have been struggling with feelings of loneliness and lack of self-worth.

I have no idea what is going on in someone else’s life.

I have no way of knowing how my unkindness might affect someone.

So it’s that much more important to choose kindness.

Every chance you get.

Even when it costs you something. Pride. Effort. Attention. Ease.

Sometimes I ask myself, who do I want to be?

Do I want to be the woman who hurts people, or lifts them up?

Do I want my words to make or break someone’s day?

Do I want people to feel the pain that I struggle with day in and day out, or do I want to bring light and life to the people around me?

It’s all a choice.

Every day, every hour, every moment, I can choose who I want to be, how I want to act.

Kindness may not be free, but it’s always worth it.

Sending love,

MK

This boi jumped on my sunburned legs last night and scratched the crap outta me, which was not kind. But then he gave me kisses and snuggles later because he’s been trying to exercise his kindness muscles. He’s proud of his progress.

My Mental Health Does Not Make Me The Problem

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*Trigger Warning*
This post talks about mental health and messages of shame and feeling alone. Reader discretion is advised.
Please reach out to someone if you need help.

Hi there, how is your week going? I hope you did something this week that was just for you. Something that put a smile on your face. ❤

I read a book instead of getting some work done. And I’m not cooking tonight. Nothing puts a smile on my face like takeout.

Today, I wanted to touch on some messages that have weaseled their way into my mind time and time again over the years.

-Everything is my fault, because I’m neurodivergent.
-If I didn’t have depression, we would be happy.
-If I didn’t have anxiety, we wouldn’t fight.
-If I was just normal, my relationships would be good.

These thoughts don’t just come from me.

They have come from parents, doctors, counselors, friends, family.

Sometimes explicitly: “That’s probably just the depression talking. It’s all in your head.”

Sometimes more implied: “Are you sure that’s what happened?” Then they go into how I might be looking at things in a negative light.

WHICH TOTALLY HAPPENS

But that doesn’t mean I’m making up my feelings…

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

My feelings are valid. The way that I feel comes from somewhere.

For my neurotypical readers, I’d like to put this into perspective.

Saying it’s probably just my depression, that it’s not really like that, is like saying “Oh, you’re just on your period.”

First of all, I’m triggered as heck just thinking about this statement.

Second, my period may influence my mood, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling those feelings. They may not seem all that important to you, but they feel very big to me.

If that doesn’t resonate with you, it could be like when you’re at work and you suggest something, but get dismissed because “You should leave it to the higher-ups.” Your position at work doesn’t make your opinion any less valid. People who dismiss you for that reason are disrespecting you.

Everyone deserves to be heard.

I have a hard time with this in my interpersonal relationships. Family and friends may do something or say something, and I’m left reeling.

But they just say I shouldn’t feel that way.

If you weren’t depressed you wouldn’t think that.”

Maybe…

But it doesn’t matter.

Why?

Because I am feeling it. This is very real to me. And as someone who claims to care for me, that should matter to you.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The worst part about this scenario?

I have heard these messages for so long, the words don’t even have to be spoken. I can hear them in my head. I see it in your eyes, your body language. The way you laugh and shake your head when I finish speaking. The way you turn away and leave me to deal with these feelings on my own.

Sometimes it’s not even other people…

The messages spiral out of control in my brain and I find myself shaming my brain chemistry, something I don’t have much control over.

There are drugs. Therapy. Doctors. Essential oil crazy ladies coming out of the woodwork.

But the thing about brain chemistry is that it’s unique to everyone.

Some people benefit so much from drugs. They find balance in life and finally get to feel healthy again.

That’s not what happened for me.

But I found that out by trying, not by simply saying they wouldn’t work. So if you’re struggling, please talk to a doctor. There are so many avenues you can take. Find what works for you.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The ugly self-depreciating messages became so ingrained in my mind that, even when people were listening to me, I would assume they were going to disregard me.

I would interpret body language and facial expressions for what they had sometimes meant in the past, instead of learning what they mean now.

After a while, I stopped reaching out.

Why would I, when no one will validate me anyway? When my feelings will be dismissed?

Why would I reach out when I don’t know if you’ll catch me?

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

When I retreated inward, I started to blame myself.

Maybe if I wasn’t like this, my relationships would be better. Easier.

Maybe if I wasn’t depressed, my relationships would be happy.

Maybe if I didn’t have anxiety, we would fight less.

Maybe all the problems, with my friends, my family, etc… Maybe it’s because of me.

After all, what’s the common denominator here?

That’s what I would tell myself. And the funny thing about the human brain is, the more you say something, the more you’ll start to believe it.

This is something I’ve had to work on.

It took a lot of self-reflection. A lot of comparing facts and feelings, finding the truth that lies beneath. A lot of talk therapy. A lot of my DBT Skills book.

A lot of forcing myself to be vulnerable and reach out, even though that’s the scariest thing in the world to me.

And if they don’t… you’re strong enough to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and say next time will be better.

Because, eventually, it will be.

That’s just math, folks. Statistically, if you reach out out to people, someone will eventually reach back.

If you keep letting the cycle of ugly messages get you down, you are letting them win. You are shrinking inwards when you could be growing.

I won’t lie to you, it’s not always easy.

I’ve really struggled with it.

I still struggle with it.

It’s scary.

But when you find someone who meets you where you are, who takes your hand and walks with you through the dark, there’s nothing like that feeling.

It’s ok to lean on someone.

It’s ok to ask for help.

It’s ok not to be ok.

Photo by Yogii Surya Pangestu on Pexels.com

You are learning to live with your unique brain chemistry.

I am too.

We’re not experts. Sometimes we mess up.

But we will never have the chance to grow, to get better, if we’re not willing to take the risk of putting ourselves out there.

That’s what life is all about.

Testing your limits.

Getting out of your comfort zone.

So what if your comfort zone is a bit smaller than the average bear?

You’re doing the best you can, and in that, we are the same.

I understand you.

And I’m really freakin’ proud of how far you’ve come, and how far you will go.

Sending love,

MK

Mah boi here says he hears you and thinks your feelings are valid. And if you reach out, he will most definitely lick your face. Right after he finishes licking his butt.

6 Tricks For Better Instagram Photos

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Hi there! Are you doing well? I’m sending love & positive vibes your way! Life can be tough. Make it a little easier by being kind to yourself ❤

I thought I’d share a few tricks for Instagram photos that I’ve learned through trial and error so that maybe you don’t have to learn the hard way! I’m no expert, and I just do Insta for fun, so this is a pretty basic tutorial.

I joined Bookstagram a few months ago and absolutely LOVE IT! It is so fun to indulge my creative side and see what I can do with the books I love. I shared some tips & tricks for Reels in another post, so check that out if you’re interested.

Without further ado, here are my 6 tricks for better Instagram photos:

1 Lighting – I can’t stress this enough. Not only will it help with the sharpness and clarity of your photos, but people love bright photos on Instagram! Some of my older stuff is not very bright, and it looks a bid dingy to be honest. I tend to get more likes on brighter photos, and people on IG just really like the bright look. This looks like a pretty good photo light, if you need one.

Photography lights for a studio.
Photo by tyler hendy on Pexels.com

2 Stick with a vibe. A flavor. An aesthetic, if you will. My photos have a bit of an airy, classic vibe. Lots of cream colors, muted tones, flowers, and fur. I also have been using the same backdrop (it’s actually a table cloth) for a while and it gives my my wall a really cohesive feel. I started getting more traffic once I started to stick with the same vibe throughout my pictures. This way, my followers know what to expect from me. If you scroll down further in my account, you can see that my earlier photos were a bit all over the place. We grow, we learn. That’s why you’re here, right?

Happy woman with a colorful aesthetic. Flashing her loud vibe.
Photo by Karley Saagi on Pexels.com

3 Photos have are more visually pleasing when they’re a little off-center. Now, this isn’t always the case, but it usually is. For book stacks (I’m a Bookstagrammer) I will usually keep them pretty on-center, but for one book or a collection of books laid out on a backdrop, it’s good to make the focus point off-center.
Turn on your grid while taking a photo. Try to make your focus point line up with one of the intersections. This can be a book, or a picture or word on the book (if you’re taking a picture of books). It’s also best if they are not straight up & down. Keep in mind that your camera typically takes a rectangular photo, while Instagram will crop to square, so the situating may be done after the fact.

4 Knick-knacks and other random items can add depth and interest to your photos. I have some pebbles, candles, flowers, decorative balls, rings, and bookmarks that can all be mixed & matched to create the look I’m going for. Adding things that pertain to the subject of your photo is always good as well. Placement should be done with your focal points in mind, but also with a bit of randomness. Working too hard on placement can sometimes add stiffness to a photo. Below, you can see 3 different placements of items. I kept rearranging until it felt right.

5 Filters – I actually edit my photos in the IG app. I know a lot of people use other softwares, but frankly I’m just too lazy to do that. When editing, I will pick a filter first. This way, the little touch-ups I do will look good with the filter I’ve chosen. As I mentioned before, I’m trying to stick with a certain vibe, so I only use like 3 of the filters. I pick the one I like best for the photo I’m editing based on lighting, subject, and the feel of the photo.

Woman using a filter. She is wearing red and the photographer has captured her serious mood.
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

6 After you’ve chosen a filter, select Edit to adjust other aspects of your photo. I usually crop and move my photo around until the focal point is right where I want it. If there’s only one book, I like it to be a bit off-center. Adds some dimension. I’ll also play with the other toggles until I get the look I’m going for. Usually upping the brightness, saturation, and warmth, and lowering contrast. It depends on the photo, and the vibe you’re going for, but this just fits for me. I also really like the sharpness and structure options. It pulls out the shiny little details like the glitter in the table cloth or the shine on the book without overdoing the brightness. Don’t be afraid to play around with it until you get the look you’re going for. You can always press and hold on the image to compare to the original.

I’ve included the before and after below so you can see the results!

I hope you found these tips helpful! I’d love to see some of your photos or hear any other tricks you’d like to share, so feel free to add you account or pointers in the comments below!

Check out my Bookstagram account if you’re interested in seeing my work.

Sending love,

MK