10 things people with mental illness want you to know

It’s Mental Health Month and, as an individual with a mental illness and spouse of someone with a mental illness, I know the value of awareness. You probably already know that the people around you can have a profound effect on your wellbeing. Many of us have a supportive family member, spouse, mentor, or friend who has helped us express our feelings and make sense of our own head.

But there are also many detrimental people who, even when they have good intentions, make us feel worse.

Mental illness is already heavily stigmatized, and sufferers don’t need another reason to feel like there’s something wrong with them. So here are some notes about some of the things you should be aware of when speaking with someone with a mental illness, so you can avoid being one of those people who make us feel marginalized.

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The complicated nature of women’s clothing that men will never understand

When my husband shops for pants, he’ll usually look at the price tag and say something like, “Forty dollars…that’s rough.”

*Queue my sigh of exasperation.*

If I buy jeans for $40, it’s a bargain. And whereas his dress pants ALSO only cost $20, mine are much higher for the same sort of quality. (Once he put a pair of good-fitting, good-quality pants back on the rack because they were only on sale for $23, and that just wasn’t a good deal at all.)

And that’s after I’ve spent much more time than him searching for pants that fit correctly.

Guys don’t realize the struggle women face when it comes to clothes. Men’s clothing is often pretty standard, isn’t skin-tight to show off their bodies, and then they aren’t judged so harshly as women for what they wear. Put on a T-shirt and shorts and DONE.

Here are a few ways men are privileged when it comes to clothing.

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This is how unemployment and job searching really feels

If you read my Instagram, you might know that I am currently unemployed. Obviously, job hunting is exhausting, and I’ve spent much of my time searching through Indeed, LinkedIn, and JobCase bookmarking openings; writing cover letters; looking for side gigs; and trying not to go insane.

There are many stigmas to being unemployed. People think you’re lazy. That you’re not trying hard enough. That you’re being too picky. Or you just need to network more!

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How the new Tomb Raider fares as a feminist film

I have so many feelings right now. Good feelings and bad feelings.

Tomb Raider has been a gaming staple for me since I was 8, and is one of the few games I fervently follow. This weekend, I went to the theater to see my favorite action hero, Lara Croft, on the big screen once again, played this time by Alicia Vikander.

But as a feminist, no matter how much I want to love this movie, I had high expectations. Hollywood feminism is having a big moment with Wonder Woman, an all-female Ghostbusters, and kick-ass ladies starring in films like Star Wars and Mad Max, and popular TV shows like Game of Thrones and Jessica Jones. So many of them are fantastic pieces that set noteworthy examples of feminism and diversity. And while the bar was set low in terms of Tomb Raider movies, the bar for woman-led films is set high.

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Take advantage of your extra hour of sunshine

There are two kinds of people. There are normal people who hate losing an hour of sleep during spring-ahead daylight savings. And then there’s my husband. Steven spends much of the winter ruing the early arrival of nighttime, pining for the sweet, extended sunshine of spring. He wants to get off work in plenty of time to go have fun, and for him, fun is pretty much anything outdoors.

I despise losing an hour of my sleep and never before thought of the change in daylight as an advantage. But there’s SO much more opportunity to get out there and do things you really can’t once the sun sets.

Thankfully, Daylight Savings happens this Sunday, March 11 (at 2 a.m. – set your clocks back!). Here are a few ways to enjoy your sunlit evenings.

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The bad side to social media, and how to stop it from taking over your life

The rules of connecting with friends have changed. Ever since we first started ranking people on MySpace (how messed up was that?!), some shy folk like myself saw social media as a wonderland of self-expression. As in, expressing myself in a way I don’t have to see or talk to another person, but also, let them know how cool I am by all the sassy stickers on my page.

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Times your anxiety was so meta

Let’s be real. You’re cool and your anxiety just has to try and keep up. It’s jealous of your self-expression and the way you seem to be totally fine when anxiety isn’t there.

Meta-anxiety, or secondary anxiety, can cause anxious feelings to surface when there aren’t any obvious triggers in your midst, or it can severely worsen an oncoming attack. It often chips away at our ability to cope with the initial anxiety or use it in a way that is productive. Instead, we may try to avoid more activities, settings, people, and other triggers than before, severely limiting ourselves.

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Small food swaps to start eating healthier

My healthy-eating journey began when I first met my husband. He loves food, and he loves balance. He’d always add lettuce, tomato, onion and other veggies to his sandwiches, in contrast to my meat-and-cheese sandwiches. When he ordered foods, he’d swap out the white bun for a whole grain bun, or mayo for hummus. To be honest, he was a little judgey about my unhealthy eating habits.

Not wanting to lose face, I started making some swaps myself. Nearly seven years later, I have made some drastic dietary changes and feel SO much better for it. Patience played a big part. Nothing changed overnight and I definitely didn’t set out wanting to overhaul my diet. But making small changes, adding small habits to my diet the more I learned about nutrition, I made a big change.

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Here’s what you need to have a great Valentine’s Day

(Boyfriend not included.)

 

Let’s be real. Valentine’s Day is mostly a disappointing holiday with few surprises. That crush will continue to be blithely unaware of your existence. Your friends probably don’t want to do anything because they’ve got their own dates. Your mother asks (again) if you have any love interests. Your SO conveniently forgets what day it is.

The one person you know won’t fail you? YOURSELF. So why depend on others to express their love to you, when you do a better job of it anyway?

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