Mental Health/Wellbeing, Product Reviews

’13 Reasons Why’ Controversy – My Side

TRIGGER WARNING AND POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT! I WILL BE ADDRESSING VARIOUS TOPICS FROM SEASONS 1-2 OF THE SHOW.

Also please remember that the following critique if you will is completely my opinion. Nothing is based off of expert statements, it’s simply how I see the television show when using my own experiences and knowledge thus far to analyze it as I have both a passion for and academic path geared towards mental health.

I understand many may have opinions that differ from mine and I am 100% okay with that. I do ask, however, to avoid leaving negative comments publicly. If you feel you really need to talk to me about this post, contact me via email or DM on Twitter/Instagram. Whether or not I respond depends on the way you approach me.

Now, without further ado, my reasons that lead me to believe the Netlifx original Drama ’13 Reasons Why’ is an accurate and appropriate portrayal of modern day mental health/bullying problems.

1.) There are both discretion warnings and clips providing potential help for those who are or know someone else who needs professional aid or some other service.

There’s no doubt that a large amount of the content within the show can be seen as uncomfortable to look at, but, just like wildlife series or possibly war documentaries, warnings are provided to the viewer at the beginning of the program so they can decide whether or not to continue watching. Not only this, but the producers mention how some scenes could act as possible triggers for those who’ve experienced similar trauma or have other mental health concerns and suggest they only continue watching safely with a trusted friend/loved one. Some may think that just doing this isn’t enough; but in the industry, warnings/labels are all CD, television show, and other media producers can do to deter potential negative outcomes for certain audience members exposed to their media.

Similarly, as the show is coming to an end, hotlines and other forms of support are once again provided for the viewer. It’s not like the producers of the series are just simply showing mental health in a negative aspect and the potential power it can hold over even a group of people. The intended overall message, I believe, is that what we do and say matters a whole lot more than we think it does. Even if it doesn’t effect our own life in some significant way, doesn’t mean it impact another.

This whole idea is better in so many ways to have circling people’s TV screens than the majority of the entertainment that is also out there. Audiences were quick to attack the intensity at which both season one and two held, but there’s tons of other media out there that lack in a meaningful and relevant messages. Horror movies for example, are still released but alongside content ratings. In reality, however, this doesn’t stop kids from watching them.

Overall, the show addresses mental health issues from a serious point of view. Providing help, portraying multiple types of mental problems that are faced more commonly than the public tends to think. The show was intended to end the stigma behind mental health care and show how real, detrimental, and fast emotional/mental stress can absorb various types of people. It’s, in my opinion, one of the few shows that is so directed at helping the viewers and showing them they’re not alone.

2.) The intense scenarios they touch upon only make people uncomfortable because they’re recognized as taboo by society. The show is making effort to highlight these events and the importance of acknowledging them instead of burying them in shame. 

While not everybody may want to talk about sexual assault, suicide, depression, or bullying the truth is: we have to. People who deal with these topics and the like are sometimes forced to go through the struggle alone out of fear of what others will think/say/do based off of past experiences. This is not humane. We owe more to each other as the human race with such great emotional intelligence.

To just let suicide or bullying in teens carry on is negligent. I’m not saying that mental health shares no part of the limelight of public interest. This is in no way true since employers, schools, and the health field have all become more open over the years to the significance of mental health; yet, this did little to change/eliminate the stigmas stuck to the concept.

Referring back, once again, to the aspect of the warnings before/after each episode it’s obvious that the cast and crew are trying to bring awareness to and educate those scared/unsure about the challenges and risks of mental health issues left unattended to. I don’t see this as encouraging, or failing to accurately capture a wide variety of mental health struggles. The Netlfix series is more of a look into a part of the everyday psychological world that has been avoided in public conversation. It’s only furthering along the acceptance of mental health as a real field to be concerned about and aware of.

3.) These situations aren’t exaggerated or irrelevant.

Especially with the amount of attention more recently placed on sexual assaults within the show biz industry, I thought that the views towards such crimes would change. So far, I haven’t seen that. There still seems to be a divide between people who seek justice for such cases and those who turn to victim blaming or other opposing tactics. This is directly demonstrated in the verdict given after character Bryce Walker is tried for rape.

The teenager only receives 3 months of probation after a failed testimony by his girlfriend and Hannah Baker’s mother. I read somewhere that the writers made this so in order to truly reflect the realness of modern day rape culture. Justice is not fairly distributed to those faced with charges of rape/sexual assault and often the attention and pressure is more centered around the victim.

This then directly leads to the low amount of assaults that are reported compared to the amount that actually happen. I found the scene in one of the last few episodes of season 2 where different women from the show come forth in a court room, describing the time(s) they were themselves assaulted. This wasn’t really a necessary part for the development of the actual plot, but an opportunity the producers took to further outline the truth behind rape.

I personally know at least eight people (not just women) that have been raped or forced into some other type of assault. Not one of them pursued justice, but rather hid with pain and guilt much like character Jessica Davis. That is why this aspect of the show is so important. We need to educate audiences on the idea of getting professional help or recognizing concerning signs within themselves or other that could escalate if ignored. Until the victims feel comfortable enough to come forward, statistics won’t reflect the true rates of such traumatizing experiences.

Rape wasn’t the only thing I saw as necessary to show. The effects of bullying, whether over or covert, are so important. Through the exchanges between characters like Hannah and Zach or Hannah and Justin, it’s so clear how much other people’s own issues such as insecurities/fear of humiliation or wanting to be cool and approaching it in the wrong way can change more than just one person’s life. Hannah, directly impacted by the words that came from places of low self worth and ego in both Justin and Zach, managed to internalize these events so much that they added immensely to her already overwhelming stress load.

While thinking about things like “be nice to others”, or “treat people how you want to be treated” may bring one back to feeling like a little kid learning to socialize, they’re still important as we move through adolescents and adulthood. By just being nice to others, you are ensuring that you are not part of whatever internal turmoil they are dealing with. No, you can’t be nice to everyone all of the time, but paying more attention to your options when reacting to or initiating conversation can positively affect the outcome.

I see a perfect portrayal of this when Clay decides to go outside and coax Tyler out of entering the school dance with a weapon. Instead of freaking out, hiding, attacking Tyler, Clay chose to be his friend. Kinds words, a calm voice, and assurance managed to get Tyler to rethink his plan which ends up saving so many lives. Being nice or even just considerate to someone can really move them in a way larger than you can imagine since we can never accurately know what someone else is feeling/thinking. Always recognize everything deals with things differently, and those ‘things’ can vary in many ways.

There are so many aspects of the series that I have thoughts on about why it’s important, but I just wanted to share my general opinion. Personally, the series hits home as I experienced bullying, assault, depression, and other unpleasantness in middle-high school. I believe some who hold negative feelings towards the show may be lacking in ways to relate, but they could also be the exact opposite of the person who should watch a show like 13 Reasons Why.

No, I didn’t go and watch critique or review videos on the series. Yes, I am aware they directly ignored the advisory of a psychologist in some of their scene selection. That aside, I think it is a great series. It made me feel accepted, and I hope it did so for many others. We, as a race, have definitely made progress on the mental health track and I see this as continuing. Even if attempts to further progress such as this media depiction generate more opposing than supporting comments, it is enough that the ideas are at least being circulated. Change starts with conversation, something 13 Reasons Why depicts in the most blunt, sincere way.51kI5RoEVkL._SS500

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Helpful Links, Mental Health/Wellbeing

Down Days Are Okay

Recently, I have gotten a lot of things done around the house since I’ve had more free time after the semester ended. In fact, I got so much done so fast that I found myself kind of overwhelmed with the amount of time I had so I of course decided to on literally everything.

While at the time this was a good idea, I soon found myself flat out exhausted. In the past I would have beat myself up over this feeling while trying to relax, which kind of defeats the point.

Instead of taking that negative approach, however, I told myself I deserve a rest day and am better off taking one. Some people might find this silly that I am addressing this as an important concept, but to me and others with disorders that affect their stress levels it is very crucial.

Anxieties can sometimes manifest themselves in ways that are rather productive. There is a point when this productivity can reach extremes that only add to stress and fatigue instead of the longed for feeling of release/relaxation. That is why everyone should make it a solid part of their routine to allow oneself a break or some rest.

I’m not saying that being productive and “in the zone” isn’t healthy as it does help to finish rather intimidating tasks. What I am saying is that you need to learn to listen to your body. Even if you only feel physically tired, it could mean you’re mentally wiped as well since the two are intertwined.

Recharging your batteries can do more wonders for your energy levels and thus accomplishments than pushing yourself to get an insane amount of things done. The goal of completing as much as possible as fast as possible seems of pure intention, and it can be, but it’s not worth the added stress that tiring yourself out to the extreme will bring.

Know when to stop and how to pace yourself in vigorous activities of all kinds to avoid burning out faster than usual. Get things done, but in a reasonable and healthy way. Also understand that weariness or tiredness can also come from mental stimuli, not just physical. If something has been pushing you mentally, that is another good reason for a down day.

After lounging around the house for the majority of the day, I felt 10x better. I cleaned intensely for hours yesterday and had even wanted to keep going but my back pain stopped me. I’m glad I got all of that done, but I don’t think it was worth being so tired and sore and I now see I could’ve better divided my time up.

A rocky night’s sleep added to my fatigue, which convinced me even more to stay in bed today. My favorite part is that I actually got to enjoy it since I’ve learned that even doing nothing is doing something for yourself/health and saw it as beneficial. Instead of punishing myself, I rewarded myself for knowing when to stop and listening to myself.

Relaxation is just as important as exercise, a good diet, and decent sleep. Without it, you could become a zombie who’s out of tune with yourself and the world. If you feel the need to binge watch Netflix, sleep for hours, or cuddle up with a book all day: do it.

These feelings or wants are your body telling you to pause. Take a break from the craziness of life. Enjoy the now and let your body rest in whatever way works best for you.

Just as with your workouts, make this time for you and enjoy. 6fc980c764515e73b320c67fedebe0a3

Mental Health/Wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week – Book Talk

The various stigmas and stereotypes that have become attached to mental health and all of the disorders, illnesses, and disabilities are starting to be socially challenged by mental health advocates around the world.

To me, this is significant progress for us human beings. For a very long time, suppressing emotions to show strength was taught in simple, early-life socialization (especially for males, but I’ll save a talk on cave man masculinity for another time). Phrases such as “Big kids don’t cry”, or “Cry baby” were commonly used in both the schools and homes of whole generations; this method of teaching kids to “handle” their emotions does still exist in some capacities, but modernization is changing that.

As the fields of Psychology and Sociology continue to evolve, we will continue to better understand and thus be able to manage our emotions in an appropriate manner. That is why it is so important to spread awareness of all things mental health. Employers, schools, even families would all benefit from being educated on this once taboo subject.

Recently, I have been reading a book titled Emotional Intelligence by science journalist Daniel Goleman. The big picture focuses on emotional intelligence as a whole, but one specific part regarding simply acknowledging your emotions.

It’s sort of hard for me to remember that there are people out there who don’t feel as deeply as I do. But the reality is that societal norms have established that mental health issues or even recognition is a sign of weakness: which in itself is deemed humiliating. This then has direct influence over individual personality and cognitive development/control.

People who ignore their feelings and emotions can be called “repressors” as they make an effort to bury anything that is negative (Goleman 75). I have known some people like this in the past and they typically claim this sort of aloofness aided them in managing stress and staying on track with life. This is actually also common among most “reppressors” or “unflappables” (Goleman 75).

Yes, these people may feel at ease, however, “they can sometimes siege with physiological upsets they are oblivious to” (Goleman 75). The fact that these people have trained themselves to ignore the indicators of songstress and anxiety is one reason why it’s time to realize the more talk on mental health, the better as our society is currently not tackling any of these issues but is rather instigating them. The movement was started, but it must continue.

So many people out there may need help and not even know it, or are too afraid to seek it in the first place. It could be your neighbor, parent, sibling, teacher, friend, or basically anyone you know as mental heath disorders/illnesses don’t know ethnicity, sexuality, or any other socially constructed category. By making it known that mental struggles are normal and that you’re never alone in the battle, suicide rates, employment rates, and so many other important aspects of our communities could potentially decrease.

A problem, like the lack of support in the mental health world, can only be reversed when given attention. So this is me encouraging you to speak. If you have faced things like anxiety, depression, PTSD, personality disorders, crippling phobias, or any other mental health classification try to share your story when relevant because it could save someone’s life, metaphorically or physically.

We have the power in our hands to face our mental struggles and should always empower others to do so. As always, both physical and mental strength are crucial to a happy human. Don’t waste your time focusing on exactly how bad you feel, but rather on why you feel that way and where to go from there.

Happy Mental Health Awareness Week. Remember to take care of yourself, take breaks, breathe, ask for help, help others, and grow a little every day.

P.S. I recommend the referenced text to anyone who enjoys psych/soc readings! (Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman)

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Fitness, Mental Health/Wellbeing

Yoga, Meditation, and Breathing Exercises

When I am in desperate need of relaxation, it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint what exactly can help me unwind. After trying various exercises and practices, I have found three stress relieving techniques that work for me every time. As always, it may be different for you and there’s so many different ways to chill out, mentally and physically. Just find what leaves you feeling the most refreshed!

The first thing I do when I’m stressed or strung out is yoga/stretching. I choose the style of yoga I would like to do at the moment based off what I feel my body and brain needs. Sometimes it has me sweating and gasping for breath, other times I focus on flexibility and a slow heart rate.

I turn to yoga to take care of myself in a natural, fun, and challenging way. Recently, I have even started to push myself to do daily flows just to better connect with my body and to have frequent stress relief.

The second thing I do when the pressure is on is meditate. It’s a soothing way to either release or confront anxieties and fears. This practice is rather new to me, but I have been doing more research. My university is also working with a company that produced a website called Calm Circle which acts as an online meditation guru. Using this tool is what sparked my interest in the more spiritual aspect of self reflection through meditation.

There are tons of apps, videos, etc. that can lead you into an easy meditation session if you ever wanted to try it out in the comfort of your own home. I highly recommend this technique if you struggle with anxiety, PTSD, and any other disorders or circumstances that involve tension. It may feel corny at first, but the farther you get into your experimentation with meditation, the more peaceful it becomes. You may even start to look forward to that 5/10 minutes a day; I know I do!

Lastly, I also utilize breathing techniques to relieve my anxiety. I have mentioned these types of activities before, but just wanted to revisit the topic.

These exercises slow the heart rate, place your focus on the rise and fall of your chest, and may help to see a situation in a more calm light. As breathing takes no special equipment, these techniques can be performed anywhere at any time which is why it is one of my favorites.

There are numerous different ways you can control/focus on your breath that can benefit you, you just have to search the web to find some you like. If you don’t want to get too fancy with it, simple in and out breathing is just as effective. Some is always better than none!

Overall, each of these practices is related in some way. Yoga involves both stretching as well as deep and focused breathing. The cool thing is that they can also be done separately if one part of the combination isn’t your forte or it isn’t a reasonable time for all three.

Every now and then I do just clump all three together, but I also have done each individually quite a few times and know they have the same “healing” or comforting factors. I haven’t found myself as benefiting from these techniques just anxiety wise, but contentment and energy wise as well.

Stress and mental illness can really drain a person. Through yoga, meditation, breathing, or all of the above, we can take care of our bodies and minds in gentle ways. Even if it takes a while to master the different actions, they’re all worth it as are all of the other practices out there. 32202870_10214910042898284_8830381309500063744_n

Uncategorized

Interviewing With Anxiety

When it comes to things like interviews, most people tend to get nervous as you have to answer questions about yourself in front of a stranger. Attending an interview with an anxiety disorder is these common nerves, but on the next level.

I typically find myself thinking things like “I’m going to mess up” or “I shouldn’t even do this” when I’m prepping/waiting for the meeting itself. These negative thoughts only help to increase that anxiety, which could end up resulting in self sabotage.

Recently, I’ve had three different interviews for jobs and I decided to pay attention to the things I do to help me prep. By trying to reduce my nerves at the same time as increasing my confidence, I had came out of each meeting feeling successful. I did this by:

Reviewing my cover letter, resume, application, and job listing to ensure I had my qualifications, the job requirements, and everything else fresh in my mind. It made me feel more ready to answer (and ask) questions. I also found that I become even more nervous when I over prep by practicing a bunch of questions/scenarios.

– Give yourself more than enough time to get ready and get to be interview. I just find it helpful to be relaxed, not rushed, directly before.

– Wear something you feel comfortable and confident in. This will show in your body language and facial expressions and adds to your first impression.

Smile. This also is key in initial impressions as it gives a hint of your personality. Friendliness is something desired by almost all employers.

Ask questions too. Just because you’re the future employee doesn’t mean you should be the only one answering questions. Yes, you need to be a good fit for the company, but they also need to be a good fit for you. It’s also useful to know anything that’s unclear to you so you can make an informed decision later in the process.

Remember that interviewers know how intimidating and nerve wracking answering questions about yourself is. Being nervous or showing signs of nervousness is not the end of the world, it’s only natural. True employers take this into account, and only focus on your qualities and skills in regards to desired ones.

Breathe. This is a simple one, but it’s the most useful. When you’ve done everything above (and maybe more) but you still are jittery, take slow, deep breaths. This slows your heart rate and can help you to think more logically about your stress. This can be done whenever you start thinking about the interview, all the way up to two minutes before they call you in.

Furthermore, yes you’re going to be nervous. But that doesn’t have to define your interview. Small steps, like the ones above, can help you begin to get used to interviewing and social interactions in a way that’s less daunting.

No, I don’t like talking to strangers or answering questions about my strengths or weaknesses. But that part is bearable when I think about how much I can offer as an individual.

As I’ve said before, you can’t let your anxiety control you but you can learn to better manage it. Simple calming, centering, or focusing techniques can do a world of wonders during an anxiety attack. They can also help in preventing one during, or leading up to important occasions.

Go in there and remember to be you. That’s all there is to do really. If you don’t get hired, that’s okay. It was good practice, and there are always more opportunities out there.

Interviews suck, but they’re a large part of adult life and something people have to work towards before they feel even close to comfortable.

Mental Health/Wellbeing

Genuine Connection Is Essential

I’m sure we’ve all had friendships where the sole basis is because we had a class with, or worked with, or lived next door to and nothing truly person. While these relations do provide benefits, you also deny yourself of establishing a true human connection.

Sure, it’s alright to have a few acquaintances from whom you benefit and vice versa, but it’s crucial to also create strong bonds with people.

Everyone knows that personalities are different and have a major role in successful relationships. It’s healthy to try to be friends with people you normally wouldn’t hangout with, but it’s even healthier when you know where to end the friendship if it’s not what you want.

There’s no point in continuing on with someone whom you don’t relate to, enjoy being around, or trust. This goes for both romantic relationships and platonic friendship.

Old friends as well as newer friends have of course taken me a while to get comfortable with, but I did it. I slowly worked on building up my own trust as well as there’s and I can honestly say I trust all of them with my whole heart.

It’s the same way with my boyfriend. I fully trust him, confide in him, and express myself to him. I’m thankful everyday I get to spend my time with him and grow with him.

As for those that are no longer in my life, I found that my personality or goals for myself no longer matched up with their’s. It’s okay to let people go in order for yourself to grow. Find people who are your sunshine.

Especially when you battle with mental health issues, finding people who can make you feel safe, relaxed, and loves is a must. You don’t have to go through whatever it is alone. There are people out there that will care about you, help you, and give you their time.

Once you have found the beautiful humans that you click with, do everything you can to maintain a healthy relationship.

Mental Health/Wellbeing

Songs For When You Want To Have A Good Cry

Every now and then you may feel like you just need to cry. This is completely normal and you should give in to this feeling. Crying is a form of stress relief and can work wonders when you’re feeling like you just can’t get past the initial hump of sadness.

Sometimes, when I get this urge, I put on a sad movie, read a sad book, or listen to music. Today, I am going to give you a list of songs that get my tears flowing. As I stated in my other music-related post, my music taste is all over the place and the songs that are in this list will be too. I hope you enjoy!

1. Hello by Adele

2. Lonely by Akon

3. It Ends Tonight by The All-American Rejects

4. Breezeblocks by alt-J

5. Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys

6. Let It Be by The Beatles

7. If I Were A Boy by Beyonce

8. Where Is The Love? by The Black Eyed Peas

9. Go To Hell, for Heaven’s Sake by Bring Me The Horizon

10. Sober by Childish Gambino

11. Lead Me Out Of The Dark by Crown the Empire

12. Skyscraper by Demi Lovato

13. Hold On, We’re Going Home by Drake featuring Majid Jordan

14. The A Team by Ed Sheeran

15. Ghost by Ella Henderson

16. Stan by Eminem

17. Big Girls Don’t Cry by Fergie

18. Shake It Out by Florence + The Machine

19. You Found Me by The Fray

20. Breakeven (Falling To Pieces) by The Script

Like I said, these may not fit your style. But luckily there are TONS of songs out there that could work for you. Music is meant to be personal, so always find what works best for you.

Remember, it’s okay to cry! It’s not a sign of weakness, but more of a symbol of strength. By releasing those tears, you are showing the world that you are in touch with your emotions, which takes a lot of bravery as well as strength. Humans were given brains built with the ability to feel things deeply, so don’t deny yourself that part of your nature. Release your emotions as necessary for you. It’s important to know yourself and allow yourself to be open. 6585e6486f3ac361ef4c5bc03d9b142a